Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/121

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Ning-yüan-fu, it was necessary to make new arrangements here. My old men had expressed a wish to go on with me, but in the end only one did so, the others disliking the détour to Tachienlu which they knew I had in mind. Moreover, it would have been necessary for them to register in the Ning-yüan hong, which they were not anxious to do, nor was the hong anxious to have them. So I let them go, well contented with their "wine money," which was, indeed, outrageously large. Soon after starting from Yunnan-fu I had realized that the men were inclined to ask for a day's halt more frequently than I liked, as I was anxious to push ahead, knowing that the spring rains were shortly due. I did not know then the custom of the road, which decrees no payment at all if it is the coolies who insist on stopping, although a small payment, usually five cents gold, is the rule for each day of halt for your convenience. So I felt that my only check upon the men was to hold out a reward. Accordingly I offered them a definite tip and a good one, if they would get me to Ning-yüan-fu at a certain day, which they did, making the journey, as I learned later, simply in the ordinary time. I was advised not to pay them the sum promised, as they were profiting by my ignorance, and it might make me trouble afterwards. But I reasoned that my ignorance was my own fault; they had not asked, I had offered the reward, and I was sure the evil of a broken promise was