Camps and Trails in China
Roy Chapman Andrews and Yvette Borup Andrews
Part 3 out of 6
second goral my only distinct impression as he dashed down the face of the
precipice, was of four yellowish legs entirely separated from a body which
I could hardly see.
This invisibility, combined with the fact that the Snow Mountain gorals
lived on almost inaccessible cliffs thickly covered with scrub spruce
forest, made "still hunting" impossible. In fact, Baron Haendel-Mazzetti,
who had explored this part of the Snow Mountains fairly thoroughly in his
search for plants, had never seen a goral, and did not know that such an
animal existed there.
Heller hunted for two days in succession and, although he saw several
gorals, he was not successful in getting one until we had been in camp
almost a week. His was a young male not more than a year old with horns
about an inch long. It was a valuable addition to our collection for I was
anxious to obtain specimens of various ages to be mounted as a "habitat
group" in the Museum and we lacked only a female.
The preparation of the group required the greatest care and study. First,
we selected a proper spot to reproduce in the Museum, and Yvette took a
series of natural color photographs to guide the artist in painting the
background. Next she made detail photographs of the surroundings. Then we
collected portions of the rocks and typical bits of vegetation such as moss
and leaves, to be either dried or preserved in formalin. In a large group,
perhaps several thousand leaves will be required, but the field naturalist
need select typical specimens of only five or six different sizes from each
of which a plaster mold can be made at the Museum and the leaves reproduced
After two days of rain during which I had a hard and unsuccessful hunt for
serows we decided to return to the temple at the foot of the mountain which
was nearer to the forests inhabited by these animals. We had already been
in our camp on the meadow for nine days and, besides the gorals, had
gathered a large and valuable collection of small mammals. The shrews were
especially varied in species and, besides a splendid series of meadow
voles, Asiatic mice and rats, we obtained a new weasel and a single
specimen of a tiny rock-cony or little chief hare, an Asiatic genus
(_Ochotona_) which is also found in the western part of North America on
the high slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Although we set dozens of traps
among the rocks we did not get another on the entire expedition nor did we
see indications of their presence in other localities.
The almost complete absence of carnivores at this camp was a great
surprise. Except for weasels we saw no others and the hunters said that
foxes or civets did not occur on this side of the mountain even though food
On the day before we went to the temple I had a magnificent hunt. We left
camp at daylight in a heavy fog and almost at once the dogs took up a serow
trail. We heard them coming toward us as we stood at the upper edge of a
little meadow and expected the animal to break cover any moment, but it
turned down the mountain and the hounds lost the trail in the thick spruce
We climbed slowly toward the cliffs until we were well above the clouds,
which lay in a thick white blanket over the camp, and headed for the canon
where I had shot my second goral. Hotenfa wished to go lower down into the
forests but I prevailed upon him to stay along the open slopes and, while
we were resting, the big red dog suddenly gave tongue on a ridge above and
to the right of us. It was in the exact spot where my second goral had been
started and we were on the _qui vive_ when the rest of the pack dashed up
the mountain-side to join their leader.
In a few moments they all gave tongue and we heard them swinging about in
our direction. Just then the clouds, which had been lying in a solid bank
below us, began to drift upward in a long, thin finger toward the canon. On
and on it came, and closer sounded the yelps of the dogs. I was trembling
with impatience and swearing softly as the gray vapor streamed into the
gorge. The cloud thickened, sweeping rapidly up the ravine, until we were
enveloped so completely that I could hardly see the length of my gun
barrel. A moment later we heard the goral leaping down the cliff not a
hundred yards away.
With the rifle useless in my hands I listened to each hoof beat and the
stones which his flying feet sent rattling into the gorge. Then the dogs
came past, and we heard them follow down the rocks, their yelps growing
fainter and fainter in the valley far below. The goral was lost, and as
though the Fates were laughing at us, ten minutes later a puff of wind
sucked the cloud out of the canon as swiftly as it had come, and above us
shone a sky as clear and blue as a tropic sea.
Hotenfa's disgust more than equaled my own for I had loaned him my
three-barrel gun (12 gauge and .303 Savage) and he was as excited as a
child with a new toy. He was a remarkably intelligent man and mastered the
safety catches in a short time even though he had never before seen a
There was nothing to do but hurry down the mountain for the dogs might
bring the goral to bay on one of the cliffs below us, and in twenty minutes
we stood on a ridge which jutted out from the thick spruce forest. One of
the hunters picked his way down the rock wall while Hotenfa and I circled
the top of the spur.
We had not gone a hundred yards when the hunter shouted that a goral was
running in our direction. Hotenfa reached the edge of the ridge before me,
and I saw him fire with the three-barrel gun at a goral which disappeared
into the brush. His bullet struck the dirt only a few feet behind the
animal although it must have been well beyond a hundred yards and almost
straight below us.
Hardly had we drawn back when a yell from the other hunter brought us again
to the edge of the cliff just in time to see a second goral dash into the
forest a good three hundred yards away in the very bottom of the gorge.
Rather disappointed we continued along the ridge and Hotenfa made signs
which said as plainly as words, "I told you so. The gorals are not on the
peaks but down in the forest. We ought to have come here first."
There were not many moments for regret, however, for this was "our busy
day." Suddenly a burst of frantic yelps from the red dog turned us off to
the left and we heard him nearing the summit of the spur which we had just
left. One of the other hunters was standing there and his crossbow twanged
as the goral passed only a few yards from him, but the wicked little
poisoned dart stuck quivering into a tree a few inches above the animal's
The goral dashed over the ridge almost on top of the second hunter who was
too surprised to shoot and only yelled that it was coming toward us on the
cliff below. Hotenfa leaped from rock to rock, almost like a goat himself,
and dashed through the bushes toward a jutting shelf which overhung the
We reached the rim at the same moment and saw a huge ram standing on a
narrow ledge a hundred yards below. I fired instantly and the noble animal,
with feet wide spread, and head thrown back, launched himself into space
falling six hundred feet to the rocks beneath us.
As the goral leaped Hotenfa seemed suddenly to go insane. Yelling with joy,
he threw his arms about my neck, rubbing my face with his and pounding me
on the back until I thought he would throw us both off the cliff. I was
utterly dumfounded but seized his three-barrel gun to unload it for in his
excitement there was imminent danger that he would shoot either himself or
Then I realized what it was all about. We had both fired simultaneously and
neither had heard the other's shot. By mistake Hotenfa had discharged a
load of buckshot and it was my bullet which had killed the goral but his
joy was so great that I would not for anything have disillusioned him.
It was a half hour's hard work to get to the place where the goral had
fallen. The dogs were already there lying quietly beside the animal when we
arrived. My bullet had entered the back just in front of the hind leg and
ranged forward through the lungs flattening itself against the breast bone;
the jacket had split, one piece tearing into the heart, so that the ram was
probably dead before it struck the rocks.
I photographed the goral where it lay and after it had been eviscerated,
and the hunters had performed their ceremonies to the God of the Hunt, I
sent one of them back with it while Hotenfa and I worked toward the bottom
of the canon in the hope of finding the other animals.
It was a delightfully warm day and Hotenfa told me in his vivid sign
language that the gorals were likely to be asleep on the sunny side of the
ravine; therefore we worked up the opposite slope.
It was the hardest kind of climbing and for two hours we plodded steadily
upward, clinging by feet and hands to bushes and rocks, and were almost
exhausted when we reached a small open patch of grass about two thirds of
the way to the summit.
We rested for half an hour and, after a light tiffin, toiled on again. I
had not gone thirty feet, and Hotenfa was still sitting down, when I saw
him wave his arm excitedly and throw up his gun to shoot. I leaped down to
his side just as he fired at a big female goral which was sound asleep in
an open patch of grass on the mountain-side.
Hotenfa's bullet broke the animal's foreleg at the knee but without the
slightest sign of injury she dashed down the cliff. I fired as she ran,
striking her squarely in the heart, and she pitched headlong into the
bushes a hundred feet below.
How Hotenfa managed to pack that animal to the summit of the ridge I never
can understand, for with a light sack upon my back and a rifle it was all I
could do to pull myself up the rocks. He was completely done when we
finally threw ourselves on the grass at the edge of the meadow which we had
left in the morning. Hotenfa chanted his prayer when we opened the goral,
but the God of the Hunt missed his offering for my bullet had smashed the
heart to a pulp.
On our way back to camp the red dog, although dead tired, disappeared alone
into the heavy forest below us. Suddenly we heard his deep bay coming up
the hill in our direction. Hotenfa and I dropped our burdens and ran to an
opening in the forest where we thought the animal must pass.
Instead of coming out where we expected, the dog appeared higher up at the
heels of a crested muntjac (_Elaphodus_), which was bounding along at full
speed, its white flag standing straight up over its dark bluish back. I had
one chance for a shot at about one hundred and fifty yards as the pair
crossed a little opening in the trees, but it was too dangerous to shoot
for, had I missed the deer, the dog certainly would have been killed.
I was heart-broken over losing this animal, for it is an exceedingly rare
species, but a few days later a shepherd brought in another which had been
wounded by one of our Lolo hunters and had run down into the plains to die.
When we reached the hill above camp Yvette ran out to meet us, falling over
logs and bushes in her eagerness to see what we were carrying. No dinner
which I have ever eaten tasted like the one we had of goral steak that
night and after a smoke I crawled into my sleeping bag, dead tired in body
but with a happy heart.
THE SNOW MOUNTAIN TEMPLE
On October 22, we moved to the foot of the mountain and camped in the
temple which we had formerly occupied. This was directly below the forests
inhabited by serow, and we expected to devote our efforts exclusively
toward obtaining a representative series of these animals.
Unfortunately I developed a severe infection in the palm of my right hand
almost immediately, and had it not been for the devoted care of my wife I
should not have left China alive. Through terrible nights of delirium when
the poison was threatening to spread over my entire body, she nursed me
with an utter disregard of her own health and slept only during a few
restless hours of complete exhaustion. For three weeks I could do no work
but at last was able to bend my "trigger finger" and resume hunting
although I did not entirely recover the use of my hand for several months.
However, the work of the expedition by no means ceased because of my
illness. Mr. Heller continued to collect small mammals with great energy
and the day after we arrived at the temple we engaged eight new native
hunters. These were Lolos, a wandering unit from the independent tribe of
S'suchuan and they proved to be excellent men.
The first serow was killed by Hotenfa's party on our third day in the
temple. Heller went out with the hunters but in a few hours returned alone.
A short time after he had left the natives the dogs took up the trail of a
huge serow and followed it for three miles through the spruce forest. They
finally brought the animal to bay against a cliff and a furious fight
ensued. One dog was ripped wide open, another received a horn-thrust in the
side, and the big red leader was thrown over a cliff to the rocks below.
More of the hounds undoubtedly would have been killed had not the hunters
arrived and shot the animal.
