Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/89

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55
ACROSS YUNNAN

of countryside awaiting the plough. At the close of the troubles that devastated the province during the third quarter of the nineteenth century it is said that the population of Yunnan had fallen to about a million, but now, owing in part to the great natural increase of the Chinese, and in part to immigration chiefly from overpopulated Szechuan and Kwei-chou, it is estimated at twelve million. At any rate, those who know the country well declare there is little vacant land fit for agriculture, that the province has about as many inhabitants as it can support, and can afford no relief to the overcrowded eastern districts. This is a thing to keep in mind when Japan urges her need of Manchuria for her teeming millions.

We stopped for tiffin at Fu-ming-hsien, a prosperous-looking town of some eight hundred families. As usual, I lunched in public, the crowd pressing close about my table in spite of the efforts of a real, khaki-clad policeman; but it was a jolly, friendly crowd, its interest easily diverted from me to the dog. Here we changed soldiers, for this was a hsien town, or district centre. Those who had come with me from Yunnan-fu were dismissed with a tip amounting to about three cents gold a day each. They seemed perfectly satisfied. It was the regulation amount; had I given more they would have clamoured for something additional. That afternoon we stopped for a long rest at a tiny, lonely inn, perched most pic-