Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/294

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232
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

huge protecting arm, the great grey wall. You sigh with satisfaction; nowhere is there a jarring note; and then—you turn your eyes down to the grounds and buildings of the American Legation at your feet, clean, comfortable, uncompromising, and alien. Near you paces to and fro a soldier, gun on shoulder, his trim figure set off by his well-fitting khaki clothes, unmistakably American, unmistakably foreign, guarding this strip of Peking's great wall, where neither Manchu nor Chinese may set foot. And then your gaze travels along the wall, to where, dimly outlined against the horizon, you discern the empty frames of the wonderful astronomical instruments that were once the glory of Peking, now adorning a Berlin museum, set up for the German holiday-makers to gape at. After all, there are discordant notes in Peking.

Down in the streets there is plenty of life and variety. Mongol and Manchu and Chinese jostle each other in the dust or mud of the broad highways. The swift rickshaws thread their way through the throng with amazing dexterity. Here the escort of a great official clatters by, with jingling swords and flutter of tassels, there a long train of camels fresh from the desert blocks the road. The trim European victoria, in which sits the fair wife of a Western diplomat, fresh as a flower in her summer finery, halts side by side with the heavy Peking cart, its curved matting