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Books by Mary Gaunt 


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I HAVE to thank my friend Mrs Lang for the drastic 
criticism which once more has materially helped me 
to write this book. Other people also have I to 
thank, but so great was the kindness I received 
everywhere I can only hope each one will see in this 
book some token of my sincere gratitude. 

Mary Gaunt. 

Mary Haven, 
New Eltham, Kent. 



I. The Lure of the Unknown . . . . i 

"Come and find me" — Gloomy prognostications — Mr Purdom's 
views — " Keep your last cartridge for yourself" — Putting things in 
their proper perspective — An interpreter — A fool in any language — 
A Babylonish master of transport — The most important member of 
the party, James Buchanan — "Delay journey — White Wolf in 
Shensi " — A robber and his pursuers — By way of T'ai Yuan Fu 

II. Truculent T'ai Yuan Fu . . . • '5 

The Pekinese who did not appreciate the Chinaman — The woman 
who had made a fatal mistake — The gentlemen who ran the B.A.T. 
— The French line to T'ai Yuan Fu — Fleeing down the line on a 
trolly — Cutting off queues — T'ai Yuan Fu during the revolution 

III. The First Sign of Unrest . . . -31 

The joys of riding a pack-mule — The Flower Garden — A litter — The 
Jews of Shansi — A letter from Dr Edwards — White Wolf again — Not 
the act of a friend — The town in the shape of a turtle — The lonely 
missionary woman — The grace of the little children 

IV. A City Under the Hills . . . -49 

Two missionary systems — Admiration of the Chinaman for medical 
and scholastic missions — A Scandinavian faith mission — Friendly 
Fen Chou Fu — The building of the wall — The phcenixes that guard 
the town — A drawback to walls — A fair in a temple — The old-world 
wells — A Christian wedding — And a Christian wedding adapted 

V. " Miserere Domine ! " . . . . -75 

"People will think you a suffragette!" — A useful citizen — Medical 
missions — "The Crying in the Wilderness" — Backsliders — Pioneers 
— The daily clinic — Ingrowing eyelashes — Chinese nurses — The 
torture of foot-binding — Breaking the bone — Cuban heels in flesh — 
The mincing walk — Marks of suffering — Lectures to women only — 
Dependent chattels — The woman whose husband had sold her — The 
son who had been insolent to his father 




VI. By Mountain and River . . . -93 

Complaint of the muleteers — Into the loess — Trusting a mule — Diffi- 
culties of a mule litter — "Buchanan declines" — A caravan route — 
The supercilious camel — The provisions of the people — A wonk dead 
and diseased — A major operation at a camel inn — The packed villages 
— The portent of the empty pack-saddles — The village of jfoos — 
Cheap inns — Yung Ning Chou — A faith mission — The wistful 
Scandinavian missionary — Sui Te Chou shuts her gates 

VII. China's Sorrow . . . . .116 

The summer rain — An inn-yard in the rain — Shelter in a lime-shed — 
An interested crowd — And a courteous one — The news of Pai Lang 
— A woman's show — The views of travellers — A mountain pass — A 
steep way — Worth it all — One of the world's great rivers — "Ex- 
pending too much heart " — The farthest point west — Turning back 

VIII. Last Days in China. . . . .127 

How to counteract failure — Dr Edwards' views — Spelled death — 
Another Chinese traveller with views diametrically opposed — ' ' The 
little old woman on the k!ang" — The Roman Catholic Agricultural 
Mission — The wonderful temple at Tsui Su — Also the rats — Hwailu 
— The devoted missionaries — " The dear Lord will never let it rain " 
— The long hair of the women — The last meeting of the Travellers' 
Club at Pao Ting Fu — Buying curios — In a house-boat — A courtly 
little dog — Spheres of influence — The best thing for China 

IX. Kharbin and Vladivostok . . -147 

A feeling of adventure — The considerate soldier — Not the wisest way 
to arrive — "Got a little place of my own" — Not a decent Chinaman 
in the place — Choice between Chinese hung hu tzes and Russian 
brigands — The British consul at Kharbin — The hat of Johnny Walker 
— Provisions for a journey — The wooded hills of Manchuria — The 
pleasant rain — The best hotel — The British fleet at Vladivostok — 
The blood thirsty sheep 

X. One of the World's Great Rivers . .163 

The empty country — Wanton extravagance — A lovely land — Incon- 
venience of Russian railway stations — The junction of the Amur and 
the Ussuri — Magnificent river steamers — Crowded — The John 
Cockerill — Dislike to fresh air — Cheap travelling — The stalwart 
women — The port of Nikolayeusk 



XL The Ends of the Earth .... 179 

A frontier town — Airless houses — Good Australian wine — "They 
steal — And kill" — Unsafe Siberian towns — Salmon ijd. each — 
Russian and Chinese — Mate with the Glasgow accent — "Skeeters" 
— Emigrants — The hospitality of the Russian police — The chief town 
of Saghalien — The girls who had learned English in Japan — The 
oldest carriages in the world — ' ' How lucky you are to get away from 
Saghalien ! " 

XII. Facing West . . . . . .196 

The aboriginal inhabitants — "Not wives. Oh no ! . . . It is just the 
steamer" — Plucky colonel's wife — "There is War!"— My first 
demonstration against Germany — " A becoming hat and high boots 1 " 
— Hostile people — The Cossack officer — "They think — that Madame 
— is — a — spy!" — " C'est gai a la guerre!" — Luckless butterfly 
collector — The capital of the Amur Province 

XIII. The Upper Reaches of the Amur . . 309 

A Siberian town — Difficulties of communication — The Boundary 
Commissioner — Sakalin — The Chinese Commissioner of Customs — 
Celebrating the coming into the war of Britain — The National 
Anthem — The dangers of wealth — A picnic with the Chinese Tao Tai 
— Gorgeous flowers — The loss of Buchanan — Saving face — Unfinished 
stories — Luxurious living — Rain on the Shilka — The World's War 

XIV. Mobilising in Eastern Siberia . . 224 

The real Siberia — The exiles — Quagmires for roads — The difficulties of 
crossing a river — "Thieves, robbers and assassins !" — A night in a rail- 
way station — Russian washing arrangements — Running water — Toilet 
accessories — " Guard your purse, Madame" — Cheap travelling 

XV. On a Russian Military Train . . . 240 

A night in a second-class carriage — "Calm yourself, Madame, calm 
yourself. A man is coming with an instrument " — My Cossack friend 
— The long and sorrowful road — Democratic Russia — Abundant food 
— "An English name" — The lama's prophecy — Irkutsk — A Russian 
naval officer — "The train is full" — The occupants of the spare bunk — 
"An unfortunate accident" — The Siberian professor — The English 
"zee" — The pestilential train — The bath-houses at Cheliabynsk — 
Across Russia proper — Petrograd 



XVI. The Ways of the Finns .... 261 

Petrograd — What I ought to have thought about — What I did think 
about — The difficulties of a dog — What the privileges of a dog who 
pays 4s. a day for his keep? — The British Consulate — The Swedish 
Consulate — Oxford tones — Another Russian naval officer — The men 
of the gallant Gloucester — A porter's house in Finland — The Finn 
whose father had been a Scotsman — Commandeering a train — The 
Baltic at Raumo 

XVII. Captured by Germans .... 280 

English sailor-men — Three cruisers and a torpedo boat — "Germans 1" 
— Treachery — ** What are you doing with all those fine young men on 
board?" — The taking of the Englishmen — The drugging of Buchanan 
— Swedish Customs — Landing at Gefle — A Swedish dog — Crossing to 
Norway — "Cannot be allowed to skip about the streets" — A clean 
bill of health — Bei^gen — " Their use is negligible !" — Home at last ! 


Wedding Party, Fen Chou Fu 



Old Cannon on Wall, T'ai Yuan Fu ; Tsai Chih Fu beside it 

Mission Compound, Pao Ting Fu ; with Dr Lewis's little 

Son and Servant ...... 

Tree at East Gate, T'ai Yuan Fu . . . . 
Author's Litter 

Gateway of Everlasting Peace ..... 
Old House inhabited by the China Inland Mission . 

Tombs outside Ki Hsien 

The First Signs of Unrest ..... 

Coroner's Court ....... 

The Walls of Fen Chou Fu, the North Gate and Northern 

Inside the North Gate, Fen Chou Fu . . . 
Rusty Old- World Cannon and the Master of Transport 

The Phoenixes on the Wall at Fen Chou Fu 
Bronze Base of Phcenix, Fen Chou Fu . . . 

Tree full of Birds' Nests in Eastern Suburb, Fen Chou Fu 
Temple from the Wall, Fen Chou Fu . . . 

Heaps of Stones on the Walls, Fen Chou Fu . 
Rubbish Heaps of Centuries outside Fen Chou Fu . 

One of the tallest Pagodas in China 

Nearer View of tall Pagoda at Fen Chou Fu . 

Missionary's Teacher and Priest .... 
Ladies of Easy Virtue in the Taoist Temple . 

Author's Litter near Pagoda on the Wayside . 
Farmer ploughing, and small Pagoda, Fen Chou Fu 

Wells in Fen Chou Fu 

Bricklayers' Labourers 

Literary Tower on Wall, Fen Chou Fu . . . 
Ruins of the Yamen, Fen Chou Fu . 











Bringing Home a Coffin ..... 
Engaged to be Married ..... 

A Patient at the Clinic 

Author's Caravan passing Wayside Restaurant in 

A Wayside Refreshment Booth in the Loess Country 

^Vu Ch'eng, a Village of Yaos .... 
Outside a Camel Inn 

Village Street 

Litter with Pack-Saddle across it in Inn-Yard . 

Village Street 

Pack-Saddles outside an Inn .... 

The Cliffs after the Loess .... 
Loads of Straw Hats 

Bridge outside Yung Ning Chou 
Author's Caravan crossing a River . 

East Gate of Yung Ning Chou 

Looking up the Main Street, Yung Ning Chou 

Gate of a Town near to Liu Lin Chen 
Archway with Theatrical Notices, Liu Lin Chen 

At the Top of the Pass 

Through the Mountains to the Yellow River . 

First Sight of Hoang-Ho 

The Hoang-Ho at Chun Pu . 

Avenue of Trees along the Wayside . 
Strawboard drying 

Temple at Tsui Su 

Twisted Trees in Temple Ground 

Bronze Figure at Entrance to Temple 
Entrance to Temple, Tsui Su . 

Gateway to the Temple of the Hot Springs 
Mission Garden at Hwailu .... 






Each time I begin a book of travel I search for the reasons 
that sent me awandering. FooHshness, for I ought to know 
by this time the wander fever was born in my blood ; it is 
in the blood of my sister and brothers. We were brought 
up in an inland town in Victoria, Australia, and the years 
have seen us roaming all over the world. I do not think 
any of us has been nearer the North Pole than Petro- 
paulovski, or to the South Pole than Cape Horn — children 
of a sub-tropical clime, we do not like the cold — but in many 
countries in between have we wandered. The sailors by 
virtue of their profession have had the greater opportunities, 
but the other five have made a very good second best of it, 
and always there has been among us a very understanding 
sjmipathy with the desire that is planted in each and all 
to visit the remote comers of the earth. 

Anybody can go on the beaten track. It only requires 
money to take a railway or steamer ticket, and though we 
by no means despise comfort — indeed, because we know 
something of the difficulties that beset the traveller beyond 
the bounds of civilisation, we appreciate it the more highly — 
still there is something else beyond comfort in life. Wherein 
lies the call of the Unkno\\ii ? To have done something 
that no one else has done — or only accomplished with 

A I 


difficulty ? Where lies the charm ? I cannot put it into 
words — only it is there, the " something calling — beyond 
the mountains," the " Come and find me " of Kipling. 
That voice every one of the Gaunts hears, and we all 
sympathise when another one goes. 

And that voice I heard loudly in China. 

" Come and find me ! Come and find me ! " 

The livelong day I heard it, and again and again and yet 
again I tried to stifle it, for you who have read my Woman 
in China will know that travelling there leaves much to be 
desired. To say it is uncomfortable is to put it in the 
mildest terms. Everything that I particularly disHke in life 
have I met travelling in China ; everything that repells me ; 
and yet, having unwisely invested $10 (about £l) in an atlas 
of China, the voice began to ring in my ears day and night. 

I was living in an American Presbyterian mission station 
in the western suburb of the walled town of Pao Ting Fu, 
just beyond European influence, the influence of the Treaty 
Ports and the Legation quarter of Peking. I wanted to see 
something of the real China, to get material for a novel — 
not a novel concerning the Chinese ; for I have observed that 
no successful novel in English deals with anybody but the 
British or the Americans ; the other peoples come in as 
subordinates — and the local colour was best got on the spot. 
There was plenty in Pao Ting Fu, goodness knows. It had 
suffered severely in the Boxer trouble. In the northern 
subm-b, just about a mile from where we lived, was a tomb, 
or monument rather, that had been raised to the mission- 
aries massacred then. They have made a garden plot 
where those burning houses stood, they have planted trees 
and flowers, and set up memorial tablets in the Chinese 
style, and the mission has moved to the western suburb, 
just under the frowning walls of the town, and — is doubly 


strong. A God-given fervour, say the missionaries, sends 
them forth. Who am I to judge ? But I see that same 
desire to go forth in myself, that same disregard of danger, 
when it is not immediate — I know I should be horribly 
scared if it materialised — and I cannot claim for myself 
it is Gk)d-given, save perhaps that all our desires are God- 

So there in the comfortable mission station I studied the 
local colour, corrected my last book of China, and instead 
of planning the novel, looked daily at the atlas of China, 
till there grew up in me a desire to cross Asia, not by train 
to the north as I had already done, as thousands of people 
used to do every year, but by the caravan route, across Shensi 
and Kansu and Sinkiang to Andijan in Asiatic Russia, the 
terminus of the Caspian Railway. Thousands and thousands 
of people go slowly along that way too, but the majority 
do not go all the way, and they do not belong to the class 
or nation whose comings and goings are recorded. In fact, 
you may count on the fingers of one hand the people who 
know anything of that road. The missionaries, particularly 
the womenkind, did not take very cheerful views about it. 

" If I wanted to die," said one woman, meeting me as I 
was going round the compound one day in the early spring 
of 1914, " I would choose some easier way." 

But the doctor there was keenly interested. He would have 
liked to have gone himself, but his duty kept him alongside 
his patients and his hospital in Pao Ting Fu, and though he 
pulled himself up every now and then, remembering I was 
only a woman and probably couldn't do it, he could not but 
take as great an interest in that map and ways and means 
as I did myself. Then there was Mr Long, a professor at 
the big Chinese college in the northern suburb — he was 
young and enthusiastic and as interested as Dr Lewis. 


He too knew something about travel in unknown China, 
for he had been one of the band of white men who had made 
their way over the mountains of Shansi and Shensi in the 
depths of winter to go to the rescue of the missionaries in 
Sui Te Chou and all the little tovms down to Hsi An Fu 
at the time of the Revolution. Yes, he knew something of 
the difficulties of Chinese travel, and he thought I could do it. 

" The only danger would be robbers, and — well, you know, 
there mightn't be robbers." 

But Peking — the Peking of the Legations — that, I knew, 
held different views. I wrote to an influential man who had 
been in China over ten years, who spoke the language well, 
and he was against it. 

" I was very much interested " (wrote he) " to read of 
your intention to do that trek across country. You ask 
my opinion about it, but I can only give you the same 
advice that Punch gave many years ago, and that is, don't. 
You must realise that the travelling will be absolutely aviivl 
and the cost is very great indeed. You have not yet for- 
gotten your trip to Jehol, I hope, and the roughness of the 
road. The trip you contemplate will make the little journey 
to Jehol look like a Sunday morning walk in Hyde Park, 
particularly as regards travelling comfort, to say nothing 
about the danger of the journey as regards hostile tribes 
on the southern and western borders of Tibet. You will be 
passing near the Lolo country, and I can assure you that the 
Lolos are not a set of gentlemen within the meaning of the 
Act. Tliey are distinctly hostile to foreigners, and many 
murders have taken place in their country that have not 
been published because of the inability of the Chinese troops 
to stand up against these people. WTiat the peoples are 
like farther north I do not know, but I understand the 


Tibetans are not particularly trustworthy, and it will follow 
that the people living on their borders will inherit a good 
many of their vices and few of their virtues. 

" If you have really made up your mind to go, however, 
just let me know, and I will endeavour to hunt up all the 
information that it is possible to collect as to the best route 
to take, etc., though I repeat I would not advise the journey, 
and the (ieogi-aphical Society can go to the deuce." 

This not because he despised the Geographical Society 
by any means, but because I had advanced as one reason for 
going across Asia the desire to win my spurs so and be an 
acceptable member. 

" My dear," ^\Tote a woman, " think of that poor young 
Brooke. The Tibetans cut his throat %vith a sharp stone, 
which is a pleasant little way they have." 

Now the man's opinion was worth having, but the woman's 
is a specimen of the loose way people are apt to reason — I 
do it myself — ^^vhen they deal with the unkno\Mi. The 
" poor young Brooke " never went near Tibet, and was 
murdered about a thousand miles distant from the route I 
intended to take. It was something as if a traveller bound 
to the Hebrides was warned against dangers to be met upon 
the Rhone. 

One man who had travelled extensively in Mongolia was 
strongly against the journey, but declared that " Purdom 
knew a great deal more about travelling in China " than he 
did, and if " Purdom " said I might go — ^well then, I might. 
Mr Purdom and Mr Reginald Farrer were going west to the 
borders of Tibet botanising, and one night I dined with 
them, and Mr Purdom was optimistic and declared if I was 
prepared for discomfort and perhaps hardship he thought 
I might go. 


So it was decided, and thereupon those who knew took 
me in hand and gave me all advice about travelling in China, 
how to minimise discomfort, what to take and what to leave 
behind. One thing they were all agreed upon. The Chinese, 
as a rule, are the most peaceable people upon earth, the only 
thing I had to fear was a chance band of robbers, and if I 
fell into their hands — well, it would probably be finish. 

" The Chinese are fiendishly cruel," said my friend of 
Mongolian travel ; " keep your last cartridge for yourself." 

I intimated that a pistol was quite beyond me, that that 
way of going out did not appeal to me, and anyhow I'd be 
sure to bungle it. 

" Then have something made up at the chemist's and keep 
it always on your person. You do not know how desperately 
you may need it." 

I may say here that these remarks made no impression 
upon me whatever. I suppose in most of us the feeling is 
strong that nothing bad could possibly happen. It happens 
to other people, we know, but to us — impossible ! I have 
often wondered how near I could get to danger without 
feeling that it really threatened — pretty close, I suspect. 
It is probably a matter of experience. I cannot cross a 
London road with equanimity — but then twice have I been 
knocked down and rather badly hurt — but I gaily essayed 
to cross Asia by way of China, and would quite certainly 
as gaily try again did I get the chance. Only next time 
I propose to take a good cook. 

To some, of course, the unknown is always full of danger. 

The folks who walked about Peking without a qualm 
warned me I would die of indigestion, I would be unable 
to drink the water, the filth would be unspeakable, hydro- 
phobia raged, and " when you are bitten, promptly cut 
deep into the place and insert a chloride of mercury tabloid." 


That last warning made me laugh. It reminded me of the 
time when as a little girl, living in a country where deadly 
snakes swarmed — my eldest brother killed sixty in a week, 
I remember, in oiu* garden — I used to think it would be 
extremely dangerous to go to Europe because there were 
there mad dogs, things we never had in Australia ! I 
think it was the eference to hydrophobia and the chloride 
of mercury tabloid helped me to put things in their proper 
prospective and made me realise that I was setting out on 
a difficult journey with a possible danger of robbers ; but 
a possible danger is the thing we risk every day we travel 
in a railway train or on an electric tramcar. I am always 
ready for possible risks, it is when they become probable 
I bar them, so I set about my preparations with a quiet 

A servant. I decided I must have a tall servant and 
strong, because so often in China I found I had to be lifted, 
and I had suffered from having too small a man on my 
former journeys. The missionaries provided me with a 
new convert of theirs, a tall strapping Northern Chinaman, 
who was a mason by trade. Tsai Chih Fu, we called him — 
that is to say, he came of the Tsai family ; and the Chih Fu 
— I'm by no means sure that I spell it right — meant a 
" master workman." He belonged to a large firm of masons, 
but as he had never made a dollar a day at his trade, my 
offer of that sum put him at my service, ready to go out into 
the unkno\ATi. He was a fine-looking man, dignified and 
courteous, and I had and have the greatest respect for him. 
He could not read or write, of course. Now a man who 
cannot read or write here in the West we look upon with 
contempt, but it would be impossible to look upon Tsai 
Chih Fu with contempt. He was a responsible person, a 
man who would count in any company. He belonged to 


another era and another civilisation, but he was a man of 
weight. A master of transport in Babylon probably closely 
resembled my servant Tsai Chih Fu. 

My interpreter, Wang Hsien — that is, Mr Wang — was of 
quite a different order. He was little and slight, with long 
artistic hands, of the incapable artistic order, and he was a 
fool in any language ; but good interpreters are exceedingly 
difficult to get. He used to come and see me every day 
for a fortnight before we started, and I must say my heart 
sank when the simplest remark, probably a greeting, or a 
statement as to the weather, was met with a " Repeat, 
please." I found this was the invariable formula and it 
was not conducive to brisk conversation. On my way 
through the country things were apt to vanish before I 
had made Mr Wang understand that I was asking, and was 
really in search of, information. He had his black hair cut 
short in the progressive foreign fashion (it looked as if he 
had had a basin put on his head — a good large one — and the 
hair snipped off round), and he wore a long blue cotton gown 
buttoned to his feet. Always he spoke with a silly giggle. 
Could I have chosen, which I could not, he would have been 
about the very last man I should have taken on a strenuous 
journey as guide, philosopher and friend. 

And there was another member of the party, a most 
impoitant member, without whom I should not have 
dreamt of stirring — my little black and white k'ang dog, 
James Buchanan, who loved me as no one in the world has 
ever loved me, thought everything I did was perfect, and 
declared he was willing to go with me to the ends of the 

So I began my preparations. One thing only was clear, 
everyone was agreed upon it, all my goods must be packed 
in canvas bags, because it is impossible to travel by mule. 



Sff pOg^ 2. 


See page 34. 


or cart, or litter with one's clothes in ordinary boxes. And 
I had, through the kindness of Messrs Forbes & Company, 
to make arrangements with Chinese bankers, who have 
probably been making the same arrangements since before 
the dawn of history, to get money along the proposed route. 
These things I managed satisfactorily ; it was over the stores 
that, as usual, I made mistakes. The fact of the matter is 
that the experience gained in one country is not always 
useful for the next. When first I travelled in Africa I 
took many " chop " boxes that were weighty and expensive 
of transport, and contained much tinned meat that in a 
warm, moist climate I did not want. I found I could live 
quite happily on biscuits and fruit and eggs, with such 
relishes as anchovy paste or a few Bologna sausages for a 
change. My expensive tinned foods I bestowed upon my 
servants and carriers, greatly to my own regret. I went 
travelling in China, in Northern Chihli and Inner Mongolia, 
I dwelt apart from all foreigners in a temple in the western 
hills, and I found with a good cook I lived very comfortably 
off the countr^', with just the addition of a few biscuits, tea, 
condensed milk, coffee and raisins, therefore I persuaded 
myself I could go west with few stores and do exactly the 
same. Tlius I added considerably to my own discomfort. 
The excellent master of transport was a bad cook, and a 
simple diet of hard-boiled eggs, puffed rice and tea, with 
raisins for dessert, however good in itself, is apt to pall when 
it is serv^ed up three times a day for weeks \^'ith unfailing 

However, I didn't know that at the time. 

And at last all was ready. I had written to all the mission 
stations as far west as Tihwa, in Sinkiang, announcing my 
coming. I had provided myself with a folding table and 
chair — ^they both, I found, were given to fold at inconvenient 


moments — some enamel plates, a couple of glasses, a knife 
and fork, rudimentary kitchen utensils, bedding, cushions, 
rugs, etc., and all was ready. I was to start the next week, 
ten days after Mr Purdom and Mr Fan-er had set out, for 
Honan, when there came a telegram from Hsi An Fu : 

" Delay journey " (it read). " White wolf in Shensi. 

Was there ever such country ? News that a robber was 
holding up the road could be sent by telegram ! 

China rather specialises in robbers, but White Wolf was 
considerably worse than the average gentleman of the road. 
He defied the Government in 1914, but the last time we of 
the mission station had heard of him he was making things 
pleasant for the peaceful inhabitants of Anhwei, to the east, 
and the troops were said to have him " well in hand." But 
in China you never know exactly where you are, and now he 
was in Shensi ! 

I read that telegram in the pleasant March sunshine. I 
looked up at the boughs of the " water chestnuts," where the 
buds were beginning to swell, and I wondered what on earth 
I should do. The roads now were as good as they were ever 
likely to be, hard after the long winter and not yet broken 
up by the summer rains. We discussed the matter from 
all points that day at the midday dinner. The missionaries 
had a splendid cook, a Chinese who had had his kitchen 
education finished in a French family, and with a few good 
American recipes thrown in the combination makes a crafts- 
man fit for the Savoy, and all for ten Mexican dollars a 
month ! Never again do I expect to meet such salads, sweet 
and savoury ! And here was I doing my best to leave the 
flesh-pots of Egypt. It seemed foolish. 

I contented my soul ^^'ith what patience I might for a week. 


and then I telegraphed to Honan Fu, at which place I 
expected to be well away from the railway. Honan Fu 
answered promptly : 

" The case is hopeless. Hsi An Fu threatened. Advise 
you go by T'ai Yuan Fu." 

Now the road from Honan Fu to Hsi An Fu is always 
dangerous. It is through the loess, sunken many feet below 
the level of the surrounding country, and at the best of 
times is infested with stray robbers who, from the cliffs 
above, roll down missiles on the carts beneath, kill the 
mules and hold the travellers at their mercy. The carters 
go in large bodies and are always careful to find themselves 
safe in the inn-yards before the dusk has fallen. 

These were the everyday dangers of the way such as men 
have faced for thousands of years ; if you add to them an 
organised robber band and a large body of soldiers in pursuit, 
clearly that road is no place for a solitary foreign woman, 
with only a couple of attendants, a little dog, and for all 
arms a small pistol and exactly thirteen cartridges — all I 
could get, for it is difficult to buy ammunition in China. 
Then to clinch matters came another telegram from Hsi An 
Fu, in cipher this time : 

" Do not come " (it said). " The country is very much 

From Anhwei to Shensi the brigands had operated. They 
had burned and looted and outraged by order of Pai Lang 
(^^^lite Wolf ), leaving behind them ruined homes and desolated 
hearths, and when the soldiers came after them, so said 
Rumour of the many tongues, White Wolf, who was rich by 
then, left money on the roads and so bribed the avenging 
army to come over to him. 


But to the ordinary peaceful inhabitant — ^and curiously 
enough the ordinary Chinese is extremely peaceful — it is not 
a matter of much moment whether it be Pai Lang or the 
soldier who is hunting him who falls upon the country. The 
inhabitants are sure to suffer. Both bandit and soldier must 
have food, so both loot and outrage impartially, for the 
unpaid soldiery — I hope I shall not be sued for libel, but most 
of the soldiery when I was in China appeared to be unpaid 
— ^loot just as readily as do the professional bandits. A 
robber band alone is a heavy load for a community to 
carry, and a robber band pursued by soldiers more than 
doubles the burden. 

Still the soldiers held Tungkwan, the gate into Shensi, 
the mountains on either side blocked the way, and Hsi An 
Fu breathed for a moment till it was discovered that Pai 
Lang in strategy was equal to anyone who had been sent 
against him. He had taken the old and difficult route 
through the mountains and had come out west of the narrow 
pass of Tungkwan and, when I became interested in him, was 
within a day's march of Hsi An Fu, the town that is the 
capital of the province of Shensi and was the capital of 
China many hundreds of years ago. It is a walled city, but 
the people feared and so did the members of the English 
Baptist Mission sheltering behind those walls. And, natur- 
ally, they feared, for the Society of the Elder Brethren had 
joined Pai Lang, and the Society of Elder Brethren always 
has been and is markedly anti -foreign. Tliis was the situa- 
tion, growing daily a little worse, and we foreigners looked 
on ; and the Government organs in Peking told one day how 
a certain Tao Tai had been punished and degraded because 
he had been slack in putting down White Wolf and possibly 
the next day declared the power of White Wolf was broken 
and he was in full retreat. I don't know how many times 


I read the power of White Wolf had been broken and yet in 
the end I was regretfully obliged to acknowledge that he 
was stronger than ever. Certainly Pai Lang turned my face 
north sooner than I intended, for the idea of being a target 
for rocks and stones and billets of wood at the bottom of a 
deep ditch from which there could be no escape did not 
commend itself to me. True, in loess country, as I after- 
wards fomid, there are no stones, no rocks and no wood. I 
can't speak for the road through Tungkwan, for I didn't 
dare it. But, even if there were no stones, loose earth — 
and there is an unlimited quantity of that commodity 
in Northern China — flung down from a height would be 
exceedingly unpleasant. 

Of course it all might have been rumour — it wasn't, I 
found out afterwards ; but unfortunately the only way to 
find out at the time was by going to see for myself, and if 
it had been true — well, in all probability I shouldn't have 
come back. Tliat missionary evidently realised how keen I 
was when he suggested that I should go by T'ai Yuan Fu, 
the capital of Shansi, and I determined to take his advice. 
There was a way, a little- known way, across the mountains, 
across Shansi, by Sui Te Chou in Shensi, and thence into 
Kansu, which would eventually land me in Lan Chou Fu if 
I cared to risk it. 

This time I asked Mr Long's advice. He and the little 
band of nine rescuers who had ridden hot haste to the aid 
of the Shensi missionaries during the revolution had taken 
this road, and they had gone in the depths of winter when 
the country was frozen hard and the thermometer was more 
often below zero, very far below zero, than not. If they 
had accomplished it when pressed for time in the great cold, 
I thought in all probability I might manage it now at the 
best time of the year and at my leisure. Mr Long, who 


would have liked to have gone himself, thought so too, 
and eventually I set off. 

The missionaries were goodness itself to me. Dr Mackay, 
in charge of the Women's Hospital, set me up with all sorts 
of simple drugs that I might require and that I could manage, 
and one day in the springtime, when the buds on the trees 
in the compound were just about to burst, and full of the 
promise of the life that was coming, I, with most of the 
missionaries to wish me " Godspeed," and with James 
Buchanan under my arm, my giggling interpreter and my 
master of transport following with my gear, took train to 
T'ai Yuan Fu, a walled city that is set in the heart of a 
fertile plateau surrounded by mountains. 

The great adventure had begun. 



But you mayn't go to T'ai Yuan Fu in one day. The 
southern train puts you down at Shih Chia Chuang — ^the 
village of the Stone Family — and there you must stay till 
7.40 A.M. next morning, when the French railway built 
through the mountains that divide Shansi from Shensi takes 
you on to its terminus at T'ai Yuan Fu. There is a little 
Chinese inn at Shih Chia Chuang that by this time has 
become accustomed to catering for the foreigner, but those 
who are wise beg the hospitality of the British American 
Tobacco Company. 

I craved that hospitality, and two kindly young men 
came to the station through a dust-storm to meet me and 
took me off to their house that, whether it was intended to 
or not, with great cool stone balconies, looked like a fort. 
But they lived on perfectly friendly terms \vith people. 
Why not ? To a gi-eat number of the missionaries the 
B.A.T. is anathema maranatha, though many of the members 
rival in pluck and endurance the missionaries themselves. 
And why is it a crime for a man or a woman to smoke ? 
Many of the new teachers make it so and thus lay an added 
burden on shoulders already heavily weighted. Personally 
I should encourage smoking, because it is the one thing people 
who are far apart as the Poles might have in common. 

And goodness knows they have so few things. Even with 
the animals the " East is East and West is West " feeling is 
most marked. Here at the B.A.T. they had a small pekinese 


as a pet. She made a friend of James Buchanan in a high 
and haughty manner, but she decUned to accompany him 
outside the premises. Once she had been stolen and had 
spent over three months in a Chinese house. Then one day 
her master saw her and, making good his claim, took her 
home with him. Since that time nothing would induce her 
to go beyond the front door. She said in effect that she got 
all the exercise she needed in the courtyard, and if it did 
spoil her figure, she preferred a little weight to risking the 
tender mercies of a Chinese household, and I'm sm*e she 
told Buchanan, who, having the sacred V-shaped mark on 
his forehead, was reckoned very beautiful and was much 
admired by the Chinese, that he had better take care and 
not fall into alien hands. Buchanan as a puppy of two 
months old had been bought in the streets of Peking, and 
when we started on our journey must have been nearly ten 
months old, but he had entirely forgotten his origin and 
regarded all Chinese with suspicion. He tolerated the 
master of transport as a follower of whom we had need. 

" Small dog," Mr Wang called him, and looked upon him 
doubtfully, but really not as doubtfidly as Buchanan looked 
at him. He was a peaceful, friendly little dog, but I always 
thought he did not bite Mr Wang simply because he despised 
him so. 

Those two young men were more than good to me. They 
gave me refreshment, plenty of hot water to wash away the 
ravages of the dust-storm, and good company, and as we 
sat and talked — of White Wolf, of course — there came to us 
the tragedy of a life, a woman who had not the instincts of 

Foreign women are scarce at Shih Chia Chuang ; one a 
month is something to remark upon, one a week is a crowd, so 
that when, as we sat in the big sitting-room talking, the door 



See page 39. 


See page 42. 


See page 42. 


opened and a foi'eign woman stood there, everyone rose to 
his feet in astonishment. Mr Long, who had been up the 
hne, stood beside her, and behind her was a Chinaman with 
a half-caste baby in his arms. She was young and tall and 
rather pretty. 

" I bring you a lady in distress," said Mr Long rather 
hastily, explaining matters. " I met Mrs Chang on the 
train. She has miscalculated her resources and has not 
left herself enough money to get to Peking." 

The woman began to explain ; but it is an awkward thing 
to explain to strangers that you have no money and are 
without any credentials. I hesitated. Eventually I hope 
I should have helped her, but my charity and kindliness 
were by no means as ready and spontaneous as those of my 
gallant young host. He never hesitated a moment. You 
would have thought that women and babies without any 
money were his everj^day business. 

" Why, sure," said he in his pleasant American voice, 
" if I can be of any assistance. But you can't go to-day, 
Mrs Chang ; of course you will stay with us — oh yes, yes ; 
indeed w^e should be very much hurt if you didn't ; and you 
will let me lend you some money." 

And so she was established among us, this woman who 
had committed the unpardonable sin of the East, the sin 
against her race, the sin for which there is no atoning. It 
is extraordinary after all these years, after all that has 
been said and \mtten, that Englishwomen, women of good 
class and standing, will so outrage all the laws of decency 
and good taste. This woman talked. She did not like the 
Chinese, she would not associate with them ; her husband, 
of course, was different. He was good to her ; but it was 
hard to get work in these troubled times, harder still to get 
paid for it, and he had gone away in search of it, so she was 



going for a holiday to Peking and — ^here she turned|to the 
young men and talked about the society and the dances and 
the amusement she expected to have among the foreigners 
in the capital, she who for so long had been cut off from such 
joys in the heart of China among an alien people. 

We listened. WTiat could we say ? 

" People in England don't really understand," said she, 
" what being in exile means. They don't understand the 
craving to go home and speak to one's own people ; but being 
in Peking will be something like being in England." 

We other five never even looked at each other, because 
we knew, and we could hardly believe, that she had not yet 
realised that in marrying a Chinese, even one who had been 
brought up in England, she had exiled herself effectually. 
The Chinese look down upon her, they will have none of her, 
and among the foreigners she is outcast. These young men 
who had come to her rescue with such right good will — " I 
could not see a foreign woman in distress among Chinese " 
— ^will pass her in the street with a bow, will not see her if 
they can help themselves, will certainly object that anyone 
they care about should see them talking to her, and their 
attitude but reflects that of the majority of the foreigners in 
China. Her little child may not go to the same school as 
the foreign children, even as it may not go to the same 
school as the Chinese. She has committed the one eiTor that 
outclasses her, and she is going to pay for it in bitterness all 
the days of her life. And everyone in that room, while we 
pitied her, held, and held strongly, that the attitude of the 
community, foreign and Chinese, was one to be upheld. 

" East is East and West is West and never the twain shall 
meet," and yet here and there one still comes across a foolish 
woman who ^vrecks her life because she never seems to have 
heard of this dictum. She talked and talked, and told us 


how good was her husband to her. and we Hsteners said 
afterwards she " doth protest too much," she was con- 
vincing herself, not us, and that, of course, seeing he was a 
Chinaman, he was disappointed that the baby was a girl, 
and that his going off alone was the beginning of the end, 
and we were thankful that she was " the only girl her mother 
had got," and so she could go back to her when the inevitable 

The pity of it ! When will the stay-at-home English 
learn that the very worst thing one of their women can do 
with her life is to wed an Oriental ? But when I think of 
that misguided woman in that remote Chinese village I 
shall always think too of those gallant young gentlemen, 
perfect in courteous kindlinesjs, who ran the B.A.T. in Shih 
Chia Chuang. 

The next day Buchanan and I and our following boarded 
the luxurious little mountain railway and went to T'ai Yuan 

This railway, to me, who know nothing of such things, is 
a very marvel of engineering skill. There are great rugged 
mountains, steep and rocky, and the train winds its way 
through them, clinging along the sides of precipices, nmning 
through dark tunnels and cuttings that tower high over- 
head and going round such curves that the engine and the 
guard's van of a long train are going in exactly opposite 
directions. A wonderful railway, and doubly was I inter- 
ested in it because before ever I came to China I had heard 
about it. 

When there are disturbances in China it is always well 
for the foreign element to flee while there is yet time, for the 
sanctity of human life is not yet thoroughly gi'asped there, 
and there is always the chance that the foreigner may be 
killed first and his harmlessness, or even his value, discovered 


later. So in the revolution in the winter of 1910-1911, 
though all train traffic had stopped, the missionaries from 
T'ai Yuan Fu and those from the country beyond fled down 
this railway. A friend of mine, an artist, happened to be 
staying at a mission station in the mountains and made one 
of the party. It was the depth of a Shansi winter, a Con- 
tinental winter, with the thermometer generally below 
— 15° at the warmest part of the day, and the little band 
of fugitives came fleeing down this line on trollies worked 
by the men of the party. They stayed the nights at the 
deserted railway stations, whence all the officials had fled, 
and the country people in their faded blue cotton wadded 
coats came and looked at them and, pointing their fingers 
at them exactly as I have seen the folks in the streets of 
London do at a Chinaman or an Arab in an outlandish 
dress, remarked that these people were going to their 

" Death ! Death ! " sounded on all sides. They, the 
country people, were peaceful souls ; they would not have 
killed them themselves ; they merely looked upon them as 
an interesting exhibit because they were foreign and they 
were going to die. That the audience were wi'ong the people 
on show were not quite as sure as they would have liked to 
be, and a single-line railway through mountainous country 
is by no means easy to negotiate on a trolly. They came 
to places where the line was carried upon trestles ; they 
could see a river winding its way at the bottom of a rocky 
ravine far below them, and the question would be how to 
get across. It required more nerve than most of them had 
to walk across the skeleton bridge. The procedure seems to 
have been to give each trolly a good hard push, to spring 
upon it and to trust to Providence to get safely across to the 
firm earth upon the other side. The tunnels too, and the 


sharp curves, were hair-raising, for they knew nothing of 
what was happening at the other end of the line, and for all 
they could say they might have come full butt upon a train 
rushing up in the other direction. 

Eventually they did get through, but with considerable 
hardship, and I should hesitate to say how many days that 
little company went ^vithout taking off their clothes. I 
thought of them whenever our train went into a tunnel, 
and I thought too of the gay girl who told me the story and 
who had dwelt not upon the discomfort and danger, but 
upon the excitement and exhilaration that comes with 

" I lived," said she, " I lived," and my heart went out to 
her. It is that spirit in this " nation of shopkeepers " that 
is helping us to beat the Germans. 

The scenerj^ through which we went is beautiful — it would 
be beautiful in any land — and this in China, where I expected 
not so much beauty as industry. There were evidences 
of industry in plenty on every side. These people were 
brethren of the bandits who turned me north and they are 
surely the most industrious in the world. Wherever among 
these stony hills there was a patch of ground fit for cultiva- 
tion, though it was tiny as a pocket handkerchief, it was 
cultivated. Everywhere I saw people at work in the fields, 
digging, weeding, ploughing with a dry cow or a dry cow and 
a donkey hitched to the primitive plough, or guiding trains 
of donkeys or mules carrying merchandise along the steep 
and narrow paths, and more than once I saw strings of 
camels, old-world camels that took me back before the days 
of written history. They kept to the valleys and evidently 
made their way along the river beds. 

Through mountain sidings and tunnels we came at length 
to the curious loess country, where the friable land is cut 


into huge terraces that make the high hills look like pyramids 
carved in great clay-coloured steps, and now in April the 
green crops were already springing ; another month and 
they would be banks of waving green. The people are poor, 
their faces were browned by the sun and the wind, their 
garments were scanty and ragged, and the original blue was 
faded till the men and the clothes were all the same monoton- 
ous clay colour of the surrounding country. The women I 
saw here were few, and only afterwards I found the reason. 
The miserably poor peasant of Shansi binds the feet of his 
women so effectually that to the majority movement is a 
physical impossibility. 

We climbed up and up through the mountains into the 
loess country, and at last we were on the plateau, about four 
thousand feet above the sea-level, whereon is T'ai Yuan Fu, 
the capital of the province. There are other towns here too, 
little walled cities, and the train drew up at the stations 
outside the grey brick walls, the most ancient and the most 
modern, Babylon and Crewe meeting. Oh, I understand the 
need of those walled cities now I have heard so much about 
Pai Lang. There is a certain degree of safety behind those 
grey walls, so long as the robber bands are small and the great 
iron-bound gates can keep them out, but dire is the fate of 
the city into which the enemy has penetrated, has fastened 
the gates and holds the people in a trap behind their own 

But these people were at peace ; they were thinking of no 
robbers. Pai Lang was about five hundred miles away and 
the station platforms were crowded with would-be travellers 
with their belongings in bundles, and over the fence that 
shut off the platform hung a vociferating crowd waving 
white banners on which were inscribed in black characters 


the signs of the various inns, while each banner-bearer at 
the top of his voice advocated the charms of his own em- 
ployer's establishment. The queue was forbidden for the 
moment, but many of these ragged touts and many of the 
other peasants still wore their heads shaven in front, for 
the average Chinaman, especially he of the poorer classes, 
is loath to give up the fashions of his forefathers. 

Every railway platform was pandemoniiun, for every 
person on that platform yelled and shrieked at the top of his 
voice. On the main line every station was guarded by un- 
tidy, unkempt-looking soldiers armed with rifles, but there 
on this little mountain railway the only guards were police- 
men, equally unkempt, clad in very dusty black and white 
and armed with stout-looking bludgeons. They stood along 
the line at regular intervals, good-natured-looking men, and 
I wondered whether they would really be any good in an 
emergency, or whether they would not take the line of least 
resistance and join the attacking force. 

All across the cultivated plain we went, where not an inch 
of ground is wasted, and at half-past five in the evening we 
arrived at T'ai Yuan Fu — arrived, that is, at the station 
outside the little South Gate. 

T'ai Yuan Fu is a great walled city eight miles round, with 
five gates in the walls, gates that contrast strangely with the 
modern-looking macadamised road which goes up from the 
station. I don't know why I should feel that way, for they 
certainly had paved roads even in the days before history. 
Outside the walls are neat, perhaps forty feet high and of 
grey brick, and inside you see how these city w^alls are made, 
for they are the unfinished clay banks that have been faced 
in front, and when I was there in the springtime the grass 
upon them was showing everj^vhere and the shrubs were 


bursting into leaf. But those banks gave me a curious feeling 
of being behind the scenes. 

I was met at the station by some of the ladies of the 
English Baptist Mission who had come to welcome me and 
to offer me, a total stranger to them, kindly hospitality, 
and we walked through the gate to the mission inside the 
walls. It was only a short walk, short and dusty, but it was 
thronged. All the roadway was crowded with rickshaws 
and carts waiting in a long line their turn to go underneath 
the gateway ov^er which frowTied a typical many-roofed 
Chinese watch tower, and as cart or rickshaw came up the 
men along with it were stopped by the dusty soldiery in 
black and grey and interrogated as to their business. 

When I got out on to the platform I had looked up at the 
ancient walls clear-cut against the bright blue sky, and the 
women meeting me looked askance at Tsai Chih Fu, who, a 
lordly presence, stood behind me, with James Buchanan in 
his arms, a little black satin cap on his head and his pigtail 
hanging down his back. 

" There is some little commotion in the town," said Miss 
Franklin. " They are cutting off queues." 

The master of transport smiled tolerantly w^hen they 
told him, and, taking off his cap, he wound his tightly round 
his head. 

" I know," he said in the attitude of a man of the world, 
" some people do not wear them now. But I have always 
worn one, and I like it," and his manner said he would like 
to see the person who would dare dictate to him in what 
manner he should wear his hair. He could certainly have 
put up a good fight. 

It was not needed. He passed tlirough unchallenged ; he 
was a quietly dressed man who did not court notice and 
his strapping inches were in his favour. He might well be 


SIlj^^^^Kp ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^^^^^I 



^^^^^^^■^■j 4i,^^PI£^^^^^^HH^I 


See page 44. 



See page 52. 

f- ^ 



^-t'- ^-^ 


See page 53. 


See puge 53. 


passed over when there were so many slighter men more 
easily tackled. One man riding along in a rickshaw I saw 
put up a splendid fight. At last he was hauled out of his 
carriage and his little round cap tossed off his head, and then 
it was patent his queue could not be cut, for he was bald as 
a billiard ball ! The Chinese do understand a joke, even a 
mob. They yelled and howled with laughter, and we heard 
it echoing and re-echoing as we passed under the frowning 
archway, tramping across many a dusty coil of coarse black 
hair roughly shorn from the heads of the luckless adherents 
to the old fashion. The missionaries said that Tsai Chih Fu 
must be the only man in T'ai Yuan Fu with a pigtail and 
that it would be very useful to us as we went farther west, 
where they had not yet realised the revolution. They 
doubted if he would be able to keep it on so strict was 
the rule, but he did — a tribute, I take it, to the force of my 
" master of transport." 

The ladies lived in a Chinese house close imder the walls. 
There is a great charm about these houses built round court- 
yards in the Chinese style ; there is always plenty of air and 
sunshine, though, as most of the rooms open into the court- 
yard only, I admit in rough weather they must sometimes 
be awtvvard, and when — as is always the case in Shansi in 
winter- time — the courtyard is covered with ice and snow, and 
the thermometer is far below zero for weeks at a time, it 
is impossible to go from bedroom to sitting-room without 
being well ^^Tapped up. And yet, because China is not a 
damp country, it could never be as awkward as it would be 
in England, and for weeks at a time it is a charming ar- 
rangement. Staying there in April, I found it delightful. 
Buchanan and I had a room under a great tree just showing 
the first faint tinge of green, and I shall always be grateful 
for the kindly hospitality those young ladies gave me. 


From there we went out and saw T'ai Yuan Fu, and an- 
other kindly missionary engaged muleteers for me and made 
all arrangements for my journey across Shansi and Shensi 
and Kansu to Lan Chou Fu. 

But T'ai Yuan Fu is not a nice town to stay in. 

" The town," said the missionaries, " is progressive and 
anti-foreign." It is. You feel somehow the difference in 
the attitude of the people the moment you set foot inside 
the walls. It seems to me that if trouble really came it 
would be an easy matter to seize the railway and cut off 
the foreign missionaries from all help, for it is at least a 
fortnight away in the mountains. 

They suffered cruelly at the Boxer time : forty men, 
women and little helpless children were butchered in cold 
blood in the yamen, and the archway leading to the hospital 
where Miss Coombs the schoolmistress was deliberately 
burned to death while trying to guard and shelter her 
helpless pupils still stands. In the yamen, with a refine- 
ment of torture, they cut to pieces the little children first, 
and then the women, the nuns of the Catholic Church the 
fierce soldiery dishonoured, and finally they slew all the men. 
Against the walls in the street stand two miserable stones 
that the Government were forced to put up to the memory 
of the foreigners thus ruthlessly done to death, but a deeper 
memorial is engraven on the hearts of the people. Some 
few years later the tree underneath which they were slain 
was blasted by lightning and half destroyed, and on that 
very spot, during the recent revolution, the Tao Tai of the 
province was killed. 

" A judgment ! " said the superstitious people. " A 
judgment ! " say even the educated. 

And during the late revolution the white people shared 
with the inhabitants a terribly anxious time. Shut up in 


the hospital with a raging mob outside, they waited for the 
place to be set on fire. The newest shops in the principal 
streets were being looted, the Manchu city — a little walled 
city within the great city — was destroyed, and though they 
opened the gates and told the Manchus they might escape, 
the mob hunted down the men as they fled and slew them, 
though, more merciful than Hsi An Fu, they let the women 
and children escape. Men's blood was up, the lust of killing 
was upon them, and the men and women behind the hospital 
walls trembled. 

" We made up our minds," said a young missionary lady 
to me, " that if they fired the place we would rush out and 
mingle in the mob waiting to kill us. They looked a^vful. 
I can't tell you how they looked, but it would have been 
better than being burned like rats in a trap." 

A Chinese crowd, to my Western eyes, unkempt, unwashed, 
always looks awful ; what it must be like when they are out 
to kill I caimot imagine. 

And then she went on : " Do you know, I was not really 
as much afraid as I should have thought I would have been. 
There was too much to think about." Oh, merciful God ! 
I pray that always in such moments there may be " too much 
to think about." 

The mob looted the city. They ruined the university. 
They destroyed the Manchus. But they spared the 
foreigners ; and still there flourishes in the town a mission of 
the English Baptists and another of the Catholics, but when 
I was there the town had not yet settled down. There was 
unrest, and the missionaries kept their eyes anxiously on the 
south, on the movements of Pai Lang. We thought about 
him at Pao Ting Fu, but here the danger was just a little 
nearer, help just a little farther away. Besides, the people 
were different. They were not quite so subservient, not 


quite so friendly to the foreigner, it would take less to light 
the tinder. 

For myself, I was glad of the instinct that had impelled 
me to engage as servant a man of inches. I dared never 
walk in the streets alone as I had been accustomed to in 
Pao Ting Fu. It marks in my mind the jumping-off place. 
Here I left altogether the civilisation of the West and tasted 
the age-old civilisation of the East, the civilisation that was 
in full swing when my ancestors were naked savages hunting 
the deer and the bear and the wolf in the swamps and 
marshes of Northern Europe. I had thought I had reached 
that civilisation when I lived in Peking, when I dwelt alone 
in a temple in the mountains, when I went to Pao Ting Fu, 
but here in T'ai Yuan Fu the feeling deepened. Only the 
mission stations stood between me and this strange thing. 
The people in the streets looked at me askance, over the 
compound wall came the curious sounds of an ancient people 
at work, the shrieking of the greased wheel- barrows, the 
beating of gongs, the whir of the rattle of the embroidery 
silk seller, the tinkling of the bells that were hung round 
the necks of the donkeys and the mules, the shouting of the 
hucksters selling scones and meat balls, all the sounds of an 
industrious city, and I was an outsider, the alien who was 
something of a curiosity, but who anyhow was of no account. 
Frankly, I don't like being of no account. As a matter of 
fact, I shocked all Chinese ideas of correct deportment. 
When a well-bred Chinese gentleman arrives at a strange 
place, he does not look around him, he shows no curiosity 
whatever in his surroundings, he retires to his room, his 
meal is brought to him and he remains quietly in his resting- 
place till it is time for him to take his departure, and what 
applies to a man, applies, of course, in an exaggerated degree, 
to a wcanan. Now I had come to see China, and I made 


every effort in my power to see all I could. I tremble to 
think what the inhabitants of Shansi must have thought of 
me ! Possibly, since I outraged all their canons of decency, 
I was lucky in that they only found me of no account. 

All the while I was in T'ai Yuan Fu I was exceedingly 
anxious about the measure of safety for a foreign woman 
outside the walls, and opinions differed as to the ^\dsdom 
of my venture, but, on the whole, those I consulted thought 
I would be all right. They rather envied me, in fact, the 
power to go wandering, but on one point they were very 
sure : it was a pity Dr Edwards, the veteran missionary 
doctor, was not there, because he knew more about China 
and travelling there than all the rest of them put together. 
But he had gone out on his own account and was on the way 
to Hsi An Fu, the to^NH I had given up as hopeless. He did 
not propose to approach it through the Tungkwan, but from 
the north, and they did not expect him to have any difficulty. 

Then I found I had not brought enough money with me 
and the missionaries lent me more, and they engaged 
muleteers with four mules and a donkey that were to take 
me across the thousand miles that lay between the capital 
of Shansi and that of Kansu. Two men were in charge, and 
the cost of getting there, everything included — the men to 
feed themselves and their animals and I only to be responsible 
for the feeding and lodging of my own servants — was exactly 
eighteen pounds. It has always seemed to me ridiculously 
cheap. Money must go a long way in China for it to be 
possible for two men to take four mules and a donkey laden 
a thousand miles, and then come back unladen and keep 
themselves by the way, for so small a sum. 

So I sent off my servants the day before, then Buchanan 
and I bade good-bye to the missionaries and went the first 
day's journey back along the fine to Yu Tze, where the road 


started for the Yellow River, and as I left the train and was 
taken by Tsai Chih Fu and Mr Wang to the enclosure of the 
inn where they had spent the night I felt that I had indeed 
left the West behind, and the only companion and friend I 
had was James Buchanan. It was lucky he was a host in 



I WAS to ride a pack- mule. Now riding a pack- mule at 
any time is an unpleasant way of getting along the road. I 
know no more uncomfortable method. It is not quite as 
comfoi-table as sitting upon a table with one's legs dangling, 
for the table is still, the mule is moving, and one's legs dangle 
on either side of his neck. There are neither reins nor 
stirrups, and the mule goes at his ovm. sweet will, and in a 
very short time your back begins to ache, after a few hours 
that aching is intolerable. To get over this difficulty the 
missionary had cut the legs off a chair and suggested that, 
mounted on the pack, I might sit in it comfortably. I don't 
know whether I could, for the mule objected. 

It was a sunny morning with a bright blue sky above, and 
all seemed auspicious except my mule, who expressed in 
no measured language his dislike to that chair. Tsai Chih 
Fu had no sooner hoisted me into it than up he went on his 
hind legs and, using them as a pivot, stood on end pawing 
the air. Everybody in the inn-yard shrieked and yelled 
except, I hope, myself, and then Tsai Chih Fu, how I know 
not, rescued me from my unpleasant position, and thank- 
fully I foimd myself upon the firm ground again. He was 
a true Chinese mule and objected to all innovations. He 
stood meekly enough once the chair was removed. 

I wanted to cross Asia and here I was faced with disaster 
at the very outset ! Finally I was put upon the pack 
minus the chair, Buchanan was handed up to me and 


nestled down beside me, and the procession started. My 
heart sank. I don't mind acknowledging it now. I had 
at least a thousand miles to go, and within half-an-hour of 
the start I had thoroughly grasped the fact that of all modes 
of progression a pack-mule is the most abominable. There 
are no words at my command to express its discomforts. 

Very little did I see of the landscape of Shansi that day. 
I was engaged in hanging on to my pack and wondering how 
I could stick it out. We passed along the usual hopeless 
cart-track of China. I had eschewed Peking carts as being 
the very acme of misery, but I was beginning to reflect 
that anyhow a cart was comparatively passive misery while 
the back of a pack-mule was decidedly active. Buchanan 
was a good little dog, but he mentioned several times in 
the course of that day that he was uncomfortable and 
he thought I was doing a fool thing. I was much of his 

The day was never ending. All across a plain we went, 
with rough fields just showing green on either hand, through 
walled villages, through little towns, and I cared for nothing, 
I was too intent on holding on, on wishing the day would 
end, and at last, as the dusk was falling, the muleteer pointed 
out, clear-cut against the evening sky, the long walls of a 
large town — ^Taiku. At last ! At last ! 

