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James Alexander Allan
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 82 pages of information about Under the Dragon Flag.
upon me, and I made signs that I wished to sleep.  They did not seem to have any clothing to offer me for my own which was drying in the blaze, but they brought in several long, coarse cloaks or mantles, and one of them enveloping himself in these, stretched himself before the fire on the ground, to intimate to me that in such a manner I must pass the night.  Another offered me a pipe of opium, which I knew it would be a great discourtesy, according to their ideas, to decline, although I was quite unaccustomed to the drug.  I therefore took it and affected to smoke, and as I lay down, they left the little room in which they had placed me, and I heard them barricade the door outside.

I immediately fell into a profound slumber.  The few whiffs of opium which, despite of myself, I had inhaled, had their effect, and produced a series of those magical dreams with which the drug tempts and deceives the novice.  Through all of them the idea of flight and pursuit ran bewilderingly.  I will give one as a specimen.  I dreamt that I was on the shore of the sea; the waters suddenly began to rise, and threatened to overwhelm me.  I turned and ran, but nearer and nearer the flood came after.  Then there yawned across my path a precipice of which I could not see the bottom.  Down I plunged.  I seemed to fly like a bird, and once more stood on firm ground.  The precipice seemed to reach to the sky behind me.  I resumed my flight, and looking back, beheld the flood leaping down the gulf in a mighty volume, with the sun rising above it, and bathing the illimitable cataract with golden light.  It would be impossible to describe or imagine the gorgeousness of the spectacle.  With such visions as these does the treacherous narcotic lure its victims.  I believe its use is forbidden by the Chinese military authorities, but the undisciplined soldiers seemed to use it extensively when they could get it, like tobacco.

CHAPTER V

I slept till the middle of the following day, and would in all probability have slept longer but that I was awakened by my hosts, if so I may term them.  My clothes were quite dry; I got into them, and was escorted outside at once.  The first thing I saw was a detachment of cavalry, mounted on little shaggy Tartar ponies.  One of these I was invited to bestride, and a moment afterwards, without the possibility of explanations being either asked or given, we were en route.

I may as well say at once that the spot where I had come ashore was the land below the West Port, and I was being conveyed to the Man-tse-ying fort, one of the principal seaward fortifications.  It has an elevation of 266 feet above the sea level, and the latter part of the ascent had to be made on foot.  I was at once taken before the commandant, who with a few other officers and a secretary sat prepared to investigate the peculiar circumstances which had brought a Fan Quei, or foreign devil, amongst them. 

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