Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/187

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AT Tachienlu I reached the western limit of my wanderings; not the western boundary of China, nor yet of my desire, but my time was nearly spent; in less than four months I had to be back in England; moreover, late summer was not a favourable season for descending the Yangtse. So with a longing glance up the great Lhasa trail I turned my face eastwards; but it is always wearisome to retrace one's steps, and a chance remark of Captain Bailey set me on the scent of an alternative route to Ya-chou. As far as Lu Ting Ch'iao there was no choice ; all traffic across the Ta Tu must seek the great iron bridge both coming and going, but at that point there turned off to the north and east a shorter trail than the main packroad which we had struck near Ni T'ou. Although more direct, it was less travelled owing to the difficulties of the way, for there were two steep mountain-ranges to be crossed, and path and bridges were often insecure, calling for a sure foot and a steady head. It was not easy to get precise information as to the condition of the road. Captain Bailey knew little save the mere fact of its existence, and although Major Davies had taken this route, he notes in his