Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/63

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33
DAYS IN YUNNAN-FU

moving forward, thanks chiefly to the kind helpfulness of Mr. Stevenson, of the China Inland Mission. For many years a resident of the province, and wise in the ways of the country and of the country-folk, his advice served me at every turn. Engaging the coolies was of course the matter of chief importance. On them would depend the success of the first stage of my journey, the two and a half or three weeks' trip to Ning-yüan-fu in the Chien-ch'ang valley. A representative of the coolie "hong," or guild, a dignified, substantial-looking man, was brought to the inn by Mr. Stevenson. After looking over my kit carefully (even the dog was "hefted" on the chance he might have to ride at times), he decided the number of coolies necessary. As I wished to travel fast if need came, I threw in another man that the loads might be light. The average load is seventy or eighty catties, a catty equalling about one pound and a quarter. In Yunnan the coolies generally carry on the shoulder, the burden, fairly divided, being suspended from the two ends of a bamboo pole. For myself I had four men, as I had a four-bearer chair, the grandest of all things on the road save the mandarin's chair with its curved poles raising the occupant high above the common herd. At first I did not realize the significance of the number, although I marked the interest with which my interpreter inquired how many bearers I should have. What I did appreciate was