During the night of December 4, there was a heavy fall of snow and in the morning we awoke to find ourselves in fairyland. We were living in a great white palace, with ceiling and walls of filmy glittering webs. The long, delicate strands of gray moss which draped themselves from tree to tree and branch to branch were each one converted into threads of crystal, forming a filigree lacework, infinitely beautiful.

It was hard to break camp and leave that silver palace, for every vista through the forest seemed more lovely than the one before, but we knew that another fall of snow would block the passes and shut us out from the Mekong valley. The mafus even refused to try the direct route across the mountains to Wei-hsi and insisted on going southward to the Shih-ku ferry and up the Yangtze River on the main caravan route.

It was a long trip and we looked forward with no pleasure to eight days of hard riding. The difficulty in obtaining hunters since leaving the Snow Mountain had made our big game collecting negligible although we had traveled through some excellent country. The Mekong valley might not be better but it was an unknown quantity and, whether or not it yielded specimens, the results from a survey of the mammal distribution would be none the less important, and we felt that it must be done; otherwise we should have turned our backs on the north and returned to Ta-li Fu.

As we rode down the mountain trail we passed caravan after caravan of Tibetans with heavily loaded horses, all bound for that land of mystery beyond the snow-capped barriers. Often we tried to stop some of the red-skinned natives and persuade them to pose for a color photograph, but usually they only shook their heads stubbornly and hurried past with averted faces. We finally waylaid a Chinese and a Tibetan who were walking together. The Chinaman was an amiable fellow and by giving each of them a glass jam tumbler they halted a moment. As soon as the photograph had been taken the Chinese indicated that he expected us to produce one and was thoroughly disgusted when we showed him that it was impossible.

Repassing the Lolo village, we followed the river gorge at the upper end of which Chung-tien is located and left the forests when we emerged on the main road. From the top of a ten thousand foot pass there was a magnificent view down the canon to the snow-capped mountains, which were beautiful beyond description in their changing colors of purple and gold.

Just after leaving the pass we met a caravan of several hundred horses each bearing two whole pigs bent double and tied to the saddles. The animals had been denuded of hair, salted, and sewn up, and soon would be distributed among the villages somewhere in the interior of Tibet.

On the second day we saw before us seven snow-crowned peaks as sharp and regular as the teeth of a saw rising above the mouth of the stream where it spreads like a fan over a sandy delta and empties into the Yangtze. Here the mighty river, flowing proudly southward from its home in the wind-blown steppes of the "Forbidden Land," countless ages ago found the great Snow Mountain range barring its path. Thrust aside, it doubled back upon itself along the barrier's base, still restlessly seeking a passage through the wall of rock. Far to the north it bit hungrily into the mountain's side again, broke through, and swung south gathering strength and volume from hundreds of tributaries as it rushed onward to the sea.

For two days we rode along the river bank and crossed at the Shih-ku ferry. There was none of the difficulty here which we had experienced at Taku, for the river is wide and the current slow. It required only two hours to transport our entire caravan while at the other ferry we had waited a day and a half. Strangely enough, although there are dozens of villages along the Yangtze and the valley is highly cultivated, we saw no sign of fishing. Moreover, we passed but three boats and five or six rafts and it was evident that this great waterway, which for fifteen hundred miles from its mouth influences the trade of China so profoundly, is here used but little by the natives.

On the ride down the river we had good sport with the huge cranes (probably Grus nigricollis) which, in small flocks, were feeding along the river fields. The birds stood about five feet high and we could see their great black and white bodies and black necks farther than a man was visible. It was fairly easy to stalk them to within a hundred yards, but even at that distance they offered a rather small target, for they were so largely wings, neck, legs, and tail. We were never within shotgun range and indeed it would be difficult to kill the birds with anything smaller than BB or buckshot unless they were very near.

Heller shot our first cranes with his .250-.300 Savage rifle. He stole upon five which were feeding in a meadow and fired while two were "lined up." One of the huge birds flapped about on the ground for a few moments and lay still, but the larger was only wing-tipped and started off at full speed across the fields. Two mafus left the caravan, yelling with excitement, and ran for nearly half a mile before they overtook the bird. Then they were kept at bay for fifteen minutes by its long beak which is a really formidable weapon. As food the cranes were perfectly delicious when stuffed with chestnut dressing and roasted. Each one provided two meals for three of us with enough left over for hash and our appetites were by no means birdlike.

Although the natives attempt to kill cranes they are not often successful, for the birds are very watchful and will not allow a man within a hundred yards. Such a distance for primitive guns or crossbows might as well be a hundred miles, but with our high-power rifles we were able to shoot as many as were needed for food.

