Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/282

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A WAYFARER IN CHINA

mountains that stretch across Szechuan to the Tibetan plateau, and just below this point the scenery changes, the hills dwindle, and the valley opens into the wide flat plains of the lower Yangtse. It is a merciful arrangement, allowing the eyes and brain a chance to recover their tone after the strain of trying to take in the wonders of the gorges, and I was glad for the open, vacant land, thankful that there was nothing to look at.

The second morning in the early dawn we moored off Hankow, where I planned to stay a day or two before turning northward. Hankow, Hanyang, Wuchang, these three cities lie at the junction of the Han and the Yangtse, having, all told, a population of some two millions. Located on the Yangtse, at the mouth of the Han, one of the great waterways of China, halfway between Shanghai and Ichang, and a little more than halfway from Peking to Canton, and at present the terminus of the Peking railway, which in good time will be extended to Canton, the future of these cities is assured. Each of the three has some special claim to preëminence, but the greatest of them is Hankow. Hanyang's chimneys are preparing to rival those of Bombay, and it boasts the largest ironworks in China. Wuchang is the provincial capital, and the seat of the viceroy or governor, as it happens, and its mint and arsenal are the most important in the south, while Hankow is the trading centre,