After one has traveled in a Chinese sampan for several days the prospect of a river journey is not very alluring but we had a most agreeable surprise when we sailed out of Foochow in a chartered house boat to hunt the "blue tiger" at Futsing. In fact, we had all the luxury of a private yacht, for our boat contained a large central cabin with a table and chairs and two staterooms and was manned by a captain and crew of six men - all for $1.50 per day!

In the evening we talked of the blue tiger for a long time before we spread our beds on the roof of the boat and went to sleep under the stars. We left the boat shortly after daylight at Daing-nei for the six-mile walk to Lung-tao. To my great surprise the coolies were considerably distressed at the lightness of our loads. In this region they are paid by weight and some of the bearers carry almost incredible burdens. As an example, one of our men came into camp swinging a 125-pound trunk on each end of his pole, laughing and chatting as gayly as though he had not been carrying 250 pounds for six miles under a broiling sun.

Mr. Caldwell's Chinese hunter, Da-Da, lived at Lung-tao and we found his house to be one of several built on the outskirts of a beautiful grove of gum and banyan trees. Although it was exceptionally clean for a Chinese dwelling, we pitched our tents a short distance away. At first we were somewhat doubtful about sleeping outside, but after one night indoors we decided that any risk was preferable to spending another hour in the stifling heat of the house.

It was probable that a tiger would be so suspicious of the white tents that it would not attack us, but nevertheless during the first nights we were rather wakeful and more than once at some strange night sound seized our rifles and flashed the electric lamp into the darkness.

Tigers often come into this village. Only a few hundred yards from our camp site, in 1911, a tiger had rushed into the house of one of the peasants and attempted to steal a child that had fallen asleep at its play under the family table. All was quiet in the house when suddenly the animal dashed through the open door. The Chinese declare that the gods protected the infant, for the beast missed his prey and seizing the leg of the table against which the baby's head was resting, bolted through the door dragging the table into the courtyard.

This was the work of the famous "blue tiger" which we had come to hunt and which had on two occasions been seen by Mr. Caldwell. The first time he heard of this strange beast was in the spring of 1910. The animal was reported as having been seen at various places within an area of a few miles almost simultaneously and so mysterious were its movements that the Chinese declared it was a spirit of the devil. After several unsuccessful hunts Mr. Caldwell finally saw the tiger at close range but as he was armed with only a shotgun it would have been useless to shoot.

His second view of the beast was a few weeks later and in the same place. I will give the story in his own words:

"I selected a spot upon a hill-top and cleared away the grass and ferns with a jack-knife for a place to tie the goat. I concealed myself in the bushes ten feet away to await the attack, but the unexpected happened and the tiger approached from the rear.

"When I first saw the beast he was moving stealthily along a little trail just across a shallow ravine. I supposed, of course, that he was trying to locate the goat which was bleating loudly, but to my horror I saw that he was creeping upon two boys who had entered the ravine to cut grass. The huge brute moved along lizard-fashion for a few yards and then cautiously lifted his head above the grass. He was within easy springing distance when I raised my rifle, but instantly I realized that if I wounded the animal the boys would certainly meet a horrible death.

"Tigers are usually afraid of the human voice so instead of firing I stepped from the bushes, yelling and waving my arms. The huge cat, crouched for a spring, drew back, wavered uncertainly for a moment, and then slowly slipped away into the grass. The boys were saved but I had lost the opportunity I had sought for over a year.

"However, I had again seen the animal about which so many strange tales had been told. The markings of the beast are strikingly beautiful. The ground color is of a delicate shade of maltese, changing into light gray-blue on the underparts. The stripes are well defined and like those of the ordinary yellow tiger."

Before I left New York Mr. Caldwell had written me repeatedly urging me to stop at Futsing on the way to Yuen-nan to try with him for the blue tiger which was still in the neighborhood. I was decidedly skeptical as to its being a distinct species, but nevertheless it was a most interesting animal and would certainly be well worth getting.

I believed then, and my opinion has since been strengthened, that it is a partially melanistic phase of the ordinary yellow tiger. Black leopards are common in India and the Malay Peninsula and as only a single individual of the blue tiger has been reported the evidence hardly warrants the assumption that it represents a distinct species.

