Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/362

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A WAYFARER IN CHINA

across the desert—blessings on his good face! I hope luck is with him wherever he is—and I was sorry to part with my Chinese tent, my home for weeks, and with my little camp-bed, on which I had slept so many dreamless nights. A few days and nights in a tarantass were all that now lay between me and the uninteresting comforts of Western hotels and trains.

With great inward objection I climbed into the tarantass, like nothing so much as a huge cradle on wheels, drawn by three horses, one, the largest, trotting between the shafts, and the other two galloping on either side. At the very outset I had a chance to realize the difference between dealing with the Asiatic pure and simple, and the Asiatic disguised as a European. We had been told that it would be necessary to make an early start to cover the first day's stage before dark. I was on hand, and so was Wang, but it was afternoon before we were finally off. Luggage had to be packed and repacked, wheels greased, harness mended, many things done that ought to have been attended to the day before. Now of course that happens in China,—though nowhere else in my journeyings did I encounter such dawdling and shiftlessness,—but there at least you may relieve your feelings by storming a bit and stirring things up; these people, however, looked like Western men, and one simply could not do it.