The men brought the serow in late at night but our joy was considerably
dampened by the loss of the red dog. Hotenfa carried him in his arms and
laid him gently on a blanket in the temple but the splendid animal died
during the night. His master cried like a child and I am sure that he felt
more real sorrow than he would have shown at the loss of his wife; for
wives are much easier to get in China than good hunting dogs.
The serow was an adult male, badly scarred from fighting, and had lost one
horn by falling over a cliff when he was killed. He was brownish black,
with rusty red lower legs and a whitish mane. His right horn was nine and
three-quarters inches in length and five and three-quarters inches in
circumference at the base and the effectiveness with which he had used his
horns against the dogs demonstrated that they were by no means only for
ornaments. In the next chapter the habits and relationships of the gorals
and serows will be considered more fully.
On the morning following the capture of the first serow the last rain of
the season began and continued for nine days almost without ceasing. The
weather made hunting practically impossible for the fog hung so thickly
over the woods that one could not see a hundred feet and Heller found that
many of his small traps were sprung by the raindrops. The Lolos had
disappeared, and we believed that they had returned to their village, but
they had been hunting in spite of the weather and on the fifth day arrived
with a fine male serow in perfect condition. It showed a most interesting
color variation for, instead of red, the lower legs were buff with hardly a
tinge of reddish.
November 2, the sun rose in an absolutely cloudless sky and during the
remainder of the winter we had as perfect weather as one could wish.
Yvette's constant nursing and efficient surgery combined with the devotion
of our interpreter, Wu, had checked the spread of the poison in my hand and
my nights were no longer haunted with the strange fancies of delirium, but
I was as helpless as a babe. I could do nothing but sit with steaming
cloths wrapped about my arm and rail at the fate which kept me useless in
The Lolos killed a third serow on the mountain just above our camp but the
animal fell into a rock fissure more than a hundred feet deep and was
recovered only after a day's hard work. The men wove a swinging ladder from
tough vines, climbed down it, and drew the serow bodily up the cliff; as it
weighed nearly three hundred pounds this was by no means an easy
Our Lolo hunters were tall, handsome fellows led by a slender young chief
with patrician features who ruled his village like an autocrat with
absolute power of life and death. The Lolos are a strange people who at one
time probably occupied much of the region south of the Yangtze River but
were pushed south and west by the Chinese and, except in one instance, now
exist only in scattered units in the provinces of Kwei-chau and Yuen-nan.
In S'suchuan the Lolos hold a vast territory which is absolutely closed to
the Chinese on pain of death and over which they exercise no control.
Several expeditions have been launched against the Lolos but all have ended
Only a few weeks before we arrived in Yuen-nan a number of Chinese soldiers
butchered nearly a hundred Lolos whom they had encountered outside the
independent territory, and in reprisal the Lolos burned several villages
almost under the walls of a fortified city in which were five hundred
soldiers, massacred all the men and boys, and carried off the women as
The pure blood Lolos "are a very fine tall race, with comparatively fair
complexions, and often with straight features, suggesting a mixture of
Mongolian with some more straight-featured race. Their appearance marks
them as closely connected by race with the eastern Tibetans, the latter
being, if anything, rather the bigger men of the two." [Footnote: "Yuen-nan,
the Link between India and the Yangtze," by Major H.R. Davies, 1909, p.
389.] They are great wanderers and over a very large part of Yuen-nan form
the bulk of the hill population, being the most numerous of all the
non-Chinese tribes in the province.
Like almost every race which has been conquered by the Chinese or has come
into continual contact with them for a few generations, the Lolos of
Yuen-nan, where they are in isolated villages, are being absorbed by the
Chinese. We found, as did Major Davies, that in some instances they were
giving up their language and beginning to talk Chinese even among
themselves. The women already had begun to tie up their feet in the Chinese
fashion and even disliked to be called Lolos.
Those whom we employed were living entirely by hunting and, although we
found them amiable enough, they were exceedingly independent. They
preferred to hunt alone, although they recognized what an increased chance
for game our high-power rifles gave them, and eventually left us while I
was away on a short trip, even though we still owed them considerable
The Lolos are only one of the non-Chinese tribes of Yuen-nan. Major Davies
has considered this question in his valuable book to which I have already
referred, and I cannot do better than quote his remarks here.
The numerous non-Chinese tribes that the traveler encounters in western
China, form perhaps one of the most interesting features of travel in
that country. It is safe to assert that in hardly any other part of the
world is there such a large variety of languages and dialects, as are
to be heard in the country which lies between Assam and the eastern
border of Yuen-nan and in the Indo-Chinese countries to the south of
The reason of this is not hard to find. It lies in the physical
characteristics of the country. It is the high mountain ranges and the
deep swift-flowing rivers that have brought about the differences in
customs and language, and the innumerable tribal distinctions, which
are so perplexing to the enquirer into Indo-Chinese ethnology.
A tribe has entered Yuen-nan from their original Himalayan or Tibetan
home, and after increasing in numbers have found the land they have
settled on not equal to their wants. The natural result has been the
emigration of part of the colony. The emigrants, having surmounted
pathless mountains and crossed unbridged rivers on extemporized rafts,
have found a new place to settle in, and have felt no inclination to
undertake such a journey again to revisit their old home.
Being without a written character in which to preserve their
traditions, cut off from all civilizing influence of the outside world,
and occupied merely in growing crops enough to support themselves, the
recollection of their connection with their original ancestors has died
out. It is not then surprising that they should now consider themselves
a totally distinct race from the parent stock. Inter-tribal wars, and
the practice of slave raiding so common among the wilder members of the
Indo-Chinese family, have helped to still further widen the breach. In
fact it may be considered remarkable that after being separated for
hundreds, and perhaps in some case for thousands, of years, the
languages of two distant tribes of the same family should bear to each
other the marked general resemblance which is still to be found.
The hilly nature of the country and the consequent lack of good means
of communication have also naturally militated against the formation of
any large kingdoms with effective control over the mountainous
districts. Directly we get to a flat country with good roads and
navigable rivers, we find the tribal distinctions disappear, and the
whole of the inhabitants are welded into a homogeneous people under a
settled government, speaking one language.
Burmese as heard throughout the Irrawaddy valley is the same
everywhere. A traveler from Rangoon to Bhamo will find one language
spoken throughout his journey, but an expedition of the same length in
the hilly country to the east or to the west of the Irrawaddy valley
would bring him into contact with twenty mutually unintelligible
The same state of things applies to Siam and Tong-king--one nation
speaking one language in the flat country and a Tower of Babel in the
hills (_loc. cit._, pp. 332-333).
GORALS AND SEROWS
Gorals and serows belong to the subfamily _Rupicaprinae_ which is an early
mountain-living offshoot of the _Bovidae_; it also includes the chamois,
takin, and the so-called Rocky Mountain goat of America. The animals are
commonly referred to as "goat-antelopes" in order to express the
intermediate position which they apparently hold between the goats and
antelopes. They are also sometimes called the Rupicaprine antelopes from
the scientific name of the chamois (_Rupicapra_).
The horns of all members of the group are finely ridged, subcylindrical and
are present in both sexes, being almost as long in the female as in the
male. Although no one would suspect that the gorals are more closely
related to the takins than to the serows, which they resemble
superficially, such seems to be the case, but the cranial differences
between the two genera are to a certain extent bridged over by the skull of
the small Japanese serow (_Capricornulus crispus_). This species is most
interesting because of its intermediate position. In size it is larger than
a goral but smaller than a serow; its long coat and its horns resemble
those of a goral but it has the face gland and short tail of a serow. It is
found in Japan, Manchuria and southern Siberia.
The principal external difference between the gorals and serows, besides
that of size, is in the fact that the serows have a short tail and a well
developed face gland, which opens in front of the eyes by a small orifice,
while the gorals have a long tail and no such gland.
In the cylindrical form of their horns the serows are similar to some
of the antelopes but in their clumsy build, heavy limbs and stout
hoofs as well as in habits they resemble goats. The serow has a long,
melancholy-looking face and because of its enormous ears the Chinese in
Fukien Province refer to it as the "wild donkey" but in Yuen-nan it is
called "wild cow."
The specific relationships of the serows are by no means satisfactorily
determined. Mr. Pocock, Superintendent of the London Zooelogical Society's
Gardens, has recently devoted considerable study to the serows of British
India and considers them all to be races of the single species _Capricornis
sumatrensis_. With this opinion I am inclined to agree, although I have not
yet had sufficient time in which to thoroughly study the subject in the
light of our new material.
These animals differ most strikingly in external coloration, and fall into
three groups all of which partake more or less of the characters of each
other. Chinese serows usually have the lower legs rusty red, while in
Indian races they are whitish, and black in the southern Burma and Malayan
The serows which we killed upon the Snow Mountain can probably be referred
to _Capricornis sumatrensis milne-edwardsi_, those of Fukien obtained by
Mr. Caldwell represent the white-maned serow _Capricornis sumatrensis
argyrochaetes_ and one which I shot in May, 1917, near Teng-yueh, not far
from the Burma frontier, is apparently an undescribed form.
Our specimens have brought out the fact that a remarkable individual
variation exists in the color of the legs of these animals; this character
was considered to be of diagnostic value, and probably is in some degree,
but it is by no means as reliable as it was formerly supposed to be.
Two of the serows killed on the Snow Mountain have the lower legs rusty
red, while in two others these parts are buff colored. The animals, all
males of nearly the same age, were taken on the same mountain, and
virtually at the same time. Their skulls exhibit no important differences
and there is no reason to believe that they represent anything but an
extreme individual variation.
The two specimens obtained by Mr. Caldwell at Yen-ping are even more
surprising. The old female is coal black, but the young male is distinctly
brownish-black with a chestnut stripe from the mane to the tail along the
mid-dorsal line where the hairs of the back form a ridge. The horns of the
female are nearly parallel for half their extent and approach each other at
the tips; their surfaces are remarkably smooth. The horns of the young male
diverge like a V from the skull and are very heavily ridged. The latter
character is undoubtedly due to youth.
These serows are an excellent example of the necessity for collecting a
large number of specimens from the same locality. Only by this means is it
possible to learn how the species is affected by age, sex and individual
variation and what are its really important characters. In the case of the
gorals, our Expedition obtained at Hui-yao such a splendid series of all
ages that we have an unequaled opportunity for intelligent study. Serows
are entirely Asian and found in China, Japan, India, Sumatra and the Malay
On the Snow Mountain we found them living singly at altitudes of from 9,000
to 13,000 feet in dense spruce forests, among the cliffs. The animals
seemed to be fond of sleeping under overhanging rocks, and we were
constantly finding beds which gave evidence of very extensive use.
Apparently serows seldom come out into the open, but feed on leaves and
grass while in the thickest cover, so that it is almost impossible to kill
them without the aid of dogs or beaters.
