Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/136

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

hill. A temple outside the wall looked attractive, and I should have visited it had it not been for the rain which now set in in good earnest. So, instead, I inspected the inn, which seemed unusually interesting. There was the ordinary entrance court roofed over, and behind that an inner court open to the sky and surrounded by galleried buildings. Off from this led a long, high passage into which opened a number of superior rooms. Mine was quite elaborately furnished with carved bedstead and chairs and tables, and best of all, it had a door opening directly on to the city wall, where I could step out and get a breath of fresh air free from observation.

Here I had my first experience of the "squeeze." On directing the interpreter to give the fu t'ou the coolies' pork money, I learned that on the previous occasion the man had kept an undue proportion of it. Apparently a certain squeeze was regarded as legitimate, but he had transgressed the accepted bounds. I hardly knew how to meet the difficulty. Of course I could have paid the coolies directly, but it was most desirable to maintain the fu t'ou's authority over them. Finally, in true Chinese fashion, the interpreter worked out a scheme by which the fu t'ou's "face" might be saved, and yet the coolies not be defrauded. Going out into the court where the men were lounging, he called loudly to the fu t'ou to come for the coolies' money, naming the sum I in-