I was to stay the night at a large mission school kept by 
a Mr and Mrs Wolf, and I only longed for the comfort of 
a bed, any sort of a bed so long as it was flat and warm and 
kept still. We went on and on, we got into the suburbs of 
the town, and we appeared to go round and round, through 
an unending length gf dark, narrow streets, full of ruts and 
holes, with the dim loom of houses on either side, and an 
occasional gleam of light from a dingy kerosene lamp or 
Chinese paper lantern showing through the paper windows. 


See page jc. 


Again and again we stopped and spoke to men who were 
merely muffled shapeless figures in the darkness, and again 
we went on. I think now that in all probability neither 
Tsai Chih Fu nor Mr Wang understood enough of the dialect 
to make the muleteers or the people of whom we inquired 
understand where we wanted to go, but at last, more prob- 
ably by good luck than good management, somebody, 
seeing I was a foreigner, sent us to the foreigners they knew, 
those who kept a school for a hundred and twenty-five boys 
in the lovely Flower Garden. It certainly was lovely, an old- 
world Chinese house, with little courtyards and ponds and 
terraces and flowers and trees — and that comfortable bed 
I had been desiring so long. As we entered the courtyard 
in the darkness and Tsai Chih Fu lifted me down, the bed 
was the only thing I could think of. 

And yet next day I started again — I wonder now I dared 
— and we skirted the walls of Taiku. We had gone round 
two sides and then, as I always do when I am dead-tired, I 
had a bad attack of breathlessness. Stay on that pack I 
knew I could not, so I made my master of transport lift 
me down, and I sat on a bank for the edification of all the 
small boys in the district who, even if they had known how 
ill I felt, probably would not have cared, and I decided there 
and then that pack-mule riding was simply impossible and 
something would have to be done. Therefore, with great 
difficulty, I made my way back to the mission school and 
asked Mr Wolf what he would recommend. 

Again were missionaries kindness itself to me. They 
sympathised with my trouble, they took me in and made 
me their guest, refusing to take any money for it, though 
they added to their kindness by allowing me to pay for the 
keep of my servants, and they strongly recommended that I 
should have a Utter. A Utter then I decided I would htvj. 


It is, I should think, the very earhest form of human con- 
veyance. It consists of two long poles laid about as far 
apart as the shafts of an ordinary cart, in the middle is 
hung a coarse-meshed rope net, and over that a tilt of 
matting — the sort of stuff we see tea-chests covered with 
in this country. Into the net is tumbled all one's small 
impedimenta — dothes-bags, kettles, anything that will not 
conveniently go on mule- back ; the bedding is put on top, 
rugs and cushions arranged to the future inmate's satisfac- 
tion, then you get inside and the available people about are 
commandeered to hoist the concern on to the backs of the 
couple of mules, who object very strongly. The head of the 
one behind is in the shafts, and the ends rest in his pack- 
saddle, and the hind quarters of the one in front are in the 
shafts, just as in an ordinary buggy. Of course there are 
no reins, and at first I felt very much at the mercy of the 
mules, though I am bound to say the big white mule who 
conducted my affairs seemed to thorouglily understand his 
business. Still it is uncomfortable, to say the least of it, 
to find yourself going, apparently quite unattended, down 
steep and rocky paths, or right into a rushing river. But 
on the whole a litter is a very comfortable way of travelling ; 
after a pack-mule it was simply heaven, and I had no doubts 
whatever that I could comfortably do the thousand miles, 
lessened now, I think, by about thirty, that lay before me. 
If I reached Lan Chou Fu there would be time enough to 
think how I would go on farther. And here my muleteers 
had me. When I arranged for a Utter, I paid them, of course, 
extra, and I said another mule was to be got to carry some 
of the loads. They accepted the money and agreed. But 
I may say that that other mule never materialised. I 
accepted the excuse when we left Taiku that there was no 
other mule to be hired, and by the time that excuse had 


worn thin I had so much else to think about that I bore up, 
though not even a donkey was added to our equipment. 

Money I took vdth me in lumps of silver, sycee — shoes, 
they called them — and a very unsatisfactory way it is of 
canying cash. It is very heavy and there is no hiding the 
fact that you have got it. We changed little bits for our 
daily needs as we went along, just as little as we could, be- 
cause the change in cash was an intolerable burden. On one 
occasion in Fen Chou Fu I gave Tsai Chih Fu a very small 
piece of silver to change and intimated that I would like to 
see the result. That piece of silver I reckon was worth 
about five shillings, but presently my master of transport 
and one of the muleteers came staggering in and laid before 
me rows and rows of cash strung on strings ! I never felt 
so wealthy in my life. After that I never asked for my 
change. I was content to keep a sort of general eye on the 
expenditm'c, and I expect the only leakage was the accepted 
percentage which every servant levies on his master. When 
they might easily have cheated me, I foimd my servants 
showed always a most praiseworthy desire for my welfare. 
And yet Mr Wang did surprise me occasionally. While I 
was in Pao Ting Fu I had found it useful to learn to count 
in Chinese, so that roughly I knew what people at the food- 
stalls were charging me. On one occasion I saw some little 
cakes powdered with sesame seed that I thought I should 
like and I instructed Mr Wang to buy me one. I heard him 
ask the price and the man say tliree cash, and my interpreter 
turned to me and said that it was four ! I was so sm'prised 
I said nothing. It may have been the regulation percentage, 
and twenty -five per cent is good anywhere, but at the moment 
it seemed to me extraordinary that a man who considered 
himself as belonging to the upper classes should find it 
worth his while to do me out of one cash, which was worth — 


no, I give it up. I don't know what it was worth. 10.53 
dollars went to the pound when I was in Shansi and about 
thirteen hundred cash to the dollar, so I leave it to some 
better mathematician than I am to say what I was done 
out of on that occasion. 

There was another person who was very pleased with the 
litter and that was James Buchanan. Poor little man, 
just before we left the Flower Garden he was badly bitten 
by a dog, so badly he could no longer walk, and I had to 
carry him on a cushion alongside me in the litter. I never 
knew before how dearly one could love a dog, for I was 
terrified lest he should die and I should be alone in the world. 
He lay still and refused to eat, and every movement seemed 
to pain him, and whenever I struck a missionary — they were 
the only people, of course, with whom I could converse — 
they always suggested his back was broken. 

I remember at Ki Hsien, where I was entertained most 
hospitably, and where the missionary's wife was most 
sympathetic, he was so ill that I sat up all night with him 
and thought he would surely die. And yet in the morning 
he was still alive. He moaned when we lifted him into the 
litter and whined pitifully when I got out, as I had to several 
times to take photographs. 

" Don't leave me, don't leave me to the mercy of the 
Chinese," he said, and greeted me with howls of joy when I 
retiu*ned. It was a great day for both of us when he got a 
little better and could put his pretty little black and white 
head round the tilt and keep his eye upon me while I worked. 
But really he was an ideal patient, such a good, patient 
little dog, so grateful for any attention that was paid him, 
and from that time he began to mend and by the time I 
reached Fen Chou Fu was almost his old gay happy little 
self again. 


Taiku is a dying town over two thousand years old, 
and I have before seen dead towns in China. Fewer 
and fewer grow the inhabitants, the grass grows in the 
streets, the bricks fall away from the walls, the houses 
fall down, until but a few shepherds or peasant farmers 
dwell where once were the busy haunts of merchants and 

From Taiku I went on across the rich Shansi plain. Now 
in the springtime in the golden sunshine the wheat was just 
above the gi-ound, turning the land into one vivid green, 
the sky was a cloudless blue, and all was bathed in the golden 
sunshine of Northern China. The air was clear and invigor- 
ating as champagne. " Every prospect pleases," as the 
hxTun says, " and only man is vile." He wasn't vile ; 
really I think he was a very good fellow in his o\^^l way, 
which was in a dimension into which I have never and am 
never likely to enter, but he was certainly unclean, ignorant, 
a serf, poverty-stricken with a poverty we hardly conceive 
of in the West, and the farther away I found myself from 
T'ai Yuan Fu the more friendly did I find him. This country 
was not like England, where until the last four years has 
been in the memory of our fathers and our fathers' fathers 
only peace. Even now, now as I \vrite, when the World War 
is on, an air raid is the worst that has befallen the home- 
staying citizens of Britain. But Shansi has been raided 
again and again. Still the land was tilled, well tilled ; on 
every hand were men working hard, working from dawn to 
dark, and working, to a stranger's eyes, for the good of the 
eonmnmity, for the fields are not divided by hedge or fence ; 
there is an occasional poplar or elm, and there are graves 
everywhere, but there is nothing to show where Wang's 
land ends and Lui's begins. All through the cultivated 
land wanders, apparently without object, the zigzag track 


of sand and ruts and stones kno\\Ti as the Great South Road, 
impossible for anytliing with wheels but a Chinese cart, and 
often impossible for that. There are no wayside cottages, 
nothing save those few trees to break the monoton3% only 
here and there is a village sheltering behind Iiigh walls, 
sometimes of mud, but generally of brick, and stout, sub- 
stantial brick at that ; and if, as is not infrequent, there is 
a farmhouse alone, it, too, is behind high brick walls, built 
like a baronial castle of mediaeval times, with a look-out tower 
and room behind the walls not only for the owner's family 
even unto the third and fourth generation, but for all his 
hinds and his dependents as well. The whole is built 
evidently with a view to defence, and built apparently to 
last for hundreds of years. For Shansi is worth raiding. 
There is oil and there is wheat in abundance. There is money 
too, much of which comes from Mongolia and Manchuria. 
The bankers (the Shansi men are called the Jews of China) 
wander across and trade far into Russian territory while 
still their home is in agricultural Shansi, and certain it is 
that any disturbances in these countries, even in Russia, 
affect the prosperity of Shansi. I wonder if the Russian 
Revolution has been felt there. Very probably. 

Shansi is rich in other things too not as yet appreciated 
by the Chinaman. She has iron and copper and coal that 
has barely been touched, for the popular feeling is against 
mining. They say that no part of the globe contains such 
stores of coal. I hesitate about quoting a Gterman, but they 
told me that Baron Reichthoffen has said that this province 
has enough coal to supply the world for two thousand years 
at the present rate of consumption. I haven't the faintest 
notion whether the Baron's opinion is worth anything, but 
if it is, it is no wonder that Germany, with her eye for ever 
on the main chance, has felt deeply being thrust out of China. 


With ample coal, and with iron alongside it, what might 
not Shansi be worth to exploit ! 

Ki Hsien is a little walled towm five li round. Roughly 
three li make a mile, but it is a little doubtful. For instance, 
from Taiku to Ki Hsien is fifty li, and that fifty li is sixteen 
miles, from Ki Hsien to Ping Yao is also fifty li, but that 
is only fourteen English miles. The land, say the Chinese, 
explaining this discrepancy, was measured in time of famine 
when it wasn't of any value ! A very Chinese explanation. 

The city of Ki Hsien is very, very crowded ; there were 
hundreds of tiny courtyards and flat roofs. In the picture 
of the missionary's house I have not been able to get the 
roof in because the courtyard — and it was a fairly large 
courtyard as courtyards in the city go — was not big enough. 
I stood as far away as I possibly could. Mr and Mrs Falls 
belonged to the Chinese Inland Mission and the house they 
lived in was over three hundred years old. Like many of 
the houses in Shansi, it was two storeys high and, strangely 
enough, a thing I have never seen anywhere else, the floors 
upstairs were of brick. 

I do not know how I would like to live in such a crowded 
community, but it has its advantages on occasion. At the 
time of the revolution, when those missionaries who had 
come through the Boxer times were all troubled and anxious 
about their future, the Falls decided to stay on at their 
station, and a rich native doctor, a heathen, but a friend, 
who lived next door, commended that decision. 

" Why go away ? " said he. " Your courtyard adjoins 
mine. If there is trouble we put up a ladder and you come 
over to us." 

And there was hint of trouble then. As we sat at supper 
there came in the Chinese postman in his shabby uniform of 
dirty blue and white, with his large military cap pushed on 


the back of his head, and he brought to the Falls a letter 
from Dr Edwards, the missionary doctor all foreign T'ai 
Yuan Fu thought I ought to meet. 

WTien I was within reach of the Peking foreign daily 
papers they mentioned Pai Lang as one might mention a 
burglar in London, sandwiching him in between the last 
racing fixtures or the latest Cinema attraction, but from a 
little walled town within a day's march of Hsi An Fu the 
veteran missionary wrote very differently, and we in this 
other little walled town read breathlessly. 

White Wolf had surrounded Hsi An Fu, he said ; it was 
impossible to get there and he was returning. 

The darkness had fallen, the lamp in the middle of the table 
thiew a light on the letter and on the faces of the middle- 
aged missionary and his wife who pored over it. It might 
mean so much to them. It undoubtedly meant much to 
their friends in Hsi An Fu, and it meant much to me, the 
outsider who had but an hour ago walked into their lives. 
For I began to fear lest this robber might affect me after 
all, lest in coming north I was not going to outflank him. 
According to Dr Edwards, he had already taken a little 
walled city a himdred li — about a day's journey — north-west 
of Hsi An Fu, and when White Wolf took a tOAvn it meant 
murder and rapine. And sitting there in the old Chinese 
room these two people who knew China told me in no 
measured terms what might happen to a woman travelling 
alone in disturbed country. 

Missionaries, they said, never left their stations when 
the coimtry was disturbed, they were safer at home, sur- 
rounded by their friends. Once the country is raided by a 
robber band — and remember this is no uncommon thing in 
China — all the bad characters in the country come to the fore, 
and robber bands that have nothing to do "vvitli the original 



Sec fagt' $6. 



one spring into existence, the cities shut their gates to all 
strangers, and passports are so much waste paper. Between 
ourselves, I have a feeling they always are in China. I 
could hardly tell the difference between mine and my agree- 
ment with my muleteers, and I have an uneasy feeling that 
occasionally the agreement was presented when it should 
have been the passport. 

Now no one could be certain whether Pai Lang intended 
to take Lan Chou Fu, but it looked as if that were his objec- 
tive. K he took the city it would not be much good my 
getting there, because the bankers would certainly not be 
able to supply me with money ; even if he only raided the 
country round, it would be so disturbed that my muleteers 
would be bound to take alarm. If they left me, and they 
certainly would leave me if they thought there was a chance 
of their mules being taken, I should be done. It would 
spell finish not only to the expedition but to my life. A 
foreigner, especially a woman without money and without 
friends, would be helpless in China. Why should the people 
help her ? It takes them all they know to keep their own 
heads above water. And Kansu was always turbulent ; it 
only wanted a match to set the fire alight. Mr and Mrs 
Falls — bless them for their kindness and interest ! — thought 
I should be mad to venture. 

So there in the sitting-room which had been planned for 
a merchant prince and had come into the possession of these 
two who desired to bring the religion of the West to China 
I sat and discussed this new obstacle. After coming so far, 
laying out so much money, could I turn back when danger 
did not directly press ? I felt I could not. And yet my 
hosts pointed out to me that if danger did directly threaten 
I would not be able to get away. If Pai Lang did take 
Lan Chou Fu, or even if he did not, it might well be worth 


his while to turn east and raid fertile Shansi. In a little 
town like Ki Hsien there was loot well worth having. In 
the revolution a banker there was held to ransom, and paid, 
as the people put it, thirty times ten thousand taels (a tael 
is roughly three shillings, according to the price of silver), 
and they said it was but a trifle to him — a flea-bite, I believe, 
was the exact term — and I can well believe, in the multitude 
of worse parasites that afflict the average Chinaman, a flea- 
bite means much less than it does in England. 

However, I didn't feel like giving up just yet, so I decided 
to go on to Fen Chou Fu, where was a big American mission, 
and see what they had to say about the matter. If then I 
had to flee, the missionaries would very likely be fleeing too, 
and I should have company. 

And the very next day I had what I took for a warning. 

It was a gorgeous day, a cloudless blue sky and brilliant 
sunshine, and I passed too many things of interest worth 
photographing. There were some extraordinary tombs, 
there was a quaint village gateway — ^the Gate of Everlasting 
Peace they call it — but I was glad to get back into my 
litter and hoped to stay there for a little, for getting out of a 
litter presents some difficulties unless you are very active 
indeed. It is a good long drop across the shafts on to the 
ground ; the only other alternative is to drop down behind 
the mule's hind quarters and slip out under those shafts, but 
I never had sufficient confidence in my mule to do that, so 
that I generally called upon Tsai Chih Fu to lift me down. 
I had set out full of tremors, but taking photographs of the 
peaceful scenes soothed my ruffled nerves. I persuaded my- 
self my fears had been born of the night and the dread of 
loneliness which sometimes overtakes me when I am in 
company and thinking of setting out alone, leaving kindly 
faces behind. 


And then I came upon it, the first sign of unrest. 

The winding road rose a little and I could see right ahead 
of us a great crowd of people evidently much agitated, and 
I called to Mr Wang to know what was the matter. 

" Repeat, please," said he as usual, and then rode forward 
and came back saying, " I do not know the word." 

^- What word ? " 

" What is a lot of people and a dead man ? " 

" Ah ! " said I, jumping to conclusions unwarrantably, 
" that is a funeral." 

" A funeral ! " said he triumphantly. " I have learned a 
new word." 

Mr Wang was always learning a new word and rejoicing 
over it, but, as I had hired him as a finished product, I hardly 
think it was unreasonable of me to be aggrieved, and to 
feel that I was paying him a salary for the pleasure of 
teaching him English. However, on this occasion his 
triumph was short-lived. 

" W^ould you like to see the funeral ? " he said. 

I intimated that I would. My stalwart master of trans- 
port lifted me down and the crowded people made a lane 
for me to pass through, and half of them turned their atten- 
tion to me, for though there were missionaries in the big 
towns, a foreigner was a sight to these country people, and, 
Mr Wang going first, we arrived at a man with his head 
cut off ! Mercifully he was mixed up with a good deal of 
matting and planks, but still there was no mistaking the poor 
dead feet in their worn Chinese shoes turned up to the sky. 

Considering we are mortal, it is extraordinary how seldom 
the ordinary person looks upon death. Always it comes 
^vith a shock. At least it did. I suppose this war has 
accustomed some of us to the sight, so that we take the 
result of the meeting of mortal man with his last friend on 


earth more as a matter of course, as indeed it should be 
taken. Of course I know this is one of the results of the 

My sister's son, staying with me after six months in 
hospital, consequent upon a wound at Gallipoli, came home 
from a stroll one day and reported that he had seen nothing, 
and then at dinner that night mentioned in a casual manner 
that he had seen two dead men being carried out of a large 
building and put in a motor car. 

I said in astonishment : 

" They couldn't have been dead ! " 

" Of course they were. Do you think I don't know dead 
men when I see them ? I've seen plenty." 

So many that the sight of a couple in the streets of a 
quiet little country town seemed not even an occasion for 

But I was not even accustomed to thinking of dead men 
and I turned upon Mr Wang angrily : 

"But that isn't a funeral. That's a corpse," and once 
more to my irritation he rejoiced over a new word. 

" Who killed him ? " I asked. 

" They think an enemy has done this thing," said he 
sententiously and unnecessarily, as, ignorant as I am of 
things Chinese, I should hardly think even they could have 
called it a friendly action. The body had been found the 
day before, and the people were much troubled about 
it. An official from Ping Yow — a coroner, I suppose we 
should call him — was coming out to inquire about it, and 
because the sun was already hot the people had raised a 
little screen of matting with a table and chairs where he 
could sit to hold inquiry. 

And here was the thing the missionaries had warned me 
against. Trouble, said tliey, always begins by the finding 


of dead bodies that cannot be accounted for, and this body 
was on the Great South Road. It might be only a case 
of common murder such as one might perchance meet in 
Piccadilly, possibly it was due to the bands of soldiers that 
were pouring into the country — ^to defend the crossings of 
the Yellow River, some people said — but it was to me an 
emphatic reminder that the warnings of Mr and Mrs Falls 
had not been given lightly, and I meditated upon it all the 
way to Ping Yow. 

All day long the soldiers had been pouring through Ki 
Hsien, all night long they poured through the suburbs of 
Ping Yow. Not through the to\Mi itself — the townspeople 
were not going to allow that if they could help themselves ; 
and as it was evidently a forced march and the regiments 
were travelling by night, they could help themselves, for 
every city gate is shut at sundo\vn. The China Inland 
Mission had a station at an old camel inn in the eastern 
suburb, and there the missionary's young wife was alone with 
five young children, babies all of them, and there I found 
her. I think she was very glad to see me, anyhow I was 
someone to discuss things with, and we two women talked 
and talked over our evening meal. She was a tall, pretty 
young woman — not even the ugly Chinese dress and her hair 
drawn back, not a hair out of place, Chinese fashion, could 
disguise her pathetic beauty. And she was a coimtry\voman 
of mine, born and brought up in the same state, Victoria, 
and her native town was Ararat, green and fresh among the 
hills. And how she talked Australia ! What a beautiful 
land it was ! And the people ! The free, independent 
people ! The women who walked easily and feared no man ! 
To thoroughly appreciate a democratic country you should 
dwell in effete China. But she feared too, this woman, 
feared for herself and her five tiny children. It would be 


no easy job to get away. I told her of the dead man I had 
seen — how should I not tell her ? — ^and she trembled. 

" Very likely it is the soldiei-s," she said. " I am afraid of 
the Chinese soldiers." And so am I in bulk, though taken 
singly they seem such harmless little chaps. 

" When the willow is green and the apricot yellow in the 
fifth moon," said a metrical inscription on a stone dug up at 
Nankin in tliat year — the fatal year 191 J; — " terrible things 
will happen in the land of Han." Terrible things, it seems 
to me, always happen in the land of Han ; but if it spoke 
for the great world beyond, truly the stone spoke truth, 
though we did not know it then. 

In the evening back from the country where he had been 
preaching for the last day or two came my Australian's 
husband, and there also came in to see the stranger two 
missionaries from the other side of the town. They sat 
there, these men and women of British race, dressed in the 
outlandish costume of the people around them — a foolish 
fashion, it seems to me, for a European in unadulterated 
Chinese dress looks as ugly and out of place as a Chinese in 
a stiff collar and a bowler hat. And all the evening we 
discussed the soldiers and the dead man I had seen, and 
opinions differed as to the portent. 

It is true, said one of them who had been in the country 
many years, and was a missionary pure and simple, with 
eyes for notliing but the work he had in hand — which is 
probably the way to work for success — that a dead body, 
particularly a dead body by the higiu'oad, is often a sign 
of um*est, but again, quite as often it means no more than 
a dead body in any other place. If he had turned back for 
every dead body he had seen 

Well, I thought I would not turn back either. Not yet, 
at least. 


Never was I sorrier for missionaries, I who have always 
written against missionaries, tlian I was for tliis young 
countrywoman of mine who never thought of being sorry 
for herself. It was a big ugly mission compomid, the rooms, 
opening one into another, were plain and undecorated, and 
the little children as a great treat watered the flowers that 
struggled up among the stones of the dusty courtyard, and 
the very watering-can was made with Chinese ingenuity 
from an old kerosene tin. It seemed to me those little 
children would have had such a much better chance gi'o\\ing 
up in their mother's land, or in their father's land — he was 
a Canadian — among the free peoples of the earth. But who 
am I, to judge ? No one in the world, it seems to me, wants 
help so much as the poorer Chinese, whose Ufe is one long 
battle with disease and poverty ; and perhaps these poorer 
missionaries help a little, a very little ; but the poorer the 
mission the poorer the class they reach, and the sacrifice, 
as I saw it here, is so great. 

Next morning we arose early, and I breakfasted with my 
host and hostess and their five children. The children's 
grace rings in my ears yet, always I tliink it will ring there, 
the cliildish voices sung it with such fervour and such faith : 

"Every day, every day, we bless Thee, we bless Thee, 
We praise Thy Name, we praise Thy Name, 
For ever and for ever ! " 

There in the heart of China these little children, who had, 
it seemed to me, so very little to be grateful for, thanked 
their God with all their hearts, and when their elders with 
the same simple fervour went dovMi on their knees and asked 
their God to guide and help the stranger and set her on her 
way, though it was against all my received canons of good 
taste, what could I do but be simply grateful. 

Ping Yow is a large town set in the midst of a wheat- 


growing countty, and it is built in the shape of a turtle, 
at least so I was told. I could see for myself that its walls 
were not the usual four-square set to the points of the 
compass, but seemed irregular, with many little towers upon 
them. These towers, it seems, were built in memory of the 
teachers of Confucius — ^this is the only intimation I have had 
tliat he had seventy-two ; and there were over three thousand 
small excrescences — ^again I only repeat what I was told ; I 
did not count them, and if I had I would surely have 
counted them wrong — like sentry-boxes in memory of his 
disciples. I do not know why Ping Yow thus dedicates 
itself to the memory of the great sage. It needs something 
to commend it, for it remains in my mind as a bare, ugly, 
crowded town, with an extra amount of dust and dirt and 
heat, and no green thing to break the monotony. 
And I set forth, and in spite of all I still faced West. 


See page 57. 

See page 57. 


See page 57. 


See page 57. 



In my wanderings across Shansi I came in contact with 
two missionary systems run wdth the same object in view 
but carried out in diametrically opposite ways. Of course 
I speak as an outsider. I criticise as one who only looks on, 
but after all it is an old saw that the onlooker sees most of 
the game. There are, of course, many missions in China, 
and I often feel that if the Chinaman were not by nature 
a philosopher he would sometimes be a little confused by 
salvation offered him by foreigners of all sects and classes, 
ranging from Roman Catholics to Seventh Day Adventists. 
Personally I have received much kindness from English 
Baptists, from the China Inland Mission and from American 
Presb}i;erians and Congregationalists. Amongst them all I — 
who frankly do not believe in missions, believing that the 
children at home should first be fed — found much to admire, 
much individual courage and sacrifice, but for the systems, 
I felt the American missions were the most efficient, far the 
most likely to attain the end in view. 

The Chinaman, to begin with, sees no necessity for his 
own conversion. Unlike the ordinary black man, he neither 
admires nor en^des the white man, and is given to thinking 
his own ways are infinitely preferable. But the Chinaman 
is a man of sound common-sense, he immensely admires 
efficiency, he is a great believer in education, and when a 
mission comes to him fully equipped with doctors, nurses 
and hospitals, teachers and schools, he, once he has over- 
D 49 


come his dread of anything new, begins to avail himself 
first of the doctor and the hospital, for the sore need of 
China is for medical attendance, and then of the schools. 
Then comes conversion. They tell me that there are many 
genuine converts. I have only noticed that the great rich 
American missions rake in converts by tens and twenties, 
where they come dribbling in in units to the faith missions, 
which offer no such advantages as medical attendance or 
tuition. The faith missionaries work hard enough. I have 
seen a woman just come in from a week's missionary tour 
in a district where, she explained, she had slept on the 
k'angs with the other women of the household, and she was 
stripping off her clothes most carefully and combing her 
long hair with a tooth-comb, because all women of the class 
she visited among were afflicted with those little parasites 
that we do not mention. The Chinese have a proverb that 
"the Empress herself has three," so it is no sliame. She 
thought nothing of her sacrifice, that was what she had 
come for, everyone else was prepared to do the same ; but 
when so much is given I like to see great results, as in the 
American missions. They are rich, and the Chinaman, with 
a few glaring exceptions, is a very practical person. To ask 
him to change his faith for good that will work out in another 
world is asking rather much of him. If he is going to do so 
he feels he may as well have a God who will give him some- 
thing in return for being outcast. At least that is the way I 
read the results. Look at Fen Chou, for instance, where the 
Americans are thriving and a power in the town, and look at 
Yung Ning Chou, farther west, where a Scandinavian faith 
mission has been established for over twenty years. They 
may have a few adherents in the country round, but in the 
city itself — a city of merchants — ^they have, I believe, not 
made a single convert. 

Of course the China Inland Mission does not lay itself 


out to be rich. However many subscriptions come in, the 
individual missionary gets no more than fifty pounds a year ; 
if more money comes, more missionaries are estabhshed, if 
less, then the luckless individual missionary gets as much 
of the fifty pounds as funds allow. The Founder of the 
Faith was poor and lowly, therefore the missionaries must 
follow in His footsteps. I understand the reason, the nobility, 
that lies in the sacrifice implied when men and women give 
their lives for their faith, but not only do I like best the 
results of the American system, but I dislike exceedingly 
that a European should be poor in an Oriental country. 
If missionaries must go to China, I like them to go for the 
benefit of the Chinese and for the honour and glory of the 
race to which they belong, and not for the good of their own 

I came into Fen Chou Fu and went straight to the large 
compound of the American missionaries, three men and 
three women from Obcrlin College, Ohio. They had a 
hospital, they had a school, they had a kindergarten, the 
whole compound was a flourishing centre of industry. They 
teach their faith, for that is what they have come out for, 
but also they teacli the manifold knowledge of the West. 
Sanitation and hygiene loom large in their curriculum, and 
heaven knows, without taking into consideration any future 
life, they must be a blessing to those men and women who 
under cruel conditions must see this life through. These 
six missionaries at Fen Chou Fu do their best to improve 
those conditions with a practical American common- sense 
and thoroughness that won my admiration. 

Fen Chou Fu, unlike T'ai Yuan Fu, is friendly, and has 
always been friendly, to the foreigner ; even during the Boxer 
trouble they were loath to kill their missionaries, and when 
the order came that they were to be slain, declined to allow 
it to be done witliin their walls, but sent them out, and they 


were killed about seven miles outside the city — a very Chinese 
way of freeing themselves from blood-guiltiness. 

The town struck me as curiously peaceful after the unrest 
and the never-ending talk of riot, robbery and murder I 
had heard all along the road. The weather was getting warm 
and we all sat at supper on the verandah of Dr Watson's 
house, with the lamps shedding a subdued light on the table, 
and the sounds of the city coming to us softened by the 
distance, and Mr Watt Pye assured me he had been out in 
the country and there was nothing to fear, nothing. The 
Chinaman as he had seen him had many sins, at least errors 
of conduct that a missionary counts sin, but as far as he knew 
I might go safely to the Russian border. He had not been 
in the country very long, not, I fancy, a fifth of the time Dr 
Edwards had been there, but, listening to him, I hoped once 

The town is old. It was going as a city in 2205 B.C., and 
it is quite unlike any other I have come across in China. 
It is a small square city about nine li round, and on each of 
the four sides are suburbs, also walled. Between them and 
the city are the gully-like roads leading to the gates. The 
eastern suburb is nearly twice as large as the main city, and 
is surrounded by a high brick wall, but the other suburbs 
have only walls like huge banks of clay, on the top the grass 
grows, and on my way in I was not surprised to see on 
top of this clay-bank a flock of sheep browsing. It 
seemed a very appropriate place for sheep, for at first 
sight there is nothing to show that this was the top of a 
town wall. 

When the Manchus drove out the Mings, the vanquished 
Imperial family took refuge in this western to^\Ti and re- 
built the walls, which had been allowed to fall into disrepair, 
and they set about the job in a fashion worthy of Babylon 


itself. The bricks were made seven miles away in the hills, 
and passed from hand to hand do^^^l a long line of men till 
they reached their destination and were laid one on top of 
another to face the great clay-bank forty-six feet high that 
guards the city. According to Chinese ideas, the city needs 
guarding not from human enemies only. Tlie mountains 
to the west and north overshadow it, and all manner of evil 
influences come from the north, and the people fear greatly 
their effect upon the town. It was possible it might never 
get a good magistrate, or that, having got one, he might 
die, and therefore they took every precaution they could to 
ward off such a calamity. Gods they put in their watch 
tower over the gate, and they sit there still, carved wooden 
figures, a great fat god — if a city is to be prosperous must not 
its god be prosperous too ? — surrounded by lesser satellites. 
Some are fallen now, and the birds of the air roost upon them, 
and the dust and the cobwebs have gathered upon them, 
but not yet will they be cleared away. In a chamber below 
are rusty old-world cannon flung aside in a heap as so much 
useless lumber, and, below, all the busy traffic of the city 
passes in and out beneath the arches of the gateway. In 
that gateway are two upright stones between which all 
wheeled traffic must pass, the distance between these stones 
marking the length of the axle allowed by the narrow city 
streets. Any vehicle having a greater length of axle cannot 
pass in. No mere words can describe the awful condition 
of the roads of Shansi, and to lessen as far as possible the 
chance of an upset the country man makes his axle very 
wide, and, knowing this, the town man notifies at his gates 
the width of the vehicle that can pass in his streets. No 
other can enter. 

Besides the gods over the gateway. Fen Chou Fu, owing to 
its peculiar position under the hills, requires other guarding, 


and there are two tall bronze phcenixes on the wall close 
to the northern watch tower. I was quite pleased to make 
the acquaintance of a phoenix, as, though I have read about 
them, I had never met them before. In Fen Chou Fu it 
appears that a phoenix is between thirty and forty feet high, 
built like a comic representation of a chicken, with a long 
curly neck and a cock's comb upon his head. It would 
indeed be a churlish, evil spirit who was not moved to 
laughter at the sight. But though the form is crude, on 
the bronze bases and on the birds themselves are worked 
beautifully the details of a long story. Dragons and foxes 
and rabbits, and many strange symbols that I do not under- 
stand come into it, but how they help to guard the city, 
except by pleasing the gods or amusing the evil spirits, I 
must confess I cannot imagine. Certainly the city fathers 
omit the most necessary care : once the walls are finished, the 
mason is apparently never called in, and they are drifting to 
decay. Everywhere the bricks are falling out, and when I 
was there in the springtime the birds of the air found there 
a secure resting-place. There were crows and hawks and 
magpies and whistling kites popping in and out of the holes 
so made, in their beaks straws and twigs for the making of 
their nests. They would be secure pi*obably in any case, 
for the Chinese love birds, but here they are doubly secure, 
for only with difficulty and by the aid of a long rope could 
any man possibly reach them. 

The ramps up to those walls were extremely steep — it was 
a heart-breaking process to get on top — but Buchanan and I, 
accompanied by the master of transport carrying the camera, 
and often by Mr Leete, one of the missionaries, took exercise 
there ; for in a walled city in the narrow streets there is 
seldom enough air for my taste. The climate here is roughly 
summer and winter, for though so short a while ago it had 


been freezing at night, already it was very hot in the middle 
of the daj , and the dust rose up from the narrow streets in 
clouds. A particularly bad cloud of dust generally indicated 
pigs, which travel a good deal in Northern China, even as 
sheep and cattle do in Australia. In Shantung a man sets 
out with a herd of pigs and travels them slowly west, very 
slowly, and they feed along the wayside, though what they 
feed on heaven only knows, for it looks to me as though there 
is nothing, still possibly they pick up something, and I suppose 
the idea is that they arrive at the various places in time for 
the harvest, or when grain and products are cheapest. There 
are inns solely given over to pigs and their drivers in Shansi, 
and the stench outside some of those in Fen Chou Fu was just 
a little taller than the average smell, and the average smell 
in a Chinese city is something to be always remembered. 
There were other things to be seen from the top of the wall 
too — long lines of camels bearing merchandise to and from 
the town, donkeys, mules, carts, all churning up the dust of 
the unkempt roadway, small-footed women seated in their 
doorways looking out upon the life of the streets, riding 
donkeys or peeping out of the tilts of the carts. I could 
see into the courtj^ards of the well-to-do, with their little 
ponds and bridges and gardens. All the life of the city lay 
beneath us. Possibly that is why one meets so very, very 
seldom any Chinese on the wall — it may be, it probably is, 
I should think, bad taste to look into your neighbour's 

And the wall justified its existence, mediaeval and out of 
date as it seemed to me. There along the top at intervals 
were little heaps of good-sized stones, placed there by the 
magistrate in the revolution for the defence of the town. 
At first I smiled and thought how primeval, but looking 
down into the road nearly fifty feet below, I realised that a 


big stone flung by a good hefty fist from the top of that wall 
was a weapon by no means to be despised. 

But walls, if often a protection, are sometimes a danger 
in more ways than in shutting out the fresh air. The summer 
rains in North China are heavy, and Fen Chou Fu holds 
water like a bucket. The only outlets are the narrow gate- 
ways, and the waters rise and rise. A short time before I 
came there all the eastern quarter of the towTi was flooded 
so deep that a woman was drowned. At last the waters 
escaped through the eastern gate, only to be banked up 
by the great ash-heaps, the product of centuries, the waste 
rubbish of the town, that are just outside the wall of the 
eastern subm-b. It took a long, long while for those flood 
waters to percolate through the gateway of the suburb and 
find a resting-place at last in a swamp the other side of that 
long-suffering town. I must confess tliat this is one of the 
drawbacks to a walled town that has never before occurred 
to me, though to stand there and look at those great 
gates, those solid walls, made me feel as if I had somehow 
wandered into the fourth dimension, so out of my world 
were they. 

There was a great fair in a Taoist temple and one day 
Mr Leete and I, with his teacher and my servant, attended. 
A wonderful thing is a Chinese fair in a temple. I do not 
yet understand the exact object of these fairs, though I 
have attended a good many of them. Whether they help 
the funds of the temple as a bazaar is supposed to help a 
church in this country, I cannot say. A temple in China 
usually consists of a set of buildings often in different court- 
yards behind one enclosing wall, and these buildings are not 
only temples to the gods, but living-rooms which are often 
let to suitable tenants, and, generally speaking, if the stranger 
knows his way about — I never did — he can get in a temple 


See page 58. 

See page 59. 




accommodation for himself and his servants, far superior 
accommodation to that offered in the inns. It costs a little 
more, but everything is so cheap that makes no difference 
to the foreigner. The Taoist temple the day I went there 
was simply humming with life ; there were stalls every- 
where, and crowds of people buying, selling or merely gossip- 
ing and looking on. I took a picture of some ladies of easy 
virtue Avith gay dresses and gaily painted faces, tottering 
about, poor things, on their maimed feet, and at the same 
spot, close against the altar of the god, I took a picture of the 
priest. With much hesitation he consented to stand. He 
had in his hand some fortune-telling sticks, but did not dare 
hold them while his portrait was being taken. However, 
Mr Leete's teacher was a bold, brave, enlightened man — in 
a foreign helmet — and he held the sticks, and the two came 
out in the picture together. I trust no subsequent harm 
came to the daring man. 

In Fen Chou Fu I could have walked about the town 
alone unmolested. I never did, because it would have been 
undignified and often awkward, as I could not speak the 
language, but the people were invariably friendly. On the 
whole, there was not very much to see. The sun poured 
down day after day in a cloudless sky, and the narrow streets, 
faced with stalls or blank grey brick walls enclosing the 
compounds, were dusty and uneven, with the ruts still there 
that had been made when the ground was softened by the 
summer rains of the year before. Away to the south-east 
was a great pagoda, the second tallest in China, a landmark 
that can be seen for many a long mile across the plain. 
This, like the phoenixes, is feng shut. I have never grasped 
the inwardness of pagodas, which are dotted in apparently 
a casual manner about the landscape. An immense amount 
of labour must have been expended upon them, and they 
do not appear to serve any useful purpose. This one at 


Fen Chou Fu is meant to balance after a fashion the phoenixes 
on the northern wall and afford protection for the southern 
approach to the city. I don't know that it was used for 
any other purpose. It stood there, tall and commanding, 
dwarfing everything else within sight. Neither do I know 
the purpose of the literary tower which stands on the south- 
east corner of the wall. It denotes that the town either has 
or hopes to have a literary man of high standing among its 
inhabitants. But to look for the use in all things Chinese 
would be foolish ; much labour is expended on work that can 
be only for artistic purposes. To walk through a Chinese 
town, in spite of filth, in spite of neglect and disrepair, is to 
feel that the Chinaman is an artist to his finger-tips. 

The gate to the American church in Fen Chou Fu, for 
instance, was a circle, a tiling of strange beauty. Imagine 
such a gate in an English town, and yet here it seemed quite 
natural and very beautiful. They had no bell, why I do 
not know, perhaps because every temple in China has a pleni- 
tude of bells hanging from its eaves and making the air 
musical when the faintest breath of wind stirs and mission- 
aries are anxious to dissociate themselves in every way from 
practices they call idolatry, even when those practices seem 
to an outsider like myself rather attractive. At any rate, to 
summon the faithful to church a man beats a gong. 

But there is one institution of Fen Chou Fu which is 
decidedly utilitarian, and that is the wells in the north- 
western corner. A Chinaman, I should say, certainly uses 
on the average less water than the majority of humanity ; 
a bath when he is three days old, a bath when he is married, 
and after that he can comfortably last till he is dead, is the 
generally received idea of his ablutions, but he does want 
a little water to carry on life, and in this corner of the town 
are situated the wells which supply that necessary. It is 
rather brackish, but it is still drinkable, and it is all that 


the city gets. They were a never-ending source of interest 
to me. They were estabHshed in those far-away days before 
history began — perhaps the presence of the water here was 
the reason for the building of the town — and they have been 
here ever since. The mouths are builded over with masonry, 
and year in and year out have come those self-same carts 
with solid wheels, dra^vn by a harnessed ox or an ox and a 
mule, bearing the barrels to be filled mth water. Down 
through all the ages those self-same men, dressed in blue 
cotton that has worn to a dingy drab, with a wisp of like 
stuff tied round their heads to protect them from the dust 
or the cold or the sun, liave driven those oxen and drawn that 
water. Really and truly our own water, that comes to us, 
hot and cold, so easily by the turning of a tap, is much more 
wonderful and interesting, but that I take as a matter of 
course, while I never tired of watching those prehistoric 
carts. It was in rather a desolate corner of the town too. 
The high walls rose up and frowned upon it, the inside of 
the walls where there was no brick, only crumbling clay with 
shrubs and creepers just bursting into leaf and little paths 
that a goat or an active boy might negotiate meandering 
up to the top. And to get to that part I had to pass the 
ruins of the old yamen razed to the ground when the Govern- 
ment repented them of the Boxer atrocities, and razed so 
effectually that only the tsvo gate-posts, fashioned like lions, 
Chinese architectural lions, survive. A curse is on the 
place, the people say ; anyhow when I visited it fourteen 
years later no effort had been made to rebuild. Not for 
want of labour, surely. There are no trade unions in China, 
and daily from dawn to dark in Fen Chou Fu I saw the brick- 
layers' labourers trotting along, bringing supplies to the men 
who were building, in the streets I met men carrying water 
to the houses in buckets, and now in the springtime there 
was a never-ending supply of small boys, clad in trousers 


only, or without even those, bearing, slung from each end of 
a bamboo, supplies of firewood, or rather of such scraps as 
in any other land would have been counted scarce worth the 
cost of transport. Any day too I might expect to meet a 
coffin being borne along, not secretly and by night as we 
take one to a house, but proudly borne in the open daylight, 
for everyone knows a coffin is the most thoughtful and 
kindly as well as often the most expensive of gifts. 

While here I attended a wedding. Twice have I attended 
a Chinese wedding. The first was at Pao Ting Fu at 
Christmas time, and the contracting parties were an evangel- 
ist of the church who in his lay capacity was a strapping 
big laimdryman and one of the girls in Miss Ne^vton's 
school. They had never spoken to one another, that would 
have been a frightful breach of decorum, but as they went 
to the same church, where there was no screen between the 
men and the women, as there is in many Chinese churches, 
it is possible they knew each other by sight. It is curious 
how in some things the missionaries conform to Chinese 
ideas and in others decline to yield an inch. In Pao Ting 
Fu no church member was allowed to smoke, but the women 
were kept carefully in retirement, and the schoolmistress, 
herself an unmarried woman, and the doctor's wife arranged 
marriages for such of the girls as came under their guardian- 
ship. Of course I see the reason for that : in the present 
state of Chinese society no other method would be possible, 
for these schoolgirls, all the more because they had a little 
scholarship and education, unless their future had been 
arranged for, would have been a temptation and a prey for 
all the yoimg men around, and even with their careful 
education — and it was a careful education ; Miss Ne^vton 
was a woman in a thousand, I always grudged her to the 
Chinese — were entirely unfitted to take care of themselves. 


Still it always made me smile to see these two women, 
middle-class Americans from Virginia, good-looking and 
kindly, mth a keen sense of hmnom*, gravely discussing 
the eligible young men around the mission and the girls 
who were most suitable for them. It was the most 
barefaced and open match-making I have ever seen. 
But generally, I believe, they were very successful, for 
this one thing is certain, they had the welfare of the girls 
at heart. 

And this was one of the matches they had arranged. It 
is on record that on tliis special occasion the bridegroom, 
with the consent and connivance of the schoolmistress, had 
written to the bride exhorting her to diligence, and pointing 
out how good a thuig it was that a woman should be well 
read and cultured. And seeing that she came of very poor 
people she might well be counted one of the fortunate ones 
of the earth, for the bridegroom was educating her. The 
ignorance of the average Chinese woman in far higher circles 
than she came of is appalling. 

Christmas Day was chosen for the ceremony, and Christmas 
Day was a glorious winter's day, with golden sunsliine for the 
bride, and the air, the keen, invigorating air of Northern 
China, was sparkling with frost. Now, in contrast to the 
next wedding I attended, this wedding was on so-called 
Western lines ; but the Chinese is no slavish imitator, he 
changes, but he changes after his own fashion. The church 
was decorated by devout Chinese Cliristians with results 
which to Western eyes were a little weird and outrS. Over 
the platform that in an Anglican church would be the altar 
was a bank of greenery, very pretty, with flowers dotted all 
over it, and on it Chinese characters in cotton wool, " Earth 
rejoices, heaven sings," and across that again was a festoon 
of small flags of all nations, while from side to side of the 


church were slung garlands of gaily coloured paper in the 
five colours of the new republic, and when I think of the 
time and patience that went to the making of those garlands 
I was quite sorry they reminded nie of fly-catchers. But 
the crowning decoration was the Chinese angel that hovered 
over all. This being was clad in white, a nurse's apron was 
used, girt in at the waist, foreign fashion, and I grieve to 
say they did not give her much breathing-space, though 
they tucked a pink floAver in her belt. Great white paper 
wings were spread out behind, and from her head, framing 
the decidedly Mongolian countenance, were flowing golden 
curls, made by the ingenious decorators of singed cotton 

One o'clock was fixed for the wedding, and at a quarter 
to one the church was full. 

They did not have the red chair for the bride. The con- 
sensus of opinion was against it. " It was given up now by 
the best people in Peking. They generally had carriages. 
And anyhow it was a ridiculous expense." So it was decided 
that the bride should walk. The church was only a stone's- 
throw from the schoolhouse where she lived. The bride- 
groom stood at the door on the men's side of the church, 
a tall, stalwart Chinaman, with his black hair sleek and 
oiled and cut short after the modern fashion. He was 
suitably clad in black silk. He reminded me of " William," 
a doll of my childhood who was dressed in the remains of an 
old silk umbrella — this is saying nothing against the bride- 
groom, for "' William " was an eminently superior doll, and 
always looked his very best if a little smug occasionally. 
But if a gentleman who has attained to the proud position of 
laundr\anan and evangelist, and is marrying the girl he has 
himself at great expense educated for the position, has not 
a right to look a little smug, I don't know who has. Beside 


him stood his special friend, the chief Chinese evangelist, 
who had himself been married four months before. At 
the organ sat the American doctor's pretty young wife, and 
as the word was passed, " The bride is coming ! " she struck 
up the wedding march, and all the women's eyes turned to 
the women's door, while the men, who would not commit 
such a breach of decorum as to look, stared steadily 

But the wedding march had been played over and over 
again before she did come, resplendent and veiled, after the 
foreign fashion, in white mosquito netting, with pink and 
blue flowers in her hair, and another bunch in her hand. 
The bridegroom had wdshed her to wear silk on this great 
occasion, so he had hired the clothes, a green silk skirt and 
a bronze satin brocade coat. 

A model of Chinese decormn was that bride. Her head 
under the white veil was bent, her eyes were glued to the 
ground, and not a muscle of her body moved as she pro- 
gressed very slowly forward. Presumably she did put one 
foot before the other, but she had the appearance of an 
automaton in the hands of the women on either side — 
her mother, a stooping little old woman, and a tall young 
woman in a bright blue brocade, the wife of the bride- 
groom's special friend. Each grasped her by an arm just 
above the elbow and apparently propelled her up the aisle 
as if she were on wheels. Up the opposite aisle came the 
bridegroom, also with his head bent and his eyes glued 
to the ground and propelled forward in the same manner 
by his friend. 

They met, those two who had never met face to face 
before, before the minister, and he performed the short 
marriage ceremony, and as he said the closing words the 
Chinese evangelist became Master of Ceremonies. 


" The bridegroom and bride," said he, " will bow to each 
other once in the new style." 

The bride and groom standing before the minister bowed 
deeply to each other in the new style. 

" They will bow a second time," and they bowed 

" They will bow a third time," and once more they bowed 

" They will now bow to the minister," and they turned 
like well-drilled soldiers and bowed to the white-haired man 
who had married them. 

" They will now bow to the audience," and they faced 
the people and bowed deeply, and everybody in that con- 
gregation rose and returned the salutation. 

" And now the audience will bow to the bride and bride- 
groom," and with right good will the congregation, Chinese 
and the two or three foreigners, rose and saluted the newly 
married couple, also I presume in the new style. 

It was over, and to the strains of the wedding march they 
left the church, actually together, by way of the women's 
entrance. But the bride was not on the groom's arm. That 
would not have been in accord with Chinese ideas. The 
bridegroom marched a little ahead, propelled forward by his 
friend, as if he had no means of volition of his o\\ti — again I 
thought of " William," long since departed and forgotten 
till this moment — and behind came the new wife, thrust 
forward in the same manner, still with her eyes on the floor 
and every muscle stiff as if she too had been a doll. 

" All the world loves a lover," but in China, the land of 
ceremonies, there are no lovers. This man had gone further 
than most men in the wooing of his wife, and they were 
begirming life together with very fair chances of success. 
But even so the girl might not hope for a home of her own. 

See pa^e 60. 



See page 79. 


THE MOUNTAINS. See page 97. 


That would have been most unseemly. The evangelist 
laundryman had not a mother, but his only sister was 
taking the place of mother-in-law, and he and his bride 
would live with her and her husband. 

The wedding I attended in Fen Chou Fu was quite a 
different affair. It was spring, or perhaps I should say 
early summer, the streets through which we drove to the 
old house of one of the Ming princes where dwelt the bride- 
groom with his mother were thick with dust, and the sun 
blazed down on us. The bridegroom belonged to a respect- 
able well-to-do trading family, and he wanted a Christian 
wife because he himself is an active member of the church, 
but the Christian church at Fen Chou Fu has been bachelor 
so long, and the division between the sexes is so strait, that 
there are about fifty available girls to between eight and nine 
hundred yornig men, therefore he had to take what he could 
get, and what he could get was a pagan little girl about 
eighteen, for whom he paid thirty Mexican dollars, roughly 
a little under three pounds. I, a Greek, who do not care 
much what any man's religion is so long as he live a decent 
life, understand the desire of that man for a Christian wife, 
for that means here in the interior that she will have 
received a little education, will be able to read and write 
and do aritlimetic, and will know something of cleanliness 
and hygiene. 

The great day arrived, and the missionaries and I were 
invited to the bridegroom's house for the ceremony and the 
feast that was to follow. The entertainment began about 
eight o'clock in the morning, but we arrived a little after 
noon, and we two women. Miss Grace Maccomaughey and I, 
were ushered^hrough the com-tyards till we came to the 
interior one, which was crowded with all manner of folks, 
some in festive array, some servants in the orduiary blue 



of the country, and some beggars in rags who were antici- 
pating the scraps that fall from the rich man's table, and 
were having tea and cake already. Overhead the sky was 
shut out by all manner of flags and banners with inscriptions 
in Chinese characters upon them, and once inside, we made 
our way towards the house through a pressing crowd. 
Opposite the place that perhaps answered for a front door 
was a table draped in red, the colour of joy, and on the table 
were two long square candles of red wax with Chinese 
characters in gold upon them. They were warranted to 
bum a day and a night, and between them was a pretty 
dwarf plant quaintly gnarled and bearing innimierable 
white flowers. That table was artistic and pretty, but to 
its left was a great pile of coal, and, beside the coal, a stove 
and a long table at which a man, blue- clad, sliaven and with 
a queue, was busy preparing the feast within sight of all. 
I could have wished the signs of hospitality had not been so 
much in evidence, for I could quite believe that cook had 
not been washed since he was three days old, and under the 
table was a large earthenware bowl full of extremely dirty 
water in which were being washed the bowls we would 
presently use. 

Out came the women of the household to greet us and 
conduct us to the bridal chamber, dark and di'aped with 
red and without any air to speak of. It was crowded to 
suffocation with women in gala costumes, with bands of black 
satin embroidered in flowers upon their heads, gay coats 
and loose trousers, smiling faces and the tiny feet of all 
Shansi. It was quite a relief to sit down on the k''ang 
opposite to a stout and cheerful old lady with a beaming 
face who looked like a well-to-do farmer's wife. She was a 
childless widow, however, but she had attained to the proud 
position of Bible-woman, receiving a salary of four Mexican 


dollars a month, and consequently had a position and station 
of her o\\ai. In my experience there is nothing like being 
sure of one's own importance in the world. It is certainly 
conducive to happiness. I know the missionaries, bless 
them ! would say I am taking a wrong view, but whatever the 
reason at the back of it all, to them is the honour of that 
happy, comfortable-lookuig Bible-woman. And there are 
so few happy-looking women in China ! 

We sat on the k^ang and waited for the bride, and we dis- 
coursed. My feet — I never can tuck them under me — clad 
in good substantial leather, looked very large beside the tiny 
ones around me, for even the Bible- woman's had been bound 
in her youth, and of course, though they were unbound now, 
the broken bones could never come straight, and the flesh 
could not gi'ow between the heel and the toes. She looked 
at my feet and I laughed, and she said sententiously, like a 
true Chinese : 

" The larger the feet the happier the woman." 

I asked did it hurt when hers were bound. 

" It hurt like anything," translated the missionary girl 
beside me, " but it is all right now." 

The bride was long in coming, and shortly after four we 
heard the gongs and music and crackers that heralded her 
arrival, and we all went out to gi-eet her, or rather to stare 
at her. First came the bridegroom, and that well-to-do 
tradesman was a sight worth coming out to see. He wore 
a most respectable black satin jacket and a very pretty 
blue silk petticoat ; round his neck and crossed on his breast 
was a sash of orange-red silk, set off with a flaring magenta 
artificial chrysanthemum of no mean proportions, and on his 
head, and somewliat too small for him, was — a rare headgear 
in China — a hard black felt hat. From the brim of that, on 
either side, rose a vnre archway across the crown, on which 


were strung ornaments of brass, and I am bound to say that 
the whole effect was striking. 

Before the bride came in to be married, out went two 
women to hft her veil and smear her face with onion. They 
explained that the bridegroom's mother should do this, but 
the fortune-teller had informed them that these two A\omen 
would be antagonistic — which I think I could have foretold 
without the aid of any fortune-teller — therefore the rite 
was deputed to two other women, one of whom was the 
kindergarten teacher at the school. Then, with the teacher 
on one side and a lucky woman with husband and children 
living on the other, down through the crowd came the little 
bride to her marriage. She was clad in a red robe, much 
embroidered, which entirely hid her figm-e, so tliat whether 
she were fat or slim it Avas impossible to see, on her head 
was a brazen crown entirely covering it, and over her face 
was a veil of thick bright red silk. She could neither see 
nor be seen. Her feet were the tiniest I have ever seen, 
they looked about suitable for a baby of twelve months old. 
The tiny red shoes were decorated with little green tassels 
at the pointed toe and had little baby high heels, and though 
they say these feet were probably false, the real ones must 
have been wonderfully small if they were hidden in the 
manifold red bandages that purported to make the slender 
red ankles neat. 

Bride and bridegroom took their places in front of the 
minister, in front of the plant and alongside the coals, and 
it made my back ache to think of keeping any being standing 
for above a second on such feet. The service began, all in 
Chinese, of course, though the officiating minister was an 
American, a couple of hymns were sung, and the audience 
laughed aloud because she was married by her baby name, 
her mother having omitted to provide her with another. 


