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Hangchow City

coolies, china, coolie, friend and boat

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HANGCHOW CITY North Gate—Dr. Main's Medical Mission and his Pagoda—Ride through the Hills— Purchase of old Stone Lions—Excitement among Coolies—I am Robbed of my Silver—Night—Fireflies, Beetles, Frogs—I Paint a Water-Buffalo.

The city of Hangchow is one of the most ancient and also one of the most prosperous in the south of China. At one time the capital, it still retains its importance, both commercially and politically. The streets are good, and a little broader than at Canton or Shanghai, and the shops are fine. One shop is noted for fans ; and here I bought a fan on which is depicted a view of the West Lake and moun tains as seen from the walls of the city, of most beauti ful and artistic design.

The North Gate of Hangchow, the principal entrance, with its carved roofs, rising high above the walls, is a fine building. The gates are closed at or soon after sundown ; and if one is shut out there is no hope of obtaining entrance until next morning, unless, as in my case, one is accompanied by a high official or well-known person. In this case a little persuasion and a kumshaw (tip), or gift, will induce the gatekeeper to lower a basket from an upper window, and, seated in this, the belated traveller is hauled up and let down on the other side.

There is a large mission station belonging to the Church Missionary Society, and one of the best foreign medical missions in China, in charge of Dr. Main, who also owns the hill by the lake and a Pagoda thereon— the only instance, I believe, of a foreigner owning such a building in China. I lay no claim to special know ledge of the missionary work, medical or otherwise, of my fellow-countrymen in China. I had neither the time nor the ability for such an inquiry, but I feel that it would be unjust to overlook the work of Dr. Main as head of a hospital of 25o beds, a leper hospital of 27 beds, a maternity training-school, first - aid homes for convalescents and consumptives, and, last but not least, the Medical College with its fifty students, which will have as far reaching an influence on the future of China as any of these other agencies.

In the words of Lord William Cecil, who visited the hospital recently : " Dr. Duncan Main has established such a position in that city, that when one walks round the vast city of Hangchow with him, one finds it hard to believe that Europeans were ever unpopular in China, and when one enters his leper refuge, and sees the happy smiles of welcome on the faces of the poor sufferers, one understands the reason for his popularity. The mandarin, who was in charge of the questions that concern foreigners in this province, told us that there was no friction in that city with Protestant Missions, which I suggest is owing to Dr. Main's influence." I must add that the writer was not speaking of a member of a society for which he holds a special brief.

On one of our rides up through the hills, stopping for a rest at a small temple, I came on some old carved stone lions, which I took a fancy to possess, and with my friend's help entered into negotiations with the chief priest for their purchase. What a haggling and bargaining there was ! But at last I became the pur chaser and paid a deposit, it being arranged that my friend would come back next day, bring coolies for their removal, and pay for them. I was at first doubtful how

these large and heavy stones could be got over these hills, with no roads, only narrow paths ; but my friend said it was easy enough, and, as he kindly volunteered to undertake the management of it, I knew it would be done. So next morning he, with the lawdah and three coolies from the boat, left for the hills, and on their way engaged carrying coolies. I went off as usual in my sampan up the creek, then overland to the West Lake, having with me only two coolies, and leaving the houseboat in charge of my own boy and one coolie. I had a long and very good day's work, and was glad when evening came to get into my sampan, which was brought for me each evening to the head of the Creek, for the return home ; but I noticed, though I could not understand why, that the coolie who had charge of the boat was talking very much. They all seemed rather excited ; and, when we reached the houseboat, there was more chatter and talk aft. I had hardly got aboard when I thought I could hear my friend returning, so I went ashore to meet him, and told him I was sure there was something up. The lawdah soon settled this. He came and reported, " One coolie have walkee." We went aboard at once, and, entering the cabin, saw there was some trouble : both hasps of the locks of my cabin trunk were broken, and on opening it I found that all my silver dollars were gone It turned out that my boy, left on the boat with one coolie and knowing us to be away for the day, thought he would have a holiday, and so took himself off. The coolie left : unaccustomed to so much responsibility, I suppose, he felt lonely, and to break the monotony smashed open my trunk, and departed with the silver. Only my note-case covered by some socks, with a string of coppers, lay untouched. This at once explained the excitement among the coolies. According to Chinese custom the lawdah, who engaged the coolies, was responsible to me for their honesty and good behaviour ; and he was, of course, in a great state, and declared he 'should go at once in pursuit of the thief. It was necessary that we should inform the Consul and police at Hano-rhnur Settlement, and we determined to ride in, that night, after having some food. When ready to start we noticed a distinct quietness, and found that the lawdah and all the remaining crew had gone off on the hunt. This meant that we could not both go, so my friend volunteered, and I remained on the boat, my boy, the cause of all this trouble, being my sole companion. Because there had been a good deal of trouble recently in this district with salt-smugglers and the like, and not knowing if the thief might be in league with others, my friend insisted that our guns should be loaded, and said, if he saw the coolies, he would tell them to shout before coming on board, as I was going to fire on any one who came on without warning.

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