The birds almost invariably followed the river when flying and fed in the rice, barley, and corn fields not far from the water. It was an inspiring sight to see a flock of the huge birds run for a few steps along the ground and then launch themselves into the air, their black and white wings flashing in the sunlight. They formed into orderly ranks like a company of soldiers or strung out in a long thin line across the sky.

When we disturbed a flock from especially desirable feeding grounds they would sometimes whirl and circle above the fields, ascending higher and higher in great spirals until they were lost to sight, their musical voices coming faintly down to us like the distant shouts of happy children.

When we returned to Ta-li Fu in early January, cranes were very abundant in the fields about the lake. They had arrived in late October and would depart in early spring, according to Mr. Evans. We often saw the birds on sand banks along the Yangtze, but they were usually resting or quietly walking about and were not feeding; apparently they eat only rice, barley, corn, or other grain.

This species was discovered by the great traveler and naturalist, Lieutenant Colonel Prjevalsky, who found it in the Koko-nor region of Tibet, and it was later recorded by Prince Henri d'Orleans from Tsang in the Tibetan highlands. Apparently specimens from Yuen-nan have not been preserved in museums and the bird was not known to occur in this portion of China.

Along the Yangtze on our way westward we shot a good many mallard ducks (Anas boscas) and ruddy sheldrakes (Casarca casarca ); the latter are universally known as "brahminy ducks" by the foreigners in Burma and Yuen-nan, but they are not true ducks. The name is derived from the bird's beautiful buff and rufous color which is somewhat like that of the robes worn by the Brahmin priests. In America the name "sheldrake" is applied erroneously to the fish-eating mergansers, and much confusion has thus arisen, for the two are quite unrelated and belong to perfectly distinct groups. The mergansers have narrow, hooked, saw-toothed beaks quite unlike those of the sheldrakes, and their habits are entirely dissimilar.

The brahminy ducks, although rather tough, are not bad eating. We usually found them feeding in fields not far from the river or in flooded rice dykes, and very often sitting in pairs on the sand banks near the water. They have a bisyllabic rather plaintive note which is peculiarly fascinating to me and, like the honk of the Canada goose, awakens memories of sodden, wind-blown marshes, bobbing decoys, and a leaden sky shot through with V-shaped lines of flying birds.

Mallards were frequently to be found with the sheldrakes, and we had good shooting along the river and in ponds and rice fields. We also saw a few teal but they were by no means abundant. Pheasants were scarce. We shot a few along the road and near some of our camps, but we found no place in Yuen-nan where one could have even a fair day's shooting without the aid of a good dog. This is strikingly different from Korea where in a walk over the hillsides a dozen or more pheasants can be flushed within an hour.

After two and one-half days' travel up the Yangtze we turned westward toward Wei-hsi and camped on a beautiful flat plain beside a tree-bordered stream. It was a cold clear night and after dinner and a smoke about the fire we all turned in.

Both of us were asleep when suddenly a perfect bedlam of angry exclamations and Chinese curses roused the whole camp. In a few moments Wu came to our tent, almost speechless with rage and stammered, "Damn fool soldiers come try to take our horses; say if mafu no give them horses they untie loads. Shall I tell mafu break their heads?" We did not entirely understand the situation but it seemed quite proper to give the mafus permission to do the head-breaking, and they went at it with a will. After a volley of blows, there was a scamper of feet on the frozen ground and the soldiers retired considerably the worse for wear.

When the battle was over, Wu explained matters more fully. It appeared that a large detachment of soldiers had recently passed up this road to A-tun-tzu and four or five had remained behind to attend to the transport of certain supplies. Seeing an opportunity for "graft" the soldiers were stopping every caravan which passed and threatening to commandeer it unless the mafus gave a sufficient bribe to buy their immunity. Our mafus, with the protection which foreigners gave them, had paid off a few old scores with interest. That they had neglected no part of the reckoning was quite evident when next morning two of the soldiers came to apologize for their "mistake." One of them had a black and swollen eye and the other was nursing a deep cut on his forehead; they were exceedingly humble and did not venture into camp until they had been assured that we would not again loose our terrible mafus upon them.

Such extortions are every day occurrences in many parts of China and it is little wonder that the military is cordially hated and feared by the peasants. The soldiers, taking advantage of their uniform, oppress the villagers in numberless ways from which there is no redress. If a complaint is made a dozen soldiers stand ready to swear that the offense was justified or was never committed, and the poor farmer is lucky if he escapes without a beating or some more severe punishment. It is a disgrace to China that such conditions are allowed to exist, and it is to be hoped that ere many years have passed the country will awake to a proper recognition of the rights of the individual. Until she does there never can be a national spirit of patriotism in China and without patriotism the Republic can be one in name only.