The good woman had yearned for a son so she had called 
this girl " Lead a brother." 

Half-way through the ceremony the bridegroom lifted the 
veil. He gave it a hurried snatch, as if it were a matter of 
no moment, and hung it on one of the projections of the 
brazen crown, and then lie and we saw the bride's face for 
the first time. They had done their best to spoil her beauty 
with carmine paint, but she had a nice little nose and a 
sweet little quivering mouth that was very lovable, and I 
think the bridegroom, though he never moved a muscle, 
must have been pleased with his bargain. 

WTien the service was ended, she and we, the principal 
guests, went back to the k'ang in the bride cliamber; her 
crowTi and outer red robe were taken off, all in public, and 
a small square box containing some of her trousseau was 
brought in, and every woman and child there in that stuffy 
little room dived into it and hauled out the silks and 
embroideries and little shoes and made audible comments 
on them. 

" H'm ! it's only sham silk," said one. 

" How old are you, new bride ? " asked another. 

" She's not much to look at," said a third, which was a 
shame, for with the paint washed off she must have been 
pretty though tired-looking. 

It was five o'clock before we went to the feast, all the 
women together, and all the men together, four or five at a 
table, and the bridegroom, without the absurd headgear, 
and his mother, in sober blue silk, came round at intervals 
and exhorted us to eat plenty. 

We had one little saucer each, a pair of chopsticks and a 
china spoon such as that with which my grandmother used 
to ladle out her tea, and they served for all the courses. 
It was lucky I had had notliing since seven in the morning, 


or I might not have felt equaX to eating after I had seen 
the cooking and the washing-up arrangements. As it was, 
I was hungry enough not to worry over trifles. After she 
had sucked them audibly, my friend the Bible- woman helped 
me with her own chopsticks, and I managed to put up with 
that too. I tried a little wine. It was served in little bowls 
not as large as a very small salt-cellar, literally in thimble- 
fuls, but one was too much for me. It tasted of fiery spirit 
and earth, and I felt my companion was not denying herself 
much when she proclaimed herself a teetotaller. \Miat we 
ate heaven only knows, but much to my sui-prise I found 
it very good. Chinese when they have the opportunity are 
excellent cooks. 

The bride sat throughout the feast on the k^ang, her hands — 
three of her finger-nails were shielded ^vith long silver shields 
— hidden under her lavender jacket and her plate piled before 
her, though etiquette required that she should refuse all 
food. They chaffed her and laughed at her, but she sat 
there with downcast eyes like a graven image. After the 
feast two or three men friends of the bridegroom were 
brought in, and to every one she had to rise and make an 
obeisance, and though the men and women hardly looked 
at or spoke to each other, it was evident that she was for 
this occasion a thing to be commented on, inspected and 
laughed at. She was bearing it very well, poor little girl, 
when Kan T'ai T'ai's cart— I was Kan T'ai T'ai— was 
announced, and we went home through the streets as the 
shades of evening were falling. I had fed bountifully and 
well, but the dissipation had worn me out, the airlessness 
of the rooms was terrible, and even the dust -laden air of the 
narrow street I drew into my lungs with a sigh of deep 
thankfulness. It was good to be in the free air again. 
Better still to remember, however I had railed against my 


fate at times, nothing that could ever happen to me would 
be quite as bad as the fate of the average Chinese woman. 

However, a new life was beginning for this girl in more 
ways than one. The bridegroom was going back to his 
business, that of a photographer in T'ai Yuan Fu, leaving his 
wife with his mother. She was to be sent to the school 
for married women opened by the missionaries, and, of 
course, her feet were to be unboimd. Probably, I hope I 
do not do him an injustice, the bridegroom would not have 
objected to bound feet, but he did want an educated mother 
for his children, and the missionaries will take no woman 
with bound feet. They will do the best they can to retrieve 
the damage done, though she can never hope to be anything 
but a maimed cripple, but at least she in the future will be 
free from pain, into her darkened life will come a little know- 
ledge and a little light, and certainly her daughters will 
have a happier life and a brighter outlook. 

Missions in China, if they are to do any good, are necessarily 
patriarchal. They look after their converts from the cradle 
to the grave. The kindergarten run by a Chinese girl under 
the maternal eye of young Miss Grace Maccomaughey was 
quite a pretty sight, with all the little tots in their quaint 
dresses of many colours and their hair done or their heads 
shaved in the absurd fashion which seems good to the proud 
Chinese parents — for Chinese parents are both proud and 
tender and loving, though their ways seem strange to us. 
But babies all the world over, yellow or black or white, are all 
lovable, and these babies at the kindergarten were delicious. 

" Beloved guest, beloved guest," they sang in chorus 
when I came in and they were told to greet me. " Peace 
to thee, peace to thee." 

And " Lao T'ai T'ai " they used to address me in shrill 
little voices as I went about the compound. Lao T'ai T'ai 


(I shouldn't like to swear I'd spelled it properly) means 
" Old lady " — that is, a woman of venerable years who is 
rich enough to keep a servant — and it was the first time in 
my life I had been so addressed, so I looked in the glass to 
see if I had developed grey hair or wrinkles — riding on a 
mule-pack would be enough to excuse anything — and then 
I remembered tliat if in doubt in China it is erring on the 
side of comtesy to consider your acquaintance old. I 
dare say to the children I was old. I remember as a very 
little girl a maiden aunt asking me how old I thought her, 
and I, knowing she was older than my mother, felt she must 
be quite tottery and suggested in all good faith she might 
be about ninety. I believe the lady had just attained her 
five and thirtieth year, and prided herself upon her youthful 
appearance. At anyrate her attitude on this occasion 
taught me when guessing an age it is better to understate 
tlian to overestimate. At least in the West. Here in the 
East I was " Old lady " by courtesy. 

And they begin the important things of life early in China. 
At the kindergarten there were two little tots, a boy and a 
girl, engaged to be married. The boy was the son of one of 
the mission cooks and the girl was the daughter of his wife. 
He, a widower, sought a wife to look after his little boy, and 
he got this young widow cheap. Her price was thirty 
tiaous — that is, a little over one pound — and at first he said 
it was too much and he could not afford it, but when he 
heard she had a little girl he changed his mind and scraped 
together the money, for the child could be betrothed to his 
little son and save the expense of a wife later on. 

They were a quaint little pair, both in coats and trousers, 
shabby and old, evidently the children of poor people, 
and both with their heads shaven save for a tuft of hair here 
and there. The boy Iiad his tufts cut short, while the girl's 


were allowed to grow as long as they would and were twisted 
into a plait. Such a happy little couple they were, always 
together, and in the games at the kindergarten when they 
liad to pair these little ones always chose each other. 
Possibly the new wife in the home was a wise and discreet 
woman. She might be glad too at the thought that she 
need not part with her daughter. Anyhow I should think 
tliat in Fen Chou Fu in the future there would be one married 
couple between whom the sincerest affection will exist. 

I suppose Chinese husbands and wives are fond of each 
other occasionally, but the Chinaman looks upon wedded life 
from quite a different point of view from the Westerner. I 
remember hearing about a new-made widow who came to 
sympathise with a missionary recovering from a long illness. 
She was properly thanked, and then the missionary in her 
turn said in the vernacular : 

" And you too have suffered a bitterness. I am sorry." 

"I ? " incredulously, as much as to say, Who could think 
I had a sorrow ? 

" Why, 5^es. You have lost your husband, haven't you ? " 

" Call that a bitterness ? " smiled the relict cheerfully, and 
her would-be consoler felt the ground cut away beneath her 

But perhaps that sympathiser was not quite as much 
dismayed as another lady who offered her condolences upon 
a similar occasion. The new-made widow was a gay old 
thing, and she remarked blandly, with a toss of her head : 

" All, we don't worry about things like that when we've 
got the Gospel ! " which left that well-meaning teacher a 
little uncertain as to whether she had instructed her in the 
doctrines of her new faith quite correctly. 

Fen Chou Fu is a town that lends itself to reform, that 
asks for it. \Mien I was there they had a magistrate who 


had been educated in Japan and was ready to back any 
measures for the good of the town. He was too much 
imbued with the spirit of modern thought to be a Christian, 
but he was full of admiration for many of the measures 
advocated by these enthusiastic young people from Oberlin 
College. There is a large Government school here — you 
may see the courtyards with their lily ponds and bridges 
from the wall — that has been in existence for hundreds of 
years, and this magistrate appealed to the missionaries to 
take it over and institute their modem methods. They 
might even, so he said, teach their owti faith there. The 
only thing that stood in the way was want of funds, for 
though the school was endowed, money has still a way of 
sticking to the hands through which it passes in China. 
The missionaries were rather inclined, I think, to have hopes 
of his conversion, but I do not think it is very easy to convert 
the broad-minded man who sees the good in all creeds. This 
magistrate was anxious to help his people sunk in ignorance 
and was wise enough to use every means that came in his 
way, for he knows, knowing his own people, you will never 
Westernise a Chinaman. He will take all that is good — or 
bad — in the West that appeals to him, and he will mould it 
in his own way. This magistrate was building an industrial 
school for criminal boys close to the mission station and, 
more progressive than the West itself, he allowed his wife to 
sit on the bench beside him and try and sentence women 
proved guilty of crime. 



As I have said more than once, it seems to me the most 
intolerable thing in life would be to be a Chinese woman. 
I remember when first I began to wTite about China I asked 
a friend of mine to look over my work and he objected to 
my making such a fuss about the condition of the women. 

" Why, people will think you are a suffragette ! " said he, 
searching for some term of obloquy that he felt could not 
possibly apply to me. 

But I am a suffragist, an ardent suffragist, realising that 
a woman is most valuable neither as an angel nor as a slave, 
but as a useful citizen, and I saw then that he possibly 
knew little about the condition of his own women, and 
probably absolutely nothing at all about the condition of 
the women of the race who swarmed around him. Those 
he met would be dumb, and at any rate no right-minded 
woman begins upon her ^\Tongs to a stranger. In any 
country it would be bad taste, in China no words can tell 
what shocking bad taste. I had to seek further afield for 
my information, and I got it from the medical missions. 
Now I went to China with a strong prejudice against 
missionaries, and I found there many people who backed 
me up. And then it occmred to me that I had better go 
to a mission station and see what manner of people were 
these I was judging so hastily and so finally. 

I went. And what I saw made me sorry that Great 
Britain and America, to say nothing of Scandinavia, should 



be deprived of the services of these men and women who are 
giving so much to an alien people. Of com*se I know that 
many missionaries have the " call," a " vocation " I suppose 
the Catholics would call it. 

" It is a fine work," said I, usually the unadmiring, " to 
teach these women, but I do not like coming in contact with 
them, however much I appreciate their virtues." 

And the missionary girl looked at me pityingly. 

" Do you think," said she, " we could come all this way 
to teach Chinese women reading, WTiting and arithmetic ? " 

It seems to me a great thing to do ; if it be only to 
teach them to wash, it is a great thing ; but I who merely 
pitied would never have stayed there to better the condition 
of those unhappy women. To her and her comrades had 
come that mysterious call that comes to all peoples through 
all the ages, the Crying in the Wilderness, " Prepare ye the 
way of the Lord. Make His paths straight," and she 
thought more, far more, of it than I did of the undoubtedly 
good work I saw she was doing, saw as I never should have 
seen had I not gone in the ways untrodden by the tourist, 
or indeed by any white man. 

There are missionaries and missionaries, of course ; there 
are even backsliders who, having learned the difficult tongue 
under the aegis of the missions, have taken up curio-buying 
or any other of the mercantile careers that loom so tempt- 
ingly before the man who knows China ; but in all classes 
of society there are backsliders, the great majority must not 
be judged by them. Neither must their narrowness be laid 
too much to heart when judging the missionary as a whole. 
Possibly only a fanatic can carry through whole-heartedly 
the work of a missionary at a remote station in China, and 
most fanatics are narrow. There are, too, the men and women 
who make it a business and a livelihood, who reckon they 


have house and income and position and servants in return 
for their services to the heathen, but they too are faithful 
and carry out their contracts. Having once seen the misery 
and poverty in whith the great majority of Chinese dwell, 
I can say honestly that I think every mission station that 
I Iiave seen is a centre from which radiates at least a hope 
of better tilings. They raise the standard of living, and 
though I care not what god a man worships, and camiot 
understand how any man can be brought to care, it is good 
that to these people sitting in darkness someone should 
point out that behind the world lies a great Force, God, 
Love, call it what you will, that is working for good. That 
the more educated Chinese lias worked out a faith for him- 
self, just as many in the AA'est have done, I grant you, but 
still the majority of the people tliat I have seen sit in dark- 
ness and want help. From the missions they get it. Taken 
by and large, the Chinaman is a utilitarian person, and if 
the missions had not been helpful they would long ago have 
gone. And for the missionaries themselves — I speak of those 
in the outstations — not one, it seems to me, not one would 
stay among the Chinese unless he were sure that his God 
had sent him, for the life is hard, even for the rich missions 
there are many deprivations, and if therefore, being but 
human, they somethnes depict their God as merciful and 
loving in a way that seems small and petty, much must be 
forgiven them. They are doing their best. 

There is another side to it too for the West. These 
missionaries are conquering China by the system of peaceful 
penetration. They are persecuted, they suffer, are murdered 
often, but that does not drive them away. They come back 
again and again, and wherever the missionary succeeds 
in planting his foot the hatred to foreigners and tilings 
foreign, strong among the conservative Chinese, is weakened 


and finally broken down. China is a rich country, she is 
invaluable to the nations of the earth for purposes of trade, 
and though the missionary in many ways, if he were asked, 
would oppose the coming of the wliite man, he certainly is 
the pioneer. 

China is trying to reform herself, but the process is slow, 
and it seems to me in Shansi and in the parts of Chihli that 
I know it would be a long, long while before the good per- 
colated to the proletariat, the Babylonish slaves, if it were 
not for the missionaries ; and particularly do I admire the 
medical missionaries, for China is one huge sore. 

That is the word the woman doctor at Pao Ting Fu applied 
to it, and, attending her clinic of a morning, I was inclined 
to agree with her. Life is hard for everybody among the 
poor in China, but especially does it press upon the women. 
They came there into the clean sun- lit room and the reek of 
them went up to heaven — ^bald-headed, toothless old crones 
in wadded coats out of which all semblance of colour had 
long since passed, young girls and little children clad in the 
oldest of garments. There were so many with ingrowing 
eyelashes that the doctor had one particular day upon wliich 
she operated for this painful disfigurement, and she showed 
me how, by making a little nick — I'm afraid I can't use 
proper surgical terms — in the upper eyelid, she turned back 
the eyelashes and made them gi-ow in the du'ection they are 
intended to grow, and saved the unfortunates' eyes. Why 
eyelashes should grow in in China I don't know. Perhaps 
it is my ignorance, but I have never heard of their beliaving 
in such an unnatural fasliion in any other part of the world, 
while in Pao Ting Fu tliis ailment seemed to be as common 
as influenza in London, Then there would be women with 
their mouths closed by sores, often so badly they could 
only live by suction, and more than once a new mouth had 


to be cut ; there were cancerous gro^vths — the woman de- 
picted in the picture had waited twenty years before she 
could arrange to come under one hundred miles to the doctor 
— ^there were sores on the head, sores all over the body, aU, I 
suppose, including the ingrowing eyelashes, caused by mal- 
nutrition, swollen glands, abscesses offensive and purulent, 
in fact in that clinic were collected such an array of hmnan 
woes, ghastly, horrible, as well might make one wonder if 
the force behind all life could possibly be anything but devil- 
ish and cruel. Wherein could the good be found ? Wliere ? 

And yet there was good. Among these women moved the 
nurses. They were comely girls in blue coats and trousers, 
"wdth their abundant black liair smoothly drawn back, 
neat white stockings and the daintiest of little shoes. Their 
delicate artistic hands used sponge and basin very capably, 
they were the greatest contrast to their patients, and yet 
they were truly Chinese, had sprung from the people to 
whom they now ministered, and one of them, though it 
was hardly observable, had an artificial foot. So liad she 
suffered from foot- binding that her own had liad to be 

Probably most of the ailments there treated were pre- 
ventable, but worst of all were the bound feet and the 
ailments the women suffered from in consequence. It is 
not good manners to speak about a woman's feet, and the 
women themselves rarely refer to them, but naturally I 
was interested in the custom, and whenever the doctor got 
a " good " bound foot, wliich probably meant a very bad 
one, she sent over for me to come and see it. Anyone who 
has once seen a bound foot will never forget it. It always 
smelt abominably when first the bandages were taken off, 
and the first thing the nurses did was to provide a square 
kerosene tin of hot water in which to soak the foot well. 


Well washed, the feet might be looked at. Shansi especially 
is the home of the bound foot, most of the women have such 
small feet that th^y are confined for the greater part of 
their lives to the k^ang. I remember Dr Lewis in all serious- 
ness saying that he thought on the whole a Chinese woman 
was better without her feet. And I'm inclined to think 
he was right. The toes, all except the big toe, are pressed 
back till they touch the heel, the bandage is put on and 
drawn tighter and tighter every day, and if the girl is healthy 
and big-boned, so much the worse for her. No matter the 
size of the girl, the foot must conform to the one standard. 
In Shansi when I was there the shoes were generally about 
four inches long, and I have taken shoes of that length off 
a tall and strapping woman who was tottering along with 
the aid of a stick. What she must have suffered to get her 
feet to that size is too ten*ible to imagine. She must have 
been suffering still for that matter. If the instep after the 
tightest binding still sticks up the girl's marriage chances 
are seriously interfered with, and then the mother or some 
feminine relative takes a meat-chopper and breaks the bone 
till she can bind the foot small enough. This information 
I got from the American lady who looks after the women in 
the mission in Fen Chou Fu ; and at T'ai Yuan Fu the sister 
in the women's hospital added the gruesome detail that they 
sometimes pull off the little girls' toe-nails so that they may 
not interfere with the binding ! 

And at the women's hospital at Pao Ting Fu I saw the 
finished product. The big toe stuck straight out, red, 
possibly because of the soaking in hot ^vater — I never had 
courage to look at one unsoaked — and ghastly-looking, the 
other toes were pressed back against the heel and the heel 
went up and was exactly like the Cuban heels affected. by 
smartly dressed women, only this time it had been worked in 


^re page 99. 


Sre page 99. 

See page loi. 


flesh and blood. The whole limb from the big toe to the 
knee was hard and immovable as stone. If you press 
ordinary flesh anywhere it pits, just yields a little, not so a 
Chinese woman's leg and foot. It is thin, perished, literally 
hard as marble. Once having seen a foot unbound, it is 
a wonder to me that any woman should walk at all. And 
yet they do. They hold out their arms and walk, balancing 
themselves, and they use a stick. Sometimes they walk on 
their heels, sometimes they try the toe, but once I realised 
what those bandages concealed it was a painful and dreadful 
thing to me to see a Chinese woman walking. In spite of 
the hardness of the flesh, or probably because of it, they get 
bad corns on the spot upon which they balance, and sores, 
very often tuberculous, eat into the foot. 

But the evil does not stop at the foot. In Shansi it seemed 
to me every woman's face was marked with the marks of 
patient suffering. Travelling I often got a glimpse of one 
peering out of a cart or litter at the foreigner, and that face 
invariably was patient, pallid and worn, for foot-binding 
brings no end of evils in its train. The doctor at Fen Chou 
Fu declared that nine-tenths of the women who came to him 
for treatment suffered from tuberculosis in some form or 
another, and this in a climate that in the winter must out- 
rival in dryness Davos Platts. Not a few, too, develop spinal 
curvature low do"WTi in the back, and often because of 
the displacement of the organs they die in child-birth. A 
missionary in one of the little towns I passed through, a 
trained nm'se, told me that when a woman suffered from 
what she {the woman) called leg-waist pains — ^the doctor 
called it osteomalacia — her case was hopeless, she could not 
give birth to a child. Often this nurse had been called in 
to such cases, and she could do nothing to help the suffering 
girl. She could only stand by and see her die. I could well 


believe these tales of suffering. In Fen Chou Fu and in 
Pao Ting Fu the women of the poorer dasses freely walked 
the streets, and their crippled condition was patent to all 
eyes. But in some towns it is not considered seemly for 
any woman to be seen in the streets. Some reason estab- 
lished this custom long ago : the reason passes, but China is 
the most conservative of nations, and the custom remains. 
But the reason for foot-binding is not very clear. There is 
something sexual at the bottom of it, I believe, but why a 
sick and ailing woman should be supposed to welcome the 
embraces of her lord more readily than one abounding in 
health passes my understanding. Of course we remember 
that not so very long ago, in the reign of Victoria, prac- 
tically the delicate woman who was always ailing was held 
up to universal admiration. Look at the swooning heroines 
of Dickens and Thackeray. But let no man put the com- 
pressed waist on the same plane as foot-binding. I have 
heard more than one man do so, but I unhesitatingly affirm 
they are WTong. Foot-binding is infinitely the worse crime. 
The pinched-in waist did not begin till the girl was at least 
well on in her teens, and it was only the extreme cases 
— and they did it of their own free will I presume — ^who 
kept up the pressure always. There was always the night 
for rest, whereas the Chinese women get no rest from torture. 
The missionaries at Fen Chou Fu, being very anxious to 
improve the status of the women, used to arrange to have 
lectures in their large hall to women only, and they 
raked the country-side for important people to address 
them on subjects that were, or rather that should be, 
of interest to women. They were not supposed to have 
anything to do with religion, but they discussed openly 
women's position, were told about hygiene and the care 
of children, and the magistrate's wife, she who had been 


educated in Japan, told them some home-truths about the 
position of women in China. 

" American women," said she on one occasion, " go out 
into the world and help in the world's development. We 
Chinese stay at home and are dragged along by the men. 
The time has come when we must learn better things." 

But I looked one day at over seventy women of the richer 
classes assembled to listen to a young and enthusiastic 
Chinese with modern views on the position of women and 
their equality with men. He was passionate, he was eloquent, 
he was desperately in earnest, but it was very evident he 
spoke to deaf ears. I do not think that any one of those 
women grasped, or cared for that matter, what he was 
saying. In the heart of China woman is very far from 
being the equal of man. These women were pets and 
toys, and they came to the mission station probably because 
it was the fashionable form of amusement just then, but they 
listened to what was being said with deaf ears and minds 
incapable of understanding. They were gaily clad in silks 
and satins, richly embroidered ; their hair when it was 
abundant was oiled and elaborately dressed and decorated 
with gold and silver pins, and when it was scanty was hidden 
under embroidered silken bands ; there was not a skirt 
amongst them, that was left to the lecturer, their blue and 
green and brilliant red trousers were rather narrow, their 
feet were of the very tiniest even in Shansi, and their faces, 
worn and suffering under their paint and powder, were 
vacant. Some of them had brought their babies, and only 
when a child cried, and they cried fairly frequently, did 
those faces light up. That was something they really did 

And yet that enthusiastic young scholar in his volumin- 
ous petticoats, with his hair cut in the modem fashion, went 


on lecturing to them on the rights of women, the position 
women ought to occupy ! 

But the position of women ! Toys or slaves are they, 
toys and slaves have been their mothers and their grand- 
mothers since the days before the dawn of history, and very, 
very slowly is the idea of the possibility of better things 
percolating through to the masses in China. It will come, 
I suppose, because already there are Government schools 
for women, though they are few and far between, and in 
some places, so far has the desire for freedom gone, the girls 
have banded themselves into societies, declaring that rather 
than marry a man they have never seen they will conmriit 
suicide, and more than one has taken her own life. But in 
the parts of Shansi and Chihli where I was so much light 
has not yet penetrated. The wife and mother has influence 
because any living thing with which we are closely associ- 
ated — even if it be but a little dog — must needs mfluence 
us, but all the same the Chinese women are as a rule mere 
chattels, dependent entirely upon their menfolk. Amongst 
the Chinese the five happinesses are : old age, a son, riches, 
official position and a moustache ; so slight a tiling is a 
woman that she does not come in in this connection. 

" As far as the heavens are above the earth, so far am I," 
disdainfully proclaimed a Chinese teacher, " above my \nfe." 
And he only spoke as if stating a self-evident fact, a thing 
that could not be questioned. " How could she be my 
equal ? " Just as I might have objected to being put on the 
same plane as my mule or my little dog. Indeed I doubt 
very much whether he gave the same consideration to his 
wife as I would do to my little dog, who is much beloved. 

This is not to say, of course, that the men don't consider 
the women. They do. 

I remember the gate-keeper at Pao Ting Fu mission paying 

" mSERERE DOMINE ! " 85 

up for his daughter's schooling. He was a jovial old soul, 
so old that I was surprised to hear he had a mother. 

" Short am I ? " said he cheerfully. " Short ? Oh, that 
dollar and a half ! " He paused to consider the matter, then 
added : " And I was thinking about borrowing a dollar 
from you. My mother's dying, and I want to buy her a 
skirt ! Must be prepared, you know ! " 

The old lady, said Miss Newton, had probably never owned 
such a luxury as a skirt in her life, but that was her son's 
way of being good to her, for the people have a proverb 
to the effect that the most important thing in life is to be 
buried well, an idea that isn't entirely unknown in Western 
and more enlightened lands. Poor old lady, whose one and 
only skirt came to her to be buried in, or perhaps it would 
be taken off before she was buried, for the Chinese are a 
careful people. I remember one frugal man who celebrated 
the funeral of his mother and the marriage of his son at 
the same time, so that the funeral baked meats did for the 
marriage feast, and the same musicians did for both. The 
coffin, of heavy black wood, tall as a mantelpiece, stood in 
the yard, with the eldest son and his wife clad in white as 
mourners, and the rest of the company made merry in the 
house over the bridal. It was the most exquisite piece of 
thrift, but the Chinaman is par excellence an economist. 

It was in Pao Ting Fu that I met the only woman who 
made open complaint against the position of women, and 
she only did it because, poor thing, she was driven to it. 

She slipped through the mission compound gate while 
the gate-keeper was looking the other way, a miserable, 
unkempt woman vnth roughened hair and maimed feet. 
Her coat and trousers of the poorest blue cotton were old 
and soiled, and the child she carried in her arms was naked 
save for a little square of blue cotton tied round his body 


in front. She was simply a woman of the people, deadly 
poor where all just escape starvation, young and comely 
where many are unattractive, and she stood under the shade 
of the trees watching eagerly the mission family and their 
guest at breakfast on the porch ! It was a Jime morning, 
the sunshine that would be too fierce later on now at 
7 A.M. was golden, and a gentle breeze just whispered softly 
in the branches that China — even Pao Ting Fu — in the early 
summer morning was a delightful place. 

But eager watching eyes glued to every mouthful are 
distinctly disquieting, and in China, the land of punctilious 
etiquette, are rude. Besides, she had no business to be there, 
and the doctor's wife turned and spoke to her. 

" What custom is this ? " said she, using the vernacular, 
** and how did you get in here ? " 

" I ran past " — ran, save the mark, with those poor broken 
cramped feet — " when the gate-keeper was not looking. And 
it's not a day's hunger I have. For weeks when we have had a 
meal we have not known where the next was coming from." 

" But you have a husband ? " 

*' And he was rich," assented the woman, " but he has 
gambled it all away." 

It was quite a likely story. Another woman working on 
the compound said it was true. She had a bad husband — 
hi yah ! a very bad husband. He beat her, often he beat 
her. Sometimes perhaps it was her fault, because she was 
bad-tempered. Who would not be bad-tempered with 
maimed feet, an empty stomach and two little hungry 
children ? But often he beat her for no reason at all. And 
everyone knows that a Chinese husband has a perfect right 
to beat his wife. That he refrains from so doing is an act 
of grace on his part, but a woman of herself is merely his 
chattel. She has no rights. 


The hospital quilted bed-covers — pei wos, they called them 
— had to be unripped and washed. The pay was twenty-five 
fung tzus a day and keep yourself. One hundred and thirty 
fung izus went to the dollar, and 10-35 dollars went to the 
sovereign at that time, so that the work could not be con- 
sidered overpaid ; but this was China, and the women were 
apparently rising up out of the ground and clamouring for 
it. It was evidently looked upon as quite a recreation to 
sit under the trees on the grass in the mission compound 
and gossip and unpick quilts. The new recruit joined them 
and spent a happy day, sure of food for herself and her 
children for that day at least — not food perhaps such as 
we would appreciate, but at least a sufficiency of millet 

That day and the next she worked, and then on the third 
day at midday she went away for her meal and did not come 
back till after two o'clock in the afternoon. The doctor's 
wife was reproachful. 

" You have been away for over three hours. Why is 
this ? " 

She was a true Chinese and found it difficult to give a 
direct answer. 

" I have been talking to my mother," said she, rousing 
wrath where she might have gained sympathy. 

" What excuse is this ? " said the doctor's wife. " You go 
away, and when I ask you why, you tell me you have been 
talking to your mother ! Your mother should have more 
sense than to keep you from your work ! " 

" But my husband has sold me ! " protested the culprit 
and then we saw that her face was swollen with crying ; 
" and I am a young woman and I don't know what to do 
when my husband sells me. He keeps the children and he 
sells me, and Tsao, the man who has bought me, is a bad 


man," and dropping down to the ground she let the tears 
fall on to the work in her hands. 

" I am young and so I don't know what to do." It was 
the burden of her song. It may be she is wailing still, for 
the story was unfinished when I left. She was young and 
she didn't know what to do. She would not have minded 
leaving her husband if only the man to whom she had been 
sold had been a better man, but he bore a worse reputation 
if anything than her husband, and ignorant, unlearned in 
all things of this world as she was, she and the women round 
her knew exactly wliat her fate would be. Tsao would 
sell her when he tired of her, and her next purchaser would 
do likewise, and as she gets older and her white teeth decay 
and her bright eyes fade and her comeliness wanes her 
money value will grow less and less, and beating and starva- 
tion will be her portion till death comes as a merciful release. 
But, as she kept repeating pathetically, she is young, and 
death is the goal at the end of a weary, weary, heart- 
breaking road. 

For her husband was quite within his rights. He could 
sell her. It may be, of course, he will be swayed by public 
opinion, and public opinion is against the disposing of a 
wife after this fashion. 

" Let her complain to the official," suggested my assurance. 

But the wise women who knew rose up in horror at the 
depths of ignorance I was disclosing. 

" Go to the yamen and complain of her husband ! " 

It is no crime for a man to sell his wife, but it is a deadly 
crime for a woman to speak evil of her husband 1 She was 
not yet handed over. All he would have to do would be to 
deny it, and then she would be convicted of this crime and 
to her other ills would be added the wrath of the official. 
No, something better than that must be thought of. 


She had been sold for a hundred tiaau — something under 
four pounds — and when the money was paid she would have 
to go to her new master, far away from all her friends. 

" Hi yah ! " said the other women. " What a bad man ! " 
So public opinion was against it ! 

It would do no good to buy her freedom unless the pur- 
chaser were prepared to take upon himself the conduct of 
her future life. A woman must belong to somebody in 
China ; she is, except in very exceptional cases and among 
the very advanced, considered incapable of guiding her own 
life, and pay this and the man would still regard her as his 
wife and sell her again. 

Then a woman wise with wisdom of the people arose. 

" There is only one thing to be done," said she ; " you 
must pretend you know nothing about it, and when Tsao 
comes, and you are sold, then make an excuse and run to 
the yamen. It may be the official will help, for it is a wicked 

" Run to the yamen ! " on feet on which she could 
just totter. But the wise woman had taken that into 

" Mark well the way so you may hide in the turnings.'* 

Such a forlorn, pitiful little hope ! But with it she had 
to be content, and that night she held her peace and pre- 
tended she did not know the fate that hung over her, and 
when I left she was still ripping bed-covers with the other 
women. She had had no hand in bringing about her own 
fate, for she did not choose this man. She had never seen 
him till she was handed over on her marriage day by her 

" What," said the women at one place when a new 
missionary came to them, " forty and not married ! ^Vhat 
freedom ! How did you manage it ! WTiat good fortune ! " 


In China there is no respectable word, so I am told, to 
denote a bachelor, and there was almost never, at least under 
the old regime, such a thing as an old maid. Every woman 
must belong to someone, and few and far between are the 
families that can afford to keep unmarried daughters, so 
the women regard as eminently fortunate those foreign 
women they come across, missionary or otherwise, who are 
apparently free to guide their own lives. 

Of com^e the average husband would no more think of 
selling his wife than would an Englishman, but, unlike the 
Englishman, he knows that he has the right to do so should 
he so please, even as he has the right of life and death over 
her and his children. She is his chattel, to be faithful to her 
would simply be foolishness. ^ 

They tell a story of an angry father found digging a hole 
in which he proposed to bury his son alive. That son had 
been insolent, and it was a terrible thing to have an insolent 
son. His mother wept, but to her tears the father paid no 
heed. A stranger passed along and questioned the little 
company, and finding in his heart pity for the woman and 
the lad, cast about how he might help them. He did not 
set about it as we of the West would have done. 

He commiserated with the father. It was a terrible 
thing to have an insolent son. Undoubtedly he deserved 
death. But it would be a bad thing to have no son to 
worship at the ancestral tablet. 

That was provided for, said the irate parent. He had 
two other sons. 

That was well 1 That was well ! And of course they had 

No, they were young. They had no sons yet. 

A-a-ah ! And suppose anything happened by which they 
both should die ? 


The stranger let that sink in. He had struck the right 
chord. It would be a terrible thing to have no son to 
worship at the ancestral tablet — ^to think that he by his 
own act 

Chinese reasoning prevailed, and the son's life was spared. 

And yet the Chinese are fond of their children and, accord- 
ing to their lights, good to their wives. It is that under the 
patriarchal system children and women — a woman is always 
a child, a very ignorant child as a rule — have no rights. 
They are dependent upon the good will of their owners. 

And so the woman sitting waiting to see if her husband 
would complete the bargain and sell her had no rights. She 
was just a chattel in the eye of the law. And there was 
none to help. Miserere Domine ! It was just possible public 
opinion would save her. It was her only hope. Miserere 
Domine ! Miserere Domine ! 

In Fen Chou Fu the missionaries had started an adult 
school for women. First it was started, as they themselves 
put it, to teach the Gospel, but then wisely they extended it 
and taught reading, \M'iting and arithmetic, and very eager 
indeed were the pupils. It is only fair to say that very often 
husbands, or possibly fathers-in-law — ^for a woman belongs 
to the head of her husband's family, or at least owes allegi- 
ance to him — aided and abetted in every way, and when 
necessary sent the pupils twenty and thirty miles in carts 
and in litters from away in the mountains to attend. One 
woman with four little children, all under five, with another 
coming, was a most eager pupil. Her children were sent to 
the kindergarten, which is in charge of a young Chinese 
teacher educated by the missionaries. 

Again I do not say the Chinese are not doing something 
to ameliorate the condition of their women. I can only 
speak of what I saw, and what I saw was, here in Shansi, the 


wives of the most miserable peasants sunk in ignorance and 
hardly able to crawl from the k^angs on which they spent 
their lives. The men do the cooking because the women are 
incapable, and the mortality among the children is terrible. 
A doctor told me that very often he had attended a woman 
at the birth of her thirteenth or fourteenth child and only 
one or two would be living ! 

I don't know how many wives or concubines a man is 
allowed. Only the first one has any standing, and the 
number of the others is probably limited by his means. 
I remember hearing of one man, a Mr Feng, who had just 
married his second wife to another man because she was 
making his life too miserable for him. This was the man's 
side of the story ; I had heard the woman's the last time. 
I wonder how the case is put on these occasions. Does 
a man say he is parting with the lady with extreme regret 
because the climate does not suit her, or because his first 
wife does not like her, or because a sudden reverse of fortune 
has compelled him to reduce his household ? He surely 
would never have given the real reason. My friend Mr 
Farrer waxes enthusiastic over things Chinese, but I must 
say what I have seen of their domestic life repels me, and 
I am rather inclined to agree with a missionary of my 
acquaintance — a bachelor though — that it would give 
nervous prostration to a brazen statue. 

There can be little happiness where there is ignorance, 
and the majority of the women of Shansi anyhow are the 
ignorant slaves of ignorant slaves. Miserere Domine ! 



Setting out on a long journey by road, moving along slowly, 
at the rate of thirty miles a day, I find I do not have the end 
in view in my mind all the time. I do subconsciously, of 
course, or I would never get on at all, but I take a point 
a couple of days ahead and concentrate on getting there. 
Having arrived so far, I am so pleased with the performance 
I can concentrate on the next couple of days ahead. So I 
pass on comfortably, with the invigorating feeling of some- 
thing accomplished. 

Fen Chou Fu, then, was one of my jumping-off places. 

And at Fen Chou Fu my muleteers began to complain. 
Looked at fi-om a Western point of view, they ought to have 
complained long before, but their complaint was not what 
I expected. They sent my interpreter to say we were going 
the wTong way. This road would lead us out into a great 
bare place of sand. When the wind blew it would raise 
the sand in great clouds that would overwhelm us, and if 
the clouds gathered in the sky we should not be able to see 
the sim, we wotdd not know in which direction to go and 
we should perish miserably. And having supplied me Avith 
tliis valuable and sinister information they stood back to 
watch it sink in. 

It didn't have the damping and depressing effect they 

doubtless expected. To begin with, I couldn't believe in a 

Chinese sky where you couldn't see the sun. The clouds 

might gather, but a few hours would suffice to disperse them, 



in my experience, and as for losing om^elves in the sand — 
well, I couldn't believe it possible. Always in Cliina, where- 
ever I had been, there had been plenty of people of whom 
to ask the way, and though every man's radius was doubtless 
short, still at every yard there was somebody. It was like 
an endless chain. 

" Don't they want to go ? " I asked Mr Wang. 

" Repeat, please," said he, according to the approved 

" Won't they go ? " I felt I had better have the matter 

" You say ' Go,' mus' go. You fear — you no go." 

If I feared and wouldn't go on, I grasped, the money I 
paid them would be forfeit. 

" But I must go. I am not afraid." 

" They say you go by Hsi An Fu. That be ploper." 
And the listening muleteers smiled at me blandly. 

" But I cannot go by Hsi An Fu because of White Wolf." 
I did not say that also it would be going round two sides of a 
triangle because that would not appeal to the Chinese mind. 

" They not knowing Wliite Wolf," said Mr Wang, shaking 
his head. 

" Well, I know White Wolf," I said, departing a little from 
the truth, " and I am going across the river to Sui Te Chou." 

" You say ' Go,' " said Mr Wang sorrowfully, " mus' go," 
and he looked at the muleteers, and the muleteers looked at 
him sorrowfully and went off the verandah sorroAvfully to 
prepare for the lonely road where there would be no people 
of whom to ask the way, only sand and no sun. 

There was plenty of sun when we started. It was a 
glorious summer morning when my little caravan went out 
of the northern gate into the mountains that threatened the 
town. It was unknown China now, China as she was in the 


time of the Caesars, further back still in the time of the 
Babylonish kings, in the days before the first dynasty in 
Egypt. Out through the northern gate we went, by the 
clay-walled northern suburb, past great ash-heaps like little 
mountain ranges, the refuse of centuries, their softly rounded 
sides now tinged with the green of springtime, and almost 
at once my caravan was at the foot of the hiUs — hills carved 
into terraces by the daily toil of thousands, but looking 
as if they had been so carved by some giant hand. As we 
entered them as hills they promptly disappeared, for the 
road was sunken, and high over our heads rose the steep 
clay walls, shutting out all view save the bright strip of blue 
sky above. 

I here put it on record — I believe I have done it before, 
but it really cannot be repeated too often — that as a con- 
veyance a mule litter leaves much to be desired. Sitting 
up there on my bedding among my cushions, with James 
Buchanan beside me, I was much nore comfortable than I 
should have been in a Peking cart, but also I was much more 
helpless. A driver did take charge of the Peking cart, but 
the gentleman who sometimes led my mule litter more often 
felt that things were safer in the charge of the big white 
mule in front, and when the way was extremely steep or 
rough he abandoned it entirely to its discretion. The 
missionaries had told me whenever I came to a bad place 
to be sure and get out, because the Chinese mules are not 
surefooted enough to be always trusted. They are quite 
likely at a bad place to slip and go over. This was a cheering 
reflection when I found myself at the bad place abandoned 
to the tender mercies of those animals. The mule in the 
lead certainly was a capable beast, but again and again, 
as I told Mr Wang, I would have preferred tliat the muleteers 
should not put quite so much faith in him. I learned to say 


" B-r-nr, b-r-r-nr ! " when I wanted him to stop, but I did 
not like to say it often, because I felt in a critical moment 
I might seriously hamper him to my own disadvantage. I 
told ]Mr Wang I was to be lifted out when we came to bad 
places, but that too was hardly practicable, for we came to 
many places that I certainly could not have negotiated on 
my own feet, and how the mules got a cumbersome litter 
down or up them passes my understanding. Thinking it 
over, the only advice I can give to anyone who wishes to 
follow in my footsteps is to shut his eyes as I did and trust 
to the mule. And we went down some places that were 
calculated to take the curl out of my hair. 

James Buchanan was a great comfort to me under these 
circumstances. He nestled down beside me — he had re- 
covered from his accident before we left Fen Chou Fu — and 
he always assured me that everything would be all right. 
One thing he utterly declined to do, and that was to walk 
with the servants. I used to think it would be good for his 
health, but the wisdom of the little pekinese at the British 
American Tobacco Factory had sunk in deep and he declined 
to trust himself with them unless I walked too, when he was 
wild with delight. Put out by himself, he would raise a 
pitiful wail. 

" Buchanan declines," Mr Wang would say sententiously, 
and he would be lifted back into the litter by my master of 
transport as if he were a prince of the blood at least. And 
if anyone thinks I make an absurd fuss about a little dog, 
I must remind him that I was entirely alone among an alien 
people, and the little dog's affection meant a tremendous 
deal to me. He took away all sense of loneliness. Ix)oking 
back, I know now I could not have gone on, this book would 
never have been written, if it had not been for James 





See page 1 03 


Roiiglily the way to the Yellow River is through a chain 
of mountains, across a stony plateau in the centre of which 
is situated Yung Ning Chou, quite a busy commercial city, 
and across another chain of mountains through which the 
river forces its way. When first I entered the ditch in 
the loess my objective was Yung Ning Chou. I looked no 
farther. I wanted to get to that to\Mi in which seven 
Scandinavian missionaries in twenty years had not effected 
a single convert. The cliffs fro^\^led overhead, and the effect 
to me was of wandering along an extremely stony way with 
many pitfalls in it to the chiming of many mule bells and an 
unceasing shouting of " Ta, ta ! " — ^that is, " Beat, beat ! " — a 
threat by which the muleteer exhorts his animals to do their 
best. Generally speaking, I couldn't see the man who had 
charge of me because he was some way behind and the tilt 
shut him from my view. Except for knowing that he was 
attending to his job and looking after me, I don't know that 
I pined to look upon him. His appearance was calculated 
to make me feel I liad not wakened from a nightmare. 
Sometimes he wore a dirty rag over his head, but just as 
often he went in his plain beauty unadorned — that is to say, 
\\4th all the front part of his head shaven and the back a 
mass of wild coarse black hair standing out at all angles. 
They had cut off his queue during the reforming fever at 
T'ai Yuan Fu and I presume he was doing the best he could 
till it should grow again. Certainly it was an awe-inspiring 

And always we progressed to the clashing of bells, for on 
everj' possible point on the trappings of the four mules and 
the donkey that made up the caravan and on ever}^ available 
point on the harness of every mule and donkey that passed 
us was a brass bell. For, for all my muleteers had objected 
to going this way, it was a caravan route to the West, and 



it was seldom we did not see someone on the road. Here in 
this ditch in the loess I realised the stern necessity for these 
bells, for often the way was narrow and when we could 
hear another caravan coming we could make arrangements 
to pass or to allow them to pass. There were many caravans 
of ragged camels, and to these my animals objected with all 
the spirit a life on the roads had still left in them. When we 
met a string of them at close quarters in the loess my white 
mule in the lead nearly had hysterics, and his feelings were 
shared, so I judged by the behavioiir of the litter, by his 
companion behind, and they both endeavoured to commit 
suicide by climbing the bank, having no respect whatever 
for my feelings. 

On these occasions, with clenched teeth and concentrated 
energy, my muleteer addressed himself to that leading mule : 

" Now ! Who's your mother ? You may count yourself 
as dead ! " 

The mule evidently felt this was serious and made a 
desperate endeavour to get a little higher, and his attendant 
became sarcastic. 

*' Call yourself a mule ! Call yourself a lord, sir ! " 

By the jangling of the beUs and the yells of the rest of 
the company I knew that the other animals felt equally bad, 
and more than once I saw my luckless interpreter, who 
evidently was not much of a hand at sitting on a pack, 
ruefully picking himself up and shaking the dust from his 
person, his mule having flung him .as a protest against the 
polluting of the road by a train of camels. 

The camels march along with a very supercilious air, but 
mules, horses and donkeys all fear them so much that 
there are special inns for them and they are supposed only 
to travel by night, but this rule is more honoured, I imagine, 
in the breach tlian in the observance. Most parts of the 


road I don't see that any caravan could pass along at night. 
The special inns do not present any difference to my un- 
prejudiced eyes from the discomfort of an ordinary mule 
and donkey inn. I stopped at one one day in the loess for 
tiffin, and it consisted of a courtyard round which were 
rooms iyaos) that were simply caves with the mouths bricked 
up and doors in them. Inside, the caves were dark and 
airless, with for all furniture the universal, k'ang ; a fireplace 
is either in the middle or at one of the ends, and the flues 
underneath carry the hot air under the k'ang to warm it. 
I have never before or since seen such miserable dwelling- 
places as these yaos, and in the loess country I saw hundreds 
of them, inhabitated by thousands of people. Wu Ch'eng 
particularly commended itself to my notice because here I 
first realised that in expecting a room to myself I was asking 
too much of the country. 

We crossed the mountain pass the first day out of Fen 
Chou Fu. Steep it was, steep as the roof of a house, and we 
scrambled down the other side and, just as the dusk was 
falling, we came to Wu Ch'eng, a village mostly of yaos in 
the mountain-side. Wu Ch'eng, where hundreds of people 
live and die, was short of most tilings that make life worth 
living : water was very scarce indeed, and there were no 
eggs there. It was necessary that om- little company should 
move on with what speed we might. Also the inn only had 
one room. 

" The k'a7ig is large," said my interpreter, as if he thought 
that a woman who would come out on this journey would 
not mind sharing that k'ang with all the other guests, the 
innkeeper and his servants. It was rather large. I looked 
into an earthen cave the end of which, about thirty feet 
away, I could hardly make out in the dim light. There wei'e 
great cobwebs lianging from the ceiling — dimly I saw them 


by the light that filtered through the dirty paper that did 
duty for a window — and the high k'ang occupied the whole 
length of the room, leaving a narrow passage with hard- 
beaten earth for a floor about two feet wide between the 
k^ang and the left-hand wall. It was about as uninviting 
a room as I have ever seen. Also it was clearly impossible 
that Buchanan and I should turn out the rest of the com- 
pany, so I decreed that I should have it to myself for half- 
an-hour for the pm^oses of washing and changing, for which 
privilege I paid about twenty cash, roughly a ha'penny, and 
then we slept in the litter, as we did on many other occasions, 
outside in the yard among the donkeys and mules. The 
last thing I saw was the bright stars peeping down at me, 
and the last thing I heard was the mules muncliing at their 
well-earned chaff, and I wakened to the same stars and the 
same sounds, for early retiring is conducive to early rising, 
and yet the muleteers were always before me and were 
feeding their beasts. Always I went through the same 
routine. I went to bed despairing and disgusted and a 
little afraid. I slept like the dead, if I slept outside, and I 
wakened to watch the sun rise and rene^v my hopes. 

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of villages like 
Wu Ch'eng in Cliina. The winter in Shansi in the mountains 
is Arctic and no words can describe what must be the suffer- 
ings of these people ; especially must the women suffer, 
for the poorest peasant binds his daughter's feet, his wife 
can hardly crawl. In Chihli you may see the women totter- 
ing round on their stumps grinding the corn, in Shansi 
lucky is the woman who can do so much. The ordinary 
peasant woman is equal to nothing but a httle needlework, 
if she have anything to sew, or to making a Uttle porridge, 
if she can do so without moving off the k'atig. 


The getting something for the men to cook must be a hard 
job. Potatoes are sold singly, other vegetables are cut in 
halves or quarters, a fowl is always sold by the joint. There 
may be people who do buy a whole fowl, but they are prob- 
ably millionaires. I suppose a whole section of a community 
could not possibly exist on other folks' old clothes, but that 
is how the people of this part of Shansi looked as if they were 
clothed. They had not second-hand clothes or third-hand, 
they were apparently the remnants that the third buyer 
could find no use for. 

I shall never forget on one occasion seeing a ragged scare- 
crow bearing on the end of a pole a dead dog, not even an 
ordinary dead dog, but one all over sores, a most disgustingly 
diseased specimen. I asked Mr Wang what he was carrying 
that dog away for and that young gentleman looked at 
me in surprise. He would never get to the bottom of this 
foolish foreigner. 

" For eat," said he simply ! 

The people of the loess cannot afford to waste anything 
save the health of their women. A dog, a wonk, shares the 
scavenging work of the Chinese towns with the black and 
white crows, and doubtless the citizens do not care so much 
for eating them as they would a nice juicy leg of mutton, 
but they would no more throw away a wonk that had found 
life in a Chinese town too hard and simply died than I 
would yesterday's leg of mutton in favour of the tender 
chicken I prefer. 

This, the first camel inn I particularly noticed, was not far 
from Fen Chou Fu, and they told me how many years ago 
one of the medical missionaries touring the country found 
there the innkeeper's wife \\ith one of her bound feet in a 
terrible condition. She had a little baby at her breast and 
she was suffering horribly — the foot was gangrenous. The 


doctor was troubled and puzzled as well. He had no 
appliances and no drugs, but left as they were, mother and 
baby, already half starved, were doomed. Therefore, like 
a brave man as he was, he took his courage in both hands, 
made a saw of a piece of scrap iron from an American packing- 
case and with this rude instrument and no anaesthetics he 
amputated that foot. And the woman survived, lived to 
see her child grow up, was living when I passed along that 
way, and I sat in her courtyard and had my tiffin of hard- 
boiled eggs and puffed rice washed down by tea. It was 
her son's courtyard then, possibly that very baby's whose 
life the missionary had saved by saving his mother's. For 
the Chinese have no milch cows or goats and know little 
about feeding infants artificially. 

Always at midday the litter was lifted off the mules* 
backs, my table and chair were produced from some recess 
among the packs, my blue cotton tablecloth was spread and 
Tsai Chih Fu armed himself with a frying-pan in which to 
warm the rice and offered it to me along with hard-boiled 
eggs of dubious age. The excellent master of transport was 
a bad cook, and it is not an exhilarating diet when it is served 
up three times a day for weeks with unfailing regularity. I 
never grew so weary of anything in my life, and occasionally 
I tried to vary it by buying little scones or cakes peppered 
with sesame seed, but I'm bound to say they were all nasty. 
It always seemed to me that an unfair amount of grit from 
the millstones had got into the flour. Chinese are con- 
noisseurs in their cooking, but not in poor little villages in 
the mountains in Western Shansi, where they are content 
if they can fill their starving stomachs. To judge Chinese 
taste by the provisions of these mountaineers is as if we 
condemned the food of London, liaving sampled only those 
shops where a steak pudding can be had for fourpence. 

And all these little inns, these underground inns, very 


often had the most high-sounding names. " The Inn of 
Increasing Righteousness " — I hope it was, there was certainly 
nothing else to recommend it ; but the " Inn of Ten Thousand 
Conveniences " really made the greatest claim upon my 
faith. The Ritz or the Carlton could hardly have claimed 
more than this cave AN-ith the hard-beaten earth for the 
floor of its one room and for all furnishing the k^ang where 
landlord and guests slept in company. 

Yet all these uncomfortable inns between Fen Chou Fu 
and Yung Ning Chou were thronged. The roads outside 
were littered \\ith the packs of the mules and donkeys, and 
inside the courtyard all was bustle, watering and feeding the 
animals and attending to the wants of the men, who appar- 
ently took most of their refreshment out of little basins 
with chopsticks and when they were very wealthy, or on 
great occasions, had tea without milk or sugar — ^which, of 
course, is the proper way to drink it — out of little handleless 
cups. I don't know that they had anything else to drink 
except hot water. I certainly never saw them drinking 
anything intoxicating, and I believe there are no public- 
houses in China proper. 

Every now and then the way through the loess widened 
a little and there was an archway with a tower above it 
and a crowded village behind. Always the villages were 
crowded. There was very often one or perhaps two trees 
shading the principal street, but other hints of garden or 
greenery there were none. The shops — open stalls — were 
packed together. And in these little villages it is all slum : 
there is no hint of country life, and the street was full of 
people, ragged people, mostly men and children. Tlie men 
were in rags in all shades of blue, and blue worn and washed — 
at least possibly the washing is doubtful, we will say worn 
only — ^to dun dirt colour. It was not picturesque, but filthy, 
and the only hint of luxm-y was a pipe a yard long with a 


very tiny bowl which when not in use hung round their 
necks or stuck out behind from under their coats. Round 
their necks too would be hung a tiny brass tobacco box 
with hieroglyphics upon it which contained the evil-smelling 
compound they smoked. Sometimes they were at work 
in their alfresco kitchens — never have I seen so much cooking 
done in the open air — sometimes they were shoeing a mule, 
sometimes waiting for customers for their cotton goods, or 
their pottery ware, or their unappetising cooked stuff, and 
often they were nursing babies, little black-eyed bundles 
of variegated dirty rags which on inspection resolved them- 
selves into a coat and trousers, whatever the age or the sex 
of the baby. And never have I seen so many family men. 
The Cliinaman is a good father and is not ashamed to carry 
his baby. At least so I judge. 

Only occasionally was a woman or two to be seen, sitting 
on their doorsteps gossiping in the sun or the shade, accord- 
ing to the temperature. Men and women stared at the 
foreign woman with all their eyes, for foreigners are rather 
like snow in June in these parts, and my coming made me 
feel as if a menagerie had arrived in the villages so great 
and interested were the crowds that assembled to look at 
and comment on me. 

After we passed tlu-ough the loess the track was up a 
winding ravine cut in past ages by the agency of water. 
From five hundred to a thousand feet above us towered the 
cliffs and at their feet trickled a tiny drain of water, not ankle- 
deep, that must once have come do^vTl a mighty flood to cut 
for itself such a way through the eternal hills. For this, 
unlike the road through the loess, is a broad way where 
many caravans might find room. And this trickle was the 
beginnings of a tributary to the Yellow River. Along its 
winding banks lay the caravan route. 



See page 105, 


See page io8. 


See page 1 08. 


And many caravans were passing. No place in China is 
lonely. There were strings of camels, ragged and losing 
their coats — second-liand goods, Mark Twain calls them — 
there were strings of pack-mules and still longer strings of 
little donkeys, and there were many men with bamboos 
across their shoulders and loads slung from either end. 
Some of these men had come from Peking and were bound 
for far Kansu, the other side of Shensi ; but as I went on 
fewer and fewer got the loads from Kansu, most of them 
stopped at Yung Ning Chou, the last walled to\Mi of any 
size this side of the river. Always, always through the 
loess, tlirough the deep ravines, across the mountain passes, 
across the rocky plateau right away to the little mountain 
city was the stream coming and going, bearing Pekingese 
and Cantonese goods into the mountains, and coming back 
laden with wheat, which is the principal product of these 

Ask the drivers where they were going, camel, mule or 
donkey, and the answer was always the same, they were 
going east or west, which, of course, we could see for our- 
selves. There was no possibility of going any other way. 
Those in authority knew whither they were bound, but the 
ignorant drivers knew nothing but the direction. At least 
that is one explanation, the one I accepted at the time, after- 
wards I came to know it is a breach of good manners to 
exhibit curiosity in China, and quite likely my interpreter 
simply greeted the caravans and made his own answer to 
my question. It satisfied or at least silenced me and saved 
my face. 

