Scene at the Rapid. Dangers of the Yeh T’an. Gear taken ashore. Intense cold. Further preparation. Engaging the trackers. Fever of excitement. Her nose is put to it. Struggles for mastery. Author saves boatman. Fifteen-knot current. Terrific labor on shore. Man nearly falls overboard. Straining hawsers carry us over safely. The merriment among the men. The thundering cataract. Trackers’ chanting. Their life. "Pioneer” at the Yeh T’an. The Buffalo Mouth Reach. Story of the “Woodlark." How she was saved. Arrival at Kweifu. Difficulty in landing. Laying in provisions. Author laid up with malaria. Survey of trade in Shanghai and Hong-Kong. Where and why the Britisher fails. Comparison with Germans. Three western provinces and pack-horse traffic. Advantages of new railway. Yangtze likely to be abandoned. East India Company. French and British interests. Hint to Hong-Kong Chamber of Commerce.
Wild shrieking, frantic yelling, exhausted groaning, confusion and clamor,—one long, deafening din. A bewildering, maddening mob of reckless, terrified human beings rush hither and thither, unseeingly and distractedly. Will she go? Yes! No! Yes! Then comes the screeching, the scrunching, the straining, and then—a final snap! Back we go, sheering helplessly, swayed to and fro most dangerously by the foaming waters, and almost, but not quite, turn turtle. The red boat follows us anxiously, and watches our timid little craft bump against the rock-strewn coast. But we are safe, and raise unconsciously a cry of gratitude to the deity of the river.
We were at the Yeh T’an, or the Wild Rapid, some distance on from the Ichang Gorge, were almost over the growling monster, when the tow-line, straining to its utmost limit, snapped suddenly with little warning, and we drifted in a moment or two away down to last night’s anchorage, far below, where we were obliged to bring up the last of the long tier of boats of which we were this morning the first.
And now we are ready again to take our turn.
Our gear is all taken ashore. Seated on a stone on shore, watching operations, is The Other Man. The sun vainly tries to get through, and the intense cold is almost unendurable. No hitch is to occur this time. The toughest and stoutest bamboo hawsers are dexterously brought out, their inboard ends bound in a flash firmly round the mast close down to the deck, washed by the great waves of the rapid, just in front of the ’midships pole through which I breathlessly watch proceedings. I want to feel again the sensation. The captain, in essentially the Chinese way, is engaging a crew of demon-faced trackers to haul her over. Pouring towards the boat, in a fever of excitement that rises higher every