We hunted the animal for five weeks. The brute ranged in the vicinity of two or three villages about seven miles apart, but was seen most frequently near Lung-tao. He was as elusive as a will o' the wisp, killing a dog or goat in one village and by the time we had hurried across the mountains appearing in another spot a few miles away, leaving a trail of terrified natives who flocked to our camp to recount his depredations. He was in truth the "Great Invisible" and it seemed impossible that we should not get him sooner or later, but we never did.

Once we missed him by a hair's breadth through sheer bad luck, and it was only by exercising almost superhuman restraint that we prevented ourselves from doing bodily harm to the three Chinese who ruined our hunt. Every evening for a week we had faithfully taken a goat into the "Long Ravine," for the blue tiger had been seen several times near this lair. On the eighth afternoon we were in the "blind" at three o'clock as usual. We had tied a goat to a tree nearby and her two kids were but a few feet away.

The grass-filled lair lay shimmering in the breathless heat, silent save for the echoes of the bleating goats. Crouched behind the screen of branches, for three long hours we sat in the patchwork shade, - motionless, dripping with perspiration, hardly breathing, - and watched the shadows steal slowly down the narrow ravine.

It was a wild place which seemed to have been cut out of the mountain side with two strokes of a mighty ax and was choked with a tangle of thorny vines and sword grass. Impenetrable as a wall of steel, the only entrance was by the tiger tunnels which drove their twisting way through the murderous growth far in toward its gloomy heart.

The shadows had passed over us and just reached a lone palm tree on the opposite hillside. By that I knew it was six o'clock and in half an hour another day of disappointment would be ended. Suddenly at the left and just below us there came the faintest crunching sound as a loose stone shifted under a heavy weight; then a rustling in the grass. Instantly the captive goat gave a shrill bleat of terror and tugged frantically at the rope which held it to the tree.

At the first sound Harry had breathed in my ear "Get ready, he's coming." I was half kneeling with my heavy .405 Winchester pushed forward and the hammer up. The blood drummed in my ears and my neck muscles ached with the strain but I thanked Heaven that my hands were steady.

Caldwell sat like a graven image, the stock of his little 22 caliber high power Savage nestling against his cheek. Our eyes met for an instant and I knew in that glance that the blue tiger would never make another charge, for if I missed him, Harry wouldn't. For ten minutes we waited and my heart lost a beat when twenty feet away the grass began to move again - but rapidly and up the ravine.

I saw Harry watching the lair with a puzzled look which changed to one of disgust as a chorus of yells sounded across the ravine and three Chinese wood cutters appeared on the opposite slope. They were taking a short cut home, shouting to drive away the tigers - and they had succeeded only too well, for the blue tiger had slipped back to the heart of the lair from whence he had come.

He had been nearly ours and again we had lost him! I felt so badly that I could not even swear and it wasn't the fact that Harry was a missionary which kept me from it, either. Caldwell exclaimed just once, for his disappointment was even more bitter than mine; he had been hunting this same tiger off and on for six years.

It was useless for us to wait longer that evening and we pushed our way through the sword grass to the entrance of the tunnel down which the tiger had come. There in the soft earth were the great footprints where he had crouched at the entrance to take a cautious survey before charging into the open.

As we looked, Harry suddenly turned to me and said: "Roy, let's go into the lair. There is just one chance in a thousand that we may get a shot." Now I must admit that I was not very enthusiastic about that little excursion, but in we went, crawling on our hands and knees up the narrow passage. Every few feet we passed side branches from the main tunnel in any one of which the tiger might easily have been lying in wait and could have killed us as we passed. It was a foolhardy thing to do and I am free to admit that I was scared. It was not long before Harry twisted about and said: "Roy, I haven't lost any tigers in here; let's get out." And out we came faster than we went in.

This was only one of the times when the "Great Invisible" was almost in our hands. A few days later a Chinese found the blue tiger asleep under a rice bank early in the afternoon. Frightened almost to death he ran a mile and a half to our camp only to find that we had left half an hour before for another village where the brute had killed two wild cats early in the morning.

Again, the tiger pushed open the door of a house at daybreak just as the members of the family were getting up, stole a dog from the "heaven's well," dragged it to a hillside and partly devoured it. We were in camp only a mile away and our Chinese hunters found the carcass on a narrow ledge in the sword grass high up on the mountain side. The spot was an impossible one to watch and we set a huge grizzly bear trap which had been carried with us from New York.

