At night they stripped themselves, shaved their heads, and dressed like coolies, and were able to get to the ladder down the city wall just below the mission compound where they could escape into the hills.
The day after this occurrence, about four o’clock in the afternoon, a breathless Chinese appeared at the house with a note to Mr. Bankhardt saying that his Chinese teacher and the mission school cook had been arrested by the Northern soldiers and were to be beheaded in an hour. We hurried to the police office where they were confined and found that not only the two men but three others were in custody.
The mission cook owned a small restaurant under the management of one of his relatives and, while Bankhardt’s teacher and the other man were sitting at a table, some Northern soldiers appeared, one of whom owed the restaurant keeper a small amount of money. When asked to pay, the soldier turned upon him and shouted: “You have been assisting the brigands. I saw some of them carrying goods into your house.” Thereupon the soldiers arrested everyone in the shop.
The police officials were quite ready to release the teacher and the other man upon our statements, but they would not allow the cook to go. His hands were kept tightly bound and he was chained to a post by the neck. The soldier who arrested him was his sole accuser, but of course, others would appear to uphold him in his charge if it were necessary.
The cook was as innocent as any one of the missionaries, but it required several hours of work and threats of complaint to the government at Foochow to prevent the man from being summarily executed.
We were not able to get any mail from Foochow during the rebellion because the constant stream of Northern soldiers on their way up the river had paralyzed the entire country to such an extent that all the river men had fled.
The soldiers were firing for target practice upon every boat they saw on the river and dozens of men had been killed and then robbed. The Northern commander told us frankly that this could not be prevented, and when we announced that we were going to start will all the missionaries down the river on the following day, he was very much disturbed. He insisted that we have American flags displayed on our boats to prevent being fired upon by the soldiers.
Although it had taken eight days to work our way laboriously through the rapids and up the river from Foochow to Yen-Ping, we covered the same distance down the river in twenty-four hours and had breakfast with Mr. Kellogg at his house the morning after we left Yen-Ping. In two days our equipment was repacked and ready for the trip to Futsing to hunt the blue tiger.
HUNTING THE “GREAT INVISIBLE”
For many years before Mr. Caldwell went to Yen-ping he had been stationed at the city of Futsing, about thirty miles from Foochow. Much of his work consisted of itinerant trips during which he visited the various mission stations under his charge. He almost invariably went on foot from place to place and carried with him a butterfly net and a rifle, so that to so keen a naturalist each day’s walk was full of interest.