It is only when they have been spoiled by overpayment, or by bullying of a sort they do not understand, that the foreigner finds them exacting and untrustworthy. And the Chinese is an eminently reasonable man. He does not expect reward without work, and he works easily and cheerfully. But as yet he was to me an unknown quantity, and I looked over my group of coolies with some interest and a little uncertainty. They were mostly strong, sound-looking men; two or three were middle-aged, the rest young. No one looked unequal to the work, and no one proved so. All wore the inevitable blue cotton of the Chinese, varying with wear and patching from blue-black to bluish-white, and the fashion of the dress was always the same; short, full trousers, square-cut, topped by a belted shirt with long sleeves falling over the hands or rolled up to the elbow according to the weather. About their heads they generally twisted a strip of cotton, save when blazing sun or pouring rain called for the protection of their wide straw hats covered with oiled cotton. Generally they wore the queue tucked into the girdle to keep it out of the way, but occasionally it was put to use, as, for example, if a man's hat was not at hand to ward off the glare of the sun, he would deftly arrange a thatch of leaves over his eyes, binding it firm with his long braid of black hair. On their feet they wore the inevitable straw sandal of these parts. Comfortable for those who know
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