In years to come the silk industry of Yuen-nan will rank among the chief, and the productions will rank among the best of all the eighteen provinces. There are no less than ten thousand mulberry trees in the school grounds for feeding the worms; four thousand catties of leaves are used every day for their food; five hundred immense trays of silkworms are constantly at work here. The worms are in the charge of scholars, whose names appear on the various racks under their charge, and the fact that feeding takes place every two hours, day and night, is sufficient testimony that the boys go into their work with commendable energy. As I was being escorted around the building, through shed after shed filled with these trays of silkworms, several of the scholars made up a sort of procession, and waited for the eulogy that I freely bestowed. In another building small boys were spinning the silk, and farther down the weavers were busy with their primitive machinery, with which, however, they were turning out silk that could be sold in London at a very big price. The colorings were specially beautiful, and the figuring quite good, although the head-master of the school told me that he hoped for improvements in that direction. And I, looking wise, although knowing little about silk and its manufacture, heartily agreed with the little fat man.
There is a department for women also, and contrary to custom, I had a look around here, too. The girls were particularly smart at spinning.
[Footnote AC: Soon afterwards a disturbance occurred among the students, and had it not been for the promptitude of the inspector, some of them might have lost their heads.
The electric light had just been laid in, and was working so well that the authorities found it imperative to charge each of the 400 resident students one dollar per month for the upkeep. This simple edict was the cause of the riot In a body the boys rolled up their pukais, and marched down to the main entrance, declaring that they were determined to resign if the order was not rescinded. The inspector, however, had had all the doors locked. The frenzied students broke these open, and incidentally thrashed some of the caretakers for interfering in matters which were not considered to be strictly their business.
Subsequently the Chancellor of Education visited the college in person, but no heed was paid to his exhortations, and it was only when the dollar charge for lighting was reduced that peace was restored.
The Chancellor, as a last word, told them that if they vacated their schoolrooms a fine of about a hundred taels would be imposed upon each man.
The occasion was marked by all the foolish ardor one finds among college boys at home, and it seems that, despite the enormous amount of money the college is costing to run, the students are somewhat out of hand.—E.J.D.]