Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/308

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A WAYFARER IN CHINA

seven days, galloping all the way, with frequent changes of horses and, less frequent, of men. And once a month a parcels-post makes its slow way across, guarded by Cossacks.

Just why the Russians persist in this costly and slower method of forwarding mails when the railway would do it in about half the time, I cannot understand. One reason given me was that they might not care to trust their mails to the Japanese, who control the southern section of the Manchurian railway. And in case of trouble between the two powers the Russians might find it convenient to have a connection of their own with China. It seemed to me more like a part of Russia's plan of "peaceful penetration," of extending her influence over Mongolia even to the Great Wall. Kalgan seems already an outpost of Russia, with its groups of Russian merchants, its Russian church, bank, post-office, and consulate, one as much as the other representative of the White Tsar.

Toward the end of the first day from Kalgan we passed under the towers which are all that is left here of the Great Wall, save the pile of stones which marks the line where it stood. Built of mud faced with stone, it has crumbled away, leaving the solid masonry towers standing like giant sentinels to guard the road.

Here I stood face to face with another world. China lay behind me and below, for we had risen