Sometimes a serow will lead the dogs for three or four miles, and
eventually lose them or it may turn at bay and fight the pack after only a
short chase; a large serow is almost certain to kill several of the hounds
if in a favorable position with a rock wall at its back. The animal can use
its strong curved horns with deadly effect for it is remarkably agile for a
beast of its size.
In Fukien we hunted serows on the summit of a high mountain clothed with a
dense jungle of dwarf bamboo. It was in quite different country from that
which the animals inhabit in Yuen-nan for although the cover was exceedingly
thick it was without such high cliffs and there were extensive grassy
meadows. We did not see any serows in Fukien because of the ignorance of
our beaters, although the trails were cut by fresh tracks. The natives said
that in late September the animals could often be found in the forests of
the lower mountain slopes when they came to browse upon the new grown
Mr. Caldwell purchased for us in the market the skin of a splendid female
serow and a short time later obtained a young male. The latter was seen
swimming across the river just below the city wall and was caught alive by
the natives. The female weighed three hundred and ten pounds and the male
two hundred and ninety pounds.
Serows are rare in captivity and are said to be rather dangerous pets
unless tamed when very young. We are reproducing a photograph taken and
kindly loaned by Mr. Herbert Lang, of one formerly living in the Berlin
Zooelogical Garden; we saw a serow in the Zooelogical Park at Calcutta and
one from Darjeeling is owned by the London Zooelogical Society.
Gorals are pretty little animals of the size of the chamois. The species
which we killed on the Snow Mountain can probably be referred to
_Naemorhedus griseus_, but I have not yet had an opportunity to study our
specimens carefully. Unlike the serows these gorals have blackish brown
tails which from the roots to the end of the hairs measure about 10 inches
in length. The horns of both sexes are prominently ridged for the basal
half of their length and perfectly smooth distally. The male horns are
strongly recurved and are thick and round at the base but narrow rapidly to
the tips; the female horns are straighter and more slender. The longest
horns in the series which we received measured six inches in length and
three and three-quarters inches in circumference at the base. Like the
serows, gorals are confined to Asia and are found in northern India, Burma,
and China, and northwards through Korea and southern Manchuria.
We hunted gorals with dogs on the Snow Mountain for in this particular
region they could be killed in no other way. There was so much cover, even
at altitudes of from 12,000 to 15,000 feet and the rocks were so
precipitous, that a man might spend a month "still hunting" and never see a
goral. They are vicious fighters, and often back up to a cliff where they
can keep the dogs at a distance. One of our best hounds while hunting
alone, brought a goral to bay and was found dead next day by the hunters
with its side ripped open.
On the Snow Mountain we found the animals singly but at Hui-yao, not far
from the Burma frontier, where we hunted another species in the spring,
they were almost universally in herds of from six to seven or eight. It was
at the latter place that we had our best opportunity to observe gorals and
learn something of their habits. We were camping on the banks of a branch
of the Shwelie River, which had cut a narrow gorge for itself; on one side
this was seven or eight hundred feet deep. A herd of about fifty gorals had
been living for many years on one of the mountain sides not far from the
village, and although they were seen constantly the natives had no weapons
with which to kill them; but with our high-power rifles it was possible to
shoot across the river at distances of from two hundred to four hundred
We could scan every inch of the hillside through our field glasses and
watch the gorals as they moved about quite unconscious of our presence. At
this place they were feeding almost exclusively upon the leaves of low
bushes and the new grass which had sprung up where the slopes had been
partly burned over. We found them browsing from daylight until about nine
o'clock, and from four in the afternoon until dark. They would move slowly
among the bushes, picking off the new leaves, and usually about the middle
of the morning would choose a place where the sun beat in warmly upon the
rocks, and go to sleep.
Strangely enough they did not lie down on their sides, as do many hoofed
animals, but doubled their forelegs under them, stretched their necks and
hind legs straight out, and rested on their bellies. It was a most
uncomfortable looking attitude, and the first time I saw an animal resting
thus I thought it had been wounded, but both Mr. Heller and myself saw them
repeatedly at other times, and realized that this was their natural
position when asleep.
When frightened, like our own mountain sheep or goats, they would run a
short distance and stop to look back. This was usually their undoing, for
they offered excellent targets as they stood silhouetted against the sky.
They were very difficult to see when lying down among the rocks, but our
native hunters, who had most extraordinary eyesight, often would discover
them when it was almost impossible for me to find them even with the field
glasses. We never could be sure that there were no gorals on a
mountainside, for they were adepts at hiding, and made use of a bunch of
grass or the smallest crevice in a rock to conceal themselves, and did it
so completely that they seemed to have vanished from the earth.
Like all sheep and goats, they could climb about where it seemed impossible
for any animal to move. I have seen a goral run down the face of a cliff
which appeared to be almost perpendicular, and where the dogs dared not
venture. As the animal landed on a projecting rock it would bounce off as
though made of rubber, and leap eight or ten feet to a narrow ledge which
did not seem large enough to support a rabbit.
The ability to travel down such precipitous cliffs is largely due to the
animal's foot structure. Professor Henry Fairfield Osborn has investigated
this matter in the mountain goat and as his remarks apply almost equally
well to the goral, I cannot do better than quote them here:
The horny part of the foot surrounds only the extreme front. Behind
this crescentic horn is a shallow concavity which gives the horny hoof
a chance to get its hold. Both the main digits and the dewclaws
terminate in black, rubber-like, rounded and expanded soles, which are
of great service in securing a firm footing on the shelving rocks and
narrow ledges on which the animal travels with such ease. This sole,
Smith states, softens in the spring of the year, when the snow is
leaving the ground, a fresh layer of the integument taking its place.
The rubber-like balls with which the dewclaws are provided are by no
means useless; they project back below the horny part of the hoof, and
Mr. Smith has actually observed the young captive goats supporting
themselves solely on their dewclaws on the edge of a roof. It is
probable that they are similarly used on the rocks and precipices,
since on a very narrow ledge they would serve favorably to alter the
center of gravity by enabling the limb to be extended somewhat farther
forward. [Footnote: "Mountain Goat Hunting with the Camera," by Henry
Fairfield Osborn. Reprinted from the tenth _Annual Report of the New
York Zooelogical Society_, 1906, pp. 13-14.]
There were certain trails leading over the hill slopes at Hui-yao which the
gorals must have used continually, judging by the way in which these were
worn. We also found much sign beneath overhanging rocks and on projecting
ledges to indicate that these were definite resorts for numbers of the
animals. Many which we saw were young or of varying ages running with the
herds, and it was interesting to see how perfectly they had mastered the
art of self-concealment even when hardly a year old. Although at Hui-yao
almost all were on the east side of the river, they did not seem to be
especially averse to water, and several times I watched wounded animals
swim across the stream.
Gorals are splendid game animals, for the plucky little brutes inspire the
sportsman with admiration, besides leading him over peaks which try his
nerve to the utmost, and I number among the happiest hours of my life the
wonderful hunts in Yuen-nan, far above the clouds, at the edge of the snow.
THE "WHITE WATER"
October had slipped into November when we left the temple and shifted camp
to the other side of the Snow Mountain at the "White Water." It was a
brilliant day and the ride up the valley could not have been more
beautiful. Crossing the _gangheisa_ or "dry sea," a great grassy plain
which was evidently a dry lake basin, we followed the trail into the forest
and down the side of a deep canon to a mountain stream where the waters
spread themselves in a thin, green veil over a bed of white stones.
We pitched our tents on a broad terrace beside the stream at the edge of
the spruce forest. Above us towered the highest peak of the mountain, with
a glacier nestling in a basin near its summit, and the snow-covered slopes
extending in a glorious shining crescent about our camp. The moon was full,
and each night as we sat at dinner before the fire, the ragged peaks turned
crimson in the afterglow of the sun, and changed to purest silver at the
touch of the white moonlight. We have had many camps in many lands but none
more beautiful than the one at the "White Water."
The weather was perfect. Every day the sun shone in a cloudless blue sky
and in the morning the ground was frozen hard and covered with snowlike
frost, but the air was marvelously stimulating. We felt that we could be
happy at the "White Water" forever, but it did not prove to be as good a
hunting ground as that on the other side of the mountain. The Lolos killed
a fine serow on the first day and Hotenfa brought in a young goral a short
time later, but big game was by no means abundant. At the "White Water" we
obtained our first Lady Amherst's pheasant (_Thaumalea amherstiae_) one of
the most remarkable species of a family containing the most beautiful birds
of the world. The rainbow colored body and long tail of the male are made
more conspicuous by a broad white and green ruff about the neck. The first
birds brought alive to England were two males which had been presented to
the Countess Amherst after whom the species was named. We found this
pheasant inhabiting thick forests where it is by no means easy to discover
or shoot. It is fairly abundant in Yuen-nan, Eastern Tibet and S'suchuan but
its habits are not well known. Although the camp yielded several small
mammals new to our collection, we decided to go into Li-chiang to engage a
new caravan for our trip across the Yangtze River while Heller remained in
The direct road to Li-chiang was considerably shorter than by way of the
Snow Mountain village and at three o'clock in the afternoon our beloved
"Temple of the Flowers" was visible on the hilltop overlooking the city. As
we rode up the steep ascent we saw a picturesque gathering on the porch and
heard the sound of many voices laughing and talking. The beautiful
garden-like courtyard was filled with women and children of every age and
description, and all the doors from one side of the temple had been
removed, leaving a large open space where huge caldrons were boiling and
We sat down irresolutely on the inner porch but the young priest was
delighted to see us and insisted that we wait until Wu arrived. We were
glad that we did not seek other quarters for we were to witness an
interesting ceremony, which is most characteristic of Chinese life. It
seemed that about five years before a gentleman of Li-chiang had "shuffled
off this mortal coil." His soul may have found rest, but "his mortal coil"
certainly did not. Unfortunately his family inherited a few hundred dollars
several years later and the village "astrologer" informed them that
according to the _feng-shui_, or omnipotent spirits of the earth, wind, and
water, the situation of the deceased gentleman's grave was ill-chosen and
that if they ever hoped to enjoy good fortune again they must dig him up,
give the customary feast in his honor and have another burial site chosen.
Every village has a "wise man" who is always called upon to select the
resting place of the dead, his remuneration varying from two dollars to two
thousand dollars according to the circumstances of the deceased's
relatives. The astrologer never will say definitely whether or not the spot
will prove a propitious one and if the family later sell any property,
receive a legacy, or are known to have obtained money in other ways, the
astrologer usually finds that the _feng-shui_ do not favor the original
place and he will exact another fee for choosing a second grave.
The dead are never buried until the astrologer has named an auspicious day
as well as an appropriate site, with the result that unburied coffins are
to be seen in temples, under roadside shelters, in the fields and in the
back yards of many houses.
