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Good-Bye to Hangchow

city, friend, notes, foreign and shanghai

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GOOD-BYE TO HANGCHOW My Friend leaves Me—Bank-Notes—Fan Shop—Painting at the City Gate—My Coolie straps Another—Coffin on the Pathway—Hot Weather—Night in Hangchow City—A Fire—Good-bye to Hangchow—On the Grand Canal— Return to Shanghai.

At this time my friend had to leave me and return to his duties in Shanghai, and with much regret I parted from a cheery and resourceful companion and was left in solitude. But within a few days this was pleasantly broken again by another friend coming up from Shanghai for the week-end to have a look round this lovely district, and I had the pleasure of a long day's ride with him and my friend, the Chief of Police and Magistrate from the Settlement—a man who knew all the neighbourhood, spoke Chinese, and was a great help to me during my stay.

We of course rode along the causeways across the lake, and away up into the hills to see the Lin Yin Temples, and finished by going to the city to allow my friend from Shanghai to buy a fan. Entering by the West Gate I suddenly said to him that I hoped he had got some money with him. He replied he had foreign notes. " Oh," I said "they are no use here; that bank is boycotted, and the 75 people here don't like their notes." This was quite true ; I had great difficulty recently to get even a small one changed ; but I was only chaffing him, because I knew that where we were going—the fan shop—they would take a foreign note. But he, being a high official in the bank, was quite disgusted that their notes should ever be doubted, let alone refused. For a time, however, this was so. The foreign banks rightly refused to take notes on native banks, which had no reserve with which to meet them, and the native banks retaliated by boycotting the foreign bank-notes, and inducing the native traders to do so.

The fan shop was large and seemed prosperous. We were told that fans were sent from here to all parts of the world, and, seeing the beautiful work, I was not surprised. All kinds of materials were used for these fans, from the common paper with cheap cane handles and ribs to the finest silk most exquisitely painted and mounted on carved ivory ; many of the fans, too, were made of various kinds of feathers.

Our bargaining here was helped by cups of green tea, which the shopman handed round ; and this was not un welcome after a long ride in the heat.

One of my subjects was the North Gate of the city, to do which I had about three miles to walk. I doubt if such a thing had been seen here before as a foreigner sitting on a stool with an easel set up and a white umbrella over him, painting a picture of the gateway ; and the usual swarms of pe9ple came to surround and watch me. My lawdah got his rope out and formed a triangle with it to keep the crowd off, and he and the coolies had their work cut out. The people coming out of the city gates would make straight for me and get in my way, so a coolie was instructed to keep them off; and one time, on looking up, I was amused to see that my coolie had got one of my straps and with it was deliberately smacking a man over the head and face to make him get out of the way. I could not help laughing even though I called out to him to desist, but every one laughed—even the man who had been strapped ! It was very interesting to sit at this gate and see the various goings in and out. The beggars were here, of course, and the small hawkers with their trays of various articles of food. Then would come out a small mandarin in his chair, followed by that of his wife, and preceded by his red umbrella, and then his followers on ponies—and a rough and ragged-looking lot they were. He was probably going to his country house and likely enough was a rich man ; but I could not help comparing this gentleman's departure from the city to his country seat, with that of a man of his position and means in this country—his importance was estimated by the number of his followers, ours by the smart and trim appearance.

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