One thing, however, grew more and more noticeable : the 
laden beasts were coming east, going west the pack-saddles 
were empty. Fear was upon the merchants and they would 
not send goods across the great river into turbulent Shensi. 


Already, so said my interpreter, and I judged the truth of 
his statement by the empty pack-saddles, they were fearing 
to send goods into the mountains at all. It was pleasant 
for me. I began to think. I had only Buchanan to consult, 
and he had one great drawback, he always agreed that what 
I thought was likely to be right. It is an attitude of mind 
that I greatly commend in my friends and desire to encourage, 
but there are occasions in life when a little perfectly dis- 
interested advice would be most acceptable, and that I could 
not get. Badly I wanted to cross Asia, but I should not 
cross Asia if I were stopped by tufeis, which is the local term 
for robbers. Were these rumours anything, or were they 
manufactured by my interpreter ? There were the warnings 
of the missionaries, and there were the empty pack-saddles, 
and the empty pack-saddles spoke loudly. Still I thought 
I might go on a little farther, and James Buchanan en- 
couraged me. 

Truly the way to the great river through the mountains 
was hard. Taking all the difficulties in the lump, it would 
seem impossible to overcome them, but taking them one 
by one I managed it. And not the least of my troubles 
were the dogs. 

Here in the mountains was a very handsome breed of 
large white dogs with long hair, at least I am sure they 
would have been handsome if they had been well fed and 
well cared for. If it had not been for Buchanan, whose heart 
it would have broken, I should certainly have got a puppy 
to bring home with me. These dogs one and all waged war 
on my little friend, who had a great idea of his own importance 
and probably aggravated the ill-fed denizens of the inn-yards. 
He would go hectoring down a yard, head up, white plume 
waving, with a sort of " Well, here we are ! Now what 
have you got to say for yourselves ? " air about him, and in 


two seconds more a big white scarecrow of a dog would have 
him by the neck, dragging him across the yard, designing 
to slay him behind the drinking troughs. He would give 
one shriek for help, and I would fly to that dog's head, catch 
him by the ears or the ruff round his neck and be dragged 
along in my turn till Tsai Chih Fu the resourceful appeared 
on the scene -sNath a billet of wood, and then the unfortunate 
beast would be banished from the yard or tied up till we 
had gone. I remembered often the warning I had received 
on the subject of hydrophobia, but I never had time to think 
of that till afterwards, when, of course, if anything had 
happened it would have been too late. 

There is one thing about a Chinese inn in the interior : 
it may be exceedingly uncomfortable, but it is also exceed- 
ingly cheap. A night's lodging as a rule costs forty cash. 
Eleven cash roughly is equal to a cent, and a cent, 
again rouglily — it depends upon the price of silver — is 
a little less than a farthing. Foily cash, then, is hardly 
a penny. Hot water costs eight cash, eggs were six cash 
apiece and so were the wheaten scones I bought in place 
of the bread my servant could not make, and I could 
buy those last as low as three cash apiece. Of course 
I quite understand that I as a rich traveller paid top price 
for everything, probably twice or three times as much as the 
ordinary traveller ; the missionaries, indeed, were shocked at 
the price I paid for eggs, and again I was always rooked in 
the matter of paper. For even though I preferred it, it 
often happened that it was impossible to sleep in my litter 
in the yard, it was too crowded %vith beasts — and it had to 
be very crowded — and then I strippetl off the paper from the 
window of the room I occupied to let in the air, just a little 
air, and I was charged accordingly from tliirty to eighty 


cash for my destiiictiveness. I found afterwards that a 
whole sheet of new paper can be had for ten cash, and the 
paper I destroyed was not half-a-sheet and was grimed with 
the dirt of ages ! Glass, of course, in the mountains of 
Shansi is almost unknown and the windows are covered with 
white paper. 

After the mountains came a high stony plateau, not 
dangerous but difficult, for though this is a great trade route 
there was not an inch of smooth roadway, every step had 
to be carefully picked among the stones, and presently the 
stream that when we entered the mountains was a trickle 
a hand's-breadth across was now a river meandering among 
the stones. We began by stepping across it ; wider it grew 
and there were stepping-stones for the walking muleteers ; 
then the mules waded and the muleteers climbed on to the 
beasts or on to the front of the litter, which last proceeding 
made me very imcomfortable, for I remembered my special 
man was likely at most only to have been washed twice in 
his life, and I was veiy sure his clothes had never been washed 
at all and probably had never been taken off his back since 
last October. Finally we crossed by bridges, fairly sub- 
stantial bridges three planks wide, but the mules required 
a deal of encouraging before they would trust them and 
always felt the boards gingerly with their hoofs first as if 
they distrusted the Chinaman and all his engineering works. 
The engineering was probably all right, but as the state of 
repair often left much to be desired I could hardly blame 
the mules for their caution. And one day we crossed tliat 
river twenty-six times ! 

There is no cliarm in the country in Shansi beyond the 
simshine and the invigorating air. Tlicre were fields, every 
patch of land that could possibly be made to grow a blade 


of wheat was most carefully tilled, there was not a weed, 
not a blade of grass out of place. In some fields the crops 
were springing gi-een, in others the farmers were still plough- 
ing, with a patient ox in the plough ; but there were no 
divisions between these fields ; there were no hedges ; few 
and scanty trees ; no gardens ; no farmhouses, picturesque or 
otherN\ise. The peasants all live huddled together, literally 
in the hill-sides, and of the beauty of life there was none. 
It was toil, toil without remission and with never a day off. 
Even the blue sky and the sunshine and the invigorating 
dry air must be discounted by the dirt and darkness and 
airlessness of the houses and the underground yaos. The 
Chinese peasant's idea in building a house seems to be to 
get rid of the light and the air, the only two things I should 
have thought that make his life bearable. And in these 
dark and airless caves the crippled women spend their days. 
The younger women — I met them occasionally gaily clad 
and mounted on a donkey — looked waxen and had an air of 
suffering, and the older were lined and had a look of queru- 
lousness and irritability that was not on the men's faces. 
Many an old man have I seen whose face might stand for 
a model of prosperous, contented, peaceful old age looking 
back on a well -lived life, but never, never have I seen such 
a look on a woman's face. 

At last, after crossing a long bridge across the river, we 
came to Yung Ning Chou. Tlie dark grey wall stood out 
againsi; the blue sky and, unlike most Chinese cities that I 
have seen, there is no watch-tower over the gate. It has 
suburbs, suburbs like Fen Chou Fu enclosed in ci-umbling 
clay walls that are fast drifting to their inevitable end. 
They could not keep out a rabbit now, let alone a man, and 
yet they are entered through great brick gateways with a 


turn in them, and going under the archways I felt as usual 
as if I had gone back to Biblical days. The walls of the city 
proper, the crowded little city, are in better preservation, 
and tower high above the caravans that pass round them, 
for there are no inns in Yung Ning Chou and all caravans 
must stay in the eastern subm-b. There are narrow, 
stony little streets of houses pressed close together, and the 
rough roadways are crowded with traffic: people, donkeys, 
laden mules and grunting camels are for ever passing to and 
fro. Looking up the principal street between the eastern 
and the western gate was like looking up a dark tunnel in 
which fluttered various notices, the shop signs, Chinese 
characters printed on white caUco. Most of those signs, 
according to my interpreter's translation, bore a strong 
resemblance to one another. " Virtue and Abundance," 
it seems they proclaimed to all who could read. But there 
was no one to tell me whether there was really any wealth 
in this little moimtain city that is the same now as it prob- 
ably was a thousand years ago. I wondered, I could not 
help wondering, whether it would be worth Pai Lang's while 
to attack. I wondered if he could get in if he did, for the 
walls were liigh and the gates, rising up straight and sheer 
without watch towers, such piles of raasomy as might Iiave 
been built by conquering Nineveh or Babylon. Here and 
there, though, in the walls the water had got under the clay 
and forced out the bricks in long deep cracks, and here 
if they were not carefully guarded were places that an 
invading force might storm, and in the suburbs and among 
the houses that clustered close imder the protecting walls 
tenible tilings might be done. But the western gate, I 
should say, is well-nigh impregnable. Nobody but a China- 
man would have built a gate in such a place. It opens out 


on to a steep cliff that falls sheer sixty feet to the river 
below. Chinese towns are always built symmetrically; 
there should be at least one gate in each of the four walls, 
therefore a gate there is here. It seems to have occurred 
to no one that a gate is placed in those walls for the con- 
venience of traffic, and that it is simple waste of time and 
labour to make a gate in a place by which no one could 
possibly pass. For that matter I should have thought a 
wall unnecessaiy on top of so steep a cliff. 

The Scandinavian missionaries who have faithfully worked 
Yung Ning Chou for the last twenty years with so little 
result were absent when I psased through. Only two of 
them live here, the rest are scattered over the mountains 
to the north, and when I was in Fen Chou Fu I met a woman, 
a Norwegian, who was on her way to join them. She remains 
in my mind a pathetic figure of sacrifice, a wistful woman 
who was giving of her very best and yet was haunted by the 
fear that all she was giving was of very little worth, surely 
the most bitter and sorrowful reflection in this world. She 
had worked in China as a missionary in her girlhood. She 
explained to me how hard it was for these northern peoples, 
for to learn Chinese they have first to learn English. Then 
she married, and after her little girl was born her husband 
died and so she took her treasure home to educate her in 
Norway. But she died and, feeling her duty was to the 
Chinese, back came the lonely mother, and when I met her 
she was setting out for the little walled city in the hills where 
she dwelt with some other women. A strangely lonely life, 
devoid of all pleasures, theirs must have been. I was struck 
with the little things that pleased this devoted woman, such 
little things, and we who may enjoy them every day go 
calmly on our way and never appreciate them. She wore 


the unbecoming Chinese dress, with her white hair drawn 
back from her face, and her blue eyes looked out wistfully 
as if she were loath to give up hope that somewhere, somehow, 
in the world individual happiness, that would be for her 
alone, would come to her. During the revolution they, 
remembering the troubles and dangers of the Boxer time, 
had refugeed in Tientsin, and the days there were evidently 
marked with a white stone in her calendar. 

" It was so delightful," she said in her pretty precise 
English, "to see the European children in the gardens." 

How her heart went out to those children. They reminded 
her, I suppose, of the little girl she had left behind sleeping 
her last sleep among the Norwegian mountains. 

" Oh, the children ! " she sighed. " It brought a lump 
in your throat to look at them ! " 

It brought a limip in my throat to look at her as I saw her 
set out for her home with two little black-eyed Chinese girls 
crowded in the litter beside her. She was taking them home 
from the school at Fen Chou Fu. The loneliness of her life ! 
The sacrifice of it ! I wonder if those three women, shut 
away in that little walled town, made any converts. I 
doubt it, for theirs, like the Yung Ning Chou mission, was 
purely a faith mission. 

Unmarried women and widows were these three women. 
The Yung Ning Chou mission consists of four old bachelors 
and three old maids. Not for a moment do I suppose the 
majority of the Chinese believe they are what they are, 
men and women living the lives of ascetics, giving up all 
for their faith, and the absence of children in child-loving 
China must seriously handicap them in their efforts to spread 
their faith. Think of the weary years of those workers 
toiling so hopelessly in an alien land among a poor and 
alien population whose first impulse is certainly to 

See page 113. 



despise them. All honour to those workers even though 
they have failed in their object so far as human eye can 
see, and even though that object makes no appeal to people 
like me. 

And I passed on through Yung Ning Chou, on across 
the stony plateau, and at last, at a village called Liu Lin 
Chen, I was brought up with a sharp turn with a tale of 
Pai Lang. 

I was having my midday meal. Not that it was midday. 
It was four o'clock, and I had breakfasted at 6 a.m. ; but time 
is of no account in China. Liu Lin Chen was the proper 
place at which to stop for the noonday rest, so we did not 
stop till we arrived there, though the badness of the road had 
delayed us. I was sitting in the inn-yard waiting for Tsai 
Chih Fu to bring me the eternal hard-boiled eggs and puffed 
rice when IMr Wang came up, accompanied by the two 
muleteers, and they — that is, the two muleteers — dropped 
down to the ground and clamoured, so I made out from his 
excited statements that the gates of Sui Te Chou had been 
closed for the last four days on account of Pai Lang ! And 
Sui Te Chou was the first town I proposed to stop at after I 
crossed the river ! If I would go to Lan Chou Fu and on 
through Sin Kiang to the Russian border through Sui Te 
Chou I must go. Tliere was no other way. These days 
in the mountains had shown me that to stray from the 
caravan road was an utter impossibility. Had I been one 
of the country people conversant with the language I think 
it would have been impossible. As it was, I had my choice. 
I might go on or I might go back. Mr Wang apparently 
thought there should be no doubt in my mind. He evidently 
expected I would turn tail there and then, and I myself 
realised — I had been realising ever since round the table in 


the mission station at Ki Hsien we had lead Dr Edwards' 
letter — that my jomney across the continent was ended ; 
but to turn tail in this ignominious fashion, having seen 
nothing, within, I suppose, twenty-five miles of the Yellow 
River, with the country about me as peaceful as the road 
in Kent in which I live at present, how could I ? It was 
more peaceful, in fact, for now at night searchlights stream 
across the sky, within a furlong of my house bombs have been 
dropped and men have been killed, and by day and by night 
the house rocks as motors laden with armament and instru- 
ments of war thunder past. But there in Shansi in the fields 
the people worked diligently, in the village the archway over 
which they held theatrical representations was placarded 
with notices, and in the inn-yard where I sat the people 
went about attending to the animals as if there was nothing 
to be feared. And I felt lonely, and James Buchanan sat 
close beside me because at the other side of the very narrow 
yard a great big white dog with a fierce face and a patch of 
mange on his side looked at him threateningly. 

" I'll have none of your drawing-room dogs here," 
said he. 

But Buchanan's difficulties were solved when he appealed 
to me. I — and I was feeling it horribly — had no one to 
appeal to. I must rely upon myself. 

And then to add to my woes it began to rain, soft, gentle 
spring rain, growing rain that must have been a godsend 
to the whole country-side. 

It stopped, and Mr Wang and the muleteers looked at 
me anxiously. 

" We will go on," I said firmly, " to the Yellow River." 

Their faces fell. I could see the disappointment, but still 
I judged I might go in safety so far. 


" Don't they want to go ? " I asked Mr Wang. 
" Repeat, please," said he. So I repeated, and he said 
as he had said before : 

" If you say ' Go,' mus' go." 
And I said " Go." 



" It is better," says a Chinese proverb, " to hear about a 
thing than to see it," and truly on this journey I was much 
inclined to agree with that dictum. 

We were bound for Hsieh Ts'un. I can't pronounce it, 
and I should not like to swear to the spelling, but of one 
thing I am very siu*e, not one of the inhabitants could spell 
it, or even know it was wrongly set forth to the world, so 
I am fairly safe. 

We went under the archway with the theatrical notices 
at Liu Lin Chen, under the arched gateway of the village, 
out into the open country, and it began to rain again. It 
came down not exactly in torrents but good steady growing 
rain. The roads when they were not slippery stones were 
appalling quagmires, and my mule litter always seemed to 
be overhanging a precipice of some sort. I was not very 
comfortable when that precipice was only twenty feet deep, 
when it was more I fervently wished that I had not come to 
China. I wished it more than once, and it rained and it 
rained and it rained, silent, soaking, penetrating rain, and 
I saw the pictiuresque mountain coimtiy through a veil of 

Hsieh Ts'un is a little dirty straggling village, and as we 
entered it through the usual archway with a watch tower 
above the setting sun broke through the thick clouds and 
his golden rays streamed down upon the slippery wet cobble- 
stones that paved the principal street. The golden sunlight 



and the gorgeous rainbow glorified things a little, and they 
needed glorifying. The principal inn, as usual, was a fairly 
large yard, roughly paved, but swimming now in dirty water ; 
there were stalls for animals all round it, and there was a 
large empty shed where they stored lime. It was stone- 
paved, and the roof leaked like a sieve, but here I established 
myself, dodging as far as possible the holes in the roof and 
drawing across the front of the shed my litter as a sort of 
protection, for the inn, as usual with these mountain inns, 
had but one room. 

It was cold, it was dirty, and I realised how scarce foreigners 
must be when through the misty, soaking rain, which 
generally chokes off a Chinaman, crowds came to stand 
round and stare at me. I was stationary, so the women 
came, dirty, ragged, miserable-looking women, supporting 
themselves with sticks and holding up their babies to look 
at the stranger while she ate. By and by it grew so cold 
I felt I must really go to bed, and I asked Mr Wang to put 
it to the crowd that it was not courteous to stare at the 
foreign woman when she wished to be alone, and, O most 
courtly folk ! every single one of those people went away. 

" You can have a bath," said he, " no one will look " ; 
and, all honour give I to those poor peasants of Western 
Shansi, I was undisturbed. I am afraid a lonely Chinese 
lady would hardly be received with such courtesy in an 
English village were the cases reversed. 

Next day the rain still teemed down. The fowls pecked 
about the yard, drenched and dripping ; a miserable, mangy, 
cream-coloured dog or two came foraging for a dinner, and 
the people, holding wadded coats and oiled paper over their 
heads, came to look again at the show that had come to the 
town ; but there was no break in the grey sky, and there was 
nothing to do but sit there shivering with cold, writing letters 


on my little travelling table and listening to my interpreter, 
who talked with the innkeeper and brought me at intervals 
that gentleman's views on the doings of Pai Lang. 

Those views varied hour by hour. At first he was sure he 
was attacking Sui Te Chou. That seemed to me sending the 
famous robber over the country too quickly. Then it was 
tufeis — that is, bands of robbers — that Sui Te Chou feared, 
and finally, boiled down, I came to the conclusion that Sui 
Te Chou had probably shut her gates because the country 
round was disturbed, and that she admitted no one who had 
not friends in the city or could not in some way guarantee 
his good faith. It served to show me my friends in Ki Hsien 
had been right, such disturbed country would be no place 
for a woman alone. I suppose it was the rain and the grey 
skies, but I must admit that day I was distinctly unhappy 
and more than a little afraid. I was alone among an 
alien people, who only regarded me as a cheap show ; I 
had no one to take counsel with, my interpreter only 
irritated me and, to add to my misery, I was very cold. 
I have seldom put in a longer or more dreary day than I 
did at Hsieh Ts'un. There was absolutely nothing to do but 
watch the misty rain, for if I went outside and got wetter 
than I was already getting under the leaking roof — I wore 
my Burberry — I had no possible means of drying my clothes 
save by laying them on the hot k^ang in the solitary living- 
room of the inn, and that was already inhabited by many 
humans and the parasites that preyed upon them. There- 
fore I stayed where I was, compared my feet with the stmnps 
of the women who came to visit me — distinctly I was a 
woman's show — ^gave the grubby little children raisins, and 
wondered if there was any fear of Pai Lang coming along 
this way before I had time to turn back. If it kept on rain- 
ing, would my muleteers compel me to stay here till Pai 


Lang swept do%\'n upon us ? But no, that thought did not 
trouble me, fii-st, because I momentarily expected it to clear 
up, and secondly, because I was very sure that any rain that 
kept me prisoner would also hold up Pai Lang. I could not 
believe in a Chinaman, even a robber, going out in the rain 
if he could help himself, any more than I could believe in 
it raining longer than a day in China. 

" The people are not afraid," I said to my interpreter as I 
looked at a worn old woman in a much-patched blue cotton 
smock and trousers, her head protected from the rain by a 
wadded coat in the last stages of decrepitude ; her feet made 
me shiver, and her finger-nails made me crawl, the odour 
that came from her was sickening, but she liked to see me 
write, and I guessed she had had but few pleasures in her 
weary life. 

" They not knomng yet," said he ; " only travellers know. 
They tell innkeeper." 

Yes, certainly the travellers would know best. 

And all day long he came, bringing me various reports, 
and said tliat, according to the innkeeper, the last caravan 
that had passed tlirough had gone back on its tracks. I 
might have remembered it. I did remember it — a long line 
of donkeys and mules. 

But the day passed, and the night passed, and the next 
day the sun came out warm and pleasant, and all my doubts 
were resolved. My journey was broken beyond hope, and 
I must go back, but turn I would not till I had looked upon 
the Yellow River. 

We started with all our paraphernalia. We were to turn 
in our tracks after tiffin, but Mr Wang and the muleteers 
were certain on that point, everything I possessed must 
be dragged across the mountains if I hoped to see 
it again, and I acquiesced, for I certainly felt until I 


got back to civilisation I could not do without any of 
my belongings. 

Almost immediately we left the village we began to ascend 
the moimtain pass. Steeper and steeper it grew, and at 
last the opening in my mule litter was pointing straight up 
to the sky, and I, seeing there was nothing else for it, de- 
manded to be lifted out and signified my intention of walking. 

There was one thing against this and that was an attack 
of breathlessness. Asthma always attacks me when I am 
tired or worried, and now, with a very steep mountain to 
cross and no means of doing it except on my own feet, it 
had its wicked way. My master of transport and Mr Wang, 
like perfectly correct Chinese servants, each put a hand 
under my elbows, and with Buchanan skirmishing around 
joyfully, rejoicing that for once his mistress was sensible, the 
little procession started. It was hard work, very hard work. 
When I could go no longer I sat down and waited till I felt 
equal to starting again. On the one hand the mountain 
rose up sheer and steep, on the other it dropped away into 
the gully beneath, only to rise again on the other side. And 
yet in the most inaccessible places were patches of cultiva- 
tion and wheat growing. I cannot imagine how man or 
beast kept a footing on such a slant, and how they ploughed 
and sowed it passes my understanding. But most of the 
moimtain-side was too much even for them, and then they 
turned loose their flocks, meek cream-coloured sheep and 
impudent black goats, to graze on the scanty mountain 
pastures. Of course they were in charge of a shepherd, for 
there were no fences, and the newly springing wheat must 
have been far more attractive than the scanty mountain 

And then I knew it was worth it all — the long trek from 
Fen Chou Fu, the dreary day at Hsieh Ts'un, the still more 


See Page 122. ^ 

See page I 22. 


See p^ge 12 2. 

See page i 24 


dreary nights, this stiff climb which took more breath than 
I had to spare — for the view when I arrived at a point of 
vantage was beautiful. These were strange mountains. The 
road before me rose at a very steep angle, and all around me 
were hill-sides whereon only a goat or a sheep might find 
foothold, but the general effect looked at from a distance 
was not of steepness. These were not mountains, rugged, 
savage, grand, they were gentle hills and dales that lay 
about me ; I had come through them ; there were more 
ahead ; I could see them range after range, softly rounded, 
green and broA\Ti and then blue, beautiful for all there 
were no trees, in an atmosphere that was clear as a mirror 
after the rain of the day before. Beautiful, beautiful, 
with a tender entrancing loveliness, is that view over the 
country up in the hills that hem in the Yellow River as it 
passes between Shansi and Shensi. Is it possible there is 
never anyone to see it but these poor peasants who wring a 
hard livelihood from the soil, and who for all their toil, which 
lasts from daylight to dark all the year round, get from 
this rich soil just enough wheaten flour to keep the life in 
them, a hovel to dwell in, and a few unspeakable rags to 
cover their nakedness ? As far as I could see, everj^one was 
desperately poor, and yet these hills hold coal and iron in 
close proximity, wealth untold and unexploited. The pity 
of it ! Unexploited, the people are poor to the verge of 
starvation ; worked, the delicate loveliness of the country-side 
will vanish as the beauty of the Black Country has vanished, 
and can we be sure that the peasant will benefit ? 

Still we went up and up, and the climbing of these gentle 
wooing hills I found h^-rd. Steep it was, and at last, just 
when I felt I could not possibly go any farther, though 
the penalty were that I should turn back almost within sight 
of the river, I found that the original makers of the track 


had been of the same opinion, for here was the top of the 
pass with a tunnel bored through it, a tunnel perhaps a 
hundred feet long, carefully bricked, and when we, breath- 
less and panting, walked through we came out on a little 
plateau with a narrow road wandering down a mountain-side 
as steep as the one we had just climbed. There was the 
most primitive of restaiu-ants here, and the woman in charge 
— it was a woman, and her feet were not bound — proffered 
us a thin sort of drink like very tasteless barley water. At 
least now I know it was tasteless, then I found it was nectar, 
and I sat on a stone and drank it thankfully, gave not a 
thought to the dirt of the bowl that contained it, and drew 
long breaths and looked around me. 

The hills rose up on either liand and away in the distance 
where they opened out were the beautiful treeless hills of 
forbidden Shensi, just as alluring, just as peaceful as the 
hills I had come through. It was worth the long and toil- 
some journey, well worth even all my fears. 

Then we went down, down, but I did not dare get into my 
litter, the way was too steep, the chances of going over too 
great, for it seems the Chinese never make a road if by any 
chance they can get along without. They were driven to 
bore a tunnel through the mountains, but they never smooth 
or take away rocks as long as, by taking a little care, an 
animal can pass without the certainty of going over the cliff. 

And at last through a cleft in the hills I saw one of the 
world's great rivers and — was disappointed. The setting 
was ideal. The hills rose up steep and rugged, real moun- 
tains, on either side, pheasants called, rock-doves mourned, 
magpies chattered, overhead was a clear blue sky just 
flecked here and there with fleecy clouds, beyond again were 
the mountains of Shensi, the golden sunlight on their rounded 
tops, purple shadow in their swelling folds, far away in the 


distance they melted blue into the blue sky, close at hand 
they were green %\ith the green of springtime, save where 
the plough had just turned up patches of rich browTi soil, 
and at their foot rolled a muddy flood that looked neither 
decent water nor good soimd earth, the mighty Hoang-Ho, 
the Yellow River, China's sorrow. China's sorrow indeed ; 
for though here it was hemmed in by mountains, and might 
not shift its bed, it looked as if it were carrying the soul of 
the mountains away to the sea. 

Tliere is a temple whwe the gully opens on to the river, a 
temple and a little village, and the temple was crowded with 
blue-clad, shabby-looking soldiers who promptly swarmed 
round me and wanted to look in my baggage, that heavy 
baggage we were hauling for safety over fourteen miles of 
mountain road. Presumably they were seeking arms. We 
managed to persuade them there were none, and that the 
loads contained nothing likely to disturb the peace, and then 
we went down to the river, crossing by a devious, rocky and 
unpleasant path simply reeking of human occupancy, and 
the inhabitants of that soldier village crowded round me 
and examined everything I wore and commented on every- 
thing I did. 

They were there to guard the crossing ; and far from me 
be it to say they were not most efficient, but if so their looks 
belied them. They did not even look toy soldiers. No man 
was in full uniform. Apparently they wore odd bits, as if 
there were not enough clothes in the company to go round, 
and they were one and all dirty, touzly, untidy, and all 
smiling and friendly and good-tempered. I only picked 
them out from the surrounding country people — who were 
certainly dirty and poverty-stricken enough in all conscience 
— by the fact that the soldiers had abandoned the queue 
which the people around, like all these country people, still 


affect. The soldier wore his hair about four or five inches 
long, sticking out at all angles, rusty-black, unkempt and 
uncombed, and whether he ran to a cap or not, the result 
was equally unworkmanhke. 

I conclude Chun Pu is not a very important crossing. 
What the road is like on the Shensi side I do not know, but 
on the Shansi side I should think the pass we had just crossed 
was a very effective safeguard. He would be a bold leader 
who would venture to bring his men up that path in the face 
of half-a-dozen armed men, and they need not be very bold 
men either. Those soldiers did not look bold. They were 
kindly, though, and they had women and children with them 
— I conclude their own, for they nursed the grubby Uttle 
children, all clad in grubby patches, very proudly, took such 
good care they had a good view of the show — me — that I 
could not but sympathise with their paternal affection and 
aid in every way in my power. Generally my good-will 
took the form of raisins. I was lavish now I had given up 
my journey, and my master of transport distributed with 
an air as if I were bestowing gold and silver. 

He set out my table on the cobble-stones of the inn-yard 
in the sunshine. I believe, had I been a really dignified 
traveller, I should have put up with the stuffiness and dark- 
ness of the inn's one room, but I felt the recurrent hard- 
boiled eggs and puffed rice, with a certain steamed scone 
which contained more of the millstone and less of the flour 
than was usual even with the scones of the country, were 
trials enough without trying to be dignified in discomfort. 

And while I had my meal everybody took it in turns to 
look through the finder of my camera, the women, small- 
footed, dirty creatures, much to the surprise of their menfolk, 
having precedence. Those women vowed they had never 
seen a foreigner before. Every one of them had bound feet, 


tiny feet on which they could just totter, and all were clad 
in extremely dirty, much-patched blue cotton faded into 
a dingy dirt-colour. Most of them wore tight-fitting cover- 
ings of black cloth to cover their scalps, often evidently to 
conceal their baldness, for many of them suffered from 
" expending too much heart." Baldness is caused, say the 
Chinese half in fun, because the luckless man or woman 
has thought more of others than of themselves. I am afraid 
they do not believe it, or they may like to hide their good 
deeds, for they are anything but proud of being bald. Most 
of the mouths, too, here, and indeed all along the road, were 
badly formed and full of shockingly broken and decayed 
teeth, the women's particularly. Wheaten flour, which is 
the staple food of Shansi, is apparently not enough to make 
good teeth. The people were not of a markedly Mongolian 
type. Already it seemed as if the nations to the West were 
setting their seal upon them, and some of the younger girls, 
with thick black hair parted in the middle, a little colour 
in their cheeks, and somewhat pathetic, wistful-looking faces, 
would have been good-looking in any land. 

Then I had one more good look at the river, my farthest 
point west on the journey, the river I had come so far to 
see. It was all so peaceful in the afternoon sunlight that it 
seemed foolish not to go on. The hills of Shensi beckoned 
and all my fears fell fix)m me. I wanted badly to go on. 
Then came reason. It was madness to risk the tufeis with 
whom everyone was agreed Shensi swarmed. There in the 
brilliant sunshine, with the laughing people around me, I 
was not afraid, but when night fell — no, even if the soldiers 
would have allowed, which Mr Wang declared they would 
not — I dared not, and I turned sadly and regretfully and 
made my way back to Fen Chou Fu. 

Had I gone on I should have arrived in Russia with the 


war in full swing, so on the whole I am thankful I had to 
flee before the tufeis of Shensi. Perhaps when the world 
is at peace I shall essay that fascinating journey again. 
Only I shall look out for some companion, and even if I 
take the matchless master of transport I shall most certainly 
see to it that I have a good cook. 



Well, I had failed ! The horrid word kept ringing in my 
ears, the still more horrid thought was ever in my mind day 
and night as I retraced my footsteps, and I come of a family 
that does not like to fail. 

I wondered if it were possible to make my way along the 
great waterways of Siberia. There were mighty rivers there, 
I had seen them, little-known rivers, and it seemed to me 
that before going West again I might see something of 
them, and as my mules picked their way across the streams, 
along the stony paths, by the walled cities, through the 
busy little villages, already China was behind me, I was 
thinking of ways and means by which I might penetrate 

At Fen Chou Fu they were kind, but I knew they thought 
I had given in too easily, that I had turned back at a shadow, 
but at T'ai Yuan Fu I met the veteran missionary, Dr 
Edwards, and I was comforted and did not feel so markedly 
that failure was branded all over me when he thanked God 
that his letter had had the effect of making me consider 
carefully my ways, for of one thing he was sure, there would 
have been but one ending to the expedition. To get to 
Lan Chou Fu would have been impossible. 

Still my mind was not quite at ease about the matter, 

and at intervals I wondered if I would not have gone on 

had I liad a good cook. Rather a hiuniliating thought ! It 

was a satisfaction when one day I met jMr Reginald Fairer, 



who had left Peking with Mr Purdom to botanise in Kansu 
ten days before I too had proposed to start West. 

" I often wondered," said he, " what became of you and 
how you had got on. We thought perhaps you might have 

fallen into the hands of White Wolf and then " He 


Shensi, he declared, was a seething mass of imrest. It 
would have spelled death to cross to those peaceful hills I 
had looked at from the left bank of the Hoang-Ho. We 
discussed our travels, and we took diametrically opposite 
views of China. But it is impossible to have everything : 
one has to choose, and I prefer the crudeness of the new 
world, the rush and the scramble and the progress, to the 
calm of the Oriental. Very likely this is because I am a 
woman. In the East woman holds a subservient position, 
she has no individuality of her own, and I, coming from 
the newest new world, where woman has a very high place 
indeed, is counted a citizen, and a useful citizen, could hardly 
be expected to admire a state of society where her whole life 
is a torture and her position is regulated by her value to the 
man to whom she belongs. I put this to my friend when he 
was admiring the Chinese ladies and he laughed. 

" I admit," said he, " that a young woman has a " — ^well, 
he used a very strong expression, but it wasn't strong 
enough — " of a time when she is young, but, if she has 
a son, when her husband dies see what a position she holds. 
That little old woman sitting on a k'ang rules a whole 

And then I gave it up because our points of view were 
East and West. But I am thankful that the Fates did not 
make me — a woman — a member of a nation where I could 
have no consideration, no chance of Imppiness, no great 
influence or power by my own effort, where recognition only 



Siee page I JO. 



(hi . 

>■ jp"^ 


See pag3 131. 

See page i 3 1 . 


came if I had borne a son who was still living and my 
husband was dead. 

On my way back to T'ai Yuan Fu I stayed at no mission 
station except at Fen Chou Fu ; I went by a different route 
and spent the nights at miserable inns that kindly charged 
me a whole peimy for lodging and allowed me to sleep in my 
litter in their yards, and about eighty li from Fen Chou Fu 
I came across evidences of another mission that would be 
anathema maranatha to the Nonconformists with whom I 
had been staying. It is curious this schism between two 
bodies holding what purports to be the same faith. I 
remember a missionary, the wife of a doctor at Ping Ting 
Chou, who belonged to a sect called The Brethren, who 
spoke of the Roman Catholics as if they were in as much 
need of conversion as the ignorant Chinese around her. It 
made me smile ; yet I strongly suspect that Mr Farrer will 
put me jn the same category as I put my friend from Ping 
Ting Chou ! However, here under the care of the Alsatian 
Fathers the country was most beautifully cultivated. The 
wheat was growing tall and lush in the land, emerald-green 
in the May sunshine ; there were avenues of trees along the 
wayside clothed in the tender fresh green of spring, and I 
came upon a whole village, men and boys, busy making a 
bridge across a stream. Never in China have I seen such 
evidences of well-conducted agricultural industry ; and the 
Fathers were militant too, for they were, and probably are, 
armed, and in the Boxer trouble held their station like a 
fort, and any missionaries fleeing who reached them had their 
lives saved. I foimd much to commend in that Roman 
Catholic mission, and felt they were as useful to the country 
people in their way as were the Americans to the people of 
the towns. 

Outside another little town the population seemed to be 


given over to the making of strawboard, and great banks 
were plastered ^vith squares of it set out to dry, and every 
here and there a man was engaged in putting more pieces 
up. It was rather a comical effect to see the side of a bank 
plastered with yellow squares of strawboard and the wheat 
springing on top. 

All along the route still went caravans of camels, mules 
and donkeys, and, strangest of all modes of conveyance, 
wheel-barrows, heavily laden too. A wheel-barrow in 
China carries goods on each side of a great wheel, a man 
holds up the shafts and wheels it, usually with a strap round 
his shoulders, and in front either another man or a donkey 
is harnessed to help with the traction. Himdreds of miles 
they go, over the roughest way, and the labour must be very 
heavy ; but wherever I went in China this was impressed 
upon me, that man was the least important factor in any 
work of production. He might be used tiU he failed and 
then thrown lightly away without a qualm. There were 
plenty glad enough to take his place. 

I have been taken to task for comparing China to Babylon, 
but I must make some comparison to bring home things to 
my readers. This journey tlu'ough the country in the warm 
spring simshine was as unlike a journey anywhere that I 
have been in Europe, Africa or Australia as anything could 
possibly be. It was through an old land, old when Europe 
was young. I stopped at inns that were the disgusting 
product of the slums ; I passed men working in the fields 
who were survivals of an old civilisation, and when I passed 
any house that was not a hovel it was secluded carefidly, 
so that the owner and his womenkind might keep them- 
selves apart from the proletariat, the serfs who laboured 
around them and for them. 

Within a day's journey of T'ai Yuan Fu I came to a little 


town, Tsui Su, where there was' an extra vile inn with no 
courtyard that I could sleep in, only a room where the rats 
were numei-ous and so fierce that they drove Buchanan for 
refuge to my bed and the objectionable insects that I hustled 
off the k^ang by means of powdered borax and Keating' s, 
strewed over and under the ground sheet, crawled up the 
walls and dropped down upon me from the ceiling. Poor 
Buchanan and I spent a horrid night. I don't like rats any- 
way, and fierce and hungry rats on the spot are far worse 
for keeping off sleep than possible robbers in the future. 
All that night I dozed and waked and restrained Buchanan's 
energies and vowed I was a fool for coming to China, and 
then in the morning as usual I walked it all back, and was 
glad, for Mr Wang came to me and, after the best personally 
conducted Cook's tourist style, explained that here was a 
temple which " mus' see." 

I didn't believe much in temples in these parts, but I went 
a little way back into the towTi and came to a really wonderful 
temple, built, I think, over nine warm springs — the sort of 
thing that weighed down the scales heavily on Mr Farrer's 
side. What has a nation that could produce such a temple 
to learn from the West ? I shall never forget the carved 
dragons in red and gold that climbed the pillars at the 
principal entrance, the twisted trees, the shrines over 
the springs and the bronze figures that stood guard on the 
platfonn at the entrance gate. The steps up to that gate 
were w'orn and broken ^vith the passing of many feet through 
countless years ; the yellow tiles of the roof were falling and 
broken ; from the figmes had been torn or had fallen the 
arms that they once had borne ; the whole place was typical 
of the decay which China allows to fall upon her holy places ; 
but seen in the glamour of the early morning, with the grass 
springing underfoot, the trees in full leaf, the sunshine 


lighting the yellow roofs and the tender green of the trees, 
it was gorgeous. Then the clouds gathered and it began to 
rain, gentle, soft, wann, growing rain, and I left it shrouded 
in a seductive grey mist that veiled its imperfections and left 
me a memory only of one of the beautiful places of the earth 
that I am glad I have seen. 

At T'ai Yuan Fu I paid Mr Wang's fare back to Pao Ting 
Fu and bade him a glad farewell. There may be Morse 
inteipreters in China, but I really hope there are not many. 
He would have been a futile person in any country ; he was 
a helpless product of age-old China. I believe he did get 
back safely, but I must confess to feeling on sending him 
away much as I should do were I to turn loose a baby of 
four to find his way across London. Indeed I have met 
many babies of four in Australia who stioick me as being 
far more capable than the inteipreter who had undertaken 
to see me across China. 

I was on the loose myself now. I was bent on going to 
Siberia ; but the matter had to be arranged in my own mind 
first, and Avhile I did so I lingered and spent a day or two 
at Hwailu ; not that I wanted to see that to^vn — somehow 
I had done with China — but because the personality of Mr 
and Mi^ Green of the China Inland Mission interested me. 

Hwailu is a small walled city, exactly like hundreds of 
other little walled cities, with walls four-square to each point 
of the compass, and it is set where the hills begin to rise 
tliat divide Chilili from Shansi, and beyond the mission station 
is a square hill called Nm'sing Calf Fort. Tlie hill lias 
steep sides up which it is almost impossible to take any 
animal, but there are about one hundred acres of arable 
land on top, and this, with true Chinese thrift, could not 
be allowed to go untilled, so the story goes that while a 
calf was young a man carried it up on his back ; there it grew 


to maturity, and with its help they ploughed the land and 
they reaped the crops. It is a truly Chinese story, and very 
likely it is true. It is exactly what the Chinese would do. 

At Hwailu, where they had lived for many years, Mr and 
Mrs Green were engaged in putting up a new church, and 
with them I came in contact with missionai'ies who had 
actually suffered almost to death at the hands of the Boxers. 
It was thrilling to listen to the tales of their sufferings, 
sitting there on the verandah of the mission house looking 
out on to the peaceful flowers and shrubs of the mission 

WTien the Boxer trouble spread to Hwailu and it was 
manifest the mission house was no longer safe, they took 
refuge in a cave among the hills that surround the towTi. 
Their converts and friends — for they had many friends 
who were not converts — hardly dared come near them, and 
death was very close. It was damp and cold in the cave 
though it was summer-time, and by and by they had eaten 
all their food and drunk all their water, and their hearts 
were heavy, for they feared not only for themselves, but for 
what the little children must suffer. 

" I could not help it," said Mrs Green, reproaching herself 
for being human. " I used to look at my children and 
wonder how the saints could rejoice in martyrdom ! " 

Wlien they were in despair and thinking of coming out 
and giving themselves up they heard hushed voices, and a 
hand at the opening of the cave offered five large wheaten 
scones. Some friends, again not converts, merely pagan 
friends, had remembered their sufferings. Still they looked 
at the scones doubtfully, and though the little children — 
they were only four and six — held out their liands for them 
eagerly, they were obliged to implore them not to eat them, 
they would make them so desperately thirsty. But their 


Chinese friends were thoughtful as well as kind, and pre- 
sently came the same soft voice again and a hand sending 
up a basketful of luscious cucumbers, cool and refreshing 
with their store of water. 

But they could not stay there for ever, and finally they 
made their way do^vn to the river bank, the Ching River — 
the Clear River we called it, and I have also heard it trans- 
lated the Dark Blue River, though it was neither dark, nor 
blue, nor clear, simply a muddy canal — and slowly made their 
way in the direction of Tientsin, hundreds of miles away. 
That story of the devoted little band's wanderings makes 
pitiful reading. Sometimes they went by boat, sometimes 
they crept along in the kaoliang and reeds, and at last they 
arrived at the outskirts of Hsi An — not the great city in 
Shensi, but a small walled town on the Ching River in Chihli. 
Western cities are as common in China as new towns in 
English-speaking lands — and here they, hearing a band was 
after them, hid themselves in the kaoliang, the grain that 
grows close and tall as a man. They were weary and worn 
and starved ; they were well-nigh hopeless — at least I should 
have been hopeless — ^but still their faith upheld them. It 
was the height of summer and the sun poured down his 
rays, but towards evening the clouds gathered. If it 
rained they knew with little children they must leave their 

"But surely, I know," said Mrs Green, "the dear Lord 
will never let it rain." 

And as I looked at her I seemed to see the passionate 
yearning with which she looked at the little children that 
the rain must doom to a Chinese prison or worse. In among 
those thick kaoliang stalks they could not stay. 

It rained, the heavy rain that comes in the Chinese summer, 
and the fugitives crept out and gave themselves up. 


" It shows how ignorant we are, how unfit to judge for 
ourselves," said the teller of the tale fervently, " for we fell 
into the hands of a comparatively merciful band, whereas 
presently the kaoliang was beaten by a ruthless set of men 
whom there would have been no escaping, and who certainly 
would have killed us." 

But the tenderness of the most merciful band was a thing 
to be prayed against. They carried the children kindly 
enough — ^the worst of Chinamen seem to be good to children 
— but they constantly threatened their elders with death. 
They were going to their death, that they made very clear 
to them ; and they slung them on poles by their hands and 
feet, and the pins came out of the women's long hair — there 
was another teacher, a girl, with them — and it trailed in the 
dust of the filthy Chinese paths. And Mr Green was faint 
and weary from a wound in his neck, but still they had no 

Still these devoted people comforted each other. It was 
the will of the Lord. Always was He with them. They 
were taken to Pao Ting Fu, Pao Ting Fu that had just burned 
its own missionaries, and put in the gaol there — and, know- 
ing a Chinese inn, I wonder what can be the a^N'fulness of 
a Chinese gaol — and they were allowed no privacy. Mrs 
Green had dysentery ; they had not even a change of clothes ; 
but the soldiers were always in the rooms with them, or 
at any rate in the outer room, and this was done, of course, 
of malice prepense, for no one values the privacy of their 
women more than the Chinese. The girl got permission to 
go down to the river to wash their clothes, but a soldier 
always accompanied her, and always the crowds jeered and 
taunted as she went along in the glaring sunshine, feeling 
that nothing was hidden from these scornful people. Only 
strangely to the children were they kind ; the soldiers used to 


give them copper coins so that they might buy Httle scones 
and cakes to eke out the scanty rations, and once — it brought 
home to me, perhaps as nothing else could, the deprivations 
of such a life — ^instead of buying the much-needed food the 
women bought a whole pennyworth of hairpins, for their 
long hair was about their shoulders, and though they 
bi-ushed it to the best of their ability with their hands it 
was to them an unseemly thing. 

And before the order came — everything is ordered in 
China — that their lives were to be saved and they were to 
be sent to Tientsin the little maid who had done so much 
to cheer and alleviate their hard lot lay dying; the hard- 
ships and the coarse food had been too much for her. In 
the filth and misery of the ghastly Chinese prison she lay, 
and, bending over her, they picked the lice off her. Think 
of that, ye folk who guard your little ones tenderly and love 
them as these missionaries who feel called upon to convert 
the Chinese loved theirs. 

After all that suffering they went back, back to Hwailu 
and the desolated mission station under the Nursing Calf 
Fort, where they contmue their work to this day, and so 
will continue it, I suppose, to the end, for most surely their 
sufferings and their endurance have fitted them for the work 
they have at heart as no one who has not so suffered and 
endured could be fitted. And so I think the whirligig of 
Time brings in his revenges. 

I walked through a tremendous dust-storm to the railway 
station at the other side of the town, and the woman who 
had suffered these awful things, and who was as sweet and 
charming and lovable a woman as I have ever met, walked 
•with me and bade me God-speed on my journey, and when 
I parted from her I knew that among a class I — ^till I came 
to China — ^had always strenuously opposed I had found one 


whom I could not only respect, but whom I could love and 

Going back to Pao Ting Fu was like going back to old 
friends. Tliey had not received my letter. Mr Wang had 
not made his appearance, so when James Buchanan and I, 
attended by the master of transport, appeared upon the scene 
on a hot summer day we found the missionary party having 
their midday dinner on the verandah, and they received me — 
bless their kmd hearts ! — -wdth open arms, and proceeded to 
explam to me how very wise a thing I had done in coming 
back. The moment I had left, they said, they had been 
uncomfortable in the part they had taken in forwarding me 
on my journey. 

It was very good of them. There are days we always 
remember all our lives — our wedding day and such-like — 
and that coming back on the warm smnmer's day out of the 
hot, dusty streets of the western suburb into the cool, clean, 
tree-shaded compound of the American missionaries at Pao 
Ting Fu is one of them. And that compound is one of 
the places in the world I much want to visit again. 

There is another day, too, I shall not lightly forget. We 
called it the last meeting of the Travellers' Club of Pao Ting 
Fu. There were only two members in the club, Mr Long and 
I and an honorary member, James Buchanan, and on this 
day the club decided to meet, and Mr Long asked me to 
dinner. He lived in the Chinese college in the northern 
suburb. His house was only about two miles away and it 
could be reached generally by going round by the farms 
and graves, mostly graves, that cover the ground by the 
rounded north-west corner of the wall of the city. Outside 
a city in China is ugly. True, the walls are strangely old- 
world and the moat is a relic of the past — ^useful in these 
modem times for disposing of unwanted puppies ; Pao 


Ting Fu never seemed so hard up for food as Shansi — but 
otherwise the ground looks much as the deserted alluvial 
goldfields round Ballarat used to look in the days of my 
youth ; the houses are ramshackle to the last degree, and all 
the fields, even when they are green with the growing grain, 
look unfinished. But round the north-west corner of Pao 
Ting Fu the graves predominate. There are thousands and 
thousands of them. And on that particular day it rained, 
it rained, and it rained, steady warm sunmier rain that 
only stopped and left the air fresh and washed about six 
o'clock in the evening. I ordered a rickshaw — a rickshaw 
in Pao Ting Fu is a very primitive conveyance ; but it was 
pleasantly warm, and, with James Buchanan on my knee, 
in the last evening dress that remained to me and an em- 
broidered Chinese jacket for an opera cloak, I set out. I 
had started early because on account of the rain the mis- 
sionaries opined there might be a little difficulty with the 
roads. However, I did not worry much because I only had 
two miles to go, and I had walked it often in less than three- 
quarters of an hour. I was a little surprised when my rick- 
shaw man elected to go through the town, but, as I could 
not speak the language, I was not in a position to remon- 
strate, and I knew we could not come back that way as at 
sundown all the gates shut save the western, and that only 
waits till the last train at nine o'clock. 

It was muddy, red, clayey mud in the western suburb 
when we started, but when we got into the northern part 
of the town I was reminded of the tribulations of Fen Chou 
Fu in the summer rains, for the water was up to our axles, 
the whole place was like a lake and the people were piling 
up dripping goods to get them out of the way of the very 
dirty flood. My man only paused to turn his trousers up 
round his thighs and then went on again — going through 


floods was apparently all in the contract — but we went very 
slowly indeed. Dinner was not until eight and I had given 
myself plenty of time, but I began to wonder whether we 
should arrive at that hour. Presently I knew we shouldn't. 

We went through the northern gate, and to my dismay 
the country in the fading light seemed under water. From 
side to side and far beyond the road was covered, and what 
those waters hid I trembled to think, for a road at any time 
in China is a doubtful proposition and by no means spells 
security. As likely as not there were deep holes in it. But 
apparently my coolie had no misgivings. In he went at 
his usual snail's pace and the water swirled up to the axles, 
up to the floor of the rickshaw, and when I had gathered 
my feet up on the seat and we were in the middle of the 
sheet of exceedingly dirty water the rickshaw coolie stopped 
and gave me to understand that he had done his darnedest 
and could do no more. He dropped the shafts and stood a 
little way off, wringing the water out of his garments. It 
wasn't dangerous, of course, but it was distinctly uncom- 
fortable. I saw myself in evening dress wading through tsvo 
feet of dirty water to a clayey, slippery bank at the side. 
I waited a little because the prospect did not please me, and 
though there were plenty of houses roimd, there was not a 
soul in sight. It was getting dark too, and it was after 
eight o'clock. 

Presently a figure materialised on that clayey bank and 
him I beckoned vehemently. 

Now Pao Ting Fu had seen foreigners, not many, but still 
foreigners, and they spell to it a little extra cash, so the 
gentleman on the bank tucked up his garments and came 
wading over. He and my original friend took a madden- 
ingly long time discussing the situation, and then they pro- 
ceeded to drag the rickshaw sideways to the bank. There 


was a nan'ow pathway along the top and they apparently 
decided that if they could get the conveyance up there we 
might proceed on our journey. First I had to step out, and 
it looked slippery enough to make me a little doubtful. As 
a preliminary I handed James Buchanan to the stranger, 
because, as he had to sit on my knee, I did not want him 
to get dirtier than necessary. Buchanan did not like the 
stranger, but he submitted with a bad gi-ace till I, stepping 
out, slipped on the clay and fell flat on my back, when he 
promptly bit the man who Avas holding him and, getting 
away, expressed his sympathy by licking my face. Such a 
commotion as there was ! My two men yelled in dismay. 
Buchanan barked furiously, and I had some ado to get on 
my feet again, for the path was very slippery. It was long 
past eight now and could I have gone back I would have 
done so, but clearly that was impossible, so by signs I engaged 
No. 2 man, whose wounds had to be salved — copper did it — 
to push behind, and we resumed our way. 

Briefly it was long after ten o'clock when I arrived at the 
college. My host had given me up as a bad job long before 
and, not being well, had gone to bed. There was nothing 
for it but to rouse him up, because I wanted to explain that 
I thought I had better have another man to take me home 
over the still worse road that I knew ran outside the city. 

He made me most heartily welcome and then explained 
to my dismay that the men utterly declined to go any 
farther, declared no rickshaw could get over the road to the 
western suburb and that I must have a cart. That was 
all very well, but where was I to get a cart at that time of 
night, with the city gates shut ? 

Mr Long explained that his servant was a wise and re- 
som'ceful man and would probably get one if I would come 
in and have dinner. So the two members of the Travellers' 


Club sat down to an excellent dinner — a Chinese cook doesn't 
spoil a dinner because you are two hours late — and we tried 
to take a flash-light photogi-aph of the enteitaiiunent. Alas ! 
I was not fortimate that day ; something went wrong with 
the magnesiiun light and we burnt up most things. How- 
ever, we ourselves were all right, and at two o'clock in 
the mornmg Mr Long's servant's imcle, or cousin, or some 
relative, arrived ^v^th a Peking cart and a good substantial 
mule. I confess I was a bit doubtful about the journey home 
because I knew the state of repair, or rather disrepair, of a 
couple of bridges we had to cross, but they were negotiated, 
and just as the da\vn was beginning to break I anived 
at tlie mission compound and rewarded the adventurous 
men who had had charge of me with what seemed to them 
much silver and to me very little. I have been to many 
dumers in my life, but the last meeting of the Ti-avellers' 
Club at Pao Ting Fu remains engi'aved on my memory. 

Yet a little longer I waited in Pao Ting Fu before starting 
on my Siberian trip, for the start was to be made from 
Tientsin and the missionaries were going there in house-boats. 
They were bound for Pei Ta Ho for their summer holiday 
and the first stage of the journey Avas do^^^l the Ching River 
to Tientsin. I thought it would be rather a pleasant way 
of getting over the country-, and it M'ould be pleasant too to 
have company. I am not enamoured of my own society ; 
I can manage alone, but company certainly has great charms. 

So I waited, and while I waited I bought curios. 

In Pao Ting Fu in the revolution there was a great deal 
of looting done, and when order reigned again it was as 
much as a man's life was worth to try and dispose of any of 
his loot. A foreigner who would take the things right out of 
the country was a perfect godsend, and once it was known I 
was buying, men waited for me the livelong day, and I only 


had to put my nose outside the house to be pounced upon by 
a would-be seller. I have had as many as nine men selling 
at once ; they enlisted the servants, and china ranged 
round the kitchen floor, and embroideries, brass and mirrors 
were stowed away in the pantry. Indeed I and my fol- 
lowers must have been an awful nuisance to the missionaries. 
They knew no English, but as I could count a little in 
Chinese, when we could not get an interpreter we managed ; 
and I expect I bought an immense amount of rubbish, but 
never in my life have I had greater satisfaction in spending 
money. More than ever was I pleased when I unpacked in 
England, and I have been pleased ever since. 

Those sellers were persistent. They said in effect that 
never before had they had such a chance and they were 
going to make the best of it. We engaged house-boats for 
our transit ; we went down to those boats, we pushed off 
from the shore, and even then there were sellers bent on 
making the best of their last chance. I bought there on 
the boat a royal blue vase for two dollars and a quaint old 
brass mirror in a carved wooden frame also for two dollars, 
and then the boatmen cleared off the merchants and we 

I expect on the banks of the Euphrates or the Tigris in 
the days before the dawn of history men went backwards 
and forwards in boats like these we embarked in on the little 
river just outside the south gate of Pao Ting Fu. We had 
three boats. Dr and Mrs Lewis and their children had the 
largest, with their servants, and we all made arrangements 
to mess on board their boat. Miss Ne^vton and a friend had 
another, with more of the servants, and I, like a millionaire, 
had one all to myself. I had parted with the master of 
transport at Pao Ting Fu, but Hsu Sen, one of the Lewis's 
servants, waited upon me and made up my bed in the open 


part of the boat under a little roof. The cabins were behind, 
low little places like rabbit hutches, %vith little \vindows and 
little doors through which I could get by going do^sMi on my 
knees. I used them only for my luggage, so was enabled to 
offer a passage to a sewing-woman who would be exceed- 
ingly useful to the missionaries. She had had her feet bound 
in her youth and was rather crippled in consequence, and she 
bought her own food, as I bought my water, at the wayside 
places as we passed. She was a foolish soul, like most Chinese 
women, and took great interest in Buchanan, offering him 
always a share of her own meals, which consisted apparently 
largely of cuciunbers and the tasteless Chinese melon. Now 
James Buchanan was extremely polite, always accepting 
what was offered him, but he could not possibly eat cucumber 
and melon, and when I went to bed at night I often came 
in contact with something cold and clanuny which invariably 
turned out to be fragments of the sewing-woman's meals 
bestowed upon my courtly little dog. I forgave him because 
of his good manners. There really was nowhere else to hide 

They were pleasant days we spent meandering down the 
river. We passed by little farms ; we passed by villages, by 
fishing traps, by walled cities. Hsi An Fu, vnth the water 
of the river flowing at the foot of its castellated walls, was 
like a city of romance, and when we came upon little market- 
places by the water's edge the romance deepened, for we 
knew then how the people lived. Sometimes we paused 
and bought provisions ; sometimes we got out and strolled 
along the banks in the pleasant smnmer weather. Never 
have I gone a more delightful or more unique voyage. And 
at last we arrived at Tientsin and I parted from my friends, 
and they went on to Pei Ta Ho and I to Astor House to 
prepare for my journey east and north. 


