Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/80

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46
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

fed like—the Chinese equivalent of Christian. They never seemed to begrudge him his food; on the contrary, they often smiled approvingly. We were thousands of miles away from the famine-stricken regions of eastern China, and through much of the country where I journeyed I saw almost no beggars or hungry-looking folk. In the afternoon we stopped as before at short intervals at some roadside tea-house, for the coolies generally expect to rest every hour.

Our day's stage usually ended in a good-sized town. I should have preferred it otherwise, for there is more quiet and freedom in the villages. But my coolies would have it so; they liked the stir and better fare of the towns, and the regular stages are arranged accordingly. Our entrance was noisy and imposing. My coming seemed always expected, for as by magic the narrow streets filled with staring crowds. Through them the soldiers fought a way for my chair, borne at smart pace by the coolies all shouting at the top of their voices. I tried to cultivate the superior impassiveness of the Chinese official, but generally the delighted shrieks of the children at the sight of Jack at my feet, and his gay yelps in response, "upset the apple cart." There was a rush to see the "foreign dog." I gripped him tighter and only breathed freely when with a sharp turn to right or left my chair was lifted high over a threshold and borne through the inn door into the courtyard,