Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/163

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the whole region is known as the Chin Ch'uan country, and is famous in Chinese history as the scene of one of the most hardly fought campaigns against the tribes.

On my return to Wa Ssu Kou a week later a free half-day gave me a chance for a little run over the border. Guided by a respectable villager I crossed the rickety bridge over the Tarchendo and after a breathless climb came out on the top of the cliff, where I overlooked a wide rolling plateau sloping steeply to the Ta Tu on the east, and enclosed north and west by high mountains. The country seemed barren and almost uninhabited, as though removed by hundreds of miles from the hard-won prosperity and swarming life of the line of Chinese advance to Tachienlu. Only occasionally did we meet any one, Chinese or Mantzu, and there was no stir about the few dwellings that we passed, all high, fortress-like buildings of stone. This whole region is almost unknown to Europeans, and the few Chinese who go there are generally passing traders. According to Hosie, they are allowed to take temporary wives from the women of the country on payment of a sum of money to the tribal head, but they must leave them behind when they depart.

The next day we ascended the valley of the Tarchendo to Tachienlu, a distance of about twenty miles. There is a rise of thirty-five hundred feet on