And so I left China, China where I had dwelt for sixteen 
months, China that has been civilised so long and is a 
world apart, and now I sit in my comfortable sitting-room 
in England and read what the papers say of China ; and the 
China I know and the China of the newspapers is quite a 
different place. It is another world. China has come into 
the war. On our side, of course : the Chinaman is far too 
astute to meddle with a losing cause. But, after all, what 
do the peasants of Cliihli and the cave-dwellers in the yaos 
of Shansi know about a world's war ? The very, very small 
section that rules China manages these affairs, and the mass 
of the population are exactly as they were in the days of the 
Caesars, or before the first djiiasty in Egypt for that matter. 

" China," said one day to me a man who knew it well 
commercially, just before I left, " was never in so promising 
a condition. All the taxes are coming in and money was 
never so easy to get." 

" There was a row over the new tax," said a missionary 
sadly, in the part I know well, " in a little village beyond 
there. The village attacked the tax-collectors and the 
soldiers fell upon the villagers and thirteen men were killed. 
Oh, I know they say it is only nominal, but what is merely 
nominal to outsiders is their all to these poor villagers. They 
must pay the tax and starve, or resist and be killed." 

He did not say they were between the devil and the deep 
sea, because he was a missionary, but I said it for him, and 
there were two cases like that which came •within my ken 
during my last month in China. 

The fact of the matter is, I suppose, that outsiders can only 
judge generally, and China is true to type, the individual 
has never counted there and he does not count yet. What 
are a few thousand unpaid soldiers revolting in Kalgan ? 
What a robber desolating Kansu ? A score or two of 

See page 13'. 



villagers killed because they could not pay a tax ? Ab- 
solutely nothing in the general crowd. I, being a woman, 
and a woman from the new nations of the south, cannot help 
feeUng, and feeling strongly, the individual ought to count, 
that no nation can be really prosperous until the individual 
with but few exceptions is well-to-do and happy. I should 
hke to rule out the " few exceptions," but that would be 
asking too much of this present world. At least I like to 
think that most people have a chance of happiness, but I 
feel in China that not a tenth of the population has that. 

China left a curious impression upon my mind. The 
people are courteous and kindly, far more courteous than 
would be the same class of people in England, and yet I 
came back from the interior with a strong feeling that it is 
unsafe, not because of the general hostility of the people — 
they are not hostile — but because suffering and life count for 
so little. They themselves suffer and die by the thousand. 

" WTiat ! Bring a daughter-in-law to see the doctor in 
the middle of the harvest ! Impossible ! " And yet they 
knew she was suffering agony, that seeing the doctor was her 
only chance of sight ! But she did not get it. They were 
harvesting and no one could be spared ! 

What is the life then of a foreign barbarian more or less ? 
These courteous, kindly, dirty folk who look upon one as a 
menagerie would look on with equal interest at one's death. 
They might stretch out a hand to help, just as a man in 
England might stop another from ill-treating a horse, though 
for one who would put himself out two would pass by with 
a shrug of the shoulders and a feeling that it was no business 
of theirs. Every day of their lives the majority look upon 
the suffering of their women and think nothing of it. The 
desire of the average man is to have a wife who has so 
suffered. I do not know whether the keeping of the women 


in a state of subserviency has reacted upon the nation at 
large, but I should think it has hampered it beyond words. 
Nothing — nothing made me so ardent a believer in the rights 
of women as my visit to Cliina. 

" Women in England," said a man to me the other day, 
a foreigner, one of our Allies, " deserve the vote, but the 
Continental women are babies. They cannot have it." So 
are the Cliinese women babies, very helpless babies indeed, 
and I feel, and feel very strongly indeed, that until China 
educates her women, makes them an efficient half of the 
nation, not merely man's toy and his slave, China will always 
lag behind in the world's progress. 

Abeady China is split up into " spheres of influence." 
Whether she likes it or not, she must realise that Russian 
misrule is paramount in the great steppes of the north ; 
Japan rules to a great extent in the north-east, her railway 
from Mukden to Chang Ch'un is a model of efficiency; 
Britain counts her influence as the most important along 
the valley of the Yang Tze Kiang, and France has some say 
in Yunnan. I cannot help thinking that it would be a great 
day for China, for the welfare of her toiling millions, millions 
toiling without hope, if she were partitioned up among the 
stable nations of the earth — that is to say, between Japan, 
Britain and France. And having said so much, I refer my 
readers to Mr Farrer for the other point of view. It is 
diametrically opposed to mine. 



At Tientsin I sweltered in the Astor House, and I put it on 
record that I found it hotter in Northern China than I did 
on the Guinea coast in West Africa. It was probably, of 
course, the conditions under which I lived, for the hotel 
had been so well arranged for the bitter winter it was im- 
possible to get a thorough draught of air through any of the 
rooms. James Buchanan did not like it either, for in the 
British concessions in China dogs come under suspicion of 
hydrophobia and have always to be on the leash, wherefore, of 
course, I had to take the poor little chap out into the Chinese 
quarter before he could have a proper run, and he spent a 
great deal more time shut up in my bedroom than he or I liked. 
But Tientsin was a place apart, not exactly Chinese as I 
know China — certainly not Europe ; it remains in my mind 
as a place where Chinese art learns to accommodate itself to 
European needs. All the nations of the world East and 
West meet there : in the British quarter were the Sikhs 
and other Indian nationaUties, and in the French the streets 
were kept by Anamites in quaint peaked straw hats. I 
loved those streets of Tientsin that made me feel so safe and 
yet gave me a delightful feeling of adventure — adventure 
that cost me nothing ; and I always knew I could go and 
dine with a friend or come back and exchange ideas with 
somebody who spoke my own tongue. But Tientsin wasn't 
any good to me as a traveller. It has been written about 
for the last sixty years or more. I went on. 



One night Buchanan and I, without a servant — we missed the 
servant we always had in China — wended our way down to the 
railway station and ensconced ourselves in a first-class carriage 
bound for Mukden. The train didn't start till some ungodly 
hour of the night, but as it was in the station I got permission to 
take my place early, and with rugs and cushions made myself 
comfortable and was sound asleep long before we started. 
When I wakened I was well on the way to my destination. 

I made friends with a British officer of Marines who, with 
his sister, was coming back across Russia. He had been 
learning Japanese, and I corrected another wrong impres- 
sion. The British do sometimes learn a language other than 
their own. At Mukden we dined and had a bath. I find 
henceforth that all my stopping-places are punctuated by 
baths, or by the fact that a bath was not procurable. A 
night and day in the train made one desirable at Mukden, 
and a hotel inin by capable Japanese made it a delight. 
The Japanese, as far as I could see, run Manchuria ; must be 
more powerful than ever now Russia is out of it ; Kharbin 
is Russian, Mukden Japanese. The train from there to 
Chang Ch'un is Japanese, and we all travelled in a large open 
caiTiage, clean and, considering how packed it was, fairly 
airy. There was room for everybody to lie down, just room, 
and the efficient Japanese parted me from my treasured 
James Buchanan and put hun, howling miserably, into a 
big box — rather a dirty box ; I suppose they don't think 
much of animals — in another compartment. I climbed over 
much luggage and crawled under a good deal more to see 
that all was right with him, and the Japanese guards looked 
upon me as a mild sort of lunatic and smiled contemptuously. 
I don't like being looked upon with contempt by Orientals, 
so I was a little ruffled when I came back to my own seat. 
Then I was amused. 


Naturally among such a crowd I made no attempt to 
imdress for the night, merely contenting myself with taking 
off my boots. But the man next me, a Japanese naval 
officer, with whom I conversed in French, had quite different 
views. My French was rather bad and so was his in a 
different way, so we did not get on very fast. I fear I left 
him with the impression that I was an Austrian, for he never 
seemed to have heard of Australia. However, we showed 
each other our good will. Then he proceeded to undress. 
Never have I seen the process more nattily accomplished. 
How he slipped out of blue cloth and gold lace into a kimono 
I'm sure I don't know% though he did it under my very eyes, 
and then, with praiseworthy forethought, he took the links 
and studs out of his shirt and put them into a clean one 
ready for the morrow, stowed them both away in his little 
trunk, settled himself do-wn on his couch and gave himself 
up to a cigarette and conversation. I smoked too — one 
of his cigarettes — and we both went to sleep amicably, and 
with the morning we arrived at Chang Ch'un, and poor 
little Buchanan made the welkin ring when he saw me and 
found himself caged in a barred box. However that was 
soon settled, and he told me how infinitely preferable from 
a dog's point of view are the free and easy trains of Russia 
and China to the well-managed ones of Japan. 

These towns on the great railway are weird little places, 
merely scattered houses and wide roads leading out into the 
great plain, and the railway comes out of the distance and 
goes away into the distance. And the people who inhabit 
them seem to be a conglomeration of nations, perhaps the 
residuum of all the nations. Here the marine officer and 
his sister and I fell into the hands of a strange-looking 
individual who might have been a cross between a Russian 
Pole and a Chinaman, with a dash of Korean thrown in, and 


he undertook to take us to a better hotel than that usually 
frequented by visitors to Chang Ch'un. I confess I wonder 
what sort of people do visit Chang Ch'un, not the British 
tourist as a rule, and if the principal hotel is worse than the 
ramshackle place where we had breakfast, it must be bad. 
Still it was pleasant in the brilliant warm sunshine, even 
though it was lucky we had bathed the night before at 
Mukden, for the best they could do here was to show us into 
the most primitive of bedrooms, the very first effort in the 
way of a bedroom, I should think, after people had given 
up k^angs, and there I met a very small portion of water in 
a very small basin alongside an exceedingly frowsy bed and 
made an effort to wash away the stains of a night's travel. 
Now such a begimiing to the day would effectually disgust me ; 
then, fresh from the discomforts of Chinese travel, I foimd 
it all in the day's work. 

I found too that I had made a mistake and not brought 
enough money with me. Before I had paid for Buchanan's 
ticket I had parted with every penny I possessed and could 
not possibly get any more till I arrived at the Hong Kong 
and Shanghai Bank at Kharbin. I am rather given to a 
mistake of that sort ; I always feel my money is so much 
safer in the bank's charge than in mine. 

We went on through fertile Manchuria and I saw the rich 
fields that coming out I had passed over at night. This 
train was Russian, and presently there came along a soldier, 
a forerunner of an officer inspecting passengers and carriages. 
Promptly his eye fell on Buchanan, who was taking an in- 
telligent interest in the scenery — he always insisted on looking 
out of the window — and I, seeing he, the soldier, was troubled, 
tried to tell him my intentions were good and I would pay at 
Kharbin ; but I don't think I made myself understood, for 
he looked wildly roimd the compartment, seized the little 


dog, pushed him in a corner and threw a cushion over him. 
Both Buchanan and I were so surprised we kept quite still, 
and the Russian officer looked in, saw a solitary woman 
holding out her ticket and passed on, and not till he was well 
out of the way did James Buchanan, who was a jewel, poke 
up his pretty little head and make a few remarks upon the 
enormity of smuggling little dogs without paying their fares, 
which was evidently what I was doing. 

We arrived at Kharbin about nine o'clock at night, and 
as I stepped out on to a platform, where all the nations of 
the earth, in dirty clothes, seemed yelling in chorus, a man 
came along and spoke to me in English. The soldier who had 
aided and abetted in the smuggling of Buchanan was stand- 
ing beside me, evidently expecting some little remembrance, 
and I was meditating borrowing from the officer of Marines, 
though, as they were going on and I was not, I did not much 
like it. And the voice in English asked did I want a hotel. 
I did, of course. The man said he was the courier of the 
Grand Hotel, but he had a little place of his o%vn which was 
much better and he could make me very comfortable. Then 
I explained I could not get any money till the bank opened 
next day and he spread out his hands as a Chinaman might 
have done. " No matter, no matter," he would pay, his 
purse was mine. 

Would I go to his house ? 

Could I do anything else under the circumstances ? And 
I promptly took him at his word and asked for a rouble — 
Kharbin is China, but the rouble was the current coin — 
and paid off the soldier for his services. I bade farewell to 
my friends and in a ramshackle droshky went away through 
the streets of Kharbin, and we drove so far I wondered if I 
had done wisely. I had, as it turned out. 

But I heard afterwards that even in those days anything 


might have happened in Kharbin, where the population con- 
sists of Japanese and Chinese and Russians and an evil 
combination of all three, to say nothing of a sprinkling of 
rascals from all the nations of the earth. 

" There is not," said a man who knew it well, " a decent 
Chinaman in the whole place." 

In fact to all intents and purposes it is Russian. There 
were Russian students all in uniform in the streets, and 
bearded, belted drivers drove the droshkies with their extra 
horse in a trace beside the shafts, just as they did in Russia. 
Anyhow it seems to me the sins of K3iarbin would be the 
vigorous primal sins of Russia, not the decadent sins of old- 
world China. 

Kharbin when I was there in 1914 had 60,000 inhabitants 
and 25,000 Russian soldiers guarding the railway in the 
district. The Russian police forbade me to take photographs, 
and you might take your choice : Chinese hung hu tzes or 
Russian brigands would rob and slay you on your very 
doorstep in the heart of the town. At least they would in 
1914, and things are probably worse now. All the signs are 
in Russian and, after the Chinese, looked to me at first as 
if I should be able to understand them, but closer inspection 
convinced me that the letters, though I knew their shape, 
had been out all night and were coming home in not quite 
the condition we would wish them to be. Tliere is a Chinese 
town without a wall a little way over the plain — ^like all 
other Chinese towns, a place of dirt and smells — and there is 
a great river, the Sungari, a tributary of the Amur, on which 
I first met the magnificent river steamers of these parts. 
Badly I wanted to photograph them, but the Russian police 
said " No, no," I would have to get a permit from the 
colonel in command before that could be allowed, and the 
colonel in command was away and was not expected back 



till the middle of next week, by which time I expected to be 
in Vladivostok, if not in Kharbarosvk, for Kharbin was 
hardly inviting as a place of sojourn for a traveller. Mr 
Poland, as he called himself, did his best for me. He gave 
me a fairly large room with a bed in it, a chair, a table and a 
broken-down wardrobe that would not open. He had the 
family washing cleared out of the bath, so that I bathed 
amidst the fluttering damp garments of his numerous 
progeny, but still there was a bath and a bath heater that 
with a certain expenditure of wood could be made to produce 
hot water ; and if it was rather a terrifying machine to be 
locked up with at close quarters, still it did aid me to arrive 
at a certain degree of cleanliness, and I had been long enough 
in China not to be carping. 

But it is dull eating in your bedroom, and I knew I had 
not done wisely, for even if the principal hotel had been 
uncomfortable — I am not saying it was, because I never went 
there — it would have been more amusing to watch other folks 
than to be alone. 

The day after I arrived I called upon Mr Sly, the British 
consul, and I was amused to hear the very dubious sounds 
that came from his room when I was amiounced. 

I cleared the air by saying hastily : "I'm not a distressed 
British subject and I don't want any money," though I'm 
bound to say he looked kind enough to provide me with the 
wherewithal had I wanted it. Then he shook his head and 
expressed his disapproval of my method of arrival. 

" The last man who fell into Kharbin like that," said he, 
" I hunted for a week, and two days later I attended his 
funeral," so badly had be been man-handled. But that man, 
it seems, had plenty of money ; it was wisdom he lacked. 
My trouble was the other way, certainly as far as money 
was concerned. It would never have been worth anyone's 


while to harm me for the sake of my possessions. I had 
fallen into the hands of a Polish Jew named Polonetzky, 
though he called himself Poland to me, feeling, I suppose, 
my English tongue was not equal to the more complicated 
word, and he dwelt in the Dome Stratkorskaya — remember 
KSiarbin is China — and I promised if he dtalt well by me 
that I would recommend his boarding-house to all my friends 
bound for Kharbin. He did deal well by me. So frightened 
was he about me that he would not let me out of his sight, 
or if he were not in attendance his wife or his brother was 
turned on to look after me. 

" I am very good friends," said he, " with Mr Sly at present. 
I do not want anything to happen." 

Mr Sly, we found, knew one of my brothers and he very 
kindly asked me to dinner. That introduced me to the 6\ite 
of the place, and after dinner — Chinese cooks are still excellent 
on the borders — we drove in his private carriage and ended 
the evening in the public gardens. The coachmen here are 
quite gorgeous affairs ; no matter what their nondescript 
nationality — ^they are generally Russians, I think, though 
I have seen Chinamen, Tartars, driving like Jehu the son 
of Nimshi — ^they wear for full livery grey beaver hats with 
curly brims like Johnny Walker or the Corinthians in the 
day^ of the Regent. It took my breath away when I found 
myself bowling along behind two of these curly brimmed 
hats that I thought had passed away in the days of my 

The gardens at Kharbin are a great institution. There in 
the summer's evening the paths were all lined with lamps ; 
there were open-air restaurants ; there were bands and 
fluttering flags ; there were the most excellent ices and in- 
sidious drinks of all descriptions, and there were crowds of 
gaily dressed [people — Monte Carlo in the heart of Central 


Asia ! Kharbin in the summer is hot, very hot, and Kharbin 
in the winter is bitter cold. It is all ice and snow and has a 
temperature that ranges somewhere do^vn to 40° Fahrenheit 
below zero, and this though the sun shines brilliantly. It 
is insidious cold that sneaks on you and takes you unawares, 
not like the bleak raw cold of England that makes the very 
most of itself. They told me a tale of a girl who had gone 
skating and when she came off the ice found that her feet 
were frozen, though she was unaware of her danger and had 
thought them all right. Dogs are often frozen in the streets 
and Chinamen too, for the Chinaman has a way of going to 
sleep in odd places, and many a one has slept his last sleep 
in the winter streets of Kliarbin — the wide straggling streets 
with houses and gardens and vacant spaces just like the 
towns of Australia. A frontier town it is in effect. We 
have got beyond the teeming population of China. 

And then I prepared to go first east to Vladivostok and 
then north to Siberia, and I asked advice of both the British 
consul and my self-appointed courier, Mr Poland. 

Certainly he took care of me, and the day before I started 
east he handed me over to his wife and suggested she should 
take me to the market and buy necessaries for my journey. 
It was only a little over twenty-four hours so it did not seem 
to me a matter of much consequence, but I felt it would be 
interesting to walk through the market. It was. 

This class of market, I find, is very much alike all over 
the world because they sell the necessaries of life to the people 
and it is only varied by the difference of the local products. 
Kharbin market was a series of great sheds, and though most 
of the stalls were kept by Chinamen, it differed from a market 
in a Chinese town in the fact that huge quantities of butter 
and cheese and cream were for sale. Your true Chinaman 
is shocked at the European taste for milk and butter and 


cream. He thinks it loathsome, and many a man is unable 
to sit at table and watch people eat these delicacies. Just 
as, of course, he is shocked at the taste that would put 
before a diner a huge joint of beef or mutton. These things 
Chinese refinement disguises. I suspect the proletariat 
with whom I came in contact in Shansi would gladly eat 
anything, but I speak of the refined Chinaman. Here in 
this market, whether he was refined or not, he had got over 
these fancies and there was much butter and delicious soured 
cream for sale. My Polish Jewess and I laboured under the 
usual difficulty of language, but she made me understand I 
had better buy a basket for my provisions, a plate, a knife, a 
fork — I had left these things behind in China, not thinking 
I should want them — a tumbler and a couple of kettles. 
No self-respecting person, according to her, would dream of 
travelling in Siberia without at least a couple of kettles. 
I laid in two of blue enamel ware and I am bound to say I 
blessed her forethought many and many a time. 

Then we proceeded to buy provisions, and here I lost my 
way. She engaged a stray Chinaman, at least I think he 
was a Chinaman, with a dash of the gorilla in him, to carry 
the goods, and I thought she was provisioning her family 
against a siege or that perhaps there was only one market 
a month in Kharbin. Anyhow I did not feel called upon to 
interfere. It didn't seem any concern of mine and she had 
a large little family. We bought bread in large quantities, 
ten cucumbers, two pounds of butter, two pounds of cream — 
for these we bought earthenware jars — two dozen bananas, 
ten eggs and two pounds of tea. And then I discovered 
these were the provisions for my journey to Vladivostok, 
twenty-seven hours away ! I never quite knew why I bought 
provisions at all, for the train stopped at stations where 
there were restaurants even though there was no restaurant 


car attached to it. Mr Sly warned me to travel first class 
and I had had no thought of doing aught else, for travelling 
is very cheap and very good in Russia, but Mr Poland thought 

" I arrange," said he, " I arrange, and you see if you are 
not comfortable." 

I am bound to say I was, very comfortable, for Buchanan 
and I had a very nice second-class carriage all to ourselves. 
At everj'' station a conductor appeared to know if I wanted 
boiling water, and we had any amount of good things to eat, 
for the ten eggs had been hard boiled by Mrs " Poland," 
and the bread and butter and cream and cucumbers and 
bananas were as good as ever I have tasted. I also had 
two pounds of loaf sugar, German beet, I think, and some 

And so we went east tlirough the wooded hills of Man- 
churia. They were covered with lush grass restfully green, 
and there were flowers, purple and white and yellow and 
red, lifting their starry faces to the cloudy sky, and a soft 
damp air blew in thiough the open window. Such a change 
it was after China, with its hard blue skies, brilliant sunshine 
and dry, invigorating air. But the ISIanchus were industrious 
as the Chinese themselves, and where there were fields the 
crops Avere tended as carefully as those in China proper, only 
in between were the pasture-lands and the flowers that were 
a delight to me, who had not seen a flower save those in 
pots since I came to China. 

I spread out my rugs and cushions and, taking off my 
clothes and getting into a kimono — also bought in the 
Kharbin market ; a man's kimono as the women's are too 
narrow — I slept peacefully, and in the morning I found we 
had climbed to the top of the ridge, the watershed, the 
pleasant rain was falling softly, all around was the riotous 


green, and peasants, Russian and Chinese, came selling sweet 
red raspberries in little baskets of green twigs. 

And the flowers, the flowers of Siberia ! After all I had 
heard about them, they were still something more beautiful 
than I could have hoped for ; and then the rain passed, the 
life-giving rain, the rain that smoothed away all harshness 
and gave such a charm and a softness to the scenery. And 
it was vast. China was so crowded I never had a sense of 
vastness there ; but this was like Australia, great stretches 
of land under the sky, green, rich lush green, and away in 
the distance was a dim line of blue hills. Then would come 
a little corrugated-iron-roofed town sprawled out over the 
mighty plain, a pathway to it across the surrounding green, 
and then the sun came out and the clouds threw great 
shadows and there was room to see the outline of their 
shapes on the green grass. 

There were Chinese still on the stations, but they were 
becoming more and more Russianised. They still wore 
queues, but they had belted Russian blouses and top-boots, 
and they mixed on friendly terms with flaxen-haired, blue- 
eyed Russians similarly attired. And the evening shadows 
gathered again and in the new world we steamed into 

The Russians I came across did not appreciate fresh air. 
The porter of a hotel captured me and Buchanan, and when 
we arrived on a hot July night I was shown into a bedroom 
with double windows hermetically sealed and the cracks 
stopped up with cotton wool ! 

I protested vehemently and the hotel porter looked at me 
in astonishment. Tear down those carefully stopped-up 
cracks ! Perish the thought. However, I persuaded him 
down that cotton wool must come, and he pulled it down 
regretfully. I called at the British consulate next day and 


asked them to recommend me to the best hotel, but they 
told me I was already there and could not better myself, 
so I gave myself up to exploring the town in the Far East 
where now the Czech Slovaks have established themselves. 

It is a beautifully situated town set in the hills alongside 
a narrow arm of the sea, rather a grey sea with a grey sky 
overhead, and the hills around were covered with the 
luxuriant green of midsummer, midsummer in a land where 
it is winter almost to June. The principal buildings in 
Vladivostok are rather fine, but they are all along the shore, 
and once you go back you come into the hills where the 
wood-paved streets very often are mere flights of steps. 
It is because of that sheltered arm of the sea that here is 
a town at all. 

Along the shore are all manner of craft. The British 
fleet had come on a visit, and grey and grim the ships lay 
there on the grey sea, like a Turner picture, ■with, for a dash 
of colour, the Union Jacks. The Russian fleet was there 
too, welcoming their guests, and I took a boat manned 
by a native of the coimtry, Mongolian evidently, with, 
of course, an unknown tongue, but whether he was (Jold 
or Gilyak I know not. He was a good boatman, for 
a nasty little sea got up and James Buchanan told me 
several times he did not like the new tiu'n our voyaging had 
taken, and then, poor little dog, he was violently sick. I 
know the torments of sea-sickness are not lightly to be borne, 
so after sailing round the fleets I went ashore and studied 
the shipping from the firm land. 

I was glad then that Mr Sly at Kharbin had insisted that 
I should see the Russian port. The whole picture was framed 
in green, soft tender green, edged with grey mist, and all the 
old forgotten ships of wood, the ships that perhaps were 
sailed by my grandfather in the old East India Company, 


seemed to have found a resting-place here. They were 
drawn up against the shore or they were going down the 
bay with all their sails set, and the sunlight breaking through 
the clouds touched the white sails and made them moimtains 
of snow. There was shipbuilding going on too, naturally — 
for are there not great stores of timber in the forests behind? — 
and there were ships unloading all manner of things. Ships 
brought vegetables and fruit ; ships brought meat ; there were 
fishing-boats, himdreds of them close against each other 
along the shore, and on aU the small ships, at the mast-heads, 
were little fluttering white butterflies of flags. What they 
were there for I do not know, or what they denoted. Oh, 
the general who commands the Czech Slovaks has a splendid 
base. I wish him aU success. And here were the sealing- 
ships, the ships that presently would go up to the rookeries 
to bring away the pelts. 

One of my brothers was once navigating lieutenant on the 
British ship that guarded the rookeries " north of 53°," and 
I remembered, as Buchanan and I walked along the shore, 
the tales he had told me of life in these parts. His particular 
ship had acquired two sheep, rather an acquisition for men 
who had lived long off the Chinese coast, and had a surfeit 
of chickens ; so while they were eating one, thinking to save 
the other a long sea voyage they landed him on an island, 
giving him in charge of the man, an Aleut Indian, my brother 
called him, who ruled the little place. Coming back they 
were reduced to salt and tinned food, but they cheered 
themselves with thoughts of the mutton chops that should 
regale them when they met again their sheep. Alas for 
those sailor-men ! They found the Indian, but the sheep was 
not forthcoming. 

His whilom guardian was most polite. He gave them to 
understand he was deeply grieved, but unfortunately he 


had been obliged to slay the sheep as he was killmg the 
fowls ! 

The ward-room mess realised all too late that mutton 
was appreciated in other places than on board his Majesty's 

I thought all the races of the earth met in IQiarbin, but I 
don't know that this port does not i^un it very close. There 
were Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Koreans in horsehair 
hats and white garments ; there were the aboriginal natives 
of the country and there were numberless Germans. And 
then, in July, 1914, these people, I think, had no thought of 
the World's War. 

And here I came across a new way of carrying, for all the 
porters had chairs strapped upon their backs and the load, 
whatever it was, was placed upon the chair. Of all ways 
I have seen, that way strikes me as being the best, for the 
weight is most evenly distributed. Most of the porters, I 
believe, were Koreans, though they did not wear white ; nor 
did they wear a hat of any description ; their long black hair 
was twisted up like a woman's, but they were vigorous and 
stalwart. We left weakness behind us in China. Here 
the people looked as if they were meat-fed, and though they 
might be dirty — ^they generally were — ^they all looked as if 
they had enough. 

Always the principal streets were thronged with people. 
At night the town all lighted up is like a crescent of sparkling 
diamonds flung against the hill-sides, and when I went to 
the railway station to take train for Kharbarosvk, thirty 
hoiu'S away, at the junction of the Ussuri and the Amur, 
that large and spacious building was a seething mass of 
people of apparently all classes and all nationalities, and they 
were giving voice to their feelings at the top of their lungs. 
Everybody, I should think, had a grievance and was makin 


the most of it. I had not my capable Mr Poland to arrange 
for me, so I went first class — ^the exact fare I have forgotten, 
but it was ridiculously low — and Buchanan and I had a 
compartment all to ourselves. Indeed I believe we were the 
only first-class passengers. I had my basket and my kettles 
and I had laid in store of provisions, and we went away back 
west for a couple of hours, and then north into the spacious 
green country where there was room and more than room 
for everybody. 



All the afternoon we went back on our tracks along the 
main Hne, the sea on one side and the green country, riotous, 
lush, luxuriant, on the other, till at last we reached the head 
of the gulf and took our last look at the Northern Sea ; grey 
like a silver shield it spread before us, and right down to the 
very water's edge came the vivid green. And then we turned 
inland, and presently we left the main line and went north. 
Above was the grey sky, and the air was soft and cool and 
delicious. I had had too much stimulation and I welcomed, 
as I had done the rains after the summer in my youth, the 
soft freshness of the Siberian summer. 

There were soldiers everywhere, tall, strapping, virile 
Russians ; there were peasants in belted blouses, with collars 
all of needlework; and there were Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, 
and the natives of the country, men with a strong Mongolian 
cast of countenance. The country itself was strangely 
empty after teeming Cliina, but these all travelled by train 
or were to be found on the railway stations and at the 
fisliing stations that we passed, but apparently I was the 
only bloated aristocrat who travelled first class. In normal 
times this made travelling fairly easy in Russia, for it was 
very cheap and you could generally get a carriage to yourself. 

Oh 1 but it was lovely ; the greenness of the country was 

a rest to eyes wearied ^^•ith the dust and dirt of China. 

And there were trees — not trees denuded of all but enough 

timber to make a bare livelihood possible, but trees gi'owing 



luxuriantly in abundant leaf after their own free will, oaks 
and firs and white-stemmed, graceful birches bending daintily 
before the soft breeze. At the stations the natives, exactly 
like Chinamen, dirty and in rags, brought strawberries for 
sale ; and there were always flowers — ^pm-ple vetches and 
gorgeous red poppies, tall foxgloves and blue spikes of lark- 
spur. The very antithesis of China it was, for this was 
waste land and undeveloped. The veiy engines were iiin 
with wood, and there were stacks of wood by the wayside 
waiting to be burnt. I was sorry — I could not but be sorry. 
I have seen my own people cut down the great forests of 
Western Victoria, and here were people doing the same, with 
exactly the same wanton extravagance, and in this country, 
with its seven months of bitter winter, in all probability the 
trees take three times as long to come to maturity. But it 
is virgin land, this glorious fertile country, and was practic- 
ally uninhabited till the Russian Government planted here 
and there bands of Cossacks who, they say, made no en- 
deavour to develop the land. The Koreans and the Japanese 
and the Chinese came creeping in, but the Russians made an 
effort to keep them out. But still the population is scanty. 
Always, though it was before the war, there were soldiers 
— soldiers singly, soldiers in pairs, soldiers in little bands ; 
a horseman appeared on a lonely road, he was a soldier ; 
a man came along driving a cart, he was a soldier ; but 
the people we saw were few, for the rigours of this lovely 
land in the winter are terrible, and this was the dreaded 
land where Russia sent her exiles a long, long way from 

Farther we went into the hills ; a cuckoo called in the cool 
and dewy morning ; there were lonely little cottages with 
wooden roofs and log walls ; there were flowering creepers 
round the windows, and once I saw a woman's wistful face 


peeping out at the passing train, the new train that at last 
was bringing her nearer the old home and that yet seemed 
to emphasise the distance. We went along by a river, the 
Ussuri, that wound its way among the wooded green hills 
and by still pools of water that reflected in their depths the 
blue sky, soft with snow-white clouds. A glorious land 
this land of exile ! At the next station we stopped at 
the people were seated at a table having a meal under the 
shade of the trees. Then there was a lonely cross of new 
wood ; someone had been laid in his long last home in the 
wilderness and would never go back to Holy Russia again ; 
and again I thought of the woman's wistful face that peered 
out of the flower-bordered window. 

This is a new line. Formerly the way to Kharbarosvk 
was do^vn the Amur river from the west, and that, I suppose, 
is why all this country of the Amur Province south and east 
of the river is so lonely. 

As we neared Kharbarosvk came signs of settlement, the 
signs of settlement I had been accustomed to in Australia. 
Tliere were tree stumps, more and more, and anything more 
desolate than a forest of newly cut tree stumps I don't 
know. It always spells to me ruthless destruction. I am 
sure it did here, for they cut down recklessly, sweeping all 
before them. It seemed to cry out, as all newly settled land 
that ever I have seen, and I have seen a good deal, the 
distaste of the people who here mean to make their homes. 
These are not owe trees, they say ; they are not beautiful 
like the trees of our o\m old home ; let us cut them down, 
there are plenty ; by and by when we have time, when we 
are settled, we will plant trees that really are worth growing. 
We shall not see them, of course, our children will benefit 
little; but they wifl be nice for our grandchildren, if we 
hold on so long. But no one believes they will stay so 


long ; they hope to make money and go back. Meanwhile 
they want the timber, but they neglect to plant fresh 

They wanted the timber to build Kharbarosvk. This is a 
town of the outposts, a frontier town ; there are no towns 
like it in the British Isles, where they value their land and 
build towns compactly, but I have seen its counterpart 
many a time in Australia, and I know there must be its like 
in America and Canada. It straggled all along the river 
bank, and its wide streets, streets paved, or rather floored, 
here and there with planks of wood, were sparsely planted 
with houses. In one respect Australian towns of the frontier 
are much wiser. When there is a train they do build their 
stations with some regard for the comfort and convenience 
of the inhabitants. In Russia wherever I have been the 
railway station is a long distance, sometimes half-an-hour's 
drive, from the town it serves. I suppose it is one of the 
evils of the last bad regime and that in the future, the future 
which is for the people, it will be remedied, but it is difficult 
to see what purpose it serves. I had to get a drosliky to 
the hotel. We drove first along a country road, then 
through the wide grass-grown streets of the town, and 
I arrived at the principal hotel, kept by a (ierman on 
Russian lines, for the restaurant was perfectly distinct from 
the living-rooms. I put it on record it was an excellent 
restaurant ; I remember that cold soup — the day was hot — 
and that most fragrant coffee still. 

From the windows of my bedroom I saw another of the 
world's great rivers. I looked away over a wide expanse of 
water sparkling in the sunshine : it was the junction of the 
Ussuri and the Amur, and it was like a great lake or the sea. 
It was very, very still, clear as glass, and the blue sky and 
white clouds were reflected in it, and there were green islands 


and low green banks. All was colour, but soft coloiu* with- 
out outlines, like a Turner picture. 

The Amur is hard frozen for about five months of 
the year and for about two more is neither good solid 
ice nor navigable water. It is made by the joining of 
the Shilka and the Aigun in about lat. 53° N. 121° E., 
and, counting in the Shilka, must be nearly three 
thousand miles in length, and close on two thousand 
miles have I now travelled. I don't know the Amur, of 
course, but at least I may claim to have been introduced to 
it, and that, I think, is more than the majority of Englishmen 
may do. And oh, it is a mighty river ! At Kharbarosvk, 
over a thousand versts — about six hundred and forty miles 
— from the sea, it is at least a mile and a third wide, and 
towards the mouth, what Anth backwaters and swamps, it 
takes up sometimes about forty miles of country, while the 
main channel is often nearly three miles wide. It rises 
in the hills of Trans-Baikal — the Yablonoi Mountains we 
used to call them when I was at school. Really I think it is 
the watershed that nms up East Central Siberia and turns 
the waters to the shallow Sea of Okhotsk ; and it cuts its 
way through wooded hills among rich land hardly as yet 
touched by agriculture, beautiful, lovely hills they are, steep 
and wooded. It climbs down into the flat country and then 
again, just before it reaches the sea, it is in the hills, 
colder hills this time, though the Amur falls into the sea on 
much the same parallel of latitude as that which sees it 
rise, only it seems to me that the farther you get east the 
colder and more extreme is the climate. For Nikolayeusk 
at the mouth is in the same latitude as London, but as a 
port it is closed for seven months of the year. True, the 
winter in Siberia is lovely, bright, clear cold, a hard, bright 
clearness, but the thermometer is often down below —40° 


Fahrenheit, and when that happens life is difficult for both 
man and beast. No wonder it is an empty river. The 
wonder to me is that there should be so much life as there 
is. For in those five months that it is open fine large 
steamers run from Nikolayeusk by Kharbarosvk to 
Blagoveschensk, and smaller ones, but still rather fine, to 
Stretensk, where river navigation, for steamers of any size 
at any rate, ceases. There are the two months, April- 
May, September-October, when the river cannot be used 
at all, and there are the winter months when it may be, 
and is to a certain extent, used as a road, but with the 
thermometer down far below zero no one is particularly 
keen on travelling. It has its disadvantages. So most of 
the travelling is done in the summer months and in 1914 
the steamers were crowded. Now, I suppose, they are 
fighting there. It is a country well worth fighting for. 

It was a curious contrast, the lonely empty river and the 
packed steamer. It was an event when we passed another ; 
two made a crowd ; and very, very seldom did we pass more 
than two in a day. But it was delightful moving along, the 
gi'eat crowded steamer but a puny thing on the wide river, 
the waters still and clear, reflecting the blue sky and the 
soft white clouds and the low banks far, far away. When 
there were hills they were generally closer, as if the river 
liad had more trouble in cutting a passage and therefore 
had not had time to spread itself as it did in the plain 
country. Tlie hills were densely wooded, mostly with dark 
firs, with an occasional deciduous tree showing up brightly 
among the dark foliage, and about Blagoveschensk there is 
a beautiful oak known as the velvet oak, the wood of which 
is much sought for making furniture. However dense the 
forest, every here and there would be a wide swath of green 
bare of trees — a fire brake ; for these forests in the summer 


burn fiercely, and coming back I saw the valleys thick with 
the cm-ling blue wood smoke, smelt the aromatic smell of 
the burning fir woods, and at night saw the hills outlined 
in flames. It was a gorgeous sight, but it is desperately 
destructive for the country, especially a country where the 
wood glows so slowly. But at first there were no fires, 
and what struck me was the vastness and the loneliness of 
the mighty river. I had the same feeling on the Congo in 
the tropics, a great and lonely river with empty banks, but 
that was for a distance under two hundred miles. Here in 
the north the great lonely river went wandering on for ten 
times as far, and still the feeling when one stood apart from 
the steamer was of loneliness and grandeur. Man was such 
a small thing here. At night a little wind sighed over the 
waters or swept down between the liills ; round the bows the 
water rose white; there was a waste of tossing water all 
round, under a lowering sky, and the far-away banks were 
lost in the gloom. A light would appear, perhaps two 
lights shining out of the darkness, but they only emphasised 
the loneliness. A wonderful river ! 

The navigation of the river is a profession in itself. There 
is a school for the navigators at Blagoveschensk where they 
are properly trained. All along we came across the red 
beacons that mark the way, while beside them in the day- 
time we could see the cabins of the lonely men who tended 

Truly a voyage down the Amur in siunmer is not to be 
easily forgotten, and yet, sitting here writing about it in my 
garden in Kent, I sometimes wonder did I dream it all, the 
vastness and the loneliness and the grandeur that is so veiy 
different from the orchard land wherein is set my home. 
You do not see orchards on the Amur, the climate is too 
rigorous, and I doubt if they grow much beyond berries, 


a blue berry in large quantities, raspberries, and coming 
back we bought cucumbers. 

Oh, but it was lovely on that river. Dearly should I like 
to share its delights with a companion who could discuss it 
with me, but somehow it seems to be my lot to travel alone. 

Not, of course, that I was really alone. Though the 
steamers were few, perhaps because they were few, they 
were crowded. There were two companies on the river, 
the *' Sormovo " or quick-sailing company, and the Amur 
Company ; and I hereby put it on record that the Amiu* 
Company is much the best. The John Cockerill, named 
after some long-dead English engineer who was once on 
the Amur, is one of the best and most comfortable. 

At Kharbarosvk, finding the steamer did not leave till 
the evening of the next day, I had naturally gone to a hotel. 
It seemed the obvious thing to do. But I was wTong. The 
great Russian steamship companies, with a laudable desire to 
keep passengers and make them comfoi'table, always allow 
a would-be traveller to spend at least two days on board 
in the ports, paying, of course, for his food. And I, who had 
only come about thirty-six hours too soon, had actually put 
up at a hotel, with the John Cockerill lying at the wharf. 
The Russo-Asiatic Bank, as represented by a woman clerk, 
the only one there who could speak English, was shocked at 
my extravagance and said so. These women clerks were a 
little surprise for me, for in 1914 I was not accustomed to 
seeing women in banks, but here in Eastern Siberia — in 
Vladivostok, Kliarbarosvk, and all the towns of the Amur 
— ^they were as usual as the men. 

The John Cockerill surprised me as much as I surprised 
the bank clerk. To begin with, I didn't realise it was the 
John Cockerill, for I could not read the Russian lettei*s, and 


at first I did not recognise the name as pronounced by the 
Russians. She was a very gorgeous, comfortable ship, with 
a dining saloon and a lounge gorgeous in green velvet. And 
yet she was not a post steamer, but spent most of her time 
drawing barges laden vnth cargo, and stopped to discharge 
and take in at all manner of lonely little ports on the great 
river. She was a big steamer, divided into four classes, and 
was packed with passengers : Russians in the first, second 
and third class, \N'ith an occasional German or Japanese, 
and in the fourth an extraordinary medley of poorer Russians, 
Chinese and Gilyaks and Golds, the aboriginals of the 
countn,% men with a Mongolian cast of countenance, long 
coarse black hair, very often beards, and dirty — the ordinary 
poor Chinaman is clean and tidy beside them. 

But the first class was luxurious. We had electric light 
and hot and cold water. The cabins were not to hold more 
than two, and you brought your own bedding. I dare say 
it could have been hired on the steamer, but the difficulty 
of language always stood in my way, and once away from 
the seaboard in North-Eastern Asia the only other European 
language beside Russian that is likely to be understood is 
G^erman, and I have no Gennan. I was lucky enough on 
the John Cocker ill to find the wife of a Russian colonel who 
spoke a little English. She, with her husband, was taking 
a summer holiday by journeying up to Nikolayeusk, and she 
very kindly took Buchanan and me under her wing and 
interpreted for us. It was very nice for me, and the only 
thing I had to complain of on that steamer was the way in 
which the night watch promenading the deck shut my window 
and slammed to the shutters. They did it every night, with 
a care for my welfare I could have done without. In a 
river steamer the cabins are all in the centre with the deck 


round, and the watch evidently could not understand how 
any woman could really desire to sleep under an open 
window. I used to get up early in the morning and walk 
round the decks, and I found that first and second class 
invariably shut their windows tight, though the nights were 
always just pleasantly cool, and consequently those passages 
betrv\^een the cabins smelt like a menagerie, and an ill-kept 
menagerie at that. They say Russians age early and in- 
variably they are of a pallid complexion. I do not wonder, 
now that I have seen their dread of fresh air. Again and 
again I was told : " Draughts are not good ! " Draughts ! 
I'd rather sleep in a hurricane than in the hermetically sealed 
boxes in which those passengers stowed themselves on board 
the river steamers. On the John Cockerill the windows of 
the dining saloon and the lounge did open, but on the 
steamer on which I went up the river, the Kanovina, one of 
the " Sormovo " G^mpany, and the mail steamer, there was 
only one saloon in the first class. We had our meals and 
we lived there. It was a fine large room placed for'ard 
in the ship's bows, with beautiful large windows of glass 
through which we could see excellently the scenery; but 
those windows were fast ; they would not open ; they were 
not made to open. The atmosphere was always thick when 
I went in for breakfast in the morning, and I used to make 
desperate efforts to get the little windows that ran round 
the top opened. I could not do it myself, as you had to get 
on the roof of the saloon, the deck where the look-out stood, 
and anyhow they were only little things, a foot high by two 
feet broad. But such an innovation was evidently regarded 
as dangerous. Besides the fact that draughts were bad, 
I have been assured that perhaps it was going to rain — 
the rain couldn't come in both sides — and at night I was 


assured they couldn't be opened because the Hghts would 
be confusing to other steamers ! 

Nobody seemed to mind an atmosphere you could have 
cut with a knife. I am sure if the walls had been taken away 
it would have stood there in a solid block — a dark-colouied, 
high-smelling block, I should think. I gave up trying to do 
good to a community against its will and used to cany my 
meals outside and have them on the little tables that were 
dotted about the deck. 

After all, bar that little difficulty about the air — and 
certainly if right goes with the majority I have no cause of 
complaint, I was in a minority of one — those steamers made 
the most comfortable and cheapest form of travelling I have 
ever undertaken. From Kharbarosvk to Nikolayeusk for 
over three days' voyage my fare with a fii'st-class cabin to 
myself was twelve roubles — about one pound four shillings. 
I came back by the mail steamer and it was fifteen roubles 
— about one pound ten shillings. This, of course, does not 
include food. Food on a Russian steamer you buy as you 
would on a railway train. You may make arrangements 
with the restaurant and have breakfast, luncheon, afternoon 
tea and dinner for so much a day ; or you may have each 
meal separate and pay for it as you have it ; or you may buy 
your food at the various stopping-places, get your kettles 
filled with hot water for a trifling tip, and feed yom'self in 
the privacy of your own cabin. I found the simplest way, 
having no servant, was to pay so much a day — five shillings 
on the big steamers, four shillings on the smaller one — and 
live as I would do at a hotel. The food was excellent on the 
Amur Company's ships. We had chicken and salmon — not 
much salmon, it was too cheap — and sturgeon. Sturgeon, 
that prince of fish, was a treat, and caviare was as common as 


marmalade used to be on a British breakfast-table. It was 
generally of the red variety that we do not see here and looked 
not unlike clusters of red currants, only I don't know that I 
have ever seen currants in such quantities. I enjoyed it 
very much till one day, looking over the railing into the 
stern of the boat, where much of the food was roughly 
prepared — an unwise thing to do — I saw an extremely dirty 
woman of the country, a Gilyak, in an extremely dirty 
garment, with her dirty bare arms plunged to the elbow 
in the red caviare she was preparing for the table. Then 
I discovered for a little while that I didn't much fancy 
caviare. But I wish I had some of that nice red caviare 

The second class differed but little fiom the first. There 
was not so much decoration about the saloons, and on the 
John Cockerill, where the first class had two rooms, they had 
only one ; and the food was much the same, only not so many 
courses. There was plenty, and they only paid three shillings 
a day for the four meals. The people were much the same 
as we in the first class, and I met a girl from Samara, in 
Central Russia, who spoke a little French. She was a 
teacher and was going to Nikolayeusk for a holiday exactly 
as I have seen teachers here in England go to Switzerland. 

But between the first and second and the third and 
fourth class was a gicat gulf fixed. They were both on the 
lower deck, the third under the first and the fourth under 
the second, while amidships between them were the kitchens 
and the engines and the store of wood for fuel. Tlie third 
had no cabins, but the people went to bed and apparently 
spent their days in places like old-fashioned dimier-wagons ; 
and they bought their own food, either from the steamer or 
at the various stopping-places, and ate it ontheu' beds, for 
they had no saloon. The fouith class was still more primi- 


tive. The passengers, men, women and children, were packed 
away upon shelves rising in three tiers, one above the other, 
and the place of each man and woman was marked out by- 
posts. There was no effort made to provide separate accom- 
modation for men and women. As far as I could see, they 
all herded together like cattle. 

The ship was crowded. The Russian colonel's wife and I 
used to walk up and down the long decks for exercise, with 
Buchanan in attendance, she improving her English and I 
learning no Russian. It is evidently quite the custom for 
the people of the great towns of the Amm* to make every 
sunmier an excursion up the river, and the poorer people, 
the third and fourth class, go up to Nikolayeusk for the 
fishing. Hence those shelves crowded with dirty folk. 
There were troughs for washing outside the fourth class, I 
discovered, minor editions of om* luxurious bathrooms in 
the first class, but I am bound to say they did not have 
much use. Washing even in this hot weather, and it 
certainly was pleasantly warm, was more honom-ed in the 
breach than in the observance. The only drawback to the 
bathrooms in the first class, from my point of view, was their 
want of air. They were built so that apparently there was 
no means of getting fresh air into them, and I always regarded 
myself as a very plucky woman when in the interests of 
cleanliness I had a bath. The hot water and the airlessness 
always brought me to such a condition of faintness that I 
generally had to rush out and lie on the couch in my cabin 
to recover, and then if somebody outside took it upon them 
to bang to the window I was reduced to the last gasp. 

The John Cockerill was run like a man-of-war. The bells 
struck the hours and half-hours, the captain and officers were 
clad in white and brass-bound, and the men were in orthodox 
sailor's rig. One man came and explained to me — he spoke 


no tongue that I could understand, but his meaning was 
obvious — that Buchanan was not allowed on the first-class 
deck, the rules and regulations, so said the colonel's wife, 
said he was not ; but no one seemed to object, so I thought 
to smooth matters by paying half-a-rouble ; then I found that 
every sailor I came across apparently made the same state- 
ment, and having listened to one or two, at last I decided 
to part with no more cash, and it was, I suppose, agreed that 
Buchanan had paid his footing, for they troubled me no 
more about him. 

Three or four times a day we pulled up at some little 
wayside place, generally only two or three log-houses with 
painted doors or windows, an occasional potato patch and 
huge stacks of wood to replenish the fuel of the steamer, 
and with much yelling they put out a long gangway, and 
while the wood was brought on board we all went ashore 
to see the country. The country was always exactly alike, 
vast and green and lonely, the sparse human habitations 
emphasising that vastness and loneliness. The people were 
few. The men wore belted blouses and high boots and very 
often, though it was summer, fur caps, and the women very 
voluminous and very dirty skirts with unbelted blouses, 
a shawl across their shoulders and a kerchief on their un- 
kempt hair. They were dirty ; they were untidy ; they were 
uneducated ; they belonged to the very poorest classes ; and 
I think I can safely say that all the way from Kharbarosvk 
to Nikolayeusk the only attempt at farming I saw was in a few 
scattered places where the grass had been cut and tossed up 
into haycocks. And yet those people impressed upon me a 
sense of their virility and strength, a feeling that I had nevei* 
had when moving among the Chinese, where every inch of 
land — bar the graves — is turned to good account. Was it 
the condition of the women ? I wonder. I know I never 


saw one of those stalwart women pounding along on her 
big flat feet without a feeling of gladness and thankfulness. 
Here at least was good material. It was crude and rough, 
of course, but it was there waiting for the wheel of the potter. 
Shall we find the potter in the turmoil of the revolution 
and the war ? 

We went on, north, north with a little of east, and it grew 
cooler and the twilight grew longer. I do not know how 
other people do, but I count my miles and realise distances 
from some distance I knew well in my youth. So I 
know that from Kharbarosvk to Nikolayeusk is a little 
farther away than is Melbourne from Sydney ; and always 
we went by way of the great empty land, by way of the 
great empty river. Sometimes far in the distance we could 
see the blue hills ; sometimes the hills were close ; but always 
it was empty, because the few inhabitants, the house or two 
at the little stopping-places where were the piles of wood 
for the steamer, but emphasised the loneliness and emptiness. 
You could have put all the people we saw in a street of a 
suburb of London and lost them, and I suppose the distance 
traversed was as far as from London to Aberdeen. It was 
a beautiful land, a land with a wondrous charm, but it is 
waiting for the colonist who will dare the rigours of the winter 
and populate it. 

At last we steamed up to the port of Nikolayeusk, set at 
the entrance of the shallow Sea of Okhotsk, right away in 
the east of the world. \Mien I set foot upon the wharf 
among all the barrels with which it was packed I could 
hardly believe I had come so far east, so far away fiom my 
regular beat. One of my brothers always declares I sent 
him to sea because my sex prevented me from going, and yet 
here I was, in spite of that grave disadvantage, in as remote 
a corner of the earth as even he might have hoped to attain. 



It was a July day, sunny and warm. They had slain an 
Austrian archduke in Serbia and the world was on the verge 
of the war of the ages, but I knew nothing of all that. I 
stepped off the steamer and proceeded to investigate 
Nikolayeusk, well satisfied with the point at which I had 



Nikola YEUSK seemed to me the ends of the earth. I hardly 
know why it should have done so, for I arrived there by 
way of a very comfortable steamer and I have made my 
way to very much more ungetatable places. I suppose the 
explanation is that all the other places I have visited I had 
looked up so long on the map that when I arrived I only felt 
I was attaining the goal I had set out to reach, whereas I 
must admit I had never heard of Nikolayeusk till Mr Sly, 
the British consul, sketched it out as the end of my itinerary 
on the Siberian rivers, and ten days later I found myself 
in the Far Eastern to^\^l. I remember one of my brothers 
writing to me once from Petropaulovski : 

" I always said my address would some day be Kamscatkha 
and here I am ! " 

Well, I never said my address would be Nikolayeusk 
because I had never heard of it, but here I was nevertheless. 
The weather was warm, the sun poured down from a cloud- 
less blue sky, and in the broad, grass-groA\Ti streets, such 
streets have I seen in Australian towns, when the faint breeze 
stirred the yellow dust rose on the air. And the to^vn 
straggled all along the northern side of the river, a to^\Ti 
of low, one-storeyed wooden houses for the most part, with 
an occasional two-storeyed house and heavy shutters to all 
the. windows. There was a curious absence of stone, and 
the streets when they were paved at all were, as in Khar- 
barosvk, lines of planks, sometimes three, sometimes five 


planks wide, with a waste of dust or mud or grass, as the case 
might be, on either side. 

The Russians I found kindness itself. In Vladivostok I 
had met a man who knew one of my brothers — I sometimes 
wonder if I could get to such a remote corner of the earth 
that I should not meet someone who knew one of these 
ubiquitous brothers of mine — and this good friend, having 
sampled the family, took me on trust and found someone 
else who would give me a letter to the manager of the Russo- 
Asiatic Bank at Nikolayeusk. Tliis was a godsend, for 
Mr Pauloff spoke excellent English, and he and his corre- 
sponding clerk, a Russian lady of middle age who had spent 
a long time in France, took me in hand and showed me the 
sights. Madame Schulmann and I and Buchanan drove all 
over the town in one of the most ancient victorias I have 
ever seen — ^the most ancient are in Saghalien, which is 
beyond the ends of the earth — and she very kindly took me 
to a meal at the principal hotel. I was staying on board 
the steamer while I looked around me. The visit with this 
lady decided me not to go there. It was about four o'clock 
in the afternoon, so I don't know whether our meal was 
dinner or tea or luncheon ; we had good soup, I remember, 
and nice wine, to say nothing of excellent coffee, but the 
atmosphere left much to be desired. I don't suppose the 
windows ever had been opened since the place was built, and 
no one seemed to see any necessity for opening them. My 
hostess smiled at my distress. She said she liked fresh air 
herself but that for a whole year she had lodged in a room 
where the windows would not open. She had wanted to 
have one of the panes — not the window, just one of the 
panes — made to open to admit fresh air, and had offered to 
do it at her own expense, but her landlord refused. It 
would spoil the look of the room. She advised me strongly 


if I wanted fresh air to stay as long as I could on board the 
steamer at the wharf, and I decided to take her advice. 