Any interference by foreigners with this custom is liable to bring about
dire results as in the case of the rioting in Shanghai in 1898. A number of
French residents objected to a temple near by being used to store a score
or more of bodies until a convenient time for burial and the result was the
death of many people in the fighting which ensued. Mr. Tyler Dennet cites
an amusing anecdote regarding the successful handling of the problem by a
native mandarin in Yen-ping where we visited Mr. Caldwell:
The doctor pointed out how dangerous to public health was the presence
of these coffins in Yen-ping. The magistrate had a census taken of the
coffins above ground in the city and found that they actually numbered
sixteen thousand. The city itself is estimated to have only about
twenty thousand inhabitants.
It was a difficult problem for the magistrate. He might easily move in
such a way as to bring the whole city down about his head. But the
Chinese are clever in such situations, perhaps the cleverest people on
earth. He finally devised a way out. A proclamation was issued levying
a tax of fifty cents on every unburied coffin. The Chinese may be
superstitious, but they are even more thrifty. For a few weeks Yen-ping
devoted itself to funerals, a thousand a week, and now this little
city, one of the most isolated in China, can truly be said to be on the
road to health. [Footnote: "Doctoring China," by Tyler Dennet, _Asia_,
February, 1918, p. 114.]
There are very few such progressive cities in China, however, and a
missionary told us that recently a young child and his grandfather were
buried on the same day although their deaths had been nearly fifty years
apart. The funeral rites are in themselves fairly simple, but it is the
great ambition of every Chinese to have his resting place as near as
possible to those of his ancestors. That is one of the reasons why they are
so loath to emigrate.
We often passed eight or ten coolies staggering under the load of a heavy
coffin, transporting a body sometimes a month's journey or more to bury it
at the dead man's birthplace. A rooster usually would be fastened to the
coffin for, according to the Yuen-nan superstition, the spirit of the man
enters the bird and is conveyed by it to his home.
There is a strange absence of the fear of death among the Chinese. One
often sees large planks of wood stored in a corner of a house and one is
told that these are destined to become the coffins of the man's father or
mother, even though his parents may at the time be enjoying the most robust
health. Indeed, among the poorer classes, a coffin is considered a most
fitting gift for a son to present to his father.
We established our camp on the porch of the temple at Li-chiang and from
its vantage point could watch the festivities going on about us. The
feasting continued until after dark and at daylight the kettles were again
steaming to prepare for the second day's celebration.
By ten o'clock the court was crowded and a hour later there came a partial
stillness which was broken by a sudden burst of music (?) from Chinese
violins and pipes. Going outside we found most of the guests standing about
an improvised altar. The foot of the coffin was just visible in the midst
of the paper decorations and in front of it were set half a dozen dishes of
tempting food. These were meant as an offering to the spirit of the
departed one, but we knew this would not prevent the sorrowing relatives
from eating the food with much relish later on.
In a few moments a group of women approached, supporting a figure clothed
in white with a hood drawn over her face. She was bent nearly to the ground
and muffled shrieks and wails came from the depths of her veil as she
prostrated herself in front of the altar. For more than an hour this chief
mourner, the wife of the deceased, lay on her face, her whole figure
shaking with what seemed the most uncontrollable anguish. This same lady,
however, moved about later among her guests an amiable hostess, with
beaming countenance, the gayest of the gay. But every morning while the
festivities lasted, promptly at eleven o'clock she would prostrate herself
before the coffin and display heartrending grief in the presence of the
unmoved spectators in order to satisfy the demands of "custom."
Custom and precedent have grown to be divinities with the Chinese, and such
a display of feigned emotion is required on certain prescribed occasions.
As one missionary aptly described it "the Chinese are all face and no
heart." Mr. Caldwell told us that one night while passing down a deserted
street in a Chinese village he was startled to hear the most piercing
shrieks issuing from a house nearby. Thinking someone was being murdered,
he rushed through the courtyard only to find that a girl who was to be
married the following day, according to Chinese custom, was displaying the
most desperate anguish at the prospect of leaving her family, even though
she probably was enchanted with the idea.
On the third day of the celebration in the temple at Li-chiang the feasting
ended in a burst of splendor. From one o'clock until far past sundown the
friends and relatives of the departed one were fed. Any person could
receive an invitation by bringing a small present, even if it were only a
bowl of rice or a few hundred cash (ten or fifteen cents).
All during the morning girls and women flocked up the hill with trays of
gifts. There were many Mosos and other tribesmen among them as well as
Chinese. The Moso girls wore their black hair cut short on the sides and
hanging in long narrow plaits down their backs. They wore white leather
capes (at least that was the original shade) and pretty ornaments of silver
and coral at their throats, and as they were young and gay with glowing red
cheeks and laughing eyes they were decidedly attractive. The guests were
seated in groups of six on the stones of the temple courtyard. Small boys
acted as waiters, passing about steaming bowls of vegetables and huge straw
platters heaped high with rice. As soon as each guest had stuffed himself
to satisfaction he relinquished his place to someone else and the food was
passed again. We were frequently pressed to eat with them and in the
evening when the last guest had departed the "chief mourner" brought us
some delicious fruit candied in black sugar. She told Wu that they had fed
three hundred people during the day and we could well believe it. The next
morning the coffin was carried down the hill to the accompaniment of
anguished wails and we were left once more to the peace and quiet of our
beautiful temple courtyard.
Sometimes a family will plunge itself into debt for generations to come to
provide a suitable funeral for one of its members, because to bury the dead
without the proper display would not only be to "lose face" but subject
them to the possible persecution of the angered spirits. This is only one
of the pernicious results of ancestor worship and it is safe to say that
most of the evils in China's social order today can be traced, directly or
indirectly, to this unfortunate practice.
A man's chief concern is to leave male descendants to worship at his grave
and appease his spirit. The more sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons who
walk in his funeral procession, the more he is to be envied. As a
missionary humorously says "the only law of God that ever has been obeyed
in China is to be fruitful and multiply." Craving for progeny has brought
into existence thousands upon thousands of human beings who exist on the
very brink of starvation. Nowhere in the civilized world is there a more
sordid and desperate struggle to maintain life or a more hopeless poverty.
But fear and self-love oblige them to continue their blind breeding. The
apparent atrophy of the entire race is due to ancestor worship which binds
it with chains of iron to its dead and to its past, and not until these
bonds are severed can China expect to take her place among the progressive
nations of the earth.
ACROSS THE YANGTZE GORGE
In mid-November we left the White Water with a caravan of twenty-six mules
and horses. Following the road from Li-chiang to the Yangtze, we crossed
the "Black Water" and climbed steadily upward over several tremendous
wooded ridges, each higher than the last, to the summit of the divide.
The descent was gradual through a magnificent pine and spruce forest. Some
of the trees were at least one hundred and fifty feet high, and were draped
with beautiful gray moss which had looped itself from branch to branch and
hung suspended in delicate streamers yards in length. The forest was choked
with underbrush and a dense growth of dwarf bamboo, and the hundreds of
fallen logs, carpeted with bronze moss, made ideal conditions for small
mammal collecting. However, as all the species would probably be similar to
those we had obtained on the Snow Mountain, we did not feel that it was
worth while stopping to trap.
At four-thirty in the afternoon we camped upon a beautiful hill in a pine
forest which was absolutely devoid of underbrush, and where the floor was
thinly overlaid with brown pine needles. Although the Moso hunter, who
acted as our guide, assured us that the river was only three miles away, it
proved to be more than fifteen, and we did not reach the ferry until half
past one the next afternoon.
We were continually annoyed, as every traveler in China is, by the
inaccuracy of the natives, and especially of the Chinese. Their ideas of
distance are most extraordinary. One may ask a Chinaman how far it is to a
certain village and he will blandly reply, "Fifteen _li_ to go, but thirty
_li_ when you come back." After a short experience one learns how to
interpret such an answer, for it means that when going the road is down
hill and that the return uphill will require double the time.
Caravans are supposed to travel ten _li_ an hour, although they seldom do
more than eight, and all calculations of distance are based upon time so
far as the _mafus_ are concerned. If the day's march is eight hours you
invariably will be informed that the distance is eighty _li_, although in
reality it may not be half as great.
In "Chinese Characteristics," Dr. Arthur H. Smith gives many illuminating
observations on the inaccuracy of the Chinese. In regard to distance he
It is always necessary in land travel to ascertain, when the distance
is given in "miles" (_li_), whether the "miles" are "large" or not!
That there is _some_ basis for estimates of distances we do not deny,
but what we do deny is that these estimates or measurements are either
accurate or uniform.
It is, so far as we know, a universal experience that the moment one
leaves a great imperial highway the "miles" become "long." If 120 _li_
constitute a fair day's journey on the main road, then on country roads
it will take fully as long to go 100 _li_, and in the mountains the
whole day will be spent in getting over 80 _li_ (p. 51).
In like manner, a farmer who is asked the weight of one of his oxen
gives a figure which seems much too low, until he explains that he has
omitted to estimate the bones! A servant who was asked his height
mentioned a measure which was ridiculously inadequate to cover his
length, and upon being questioned admitted that he had left out of
account all above his shoulders! He had once been a soldier, where the
height of the men's clavicle is important in assigning the carrying of
burdens. And since a Chinese soldier is to all practical purposes
complete without his head, this was omitted.
Of a different sort was the measurement of a rustic who affirmed that
he lived "ninety _li_ from the city," but upon cross-examination he
consented to an abatement, as this was reckoning both to the city and
back, the real distance being as he admitted, only "forty-five _li_ one
way!" (p. 49) ...
The habit of reckoning by "tens" is deep-seated, and leads to much
vagueness. A few people are "ten or twenty," a "few tens," or perhaps
"ever so many tens," and a strictly accurate enumeration is one of the
rarest of experiences in China.... An acquaintance told the writer that
two men had spent "200 strings of cash" on a theatrical exhibition,
adding a moment later, "It was 173 strings, but that is the same as
200--is it not?" (p. 54).
A man who wished advice in a lawsuit told the writer that he himself
"lived" in a particular village, though it was obvious from his
narrative that his abode was in the suburbs of a city. Upon inquiry, he
admitted that he did not _now_ live in the village, and further
investigation revealed the fact that the removal took place nineteen
generations ago! "But do you not almost consider yourself a resident of
the city now?" he was asked. "Yes," he replied simply, "we do live
there now, but the old root is in that village."
...The whole Chinese system of thinking is based on a line of
assumptions different from those to which we are accustomed, and they
can ill comprehend the mania which seems to possess the Occidental to
ascertain everything with unerring exactness. The Chinese does not know
how many families there are in his native village, and he does not wish
to know. What any human being can want to know this number for is to
him an insoluble riddle. It is "a few hundred," "several hundreds," or
"not a few," but a fixed and definite number it never was and never
will be. (p. 55.)
After breaking camp on the day following our departure from the "White
Water" we rode along a broad trail through a beautiful pine forest and in
the late morning stood on an open summit gazing on one of the most
impressive sights which China has to offer. At the left, and a thousand
feet below, the mighty Yangtze has broken through the mountains in a gorge
almost a mile deep; a gorge which seems to have been carved out of the
solid rock, sharp and clean, with a giant's knife. A few miles to the right
the mountains widen, leaving a flat plain two hundred feet above the river.
