LI-CHIANG AND “THE TEMPLE OF THE FLOWERS”
We left a part of our outfit with Mr. Evans at Ta-li Fu and with a new caravan of twenty-five animals traveled northward for six days to Li-chiang Fu. By taking a small road we hoped to find good collecting in the pine forests three days from Ta-li, but instead there was a total absence of animal life. The woods were beautiful, parklike stretches which in a country like California would be full of game, but here were silent and deserted. During the fourth and fifth days we were still in the forests, but on the sixth we crossed a pass 10,000 feet high and descended abruptly into a long marshy plain where at the far end were the gray outlines of Li-chiang dimly visible against the mountains.
Wu and I galloped ahead to find a temple for our camp, leaving Heller and my wife to follow. A few pages from her journal tell of their entry into the city.
We rode along a winding stone causeway and halted on the outskirts of the town to wait until the caravan arrived. Neither Roy nor Wu was in sight but we expected that the mafus would ask where they had gone and follow, for of course we could not speak a word of the language. Already there was quite a sensation as we came down the street, for our sudden appearance seemed to have stupefied the people with amazement. One old lady looked at me with an indescribable expression and uttered what sounded exactly like a long-drawn “Mon Dieu” of disagreeable surprise.
I tried smiling at them but they appeared too astonished to appreciate our friendliness and in return merely stared with open mouths and eyes. We halted and immediately the street was blocked by crowds of men, women, and children who poured out of the houses, shops, and cross-streets to gaze in rapt attention. When the caravan arrived we moved on again expecting that the mafus had learned where Roy had gone, but they seemed to be wandering aimlessly through the narrow winding streets. Even though we did not find a camping place we afforded the natives intense delight.
I felt as though I were the chief actor in a circus parade at home, but the most remarkable attraction there could not have equaled our unparalleled success in Li-chiang. On the second excursion through the town we passed down a cross-street, and suddenly from a courtyard at the right we heard feminine voices speaking English.
“It’s a girl. No, it’s a boy. No, no, can’t you see her hair, it’s a girl!” Just then we caught sight of three ladies, unmistakably foreigners although dressed in Chinese costume. They were Mrs. A. Kok, wife of the resident Pentecostal Missionary, and two assistants, who rushed into the street as soon as they had determined my sex and literally “fell upon my neck.” They had not seen a white woman