The Russo-Asiatic Bank was not unlike the banks I have 
seen in Australian townships, in that it was built of wood 
of one storey and the manager and his wife lived on 
the premises, but the roof was far more ornamental than 
Australia could stand and gave the touch of the East that 
made for romance. The manager was good enough to ask 
me to dinner and to include Buchanan in the invitation 
because I did not like to leave the poor little chap shut up 
in my cabin. Tliis was really dinner, called so, and we had 
it at five o'clock of a hot summer's afternoon, a very excellent 
dinner, with delicious sour cream in the soup and excellent 
South Australian wine, not the stuff that passes for Australian 
wine in England and that so many people take medicinally, 
but really good wine, such as Australians themselves drink. 
The house was built with a ciu-ious lack of partitions that 
made for spaciousness, so that you wandered from one room 
to another, hardly knowing that you had gone from the 
sitting-room to the bedroom, and James Buchanan going 
on a voyage of discovery unfortunately found the cradle, 
to the dismay of his mistress. He stood and looked at it 
and barked. 

" Gracious me ! What's this funny thing ! I've never 
seen anytliing like it before ! " 

Neither had I ; but I was covered with shame when a 
wail proclaimed the presence of the son and heir. 

Naturally I expressed myself — truly — charmed with the 
town, and Mr Pauloff smiled and nodded at his wife, who 
spoke no English. 

" She hates it," said he ; " she has never been well since 
we came here." 

She was white, poor little girl, as the paper on which this 


is written, and very frail-looking, but it never seemed to 
occur to anyone that it Avould be well to open the double 
windows, and so close was the air of the room that it made 
me feel sick and faint. 

" She never goes out," said her husband. " She is not 
well enough." 

I believe there was a time in our grandmothers' days 
when we too dreaded the fresh air. 

And in this the town differed markedly from any Australian 
towns I have known. The double windows were all tight 
shut these warm July days, with all the cracks stopped up 
with cotton wool, with often decorations of coloured ribbons 
or paper wandering across the space between. Also there were 
very heavy shutters, and I thought these must be to shut 
out the winter storms, but M. Pauloff did not seem to think 
much of the winter storms, though he admitted they had 
some bad blizzards and regularly the thermometer went 
down below - 40° Fahrenheit. 

" No," he said, " we shut them at night, at four in the 
winter and at nine in the summer. Leave them open you 

" But why ? " I thought it was some device for keeping 
out still more air. 

" There is danger," said he — " danger from men." 

" Do they steal ? " said I, surprised. 

" And kill," he added with conviction. 

It seems that when the Japanese invaded Saghalien, the 
great island which lies opposite the mouth of the Amur, 
they liberated at least thirty thousand convicts, and they 
burnt the records so that no one could prove anything 
against them, and the majority of these convicts were un- 
luckily not all suffering political prisoners, but criminals, many 
of them of the deepest dye. These first made Saghalien an 


unwholesome place to live in, but gradually they migrated 
to the mainland, and Nikolayeusk and other to-\vns of 
Eastern Siberia are by no means safe places in consequence. 
Madame Schulmann told me that many a time men were 
killed in the open streets and that going back to her lodgings 
on the dark \vinter evenings she was very much afraid and 
always tried to do it in daylight. 

Nikolayeusk is officially supposed to have thirteen thousand 
inhabitants, but really in the winter-time, says Mr Pauloff, 
they shrink to ten thousand, while in the siunmer they rise 
to over forty thousand, everybody coming for the fishing, 
the great salmon fisheries. 

" Here is noting," said he, " noting — only fish." 

And this remark he made at intervals. He could not 
reiterate it too often, as if he were warning me against 
expecting too much from this remote corner of the world. 
But indeed the fish interested me. The summer fishing 
was on while I was there, but that, it seems, is as nothing 
to the autumn fishing, when the fish rush into the ^v'ide river 
in solid blocks. The whole place then is given over to the 
fishing and the other trades that fishing calls into being to 
support it. All the summer the steamers coming down the 
river are crowded, and they bring great cargoes of timber ; 
the wharves when I was there were covered yvith. barrels 
and packing-cases containing, according to Mr Pauloff, 
" only air." These were for the fish. And now, when the 
humble mackerel costs me at least ninepence or a shilling, 
I remember vnth longing the days when I used to see a man 
like a Chinaman, but not a Chinaman, a bamboo across his 
shoulder, and from each end a great fresh salmon slung, a 
salmon that was nearly as long as the bearer, and I could 
have bought the two for ten kopecks ! 

He that will not when he may ! 


But great as the trade was down the river, most eatables 
— ^groceries, flour and such-like things — came from Shanghai, 
and the ships that brought them took back wood to be made 
into furniture, and there was, when I was there, quite a 
flourishing trade in frozen meat with Australia, Nikolayeusk 
requiring about two hundred and forty thousand pounds 
in the year. In winter, of course, all the provisions are 
frozen ; the milk is poured into basins, a stick is stuck in it 
and it freezes round it, so that a milk-seller instead of having 
a large can has an array of sticks on top of which is the milk 
frozen hard as a stone. Milk, meat, eggs, all provisions are 
frozen from October to May. 

I do not know what Nikolayeusk is doing now war and 
revolution have reached it. At least they have brought it 
into touch with the outer world. 

And having got so far I looked longingly out over the 
harbour and wondered whether I might not go to Saghalien. 

Mr Pauloff laughed at my desires. If there was nothing 
to see in Nikolayeusk, there was less than nothing in 
Saghalien. It was dead. It never had been much and the 
Japanese invasion had killed it. Not that he harboured 
any animosity against the Japanese. Russians and Japanese, 
he declared, were on very friendly terms, and though they 
invaded Saghalien they did not disgrace their occupation 
by any atrocities. The Russian, everybody declared in 
Nikolayeusk, bridges the gulf between the white man and 
the yellow. Russian and Chinese peasants will work side by 
side in friendliest fashion ; they will occupy the same boarding- 
houses ; the Russian woman does not object to the Chinese as 
a husband, and the Russian takes a Chinese wife. Of course 
these are the peasant classes. The Russian authorities made 
very definite arrangements for keeping out Chinese from 
Siberia, as I saw presently when I went back up the river. 


But the more I thought of it the more determined I 
was not to go back till I had gone as far east as I possibly 
could go. The Russian Volunteer fleet I found called at 
Alexandrovsk regularly during the months the sea was 
open, making Nikolayeusk its most northern port of call. 
I could go by the steamer going do^vn and be picked up by 
the one coming north. It would give me a couple of days 
in the island, and Mr Pauloff was of opinion that a couple 
of days would be far too long. 

But the John Cockerill was going back and Buchanan and 
I must find another roof and a resting-place. According to 
the inhabitants, it would not be safe to sleep in the streets, 
and I had conceived a distinct distaste for the hotel. But 
the Erivan lay in the stream and to that we transferred 
ourselves and our belongings, where the mate spoke English 
with a strong Glasgow accent and the steward had a smatter- 
ing. It was only a smattering, however. I had had a very 
early lunch and no afternoon tea, so when I got on board 
at six in the evening I was decidedly hungry and demanded 
food, or rather when food might be expected. The steward 
was in a dilemma. It was distinctly too early for dinner, 
he considered, and too late for tea. He scratched his head. 

" Lunch ! " said he triumphantly, and ushered me into 
the saloon, where hung large photographs of the Tsar, the 
Tsarina and the good-looking little Tsarevitch. In the 
corner was an ikon, St Nicolas, I think, who protects sailors. 
And there at six o'clock in the evening I meekly sat down 
to luncheon all by myself. 

Lying there I had a lovely view of the town. At night, 
like Vladivostok, it lay like a ring of diamonds along the 
shore of the river ; and in the daytime the softly rounded 
green hills, the grey-blue sky and the grey-blue sea with 
the little white wavelets, and the little town just a line 


between the green and the blue, with the spires and domes 
of the churches and other pubHc buildings, green and blue 
and red and white, made a view that was worth coming so 
far to see. There were ships in the bay too — not very big 
ships ; but a ship always has an attraction : it has come from 
the unknown ; it is about to go into the unknown — and as 
I sat on deck there came to me the mate with the Scots 
accent and explained all about the ships in sight. 

The place was a fort and they were going to make it a great 
harbour, to fill it up till the great ships should lie along the 
shore. It will take a good time, for we lay a long way out, 
but he never doubted the possibility; and meantime the 
goods come to the ships in the lighters in which they have 
already come down the river, and they are worked by 
labourers getting, according to the mate, twelve sliillings 
a day. 

" Dey carry near as much as we do," said he. 

Then there were other ships : a ship for fish, summer fish, 
for Japan, sealers for the rookeries, and ships loading timber 
for Kamscatkha. I thought I would like to emulate my 
brother and go there, and the Russky mate thought it would 
be quite possible, only very uncomfortable. It would take 
three months, said he, and it was rather late in the season 
now. Besides, these ships load themselves so with timber 
that there is only a naiTOw space on deck to walk on, and 
they are packed with passengers, mostly labourers, going up 
for the short summer season. 

My old trouble, want of air, followed me on board the 
Erivan. On deck it was cool, at night the thermometer 
registered about 55° Fahrenheit, but in my cabin Buchanan 
and I gasped with the thermometer at over 90°, and that 
with the port, a very small one, open. That stuffiness was 
horrible. The bathroom looked like a boiler with a tight- 


fitting iron door right amidships, and having looked at it 
I had not the courage to shut myself in and take a bath. 
It seemed as if it would be burying myself alive. As it was, 
sleep down below I could not, and I used to steal up on deck 
and with plenty of rugs and cushions lay myself out along 
the seats and sleep in the fresh air ; but a seat really does 
leave something to be desired in the way of luxury. 

But the early mornings were delightful. The first faint 
light showed a mist hanging over the green hills marking 
out their outlines, green and blue and grey ; then it was all 
grey mist ; but to the east was the crimson of the dawn, and 
we left our moorings early one morning and steamed into 
that crimson. The sun rose among silver and grey clouds, 
and rose again and again as we passed along the river and 
the mountains hid him from sight. There were long streaks 
of silver on the broad river ; slowly the fir-clad liills emerged 
from the mist and the air was moist and fragrant ; the scent 
of the sea and the fragrance of the pines was in it. A 
delicious, delicate northern sunrise it was ; never before or 
since have I seen such a sunrise. Never again can I possibly 
see one more beautiful. 

And the great river widened. There were little settle- 
ments, the five-pointed tents of the Russian soldiers and 
many places for catching fish. No wonder the fish — fish 
is always salmon here — like this great wide river. The 
bro^vnish water flowed on swiftly and the morning wind 
whipped it into never-ending ripples that caught the sun- 
light. A wonderful river ! A delightful river ! I have 
grown enthusiastic over many rivers. I know the Murray 
in my own land and the great rivers of tropical Africa, the 
Congo, the Gambia, the Yolta, grand and lovely all of them. 
I felt I had looked upon the glory of the Lord when I had 
looked upon them, but there was something in the tender 


beauty of the Amur, the summer beauty veiled in mist, the 
beauty that would last so short a time, that was best of all. 

Meanwhile the passengers and officers of the Erivan were 
much exercised in their minds over me. What could an 
Englishwoman want in Saghalien ? To my surprise I 
found that none had ever stayed there before, though it was 
on record that one had once landed there from a steamer. 
The mate was scathing in his remarks. 

" Dere are skeeters," said he, " big ones, I hear," and 
he rolled his " r's " like a true Scotsman. 

" But where can I stay ? " He shook his head. 

*' In de hotel you cannot stay. It is impossible." That 
I could quite believe, but all the same, if the hotel was 
impossible, where could I stay ? 

However, here I was, and I did not intend to go back 
to Vladivostok by sea. At Alexandrosvk, the town of 
Saghalien, I proposed to land and I felt it was no good 
worrying till I got there. 

We entered De Castries Bay in a soft grey mist, a mist 
that veiled the mountains behind. Then the mist lifted 
and showed us the string of islands that guard the mouth 
of the bay, strung in a line like jewels set in the sea, and the 
hills on them were all crowned with firs ; and then the mist 
dropped again, veiling all things. 

It was a lonely place, where I, being a foreigner, was not 
allowed to land, and we did not go close up to the shore, but 
the shore came to us in great white whale-boats. Many 
peasants and soldiers got off here, and I saw saws and spades 
in the bundles, the bundles of emigrants. There were a few 
women amongst them, women with hard, elemental faces, 
so different from the Chinese, that were vacuous and refined. 
I remembered the women who had listened to the lecturer at 


Fen Chou Fu and I drew a long sigh of relief. It was re- 
freshing to look at those big-hipped women, with their broad, 
strong feet and their broad, strong hands and the little dirty 
kerchiefs over their heads. Elemental, rough, rude, but I 
was glad of them. One was suckling a child in the boat, 
calmly, as if it were the most natural thing to do, and some- 
how it was good to see it. The beginning of life. 

The morning brought a dense mist, and as it cleared away 
it showed us a sparkling, smooth sea, grepsh-blue like the 
skies above it, and a little wooden towTi nestling against fir- 
clad hills. We had arrived at Alexandrosvk and I wondered 
what would become of me. 

And then once again I learned what a kind place is this old 
world of ours that we abuse so often. I had gone on board 
that steamer without any introduction whatever, with only 
my passport to show that I was a respectable member of 
society. 1 knew nobody and saw no reason whatever 
why anyone should trouble themselves about me. But we 
carried distinguished passengers on board the Erivan. There 
was the Vice-Governor of Saghalien, his wife and son, with 
the soldiers in attendance, and a good-looking young fellow 
with short-cropped hair and dreamy eyes who was the 
Assistant Chief of Police of the island, and this man, by 
command of the Governor, took me in charge. 

Never again shall I hear of the Russian police without 
thinking of the deep debt of gratitude that I owe to Vladimir 
Merokushoff of Saghalien. 

I do not think as a rule that people land from steamers at 
Alexandrosvk on to red tapestry carpets under fluttering 
bmiting to the strains of a band. But we did ; and the Chief 
of Police — he spoke no language but Russian — motioned me 
to wait a moment, and when the Governor had been safely 


despatched to his home he appeared on the scene with a 
victoria and drove me and Buchanan to the pohce station, a 
charming little one-storeyed building buried in greenery, and 
there he established us. Buchanan he appreciated as a dog 
likes to be appreciated, and he gave up to me his own bed- 
room, where the top pane of the window had actually been 
made to open. His sitting-room was a very bower of gi'ow- 
ing plants, and when I went to bed that night he brought his 
elderly working housekeeper, a plain-faced woman whom he 
called " Stera," and made her bring her bed and lay it across 
my door, which opened into the sitting-room. It was no 
good my protesting ; there she had to sleep. Poor old thing, 
she must have been glad my stay was not long. Every day 
she wore a blue skirt and a drab-coloured blouse, unbelted, 
and her grey hair twisted up into an untidy knot behind, but 
she was an excellent cook. That young man got himself 
into his everyday hoUand summer coat and to entertain me 
proceeded to lay in enough provisions to supply a hungry 
school. He showed me the things first to sec if I liked them, 
as if I wouldn't have liked shark M'hen people were so kind. 
But as a matter of fact everything was very good. He 
produced a large tin of crawling crayfish, and when I had 
expressed not only my approval but my delight, they ap- 
peared deliciously red and white for dimier, and then I found 
they were only sakouska — that is, the hors d'ceuvre that the 
Russians take to whet their appetites. I have often lived 
well, but never better than when I, a stranger and a sojourner, 
was taken in charge by the hospitable Russian police, who 
would not let me pay one penny for my board and lodging. 
We fed all day long. I had only to come in for a bottle of 
wine or beer to be produced. I was given a gens d'arrne to 
carry my camera and another to take care of Buchanan. 
Never suiely was stranger so well done as I by hospitable 


Saghalien. The policeman made me understand he was an 
author and presented me with a couple of pamphlets he had 
written on Saghalien and its inhabitants, but though I 
treasure them I cannot read them. Then the Japanese 
photographer was sent for and he and I were taken sitting 
side by side on the bench in his leafy porch, and, to cro^vn all, 
because I could speak no Russian, he sent for two girls who 
had been educated in Japan and who spoke English almost 
as well as I did myself, though they had never before spoken 
to an Englishwoman. Marie and Lariss Borodin were they, 
and their father kept the principal store in Alexandrosvk. 
They were dainty, pretty, dark-eyed girls and they were a 
godsend to me. They had a tea in my honour and intro- 
duced me to the manager of the coal mine of Saghalien and 
took care I should have all the information about the island 
it was in their power to supply. 

There were then about five thousand people there, one 
thousand in Alexandrosvk itself, but they were going daily, 
for the blight of the convict was over the beautiful land. 
The best coal mine is closed down on fire and the one whose 
manager I met was leased to a company by the year and 
worked by Chinese on most primitive lines. There is gold, 
he told me, this business man who surprised me by his lavish 
use of perfume, but he did not know whether it would pay 
for working — gold and coal as well would be almost too 
much good luck for one island — and there is naphtha every- 
where on the east coast, but as it has never been struck they 
think that the main vein must come up somewhere under 
the sea. Still it is there waiting for the enterprising man 
who shall work it. 

Saghalien used to be as bad as Nikolayeusk, they told me, 
after the Japanese had evacuated the northern part ; but 
now the most enterprising section of the convicts had 


betaken themselves to the mainland, and though the free 
settlers were few and far between, and the most of the people 
I saw were convicts, they were the harmless ones with all 
the devihnent gone out of them. 

Alexandrosvk is a place of empty houses. When the 
Japanese came the people fled, leaving everything exactly as 
it was ; and though the Japanese behaved with admirable 
restraint, considering they came as an invading army, many 
of these people never came back again, and the alertness in 
a bad cause which had sent many of the convicts there 
against their will sent them away again as soon as they were 
free. All down by the long wooden pier which stretches 
out into the sea are great wooden storehouses and barracks, 
empty, and a monument, if they needed it, to the courteous 
manner in which the Japanese make war. They had burnt 
the museum, they told me, and opened the prison doors and 
burnt the prison, but the other houses they had spared. And 
so there were many, many empty houses in Alexandrosvk. 

All the oldest carriages in the world have drifted to Sagha- 
lien. They are decrepit in Western Siberia, they are worse, 
if possible, in the East, but in the island of Saghalien I really 
don't know how they hold together. Perhaps they are not 
wanted very often. I hired the most archaic victoria I have 
ever seen and the two girls came for a drive with me all round 
the town and its neighbourhood. It was a drive to be 
remembered. The early summer was in all its full freshness, 
the red and white cows stood knee-deep in grass that was 
green and lush everywhere. There were fir-trees on the hills 
and on every spur of the hills, and there were hedges with 
dog-roses blossoming all over them ; there were fields of 
dark blue iris ; there were little red tiger lilies and a spiked 
heliotrope flower like veronica, only each bloom gi*ew on a 
single stalk of its own j there were purple vetches and white 


spiraea growing in mai-shy places, and the land was thick with 
sweet-scented clover among which the bees were humming, 
and in a little village there was a Greek church that, set in its 
emerald-green field, was a very riot of colour. There were 
balls on the roof of royal blue, the roof itself was of pale green, 
the walls were of brown logs untouched by paint and the 
window edges were picked out in white. I photographed that 
picturesque little church, as I did the peasant women stand- 
ing at the doors of their log huts and the queer old shandiy- 
dan in which we drove, but alas ! all my photographs perished 
miserably in Russia. The girls wondered that I liked town 
and country so much, that I saw so much beai|ty in every- 

" Ah ! Madame," they sighed, " but you can go away to- 
morrow ! If only we could go ! " 

They had been educated at a convent and they produced 
the English books they had read. They were very apologetic 
but they had found them rather tame. Had I read them ? 
I smiled, for they all turned out to be the immortal works 
of Charles Garvice ! 

And we had tea in the dining-room, where father slept 
because they were rather crowded, the store took up so 
much room ; and it was a very nice tea too, with raspberry 
jam in saucers, which we ate Russian fashion with a spoon, 
and the roses in the garden tapped against the window-panes, 
asking to come in and join us, and Buchanan got what his 
soul loved, plenty of cake. They apologised because there 
was no fruit. No fioiit save berries ripen in Saghalien and 
the strawberries would not be ready till well on in August. 
No words of mine can tell how kind they were to the stranger. 

I went back in the long twilight that was so cool and 
restful and sat outside the leafy shaded police station and 
killed mosquitoes, for the mate had heard aright, there were 



" skeeters " and to spare, the sort to which Mark Twain 
took a gun. I watched the grey mist creeping slowly down, 
down the beautiful mountains, and when it had enveloped 
them the night was come and it was time to go in and have 
dinner and go to bed. 

Perhaps it would not do to stay long in Saghalien. There 
is nothing to do. She lies a Sleeping Beauty waiting the 
kiss of the Prince. Will this war awaken her ? The short 
time I was there I enjoyed every moment. 

The people seemed nondescript. The upper class were 
certainly Russians, and all the men wore military caps and 
had their hair clipped so close it looked shaven, but it would 
be utterly impossible to say to what nationality the peasant 
belonged. There were flaxen-haired Russians certainly, 
but then there were dark-bearded men, a Mongolian type, 
and there were many thrifty Chinese with queues, in 
belted blouses and high boots, generally keeping little 
eating-shops. There may have been Japanese, probably 
there were, seeing they hold the lower half of the island, but 
I did not notice them, and there is, I am afraid, in that 
place which is so full of possibilities absolutely nothing for 
that go-ahead nation to do. 

My pretty girls complained dreadfully. They looked 
after the shop and then there was nothing. In the winter 
they said they had skating and they liked the winter best, 
but the really bad time in places like Saghalien and Niko- 
layeusk were the two months when it was neither winter nor 
summer. Then their only means of communication with 
the outside world, the river and the sea, was too full of ice to 
admit of navigation and yet was not solid enough for dog- 
sled, so that if the telegraph broke down, and it very often 
did, they are entirely cut off from the world. Saghalien, of 
course, is worse off than the town, for on the mainland 


presumably there are roads of sorts that can be negotiated 
in case of necessity, but the island is entirely isolated. 
In the %N'inter the mails take five days coming across the 
frozen sea from the mainland, and often when there are 
storms they take much longer. Fancy living on an island 
that stretches over nearly ten degi-ees of latitude, which 
for five months in the year gets its mails by dog-sled 
and for two goes without them altogether ! On the whole, 
there may be drawbacks to living in Saghalien ! 

I left it at nine o'clock in the evening, after the darkness 
had fallen, and the police officer and the pretty girls saw me 
on board the steamer which was to take me back to Niko- 
layeusk. They loaded me with flowers and they were ftdl 
of regrets. 

" Oh, Madame, Madame, how lucky you are to get 
away from Saghalien ! " 

But I said truly enough that I felt my luck lay in getting 
there. And now that I sit in my garden in Kent and watch 
the beans coming into blossom and the roses into bloom, look 
at the beds gay with red poppies and violas, cream and 
pm-ple, or wander round and calculate the prospects of fruit 
on the cherry and the pear trees, I am still more glad to 
think that I know what manner of island that is that lies so 
far away in the Eastern world that it is almost West. 



On the 25th July 1914, at nine o'clock in the evening, I left 
Saghalien, and as the ship steamed away from the loom of 
the land into the night I knew that at last, after eighteen 
months of voyaging in the East, I had turned my face home- 
ward. I had enjoyed it, but I wanted to go home, and in 
my notebook I see evidences of this longing. 4^ last I was 
counting the days — one day to Nikolayeusk, tlu-ee days to 
ELharbarosvk, thi*ee days more to Blagoveschensk — and I was 
out in my calculations in the very beginning. The ships of 
the Volunteer fleet take their time, and we took tlu-ee days 
wandering along the island of Saghalien and calling at ports 
I should think mail steamer had never before called at before 
we turned again towards the mainland. 

And yet in a way it was interesting, for I saw some of the 
inhabitants of the island, the aboriginal inhabitants, I should 
never have othei-wise seen. Gilyaks they are, and the water 
seems their element. They have the long straight black 
hair of the Mongolian, and sometimes they were clad in furs 
— ^ragged and old and worn, the very last remains of furs — 
sometimes merely in dirty clothes, the cast-offs of far-away 

They live by the fish. There is nothing else. 

I tried hard to photograph these aborigines, using all sorts 
of guile to get them into focus. I produced cigarettes, I 
offered sugar, but as soon as they found out what I was about 
they at once fled, even though their boat was fastened 



against the gangway and it meant abandoning somebody 
who was on board. I did eventually get some photographs, 
but they shared the fate of the rest of my Russian pictures, 
and I am sorry, for I do not suppose I shall ever again have 
the chance of photogi'apliing the Gilyak in his native haunts. 
He belongs to a dying race, they told me, and there are few 
children amongst them. 

And though we lay long at De Castries Bay they would 
not let me take pictures there at all. It was forbidden, so I 
was reduced to doing the best I could through my cabin port. 
In Alexandrosvk the police officer had aided and abetted 
my picture-making, but in Nikolayeusk it was a forbidden 
pastime, for the town, for purposes of photography, was a 
fort, and when I boarded the Kanavina on the river, the 
post steamer bound for Blagoveschensk, I met vdth more 

There was on board a Mrs Marie Skibitsky and her hus- 
band, the headmaster of the Nikolayeusk " Real " School, 
and she spoke very good English and was a kind friend 
to me. Through her came a message from the captain to 
the effect that though he did not mind my photographing 
himself, it was forbidden in Russia, and he begged me not 
to do it when anyone was looking on. That made it pretty 
hopeless, for the ship was crowded and there was always not 
one person but probably a score of people taking a very 
great interest. The captain was not brass-bound as he had 
been in the John Cockerill, but he and all his officers were 
clad in khaki, with military caps, and it was sometime before 
I realised them as the ship's officers. The captain looked to 
me like a depressed corporal who was having difficulties mth 
his sergeant, and the ship, though they charged us three 
roubles more for the trip to Blagoveschensk than the Anur 
Company would have done, was dirty and ill-kept. It was 


in her I met the saloon the windows of which would not open, 
and the water in my cabin had gone wrong, and when I 
insisted that I could not be happy till I had some, it was 
brought me in a teapot ! They never struck the hours on 
this steamer as they had done on the John Cockerill, and 
gone was the excellent cook, and the food consisted largely 
of meat, of which I am bound to say there was any quantity. 

But in spite of all drawbacks the ship was crowded ; 
there were many officers and their wives on board, and 
there were many officers on board with women who were 
not their wives. These last were so demonstrative that I 
always took them for honeymoon couples till at last a 
Cossack officer whom I met farther on explained : 

" Not wives. Oh no ! It is always so ! It is just the 
steamer ! " 

Whether these little iiTcgularities were to be set down to 
the discomforts of the steamer or to the seductive air of the 
river, I do not know. Perhaps I struck a particularly amor- 
ous company. I am bound to say no one but me appeared 
to be embarrassed. It seemed to be all in the day's work. 

It was pleasant going up the river again and having beside 
me one who could explain things to me. Every day it grew 
warmer, for not only was the short northern summer reach- 
ing its zenith, but we were now going south again. And Mrs 
Skibitsky sat beside me and rubbed up her English and 
told me how in two years' time she proposed to bring her 
daughters to England to give them an English education, 
and I promised to look out for her and show her the ropes 
and how she could best manage in London. In two years' 
time ! And we neither of us knew that we were on the 
threshold of the greatest war in the world's history. 

I took the breaking out of that war so calmly. 

We arrived at Kharbarosvk. I parted from Mrs Skibitsky, 


who was going to Madivostok, and next day I looked up 
my friend the colonel's wife with whom I had travelled on 
the John Cockerill. She received me with open arms, but 
the household cat flew and spat and stated in no measured 
terms what she thought of Buchanan. The lady caught the 
cat before I realised what was happening and in a moment 
she had scored with her talons great red lines that spouted 
blood on her mistress's arms. She looked at them calmly, 
went into the kitchen, rubbed butter on her wounds and 
came back smiling as if nothing in the world had happened. 
But it was not nothing. I admired her extremely for a 
very brave woman. Presently her husband came in and she 
just drew down her sleeves to cover her torn arms and said 
not a word to him. He was talking earnestly and presently 
she said to me : 

" There is war ! " 

I thought she meant between Buchanan and the cat and 
I smiled feebly, because I was very much ashamed of the 
trouble I and my dog had caused, but she said again : 

" There is war ! Between Austria and Serbia ! " 

It did not seem to concern me. I don't know that I had 
ever realised Serbia as a distinct nationality at all before, 
and she knew so little English and I knew no Russian at all, 
so that we were not able to discuss the matter much, though 
it was evident that the colonel was very much excited. That, 
I thought, might be natural. He was a soldier. War was 
his business, thougli here, I think, he w^as engaged in training 

After the midday meal — dijeuner, I think we called it — she 
and I went for a walk, and presently down the wide streets 
of Kharbarosvk came a little procession of four led by a 
wooden-legged man bearing a Russian naval flag, the blue 
St Andrew's Cross on a white ground. I looked at them. 


They meant nothing to me in that great, empty street where 
the new Httle trees were just beginning to take root and 
the new red-brick post office dominated all minor buildings 
among many empty spaces. 

" They want war ! They ask for war ! " said my friend. 
I was witnessing my first demonstration against Germany ! 
And I thought no more of it than I do of the children 
playing in the streets of this Kentish village ! 

She saw me on to the steamer and bade me farewell, and 
then my troubles began. Not a single person on that steamer 
spoke English. However, I had always found the Russians 
so kind that the fact that we could not understand one 
another when the going was straight did not seem to matter 
very much. But I had not reckoned with the Russians at 

At Kharbarosvk the river forms the Chinese-Russian 
boundary and a little beyond it reaches its most southern 
point, about lat. 48°. But the China that was on our left 
was not the China that I knew. This was Manchuria, gi'een 
and fresh as Siberia itself, and though there was little or no 
agriculture beyond perhaps a patch of vegetables here and 
there, on both sides of the broad river was a lovely land of 
hills and lush grass and trees. Here were firs and pines 
and cedars, whose sombreness contrasted with the limes and 
elms, the poplars and dainty birches with which they were 
interspersed. The Russian towns were small, the merest 
villages, with here and there a church with the painted 
ball-like domes they affect, and though the houses were of 
unpainted logs, always the windows and doors were painted 

And at every little town were great piles of wood waiting 
for the steamer, and whenever we stopped men hastily set 
to work bringing in loads of wood to replace that which we 


had burnt. And we burnt lavishly. Even the magnificent 
forests of Siberia ^\^ll not stand this drain on them long. 

The other day when the National Service papers came 
round one was sent to a dear old " Sister " who for nearly all 
her lilVi has been working for the Church in an outlying 
district of London. She is past work now, but she can still 
go and talk to the old and sick and perhaps give advice 
about the babies, but that is about the extent of her powers. 
She looked at the paper and as in duty bound filled it in, 
giving her age as seventy. A\Tiat was her surprise then to 
receive promptly from the Department a suggestion that she 
should volunteer for service on the land, and offering her, by 
way of inducement, good wages, a becoming hat and high 
boots ! That branch of the Department has evidently 
become rather mechanical. Now the Russians all the way 
from Saghalien to Petrograd treated me with such unfailing 
kindness that I was in danger of wi-iting of them in the 
stereotj-ped fashion in which the National Service Depart- 
ment sent out its papers. Luckily they themselves saved 
me from such an error. There were three memorable, never- 
to-be-forgotten days when the Russians did not treat me 
with kindness. 

Tlie warmest and pleasantest days of my trip on the Amur 
we went through lovely scenery : the river was very wide, 
the blue sky was reflected in its blue waters and the green, 
tree-clad hills on either side opened out and showed beyond 
mountams in the distance, pmple and blue and alluring. 
It was the height of summer-time, summer at its best, a 
green, moist summer. We hugged the Russian bank, and 
the Manchurian bank seemed very far away, only it was 
possible to see that wherever the Russians had planted a 
little town on the other side was a Chinese town much bigger. 
The Russian were very little towns, and all the inhabitants. 


it seemed, turned out to meet us, who were their only link 
with the outside world. 

The minute the steamer came close enough ropes were 
flung ashore to moor it, and a gangway was run out very 
often — and it was an anxious moment for me with Buchanan 
standing on the end, for he was always the first to put dainty 
little paws on the gangway, and there he stood wliile it 
swayed this way and that before it could make up its mind 
where to finally settle down. Then there was a rush, and a 
stream of people going ashore for exercise passed a stream 
of people coming on board to sell goods. Always these took 
the form of eatables. Butter, bread, meat, milk, berries 
they had for sale, and the third and fourth class passengers 
bought eagerly. 

I followed Buchanan ashore, but I seldom bought anything 
unless the berries tempted me. Tliere were strawberries, rasp- 
berries and a blue berry which sometimes was very sweet 
and pleasant. 

At first the people had been very kind and taken a great 
deal of interest in the stranger and her pretty little dog, but 
after we left Kharbarosvk and I had no one to appeal to 
a marked change came over things. If I wanted to take a 
photograph, merely a photograph of the steamer lying against 
the bank, my camera was rudely snatched away and I was 
given to understand in a manner that did not require me to 
know Russian that if I did that again it would be worse for 
me. Poor little Buchanan was kicked and chunks of wood^ 
were flung at him. As I passed along the lower decks to 
and from the steamer I was rudely hustled, and on shore not 
only did the people crowd around me in a hostile manner, but 
to my disgUvSt they spat upon me. 

I could not understand the change, for even in the first- 
class saloon the people looked at me askance. And I had 


ten days of the river before I reached Stretensk, where I 
was to join the train. It is terrible to be alone among 
hostile people, and I kept Buchanan close beside me for 
company and because I did not know what might happen 
to him. If this had been China I should not have been 
surprised, but Russia, that had always been so friendly. 
I was mightily troubled. 

And then came the explanation, the very simple ex- 

Just as the river narrowed between the hills and looked 
more like a river, and turned north, there came on board at 
a tiny wayside town a tall yoimg Cossack officer, a sotnik 
of Cossacks, he called himself. He wore a khaki jacket and 
cap, and dark blue breeches and riding-boots. He had a 
great scar across his forehead, caused by a Chinese sword, 
and he had pleasant blue eyes and a row of nice white 
teeth. He was tall and goodly to look upon, and as I sat at 
afternoon tea at a little table on deck he came swaggering 
along the deck and stood before me with one hand on a 

" Madame, is it permitted ? " he asked in French. 

Of course Madame permitted and called for another glass 
and offered him some of her tea and cake. Possibly he had 
plenty of his own, but no matter, it was good to entertain 
someone in friendly fashion again after being an outcast for 
three days. And it took a little while to find out what was 
wrong, he was so very polite. 

" Madame understands we are at war ? " 

Madame opened her eyes in astonishment. What could a 
war in the Balkan Provinces have to do with her treatment 
on the Amur river thousands of miles in the East ? 

However, she said she did. 

" And Madame knows " He paused, and then very 


kindly abandoned his people. " Madame sees the people 
are bad ? " 

Madame quite agreed. They were bad. I had quite an 
appetite for my tea now that this nice young man was 
sympathising with me on the abominable behaviour of his 

He spread out his hands as if deprecating the opinion of 
such foolish people. " They think — on the ship — and on 
the shore — ^that Madame is a GERMAN ! " 

So it was out, and it took me a moment to realise it, so 
little had I realised the war. 

" A German ! " I did not put it in capital letters as he 
had done. I had not yet learned to hate the Germans. 

" A— spy ! " 

" Oh, good gracious ! " And then I flew for my pass- 

In vain that young man protested it was not necessary. 
He had felt sure from the moment he set eyes upon her that 
Madame was no German. He had told the captain — so the 
depressed corporal had been taking an interest in me — she 
might be French, or even from the noith of Spain, but cer- 
tainly not German. But I insisted on his looking at my 
passports and being in a position to swear that I was British, 
and from that moment we were friends and he constituted 
himself my champion. 

" The people are bad," he told me. " Madame, they are 
angry and they are bad. They may harm you. Here I go 
ashore with you ; at Blagoveschensk you get a protection 
order from the Governor written in Russian so that some- 
body may read." 

Then he told me about the war. Russia and France were 
fighting Germany. He had come from Tsitsihar, on the 
Mongolian border, across Manchuria, and before that he had 


come from Kodbo, right in the heart of the great Western 
Mongolian mountains, and he was going as fast as he could 
to Chita, and thence he supposed to the front. 

" C'est gai a la guerre, Madame, c'est gai ! " I hope so. 
I earnestly hope he found it so, for he was a good fellow and 
awfully good to me. 

He was a little disquieting too, for now it dawned upon 
me it would be impossible to go back through Germany 
with Germany at war with Russia, and my friend was equally 
sure it would be almost impossible to go by way of St 
Petersburg, as we called Petrograd then. Anyhow we were 
still in the Anur Province, in Eastern Siberia, so I did not 
worry much. Now that the people were friendly once more 
it all seemed so far away, and whenever we went ashore my 
Cossack friend explained matters. 

But he was a little troubled. 

" Madame, why does not England come in ? " he asked 
again and again, and I, who had seen no papers since I left 
Tientsin, and only The NoHh China Herald then, could not 
imagine what England had to do with it. The idea of a 
world war was out of the question. 

It was more interesting now going up the beautiful river, 
narrowed till it really did look like a river. I could see 
both banks quite plainly. My friend had been stationed 
here a year or tvvo before, and he told me that there were 
many tigers in the woods, and wild boar and bear, but not 
very many wolves. Aid the tigers were beautiful and fierce 
and dangerous, northern tigers that could stand the rigoms 
of the winter, and they did not wait to be attacked, they 
attacked you. There was a German professor in Blago- 
veschensk a year or two ago who had gone out butterfly- 
hunting, wliich one would think was a harmless and safe 
enough pastime to satisfy even a conscientious objector, 


and a tiger had got on his tracks and eaten him incontinently. 
They found only his butterfly net and the buttons of his 
coat when they went in search of him. 

The plague had broken out during this officer's stay on the 
river, and the authorities had drawn a cordon of Cossacks 
round to keep the terrified, plague-stricken people from flee- 
ing and spreading the disease yet farther, and he pointed out 
to me the house in which he and two comrades had lived. 
It was merely a roof pitched at a steep angle, and the low 
walls were embedded in earth ; only on the side facing the 
river was a little window — it did not open — and a door. A 
comfortless-looking place it was. 

" But why the earth piled up against the sides ? " I asked. 
It was sprouting grass now and yellow buttercups and looked 
gay and pretty, the only attractive thing about the place. 

" Madame, for the cold," said he, " for the cold." And 
remembering what they had told me about the cold of 
Kharbin, what I myself had experienced at Manchmia on 
the way out in much the same latitude as this, I could 
quite well believe that even sunk in the earth this poor 
little hut was not a very good protection against the cold. 

The river widened again, winding its way across a plateau. 
On the Chinese side were great oak forests where my Cossack 
told me were many pig that gave them good huntmg and 
many bees, but this was not China as I knew it. It was iii- 
habited, he said, by nomad tribes who were great horsemen, 
and we saw occasional villages and — a rare sight — cattle, red 
and white, standing knee-deep in the clear water. Particu- 
larly was I struck by the cattle, for in all those thousands 
of miles of travel I could count on my fingers — the fingers of 
one hand would be too many — the nimibers of times I saw 
herds of cattle. Once was in SaghaUen, and twice, I think, 
here, cmiously enough, for the pm*e Chinese does not use 


milk or butter on the Chinese side of the river. Of course 
there must have been cows somewhere, for there was plenty 
of milk, cream and butter for sale, but they were not in 
e\'idence from the river. 

On the Russian side the landing-places did not change 
much, only now among the women hawkers were Chinese 
in belted blouses, green, yellow, blue, pink, red ; they rioted 
in colour as they never did in their own land, and they all 
wore sea-boots. 

And still over twelve hundied miles from the sea it was a 
great river. And then at last I saw what I had been looking 
for ever since I embarked — fields of corn, corn ripe for the 
harvest. This was all this lovely land needed, a field of com ; 
but again it was not on the Russian side, but on the Chinese. 

The spires and domes of Blagoveschensk, the capital of 
the Amur Province, came into view. All along the Russian 
bank of the river lay this city of Eastern Siberia. Its 
buildings stood out against the clear sky behind it, and 
approacliing it was like coming up to a great port. The 
river, I should think, was at least a mile wide. I am not 
very good at judging distances, but it gave me the impression 
of a very wide river set here in the midst of a plain — ^that is, 
of course, a plateau, for we had come through the hills. 

And here my Cossack friend came to bid me good-bye and 
to impress upon me once again to go straight to the Governor 
for that protection order. He was sorry he could not see 
me through, but his orders were to go to Chita as fast as he 
could, and someone would speak English at Blagoveschensk, 
for it was a great city, and then he asked for the last tune : 

" But, Madame, why does not England come in ? " 

And then the question that had troubled me so was 
answered, for as we touched the shore men came on board 
wild with excitement, shouting, yelling, telling the war news, 


that very day, that very moment, it seemed, England had 
come in ! 

And I appeared to be the only representative of Britain 
in that corner of the world ! Never was there such a 
popular person. The sailor-men who worked the ship, the 
poorer third and fourth class passengers all came crowding 
to look at the Englishwoman. I had only got to say 
" Anglisky " to have everyone bowing down before me 
and kissing my hand, and my Cossack friend as he bade 
me good-bye seemed to think it hardly necessary to go to 
the Governor except that a member of a great Allied nation 
ought to be properly received. 

But I had been bitten once, and I determined to make 
things as safe as I could for the futm-e. So I got a droshky — 
a sort of tumble-down victoria, held together with pieces 
of string, and driven by a man who might have been 
Russian or might have been Chinese — and Buchanan and I 
went tlu'ough the dusty, sunny streets of the capital of the 
Amur Province to the viceregal residence. 



Blagoveschensk is built on much the same Hnes as all the 
other Siberian to^^^ls that I have seen, a wooden town mostly 
of one-storeyed houses straggling over the plain in wide 
streets that cut one another at right angles. Again it was 
not at all unlike an Australian town, a frontier town to all 
intents and purposes. The side-roads were deep in dust, 
and the principal shop, a great store, a sort of mild imitation 
of Harrod's, where you could buy everything from a needle 
to an anchor — I bought a dog-collar with a bell for Buchanan 
— was run by Germans. It was a specimen of Germany's 
success in peaceful penetration. It seemed as if she were 
throwing away the meat for the shadow, for they were intern- 
ing all those assistants — 400 of them. Now probably they 
form the nucleus of the Bolshevist force helping Germany. 

The Governor's house was on the outskirts of the town, 
and it was thronged with people, men mostly, and Buchanan 
and I v.ere passed from one room to another, evidently by 
people who had not the faintest notion of what we wanted. 
Everybody said "jBow/owr," and the Governor and every- 
body else kissed my hand. I said I was " Anglisky," and it 
seemed as if everybody in consequence came to look at me. 
But it didn't advance matters at all. 

I began to be hungry and tired, and various people 

tried questions upon me, but nothing definite happened. 

At last, after about two hours, when I was seriously thinking 

of giving up in despair, a tall, good-looking officer hi khaki 

o 209 


came in. He put his heels together and kissed my hand as 
courteously as the rest had done, and then informed me in 
excellent English that he was the Boundary Commissioner 
and they had sent for him because there was an English- 
woman arrived, and, while very desirous of being civil to 
the representative of their new Ally, nobody could make 
out what on earth she was doing here and what she wanted ! 

I told my story and it was easy enough then. He admired 
Buchanan properly, drove us both to his house, introduced 
me to his wife and made me out a most gorgeous protection 
order written in Russian. I have it still, but I never had 
occasion to use it. 

Opposite Blagoveschensk is a Chinese town which is 
called Sakalin, though the maps never give it that name, and 
in Vladivostok and Peking they call it various other names. 
But its right name is Sakalin, I know, for I stayed there for 
the best part of a week. 

At Sakalin the head of the Chinese Customs is a Dane, 
Paul Barentzen, and to him and his wife am I greatly be- 
holden. I had been given letters to them, and I asked my 
friend the kindly Russian Boundaiy Commissioner if he 
knew them. He did. He explained to me I must have a 
permit to cross the river and he would give me one for 
a week. A week seemed overlong, but he explained the 
Russian Government did not allow free traffic across the 
river and it was just as well to have a permit that would 
cover the whole of my stay. Even now, though I did stay 
my week, I have not fathomed the reason of these elaborate 
precautions, because it must be impossible to guard every 
little landing-place on the long, long, lonely river — ^there 
must be hundreds of places where it is easy enough to cross 
— only I suppose every stranger is liable sooner or later to 
be callctl upon to give an account of himself. 


The feiTies that crossed the Aniur to the Chinese side were 
great boats built to carry a large number of passengers, but 
the arrangements for getting across the river did justice to 
both Chinese and Russian mismanagement. Unlike the 
efficient Japanese, both these nations, it seems to me, aiTive 
at the end in view with the minimum amount of trouble to 
those in authority — that is to say, the maximmn of trouble 
to everybody concerned. The ferry-boats owing to local 
politics had a monopoly, and therefore went at their own 
sweet will just exactly when they pleased. There was a 
large and busy traffic, but the boats never went oftener 
than once an hour, and the approaches were just as primitive 
as they possibly could be. Tliere was one little shed with 
a seat running round where if you were fortunate you could 
sit down with the Chinese hawkers and wait for the arrival 
of the boat. And when it did come the passengers, after a 
long, long wait, came climbing up the rough path up the 
bank looking as if they had been searched to the skin. They 
let me through on the Chinese side and I found without any 
difficulty my way to Mr Paul Barentzen's house, a two- 
storeyed, comfortable house, and received a warm invitation 
from him and his wife to stay with them. 

It was a chance not to be missed. I was getting very 
weary, I was tired in every bone, so a chance like this to 
stay with kindly people who spoke my own language, on 
the very outskirts of the Cliinese Empire, was not to be 
lightly missed, and I accepted with gratitude, a gratitude 
I feel strongly. Mr Barentzen was a Dane, but he spoke as 
good English as I do, and if possible was more British. His 
wife was English. And that night he celebrated the coming 
into the war of Britain. He asked me and the Russian 
Boundary Conmiissioner and his wife and another Russian 
gentleman all to dimier in the gardens at Blagoveschensk, 


The place was a blaze of light, there were flags and lamps 
and bands everywhere, the whole city was en fete to do honour 
to the new addition to the Grande Entente. When we 
were tired of walking about the gardens we went inside to 
the principal restaui'ant that was packed with people dining, 
while on a stage various singers discoursed sweet music and 
waved the flags of the Allies, But the British flag had not 
got as far as the capital of the Amur Province. Indeed 
much farther west than that I found it represented by a red 
flag with black crosses di'awn on it, very much at the taste 
of the artist, and " Anglisky " written boldly across it to 
make up for any deficiency. 

Mr Barentzen had foreseen this difficulty and had provided 
us all with nice little silk specimens of the Union Jack to 
wear pinned on our breasts. About ten o'clock we sat down 
to a most excellent dinner, with stiu-geon and sour cream and 
caviare and all the good things that Eastern Siberia produces. 
A packed room also dined, while the people on the stage sang 
patriotic songs, and we were all given silk programmes as 
souvenirs. They sang the Belgian, the French and the 
Russian national anthems, and at last we asked for the 

Very comteously the conductor sent back word to say he 
was very sorry but the British national anthem was also 
a (German hymn and if he dared play it the people would 
tear him to pieces. Remembering my tribulations a little 
way down the river, I quite believed him, so I suggested as 
an alternative Rule, Britannia, but alas ! he had never heard 
of it. It was a deadlock, and we looked at one another. 

Then the tall Russian who was the other guest pushed his 
chair from the table, stood up, and saluting, whistled Rule, 
Britannia ! How the people applauded ! And so Britain 
entered the war in Far Eastern Siberia. 


We certainly did not go home till morning that day. For 
that matter, I don't think you are supposed to cross the river 
at night, not ordinary folk, Customs officials may have 
special privileges. At any rate I came back to my bunk 
on the steamer and an anxious little dog just as the day was 
breaking, and next day I crossed to Sakalin and stayed with 
the Barentzens. 

The Russians then took so much trouble to keep the 
Chinese on their own side of the river that the Russian 
officers and civil servants, much to the chagrin of their 
wives, were nowhere in the province allowed to have Chinese 
servants. The fee for a passport had been raised to, I think, 
twelve roubles, so it was no longer worth a Chinaman's 
while to get one to hawk a basket of vegetables, and the 
mines on the Zeya, a tributary of the Amur on the Russian 
side, had fallen off in their yield because cheap labour was 
no longer possible. The people who did get passports were 
the Chinese prostitutes, though a Chinese woman has not a 
separate identity in China and is not allowed a passport of 
her own. However, there are ways of getting over that. 
A man applied for a passport and it was granted him. He 
handed it over to the woman for a consideration, and on 
the other side any Chinese dociunent was, as a rule, all one 
to the Russian official. Remembering my own experience 
and how I had difficulty in deciding between my passport 
and my agreement with my muleteers, I could quite believe 
this story. 

Blagoveschensk is a regular frontier town and, according 
to Mr Barentzen, is unsafe. On the first occasion that 
I crossed the river with him I produced a hundred- 
rouble note. Almost before I had laid it do^^^l it was 
snatched up by the Chinese Commissioner of Customs. 

'* Are you mad ? " said he, and he crumpled up the note 


in his hand and held out for my acceptance a rouble. I 
tried to explain that not having change, and finding it a little 
awkward, I thought that this would be a good opportunity 
to get it, as I felt sure the man at receipt of custom must 
have plenty. 

" I dare say," said my host sarcastically. " I don't want 
to take away anybody's character, but I'll venture to say 
there are at least ten men A^ithin hail " — ^there was a 
crowd round — " who would joyfully cut your throat for 
ten roubles." 

He enlarged upon that theme later. We used to sit out 
on the balcony of his liouse looking out, not over the river, 
but over the town of Sakalin, and there used to come in 
the men from the B.A.T. Factory, a Russian in top-boots 
who spoke excellent English and a young American named 
Hyde. They told me tales, well, something like the stories I 
used to listen to in my childhood's days when we talked about 
" the breaking out of the gold " in Australia, tales of men 
who had washed much gold and then were lured away and 
murdered for their riches. Certainly they did not consider 
Blagoveschensk or Sakalin towns in which a woman could 
safely wander. In fact all the Siberian towns that they 
knew came under the ban. 

But of course mostly we talked about the war and how 
maddening it was only to get scraps of news through the 
telegraph. The young American was keen, I remember. 
I wonder if he really had patience to wait till his country 
came in. He talked then in the first week of the war of 
making his way back to Canada and seeing if he could 
enlist there, for even then we felt sure that the Outer 
Dominions would want to help the Motherland. And the 
Germans were round Li6ge — would they take it ? Associa- 
tion is a curious thing. Whenever I hear of Lidge I cannot 


help thinking, not of the Belgian city, but of a comfortable 
seat on a balcony -svith the shadows falling and the lights 
coming out one by one on the bath-houses that are dotted 
about a little town on the very outskirts of the Chinese 
Empire — ^the lights of the town. There are the sounds and 
the smells of the Chinese town mingling with the voices of 
the talkers and the fragrance of the coffee, and the air is 
close with the warmth of August. There comes back to 
me the remembrance of the keen young American who 
wanted to fight Germany and the young Russian in top- 
boots who was very much afraid he would only be used to 
guard German prisoners. 

Sakalin was cosmopolitan, but it had a leaning toward 
Russia, hence the bath-houses, an idea foreign to Chinese 
civilisation ; and when I got a piece of grit in my eye which 
refused to come out it was to a Japanese doctor I went, 
accompanied by my host's Chinese servant, who, having 
had the trouble stated by me in English, explained it to 
another man in Chinese, who in his turn told the doctor 
what was the matter in Russian. Luckily that man of 
medicine was ver\^ deft and I expect he could have managed 
very well without any explanation at all. I have the 
greatest respect for the Japanese leech I visited in Sakalin. 

On the Sunday we had a big picnic. The Russian Bound- 
ary Commissioner came across with his wife and little girls, 
Mrs Barentzen took her little girl and the Chinese Tao Tai 
lent us the light of his countenance. He was the feature 
of the entertainment, for he was a very big man, both liter- 
ally and socially, and could not move without a large follow- 
ing, so that an escort of mounted police took charge of us. 
The proper portly Chinaman of whom this retinue was in 
honour spoke no English, but smiled at me benevolently, 
and wore a petticoat and a Russian military cap ! The 


picnic was by a little brook about seven miles from the town 
and I shall always remember it because of the lush grass, 
waist -high, and the lovely flowers. I had looked at the 
Siberian flowers from the steamer when they were ungetat- 
able, I had gathered them with joy in Saghalien, and now 
here they were again just to my hand. In June they told 
me there were abundant lilies of the valley, and I regretted 
I had not been there in June. Truly I feel it would be a 
delight to see lilies of the valley growing wild, but as it was, 
the flowers were beautiful enough, and there were heaps of 
them. There were very fine Canterbury bells, a glorious 
violet flower and magnificent white poppies. Never have I 
gathered more lovely flowers, never before have I seen them 
growing wild in such amazing abundance. No one is more 
truly artistic than the average Chinese, and I think the Tao 
Tai must have enjoyed himself, though it is against the 
canons of good taste in China to look about you. 

Presently I was asking the chief magistrate's good offices 
for Buchanan, for he, my treasured Buchanan, was lost. 
In the Barentzens' house there was, of com-se, as in all well- 
regulated Chinese houses run by foreigners, a bathroom 
attached to every bedroom, and when I wanted a bath 
the servants filled ^vith warm water the half of a large 
barrel, which made a very excellent bath-tub. And having 
bathed myself, I bathed Buchanan, whose white coat got 
very dirty in the dusty Chinese streets. He ran away down- 
stairs and I lingered for a moment to put on my dress, and 
when I came down he was gone. High and low I hunted ; 
I went up and down the street calling his name, and I 
knew he would have answered, he always did, had he 
been within hearing. All tiie Customs men were turned 
out and I went to the Chinese Tao Tai, who promptly 
put on all the police. But Buchanan was gone for a 


night and I was in despair. Mr Barentzen's head boy 
shook his head. 

" Master saying," said he, *' mus' get back that dog." 
So I realised I was making a fuss, but for the moment I did 
not care. The Tao Tai gave it as his opinion that he had 
not been stolen. There were many little dogs like him in 
the town, said he, no one would steal one, which only shows 
a Chinese magistrate may not be infallible, for I was sure 
Buchanan would not stay away from me of his own free will. 

And then at last the servants turned up triiunphant, 
Buchanan, in the arms of the head boy, wild with delight 
at seeing his mistress again. The police had searched every- 
where, but the servants, with their master's injunction in 
mind and my reward to be earned, had made fiui;her inquiries 
and found that a little boy had been seen taking the dog into 
a certain house occupied by an official, the man who was 
responsible for the cleaning of the streets. This was the 
first intimation I ever had that the Chinese did clean their 
streets : I had thought that they left that job to the " wonks " 
and the scavenger crows. The police made inquiries. No, 
there was no little dog there. But the servants — wise 
Chinese servants — made friends with the people round, 
and they said : " Watch. There is a dog." So a junior 
servant was put to watch, and when the gate of the com- 
pound was opened he stole in, and tha^e was poor little 
James Buchanan tied up to a post. That servant seized 
the dog and fled home in triumph. 

The T'ai T'ai (the official's wife), said the people round, 
had wanted the pretty little dog. 

I was so delighted to get my little friend back that 
I should have been content to leave things there. Not 
so Mr Barentzen. He sent for that official, and there in 
his drawing-room he and I interviewed a portly Chinese 


gentleman in grey petticoats, a long pigtail, a little black 
silk cap and the tips of the silver shields that encased the 
long nails of his little fingers just showing beyond his 
voluminous sleeves. 

" An officious servant," he said. He was extremely sorry 
the Commissioner of Customs and his friend had been put 
to so much inconvenience. The servant had already been 
dismissed. And so we bowed him out, face was saved, and 
all parties were satisfied. It was very Chinese. And yet 
we knew, and we knew that he must have known we knew, 
that it was really his wife who received the little dog that 
everyone concerned must have realised was valuable and 
must have been stolen. 

