If a bat escaped from the net it would never again strike it, for the animals are wonderfully accurate in flight and most expert dodgers. Even while in a cave, where hundreds of bats were in the air, they seldom flew against us, although we might often be brushed by their wings; and it was a most difficult thing to hit them with a bamboo switch. Their ability in dodging is without doubt a necessary development of their feeding habits for, with the exception of a few species, bats live exclusively upon insects and catch them in the air.
It is a rather terrifying experience for a girl to sit in a bat cave especially if the light has gone out and she is in utter darkness. Of course she has a cap tightly pulled over her ears, for what girl, even if she be a naturalist’s wife, would venture into a den of evil bats with one wisp of hair exposed!
All about is the swish of ghostly wings which brush her face or neck and the air is full of chattering noises like the grinding of hundreds of tiny teeth. Sometimes a soft little body plumps into her lap and if she dares to take her hands from her face long enough to disengage the clinging animal she is liable to receive a vicious bite from teeth as sharp as needles. But, withal, it is good fun, and think how quickly formalin jars or collecting trays can be filled with beautiful specimens!
THE YEN-PING REBELLION
On Sunday, June 18, we went to the bat cave to obtain a new supply of specimens. Upon our return, just as we were about to sit down to luncheon, four excited Chinese appeared with the following letter from Mr. Caldwell:
There was quite a lively time in the city at an early hour this morning. The rebels have taken Yen-ping and it looks as though there was trouble ahead. Northern soldiers have been sent for and the chances are that either tonight or tomorrow morning there will be quite a battle. Bankhardt, Dr. Trimble and myself have just made a round of the city, visiting the telegraph office, post office and other places, and while we do not believe that the foreigners will be molested, nevertheless it is impossible to tell just what to expect. It is certain, however, that the Consul will order all of us to Foochow if news of the situation reaches there. Owing to the uncertainty, I think you had better come in to Yen-ping so as to be ready for any eventuality.
After talking the situation over with Dr. Trimble and Mr. Bankhardt, we all agreed that the wisest thing is for you to come in immediately. I am sending four burden-bearers for it will be out of the question to find any tomorrow, if trouble occurs tonight. The city gates are closed so you will have to climb up the ladder over the wall behind our compound. Best wishes.
It is again reported that Northern soldiers are to
tonight. If they do and trouble occurs your only chance is to get to