Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/384

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A WAYFARER IN CHINA

I did; it just happened so. India was already somewhat known to me, and on this trip I stopped there only a few weeks, seeing each day more that was difficult to understand, and then I went on to China, and to my great surprise felt myself almost at home.

Of course at first sight most things were queer, that is to say, different from what they are in the West. The men wore their hair braided down their backs, and the women dressed in trousers, and both mourned in white. The seat of honour was on the left, not on the right, and when people greeted you they shook hands with themselves. All that one is prepared for, but being prepared does not take away from the impression of queerness. But even from the beginning, and the feeling grew stronger as the days lengthened into weeks and the weeks into months, underneath this surface difference the Chinese seemed to me more like ourselves, or maybe our ancestors, more like us at one stage or another, than any other people of the East that I had known.

In India, as every one knows, religion dominates the life of the people. A man is first of all a follower of a certain creed, a Hindu or a Moslem, and the observances of that creed control his daily acts in a way to which there is no parallel in the West—or in China. The principles of Christianity underlie the best of Western civilization, but the majority of men in Europe or America pay little conscious heed to