Here in Sakalin I heard about the doings of the only 
wolves that came into my wanderings. In the little river 
harbour were many small steamers flying the Russian flag 
and loading great barrels with the ends painted bright red. 
These barrels, explained the Customs Commissioner, contained 
spirits which the Russians were desirous of smuggling into 
Russian territory. The Chinese had not the least objection 
to their leaving China after they had paid export duty. 
They were taken up and down the river and finally landed 
at some small port w^hence they were smuggled across. The 
trade was a very big one. The men engaged in it were 
known as the wolves of the Amur and were usually Caucasians 
and Jews. In 1913, the last year of which I have statistics, 
no less than twenty-five thousand pounds export was paid 
on these spirits, and in the years before it used to be greater. 
I wonder whether with the relaxing of discipline consequent 
on the war and the revolution the receipts for the export 
have not gone up. 

The wide river was beautiful here, and Blagoveschensk, 
lying across the water, with its spires and domes, all the 


outlines softened, standing against the evening sky, might 
have been some to\\'n of pictmed Italy. I am glad I have 
seen it. I dare not expiate on Mr Barentzen's kindness. 
My drastic critic, drastic and so invaluable, says that I 
have already overloaded this book with tales of people's 
kindness, so I can only say I stayed there a week and then 
took passage on the smaller steamer which was bound up 
the Amur and the Shilka to Stretensk and the railway. 

I had, however, one regret. I had inadvertently taken my 
plates and films on wliich I had all my pictures of the Amur 
and Saghalien across the Sakalin and I could not take them 
back again. The Russian rule was very strict. No photo- 
graphs were allowed. Ever>i:hing crossing the river must 
be examined. Now to examine my undeveloped films and 
plates would be to ruin them. I interviewed a Japanese 
photographer on the Sakalin side, but he appeared to be a 
very tyro in the art of developing, and finally very reluc- 
tantly I decided to leave them for Mr Barentzen to send 
home when he got the chance. He did not get that chance 
till the middle of 1916, and I regret to state that when 
we came to develop them every single one of them was 

The steamer that I embarked on now was considerably 
smaller, for the river was nanowing. The deck that ran 
round the cabins was only thirty inches wide and crowded 
with children ; worse, when James Buchanan and I went 
for our daily promenades we found the way disputed by 
women, mothers, or nursemaids, I know not which, pro- 
pelling the children who could not walk in wheeled chairs, 
and they thought Buchanan had been brought there for 
their special benefit, a view which the gentleman himself 
did not share. However, he was my only means of com- 
munication with them, for they had no English or French, 


But I was lucky, for one of the mates, brass-bound and in 
spotless white, like so many Russians had served in British 
ships and spoke English very well with a slight Scots accent. 
With him I used to hold daily conversations and always 
we discussed the war. But he shook his head over it. It 
was not possible to get much news at the little wayside 
places at which we stopped. There were no papers — the 
Russian peasant under the beneficent rule of the Tsar was 
not encoiu-aged to learn to read — and for his part he, the 
mate, put no faith in the telegrams. All would be well, of 
course, but we must wait till we came to some large and 
influential place for news upon which we could rely. 

But that large and influential place was long in coming, 
in fact I may say it never materialised while I was on the 
river. There are at least eleven towns marked on the way 
between Blagoveschensk and Stretensk, but even the town 
at the junction where the Aigun and the Shilka merge into 
the Amur is but a tiny frontier village, and the rest as I 
know the river banks are only a few log huts inhabited 
by peasants who apparently keep guard over and supply 
the stacks of wood needed by the steamers. 

It was a lovely river now going north, north and then 
west, or rather we went north, the river flowed the other 
way, it was narrower and wound between wooded hills and 
it was very lonely. There were occasional, very occasional, 
little settlements, on the Chinese side I do not remember 
even a hut, though it was a lovely green land and the river, 
clear as crystal, reflected on its breast the trees and rocks 
among which we made our way. 

Once on the Russian side we landed from a boat a woman 
with two little children and innumerable bundles. They had 
been down, I suppose, to visit the centre of civilisation at 
Blagoveschensk and now were coming home. In the dusk 


of the evening we left her there looking down thoughtfully 
at her encumbrances, not a living creature in sight, not a 
sign of man's handiwork anywhere. I hoped there were no 
tigers about, but she has always lived in my memory as an 
unfinished story. I suppose we all of us have those un- 
finished stories in our lives, not stories left unfinished because 
they are so long drawn out we could not possibly wait for 
developments, but stories that must finish suddenly, only 
we are withdrawn. Once I looked from a railway carriage 
window in the Midlands and I saw a bull chasing a woman ; 
she was running, screaming for all she was worth, for a fence, 
but whether she reached it or not I have no means of know- 
ing. Another time I saw also from a railway carriage 
window two men, mother naked, chasing each other across 
the greensward and left them there because the train went 
on. Of course I have often enough seen men without 
clothes in the tropics, but in the heart of England they are 
out of the picture and want explaining. That explanation 
I shall never get. Nor is it likely I shall ever know whether 
that unknown woman and her little childien ever reached 
their unknown home. 

We were luxuriously fed upon that little steamer. The 
Russian tea \nth lemon and the bread and butter were 
delicious, and we had plenty of cream, though gone was the 
red caviare that farther east had been so common. But I 
was tired and at last feeling lonely. I began to count the 
days till I should reach home. 

On the Amur the weather had been gorgeous, but when we 
entered the Shilka we were north of 53° again and well 
into the mountains, and the next morning I awoke to a grey 
day. It rained and it rained, not tropical rain, but soft, 
penetrating rain ; the fir-clad hills on either side were veiled 
in a silvery mist. The river wound so that as we looked 


ahead we seemed to be sailing straight into the hills. The 
way looked blocked with hills, sometimes all mist-covered, 
sometimes with the green showing alluringly tlu'ough the 
mist, and occasionally, when the mist lifted and the sun 
came out, in all the gullies would linger little grey cloudlets, 
as if caught before they could get away and waiting 
there screened by the hills till the mist should fall again. 
Occasionally there were lonely houses, still more occasionally 
little settlements of log huts with painted windows hennetic- 
ally sealed, and once or twice a field of corn ripe for the 
harvest but drowned by the persistent rain. But the air 
was soft and delicious, divine ; only in the cabins on board 
the crowded steamer was it pestilential. The mate told me 
how, six weeks before, on his last trip up, an Englishman 
had come selling reapers and binders, and he thought that 
now I had made my appearance the English were rather 
crowding the Amur. 

Sometunes when we stopped the passengers went ashore 
and went berrying, returning with gi-eat branches laden with 
fruit, and I and Buchanan too walked a little way, keeping 
the steamer well in sight, and rejoicing in the flowers and 
the green and the rich, fresh smell of moist earth. I do 
not know that ever in my life do I remember enjoying rain 
so much. Of course in my youth in Australia I had always 
welcomed the life-giving rain, but thirteen years in England, 
where I yearned for the sunshine, had somehow dimmed 
those memories, and now once again the rain on the river 
brought me joy. Tlie mist was a thing of beauty, and when 
a ray of sunshine found its way into a green, mist-veiled 
valley, illuminating its lovely loneliness, then indeed I knew 
that the earth was the Lord's and the fullness thereof. 

Sometimes we passed rafts upon the river. They were 
logs bomid together in great parallelograms and worked 


with twelve long sweeps fixed at each end. Twelve men at 
least went to each raft, and there were small houses built of 
grass and canvas and wood. They were taking the wood 
down to Nikolayeusk to be shipped to Shanghai and other 
parts of the world for furniture, for these great forests of 
birch and elm and fir and oak must be a mine of wealth to 
their owners. I do not know whether the wood is cut on 
any system, and whether the presence of these great rafts 
had anything to do with the many dead trees I saw in the 
forests, their white stems standing up ghostlike against the 
green hill-side. 

I have no record of these lovely places. My camera was 
locked away now in my suit-case, for it was war, and Russia, 
rightly, would allow no photographs. 

Seven days after we left Blagoveschensk we reached 
Stretensk and I came in contact for the first time with the 
World's War. 



At Stretensk I awakened to the fact that I was actually 
in Siberia, nay, that I had travelled over about two thousand 
miles of Siberia, that dark and gloomy land across which — 
I believed in my youth — tramped long lines of prisoners 
in chains, sometimes amidst the snow and ice of a bitter 
winter, sometimes with the fierce sun beating down upon 
them, but always hopeless, always hungry, weary, heart- 
broken, a sacrifice to the desire for political liberty that 
w^as implanted in the hearts of an enslaved people. 

It is an extraordinary thing that, though for many years 
I had believed Saghalien was a terrible island, a sort of 
inferno for political prisoners, something like Van Diemen's 
Land used to be in the old convict days one hundred and ten 
years ago, only that in the Asiatic island the conditions were 
still more ci-uel and it was hopeless to think of escaping, 
while I was actually in that beautiful island I was so taken 
up with its charm, it was so extremely unlike the place of 
which I had a picture in my mind's eye, that I hardly con- 
nected the two. All up the Amur river was a new land, a 
land crying out for pioneers, pastoralists and farmers, so that 
the thought that was uppermost in my mind was of the 
contrast between it and the old land of China, where I had 
spent so long a time ; but at Stretensk I suddenly remem- 
bered this was Siberia, the very heart of Siberia, where men 
had suffered unutterable things, might still be so suffering 
for all I knew, and I stepped off the steamer and prepared 



to explore, with, a feeling that at any moment I might come 
across the heavy logs that made up the walls of a prison, 
might see the armed sentries, clad to the eyes in furs, who 
tramped amidst the snow. But this was August and it 
was fiercely hot, so the snow and the sentries clad in furs 
were ruled out, and presently as Buchanan and I walked 
about the town even the lonely prison built of logs had to go 
too. There may have been a prison, probably there was, 
but it did not dominate the picture. Not here should I 
find the Siberia I had been familiar with from my youth up. 

Stretensk is like all other Siberian towns that I have seen. 
The houses are mostly of one storey and of wood, of logs ; 
the streets are wide and straight, cutting each other at right 
angles, and the whole is flung out upon the plain ; it is really, 
I think, rather high among the mountains, but you do not 
get the sensation of hills as you do from the steamer. 

The rain had cleared away and it was very hot, though 
we had started out very early because I was determined to 
go west if possible that very afternoon. We went gingerly 
because the dangers of Siberian towns for one who looked 
fau'ly prosperous had been impressed upon me at Blagoves- 
chensk, and I hesitated about going far from the steamer, 
where the mate could speak English. Still we went. I was 
not going to miss the Siberia of my dreams if I could help it. 

I saw something more wonderful than the Siberia of my 

In consequence of the ceaseless rain the roads between the 
log-houses with theu* painted windows were knee-deep in 
mud, a quagmii'e that looked impassable. In the air was 
the sound of martial music, and up and down in what would 
have been reckless fashion but for the restraining glue-like 
mud galloped officers and their orderlies. It was the war, 
the first I had seen of it. The war was taking the place of 


the political exiles, and instead of seeing Siberia as a back- 
ground for the exiles as I had dreamed of it for so many 
years, I saw it busy with preparations for war. The roads 
were like sloughs out of which it would have been impossible 
to get had I ever ventured in. Naturally I did not venture, 
but took all sorts of long rounds to get to the places I wanted 
to reach. It is not a bad way of seeing a town. 

The heavily built houses, built to defy the Siberian winter, 
might have come out of Nikolayeusk or Kharbarosvk, and 
though the sun poured down out of a cloudless sky, and I 
was gasping in a thin Shantung silk, they were hermetically 
sealed, and the cotton wool between the double windows 
was decorated with the usual gay ribbons. I dare say they 
were cool enough inside, but they must have been intolerably 
stuffy. The sidewalks too had dried quickly in the fierce 
sunshine. They were the usual Siberian sidewalks, with long 
lines of planks like flooring. Had they ever been trodden, 
I wonder, by the forced emigrant looking with hopeless 
longing back to the West. Finally we wandered into the 
gardens, where I doubt not, judging by the little tables and 
many seats, there was the usual gay throng at night, but now 
early in the morning everything looked dishevelled, and I 
could not find anyone to supply me with the cool drink of 
which I stood so badly in need, and at last we made our way 
back to the steamer, where the mate, having got over the 
struggle of arrival — ^for this was the farthest the steamer 
went — ^kindly found time enough to give himself to my 
affairs. I wanted a droshky to take me to the train, and 
as nowhere about had I seen any signs of a railway station 
I wanted to know where it was. 

The mate laughed and pointed far away down the river 
on the other side. I really ought to have knoAvn my Siberia 
better by now. Railways are not constructed for the con- 


venience of the tcsvnsfolk. There was nothing else for it. 
I had to get there somehow, and as the train left somewhere 
between five and six, about noon, with the mate's assistance, 
I engaged a droshky. The carriages that are doing a last 
stage in this country are not quite so elderly here as they 
are in Saghalien, but that is not saying much for them. 
The one the mate engaged for me had a sturdy little un- 
gi'oomed horse in the shafts and another running in a trace 
alongside. On the seat was packed all my baggage, two 
small suit-cases and a large canvas sack into which I dimiped 
rugs, cushions and all odds and ends, including my precious 
kettles, and the rough little unkempt horses towed us down 
thi-ough the sea of mud to the ferry, and then I saw the scene 
had indeed shifted. It was not long lines of exiles bearing 
chains I met, that was all in the past, at least for an outsider 
like me, but here in the heart of Asia Russia in her might 
was collecting her forces for a spring. Tlie great flat ferry 
was crossing and recrossing, and do^vn the swamp that 
courtesy called a road came endless streams of square 
khaki-coloured carts, driven by men in flat caps and belted 
khaki blouses, big fair men, often giants with red, sun-tanned 
faces and lint-white hair, men who shouted and laughed 
and sang and threw up their caps, who were sober as judges 
and yet were wild with excitement ; they were going to the 
war. I could not understand one word they said, but there 
is no mistaking gladness, and these men were delighted with 
their lot. I wondered was it a case of the prisoner freed or 
was it that life under the old regime in a Russian village was 
dull to monotony and to these recruits was coming the 
chance of their lifetime. 

Some will never come east agam, never whether in love 
or hate will they see the steppes and the flowers and the 
golden sunshine and the snow of Siberia, they have left their 


bones on those battle-fields ; but some, I hope, wiU live to 
see the regeneration of Russia, when every man shall have a 
chance of freedom and happiness. I suppose this revolution 
was in the air as cart after cart drove on to the ferry and 
the men yelled and shouted in their excitement. A small 
company of men who were going east looked at them 
tolerantly — I'm sure it was tolerantly — and then they too 
caught the infection and yelled in chorus. 

I watched it all with interest. 

Then half-an-hour passed and still they came ; an hour, 
and I gi'cw a little worried, for they were still pouring over. 
Two hours — I comforted myself, the train did not start till 
late in the afternoon — ^tliree horns, and there was no cessation 
in the stream. And of course I could make no one under- 
stand. It looked as if I might wait here all night. At last 
a man who was manifestly an officer came galloping along 
and hun I addressed in French. 

" Is it possible to cross on the feny ? " 

He was very courteous. 

"It is not possible to cross, Madame. It is not possible. 
The soldiers come first." 

I took another look at the good-humoured, strapping, 
fair-haired soldiers in khaki, with their khaki-colomed carts. 
The feny crossing was laden with them, hundreds of others 
were waiting, among them numbers of country people. 
They had bundles and laden baskets and looked people who 
had shopped and wanted to go home again. Were these 
exiles ? I did not know. They looked simple peasants. 
Whoever they were, there did not seem much chance for 
them or me, and I said the one Russian word I knew, 
" Steamer," and indicated that I wanted to go back there. 
Much as I wanted to go home, tired as I was of travelling, I 
decided I would postpone my railway jomney for a day and 


take advantage of that comfortable Russian custom that 
allows you to live on a steamer for two days while she is 
in port. The ishvornik nodded, back we went helter-skelter 
to the wharf and — ^the steamer was gone ! 

I have had some bad moments in my life, but that one 
stands out still. Why, I hardly know, for sitting here in 
my garden it does not seem a very terrible thing. I had 
plenty of money in my pocket and there were hotels in 
the town. But no ! more than ever, safe here in Kent, do 
I dread a Siberian hotel ! Then I was distinctly afraid. I 
might so easily have disappeared and no one would have 
asked questions for months to come. I tried to tell the 
boy I wanted to go to one of those dreaded hotels — ^I felt 
I would have to risk it, for I certainly could not spend the 
night in a droshky — and I could not make him understand. 
Perhaps, as in Saghalien, there were no hotels to accommodate 
a woman of my class, or perhaps, as is most probable, they 
were all full of soldiers, anyhow he only looked at me blankly, 
and Buchanan and I looked at each other. Buchanan any- 
how had no fears. He was quite sure I could take care of 
him. I looked at the boy again and then, as if he had 
suddenly had an inspiration, he drove me back to the place 
opposite the ferry whence we had come. The soldiers were 
there still, crowds and crowds of them, with their little 
carts and horses, and they were amusing themselves by 
stealing each other's fodder ; the ferry had come back, but 
there were no soldiers on it, only the country people were 
crowding down. I liad been forbidden to go upon it, and 
never should I have dreamt of disobeying orders, but my 
driver had different views. He waited till no officer was 
looking, seized my baggage and flung it down on the great 
ferry right in front of the military stores, beside the refresh- 
ment stall where they were selling sausages and bread in 


round rings such as peasants eat, and tea and lemonade. 
I had not expected to find so commonplace a thing on a river 
in Siberia. Now I had sat in that dilapidated carriage for 
over four hours and I was weary to death, also I could not 
afford to be parted from my luggage, so I put Buchanan 
under my arm — it was too muddy for him to walk — and fol- 
lowed as fast as I could. My good angel prompted me to 
pay that driver well. I paid him twice what the mate had 
said it ought to cost me if I waited half-a-day, and never 
have I laid out money to better advantage. He tm-ned to a 
big man who was standing by, a man in sea-boots, a red 
belted blouse and the tall black Astrakhan cap that I 
have always associated in my own mind with Circassians, 
and spoke to him, saying " Anglisky." Evidently he said 
it might be worth his while to look after me. I don't know 
whether this gentleman was a Caucasian, one of the " wolves 
of the Amur," but whoever he was, he was a very hefty 
and capable individual, with a very clear idea of what a 
foreign lady ought to do, and he promptly constituted him- 
self my guardian. 

After all, the world, take it on the whole, is a very kindly, 
honest place. So many times have I been stranded when I 
might quite easily have been stripped of everything, and 
always some good Samaritan has come to my aid, and the 
reward, though I did my best, has never been commensurate 
with the services rendered. 

The ferry across the Shilka at Stretensk is a great affair, 
like a young paddock afloat, and beside the horses and carts 
upon it were a number of country people with their bundles. 
I sat there a little uncomfortably because I did not know 
what would happen, only I was determined not to be p>arted 
from my baggage. Presently the huge float drifted off, 
amidst wild shouts and yells. When I was there, a great 


deal in Russia was done to the accompaniment of much 
shouting, and I rather fancy that this ferry was going off 
on an unauthorised jaunt of its own. The Shilka is a broad 
river here, a fortnight's steamer journey from its mouth, 
but the ferry came to a full stop in the middle of the stream 
and a motor boat which did not look as if it could hold half 
the people came alongside. 

" Skurry ! Skurry ! " was the cry, and the people began 
leaping overboard into the boat. The military were getting 
rid summarily of their civilian crowd. In a few seconds 
that boat was packed to the gunwales and I was looking 
over at it. I had Buchanan under my arm ; he was always 
a good little dog at critical moments, understanding it was 
his part to keep quiet and give as little trouble as possible. 
In my other hand I had my despatch-case, and, being any- 
thing but acrobatic by temperament, I felt it was hopeless 
to think of getting into it. If the penalty for not doing 
so had been death, I do not think I could have managed it. 
However, I didn't have a say in the matter. The big Russian 
in the red blouse picked me up and dropped me, little dog, 
box and all, into the boat, right on top of the people already 
there. First I was on top, and then, still hanging on to my 
little dog, I slipped down a little, but my feet found no foot- 
hold; I was wedged between the screaming people. After 
me, with my luggage on his shoulder, came my guardian, and 
he somehow seemed to find a very precarious foothold on 
the gunwale, and he made me understand he wanted two 
roubles for our fares. If he had asked for ten he would 
have got it, but how I managed to get at my money to this 
day I do not know. The boat rocked and swayed in a most 
alarming manner, and I thought to myself. Well, we are on 
top now, but presently the boat will upset and then we shall 
certainly be underneath. I gathered that the passengers 


were disputing with the boatman as to the price to be paid 
for the passage across, though this was unwise, for the ferry- 
was threatening momentarily to crush us against the rocky 
bank. He was asking sixty kopecks — a little over a shilling 
— and with one voice they declared that forty was enough. 
Considering the crowd, forty I should have thought would 
have paid him excellently. That I had given my guardian 
more did not trouble me, because any extra he earned was 
more than justified, for one thing was certain, I could never 
have tackled the job by myself. 

Just as I was growing desperate and Buchanan began to 
mention that he was on the verge of suffocation the difficulty 
of the fares was settled and we made for the bank. But we 
did not go to the usual landing-stage ; that, I presume, was 
forbidden as sacred to the soldiers, and we drew up against 
a steep, high bank faced with granite. 

" Skurry ! Skurry ! " And more than ever was haste 
necessary, for it looked as if the great ferry would certainly 
crush us. The people began scrambling up. But I was 
helpless. Whatever happened, I knew I could never climb 
that wall. I could only clutch my little dog and await 
events. My guardian was quite equal to the situation. 
The boat had cleared a little and there was room to move, 
and, dropping the baggage, he picked me up like a baby and 
tossed me, dog and all, up on to the bank above. WTiether 
that boat got clear away from the ferry I do not know. 
"WTien I visited the place next morning there were no 
remains, so I presume she did, but at the time I was gi^'^ng 
all my attention to catching a train. 

My guardian engaged a boy to carry the lighter baggage, 
and shouldering the rest himself, he took me by the arm and 
fairly raced me up the steep incline to the railway station 
that was a seething mass of khaki-clad men. 


" Billet ! Billet ! " said he, wiping the sweat from his 
streaming face and making a way for me among the throng- 
ing recruits. There was a train coming in and he evidently 
intended I should catch it. 

Such a crowd it was, and in the railway station confusion 
was worse confounded. It was packed with people — people 
of the poorer class — and with soldiers, and everyone was 
giving his opinion of things in general at the top of his voice. 
My stalwart guardian elbowed a way to the pigeon-hole, 
still crying, " Billet ! Billet ! " and I, seeing I wanted a 
ticket to Petrograd, produced a hundred-rouble note. The 
man inside pushed it away with contumely and declined it 
in various unknown tongues. I offered it again, and again 
it was thrust rudely aside, my guardian becoming vehement 
in his protests, though what he said I have not the faintest 
idea. I offered it a third time, then a man standing beside 
me whisked it away and whisked me away too. 

" Madame, are you mad ? " he asked, as Mr Barentzen had 
asked over a week before, but he spoke in French, very 
Russian French. And then he proceeded to explain volubly 
that all around were thieves, robbers and assassins — oh ! the 
land of suffering exiles — ^the mobilisation had called them up, 
and any one of them would cut my throat for a good deal 
less than a ten-pound note. And he promptly shoved the 
offending cash in his pocket. It was the most high-handed 
proceeding I have ever taken part in, and I looked at him in 
astonishment. He was a man in a green uniform, wearing 
a military cap with pipings of white and magenta, and the 
white and magenta were repeated on the coat and trousers. 
On the whole, the effect was reassuring. A gentleman so 
attired was reaUy too conspicuous to be engaged in any very 
nefarious occupation. 

He proceeded to explain that by that train I could not go. 


It was reserved for the troops. They were turning out the 
people already in it. This in a measure explained the bedlam 
in the station. The people who did not want to be landed 
here and the people who wanted to get away were comparing 
notes, and there were so many of them they had to do it at 
the top of their voices. 

" When does the next train go ? " I asked. 

My new friend looked dubious. " Possibly to-morrow 
night," said he. That was cheering. 

" And where is there a hotel ? " 

He pointed across the river to Stretensk. 

" Are there none this side ? " 

" No, Madame, not one." 

I debated. Cross that river again after all it had cost me 
to get here I could not. 

" But where can I stay ? " 

He looked round as if he were offering palatial quarters. 

" Here, Madame, here." 

In the railway station ; there was nothing else for it ; and 
in that railway station I waited till the train came in the 
following evening. 

That little matter settled, I turned to reward my first 
friend for his efforts on my behalf, and I felt five roubles 
was little enough. My new friend was very scornful, a 
rouble was ample, he considered. He had my ten-pound 
note in his pocket, and I am afraid I was very conscious that 
he had not yet proved himself, whereas the other man had 
done me yeoman's service, and never have I parted with 
ten shillings with more satisfaction. They were certainly 

After, I set myself to make the best of the situation. 
The station was crowded with all sorts and conditions of 
people, and a forlorn crowd they looked, and curious was 


the flotsam and jetsam that were their belongings. Of 
course there was the usual travellers' baggage, but there 
were other things too I did not expect to come across in a 
railway station in Siberia. There was a sewing-macliine ; 
there was the trumpet part of a gramophone; there was 
the back of a piano with all the vnres showing ; there was 
a dressmaker's stand, the stuffed form of a woman, looking 
forlorn and out of place among the bundles of the soldiers. 

But the people accepted it as all in the day's work, watched 
the soldiers getting into the carriages from which they were 
debarred, and waved their hands and cheered them, though 
the first train that started for anywhere did not leave till 
one-fifteen a.m. next morning. They were content that the 
soldiers should be served first. They settled themselves 
in little companies on the open platform, in the refreshment- 
room, in the waiting-rooms, fathers, mothers, children and 
dogs, and they solaced themselves with kettles of tea, 
black bread and sausages. 

It was all so different from what I had expected, so very 
different, but the first effect was to bring home to me forcibly 
the fact that there was a great struggle going on in the West, 
and Eastern Siberia was being drawTi into the whirlpool, 
sending her best, whether they were the exiles of my dreams 
or the thieves and robbers my newest friend had called them, 
to help in the struggle ! To wait a night and day in a 
railway station was surely a little sacrifice to what some 
must make. How cheerfully and patiently that Siberian 
crowd waited ! There were no complaints, no moans, only 
here and there a woman buried her head in her shawl and 
wept for her nearest and dearest, gone to the war, gone out 
into the unknown, and she might never see him again, might 
never even know what became of him. Truly " They also 
serve who only stand and wait." 


I went into the refreshment -room to get some food, and 
had soup with sour cream in it, and ate chicken and bread 
and butter and cucumber and drank kvass as a change from 
the eternal tea. I watched the people on the platform 
and as the shades of night fell began to wonder where I 
should sleep. I would have chosen the platform, but it 
looked as if it might rain, so I went into the ladies' waiting- 
room, dragged a seat across the open window, and spread 
out my rugs and cushions and established myself there. I 
wanted to have first right to that window, for the night up 
in the hills here was chilly and I felt sure somebody would 
come in and want to shut it. My intuitions were correct. 
Buchanan and I kept that open window against a crowd. 
Everybody who came in — and the room was soon packed — 
wanted to shut it. They stretched over me and I arose from 
my slumbers and protested. For, in addition to a crowd, 
the sanitary arrangements were abominable, and what the 
atmosphere would have been like with the window shut I 
tremble to think. I remembered the tales of the pestilential 
resthouses into which the travelling exiles had been thrust, 
and I was thankful for that window, thankful too that it 
was summer-time, for in winter I suppose we would have had 
to shut it. At last one woman pulled at my rugs and said — 
though I could not understand her language her meaning 
was plain enough — that it was all very well for me, I had 
plenty of rugs, it was they who had nothing. It was a 
fair complaint, so with many qualms I shared my rugs and 
the summer night slowly wore to morning. 

And morning brought its own difficulties. Russian 
washing arrangements to me are always difficult. I had 
met them first in Kharbin in the house of Mr Poland. I 
wrestled with the same thing in the house of the Chief of 
Police in Saghalien, and I met it in an aggravated form here 


in the railway station waiting-room. A Russian basin has 
not a plug — it is supposed to be cleaner to wash in running 
water — and the tap is a twirly affair with two spouts, and 
on pressing a little lever water gushes out of both and, 
theoretically, you may direct it where you please. Practic- 
ally I found that while I was duecting one stream of water 
down on to my hands, the other hit me in the eye or the ear, 
and when I got that right the first took advantage of 
inattention and deluged me round the waist. It may be 
my inexperience, but I do not like Russian basins. It was 
running water with a vengeance, it all ran away. 

However, I did the best I could, and after, as my face was 
a httle rough and sore from the hot sun of the day before, 
I took out a jar of hazeline cream and began to rub it on 
my cheeks. This proceeding aroused intense interest in the 
women around, ^\llat they imagined the cream was for I 
don't know, but one and all they came and begged some, 
and as long as that pot held out every woman within range 
had hazeline cream daubed on her weather-beaten cheeks, 
and they omitted to rub it off, apparently considering 
it ornamental. However, hazeline cream is a pleasant 

Having dressed, Buchanan and I had the long day before 
us, and I did not dare leave the railway station to explore 
because I was uneasy about my luggage. I had had it put 
in the corner of the refreshment -room and as far as I could 
see no one was responsible for it, and as people were coming 
and going the livelong day I felt bound to keep an eye 
uj>on it. I also awaited with a good deal of interest the 
gentleman with the variegated uniform and my ten-pound 
note. He came at last, and explained in French that he had 
got the change but he could not give it to me till the train 
came in because of the thieves and robbers, as if he would 


insist upon tearing the veil of romance I had wrapped round 
Siberia. And God forgive me that I doubted the honesty 
of a very kindly, courteous gentleman. 

It was a long, long day because there was really nothing to 
do save to walk about for Buchanan's benefit, and I diversified 
things by taking odd meals in the refreshment -room when- 
ever I felt I really must do something. But I was very 
tired. I began to feel I had been travelling too long, and I 
really think if it had not been for Buchanan's sympathy I 
should have wept. No one seemed at all certain when the 
next train west might be expected, opinions, judging by 
fingers pointing at the clock, varying between two o'clock 
in the afternoon and three o'clock next morning. How- 
ever, as the evening shadows were beginning to fall a train 
did come in, and my friend in uniform, suddenly appearing, 
declared it was the western train. Taking me by the hand, 
he led me into a carriage and, shutting the door and drawing 
down the blinds, placed in my hands change for my ten-poimd 

" Guard your purse, Madame," said he, " guard your purse. 
There are thieves and robbers everywhere ! " 

So all the way across Siberia had I been warned of the 
unsafe condition of the country. At Kharbin, at Nikolayeusk, 
at Blagoveschensk men whose good faith I could not doubt 
assured me that a ten-pound note and helplessness was quite 
likely to spell a sudden and ignominious end to my career, 
and this was in the days when no one doubted the power 
of the Tsar, a bitter commentary surely on an autocracy. 
What the condition of Siberia must be now, with rival 
factions fighting up and down the land, and released German 
prisoners throwing the weight of their strength in with the 
Bolshevists, I tremble to think. 

When he made sure I had carefully hidden my money 


and thoroughly realised the gravity of the situation, my 
friend offered to get my ticket, a second-class ticket, he 
suggested. I demurred. I am not rich and am not above 
saving my pennies, but a first-class ticket was so cheap, and 
ensured so much more privacy, that a second-class was an 
economy I did not feel inclined to make. He pointed round 
the carriage in which we were seated. Was this not good 
enough for anyone ? It was. I had to admit it, and the 
argument was clinched by the fact that there was not a 
first-class carriage on the train. The ticket only cost about 
five pounds and another pound bought a ticket for Buchanan. 
We got in — my friend in need got in vnth me, that misjudged 
friend ; it seemed he was the stationmaster at a little place 
a little way down the line — and we were fairly off on our road 
to the West. 



I WAS in the train at last, fairly on my way home, and I was 
glad. But I wasn't glad for very long. I began to wish 
myself back in the railway station at Stretensk, where at 
least I had fresh air. At fiist I had the window open and 
a corner seat. There are only two people on a seat in a 
Russian long-distance train, because when night falls they 
let down the seat above, which makes a bunk for the second 
person. But I was second class and my compartment 
opened without a door into the other compartments in the 
carriage, also two more bunks appeared crossways, and they 
were all filled with people. We were four women, two men 
who smoked, a baby who cried, and my little dog. I spread 
out my rugs and cushions, and when I wanted the window 
open the majority were against me. Not only was the 
window shut, but every ventilating arrangement was 
tightly closed also, and presently the atmosphere was pesti- 
lential. I grew desperate. I wandered out of the carriage 
and got on to the platform at the end, where the cold wind 
— ^for all it was August — cut me like a knife. The people 
objected to that cold wind coming in, and the next time I 
wandered out for a breath of fresh air I found the door barred 
and no prayers of mine would open it. In that carriage the 
people were packed like sardines, but though I was three- 
quarters suffocated no one else seemed at all the worse. I 
couldn't have looked at breakfast next morning, but the 
rest of the company preened themselves and fed cheerfully 



from the baskets they carried. Then, at last I found a 
student going to a Western Siberian university who spoke 
a little French and through him I told the authorities that 
if I could not be transferred to a first-class carriage I was 
to be left behind at the next station. I had spent a night 
in a station and I knew all about it ; it wasn't nice, but it 
was infinitely preferable to a night in a crowded second- 
class carriage. 

After a little while the train master came and with the 
aid of the student informed me that there would be a first- 
class carriage a little farther on and if there was room I 
should go in it, also we would know in an hour or so. 

So I bore up, and at a little town in the hills I was taken 
to a first-class compartment. There were three — that is, six 
bunks — making up half of a second-class carriage, and they 
were most luxurious, with mirrors and washing arrangements 
complete. The one I entered was already occupied by a 
very stout woman who, though we did not know any tongue 
in common, made me understand she was going to a place 
we would reach next morning for an operation, and she 
apologised — most unnecessarily but most courteously — ^for 
making me take the top bunk. She had a big Irish setter 
with her whom she called " Box " — " Anglisky," as she said 
— and " Box " was by no means as courteous and friendly as 
his mistress, and not only objected to Buchanan's presence 
but said so in no measured terms. I had to keep my little 
dog up on the top bunk all the time, where he peered over 
and whimpered protestingly at intervals. There was one 
drawback, and so kind and hospitable was my stable com- 
panion that I hardly liked to mention it, but the atmosphere 
in that compartment you could have cut with a knife. 
Wildly I endeavom*ed to open the windows, and she looked 
at me in astonishment. But I was so vehement that the 


student was once more brought along to inteipret, and then 
everybody took a turn at trying to open that window. I 
must say I think it was exceedingly kind and hospitable 
of them, for these people certainly shrank from the dangers 
of a draught quite as much as I did from the stuffiness of a 
shut window. But it was all to no purpose. That window 
had evidently never been opened since the carriage was 
made and it held on gallantly to the position it had taken 
up. They consulted together, and at length the student 
turned to me : 

" Calm yourself, Madame, calm yom-self ; a man will come 
with an instrument." And three stations farther down the 
line a man did appear with an instrument and opened that 
window, and I drew in deep breaths of exceedingly dusty 
fresh air. 

The lady in possession and I shared our breakfast. She 
made the tea, and she also cleaned out the kettle by the 
simple process of emptying the tea leaves into the wash-hand 
basin. That, as far as I saw, was the only use she made of 
the excellent washing arrangements supplied by the railway. 
But it is not for me to carp, she was so kind, and bravely 
stood dusty wind blowing through the compartment all 
night just because I did not like stuffiness. And when she 
was gone, O luxuiy ! Buchanan and I had the caniage 
to om'selves all the way to Irkutsk. 

And this was Siberia. We were going West, slowly it is 
true, but with wonderful swiftness I felt when I remembered 
— and how should I not remember every moment of the time ? 
— ^that this was the gi-eat and sorrowful road along wliich 
the exiles used to march, that the sunmier sun would scorch 
them, these great plains Mould be snow-covered and the 
biting, bitter wind would freeze them long before they 
reached their destination. I looked ahead into the West 


longingly ; but I was going there, would be there in less than 
a fortnight at the most, while their reluctant feet had taken 
them slowly, the days stretched into weeks, the weeks into 
months, and they were still tramping east into an exile that 
for all they knew would be lifelong. Ah ! but this road 
must have been watered with blood and tears. Every river, 
whether they were fen-ied over it or went across on the ice, 
must have seemed an added barrier to the man or woman 
thinking of escape ; eveiy forest would mean for them 
either shelter or danger, possibly both, for I had not forgotten 
the tigers of the Amur and the bears and wolves that are 
farther west. And yet the steppes, those hopeless plains, 
must have afforded still less chance of escape. 

Oh ! my early ideas were right after aU. Nature was 
jailer enough here in Siberia. Men did escape, we know, 
but many more must have perished in the attempt, and 
many, many must have resigned themselves to their bitter 
fate, for surely aU the forces of earth and air and sky had 
ranged themselves on the side of the Tsar. This beautiful 
country, and men had marched along it in chains ! 

At Chita, greatly to my surprise, my sotnik of Cossacks 
joined the train, and we greeted each other as old friends. 
Indeed I was pleased to see his smiling face again, and 
Buchanan benefited largely, for many a time when I was 
not able to take him out for a little run our friend came 
along and did it for us. 

The platforms at Siberian stations are short and this 
troop train, packed with soldiers, was long, so that many a 
time our carriage never drew up at the platform at all. 
This meant that the carriage was usually five feet from the 
ground, and often more. I am a little Moman and five feet 
was all I could manage, when it was more it was beyond me. 
Of course I could have dropped down, but it would have 


been impossible to haul myself up again, to say nothing of 
getting Buchanan on board. A Russian post train — and this 
troop train was managed to all intents and purposes as a 
post train — stops at stations along the line so that the 
passengers may get food, and five minutes before it starts 
it rings a " Make ready " bell one minute before it rings a 
second bell, " Take your seats," and with a third bell off the 
train goes. And it would have gone inexorably even though 
I, having climbed down, had been unable to climb up again. 
Deeply grateful then were Buchanan and I to the soinik 
of Cossacks, who recognised our limitations and never 
forgot us. 

I liked these Russian post trains far better than the train 
de luxe, with its crowd and its comforts and its cosmopolitan 
atmosphere. A Russian post train in those days had an 
atmosphere of its own. It was also much cheaper. From 
Stretensk to Petrograd, including Buchanan, the cost was 
a little over nine pounds for the tickets, and I bought my 
food by the way. It was excellent and very cheap. All 
the things I had bought in Kharbin, especially the kettles, 
came into use once more. The moment the train stopped 
out tumbled the soldiers, crowds and crowds of them, and 
raced for the provision stalls and for the large boilers full 
of water that are a feature of every Russian station on the 
overland line. These boileis are always enclosed in a build- 
ing just outside the railway station, and the spouts for the 
boiling water, two, three and sometimes four in a row, come 
out through the walls. Beside every spout is an iron handle 
which, being pulled, brings the boiling water gushing out. 
Russia even in those days before the revolution struck me as 
strangely democratic, for the soldiers, the non-commissioned 
officers, the officers and everj^one else on the train mingled 
in the struggle for hot water. I could never have got mine 


filled, but my Cossack friend always remembered me and 
if he did not come himself sent someone to get my kettles. 
Indeed everyone vied in being kind to the Englishwoman, 
to show, I think, their good wiU to the only representative 
of the Allied nation on the train. 

It was at breakfast -time one warm morning I first made 
the acquaintance of " that very great officer," as the others 
called him, the captain of the Ashold. He was in full naval 
uniform, and at that time I was not accustomed to seeing 
naval officers in uniform outside their ships, and he was 
racing along the platform, a little teapot in one hand, intent 
on filling it with hot water to make coffee. He was not 
ashamed to pause and come to the assistance of a foreigner 
whom he considered the peasants were shamefully over- 
charging. They actually wanted her to pay a farthing a 
piece for their largest cucumbers ! He spoke French and 
so we were able to communicate, and he was kind enough to 
take an interest in me and declare that he himself would 
provide me with cucumbers. He got me four large ones 
and when I wanted to repay him he laughed and said 
it was hardly necessary as they only cost a halfpenny I 
He had the compartment next to mine and that morning 
he sent me in a glass of coffee — we didn't run to cups on 
that train. Excellent coffee it was too. Indeed I was 
overwhelmed with provisions. One woman does not want 
very much to eat, but unless I supplied myself liberally and 
made it patent to all that I had enough and more than 
enough I was sure to be supplied by my neighbours out of 
friendship for my nation. From the Cossack officer, from a 
Hussar officer and his wife who had come up from Ugra in 
Mongolia, and from the captain of the Askold I was always 
receivirig presents. Chickens, smoked fish — very greasy, in a 
sheet of paper, eaten raw and very excellent — raspberries 


and blue berries, to say nothing of cucumbers, were rained 
upon me. 

At some stations there was a buffet and little tables set 
about where the first and second class passengers could sit 
down and have dSjeuner, or dinner, but oftener, especially 
in the East, we all dashed out, first, second and third class, 
and at little stalls presided over by women with kerchiefs 
on their heads and sturdy bare feet, women that were a joy 
to me after the effete women of China, bought what we 
wanted, took it back with us into the carriages and there 
ate it. I had all my table things in a basket, including a 
little saucer for Buchanan. It was an exceedingly economical 
arrangement, and I have seldom enjoyed food more. The 
bread and butter was excellent. You could buy fine 
white bread, and bread of varying quality to the coarse 
black bread eaten by the peasant, and I am bound to say I 
very much like fine white bread. There was delicious cream ; 
there were raspberries and blue berries to be bought for a 
trifle ; there were lemons for the tea ; there was German beet 
sugar ; there were roast chickens at sixpence apiece, little 
pasties very excellent for twopence -halfpenny, and rapchicks, 
a delicious little bird a little larger than a partridge, could 
be bought for fivepence, and sometimes there was plenty of 
honey. Milk, if a bottle were provided, could be had for 
a penny -farthing a quart, and my neighbours soon saw that 
I did not commit the extravagance of paying thiee times 
as much for it, which was what it cost if you bought the 

The English, they said, were very rich 1 and they were 
confirmed in their belief when they found how I bought 
milk. Hard-boiled eggs were to be had in any quantity, 
two and sometimes three for a penny -farthing. I am reckon- 
ing the kopeck as a fartliing. These were first-class prices, 


the soldiers bought much more cheaply. Enough meat to 
last a man a day could be bought for a penny-farthing, and 
good meat too — such meat nowadays I should pay at least 
five shillings for. 

Was all this abundance because the exiles had tramped 
wearily across the steppes ? How much hand had they had 
in the settling of the country ? I asked myself the question 
many times, but nowhere found an answer. The stations 
were generaUy crowded, but the country round was as empty 
as it had been along the Amur. 

And the train went steadily on. Very slowly though — 
we only went at the rate of three hundred versts a day, 
why, I do not know. Tliere we stuck at platforms where 
there was nothing to do but walk up and do^\Ti and look 
at the parallel rails coming out of the East on the horizon 
and running away into the West on the horizon again. 

" We shall never arrive," I said impatiently. 

" Ah ! Madame, we arrive, we arrive," said the Hussar 
officer, and he spoke a little sadly. And then I remembered 
that for him arrival meant parting with his comely young 
wife and his little son. They had with them a fox-terrier 
whom I used to ask into my compartment to play with 
Buchanan, and they called him " Sport." 

" An English name," they said smilingly. If ever I have 
a fox-terrier I shall call him " Sport," in kindly remembrance 
of the owners of the little friend I made on that long, long 
journey across the Old World. And the Hussar officer's 
wife, I put it on record, liked fresh air as much as I did 
myself. As I walked up and down the train, even though it 
was warm summer weather, I always knew our two caiTiages 
because in spite of the dust we had our windows open. The 
rest of the passengers shut theirs most carefully. The second 
class were packed, and the third class were simply on top 


of one another — I should not think they could have inserted 
another baby — and the reek that came from the open doors 
and that hung about the people that came out of them was 

I used to ask my Cossack friend to tea sometimes — I could 
always buy cakes by the wayside — and he was the only 
person I ever met who took salt with his tea. He assured 
me the Mongolians always did so, but I must say though I 
have tried tea in many ways I don't like that custom. 

In Kobdo, ten thousand feet among the mountains in the 
west of Mongolia, was a great lama, and the Cossack was full 
of this man's prophecy. 

Three emperors, said the lama, would fight. One would 
be overwhelmed and utterly destroyed, the other would 
lose immense sums of money, and the third would have 
great glory. 

" The Tsar, Madame," said my friend, " the Tsar, of 
course, is the third." 

I wonder what part he took in the revolution. He was 
a Bait, a man from the Baltic Provinces, heart and soul with 
the Poles, and he did not even call himself a Russian. Well, 
the Tsar has been overwhelmed, but which is the one who 
is to have great glory ? After all, the present is no very 
great time for kings and emperors. I am certainly not 
taking any stock in them as a whole. Perhaps that lama 
meant the President of the United States ! 

We went round Lake Baikal, and the Holy Se^, that I 
had seen before one hard plain of glittering ice, lay glittering 
now, beautiful still in the August sunshine. There were 
white sails on it and a steamer or two, and men were 
feverishly working at alterations on the railway. The 
Angara ran swiftly, a mighty river, and we steamed along 
it into the Irkutsk station, which is by no means Irkutsk, 


for the town is — Russian fashion — four miles away on the 
other side of the river. 

At Irkutsk it seemed to me we began to be faintly Western 
figain. And the exiles who had come so far I suppose 
abandoned hope here. All that they loved — all their life — 
lay behind. I should have found it hard to turn back and 
go east myself now. ^Vhat must that facing east have been 
for them ? 

They turned us out of the train, and Buchanan and I were 
ruefully surveying our possessions, heaped upon the platform, 
wondering how on earth we were to get them taken to the 
cloakroom and how we should get them out again supposing 
they were taken, when the captain of the Askold appeared 
with a porter. 

" Would Madame permit," he asked, not as if he were 
conferring a favour, " that her luggage be put with mine in 
the cloakroom ? " 

Madame could have hugged him. Already the dusk was 
falling, the soft, warm dusk, and the people were hastening 
to the town or to the refreshment -rooms. There would be 
no train that night, said my kind friend, some time in the 
morning perhaps, but certainly not that night. I sighed. 
Again I was adrift, and it was not a comfortable feeling. 

If Madame desired to dine Madame did desire to dine. 

Then if Madame permits Of course Madame permitted. 

She was most grateful. And we dined together at the same 
table outside the station restaurant — I like that fashion of 
dining outside — under the brilliant glare of the electric light. 
He ai-ranged everything for me, even to getting some supper 
for Buchanan. And I forgot the exiles who had haunted 
me, forgot this was Siberia. Here in the restaurant, save 
for the Tartar waiters, it might almost have been France. 

" Perhaps," said my companion comteously as we were 


having coffee, " Madame would care to come to my hotel. 
I could interpret for her and here no one speaks anything 
but Russian." 

Again I could have hugged him. I intimated my dressing- 
bag was in the cloakroom, but he smiled and shrugged his 

" For one night ! " 

He himself had nothing, so there and then we got into one 
of the usual decrepit landaus and went to the town, to 
Irkutsk on the Angara, in the heart of Siberia. If in my 
girlish days when I studied the atlas of the world so carefully 
I could have known that one day I should be driving into 
Irkutsk, that map would have been glorified for ever and a 
day ; but I could never have realised, never, that it would be 
set in a summer land, warm as my own country, and that 
I should feel it a gi*eat step on towards the civilisation of 
the West. 

It was night, and here and there clustering electric lights 
glittered like diamonds, making darker the spaces in between. 
In the morning I saw that the capital of Eastern Siberia, 
like all the other towns of that country, is a regular frontier 
town. There were the same wide streets grass-grown at the 
edges, great houses and small houses side by side, and empty 
spaces where as yet there were no houses. We went to the 
Central Hotel. 

" I do not go to an expensive hotel," my companion told 
me, " this is a moderate one." 

But if it were moderate it certainly was a very large and 
nice hotel. Russian hotels do not as a rule provide food, 
the restaurant is generally separate, but we had already 
dined. That naval officer made all arrangements for me. 
He even explained to an astonished chamber-maid ^^'ith her 
hair done in two long plaits that I must have all the windows 


open and when I tried for a bath did his best for me. But 
again, he explained, Russians as a rule go to a bath-house, 
and there was only one bathroom in this hotel ; it had been 
engaged for two hours by a gentleman, and he thought, seeing 
I should have to start early in the morning, it might be rather 
late for me to have a bath then, but if I liked in the morning 
it would be at my service. 

If anyone had told me in the old days that going to 
Irkutsk I should be deeply interested in a bath ! 

I engaged that bath for an hour in the morning as that 
seemed to be the correct thing to do. Then I went to bed 
and heartily envied Buchanan, who did not have to bother 
about toilet arrangements. 

In the morning early there was a knock at the door and 
when I said " Come in," half expecting tea, there was my 
naval officer in full uniform smilingly declaring my bath 
was ready, he had paid the bill, and I could pay him back 
when we were on board the train. Tlie chamber-maid, ^Nath 
her hair still done in two plaits — I rather fancy she had slept 
in them — conducted me to the bathroom, and I pass over the 
difficulty of doing without brush and comb and tooth-brush. 
But I washed the dust out of my hair, and when I was as 
tidy as I could manage I joined the captain of the Askold 
and we drove back through the to^vn to the railway station. 

The station was a surging mass of people all talking at 
once, and all, I suppose, objurgating the railway management, 
but we two had breakfast together in the pleasant smilight. 
We had fresh rolls and butter and coffee and cream and 
honey — ^I ask no better breakfast when these tilings are 
good — and meanwhile people, officials, came and went, dis- 
cussing evidently some important matter with my friend. 
He departed for a moment, and then the others that I had 
known came up, my Cossack friend and the Hussar officer, and 


told me that the outgoing train was a military train, it would 
be impossible for a woman, a civilian and a foreigner at that, 
to go on it. I said the captain of the Askold had assured me 
I could, and they shook their heads and then said hopefully, 
well, he was a very great officer, the captain of a ship, and I 
realised that no lesser authority could possibly have managed 
this thing for me. And even he was doubtful, for when he 
came back and resmned his interrupted breakfast he said : 

"The train is full. The military authorities will not 
allow you on board." 

That really did seem to me tragedy at the moment. I 
forgot the sorrowful people who would gladly enough have 
stayed their journey at Irkutsk. But their faces were set 
East. I forgot that after all a day or two out of a life would 
not matter very much, or rather I think I hated to part 
from these kindly friends I had made on the train. I suppose 
I looked my disappointment. 

" Wait. Wait. It is not yet finished," said my friend 
kindly. " They give me two compartments " — ^I felt then 
he was indeed " a very great officer," for the people were 
packed in that train, tier upon tier, like herrings in a barrel 
— " and I cannot sleep in four bunks. It is ridiculous." 

That may have been, but it was kindness itself of him to 
establish a stranger in one of those compartments. It was 
most comfortable, and Buchanan and I being established, 
and my luggage having come safely to hand, I proceeded to 
make the most of the brush and comb that had come once 
more into my possession, and I felt that the world was a 
very good place indeed as we sped across the green plain 
in the sunny morning. I could hardly believe that this 
goodly land was the one to which I had always been accus- 
tomed to think men went as to a living death. 

And then I forgot other folks' troubles in my own, for 


envious eyes were cast upon the spare bunk in my com- 
partment. No one would have dreamt of interfering had 
the sailor insisted upon having all four for himself, but since 
he had parted with the rights of one compartment to a 
foreign woman, it was evident that other people, crowded out, 
began to think of their own comfort. Various people inter- 
viewed me. I am afraid I understood thoroughly what they 
wanted, but I did not understand Russian, and I made the 
most of that disability. Also all my friends who spoke 
French kept out of the way, so I suppose they did not wish 
to aid and abet in upsetting my comfort. At last a most 
extraordinary individual with a handkerchief tied round his 
neck in lieu of a coUar and a little tourist cap on the back of 
his head was brought, and he informed me in French that 
there was a doctor in the hospital section of the train who 
had not been in bed for a week, they could not turn the 
soldiers out, they must have rest, would I allow him to sleep 
in my compartment ? 

" Madame," he said, and the officials standing round 
emphasised the remark, if it needed emphasis, "it is war 
time. The train is for the soldiers." 

Certainly I was here on sufferance. They had a right to 
tm-n me out if they liked. So the doctor came and turned 
in in the top bunk, and his long-drawn snores took away 
from my sense of privacy. 

I don't think he liked it very much, for presently he was 
succeeded by a train official, very drunk, though I am bound 
to say he was the only drunken man I saw on all that long 
train journey from Stretensk to Petrograd. It was a little 
unlucky we were at such close quarters. Everyone, too, 
was very apologetic. 

He was a good fellow. It was an unfortunate accident 
and he would be very much ashamed. 


I suppose he was, for the next day he too disappeared 
and his place was taken by a professor from one of the 
Siberian universities who was seeking radium. He was a 
nice old gentleman who had learned English but had never 
had the chance of hearing it spoken. Where he went in the 
daytime I do not know, probably to a friend's compartment, 
and Buchanan and I had the place to ourselves. We could 
and did invite the Cossack officer and the Hussar officer and 
his belongings and the naval man to tea, and we had great 
games with the little fox-teiTier " Sport " from next door, 
but when night fell the professor turned up and notified me 
he was about to go to bed. Then he retired and I went 
to bed first on the lower seat. He knocked, came in and 
climbed up to his bunk, and we discoursed on the affairs 
of the world, I correcting his curious pronunciation. He 
really was a man of the world ; he was the sort of man I had 
expected to meet in Siberia, only I had never imagined him 
as free and sharing a railway compartment with me. I should 
have expected to find him toiling across the plains with the 
chains that bound his ankles hitched to his belt for conveni- 
ence of carrying. But he looked and he spoke as any other 
cultivated old gentleman might have spoken, and looking 
back I see that his views of the war, given in the end of 
August, IQl^, were quite the soundest I have ever listened to. 

" Tlie Allies will win," he used to say, " yes, they \vill 
win." And he shook his head. " But it will be a long war, 
and the place will be drenched in blood ffi'st. Two years, 
thi'ce years, I tliink four years." I wonder if he foresaw 
the chaos that would fall upon Russia. 

These views were very different from those held by the 
other men. 

" Madame," the Cossack would say, laughing, " do you 
know a good hotel in Berlin ? " 


I looked up surprised. " Because," he went on, " I 
engage a room there. We go to BerUn ! " 

" Peace dictated at Berlin," said they all again and again, 
"peace dictated at Berlin." This was during the first 
onward rush of the Russians. Then there came a set- 
back, two towns were taken and the Germans demanded 
an indemnity of twenty thousand pounds apiece. 

" Very well," said the Cossack gi'imly, and the Hussar 
nodded his head. " They have set the tune. Now we know 
what to ask." 

But the professor looked grave. " Many towns will faU," 
said he. 

Another thing that struck me was the friendly relations 
of the officers with those under them. As the only repre- 
sentative of their Western Ally on the train, I was something 
of a curiosity, and soldiers and non-commissioned officers 
liked to make excuse to look at me. I only wished I had 
been a little smarter and better-looking for the sake of my 
countr}', for I had had no new clothes since the end of 1912. 
However, I had to make the best of it, and the men came 
to me on the platforms or to my compartment without 
fear. If by chance they knew a little French they spoke 
to me, helped out by their officers if their vocabulary ran 

" Madame, Madame," said an old non-commissioned officer, 
" would you be so good as to tell me how to pronounce the 
English ' zee ' ? I teach myself French, now I teach myself 

Well, they had all been good to me and I had no means 
of repaying their kindness save vicariously, so I took him in 
hand and with the aid of a booklet published by the Wagons 
Lit Train du Luxe describing the journey across Siberia we 
wrestled with the difficulties of the English " th." 


It was a long long journey. We crept across the great 
steppes, we lingered by stations, sometimes there were lakes, 
sometimes great rivers, but always the great plains. Far 
as the eye could see rolled the extent of green under the clear 
blue sky ; often we saw herds of cattle and mobs of horses, 
and again and again companies of soldiers, and yet so vast 
is the country the sensation left upon the stranger is of 
emptiness, of a rich and fertile land crying out for inhabi- 
tants. I looked at it from the train with eager eyes, but I 
began to understand how there had gi-own up in my mind 
the pictiu:e of this lovely land as a dark and terrible place. 
To the prisoners who came here tliis plain, whether it were 
green and smiling, or whether it were deep in white snow, 
could only have been the barrier that cut them off from home 
and hope, from all that made life dear. How could they 
take up their broken lives here, they who for the most part 
were dwellers in the cities ? 

