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G.E. Morrison

I left the boat at Chungking and started on my land journey, going west 230 miles to Suifu. I had with me two coolies to carry my things, the one who received the higher pay having also to bring me my food, make my bed, and pay away my copper cash. They could not speak a single word of English. They were to be paid for the journey one 4s. 10 d. and the other 5s. 7d. They were to be entitled to no perquisites, were to find themselves on the way, and take their chance of employment on the return journey.

It was market day in Santa, and the accustomed crowd gathered round me as I stood in the open square in front of the Sawbwa's yamen. I was hot and hungry, for it was still early in the afternoon, and the attentions of the people were oppressive. Presently two men pushed their way through the spectators, and politely motioning to me to follow them, they led me to a neighbouring temple, to the upper storey, where the side pavilion off the chief hall was being prepared for my reception. My quarters overlooked the main court; the pony was comfortably stabled in the corner below me.

At Suifu I rested a day in order to engage new coolies to go with me to Chaotong in Yunnan Province, distant 290 miles. Neither of my two Chungking men would re-engage to go further. Yet in Chungking Laokwang the cook had declared that he was prepared to go with me all the way to Tali-fu. But now he feared the loneliness of the road to Chaotong. The way, he said, was mountainous and little trodden, and robbers would see the smallness of our party and "come down and stab us." I was then glad that I had not paid him the retaining fee he had asked in Chungking to take me to Tali.

We now left the low land and the open country, the pastures and meadows, and climbed up the jungle-clad spurs which form the triangular dividing range that separates the broad and open valley of the Taiping, where Manyuen is situated, from the confined and tropical valley of the Hongmuho, which lies at the foot of the English frontier fort of Nampoung, the present boundary of Burma. Two miles below Nampoung the two rivers join, and the combined stream flows on to enter the Irrawaddy a mile or two above Bhamo.

I engaged three new men in Suifu, who undertook to take me to Chaotong, 290 miles, in thirteen days, special inducement being held out to them in the shape of a reward of one shilling each to do the journey in eleven days. Their pay was to be seven shillings and threepence each, apart from the bonus, and of course they had to find themselves. They brought me from the coolie-hong, where they were engaged, an agreement signed by the hong-master, which was to be returned to them in Chaotong, and remitted to their master as a receipt for my safe delivery.

The finest residence in Bhamo is, of course, the American mission. America nobly supports her self-sacrificing and devoted sons who go forth to arrest the "awful ruin of souls" among the innumerable millions of Asia, who are "perishing without hope, having sinned without law." The missionary in charge told me that he labours with a "humble heart to bring a knowledge of the Saving Truth to the perishing heathen among the Kachins." His appointment is one which even a worldly-minded man might covet. I will give an instance of his methods.

By the following day we had crossed the mountains, and were walking along the level upland that leads to the plain of Chaotong. And on Sunday, April 1st, we reached the city. Cedars, held sacred, with shrines in the shelter of their branches, dot the plain; peach-trees and pear-trees were now in full bloom; the harvest was ripening in the fields. There were black-faced sheep in abundance, red cattle with short horns, and the ubiquitous water-buffalo. Over the level roads primitive carts, drawn by red oxen, were rumbling in the dust.

Chaotong is an important centre for the distribution of medicines to Szechuen and other parts of the empire. An extraordinary variety of drugs and medicaments is collected in the city. No pharmacopoeia is more comprehensive than the Chinese. No English physician can surpass the Chinese in the easy confidence with which he will diagnose symptoms that he does not understand.

In Chaotong I engaged three new men to go with me to Tongchuan, a distance of no miles, and I rewarded liberally the three excellent fellows who had accompanied me from Suifu. My new men were all active Chinamen. The headman Laohwan was most anxious to come with me. Recognising that he possessed characteristics which his posterity would rejoice to have transmitted to them, he had lately taken to himself a wife and now, a fortnight later, he sought rest. He would come with me to Burma, the further away the better; he wished to prove the truth of the adage about distance and enchantment.

When I entered Tongchuan the town was in commotion; kettledrums and tomtoms were beating, and crackers and guns firing; the din and clatter was continuous and deafening. An eclipse of the sun was commencing - it was the 6th of April - "the sun was being swallowed by the Dog of Heaven," and the noise was to compel the monster to disgorge its prey. Five months ago the Prefect of the city had been advised of the impending disaster, and it was known that at a certain hour he would publicly intervene with Heaven to avert from the city the calamity of darkness.

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