This reminds me of an uncomfortable shave I had some ten years ago in Trinidad, where a black man sat me on the trunk of a tree whilst he got behind and rested my head on one knee and got to work with an implement which might have made a decent putty knife, but was never meant to cut whiskers. However, in the case of the Chinese his knife was in fair condition, but he grunted a good deal over my four-days’ growth.
This little story should not convey the impression that I am an advocate of the public shave in China, or anywhere else; but there are times when one is glad of it. I have been shaved by Chinese in many places; and whilst resident at Yuen-nan-fu with a broken arm a man came regularly to me, his shave sometimes being delightful, and—sometimes not.
I had another rather amusing experience at Pu-piao about a month after this. A supplementary coolie had been engaged for me at Tengyueh at a somewhat bigger wage than my other men were getting, and this, known, of course, to them, added to the fact that he was not carrying the heaviest load, did not tend to produce unmarred brotherhood among them. The man had been told that he would go on to Tali-fu with me on my return trip, so that when I took the part of my men (who had come many hundreds of miles with me, and who had engaged another man on the route to fill the gap), in desiring to get rid of him, he certainly had some right on his side. The day before we reached Yung-ch’ang he was told that at that place he would not be required any longer; but he decided then and there to go no farther, and refused point-blank to carry when we were ready to start. I should have recompensed him fully, however, for his disappointment had he not made some detestable reference to my mother, in what Lao Chang assured me was not strictly parliamentary language. As soon as I learnt this—I was standing near the fellow—he somehow fell over, sprawling to the floor over my walnut folding chair, which snapped at the arm. It was my doing. The man said no more, picked up his loads, and was the first to arrive at Yung-ch’ang, so that a little force was not ineffective.
Indiscriminate use of force I do not advocate, however; I believe in the reverse, as a matter of fact. I rarely hit a man; but there have been occasions when, a man having refused to do what he has engaged to do, or in cases of downright insolence, a little push or a slight cut with my stick has brought about a capital feeling and gained for me immediate respect.
Fang-ma-ch’ang, off the main road, was our sleeping-place. Travelers rarely take this road. Gill took it, I believe, but Baber, Davies and other took the main road. This short road was more fatiguing than the main road would have been.