Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/82

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48
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

into a stone-paved court surrounded usually by low, one-story buildings, although occasionally there is a second story opening into a gallery. Here are kitchens and sleeping-rooms, while store-rooms and stables are tucked in anywhere. In the largest inns there is often an inner court into which open the better rooms.

While the cook bustled about to get hot water, and the head coolie saw to the setting-up of my bed, I generally went with the "ma-fu," or horse boy, to see that the pony was properly cared for. Usually he was handy, sometimes tethered by my door, often just under my room, once overhead. Meanwhile the coolies were freshening themselves up a bit after the day's work. Sitting about the court they rinsed chest and head and legs with the unfailing supply of hot water which is the one luxury of a Chinese inn. I can speak authoritatively on the cleanliness of the Chinese coolie, for I had the chance daily to see my men scrub themselves. Their cotton clothing loosely cut was well ventilated, even though infrequently cleansed, and there hung about them nothing of the odour of the great unwashed of the Western world. I wish one could say as much for the inns, but alas, they were foul-smelling, one and all, and occasionally the room offered me was so filthy that I refused to occupy it, and went on the war-path for myself, followed by a crowd of perplexed servants and coolies. Almost always I found a loft or a stable-yard that had at least