Every inch of it, as well as the finger-like valleys which stretch upward
between the hills, is under cultivation, giving support for three villages,
the largest of which is Taku.
The ferry is in a bad place but it is the only spot for miles where the
river can be crossed. The south bank is so precipitous that the trail from
the plain twists and turns like a snake before it emerges upon a narrow
sand and gravel beach. The opposite side of the river is a vertical wall of
rock which slopes back a little at the lower end to form a steep hillside
covered with short grass. The landing place is a mass of jagged rocks
fronting a small patch of still water and the trail up the face of the
cliff is so steep that it cannot be climbed by any loaded animal; therefore
all the packs must be unstrapped and laboriously carted up the slope on the
backs of the _mafus_.
At two-thirty in the afternoon we were loading the boat, which carried only
two animals and their packs, for the first trip across the river. It was
difficult to get the mules aboard for they had to be whipped, shoved and
actually lifted bodily into the dory. One of the ferrymen first drew the
craft along the rocks by a long rope, then climbed up the face of what
appeared to be an absolutely flat wall, and after pulling the boat close
beneath him, slid down into it. In this way the dory was worked well up
stream and when pushed into the swift current was rowed diagonally to the
After four loads had been taken over, the boatmen decided to stop work
although there was yet more than an hour of daylight and they could not be
persuaded to cross again by either threats or coaxing. It was an
uncomfortable situation but there was nothing to do but camp where we were
even though the greater part of our baggage was on the other side, with
only the _mafus_ to guard it, and therefore open to robbery.
About a third of a mile from the ferry we found a sandy cornfield on a
level shelf just above the water, and pitched our tents. A slight wind was
blowing and before long we had sand in our shoes, sand in our beds, sand in
our clothes, and we were eating sand. Heller went down the river with a bag
of traps while we set forty on the hills above camp, and after a supper of
goral steak, which did much to allay the irritation of the day, we crawled
into our sandy beds.
At daylight Hotenfa visited the ferry and reported that the loads were safe
but that one of the boatmen had gone to the village and no one knew when he
would return. We went to the river with Wu as soon as breakfast was over
and spent an aggravating hour trying by alternate threats and cajoling to
persuade the remaining ferryman to cross the river to us. But it was
useless, for the louder I swore the more frightened he became and he
finally retired into a rock cave from which the _mafus_ had to drag him out
bodily and drive him into the boat.
The second boatman ambled slowly in about ten o'clock and we felt like
beating them both, but Wu impressed upon us the necessity for patience if
we ever expected to get our caravan across and we swallowed our wrath;
nevertheless, we decided not to leave until the loads and mules were on the
other side, and we ate a cold tiffin while sitting on the sand.
Heller employed his time by skinning the twenty small mammals (one of which
was a new rat) that our traps had yielded. We took a good many photographs
and several rolls of "movie" film showing the efforts of the _mafus_ to get
the mules aboard. Some of them went in quietly enough but others absolutely
refused to step into the boat. One of the _mafus_ would pull, another push,
a third twist the animal's tail and a fourth lift its feet singly over the
side. With the accompaniment of yells, kicks, and Chinese oaths the
performance was picturesque to say the least.
By five o'clock the entire caravan had been taken across the racing green
water and we had some time before dark in which to investigate the caverns
with which the cliffs above the river are honeycombed. They were of two
kinds, gold quarries and dwelling caves. The latter consist of a long
central shaft, just high enough to allow a man to stand erect; this widens
into a circular room. Along the sides of the corridor shallow nests have
been scooped out to serve as beds and all the cooking is done not far from
the door. The caves, although almost dark, make fairly comfortable living
quarters and are by no means as dirty or as evil smelling as the ordinary
native house. The mines are straight shafts dug into the cliffs where the
rock is quarried and crushed by hand.
THROUGH UNMAPPED COUNTRY
We left the Taku ferry by way of a steep trail through an open pine and
spruce forest along the rim of the Yangtze gorge where the view was
magnificent. Someone has said that when a tourist sees the Grand Canon for
the first time he gasps "Indescribable" and then immediately begins to
describe it. Thus it was with us, but no words can picture the grandeur of
this titanic chasm. In places the rocks were painted in delicate tints of
blue and purple; in others, the sides fell away in sheer drops of hundreds
of feet to the green torrent below rushing on to the sea two thousand five
hundred miles away.
The caravan wound along the edge of the gorge all day and we were left far
behind, for at each turn a view more beautiful than the last opened out
before us, and until every color plate and negative in the holders had been
exposed we worked steadily with the camera.
We were traveling northwestward through an unmapped region which Baron
Haendel-Mazzetti had skirted and reported to be one of vast forests and
probably rich in game. After six hours of riding over almost bare
mountain-sides we passed through a parklike spruce forest and reached
Habala, a long thin village of mud and stone houses scattered up the sides
of a narrow valley.
Above and to the left of the village rose ridge after ridge of dense spruce
forest overshadowed by a snow-crowned peak and cut by deep ravines, the
gloomy depths of which yielded fascinating glimpses of rocky cliffs--a
veritable paradise for serow and goral. Our camping place was a grassy lawn
as flat and smooth as the putting green of a golf course. Just below the
tents a streamlet of ice-cold water murmured comfortably to itself and a
huge dead tree was lying crushed and broken for the camp fire.
The boys turned the beautiful spot into "home" in half an hour and, after
setting a line of traps, we wandered slowly back through the darkness
guided by the brilliant flames of the fires which threw a warm yellow glow
over our little table spread for dinner.
We sent men to the village to bring in hunters and after dinner four or
five picturesque Mosos appeared. They said that there were many serow,
goral, muntjac and some wapiti in the forests above the village, and we
could well believe it, for there was never a more "likely looking" spot.
Although the men did not claim to be professional hunters, nevertheless
they said that they had good dogs and had killed many muntjac and other
They agreed to come at daylight and arrived about two hours late, which was
doing fairly well for natives. It was a brilliant day just warm enough for
comfort in the sun and we left camp with high hopes. However it did not
take many hours to demonstrate that the men knew almost nothing about
hunting and that their dogs were useless. Because of the dense cover "still
hunting" was out of the question and, after a hard climb, we returned to
camp to spend the remainder of the afternoon developing photographs and
preparing small mammals.
Our traps had yielded three new shrews and a silver mole as well as a
number of mice, rats, and meadow voles of species identical with those
taken on the Snow Mountain. It was evident, therefore, that the Yangtze
River does not act as an effective barrier to the distribution of even the
smallest forms and that the region in which we were now working would not
produce a different fauna. This was an important discovery from the
standpoint of our distribution records but was also somewhat disappointing.
The photographic work already had yielded excellent results. The Paget
color plates were especially beautiful and the fact that everything was
developed in the field gave us an opportunity to check the quality of each
For this work the portable dark room was invaluable. It could be quickly
erected and suspended from a tree branch or the rafters of a temple and
offered an absolutely safe place in which to develop or load plates. The
moving-picture film required special treatment because of its size and we
usually fastened in the servants' tent the red lining which had been made
for this purpose in New York. Even then the space was so cramped that we
were dead tired at the end of a few hours' work.
One who sits comfortably in a theater or hall and sees moving-picture film
which has been obtained in such remote parts of the world does not realize
the difficulties in its preparation. The water for developing almost
invariably was dirty and in order to insure even a moderately clear film it
always had to be strained. For washing the negative pailful after pailful
had to be carried sometimes from a very long distance, and the film exposed
for hours to the carelessness or curiosity of the natives. In our cramped
quarters perhaps a corner of the tent would be pushed open admitting a
stream of light; the electric flash lamp might refuse to work, leaving us
in complete darkness to finish the developing "by guess and by gosh," or
any number of other accidents occur to ruin the film. At most we could not
develop more than three hundred feet in an afternoon and we never breathed
freely until it finally was dried and safely stored away in the tin cans.
We left Habala, on November 23, for a village called Phete where the
natives had assured us we would find good hunters with dogs. For almost the
entire distance the road skirted the rim of the Yangtze gorge and there the
view of the great chasm was even more magnificent than that we had left.
While its sides are not fantastically sculptured and the colors are softer
than those of the Grand Canon of the Colorado, nevertheless its grandeur is
hardly less imposing and awe-inspiring. If Yuen-nan is ever made accessible
by railroads this gorge should become a Mecca for tourists, for it is
without doubt one of the most remarkable natural sights in the world.
About two o'clock in the afternoon we saw three clusters of houses on a
tableland which juts into a chasm cut by a tributary of the great river.
One of them was Phete and it seemed that we would reach the village in half
an hour at least, but the road wound so tortuously around the hillside,
down to the stream and up again that it was an hour and a half before we
found a camping place on a narrow terrace a short distance from the nearest
Next day we could not go to the village to find hunters until mid-forenoon
because the natives of this region are very late risers and often have not
yet opened their doors at ten o'clock. This is quite contrary to the custom
in many other parts of China where the inhabitants are about their work in
the first light of dawn.
The hills above Phete are bare or thinly forested and every available inch
of level ground is under cultivation with corn and a few rice paddys near
the creek; the latter were a great surprise, for we had not expected to
find rice so far north. The village itself was exceedingly picturesque but
never have we met people of such utter and hopeless stupidity as its
inhabitants. They were pleasant enough and always greeted us with a smile
and salutation, but their brains seemed not to have kept pace with their
bodies and when asked the simplest question they would only stare stupidly
without the slightest glimmering of intelligence.
It required an hour's questioning of a dozen or more people to glean that
there were no hunters in the village where they had lived all their lives,
but Wu, our interpreter, finally discovered a Chinese who told us of a
hunter in the mountains. He asked how far and the answer was "Not very
"Well, is it ten _li_?"
"I don't know how many _li_."
"Have you ever been there?"
"Yes; it is only a few steps."
"How long will it take to get there?"
"About the time of one meal."
We were not to be deceived, for we had had experience with native ideas of
distance, and we ate our tiffin before starting out on the "few steps." A
steep trail led up the valley and after three hours of steady riding we
reached the hunter's village of three large houses on a flat strip of
cleared ground in the midst of a dense forest.
The people looked much like those of Phete but were rather anemic
specimens, and five out of eight had enormous goiters. They were
exceedingly shy at first, watching us with side glances and through cracks
in the wall. Wu learned that we were the first white persons they had ever
seen. I imagine that much of their unhealthiness was due to too close
intermarriage, for these families had little intercourse with the people in
Phete who were only "a few steps" away.
