With two loaded guns at his back and accompanied by the brigands he marched into the city, where they were received by the officials with all the punctilious ceremony so dear to the heart of the Chinese. It had been a dangerous half hour for the missionary. If a rifle had been fired by mistake, and Chinese are always shooting when they themselves least expect to, he would have been instantly killed.
This conference, and others which followed, resulted in several hundred pardons being distributed to the brigands by the missionary himself. The men then returned to their abandoned homes and again took up their lives as respectable farmers. Thus the reign of terror in this portion of the province was ended through the efforts of one courageous man. It is such applied Christianity that has made us respect the missionary and admire his work.
CHINESE NEW YEAR AT YUNG-CHANG
The last half of the expedition began January 13 when we left Ta-li Fu with a caravan of thirty miles for Yung-chang, eight days’ travel to the south. The mafus although they had promised faithfully to come “at daylight” did not arrive until nearly noon and in consequence it was necessary to camp at Hsia-kuan at the foot of the lake.
We improved our time there in hunting about for skins and finally purchased two fine leopards and a tiger. The latter had been brought from the Tonking frontier. There were a number of Tibetans wandering about the market place and in the morning a caravan of at least two hundred horses followed by twenty or thirty Tibetans, passed into the city while it was yet gray dawn. They were bringing tea from P’u-erh and S’su-mao in the south of the province and although they had already been nearly a month upon their journey there was still many long weeks of travel before them ere they reached the wind-blown steppes of their native land.
The trip to Yung-chang proved uninteresting and uneventful. We crossed a succession of dry, thinly forested mountains from 7,000 to 8,000 feet high which near their summits were often clothed with a thick growth of rhododendron trees. The beautiful red flowers flashed like fire balls among the green leaves, peach trees were in full blossom and in some spots the dry hills seemed about to break forth in the full glory of their spring verdure. We crossed the Mekong near a village called Shia-chai on a picturesque chain suspension bridge of a type which is not unusual in the southern and western part of the province. Several heavy iron chains are firmly fastened to huge rock piers on opposite sides of the river and the roadway formed by planks laid upon them. Although the bridge shakes and swings in a rather alarming manner when a caravan is crossing, it is perfectly safe if not too heavily loaded.