Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/283

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223
GREAT RIVER TO GREAT WALL

and the headquarters of the great banking and shipping concerns.

When I was there in early July of last year I noticed only the look of substantial prosperity about the place, and the comfortable bustle and stir in the streets. Chinese and Europeans alike seemed intent on making money, pound-wise or cash-wise. The one matter of concern was the high water in the river, here nearly a mile wide. Already it was almost up to the top of the "bund"; a few inches more and it would flood the lowland, destroying life and property, and stopping all business. There were no outward signs of commotion underneath, but in about three months the viceroy's yamen was in flames, shops and offices were looted, and the mint and arsenal in the hands of the Revolutionary party. One stroke had put it in possession of a large amount of treasure, military stores, and a commanding position.

I planned to stay in Hankow just long enough to pack a box for England, and efface a few of the scars of inland travel before confronting whatever society might be found in Peking in midsummer, but rather to my dismay I found the weekly express train left the day after my arrival. It was out of the question to take that, and apparently I would have to wait over a week unless I dared try the ordinary train that ran daily, stopping two nights on the road. But there seemed many lions in the way. It would be quite im-