This was the fortieth day, and so my visitant honored me by thrusting his contemptible presence upon me, and he would not go until late at night, when a man with a diseased hip and one eye—and a ghastly thing at that—called to see whether I could treat him with medicine.
Hsiakwan in days to come will probably have a big industry in brick and tile making. Fifteen li from the town, on the Chao-chow side, many people now get their living at the business, and one could easily dream of a “Hsiakwan Brick and Tile Company Limited,” with the children’s children of the present pioneers running for the morning papers to have a look at the share market reports, with light railways connected up with the main line, which has not yet been built, and so on, and so on.
Hsiakwan is perhaps the busiest town on the main trade route from Yuen-nan-fu to Burma. Tali-fu, although growing, is only the official town, of which Hsiakwan is the commercial entrepot. It was here that I stayed one Sunday some time after this, at one of the biggest inns I have ever been into in China. It had no less than four buildings, each with a paved rectangular courtyard which all the rooms overlooked. A military official, who was on his way to Chao-t’ong to deal with the rebellion, of which the reader has already learnt a good deal, was expected soon after I arrived. My room was already arranged, however, when the landlord came to me and said—
“Yang gwan, you must please go out!”
Now the yang gwan, as was expected, stayed where he was, smiled in magnanimous acquiescence, invited the proprietor—a stout, jolly person with one eye—to be seated, and remained quiet. Again and again was I told that I should be required to clear out, and give up the best room to the official and his aide-de-camp, but unfortunately the inquirer did not improve the situation by persisting in the foolish belief that the foreigner was hard of hearing. He shouted his request into my ear in a stentorian basso, he waved his hands, he pointed, he made signs. The Chinese langage and manner, however, are difficult to an addle-pated foreigner. I, poor foolish fellow, endeavoring to treat the Chinese in a manner identical to that which he would have employed had conditions been reversed, stared vacantly and woodenly into a seemingly bewildering infinite, and timidly remarked, “O t’ing puh lai.” Knowing then that my “hearing had not come,” he requisitioned my boy, for the aide-de-camp by this time was glumly peering into my doorway; but to his disgust Lao Chang also was equally unsuccessful in making me tumble to their meaning. The best room, therefore, continued to be mine.