It seemed out of the question for any animal to return to the carcass of the dog without getting caught and yet the tiger did it. With his hind quarters on the upper terrace he dropped down, stretched his long neck across the trap, seized the dog which had been wired to a tree and pulled it away. It was evident that he was quite unconscious of the trap for his fore feet had actually been placed upon one of the jaws only two inches from the pan which would have sprung it.

One afternoon we responded to a call from Bui-tao, a village seven miles beyond Lung-tao, where the blue tiger had been seen that day. The natives assured us that the animal continually crossed a hill, thickly clothed with pines and sword grass just above the village and even though it was late when we arrived Harry thought it wise to set the trap that night.

It was pitch dark before we reached the ridge carrying the trap, two lanterns, an electric flash-lamp and a wretched little dog for bait. We had been engaged for about fifteen minutes making a pen for the dog, and Caldwell and I were on our knees over the trap when suddenly a low rumbling growl came from the grass not twenty feet away. We jumped to our feet just as it sounded again, this time ending in a snarl. The tiger had arrived a few moments too early and we were in the rather uncomfortable position of having to return to the village by way of a narrow trail through the jungle. With our rifles ready and the electric lamp cutting a brilliant path in the darkness we walked slowly toward the edge of the sword grass hoping to see the flash of the tiger's eyes, but the beast backed off beyond the range of the light into an impenetrable tangle where we could not follow. Apparently he was frightened by the lantern, for we did not hear him again.

After nearly a month of disappointments such as these Mr. Heller joined us at Bui-tao with Mr. Kellogg. Caldwell thought it advisable to shift camp to the Ling-suik monastery, about twelve miles away, where he had once spent a summer with his family and had killed several tigers. This was within the blue tiger's range and, moreover, had the advantage of offering a better general collecting ground than Bui-tao; thus with Heller to look after the small mammals we could begin to make our time count for something if we did not get the tiger.

Ling-suik is a beautiful temple, or rather series of temples, built into a hillside at the end of a long narrow valley which swells out like a great bowl between bamboo clothed mountains, two thousand feet in height. On his former visit Mr. Caldwell had made friends with the head priest and we were allowed to establish ourselves upon the broad porch of the third and highest building. It was an ideal place for a collecting camp and would have been delightful except for the terrible heat which was rendered doubly disagreeable by the almost continual rain.

The priests who shuffled about the temples were a hard lot. Most of them were fugitives from justice and certainly looked the part, for a more disreputable, diseased and generally undesirable body of men I have never seen.

Our stay at Ling-suik was productive and the temple life interesting. We slept on the porch and each morning, about half an hour before daylight, the measured strokes of a great gong sounded from the temple just below us. Boom - boom - boom - boom it went, then rapidly bang, bang, bang. It was a religious alarm clock to rouse the world.

A little later when the upturned gables and twisted dolphins on the roof had begun to take definite shape in the gray light of the new day, the gong boomed out again, doors creaked, and from their cell-like rooms shuffled the priests to yawn and stretch themselves before the early service. The droning chorus of hoarse voices, swelling in a meaningless half-wild chant, harmonized strangely with the romantic surroundings of the temple and become our daily matin and evensong.

At the first gong we slipped from beneath our mosquito nets and dressed to be ready for the bats which fluttered into the building to hide themselves beneath the tiles and rafters. When daylight had fully come we scattered to the four winds of heaven to inspect traps, hunt barking deer, or collect birds, but gathered again at nine o'clock for breakfast and to deposit our spoil. Caldwell and I always spent the afternoon at the blue tiger's lair but the animal had suddenly shifted his operations back to Lung-tao and did not appear at Ling-suik while we were there.

Our work in Fukien taught us much that may be of help to other naturalists who contemplate a visit to this province. We satisfied ourselves that summer collecting is impracticable, for the heat is so intense and the vegetation so heavy that only meager results can be obtained for the efforts expended. Continual tramping over the mountains in the blazing sun necessarily must have its effect upon the strongest constitution, and even a man like Mr. Caldwell, who has become thoroughly acclimated, is not immune.

