Hua-chow is thirty li from here at the head of an abominable hill, and here women, overlooking one of the worst paved roads in the Empire, were beating out corn. Then we climbed for another twenty-five li, rising from 5,900 feet to 8,200 feet, till we came to a little place called Tien-chieng-p’u. It took us three hours. Looking backwards,towards Tali-fu, I saw my 14,000 feet friends, and as we went down the other side over a splendid stone road we could see, far down below, a valley which seemed a veritable oasis, smiling and sweet. A temple here contained a battered image of the Goddess of Mercy, who controls the births of children. A poor woman was depositing a few cash in front of the besmeared idol, imploring that she might be delivered of a son. How pitiable it is to see these poor creatures doing this sort of thing all over the West of China!
For two days we had been accompanied by a man who was an opium smoker and eater. Now I am not going to draw a horrible description of a shrivelled, wasted bogey in man’s form, with creaking bones and shivering limbs and all the rest of it; but I must say that this man, towards the time when his craving came upon him, was a wreck in every worst sense—he crept away to the wayside and smoked, and arrived always late at night at the end of the stage. This was the effect of the drug which has been described “as harmless as milk.” I do not exaggerate. In the course of Eastern journalistic experience I have written much in defence of opium, have paralleled it to the alcohol of my own country. This was in the Straits Settlements, where the deadly effects