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Chap. IX. THE GREEN RIVER. 165
been grafted on my own hair, and which hung gracefully down nearly to my heels.
I have already described the scenery on this beautiful river as it appeared to me on a former occasion. It was autumn then, and vegetation was tinged with many different hues. Now it was spring-time; the rains had begun to fall, and hill and valley were clothed in the liveliest green. The hill-streams were gushing down the ravines, and forming hundreds of beautiful waterfalls. This is a striking part of the country at all times, and it is difficult to say whether it is most beautiful in autumn or in spring.
On the evening of the third day after leaving
Nechow the old city of Yen-chow-foo came in sight.
The river here flows through a fine and fertile valley,
in which the city is situated. "This beautiful vale
abounds with camphor and tallow trees." So it is
written in a map which the learned Jesuits made
many years ago; and such I found to be the case.
A little below the town two rivers unite. One, as
I have already noticed, comes from the north-west,
and rises amongst the hills of Hwuy-chow, and it was
this one which I ascended the previous autumn.
The other flows from the south-west, and has its
sources amongst the mountains bordering on Fokien,
and partly amongst some hills north-west of the town
of Chang-shan, where the three provinces of Che
kiang, Gnan-hoei, and Kiang-see meet.
My route lay up the latter and largest river. I was now about to enter upon new ground which I had never trodden before. Knowing that if I
accomplished the object I had in view it would be necessary to travel upwards of 200 miles by land, and that too over a mountainous country, I had determined upon taking with me as little luggage of any kind as possible. My servant, however, had a strange propensity of accumulating as we went along. If we started with ever so little, his portion was sure to increase to an inconvenient size in a very short time. As he had relations in Yen-chow-foo, I warned him to leave everything with them, except a few necessary clothes and a mat to sleep upon. This he was the more readily inclined to do, as he had been obliged to dispose of, at a loss, a fine new trunk which he had bought in Foo-chow, when he started on his former expedition up the river Min. Having seen him pack up everything, except the indispensable articles already specified, I sent him on shore to leave the package at the house of his relation.
We got under way early next morning, and about midday arrived at a small town named Ta-yang, situated on the left bank of the river, near one of the rapids, which were now becoming frequent on this part of the river, which is beyond the influence of the tide. By great exertion we succeeded in getting our boat up the rapid, and, as the men were very tired, we decided on remaining at Ta-yang for the remainder of the day. This gave me an opportunity of examining at my leisure the natural productions of this part of the country.
When I returned from my rambles, I found that our boat had been removed from her station abreast
Chap. IX. A STORM IN A CREEK. 167
of the town, and drawn up into a small creek, where she was made fast for the night. The sky had been black and threatening for some hours, and there was now every indication of a severe thunder-storm. After dark a great number of small boats came into the creek, where we were, in order to be safe from the flood which the people expected to come down the river. I shall never forget the confusion and noise which took place as the last boats came hurrying in. Each person seemed perfectly indifferent as to what might befal his neighbour, provided he was only safe himself. Our boat came in for a share of ill usage, and got many a bump as the others rushed past. All the Yen-chow and Nan-che boats are what we may call family boats, that is, the captain or proprietor carries his wife and family along with him, while the Hwuy-chow people, who go up the other branch of this river, leave their families at home. The women always take a prominent part in the management of the boat, sculling and poling as well as the men. If they equal their better halves in these laborious duties, they far exceed them when any disturbance takes place in which the tongue has to play a leading part. In the evening in question, as the numerous boats came in to anchor in the creek, they drove each other about in great confusion. The main stream being very rapid, the boats coming down it shot into the creek with great velocity. The night was very dark, and heavy drops of rain began to fall. The thunder-storm, which had been threatening for some time, came gradually up against the wind, and now and then bright flashes of fire lighted up the creek, and showed us the motley groups by which we were surrounded. The boatmen were shouting in angry tones as the different boats came rudely in contact; children were screaming, and the shrill voices of the women were heard in all directions, giving orders to the men and scolding each other. A person unacquainted with the habits of these people would have thought that something very dreadful was about to happen. I had seen such scenes too often, however, to feel any alarm, and, although the rain came through the roof of my boat and soaked my bed, I confess I was rather amused than otherwise.
The Chinese had good reasons for the precautions they had taken. In two hours the river came down sweeping everything before it . Had any of our boats been in the stream they would have been torn from their anchors and probably dashed to pieces. Such mountain-floods are not unfrequent on these rivers, and the boatmen, who know them well, take great care to be out of the stream before they come down, particularly if this is likely to happen at night.
We were all safely moored at last, and the conflict of tongues, as well as of the elements, gradually ceased. Now and then a remark was made upon what had taken place, and the good-humoured laugh which followed showed that the person bore no ill-will against those with whom he had had a .war of words a few minutes before.
In our boat the good lady was the only one who
Chap. IX. A CHINESE MRS. CAUDLE. 169
seemed ill at ease. Her husband, who had gone on shore before dark, had not returned, and she was evidently a little jealous of his proceedings when out of her sight. The result proved that she had good reasons for her uneasiness, for when the man returned, about three o'clock in the morning, he was in a state of intoxication. The good lady—a Mrs. Caudle in her way—did not spare him, and at the same time gave me an opportunity of hearing a Chinese curtain lecture. Mrs. Amee was not a whit behind her great prototype, for she soon put her husband to sleep, and as she talked till a late hour I followed his example.
when I awoke the next morning the storm and all its effects had passed away. The sun was just tinging the tops of the hills, and every tree and bush was glistening with heavy drops of rain and dew. The river had fallen considerably, but the stream was still too rapid for our progress upwards, so I had an early breakfast and went on shore.
The low lands through which this river flows were now much broader—the hills appeared to fall back, and a beautiful rich valley was disclosed to view. The soil of this valley is a deep sandy loam, resting on a bed of gravel. I observed some patches of the mulberry and tea plants under cultivation; but the tallow-tree (Stillingia sebifera) is evidently the staple production of the district. The number of these trees cultivated in the province of Chekiang is immense, and shows that the tallow and oil expressed from their seeds must be considered articles of great