Both Caldwell and I lost from fifteen to twenty pounds in weight during the time we hunted the blue tiger and each of us had serious trouble from abscesses. I have never worked in a more trying climate - even that of Borneo and the Dutch East Indies where I collected in 1909-10, was much less debilitating than Fukien in the summer. The average temperature was about 95 degrees in the shade, but the humidity was so high that one felt as though one were wrapped in a wet blanket and even during a six weeks' rainless period the air was saturated with moisture from the sea-winds.

In winter the weather is raw and damp, but collecting then would be vastly easier than in summer, not only on account of climatic conditions, but because much of the vegetation disappears and there is an opportunity for "still hunting."

Trapping for small mammal is especially difficult because of the dense population. The mud dykes and the rice fields usually are covered with tracks of civets, mongooses, and cats which come to hunt frogs or fish, but if a trap is set it either catches a Chinaman or promptly is stolen. Moreover, the small mammals are neither abundant nor varied in number of species, and the larger forms, such as tiger, leopard, wild pig and serow are exceedingly difficult to kill.

While our work in the province was done during an unfavorable season and in only two localities, yet enough was seen of the general conditions to make it certain that a thorough zooelogical study of the region would require considerable time and hard work and that the results, so far as a large collection of mammals is concerned, would not be highly satisfactory. Work in the western part of the province among the Bohea Hills undoubtedly would be more profitable, but even there it would be hardly worth while for an expedition with limited time and money.

Bird life is on a much better footing, but the ornithology of Fukien already has received considerable attention through the collections of Swinhoe, La Touche, Styan, Ricketts, Caldwell and others, and probably not a great number of species remain to be described.

Much work could still be done upon the herpetology of the region, however, and I believe that this branch of zooelogy would be well worth investigation for reptiles and batrachians are fairly abundant and the natives would rather assist than retard one's efforts.

The language of Fukien is a greater annoyance than in any other of the Chinese coast provinces. The Foochow dialect (which is one of the most difficult to learn) is spoken only within fifty or one hundred miles of the city. At Yen-ping Mr. Caldwell, who speaks "Foochow" perfectly, could not understand a word of the "southern mandarin" which is the language of that region, and near Futsing, where a colony of natives from Amoy have settled, the dialect is unintelligible to one who knows only "Foochow."

Travel in Fukien is an unceasing trial, for transport is entirely by coolies who carry from eighty to one hundred pounds. The men are paid by distance or weight; therefore, when coolies finally have been obtained there is the inevitable wrangling over loads so that from one to two hours are consumed before the party can start.

But the worst of it is that one can never be certain when one's entire outfit will arrive at its new destination. Some men walk much faster than others, some will delay a long time for tea, or may give out altogether if the day be hot, with the result that the last load will arrive perhaps five or six hours after the first one.

As horses are not to be had, if one does not walk the only alternative is to be carried in a mountain chair, which is an uncomfortable, trapeze-like affair and only to be found along the main highways. On the whole, transport by man-power in China is so uncertain and expensive that for a large expedition it forms a grave obstacle to successful work, if time and funds be limited.

On the other hand, servants are cheap and usually good. We employed a very fair cook who received monthly seven dollars Mexican (then about three and one-half dollars gold), and "boys" were hired at from five to seven dollars (Mexican). As none of the servants knew English they could be obtained at much lower wages, but English-speaking cooks usually receive from fifteen to twenty dollars (Mexican) a month.

It was hard to leave Fukien without the blue tiger but we had hunted him unsuccessfully for five weeks and there was other and more important work awaiting us in Yuen-nan. It required thirty porters to transport our baggage from the Ling-suik monastery to Daing-nei, twenty-one miles away, where two houseboats were to meet us, and by ten o'clock in the evening we were lying off Pagoda Anchorage awaiting the flood tide to take us to Foochow. We made our beds on the deck house and in the morning opened our eyes to find the boat tied to the wharf at the Custom House on the Bund, and ourselves in full view of all Foochow had it been awake at that hour.

The week of packing and repacking that followed was made easy for us by Claude Kellogg, who acted as our ministering angel. I think there must be a special Providence that watches over wandering naturalists and directs them to such men as Kellogg, for without divine aid they could never be found. When we last saw him, he stood on the stone steps of the water front waving his hat as we slipped away on the tide, to board the S.S. Haitan for Hongkong.