As we were leaving they began to eat their supper in the courtyard. The
principal dish consisted of mixed cornmeal and rice, boiled squash and
green vegetables. All the women were busy husking corn which was hung to
dry on great racks about the house. These racks we had noticed in every
village since leaving Li-chiang and they seemed to be in universal use in
The hunter had a flock of sheep and we purchased one for $4.40 (Mexican)
but there was considerable difficulty in paying for it since these people
had never seen Chinese money even though living in China itself. For
currency they used chunks of silver the size of a walnut and worth about
one dollar (Mexican). The Chinese guide finally persuaded the people of the
genuineness of our money and we purchased a few eggs and a little very
delicious wild honey besides the sheep. These people as well as those of
Phete spoke the Li-chiang dialect but with such variation that even our
_mafus_ could understand them only with the greatest difficulty.
When we returned to camp we found that the coolie who had been engaged to
carry the motion-picture camera and tripod had left without the formality
of saying "good-by" or asking for the money which was due him. We had had
considerable trouble with the camera coolies since leaving Li-chiang. The
first one carried the camera to the Taku ferry with many groans, and there
engaged a huge Chinaman to take his place, for he thought the load too
heavy. It only weighed fifty pounds, and in the Fukien Province where men
seldom carry less than eighty pounds and sometimes as much as one hundred
and fifty, it would have been considered as only half a burden. In Yuen-nan,
however, animals do most of the pack carrying, and coolies protest at even
an ordinary load.
We left Phete in the early morning and camped about five hundred feet above
the hunter's cabin in a beautiful little meadow. It was surrounded with
splendid pine trees, and a clear spring bubbled up from a knoll in the
center and spread fan-shaped in a dozen little streams over the edge of a
deep ravine where a mountain torrent rushed through a tangled bamboo
jungle. The gigantic fallen trees were covered inches deep with green moss,
and altogether it was an ideal spot for small mammals. Our traps, however,
yielded no new species, although we secured dozens of specimens every
There were a few families of Lolos about two miles away and these were
engaged as hunters. They told us that serow and muntjac were abundant and
that wapiti were sometimes found on the mountains several miles to the
northward. Although the men had a large pack of good dogs they were such
unsatisfactory hunters that we gave up in disgust after three days. They
never would appear until ten or eleven o'clock in the morning when the sun
had so dried the leaves that the scent was lost and the dogs could not
follow a trail even if one were found. Moreover, the camp was a very
uncomfortable one, due to the wind which roared through the trees night and
We were rejoined here by Hotenfa, who had left us at the Taku ferry to see
if he could get together a pack of dogs. He brought three hounds with him
which he praised exuberantly, but we subsequently found that they did not
justify our hopes. Nevertheless, we were glad to have Hotenfa back, for he
was one of the most intelligent, faithful, and altogether charming natives
whom we met in all Yuen-nan. He was an uncouth savage when he first came to
us, but in a very short time he had learned our camp ways and was as good a
servant as any we had.
TRAVELING TOWARD TIBET
Since the hunters at the "Windy Camp" had proved so worthless and the traps
had yielded no small mammals new to our collection, we decided to cross the
mountains toward the Chung-tien road which leads into Tibet.
The head _mafu_ explored the trail and reported that it was impassable but,
after an examination of some of the worst barriers, we decided that they
could be cleared away and ordered the caravan to start at half past seven
in the morning.
Before long we found that the _mafus_ were right. The trail was a mass of
tangled underbrush and fallen logs and led straight up a precipitous
mountain through a veritable jungle of dwarf bamboo. It was necessary to
stop every few yards to lift the loads over a barrier or cut a passage
through the bamboo thickets, and had it not been for the adjustable pack
saddles we never could have taken the caravan over the trail.
Late in the afternoon the exhausted men and animals dragged themselves to
the summit of the mountain, for it was not a pass. In a few hours we had
come from autumn to mid-winter where the ground was frozen and covered with
snow. We were at an altitude of more than 15,000 feet and far above all
timber except the rhododendron forest which spread itself out in a low gray
mass along the ridges. It was difficult to make the slightest exertion in
the thin air and a bitterly cold wind swept across the peaks so that it was
impossible to keep warm even when wrapped in our heaviest coats.
The servants and _mafus_ suffered considerably but it was too late to go on
and there was no alternative but to spend the night on the mountain. As
soon as the tents were up the men huddled disconsolately about the fire,
but we started out with a bag of traps while Heller went in the opposite
direction. We expected to catch some new mammals during the night, for
there were great numbers of runways on the bare hillsides. The ground was
frozen so solidly that it was necessary to cut into the little _Microtus_
tunnels with a hatchet in order to set the traps and we were almost frozen
before the work was completed. The next morning we had caught twenty
specimens of a new white-bellied meadow vole and a remarkable shrew with a
long curved proboscis.
Everyone had spent an uncomfortable night, for it was bitterly cold even in
our sleeping bags and the men had sat up about the fire in order to keep
from freezing. There was little difficulty in getting the caravan started
in the gray light of early dawn and after descending abruptly four thousand
feet on a precipitous trail to a Lolo village strung out along a beautiful
little valley we were again in the pleasant warmth of late autumn.
The natives here had never before seen a white person and in a few moments
our tents were surrounded by a crowd of strange-looking men and boys. The
chief of the village presented us with an enormous rooster and we made him
happy by returning two tins of cigarettes. The Lolo women, the first we had
seen, were especially surprising because of their graceful figures and
handsome faces. Their flat turbans, short jackets, and long skirts with
huge flounces gave them a rather old-fashioned aspect, quite out of harmony
with the metal neck-bands, earrings, and bracelets which they all wore.
The men were exceedingly pleasant and made a picturesque group in their
gray and brown felt capes which they gather about the neck by a draw string
and, to the Lolos and Mosos alike, are both bed and clothing. We collected
all the men for their photographs, and although they had not the slightest
idea what we were about they stood quietly after Hotenfa had assured them
that the strange-looking instrument would not go off. But most interesting
of all was their astonishment when half an hour later they saw the negative
and were able to identify themselves upon it.
The Lolos are apparently a much maligned race. They are exceedingly
independent, and although along the frontier of their own territory in
S'suchuan they wage a war of robbery and destruction it is not wholly
unprovoked. No one can enter their country safely unless he is under the
protection of a chief who acts as a sponsor and passes him along to others.
Mr. Brooke, an Englishman, was killed by the Lolos, but he was not properly
"chaperoned," and Major D'Ollone of the French expedition lived among them
safely for some time and gives them unstinted praise.
Whenever we met tribesmen in Yuen-nan who had not seen white persons they
behaved much like all other natives. They were, of course, always greatly
astonished to see our caravan descend upon them and were invariably
fascinated by our guns, tents, and in fact everything about us, but were
generally shy and decidedly less offensive in their curiosity than the
Chinese of the larger inland towns to whom foreigners are by no means
unknown. As a matter of fact we have found that our white skins, light
eyes, and hair are a never failing source of interest and envy to almost
Yvette usually excited the most curiosity, especially among the women, and
as she wore knickerbockers and a flannel shirt there were times when the
determination of her sex seemed to call forth the liveliest discussion. Her
long hair, however, usually settled the matter, and when the women had
decided the question of gender satisfactorily they often made timid, and
most amusing, advances. One woman said she greatly admired her fair
complexion and asked how many baths she took to keep her skin so white.
Another wondered whether it was necessary to ever comb her hair and almost
everyone wished to feel her clothes and shoes. She always could command
more attention than anyone else by her camera operations, and a group would
stand in speechless amazement to see her dodge in and out of the portable
dark room when she was developing photographs or loading plates.
We made arrangements to go with a number of the Lolos to a spot fifteen
miles away on the Chung-tien road to hunt wapiti (probably _Cervus
macneilli_) which the natives call _maloo_. Our American wapiti, or elk, is
a migrant from Asia by way of the Bering Strait and is probably a relative
of the wapiti which is found in Central Asia, China, Manchuria and Korea.
At present these deer are abundant in but few places. Throughout the
Orient, and especially in China, the growing horns when they are soft, or
in the "velvet," are considered of great medicinal value and, during the
summer, the animals are trapped and hunted relentlessly by the natives. In
Yuen-nan, when we were there, a pair of horns were worth $100 (Mexican).
Thanksgiving morning dawned gray and raw with occasional flurries of
haillike snow, but we did not heed the cold, for the trail led over two
high ridges and along the rim of a tremendous gorge. To the south the white
summits of the Snow Mountain range towered majestically above the
surrounding peaks and, in the gray light, the colors were beautiful beyond
description. To the north we could see heavily wooded mountain slopes
interspersed with open parklike meadows--splendid wapiti country.
Our tents were pitched two hundred yards from the Chung-tien road just
within the edge of a stately, moss-draped forest. That night we celebrated
with harmless bombs from the huge fires of bamboo stalks which exploded as
they filled with steam and echoed among the trees like pistol shots. Marco
Polo speaks of the same phenomenon which he first witnessed in this region
over six hundred and thirty years ago.
About nine o'clock in the evening we ran our traps with a lantern and
besides several mice (_Apodemus_) found two rare shrews and a new mole
(_Blarina_). I went out with the hunters at dawn but saw nothing except an
old wapiti track and a little sign. All during the following day a dense
fog hung close to the ground so that it was impossible to hunt, and, on the
night of December 2, it snowed heavily. The morning began bright and clear
but clouded about ten o'clock and became so bitterly cold that the Lolos
would not hunt. They really suffered considerably and that night they all
left us to return to their homes. We were greatly disappointed, for we had
brilliant prospects of good wapiti shooting but without either men or dogs
and in an unknown country there was little possibility of successful still
The _mafus_ were very much worried and refused to go further north. They
were certain that we would not be able to cross the high passes which lay
between us and the Mekong valley far to the westward and complained
unceasingly about the freezing cold and the lack of food for their animals.
It was necessary to visit the Mekong River, for even though it might not be
a good big game region it would give us a cross-section, as it were, of the
fauna and important data on the distribution of small mammals. Therefore we
decided to leave for the long ride as soon as the weather permitted.
STALKING TIBETANS WITH A CAMERA
The road near which we were camped was one of the great trade routes into
Tibet and over it caravans were continually passing laden with tea or pork.
Many of them had traveled the entire length of Yuen-nan to S'su-mao on the
Tonking frontier where a special kind of tea is grown, and were hurrying
northward to cross the snow-covered passes which form the gateways to the
The caravans sometimes stopped for luncheon or to spend the night near our
camp. As the horses came up, one by one the loads were lifted off, the
animals turned loose, and after their dinner of buttered tea and _tsamba_
[Footnote: _Tsamba_ is parched oats or barley, ground finely.] each man
stretched out upon the ground without shelter of any kind and heedless of
the freezing cold. It is truly the life of primitive man and has bred a
hardy, restless, independent race, content to wander over the boundless
steppes and demanding from the outside world only to be let alone.
They are picturesque, wild-looking fellows, and in their swinging walk
there is a care-free independence and an atmosphere of the bleak Tibetan
steppes which are strangely fascinating. Every Tibetan is a study for an
artist. He wears a fur cap and a long loose coat like a Russian blouse
thrown carelessly off one shoulder and tied about the waist, blue or red
trousers, and high boots of felt or skin reaching almost to the knees. A
long sword, its hilt inlaid with bright-colored bits of glass or stones, is
half concealed beneath his coat, and he is seldom without a gun or a
murderous looking spear.
