Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/93

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59
ACROSS YUNNAN

failure to cook thoroughly. The Chinese are content if the rice and vegetables are cooked through; they do not insist, as we do, that they be cooked soft. In the smaller inns my men prepared their food themselves, and some showed considerable skill. One soldier in particular was past-master in making savoury stews much appreciated by the others.

Wu-ting-chou being a place designated for the payment of an instalment of wages, and also the time having come for pork money, my coolies had a grand feast, after which they devoted themselves to gambling away their hard-earned money in games of "fan t'an." As they played entirely among themselves the result was that some staggered the following day under heavy ropes of cash, while others were forced to sell their hats to pay for their food. I could only hope that the next pay-day would mean a readjustment of spoils.

In the afternoon it cleared, and I went out in my chair, escorted by two policemen, to a charming grove outside the walls, where I rested for a time in a quiet nook, enjoying the views over the valley and thankful to get away from the din of the inn. Curling up, I went fast asleep, to wake with an uncomfortable sense of being watched; and sure enough, peering over the top of the bank where I was lying were two pairs of startled black eyes. I laughed, and thereupon the owners of the eyes, who had stumbled upon me as