Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/258

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gathered and the rain fell in torrents. Each steep, straight staircase was a snare to our feet. Sprawling and slithering we made our way down. No one escaped, and the woods resounded with gay cries, "Have a care, Omi to fo! Hold on tight, Omi to fo! Now, go ahead, Omi to fo!" There was no going slowly, you stood still or went with a rush. Women tottering along on crippled feet pointed cheerily at my big shoes. I dare say the difference in size consoled them for all their aches and pains.

It was almost dark when we reached Omei-hsien, soaked to the skin. I had a big fire made for the coolies and we all gathered round in companionable fashion for the last time. The return journey the next day across the plain was as charming as ever, but the steamy heat of the low level was very depressing, and we were all glad to take to a boat for the last twenty-two li.

I had one more day in Chia-ting, visiting one or two temples and making the last arrangements for the trip down the river to Chung-king. Wisely helped by one of the American missionaries I secured a very comfortable wu-pan, for which I paid twenty-five dollars Mexican. It was well fitted out, and equipped with a crew of seven, including the captain's wife, and a small dog known as the "tailless one." We started down the river late in the afternoon. There was just time for one look at the Great