“Suan liao” ("not worth reckoning”) “only five more li to Sha-chiao-kai.”
We had thirty li to do. Such is the idea of distance in Yuen-nan.[AO]
The storm did not come, however, and my men ever after reminded me to keep out my wind-cap and my mackintosh, partly to lighten their loads, of course, and partly on account of the good omen it seemed to them to be.
[Footnote AH: “Gwan” is the Chinese for “official.”]
[Footnote AI: I have seen a European, with an imperfect hold of an eastern language, knock an Asiatic down because he thought the man was a fool, whereas he himself was ignorant of what was going on. The message the coolie was bringing was misunderstood by the conceited assistant, and as a result of having just this smattering of the vernacular, he ran his firm in for a loss of fifty thousand dollars.—E.J.D.]
[Footnote AJ: Ts’u-hsiong-fu, as it is pronounced locally, with a strong “ts” initial sound.]
[Footnote AK: Meaning a relief hand (Malay).]
[Footnote AL: Literally, “tea money.”]
[Footnote AM: “Heaping up merit” is one of the elementary practices of Chinese religious life.]
[Footnote AN: Chennan-chou, which stands at a height of 6,500 feet, has been visited again since by myself. My caravan consisted on this occasion of two ponies (one I was riding), two coolies, a servant, and myself. As we got to the archway in the middle of the street leading to the busy part of the town, my animal nearly landed me into the gutter, and the other horse ran into a neighboring house, both frightened by crackers which were being fired around a man who was bumping his head on the ground in front of an ancestral tablet, brought into the street for the purpose. A horrid din made the air turbulent. I sought refuge in the nearest house, tying my ponies up to the windows, and was most hospitably received as a returned prodigal by a well-disposed old man and his courtly helpmate. The genuineness of the hospitality of the Chinese is as strong as their unfriendliness can be when they are disposed to show a hostile spirit to foreigners. Just as I had laid up for dinner the din stopped, we breathed gunpowder smoke instead of air, everyone from the head-bumping ceremony came around me, and there lingered in silent admiration. My boy came and whispered, quite aloud enough for all to hear, that in that part of the town cooked rice could not be bought, and that I was going to be left to look after the horses and the loads whilst the men went away to feed. He advised the assembled crowd that if they valued sound physique they had better keep their hands off my gear and depart. My friendly host shut the doors and windows, with the exception of that through which I watched our impedimenta, and at once commenced good-natured inquiry into my past, and concerning vicissitudes of life in general.