In the breast of his loose coat, which acts as a pocket, he carries a
remarkable assortment of things; a pipe, tobacco, tea, _tsamba_, cooking
pots, a snuff box and, hanging down in front, a metal charm to protect him
from bullets or sickness.
The eastern Tibetans are men of splendid physique and great strength, and
are frequently more than six feet in height. They have brick-red
complexions and some are really handsome in a full-blooded masculine way.
Their straight features suggest a strong mixture of other than Mongolian
stock and they are the direct antithesis of the Chinese in every
particular. Their strength and virility and the dashing swing of their walk
are very refreshing after contact with the ease-loving, effeminate Chinaman
whom one sees being carried along the road sprawled in a mountain chair.
Of all natives whom we tried to photograph the Tibetans were the most
difficult. It was almost impossible to bribe them with money or tin cans to
stand for a moment and when they saw the motion picture camera set up
beside the trail they would make long detours to avoid passing in front of
What we could not get by bribery we tried to do by stealth and concealed
ourselves behind bushes with the camera focused on a certain spot upon the
road. The instant a Tibetan discovered it he would run like a frightened
deer and in some mysterious way they seemed to have passed the word along
that our camp was a spot to be avoided. Sometimes a bottle was too great a
temptation to be resisted, and one would stand timidly like a bird with
wings half spread, only to dash away as though the devil were after him,
when he saw my head disappear beneath the focusing hood.
Wu and a _mafu_ who could speak a little Tibetan finally captured one
picturesque looking fellow. He carefully tucked the tin cans, given for
advance payment, inside his coat, and with a great show of bravery allowed
me to place him where I wished. But the instant the motion picture camera
swung in his direction he dodged aside, and jumped behind it. Wu tried to
hold him but the Tibetan drew his sword, waved it wildly about his head and
took to his heels, yelling at the top of his lungs. He was well-nigh
frightened to death and when he disappeared from sight at a curve in the
road he was still "going strong" with his coat tails flapping like a sail
in the wind.
One caravan came suddenly upon the motion picture camera unawares. There
were several women in the party and, as soon as the men realized that there
was no escape, each one dodged behind a woman, keeping her between him and
the camera. They were taking no chances with their precious selves, for the
women could be replaced easily enough if necessary.
The trouble is that the Tibetan not unnaturally has the greatest possible
suspicion and dislike for strangers. The Chinese he loathes and despises,
and foreigners he knows only too well are symptoms of missionaries and
punitive expeditions or other disturbances of his immemorial peace. He is
confirmed in his attitude by the Church which throughout Tibet has the
monopoly of all the gold in the country. And the Church utterly declines to
believe that any foreigner can come so far for any end less foolish than
the discovery of gold and the infringing of the ecclesiastical monopoly.
Major Davies, who saw much of the Yuen-nan Tibetans, has remarked that it is
curious how little impression the civilization and customs of the Chinese
have produced on the Tibetans. Elsewhere, one of the principal
characteristics of Chinese expansion is its power of absorbing other races,
but with the Tibetans exactly the reverse takes place. The Chinese become
Tibetanized and the children of a Chinaman married to a Tibetan woman are
usually brought up in the Tibetan customs.
Probably the great cause which keeps the Tibetan from being absorbed is the
cold, inhospitable nature of his country. There is little to tempt the
Chinese to emigrate into Tibet and consequently they never are there in
sufficient numbers to influence the Tibetans around them. A similar cause
has preserved some of the low-lying Shan states from absorption, the heat
in this case being the reason that the Chinese do not settle there.
WESTWARD TO THE MEKONG RIVER
During the night of December 4, there was a heavy fall of snow and in the
morning we awoke to find ourselves in fairyland. We were living in a great
white palace, with ceiling and walls of filmy glittering webs. The long,
delicate strands of gray moss which draped themselves from tree to tree and
branch to branch were each one converted into threads of crystal, forming a
filigree lacework, infinitely beautiful.
It was hard to break camp and leave that silver palace, for every vista
through the forest seemed more lovely than the one before, but we knew that
another fall of snow would block the passes and shut us out from the Mekong
valley. The _mafus_ even refused to try the direct route across the
mountains to Wei-hsi and insisted on going southward to the Shih-ku ferry
and up the Yangtze River on the main caravan route.
It was a long trip and we looked forward with no pleasure to eight days of
hard riding. The difficulty in obtaining hunters since leaving the Snow
Mountain had made our big game collecting negligible although we had
traveled through some excellent country. The Mekong valley might not be
better but it was an unknown quantity and, whether or not it yielded
specimens, the results from a survey of the mammal distribution would be
none the less important, and we felt that it must be done; otherwise we
should have turned our backs on the north and returned to Ta-li Fu.
As we rode down the mountain trail we passed caravan after caravan of
Tibetans with heavily loaded horses, all bound for that land of mystery
beyond the snow-capped barriers. Often we tried to stop some of the
red-skinned natives and persuade them to pose for a color photograph, but
usually they only shook their heads stubbornly and hurried past with
averted faces. We finally waylaid a Chinese and a Tibetan who were walking
together. The Chinaman was an amiable fellow and by giving each of them a
glass jam tumbler they halted a moment. As soon as the photograph had been
taken the Chinese indicated that he expected us to produce one and was
thoroughly disgusted when we showed him that it was impossible.
Repassing the Lolo village, we followed the river gorge at the upper end of
which Chung-tien is located and left the forests when we emerged on the
main road. From the top of a ten thousand foot pass there was a magnificent
view down the canon to the snow-capped mountains, which were beautiful
beyond description in their changing colors of purple and gold.
Just after leaving the pass we met a caravan of several hundred horses each
bearing two whole pigs bent double and tied to the saddles. The animals had
been denuded of hair, salted, and sewn up, and soon would be distributed
among the villages somewhere in the interior of Tibet.
On the second day we saw before us seven snow-crowned peaks as sharp and
regular as the teeth of a saw rising above the mouth of the stream where it
spreads like a fan over a sandy delta and empties into the Yangtze. Here
the mighty river, flowing proudly southward from its home in the wind-blown
steppes of the "Forbidden Land," countless ages ago found the great Snow
Mountain range barring its path. Thrust aside, it doubled back upon itself
along the barrier's base, still restlessly seeking a passage through the
wall of rock. Far to the north it bit hungrily into the mountain's side
again, broke through, and swung south gathering strength and volume from
hundreds of tributaries as it rushed onward to the sea.
For two days we rode along the river bank and crossed at the Shih-ku ferry.
There was none of the difficulty here which we had experienced at Taku, for
the river is wide and the current slow. It required only two hours to
transport our entire caravan while at the other ferry we had waited a day
and a half. Strangely enough, although there are dozens of villages along
the Yangtze and the valley is highly cultivated, we saw no sign of fishing.
Moreover, we passed but three boats and five or six rafts and it was
evident that this great waterway, which for fifteen hundred miles from its
mouth influences the trade of China so profoundly, is here used but little
by the natives.
On the ride down the river we had good sport with the huge cranes (probably
_Grus nigricollis_) which, in small flocks, were feeding along the river
fields. The birds stood about five feet high and we could see their great
black and white bodies and black necks farther than a man was visible. It
was fairly easy to stalk them to within a hundred yards, but even at that
distance they offered a rather small target, for they were so largely
wings, neck, legs, and tail. We were never within shotgun range and indeed
it would be difficult to kill the birds with anything smaller than BB or
buckshot unless they were very near.
Heller shot our first cranes with his .250-.300 Savage rifle. He stole upon
five which were feeding in a meadow and fired while two were "lined up."
One of the huge birds flapped about on the ground for a few moments and lay
still, but the larger was only wing-tipped and started off at full speed
across the fields. Two _mafus_ left the caravan, yelling with excitement,
and ran for nearly half a mile before they overtook the bird. Then they
were kept at bay for fifteen minutes by its long beak which is a really
formidable weapon. As food the cranes were perfectly delicious when stuffed
with chestnut dressing and roasted. Each one provided two meals for three
of us with enough left over for hash and our appetites were by no means
Although the natives attempt to kill cranes they are not often successful,
for the birds are very watchful and will not allow a man within a hundred
yards. Such a distance for primitive guns or crossbows might as well be a
hundred miles, but with our high-power rifles we were able to shoot as many
as were needed for food.
The birds almost invariably followed the river when flying and fed in the
rice, barley, and corn fields not far from the water. It was an inspiring
sight to see a flock of the huge birds run for a few steps along the ground
and then launch themselves into the air, their black and white wings
flashing in the sunlight. They formed into orderly ranks like a company of
soldiers or strung out in a long thin line across the sky.
When we disturbed a flock from especially desirable feeding grounds they
would sometimes whirl and circle above the fields, ascending higher and
higher in great spirals until they were lost to sight, their musical voices
coming faintly down to us like the distant shouts of happy children.
When we returned to Ta-li Fu in early January, cranes were very abundant in
the fields about the lake. They had arrived in late October and would
depart in early spring, according to Mr. Evans. We often saw the birds on
sand banks along the Yangtze, but they were usually resting or quietly
walking about and were not feeding; apparently they eat only rice, barley,
corn, or other grain.
This species was discovered by the great traveler and naturalist,
Lieutenant Colonel Prjevalsky, who found it in the Koko-nor region of
Tibet, and it was later recorded by Prince Henri d'Orleans from Tsang in
the Tibetan highlands. Apparently specimens from Yuen-nan have not been
preserved in museums and the bird was not known to occur in this portion of
Along the Yangtze on our way westward we shot a good many mallard ducks
(_Anas boscas_) and ruddy sheldrakes (_Casarca casarca_); the latter are
universally known as "brahminy ducks" by the foreigners in Burma and
Yuen-nan, but they are not true ducks. The name is derived from the bird's
beautiful buff and rufous color which is somewhat like that of the robes
worn by the Brahmin priests. In America the name "sheldrake" is applied
erroneously to the fish-eating mergansers, and much confusion has thus
arisen, for the two are quite unrelated and belong to perfectly distinct
groups. The mergansers have narrow, hooked, saw-toothed beaks quite unlike
those of the sheldrakes, and their habits are entirely dissimilar.
The brahminy ducks, although rather tough, are not bad eating. We usually
found them feeding in fields not far from the river or in flooded rice
dykes, and very often sitting in pairs on the sand banks near the water.
They have a bisyllabic rather plaintive note which is peculiarly
fascinating to me and, like the honk of the Canada goose, awakens memories
of sodden, wind-blown marshes, bobbing decoys, and a leaden sky shot
through with V-shaped lines of flying birds.
