Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/119

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Scriptural injunction, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his path before him"; more than once I realized the advantage of following in the footsteps of the great.

Toward the end of the day we crossed a spur of the hills, and descended abruptly into the Ning-yüan plain; half concealed among the trees lay the town, while off to the southeast sparkled the water of the lake noted by Marco Polo. As we sat resting for a few moments at a tea-house, I saw galloping towards us two horsemen, Europeans, the first I had seen for nearly three weeks. They turned out to be Mr. Wellwood and Dr. Humphreys, of the American Baptist Mission, who had ridden out to make me welcome. An hour later we crossed the parade ground outside the city gate, and shortly, turning in by a building of unmistakable European architecture, found ourselves in the mission compound. It was most delightful to be again among my own kind, and the three days spent in Ning-yüan while I was reorganizing my little caravan for the next stage were very enjoyable, barring the excessive heat.

Ning-yüan-fu is the largest town in this part of Szechuan, having a population of perhaps fifty thousand. It is surrounded by a well-built wall, high and broad and nearly three miles in length. Within are few buildings of interest, due perhaps to the fact that about fifty years ago it was almost demolished by an