Beginning of the overland journey. The official halo around the caravan. The people’s goodbyes. Stages to Sui-fu. A persistent coolie. My boy’s indignation, and the sequel. Kindness of the people of Chung-king. The Chung-king Consulate. Need of keeping fit in travelling in China. Walking tabooed. The question of “face” and what it means. Author runs the gauntlet. Carrying coolie’s rate of pay. The so-called great paved highways of China, and a few remarks thereon. The garden of China. Magnificence of the scenery of Western China. The tea-shops. The Chinese coolie’s thirst and how the author drank. Population of Szech-wan. Minerals found. Salt and other things. The Chinese inn: how it holds the palm for unmitigated filth. Description of the rooms. Szech-wan and Yuen-nan caravanserais. Need of a camp bed. Toileting in unsecluded publicity. How the author was met at market towns. How the days do not get dull.
In a manner admirably befitting my rank as an English traveler, apart from the fact that I was the man who was endeavoring to cross China on foot, I was led out of Chung-king en route for Bhamo alone, my companion having had to leave me here.
It was Easter Sunday, a crisp spring morning.
First came a public sedan-chair, bravely borne by three of the finest fellows in all China, at the head of which on either side were two uniformed persons called soldiers—incomprehensible to one who has no knowledge of the interior, for they bore no marks whatever of the military—whilst uniformed men also solemnly guarded the back. Then came the grinning coolies, carrying that meager portion of my worldly goods which I had anticipated would have been engulfed in the Yangtze. And at the head of all, leading them on as captains do the Salvation Army, was I myself, walking along triumphantly, undoubtedly looking a person of weight, but somehow peculiarly unable to get out of my head that little adage apropos the fact that when the blind shall lead the blind both shall fall into a ditch! But Chinese decorum forbade my falling behind. I had determined to walk across China, every inch of the way or not at all; and the chair coolies, unaware of my intentions presumably, thought it a great joke when at the western gate, through which I departed, I gave instructions that one hundred cash be doled out to each man for his graciousness in escorting me through the town.
All the people were in the middle of the streets—those slippery streets of interminable steps—to give me at parting their blessings or their curses, and only with difficulty and considerable shouting and pushing could I sufficiently take their attention from the array of official and civil servants who made up my caravan as to effect an exit.