Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/69

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39
DAYS IN YUNNAN-FU

tip, and in more ways than one I found my escort useful. At irregular intervals they were changed. When we reached the end of the last stage for which they were detailed, I gave them my card to carry to the proper local official. This was replied to by sending a new pair bearing the official's card.

Some of the men were old-time soldiers, hardly to be distinguished from yamen runners in their untidy black and scarlet jackets decorated with bold lettering on the back; and their weapons consisted simply of something that might be described as a small sword or a huge carving-knife in a leather sheath. After entering Szechuan I was usually accompanied by quite real soldiers, men of the new service, fairly shipshape in khaki and putties and carrying up-to-date guns. But whether of the old order or of the new, I found the men at all times very courteous and friendly, and ready to do any little service that came their way. It was the duty of one man to stay with me, while the other looked after the baggage coolies. As more at home in the particular district through which we were passing, they were often very helpful to my coolies in pointing out a short cut or in finding our intricate way across the fields. Sometimes one was sent in advance to make sure of the best quarters the village where we were to pass the night could afford, and they often showed great zeal in tidying up the room for my coming. The preparations con-