The weather was perfect. Every day the sun shone in a cloudless blue sky and in the morning the ground was frozen hard and covered with snowlike frost, but the air was marvelously stimulating. We felt that we could be happy at the “White Water” forever, but it did not prove to be as good a hunting ground as that on the other side of the mountain. The Lolos killed a fine serow on the first day and Hotenfa brought in a young goral a short time later, but big game was by no means abundant. At the “White Water” we obtained our first Lady Amherst’s pheasant (Thaumalea amherstiae) one of the most remarkable species of a family containing the most beautiful birds of the world. The rainbow colored body and long tail of the male are made more conspicuous by a broad white and green ruff about the neck. The first birds brought alive to England were two males which had been presented to the Countess Amherst after whom the species was named. We found this pheasant inhabiting thick forests where it is by no means easy to discover or shoot. It is fairly abundant in Yuen-nan, Eastern Tibet and S’suchuan but its habits are not well known. Although the camp yielded several small mammals new to our collection, we decided to go into Li-chiang to engage a new caravan for our trip across the Yangtze River while Heller remained in camp.
The direct road to Li-chiang was considerably shorter than by way of the Snow Mountain village and at three o’clock in the afternoon our beloved “Temple of the Flowers” was visible on the hilltop overlooking the city. As we rode up the steep ascent we saw a picturesque gathering on the porch and heard the sound of many voices laughing and talking. The beautiful garden-like courtyard was filled with women and children of every age and description, and all the doors from one side of the temple had been removed, leaving a large open space where huge caldrons were boiling and steaming.
We sat down irresolutely on the inner porch but the young priest was delighted to see us and insisted that we wait until Wu arrived. We were glad that we did not seek other quarters for we were to witness an interesting ceremony, which is most characteristic of Chinese life. It seemed that about five years before a gentleman of Li-chiang had “shuffled off this mortal coil.” His soul may have found rest, but “his mortal coil” certainly did not. Unfortunately his family inherited a few hundred dollars several years later and the village “astrologer” informed them that according to the feng-shui, or omnipotent spirits of the earth, wind, and water, the situation of the deceased gentleman’s grave was ill-chosen and that if they ever hoped to enjoy good fortune again they must dig him up, give the customary feast in his honor and have another burial site chosen.