Here was a regiment of soldiers ; it was nothing, nothing, 
set in the vast plain. The buttercups and daisies and 
purple vetches were trampled down for a great space where 
men had been exercising or camping ; but it w£is nothing. 
There were wide stretches of country where the cattle were 
peacefully feeding and where the flowers turned up smiling 
faces to the blue sky for miles and miles, making me forget 
that this had been the land of shadowed lives in the past 
and that away in the West men were fighting for their very 
existence, locked in a death-grip such as the world has never 
before seen. 

It was well there was something to look out upon, for that 
train was horrid. I realised something of the horrors of 
the post-houses in which the prisoners had been locked at 
night. We could get good food at every station, but in 
the train we were too close on the ground and the reek of 


us went up to heaven. I felt as if the atmosphere of the 
train desecrated the fresh, clear air of the great plain over 
which we passed, as if we must breed disease. The journey 
seemed interminable, and what I should do when it ended 
I did not know, for opinion was fairly unanimous : they 
were sure I could not get to England ! 

With many apologies the captain of the Askold permitted 
himself to ask how I was off for money. I was a total 
stranger, met on a train, and a foreigner ! I told him I had 
a little over forty poimds and if that were not enough I 
had thought to be able to send to London for more. 

He shook his head. 

" I doubt if even letters can get through." 

And I sighed that then I did not know what I should do, 
for I had no friends in Petrograd. 

" Pardon, Madame," said he remonstrantly, and he gave 
me the addiess of his wife and daughters. He told me to 
go and see them ; he assured me that everj^body in Russia 
now wanted to learn English, that I would have no difficulty 
in getting pupils and so do myself very comfortably " till 
we make a passage to England again." 

Just before we reached Cheliabynsk he came and told 
me that he had heard there was a west-bound express with 
one place vacant, a ship awaited him and speed was very 
necessary, therefore he was leaving this train. Then at 
one of the greater stopping-places he bowed low over my 
hand, bade me farewell, made a dash and caught the express. 
I have never either seen or heard of him since, but he remains 
in my mind as one of the very kindly men I have met on my 
way through the world. 

At Cheliabynsk we spent the livelong day, for there the 
main part of the train went on to Moscow with the soldiers, 
while we who wanted to go to Petrogra^l caught a train in the 



evening. I was glad to find that the Hussar officer and the 
Cossack were both bound for Petrograd. And here we came 
in touch once more with the West. There was a bookstall, 
and though I could not buy an English paper I could and 
did buy an English book, one of John Galsworthy's in the 
Tauchnitz edition. It was a great delight to come in con- 
tact once more with something I could read. There was a 
big refreshment -room here with all manner of delectable 
things to eat, only we had passed beyond the sturgeon, 
and caviare was no longer to be had save at a price that 
was prohibitive to a woman who had had as much as she 
could eat and who anyhow was saving her pennies in case 
of contingencies. 

But one thing I did have, and that was a bath. In fact 
the whole train bathed. Near the station was a long row 
of bath-houses, but each one I visited — and they all seemed 
unpleasant places — ^was crowded with soldiers. After a 
third attempt to get taken in my Cossack friend met me 
and was shocked at the idea of my going to such a place ; 
if I would trust him he would take me to a proper place 
after dSjeuner. 

Naturally I trusted him gladly, and we got into one of 
the usual broken-down landaus and drove away to the other 
side of the town to a row of quite superior bath-houses. 
My friend declared he knew the place well, he had been 
stationed here in " the last revolution," as if revolutions 
came as regularly as the seasons. 

It was a gorgeous bath-house. That young man bought 
me soap ; he bought me some sort of loofah for scrubbing ; 
he escorted me to three large rooms which I engaged for 
a couple of hours and, much to the surprise of the people, 
having had the windows opened, he left me, assuring me 
that the carriage should return for me in two hours. There 


was plenty of hot water, plenty of cold, and any amount 
of towels, and both Buchanan and I washed the grime of 
the journey from us and then rested on the sofa in the 
retiring-room. I read John Galsworthy and punctually to 
the moment I descended to the street, clean and refreshed, 
and there our carriage awaited us. 

We bought water-melons on our way back to the train, 
for the streets were heaped up with the great dark gi-een 
melons with the pink flesh that I had not seen since I left 
Australia. Autumn was on the land and here were water- 
melons proof thereof. 

Ever as we went west the cornfields increased. Most of 
the wheat was cut and standing in golden-brown stooks 
waiting to be garnered by old men and boys and sturdy 
country women and those who were left of her young men, 
for Russia had by no means called out her last lines in 1914. 
There were still great patches of forest, primeval forest, of 
dense fir, and I remembered that here must be the haunts 
of the wolves and the bear with which I had always associ- 
ated Russia. More, though why I know not, my mind flew 
back to the tunes of the nomad hordes who, coming out of 
Central Asia, imposed their rule upon the fair-haired Aryan 
race that had settled upon the northern plain of Europe. 
Those forests for me spelled Romance ; they took away from 
the feeling of commonplaceness that the breaking down of 
my preconceived ideas of Siberia had engendered. Almost 
anything might happen in a land that held such forests, 
and such rivers. Not that I was allowed to see much of the 
rivers now. Someone always came in and drew down the 
blinds in my compartment — I had one to myself since leaving 
Cheliabynsk — and told me I must not go out on the platfonn 
whenever we crossed a bridge. They were evidently taking 
precautions against spying though they were too polite to 


say so. There were big towns with stations packed to 
overflowing. At Perm we met some (German prisoners of 
war, and there were soldiers, soldiers everywhere, and at 
last one day in the first week in September we steamed 
into Petrograd. 



It was evening and we had arrived at Petrograd. For 
many years I had wanted to see the northern capital. I 
had thought of it as a town planned by a genius, slowly 
growing amid surrounding swamps, and in my childhood I 
had pictured that genius as steadily working as a carpenter — 
in a white paper cap — having always in his mind's eye the 
to^vn that was to grow on the Baltic Sea, the seaport that 
sliould give his country free access to the civilisation of the 
West. He was a great hero of mine because of his efficiency ; 
after all I see no reason why I should dethrone him now 
that I realise he had the faults of his time and his position. 

But in life I find things always come differently to what 
one pictures them. The little necessities of life will crop 
up and must be attended to first and foremost. The first 
thought that came to me was that I had to part with the 
friends I had made on the journey. Right away from the 
borders of China the Cossack officer and I had travelled 
together ; I had met the Hussar officer and his wife soon after 
I had joined the train, and we seemed to have come out of 
one world into another together. It made a bond, and I 
for one was soiTy to part. They were going to their owti 
friends or to a Russian hotel, and the general consensus 
of opinion was that I would be more comfortable in a hotel 
where there were English or at least French people. 

" Go to the Grand Hotel, Madame," suggested the Hussar 
officer's wife, she who spoke perfect French. 


So Buchanan and I loaded our belongings on to a droshky 
that looked smart after the ones I had been accustomed to 
in Asia, bade farewell to our friends " till after the war" — ^the 
Cossack was coming to England then " to buy a dog " — and 
drove to the Grand Hotel. 

The Grand Hotel spoke perfect English, looked at me 
and — declined to take me because I had a little dog. I 
was very much astonished, but clearly I couldn't abandon 
Buchanan, so I went on to the Hotel d'Angleterre, which 
also declined. I went from hotel to hotel and they all said 
the same thing, they could not think of taking in anyone 
accompanied by a dog. It was growing dark — it was dark, 
and after a fortnight on the train I was weary to death. 
How could I think of the glories of the Russian capital 
when I was wondering where I could find a resting-place ? 
I couldn't turn Buchanan adrift in the streets, I couldn't 
camp in the streets myself, and the hotel porters who could 
speak English had no suggestions to make as to where I 
could bestow my little friend in safety. Six hotels we went 
to and everyone was firm and polite, they could not take a 
dog. At last a hotel porter had a great idea, the Hot^l 
Astoria would take dogs. 

" Why on earth didn't someone tell me so before ? " I 
said, and promptly went to the Hotel Astoria. It was rather 
like going to the Hotel Ritz, and though I should like to stay 
at the Hotel Ritz I would not recommend it to anyone who 
was fearing an milimited stay in the country, who had only 
forty pounds to her credit and was not at all sure she could 
get any more. Still the Hotel Astoria took little dogs, 
actually welcomed them, and charged four shillings a day 
for their keep. I forgot Peter the Great and the building of 
the capital of Russia, revelling in the comforts of a delight- 
ful room all mirrors, of a bathroom attached and a dinner 


that it was worth coming half across the world to meet. 
My spirits rose and I began to be quite sure that all diffi- 
culties would pass away, I should be able to get back to 
England and there would be no need for that desperate 
economy. It was delightful to go to bed in a still bed 
between clean white sheets, to listen to the rain upon the 
window and to know that for this night at least all was well. 
I had seen no English papers ; I knew nothing about the war, 
and it is a fact one's o^^^l comfort is very apt to colour one's 
views of life. Buchanan agreed vnth me this was a very 
pleasant world — as a rule I do find the world pleasant — it 
was impossible anjiihing could go WTong in it. 

And the next day I received a snub — a snub from my own 

I went to the British Consulate full of confidence. Every 
foreigner I had met all across the world had been so pleased 
to see me, had been so courteous and kind, had never counted 
the cost when I wanted help, so that I don't know what I 
didn't expect from my own countrymen. I looked forward 
very much to meeting them. And the young gentleman in 
office snubbed me properly. He wasn't wanting any truck 
with foolish women who crossed continents ; he didn't care 
one scrap whether I had come from Saghalien or just walked 
dovm. the Nevsky Prospekt ; I was a nuisance anyw^ay, his 
manner gave me to understand, since I disturbed his peace 
and quiet, and the sooner I took myself out of the country 
the better he would be pleased. He just condescended to 
explain where I could get a ticket straight tlu-ough to 
Newcastle-on-Tyne ; people were doing it every day ; he 
didn't know anything about the war, and his manner gave 
me to understand that it wasn't his business to supply 
travellers with news. I walked out of that office with all 
the jauntiness taken out of me. Possibly, I have thought 


since, he was depressed at the news from France, perhaps 
someone was jeering him because he had not joined up, or 
else he had wanted to join up and was not allowed. It was 
unlucky that my first Englishman after so long should be 
such a churlish specimen. I felt that unless my necessity 
was dire indeed I should not apply to the British Consulate 
for help in an emergency. I did not recover till I went to 
the company who sold through tickets, across Finland, 
across Sweden and Noi-way, across the North Sea to 
Newcastle-on-Tyne. There I bought a ticket for fifteen 
pounds which was to caiTy me the whole way. It was a 
Swedish company, I think, and the office was packed with 
people, Poles, Letts, Lithuanians and Russians, who were 
naturalised Americans and who wanted to go home. Every- 
body took the deepest interest in Buchanan, so much interest 
that the man in charge asked me if I was going to take him, 
I said " Of course," and he shook his head. 

" You will never get him through Sweden. They are most 

Poor Buchanan ! Despair seized me. Having been to the 
British Consulate, I knew it was no use seeking advice there. 
I suppose I was too tired or I should have remembered that 
Americans are always kind and helpful and gone there or 
even dared the British Embassy. But these ideas occurred 
to me too late. 

You may travel the world over and the places you visit 
will often remain in your mind as pleasant or otherwise not 
because of any of their own attributes, but because of the 
emotions you have suffered in them. Here was I in St 
Petrograd, and instead of exploring streets and canals and 
cathedrals and palaces my whole thoughts were occupied 
with the fate of my little dog. I " had given my heart to a 
dog to tear " and I was suffering in consequence. All the 


while I was in Petrograd — and I stayed there three days 
looking for a way out — my thoughts were given to James 
Buchanan. I discussed the matter with the authorities 
in the hotel who could speak English, and finally Buchanan 
and I made a peregiination to the Swedish Consulate. And 
though the Swedish Consulate was a deal more civil and 
more interested in me and my doings than the English, in 
the matter of a dog, even a nice little dog like Buchanan, 
they were firm — ^tlu'ough Sweden he could not go. 

I read in the paper the other day that the world might 
be divided into men and women and people-who-hate-dogs, 
and these last will wonder what I was making such a fuss 
about, but the men and women will understand. My dear 
little companion and friend had made the lonely places 
pleasant for me and I could not get him out of the country 
save by turning round and going back across Europe, Asia 
and America ! 

I went back to the place where I had bought my ticket. 
They also were sympathetic. Everyone in the office was 
interested in the tribulations of the cheerful little black and 
white dog who sat on the counter and wagged a friendly tail. 
I had many offers to take care of him for me, and the con- 
sensus of opinion was that he might be smuggled ! And 
many tales were told me of dogs taken across the borders 
in overcoats and muffs, or drugged in baskets. 

That last appealed to me. Buchanan was just too big to 
carry hidden easily, but he might be drugged and covered up 
in a basket. I went back to the Astoria and sent for a vet. 
Also I bought a highly ornamental basket. The porter 
thought I was cruel. He thought I might leave the dog 
with him till after the war, but he translated the vet's 
opinion for me, and the vet gave me some sulphonal. He 
assured me the little dog would be all right, and I tried to 


put worrj^ng thoughts away from me and to see Petrograd, 
the capital of the Tsars. 

But I had seen too much. There comes a moment, how- 
ever keen you are on seeing tlie world, when you want to 
see no new thing, when you want only to close your eyes 
and rest, and I had arrived at that moment. The wide and 
busy streets intersected with canals, the broad expanse of 
the Neva, the cathedral and the Winter Palace were nothing 
to me ; even the wrecked German Embassy did not stir me. 

I was glad then when the fourth morning found me on 
the Finland station. The Finland station was crowded and 
the Finland train, ^\-ith only second and third class carnages 
and bound for Raumo, was crowded also, and it appeared it 
did not know its way very well as the line had only just been 
opened to meet the traffic west diverted from Germany. 
A fortnight before no one had ever heard of Raumo. 

And now for me the whole outlook was changed. This 
was no military train, packed as it was, but a train of men, 
women and children struggling to get out of the country, 
the flotsam and jttsam that come to the surface at the 
beginning of a war. And I heard again for the first time 
since I left Tientsin, worlds away, English spoken that was 
not addressed to me. To be sure it was English with an 
accent, the very peculiar accent that belongs to Russians, 
Lithuanians, Poles and Letts Americanised, and with it 
mingled the nasal tones of a young musician from Central 
Russia who spoke the language of his adopted land with a 
most exaggerated accent and the leisurely, cultivated tones 
of Oxford. 

I had come from the East to the West ! 

The carriage was open from end to end and they would 
not allow Buchanan to enter it. He, poor little man, in the 
gorgeous basket that he objected to strongly, was banished 


to the luggage-van, and because the carriage was hot, and 
also because I felt he Avould be lonely separated from me, 
I went there and kept him company. 

And in that van I met another Russian naval officer and 
deepened my obligations to the Russian navy. He sat 
down beside me on one of the boxes, a tall, broad-shouldered, 
fair man who looked like a Viking with his moustache 
shaved off. I found to my joy he spoke English, and I 
confided to him my difficulties with regard to breakfast. I 
was so old a traveller by now I had learned the Avisdom of 
considering carefully the commissariat. He was going to 
the forts on the Finnish border of which he was in command, 
but before he left the train we would arrive at a refreshment- 
room, and he undertook to arrange matters for me. And 
so he did. 

Petrograd does not get up early, at least the Hotel Astoria 
did not, and the most I could manage before I left was a cup 
of coffee, but I made up for it at that first refreshment -room. 
The naval officer took entire charge and, revelling in his 
importance, I not only had a very good breakfast but made 
the most of my chances and, filling up my basket with a 
view to future comforts, bought good things so that I might 
be able to exchange civilities with my fellow-passengers on 
the way to Raumo. I had eggs and sausages and new bread 
and scones and a plentiful supply of fruit, to say nothing of 
sugar and lemons and cream and meat for Buchanan — the 
naval man looking on smiling — and when I had really done 
myself well I turned to hun and demanded what I ought to 

" Nothing, Madame. In Russia when a gentleman takes 
a lady for refreshment he pays ! " 

Imagine my horror ! And I had stocked my basket so 
lavishly ! 


My protests were useless. I was escorted back to our 
luggage- van and my thoughts led gently from the coffee 
and eggs I had consumed and the sausages and bread I 
had stowed away in my basket to the state of the war as 
it struck the Russian naval mind. 

Had I heard about the sea fight in the Mediterranean ? 
Not heard about the little Gloucester attacking the Goehen, 
the little Gloucester that the big German battleship could 
have eaten ! A dwarf and a giant ! Madame ! Madame ! 
It was a sea fight that will go down through the ages ! 
Russia was ringing with it ! 

" Do you know anyone in the English navy ? " 

I said I had two brothers in the senior service, a little 
later and I might have said three. 

" Then tell them," said he earnestly, " we Russian sailors 
are proud to be Allies of a nation that breeds such men as 
manned the Gloucester ! " 

The Finnish border was soon reached and he left us, and 
the day went on and discipline I suppose relaxed, for I 
brought Buchanan into the carriage and made friends with 
the people who surrounded me. And then once again did 
I bless the foresight of the Polish Jewess in Kharbin who had 
impressed upon me the necessity for two kettles. They were 
a godsend in that carriage. We commandeered glasses, we 
got hot water at wayside stations and I made tea for all 
within reach, and a cup of tea to a thirsty traveller, especially 
if that traveller be a woman, is certainly a road to that 
traveller's good graces. 

Finland is curiously different from Russia. They used 
to believe in the old sailing-ship days that every Finn was 
a magician. Whether they are magicians or not, they 
have a beautiful country, though its beauty is as different 
from that of the Amur as the Thames is from the Murray 


in far-away Australia. Gone were the wide spaces of the 
earth and the primitive peoples. We wandered through 
cultivated lands, we passed lake and river and woods, 
crossed a wonderful salmon river, skirted Finland's inland 
sea : here and there was a castle dominating the farmhouses 
and little towns, the trees were turning, just touched gently 
by Autumn's golden fingers, and I remembered I had watched 
the tender green of the spring awakening on the other side 
of the world, more, I had been travelling ever since. It 
made me feel weary — weary. And yet it was good to note 
the difference in these lands that I had journeyed over. 
The air here was clear, clear as it had been in China ; it had 
that curious charm that is over scenery viewed thi-ough a 
looking-glass, a charm I can express in no other words. 
Unlike the great rivers of Russia, the little rivers brawled 
over the stones, companionable little streams that made 
you feel you might o^vn them, on their banks spend a pleasant 
afternoon, returning to a cosy fire and a cheery home when 
the dusk was falling. 

And this evening, our first day out, we, the little company 
in my carriage, fell into trouble. 

We spoke among us many tongues, English, French, 
German, Polish, Russian, Lettish, and one whose tongue was 
polyglot thought in Yiddish and came from the streets, the 
" mean streets " of London, but not one amongst us spoke 
Finnish, the language of the magicians, or could even under- 
stand one word of it. This was unfortunate, for the Finns 
either spoke no language but their o^vn or had a grudge 
against us and declined to understand us. That didn't 
prevent them from turning us out that night in a railway 
station in the heart of Finland and leaving us to discover 
for ourselves that eveiy hotel in the little town was full to 
overflowing ! Once more I was faced with it — a night in 


a railway station. But my predicament was not so bad 
shared with others who spoke my language. There was the 
Oxford man and the musician with a twang, there was the 
wife of an American lawyer with her little boy and the wife 
of an American doctor with her little girls — they all spoke 
English of sorts, used it habitually — and there were four 
Austrian girls making their way back to some place in 
Hungary. Of com-se, technically, they were our enemies, 
while the Americans were neutral, but we all went in 
together. The Russian-American musician had been in 
Leipsic and was most disgustingly full of the mighty strength 
of Germany. 

The refresliment -rooms were shut, the whole place was in 
darkness, but it was a mild night, with a gorgeous September 
moon sailing out into the clear sky, and personally I should 
not have minded spreading my rugs and sleeping outside. 
I should have liked it, in fact, but the tales of the insecurity 
of Siberia still lingered in my consciousness, and when the 
Oxford man said that one of the porters would put us up in 
his house I gladly went along with all the others and, better 
still, took along my bundles of rugs and cushions. 

The places that I have slept in ! That porter had a quaint 
little wooden house set in a garden and the whole place 
might have been lifted bodily out of Hans Andersen. We 
had the freedom of the kitchen, a veiy clean kitchen, and 
we made tea there and ate what we had brought in our 
baskets. The Auslrian girls had a room to themselves, 
I lent my rugs to the young men and they made shift with 
them in the entrance porch, and the best sitting-ix)om was 
turned over to the women and childien and me. Two very 
small beds were put up very close together and into them 
got the two women and tlu'ee childi-en, and I was accommo- 
dated with a remarkably Lilliputian sofa. I am not a big 


woman, but it would not hold me, and as for Buchanan, he 
looked at me in disgust, said a bed was a proper place for a 
dog and promptly jumped on it. But it was full to over- 
flowing of women and childi-en sleeping the sleep of the 
utterly weary and he as promptly jumped off again and the 
next moment was sitting up in front of my sofa with his little 
front paws hanging down. He was a disgusted dog. He 
always begged when he wanted me to give him something, 
and now he begged to show me he was really in need of a 
bed. There were great uncurtained windows on two sides 
of that room, there were flowers and ferns in pots growing 
in it, and the full moon streamed in and showed me every- 
thing : the crowded, rather gimcrack fm-nitme, the bucket 
that contained water for us to wash in in the morning, the 
bed full of sleeping women and children and the little 
black and white dog sitting up in protest against what he 
considered the discomforts of the situation. What I found 
hard to bear were the hermetically sealed windows — ^the 
women had been afraid of di*aughts for the childi'en — so as 
soon as that night wore thi-ough and daylight came stealing 
through the windows I dressed quietly and, steppmg across 
the sleeping young men at the door, went outside with 
Buchanan to explore Finland. 

Om- porter evidently ran some sort of tea gardens, for 
there were large swings set up, swings that would hold four 
and six people at once, and we tried them, much to Buchanan's 
discomfiture. We went for a walk up the street, a country 
town street of little wooden houses set in little gardens, 
and over all lay a Sabbath calm. It was Sunday, and the 
people slept, and the autumn sunlight made the whole place 
glorious. There is such rest and peace about the autmnn : 
everjiihing has been accomplished and now is the fullness of 
time. I never know which season I like best, each has its 


own beauty, but I shall always think of Finland as a land 
of little things, charming little things bathed in the autumn 

When the whole party were awake we found some diffi- 
culty in getting something to eat. The porter could not 
supply us, and at the station, where they were vigorously 
sweeping — the Finns are very clean — ^they utterly declined 
to open the first-class refreshment-rooms. We could only 
get something to eat in the third-class. Tliere was a great 
feeling of camaraderie and good-fellowship among us all, and 
here I remember the lawyer's wife insisted upon us all having 
breakfast at her expense, for according to her she owed us 
all something. It was she who added to our party the 
Yiddish woman, a fat, square little person hung round with 
innumerable bundles, carrying as she did a month's pro- 
visions, enough to last her across to America, for she was a 
very strict Jew and could eat nothing but kosher killed meat 
and kosher bread, whatever that may be. I know it made 
her a care, for a month's provisions make something of a 
parcel, and when bedding and a certain amount of clothing 
has to be carried as well, and no porters are available, the 
resulting baggage is apt to be a nuisance. All along the line 
this fat little person was liable to come into view, toiling 
under the weight of her many bundles. She would be found 
jammed in a doorway ; she would subside exhausted in the 
middle of a railway platform — the majority of her bundles 
would be retrieved as they fell doA\Tistairs — or she blocked 
the little gateway through which passengers were admitted 
one by one, and the resulting bad language in all the tongues 
of Northern Europe probably caused the Recording Angel 
a good deal of unnecessary trouble. But the Oxford man 
and the musician were always read}' to help her, and she 
must have blessed the day the American lawyer's wife 


added her to a party which had such kindly, helpful young 
men among its members. 

I found presently that the Oxford man and I were the 
moneyed members of the party, the only ones who were 
paying our way; the others, far richer people than I, I 
daresay, had been caught in the whirlpool of the war and 
were being passed on ft-om one American consul to another, 
unable to get money from their own country. Apparently 
this was rather an unpleasant process, meaning a certain 
scarcity of cash, as an American consul naturally cannot 
afford to spend lavishly on his distressed subjects. It was 
the irony of fate that some of them were evidently not 
accustomed to looking too carefully after the pennies. 

It took us two days to cross Finland, and towards the end 
of the journey, after we had got out to have tea at a wayside 
station that blossomed out into ham and tea and bread and 
honey, we made friends with a certain Finn whose father 
had been a Scotsman. At last we were able to communicate 
with the people of the country ! Also I'm afraid we told 
him in no measured terms that we did not think much of 
his compatriots. That was rather a shame, for he was 
exceedingly kind. He was going to England, he told us, to 
buy sheepskins for the Russian army, and he took great 
interest in my trouble about Buchanan. He examined him 
carefully, came to the conclusion he was a perfectly healthy 
little dog and suggested I should lend him to him till we 
reached Sweden, as he was perfectly well known to the 
authorities, and Finnish dogs would be allowed to enter 
Sweden, while a dog that had come from Russia would 
certainly be barred. I loved that man for his kindly interest 
and I handed over Buchanan in his basket without a qualm. 
We were really quite a goodly company when in the 
dusk of the evening we steamed into Raumo. The station 


seemed deserted, but we didn't worry much about that, as 
our new Finnish friend suggested the best thing to do was 
to go straight down to the steamer, the Uleaborg, a Finnish 
ship, and have our dinner and spend the night there. Even 
if she did not go that night, and he did not think she 
would, we could rest and sleep comfortably. We all agreed, 
and as the train went on down to the wharf we appointed 
him our delegate to go on board and see what arrangements 
he could make for us. The minute the train stopped, off 
he went, and Buchanan went with him. I was getting easier 
in my mind about Buchanan now, the thought of drugging 
him had been spoiling my pleasure in the scenery. And then 
we waited. 

It began to rain, and through the mist which hid the 
moonlight to-night we could see the loom of the ships ; they 
were all white and the lights from the cabin ports showed 
dim through the misty rain. The wharf was littered with 
goods, barrels and bales, and as there was more than one 
steamer, and apparently no one to guide us, or the Scots 
Finn had not returned, we tackled the Russian gens cfarme 
tv'ho seemed to be in charge of the wharf and who was lean- 
ing up against the train. 

" Can you speak Finnish ? " 

" Ah ! now you have my secret first shot," said he, vdth a 
smile. He, their guardian, was no more equal to com- 
municating with these people than we were. And then, to 
our dismay, before our messenger could return, the train 
which considered not a parcel of refugees put on steam and 
started back to Raumo ! 

A dozen voices were raised in frantic protest, but we might 
as well have spared our breath, the train naturally paid 
no attention to us, but went back at full speed to the to"vvn 
proper. It was a comfort when it stopped, for, for all we 


knew, it might have gone straight back to Petrograd itself. 
And Buchanan, shut up in a basket, was left behind, I knew 
not where ! They dumped us on that station, bag and 
baggage, in the rain. We were worse off here than we were 
at the wharf, for there the steamer and comfort at least 
loomed in the distance. Here was only a bare and empty 
station, half-a-dozen men who looked at us as if we were 
so many wild beasts on show, and a telephone to the wharf 
which we were allowed to use as long as we pleased, but as 
far as I could gather the only result was a flow of bad 
language in many tongues. We might be of many nations, 
but one and all were we agi-eed in our dislike of the Fimis 
and all things Finnish. If I remember rightly, in the Middle 
Ages, most people feared and disliked magicians. 

We managed to get our baggage into the hall of the station, 
wliich was dimly lighted by electric lights, and in anticipa- 
tion of our coming they had filled up the station water- 
carafes. But that was all the provision they had made. If 
there was a refreshment-room it had been locked up long 
ago, and as far as we could make out, now om' interpreter 
had gone, there were no hotels or boarding-houses. Our 
Scots Finn had said it was impossible to stay in Raumo. 
We looked at one another in a dismay in which there was, 
after all, something comic. This that had befallen us was 
the sort of aggravating thing a mischievous magician would 
cause to happen. We were tired and hungry and bad- 
tempered, and I for one was anxious about my little dog 
and I began to seek, with cash in my hand, somebody who 
would find me Buchanan. 

How I made my wants kno\Mi I don't now realise, but 
money does wonders, and presently there came in a man 
bearing his basket and a rapturous little dog was let out into 
the room. Where he had been I have not the famtest idea, 


and I could not ask, only I gathered that the man who 
brought him professed himself perfectly willing to go on 
fetching little dogs all night at the same rate, and the 
musician remarked in his high nasal twang that he supposed 
it was no good expecting any more sympathy from Mrs 
Gaunt, she was content now she had her little dog. As a 
matter of fact, now that my mind was at ease, I was equal 
to giving my attention to other people's woes. 

We tackled the men round us. 

Where was our messenger ? 

No one knew. 

Where could we get something to eat ? 

Blank stare. They were not accustomed to foreigners 
yet at Raumo. The station had only just been opened. 
The musician took out his violin and its wailing tones went 
echoing and re-echoing through the hall. The audience 
looked as if they thought we had suddenly gone mad, and 
one man came forward and by signs told us we must leave 
the station. That was all very well, we were not enamoured 
of the station, but the port we judged to be at least four 
miles off, and no one was prepared to start down an unknown 
road in the dark and pouring rain. There was a long con- 
sultation, and we hoped it meant food, but it didn't. Out 
of a wilderness of words we at last arrived at the interesting 
fact that if we cared to subscribe five marks one of these 
gentlemen was prepared to conduct us to the police station. 
There appeared to be no wild desu-e on the part of any of us 
to go to the police station, the violin let out a screech of 
scornful derision, and one of the officials promptly turned 
off the electric lights and left us in darkness ! 

There were many of us, and vexations shared are amusing. 
W'e laughed, how we laughed, and the violin went wailing 
up and down the octaves. No wonder the Finns looked at 


us askance. Even the darkness did not turn us out, for we 
had nowhere else to go, and finally a man who spoke English 
turned up, the agent for the Swedish steamer. He had 
thought there would be no passengers and had gone to bed, 
to be roused up, I presume by the stationmaster, as the only 
person likely to be capable of dealing with these trouble- 
some people who were disturbing the peace of this Finnish 

We flew at him — ^there were about a dozen of us — and 
showed our tickets for the Finnish steamer, and he smiled 
in a superior manner and said we should be captured by 

We didn't believe much in the Germans, for we had many 
of us come through a country which certainly believed itself 
invulnerable. Then a woman travelling vnth her two 
daughters, Americans of the Americans, though their mother 
spoke English with a most extraordinary accent, proclaimed 
aloud that if there was a Swedish steamer she was going 
by it as she was afraid of " dose Yarmans." She and her 
daughters would give up their tickets and go by the Swedish 
steamer. Protest was useless. If we liked to break up 
the party we could. She was not going by the Uleaborg. 
Besides, where were we to sleep that night ? The Finnish 
steamer was three or four miles away down at the wharf 
and we were here along with the Swedish agent. 

The Swedish agent seized the opening thus given. There 
were no hotels ; there were no boarding-houses ; no, it was 
not possible to get anything to eat at that hour of the night. 
Something to drink ? Well, in surprised tones, there was 
siu-ely plenty of water in the station — ^there was — and he 
would arrange for a train for us to sleep in. The train at 
ten o'clock next morning would take us down to the steamer. 

We retired to that train. Only one of the carriages 


was lighted, and that by general consent we gave up to the 
lady whose fear of the Germans had settled our affairs for 
us, and she in return asked us to share what pro\'isions we 
had left. We pooled our stores — I don't think I had any- 
thing left, but the others shared with me — and we dined, not 
unsatisfactorily, off sardines, black bread, sausages and 
apples. The only person left out of the universal friendli- 
ness was the Yiddish lady. Out of her plenty she did not 
offer to share. 

" She cannot," said the musician. " She is saving for the 
voyage to America. You see, she can eat none of the ship- 
board food." He too came of the same strict order of Jew, 
and his grandparents, with whom he had been staying in 
Little Russia, had provided him with any amount of sausage 
made of kosher meat, but when he was away from his own 
people he was evidently anjrthing but strict and ate what 
pleased him. He shared with the rest of us. Possibly he 
was right about the Yiddish woman, and I suppose it did not 
really do us any harm to go short till next morning, but it 
looked very greedy, and I still wonder at the nerve cf a 
woman who could sit down and eat sausage and bread and 
all manner of such-like things while within a stone's-throw 
of her people who had helped her in every way they could 
were cutting up apples and pears into quarters and audibly 
wishing they had a little more bread. The Oxford man and 
musician had always helped her, but she could not find it in 
her heart to spare them one crumb. I admire her nerve. 
In America I doubt not she will acquire wealth. 

After supper Buchanan and I retired to a dark carriage, 
wrapped ourselves in my eiderdown and slept till with break 
of day two capable but plain Finnish damsels came in to 
clean the train. I think the sailors' ideas must have been 
wrong : every Finn cannot be a magician else they would not 


allow all their women to be so plain. I arose and dressed 
and prepared to go out and see if Raumo could produce 
coffee and rolls, but as I was starting the violinist in the 
next compartment protested. 

" I wouldn't. Guess you haven't got the hang of these 
Finnish trains. It might take it into its head to go on. 
Can't you wait till we reach the steamer." 

I gave the matter my consideration, and while I was con- 
sidering the train did take it into its head to go on four 
hours before its appointed time. On it went, and at last 
in the fresh northern dewy morning, with the sun just newly 
risen, sending his long low rays streaming across the dancing 
waters of the bay, we steamed up to the wharf, and there 
lay the white ships that were bound for Sweden, the other 
side of the Baltic. 



But we couldn't get on the steamer at once. For some reason 

or other there were Customs delays and everything we 

possessed had to be examined before we were allowed to 

leave the country, but — and we hailed them with delight — 

under the goods sheds were set out little tables where we 

could buy coffee and rolls and butter and eggs. It was 

autumn now, and for all the sunshine here in such high 

latitudes there was a nip in the air and the hot coffee was 

welcome. We met, too, our friend of the night before, the 

Scots Finn, but the glamour had departed from him and we 

paid no attention to his suggestion that the Goathied, the 

Swedish steamer, was very much smaller than the Uleaborg 

and that there was a wind getting up and we would all be 

deadly sick. We said we preferred being sick to being 

captured by the Germans. And he laughed at us. There 

was no need to fear the Germans in the Baltic so far north. 

It was midday before we were allowed on board the little 

white ship, but still she lingered. I was weary, weary, even 

the waiting seemed a weariness so anxious was I to end my 

long journeying and get home. And then suddenly I felt 

very near it, for my ears were greeted by the good broad 

Doric of Scotland, and there came trooping on board five 

and fifty men, part of the crews of four English ships that 

had been caught by the tide of war and laid up at Petrograd 

and Kronstadt. An opportunity had been found and they 

were going back by way of Sweden, leaving their ships 



behind till after the war. We did not think the war could 
last very long on board that steamer. 

The Scotsmen had evidently been expected, for on the 
deck in the bows of the little steamer — she was only about 
three hundred tons — ^were laid long tables spread with ample 
supplies of boiled sausages, suet pudding and potatoes, 
and very appetising it looked, though in all my wanderings 
I had never met boiled sausages before. Down to the feast 
sat the sailor-men, and our Yiddish friend voiced aloud my 

" Anglisky," said she unexpectedly, " nice Anglisky boys. 
Guten appetite, nice Anglisky boys ! " 

They were very cheery, poor boys, and though they were 
not accustomed to her sort in Leith, they received her 
remarks ^nth appreciative grins. 

As we started the captain came down upon me. 

" Who does that dog belong to ? " he asked angrily. 
Everyone on board spoke English. And before I could 
answer — I wasn't particularly anxious to answer — he added : 
" He can't be landed in Sweden." 

My heart sank. What would they do to my poor little 
dog ? I was determined they shouldn't harm him unless 
they harmed me first, and if he had to go back to Russia — 
well, I would go too ; but the thought of going back made 
me very miserable, and I made solemn vows to myself that 
if I by some miracle got through safely, never, never again 
would I travel with a dog. 

And while I was thinking about it there came along a 
junior officer, mate, purser, he might have been the cook for 
all I know, and he said : " If you have bought this dog in 
Finland, or even on board the steamer, he can land." 

It was light in darkness, and I do not mind stating that 
where my dog is concerned I have absolutely no morals if it 


is to save him from pain. He had been my close companion 
for over a year and I knew he was perfectly healthy. 

" I will give you a good price for him," said I. " He is 
a pretty little dog." 

" Wait," he said, " wait. By and by I see." 
Just as we got out of the bay the captain announced that 
he was not going to Stockholm at all, but to Gefle, farther 
north. Why, he did not know. Such were his orders. In 
ordinary times to find yourself being landed at Liverpool, 
say, when you had booked for London might be upsetting, 
but in war time it is all in the day's work, and sailors and 
crowded passengers only laughed. 

" Let's awa'," said the sailors. " Let's awa'." 
The air was clear and clean, clean as if every speck of 
dust had been washed away by the rain of the preceding 
night ; the little islands at the mouth of the bay stood out 
green and fresh in the blue sea, but the head wind broke it 
up into little waves, and the ship was empty of cargo and 
tossed about like a cork. The blue sea and snow-white 
clouds, the sunlight on the dancing waves mattered not to 
us; all we wanted, those of us who were not in favour of 
drowning at once and so ending our misery, was to land in 
Sweden. Buchanan sat up looking at me reproachfully, 
then he too subsided and was violently sick, and I watched 
the passengers go one by one below to hide their misery, 
even those who had vowed they never were sea-sick. I 
stayed on deck because I felt I was happier there in the fresh 
air, and so I watched the sunset. It was a gorgeous sunset ; 
the clouds piled themselves one upon the other and the red 
sun stained them deepest crimson. It was so striking that 
I forgot my sea-sick qualms. 

And then suddenly I became aware there were more ships 
upon the sea than ours, one in particular, a black, low-lying 


craft, was steaming all round us, sending out defiant hoots. 
There were three other ships farther off, and I went to the 
rail to look over the darkening sea. 

Between us and the sunset was the low-lying craft, so close 
I could see the gaiters of a man in uniform who stood on a 
platform a little higher than his fellows ; the little decks were 
crowded with men and a long gun was pointed at us. It 
was all black, clean-cut, silhouetted against the crimson 

We were slowed down, barely moving, the waves slop- 
slopped against our sides, and the passengers came scram- 
bling up. 

" Germans ! Yarmans ! " they cried, and from the 
torpedo boat came a voice through a megaphone. 

" What are you doing with all those fine young men on 
board ? " it asked in excellent English, the language of the 

The black torpedo boat was lying up against us. 

Sea-sickness was forgotten, and the violinist came to me. 

" They are going to take the young men," he said, and he 
was sorry and yet pleased, because all the time he had been 
full of the might of the Germans. 

I thought of the Oxford man in the very prime of his 

" Have you told him ? " 

" Guess I didn't dare," said he. 

" Well, I think you'd better, or I'll go myself. They are 
going to search the ship and he won't like being taken 

So he went down, and presently they came up together. 
The Oxford man had been very sea-sick and he thought all 
the row was caused by the ship having struck a mine, and 
he felt so ill that if things were to end that way he was 


accepting it calmly, but being captured by G^ermans was a 
different matter. He was the only Englishman in the first 
class, and when we heard they were coming for the young 
men we felt sure he would have to go. 

Leaning over the rail of the Goathied, we could look down 
upon the black decks of the torpedo boat, blacker than ever 
now in the dusk of the evening, for the sun sank and the 
darkness was coming quickly. A rope ladder was flung 
over and up came a couple of German officers. They spoke 
perfect English, and they talked English all the time. They 
went below, demanded the passenger list and studied it 

" We must take those Englishmen," said the leader, and 
then he went through every cabin to see that none was 

The captain made remonstrance, as much remonstrance 
as an unarmed man can make with three cruisers looking 
on and a torpedo boat close alongside. 

"It is war," said the German curtly, and in the dusk he 
ranged the sailor-men along the decks, all fifty-five of them, 
and picked out those between the ages of nineteen and forty. 
Indeed one luckless lad of seventeen was taken, but he was 
a strapping fellow and they said if he was not twenty-one 
he looked it. 

It was tragic. Of course there must have been treachery 
at work or how should the German squadron have known 
that the Englishmen were crossing at this very hour ? But a 
few moments before they had been counting on getting home 
and now they were bound for a German prison ! In the 
gathering darkness they stood on the decks, and the short, 
choppy sea beat the iron torpedo boat against the ship's 
side, and the captain in the light from a lantern hung against 
the little house looked the picture of despair. 


" She caiinot stand it ! She cannot stand it much 
longer ! " 

Crash! Crash! Crash! 

" She cannot stand it ! She was never built for it ! And 
she is old now ! " 

But the German paid no attention. Tlie possible destruc- 
tion of a passenger ship was as nothing weighed in the 
balance with the acquirement of six and thirty fighting men. 

They were so quiet. They handed letters and small 
bundles and sometunes some of their pay to their comrades 
or to the passengers looking on and they dropped do\Mi 
that ladder. No one but a sailor could have gone doAvn, 
for the ships heaved up and doiMi, and sometimes they were 
bumping and sometimes there was a wide belt of heaving 
dark water between them, bridged only by that frail ladder. 
One by one they went, landing on the hostile deck, and were 
greeted with what were manifestly jeers at their misfortune. 
The getting down was difficult and more than once a bundle 
was dropped into the sea and there went up a sigh that was 
like a wail, for the passengers looking on thought the man was 
gone, and I do not think there would have been any hope for 
him between the ships. 

Darker and darker it grew. On the Goathied there were 
the lighted decks, but below on the torpedo boat the men 
were dim figures, German and English undiscernible in the 
gloom. On the horizon loomed the sombre bulk of the 
ci-uisers, each with a bright light aloft, and all around was 
the heaving sea, the white tops of the choppy waves showing 
sinister against the darker hollows. 

" Anglisky boys ! Anglisky boys ! " wailed the Yiddish 
woman, and her voice cut into the waiting silence. It was 
their dirge, the dirge for the long, long months of imprison- 
ment that lay before them. And we were hoping for a short 


war ! I could hear the Oxford man drawing a long breath 
occasionally, steeling himself against the moment when his 
turn would come. 

It never came. Why, I do not know. Perhaps they did 
not realise bis nationality, for being a Scotsman he had 
entered himself as " British " on the passenger list, and 
" British " was not such a well-known word as the sons of 
Britain gathering from all corners of the earth to fight the 
common foe have made it to-day. 

" Puir chappies ! Puir chappies ! A'm losin' guid 
comrades," sighed an elderly man leaning over the side 
and shouting a farewell to " Andra'." 

I murmured something about " after the war," but he 
cut me short sternly. The general opinion was that they 
would be put to stoke German warships and as the British 
were sure to beat them they would go down and be in- 
gloriously lost. The thought must have been a bitter one to 
the men on that torpedo boat. And they took it like heroes. 

The last man was gone, and as the torpedo boat drew away 
a sort of moan went up from the bereft passenger ship and 
we went on our way, the captain relieved that wc were fi'ee 
before a hole had been knocked in our side. 

He was so thankful that no worse thing had befallen him 
that he became quite communicative. 

" They are gone to take the Uleahorg" he said, " and they 
will blow her up and before to-morrow morning Raumo 
will be in flames ! " 

In those days Sweden had great faith in the might of 
Germany. I hope that faith is getting a little shaken at last. 
Still that captain declared his intention of warning all the 
ships he could. There were two Finnish ships of which he 
knew that he said were coming out of Stockholm that night 
and he was going to look for them and warn them. 


And so the night was alive with brilliant electric light 
signals and wild hootings from the steam siren, and he found 
them at last, all honour to him for a kindly sailor-man, 
and the Finnish ships were warned and went back to Sweden. 

But no matter how sorry one is for the sufferings of others, 
the feeling does not in any way tend to lessen one's own 
private woes. Rather are they deepened because sympathy 
and help is not so easily come by when men's thoughts are 
occupied by more — to them more — important matters. 
And so I could not go to sleep because of my anxiety about 
my little dog. Only for the moment did the taking of the 
men and my pity for them drive the thought of his pre- 
dicament from my mind. 

We were nearing Sweden, every moment was bringing us 
closer, and as yet I had made no arrangements for his safety. 
He lay curled up on the seat, liiding his little snub nose and 
his little white paws mth his bushy tail, for the autumn night 
was chilly, and I lay fearing a prison for him too, when he 
would think his mistress whom he had trusted had failed him. 
All the crew were so excited over the kidnapping of the men 
that my meditated nefarious transaction was thrust into the 
background. It was hopeless to think that any one of them 
would give ear to the woes of a little dog, so at last, very 
reluctantly, I gave him, much to his surprise, a sulphonal 
tablet. I dozed a little and when by my watch it was four 
o'clock Buchanan was as lively as a cricket. Sulphonal 
did not seem to have affected him in any way. I gave liim 
another, and he said it was extremely nasty and he was 
surprised at my conduct, but otherwise it made no difference 
to him. 

In the grey of the early morning we drew up to the wharf 
and were told to get all our belongings on to the lower deck 
for the Customs to examine them, and Buchanan was as 


cheerful and as wide awake as if he had not swallowed two 
sulphonal tablets. With a sinking heart I gave him another, 
put him in his basket and, carrying it down to the appointed 
place, threw a rug over it and piled my two suit -cases on top 
of it. How thankful I was there was such a noisy crowd, 
going over and over again in many tongues the events of the 
night. They wi-angled too about their luggage and about 
their places, and above all their din I could hear poor little 
James Buchanan whining and whimpering and asking why 
his mistress was treating him so badly. 

Then came the Customs officer and my heart stood still. 
He poked an investigatory hand into my suit -case and 
asked me — I understood him quite well — to show him what 
was underneath. I could hear Buchanan if he could not, 
and I pretended that I thought he wanted to know what 
was at the bottom of my suit -case and I turned ov^er the 
things again and again. He grew impatient, but luckily 
so did all the people round, and as a woman dragged him 
away by force to look at her things so that she could get 
them ashore I noticed with immense relief that the sailors 
were beginning to take the things to the wharf. Luckily 
I had taken care the night before to get some Swedish money 
— I was taking no chances — and a little palm oil made that 
sailor prompt to attend to my wants. Blessings on the 
confusion that reigned around ! Two minutes later on 
Swedish soil I was piling my gear on a little hand-cart 
with a lot of luggage belonging to the people with whom I 
had come across Finland and it was bound to the railway 

" You have left your umbrella," cried the violinist. 
" I don't care," said I. I had lost my only remaining hat 
for that matter, goodness knows what had become of it, 
but I was not going to put myself within range of those 


Customs men again. What did I care about appearances ! 
I had passed the very worst milestone on my journey when 
I got James Buchanan into Sweden ; I had awakened from 
the nightmare that had haunted me ever since I had taken 
my ticket in Petrograd, and I breathed freely. 

At the railway station we left our luggage, but I got 
Buchanan's basket, and we all went across the road to a 
restaurant just waking to business, for we badly wanted 
breakfast. I loved those passengers. I shall always think 
of them with gratitude. They were all so kind and sjrm- 
pathetic and the restaurant folks, who were full of the seizing 
of the Englishmen on a Swedish ship — so are joys and sorrows 
mingled — must have thought we were a little mad when we 
all stood round and, before ordering breakfast, opened a 
basket and let out a pretty little black and white dog. 

And then I'm sorry to say we laughed, even I laughed, 
laughed with relief, though I there and then took a vow never 
again to drug a dog, for poor little James Buchanan was 
drunk. He wobbled as he walked, and he could not make 
up his mind to lie down like a sensible dog and sleep if off ; 
he was conversational and silly and had to be restrained. 
Poor little James Buchanan ! But he was a Swedish dog, 
and I ate my breakfast %vith appetite, and we all speculated 
as to what had become of the Scots Finn who had failed me. 

Gefle reminded me of Hans Andersen even more than 
Finland had done. It had neat streets and neat houses 
and neat trees and neat and fair-haired women, and Gefle 
was seething with excitement because the Goaihied had been 
stopped. It was early days then, and Sweden had not 
become accustomed to the filibustering ways of the German, 
so every poster had the tale writ large upon it, in every place 
they were talking about it, and we, the passengers who 
walked about the streets, were the observed of all observers. 



I was nearing the end of my long journey, very near now, 
and it did not seem to me to matter much what I did. We 
were all — ^the new friends I had made on the way from 
Petrograd — pretty untidy and travel-stained, and if I wore 
a lace veil on my hair, the violinist had a huge rent in his 
shoe, and, having no money to buy more, he went into a 
shoe-shop and had it mended. I, with Buchanan a little 
recovered, sat beside him while it was done. 

And in the afternoon we went by train through the neat 
and tidy country, Selma Lagerlof's country, to Stockholm. 
I felt as if I were resting, rested, because I was anxious no 
longer about Buchanan, who slumbered peacefully on my 
knee ; and if anybody thinks I am making an absurd fuss 
about a little dog, let them remember he had been my 
faithful companion and friend in far corners of the earth 
when there were none but alien faces around me, and had 
stood many a time between me and utter loneliness and 

We discussed these sturdy Swedes. The Chicago woman's 
daughter, with the pertness and aptness of the American 
flapper, summed them up quickly. 

" The men are handsome," she said, looking round, " but 
the women — ^well, the women lack something — I call them 

And I knew she had hit them off to a " T." After that 
I never looked at a neat and tidy Swedish woman with her 
hair, that was fair without that touch of red that makes for 
gold — ogives life — coiled at the back of her head and her mild 
eyes looking out placidly on the world around her without 
feeling that I too call her tame. 

Stockholm for the most of us was the parting of the ways. 
The American consul took charge of the people who had 


come across Finland with us and the Oxford man and I 
alone went to the Continental Hotel, which, I believe, is the 
best hotel in that city. We had an evening meal together 
in a room that reminded me very much of the sort of places 
we used to call coffee palaces in Melbourne when I was a 
girl, and I met here again for the first time for many a long 
day tea served in cups with milk and cream. It was excellent, 
and I felt I was indeed nearing home. Things were getting 
commonplace and the adventure was going out of life. But 
I was tired and I didn't want adventure any more. There 
comes a time when we have a surfeit of it. 

I remember my sister once wTiting from her home some- 
where in the Malay jungle that her husband was away and 
it was awkward because every night a leopard came and 
took up his position under the house, and though she believed 
he was only after the fowls she didn't like it because of the 
children. If ever she complains that she hasn't had enough 
adventure in her life I remind her of that and she says that 
is not the sort of adventure she has craved. That is always 
the way. The adventure is not always in the form we 
want. I seemed to have had plenty, but I was weary. I 
wanted to sit in a comfortable English garden in the autumn 
sunshine and forget that such things as trains and ships — 
perish the thought of a mule litter — existed. I counted the 
hours. It couldn't be long now. We came down into the hall 
to find that I had been entered on the board containing the 
names of the hotel guests as the Oxford man's wife. Poor 
young man ! It was a little rough on him, for I hadn't 
even a hat, and I felt I looked dilapidated. 

I was too. That night in the sleeper crossing to Christiania 
the woman who had the bottom berth spoke excellent 
English. She was going to some baths and she gave some 


" You axe very ill, Madame," said she, " very ill." 

I said no, I was only a little tired. 

" I think," she went on, *< you are very ill, and if you are 
wise when you get to Christiania you will go to the Hotel 
Victoria and go to bed." 

I was horrified. Because I felt I must go to England as 
quickly as possible, and I said so. 

" The train does not go to Bergen till night," said she. 
" Stay in bed all day." And then as we crossed the border 
a Customs officer came into the carriage. Now I could 
easily have hidden Buchanan, but I thought as a Swedish 
dog all his troubles were over, and he sat up there looking 
pertly at the uniformed man and saying " What are you 
doing here ? " 

" Have you got a certificate of health for that dog ? " 
asked the man sternly. 

I said " No," remembering how very carefully I had kept 
him out of the way of anybody likely to be interested in 
his health. 

" Then," said he, " you must telegraph to the police at 
Christiania. They will meet you and take him to a veterinary 

" And after ? " I asked, trembling, my Swedish friend 

" If his health is good they give him back to you. You 
take a room at a hotel and if his health is good he will be 
allowed to skip about the streets." 

I felt pretty sure he would be allowed to skip about the 
streets and I took a room at the Victoria, the Oxford man 
kindly seeing us through — ^they put us down as Mr and Mrs 
Gaunt here — and James Buchanan, who had been taken 
possession of by the police at the station, came back to me, 
accompanied by a Norwegian policeman who demanded five 


shiUings and gave me a certificate that he was a perfectly 
healthy little dog. 

I want to go back to Norway when I am not tired and fed 
up wdth travelling, for Chi'istiania struck me as a dear little 
home-like town that one could love ; and the railway journey 
across the Dovrefield and even the breakfast baskets that 
came in in the early morning were things to be remembered. 
I saw snow up in those mountains, whether the first snow 
of the coming winter or snow left over from the winter 
before, I do not know, but the views were lovely, and I asked 
myself why I went wandering in far-away places when there 
were places like this so close at home and so easily reached. 
So near home. We were so near home. I could think of 
nothing else. I told Buchanan about it and he licked my 
hand sympathetically and told me always to remember that 
wherever I was was good enough for him. And then we 
arrived at Bergen, a little wooden city set at the head 
of a fiord among the hills, and we went on board the 
Haakon VII., bound for Newcastle-on-Tyne. 

And then the most memorable thing happened, the most 
memorable thing in what for me was a wondrous journey. 
All across the Old World we had come, almost from the very 
farthest corner of the Old World, a wonderful journey i. :; 
to be lightly undertaken nor soon forgotten. And yet as I 
went on board that ship I felt what a very little thing it was. 
I have been feeling it ever since. A Norwegian who spoke 
good English was there, going back to London, and, talking 
to another man, he mentioned in a casual manner some- 
thing about the English contingent that had landed on the 

It startled me. Not in my lifetime, nor in the lifetime of 
my father, indeed I think my grandfathers must have been 
very little boys when the last English troops landed in France. 


*' English troops ! " I cried in astonishment. 

The Norwegian turned to me, smiUng. 

" Yes," he said. " But of course they are only evidence 
of good will. Their use is negligible ! " 

And I agreed. I actually agreed. Britain's role, it seemed 
to me, was on the sea ! 

And in four years I have seen Britain grow into a mighty 
military power. I have seen the men of my own people 
come crowding across the ocean to help the Motherland ; 
I have seen my sister's young son pleased to be a soldier 
in that army, just one of the proud and humble crowd that 
go to uphold Britain's might. And all this has groAvn since 
I stood there at the head of the Norwegian fiord with the 
western sun sparkling on the little wavelets and heard a 
friendly foreigner talk about the little army that was 
" negligible." 

I was tired. I envied those who could work and exert 
themselves, but I could do nothing. If the future of the 
nation had depended on me I could have done nothing. I 
was coming back to strenuous times and I longed for rest. 
I wanted a house of my own ; I wanted a seat in the garden ; 
I wanted to see the flowers grow, to listen to the birds 
singing in the trees. All that our men are fighting for to 
keep sacred and safe, I longed for. 

And I have had it, thanks to those fighting men who have 
sacrificed themselves for me, I have had it. It is good to 
sit in the garden where the faithful little friend I shall never 
forget has his last resting-place ; it is good to see the roses 
grow, to listen to the lark and the cuckoo and the thrush ; 
but there is something in our race that cannot keep still for 
long, the something, I suppose, that sent my grandfather 
to the sea, my father to Australia, and scattered his sons and 
daughters all over the world. I had a letter from a soldier 


brother the other day. The war holds him, of course, but 
nevertheless he wrote, quoting : 

" Salt with desire of travel 

Are my lips ; and the wind's wild singing 
Lifts my heart to the ocean 
And the sight of the great ships swinging." 

And my heart echoed : " And I too I And I too ! " 



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