The last day’s march to Tong-ch’uan-fu is perhaps the most interesting of this stage of my journey. Climbing over boulders and stony steps, I reached an altitude of 8,500 feet, whence thirty li of pleasant going awaited us all the way to Lang-wang-miao (Temple of the Dragon King). Here I sat down and strained my eyes to catch the glimpse of the compact little walled city, where I hoped my broken arm would be set by the European missionaries. The traveler invariably hastens his pace here, expecting to run down the hill and across the plain in a very short space; but as the time passed, and I slowly wended my way along the difficult paths through the rice fields, I began to realize that I had been duped, and that it was farther than it seemed. Two blushing damsels, maids goodly to look upon, gave me the sweetest of smiles as I strode across the bodies of some fat pigs which roamed at large in the outskirts of the city, the only remembrance I have to mar the cleanliness of the place.
At Tong-ch’uan-fu the Rev. A. Evans and his extremely hospitable wife set my arm and did everything they could—as much as a brother and sister could have done—to help me, and to make my short stay with them a most happy remembrance. It was, however, destined that I should be their guest for many months, as shall hereinafter be explained.
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A trio of Europeans might have been seen on the morning of Monday, May 10, 1909, leaving Tong-ch’uan-fu on the road to Yuen-nan-fu, whither the author was bound. Mr. and Mrs. Evans, who, as chance would have it, were going to Ch’u-tsing-fu, were to accompany me for two days before turning off in a southerly direction when leaving the prefecture.
It was a fine spring morning, balmy and bonny. It was decided that I should ride a pony, and this I did, abandoning my purpose of crossing China on foot with some regret. I was not yet fit, had my broken arm in splints, but rejoiced that at Yuen-nan-fu I should be able to consult a European medical man. Comparatively an unproductive task—and perhaps a false and impossible one—would it be for me to detail the happenings of the few days next ensuing. I should be able not to look at things themselves, but merely at the shadow of things—and it would serve no profitable end.
Suffice it to say that two days out, about midday, a special messenger from the capital stopped Mr. Evans and handed him a letter. It was to tell him that his going to Ch’u-tsing-fu would be of no use, as the gentleman he was on his way to meet would not arrive, owing to altered plans. After consulting his wife, he hesitated whether they should go back to Tong-ch’uan-fu, or come on to the capital with me. The latter course was decided upon, as I was so far from well—I learned this some time afterwards. And now the story need not be lengthened.