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Chap. XII. A DANGEROUS ROAD. 215
encounters with natives who had been in the towns where foreigners reside.
It was nearly dark when we reached our inn, a building with accommodation for man and beast. The latter title refers not to horses, but to pigs, which are great favourites with the Chinese, particularly in Fokien. The arrangements of the inn were exactly like those of the last one, and therefore I need not describe them. Tired with the fatigues of the day, I retired early, and slept more soundly than if I had been on a bed of down.
The next day we had to cross another mountain pass, not so high as the last, but presenting scenery equally beautiful. Being at a lower elevation, the hill-sides were clothed with trees and brushwood, and reminded me of the rich tropical scenery which I had seen near Batavia and Singapore. Here were some beautiful forests of the lance-leaved pine (Cunninghamia lanceolata), the finest I had ever met with in China.
The making of the road over this pass must have been a gigantic undertaking. The sides of the mountain, both above and below the road, were steep and rugged. So dangerous had the Chinese considered this road, even after it was made, that they had fixed in many places a massive stone rail on the lower side to prevent people from falling over. Far below, in a beautiful dell, a little stream was gushing down amongst the rocks and trees, which was fed by many waterfalls from the sides of the mountain. In some places the height was so great that it made me giddy to look down.
When we crossed this pass it was blowing a gale of wind, and I was obliged to have the cover taken off my chair. Had I not done so there would have been some danger of my being blown over the rocks; indeed after the covering was removed the danger seemed so great that I considered it safest to get out and walk. Stopping at one of the tea-houses on our way, which was kept by a very talkative old woman, she contributed not a little to our amusement. "Haiyah," said the chair-bearers, as we entered the house, "what a stormy day; how high the wind is!" "Pooh, pooh!" said the old dame, "this is nothing; you must not call this a high wind; it is plain enough you know nothing about the wind amongst these mountains. Our houses are often unroofed, and sometimes it is not possible for us to stand on the public road without support. You could not have brought that chair over the pass on a really windy day, I can tell you. Ah, you should see one of these gales, and you would not call this a high wind."
Having drunk the tea which she had set before us, Sing-Hoo asked one of our men what ought to be paid in this part of the country. The man replied, "A cash each cup, of course; tea is cheap here." The sum was thrown down upon the tray, and the old woman was called to receive it. When she came she refused to take anything, telling us that "her house was not a tea-shop; that when it was one,— which was not likely though,—she would then receive our money." This was the first instance of a Chinese refusing money which had come under my observa
Chap. XII. SUGAR AND TEA-SPOONS AT AN INN. 217
tion. The old lady did not lose anything by it, however, for I bought some cakes and other things which were not below her dignity to sell, and we parted the best of friends. We had many a good joke and hearty laugh at her expense as we pursued our journey.
The sky had been overcast during the morning, and, the wind having died away, the rain came down in torrents. We were obliged to take shelter in another tea-house, and remained there for some hours. It continued to rain, however, and we were glad to proceed a little further on to a small village, where there was an inn, in which we took up our quarters for the night. The landlord paid me the most marked attention. When I entered the hall tea was set before me as usual, but in this instance a curiously shaped tea-spoon was in the cup, and the tea was sweetened with sugar. I had never seen the Chinese use either sugar or tea-spoons before, and was rather surprised; and it is still a question with me whether we are not indebted to them for our mode of making tea, as well as for the tea itself. It was only on our first entering that this was done, for when tea was brought afterwards it was always made in the usual way, that is, the leaves were put into a cup and boiling water poured over them.
To the question usually put to Sing-Hoo, of "who his master was," he invariably returned the same answer, "A Loi-ya from a far country beyond the great wall." I much doubt whether he had himself a clearer idea of the position of England than this answer conveyed to his interrogator. In the present
case, however, this being in a small village, and our host himself a simple countryman, the information that his guest was a Loi-ya produced a marked effect, and his attentions were redoubled, until they became quite irksome. He made a great many excuses for the poorness of the fare which he set before me. "Had I only sent him notice of the honour I intended doing him by coming to his house, he would have been better prepared," and so on. I praised the house and fare, and tried not to be outdone in politeness by my kind-hearted landlord.
In the course of the evening a little boy, the landlord's son, came to me and asked me whether I should like to smoke opium, as they had some in the house of good quality. I thanked him, but, of course, declined the offer. Upon inquiry I found that opium is kept in all these inns, where it is retailed in small quantities, just as a London innkeeper retails tobacco. It is very disagreeable, and I afterwards found it so, to be in one of these places when you have a number of opium-smokers for fellow-travellers.
Between nine and ten o'clock at night, and just as I was retiring to rest, Sing-Hoo came and informed me that the landlord wished me to partake of a fine supper which he had prepared. I think he called it the Tein-sin. I believe this is not an unusual proceeding on the part of Chinese landlords when they have any one in their houses whom they "delight to honour." Being perfectly ignorant of the existence of such a custom, I desired my servant to beg the landlord to excuse me, as I had had my dinner, and (Chap. XII. THE TEIN-SIN. 219
did not feel inclined to eat anything more that night. Sing-Hoo, however, said it was a most unusual proceeding to refuse the Tein-sin, and, thinking it better to conform to the customs of the country, I followed him into the hall. Here I found a table covered with many Chinese dishes. Our host had killed some fowls for the occasion, which had been cut up into small pieces, and were served up with, or rather in, some excellent soup. Had I been at all hungry I might have made an excellent meal, but in the present circumstances I could not be expected to enjoy it with much relish. The landlord waited upon me himself, and pressed me to eat. He kept constantly pointing to the different dishes, saying "Eat this, eat this," in his most pressing manner. I tasted the different dishes, eating more or less of each as they took my fancy, and at last, considering I had gone quite as far as even Chinese politeness required, I laid down my chopsticks, and expressed my delight at the manner in which the Tein-sin had been served. But he pressed me more and more by putting the different dishes near me and praising their quality. At last he finished his part of the play by removing the viands from the table and setting tea before me. I was now free again, and retired to rest, afraid of night-mare and all the evils of not taking supper sparingly.
Early the next morning our host appeared, and informed me that the Tein-sin was ready. I partook of it in the same manner as I had done the night before, but with much greater relish. To my sur