Mallards were frequently to be found with the sheldrakes, and we had good
shooting along the river and in ponds and rice fields. We also saw a few
teal but they were by no means abundant. Pheasants were scarce. We shot a
few along the road and near some of our camps, but we found no place in
Yuen-nan where one could have even a fair day's shooting without the aid of
a good dog. This is strikingly different from Korea where in a walk over
the hillsides a dozen or more pheasants can be flushed within an hour.
After two and one-half days' travel up the Yangtze we turned westward
toward Wei-hsi and camped on a beautiful flat plain beside a tree-bordered
stream. It was a cold clear night and after dinner and a smoke about the
fire we all turned in.
Both of us were asleep when suddenly a perfect bedlam of angry exclamations
and Chinese curses roused the whole camp. In a few moments Wu came to our
tent, almost speechless with rage and stammered, "Damn fool soldiers come
try to take our horses; say if _mafu_ no give them horses they untie loads.
Shall I tell _mafu_ break their heads?" We did not entirely understand the
situation but it seemed quite proper to give the _mafus_ permission to do
the head-breaking, and they went at it with a will. After a volley of
blows, there was a scamper of feet on the frozen ground and the soldiers
retired considerably the worse for wear.
When the battle was over, Wu explained matters more fully. It appeared
that a large detachment of soldiers had recently passed up this road to
A-tun-tzu and four or five had remained behind to attend to the transport
of certain supplies. Seeing an opportunity for "graft" the soldiers were
stopping every caravan which passed and threatening to commandeer it unless
the _mafus_ gave a sufficient bribe to buy their immunity. Our _mafus_,
with the protection which foreigners gave them, had paid off a few old
scores with interest. That they had neglected no part of the reckoning was
quite evident when next morning two of the soldiers came to apologize for
their "mistake." One of them had a black and swollen eye and the other was
nursing a deep cut on his forehead; they were exceedingly humble and did
not venture into camp until they had been assured that we would not again
loose our terrible _mafus_ upon them.
Such extortions are every day occurrences in many parts of China and it is
little wonder that the military is cordially hated and feared by the
peasants. The soldiers, taking advantage of their uniform, oppress the
villagers in numberless ways from which there is no redress. If a complaint
is made a dozen soldiers stand ready to swear that the offense was
justified or was never committed, and the poor farmer is lucky if he
escapes without a beating or some more severe punishment. It is a disgrace
to China that such conditions are allowed to exist, and it is to be hoped
that ere many years have passed the country will awake to a proper
recognition of the rights of the individual. Until she does there never can
be a national spirit of patriotism in China and without patriotism the
Republic can be one in name only.
DOWN THE MEKONG VALLEY
On December 11, we had tiffin on the summit of a twelve thousand foot pass
in a beautiful snow-covered meadow, from which we could see the glistening
peaks of the vast mountain range which forms the Mekong-Salween divide. In
the afternoon we reached Wei-hsi and camped in a grove of splendid pine
trees on a hill overlooking the city. The place was rather disappointing
after Li-chiang. The shops were poor and it was difficult to buy rice even
though the entire valley was devoted to paddy fields, but we did get
quantities of delicious persimmons.
Wu told us that seven different languages were spoken in the city, and we
could well believe it, for we recognized Mosos, Lolos, Chinese, and
Tibetans. This region is nearly the extreme western limit of the Moso tribe
which appears not to extend across the Mekong River.
The mandarin at Wei-hsi received us hospitably and proved to be one of the
most courteous officials whom we met in Yuen-nan. We were sorry to learn
that he was killed in a horrible way only a few weeks after our visit.
Trouble arose with the peasants over the tax on salt and fifteen hundred
rebelled, attacked the city, and captured it after a sharp fight. It was
reported that they immediately beheaded the mandarin's wives and children,
and boiled him alive in oil.
Although the magistrate offered to assist us in every way we could obtain
no information concerning either hunting grounds or routes of travel. The
flying squirrels which we had hoped to find near the city were reported to
come from a mountain range beyond the Mekong in Burma, and Wei-hsi was
merely a center of distribution for the skins. Moreover, the natives said
it would be impossible to obtain squirrels at that time of the year, for
the mountain passes were so heavily covered with snow that neither men nor
caravans could cross them.
It was desirable, however, to descend to the Mekong River in order to
determine whether there would be a change in fauna, and on Major Davies'
map a small road was marked down the valley. A stiff climb of a day and a
half over a thickly forested mountain ridge, frozen and snow-covered,
brought us in sight of the green waters of the Mekong which has carved a
gorge for itself in an almost straight line from the bleak Tibetan plateaus
through Yuen-nan and Indo-China to the sea.
Our second camp was on the river at the mouth of a deep valley, near a
small village. Wu said that the natives were Lutzus and I was inclined to
believe he was right, although Major Davies indicates this region to be
inhabited by Lisos. At any rate these people both in physical appearance
and dress were quite distinct from the Lisos whom we met later.
They were exceedingly pleasant and friendly and the chief, accompanied by
four venerable men, brought a present of rice. I gave him two tins of
cigarettes and the natives returned to the village wreathed in smiles.
The garments of the Lutzus were characteristic and quite unlike those of
the Mosos, Lisos or Tibetans. The women wore a long coat or jacket of blue
cloth, trousers, and a very full pleated skirt. The men were dressed in
plum colored coats and trousers.
The natives said that monkeys (probably _Pygathrix_) were often seen when
the corn was ripe and that even yet they might be found in the forest
across the river. Heller spent a day hunting them, but found none and we
obtained only one new mammal in our traps. It was a tiny mouse (_Micromys_)
but the remainder of the fauna was essentially the same as that of the
Yangtze valley and the intervening country.
For three days we traveled down the Mekong River. Although the natives said
that the trail was good, we discovered when it was too late that it was too
narrow and difficult to make it practicable for a caravan such as ours. It
was necessary to continually remove the loads in order to lift them around
sharp corners or over rocks, and the _mafus_ sometimes had to cut away
great sections of the bank. Usually only six or seven miles could be
traversed after eight or nine hours of exhausting work, and we were glad
when we could leave the river.
The Mekong, on an average, is not more than a hundred yards wide in this
region and, like the Yangtze, the water is very green from the Tibetan
snows. The prevailing rock is red slate or sandstone instead of limestone,
as in the country to the eastward, and the sides of the valley are so
precipitous that it seems impossible for a human being to walk over them,
and yet they are patched with brown corn fields from the summit to the
water. Considering the small area available for cultivation there are a
considerable number of inhabitants, who have gathered into villages and
seldom live in isolated houses as in the Yangtze valley. Wherever a stream
comes down from the mountain-side or can be diverted by irrigating ditches,
the ground is beautifully terraced for rice paddys, but in other places,
corn and peas appear to be the principal crops. Very few vegetables, such
as turnips, squash, carrots or potatoes are raised, which is rather
remarkable, as they are so abundant in all the country between the Mekong
and the Yangtze rivers. In several places the water was spanned by rope
bridges. The cables are made of twisted bamboo, and as one end must
necessarily be higher than the other, there are always two ropes, one to
cross each way. The traveler is tied by leather thongs in a sitting
position to a wooden "runner" which slides along the bamboo cable and
shoots across the river at tremendous speed.
The valley is hopeless from a zooelogical standpoint. It is too dry for
small mammals and the mountain slopes are so precipitous, thinly forested,
and generally undesirable, that, except for gorals, no other large game
would live there. The bird life is decidedly uninteresting. There are no
cranes or sheldrakes and, except for a few flocks of mallards which feed in
the rice fields, we saw no other ducks or geese.
On December 20, we turned away from the Mekong valley and began to march
southeast by east across an unmapped region toward Ta-li Fu. We camped at
night on a pretty ridge thickly covered with spruce trees just above a deep
moist ravine. In the morning our traps contained several rare shrews, five
silver moles, a number of interesting mice, and a beautiful rufous spiny
rat. It was too good a place to leave and I sent Hotenfa to inquire from a
family of natives if there was big game of any sort in the vicinity. He
reported that there were goral not far away, and at half past eight we rode
down the trail for three miles when I left my horse at a peasant's house.
They told us that the goral were on a rocky, thinly forested mountain which
rose two thousand feet above the valley, and for an hour and a half we
climbed steadily upward.
We were resting near the summit on the rim of a deep canon when Hotenfa
excitedly whispered, "_gnai-yang_" and held up three fingers. He tried to
show the animals to me and at last I caught sight of what I thought was a
goral standing on a narrow ledge. I fired and a bit of rock flew into the
air while the three gorals disappeared among the trees two hundred feet
above the spot where I had supposed them to be.
I was utterly disgusted at my mistake but we started on a run for the other
side of the gorge. When we arrived, Hotenfa motioned me to swing about to
the right while he climbed along the face of the rock wall. No sooner had
he reached the edge of the precipice than I saw him lean far out, fire with
my three-barrel gun, and frantically wave for me to come. I ran to him and,
throwing my arms about a projecting shrub, looked down. There directly
under us stood a huge goral, but just as I was about to shoot, the earth
gave way beneath my feet and I would have fallen squarely on the animal had
Hotenfa not seized me by the collar and drawn me back to safety.
The goral had not discovered where the shower of dirt and stones came from
before I fired hurriedly, breaking his fore leg at the knee. Without the
slightest sign of injury the ram disappeared behind a corner of the rock. I
dashed to the top of the ridge in time to see him running at full speed
across a narrow open ledge toward a thick mass of cover on the opposite
side of the canon. I fired just as the animal gained the trees and, at the
crash of my rifle, the goral plunged headlong down the mountain, stone
It fell on a narrow slide of loose rock which led nearly to the bottom of
the valley and, slipping and rolling in a cloud of red dust, dropped over a
precipice. The ram brought up against an unstable boulder five hundred feet
below us, and it required half an hour's hard work to reach the spot.
When I finally lifted its head one of the horns which had been broken in
the fall slipped through my fingers, and away went the goral on another
rough and tumble descent, finally stopping on a rock ledge nearly eleven
hundred feet from the place where it had been shot. We returned to camp at
noon bringing joy with us, for, as my wife had remarked the day before, "We
will soon have to eat chickens or cans."
Heller hunted the gorals unsuccessfully the following day and we left on
December 23, camping at night on a flat terrace beside a stream at the end
of a moist ravine. We intended to spend Christmas here for it was a
beautiful spot, surrounded by virgin forest, but our celebration was to be
on Christmas Eve. The following day dawned bright and clear. There had not
been a drop of rain for nearly a month and the weather was just warm enough
for comfort in the sun with one's coat off, but at night the temperature
dropped to about 15 deg.+ or 20 deg.+ Fahr. The camp proved to be a good one,
giving us two new mammals and, just after tiffin, Hotenfa came running in
to report that he had discovered seven gray monkeys (probably _Pygathrix_)
in a cornfield a mile away.
The monkeys had disappeared ere we arrived, but while we were gone Yvette
had been busy and, just before dinner, she ushered us into our tent with
great ceremony. It had been most wonderfully transformed. At the far end
stood a Christmas tree, blazing with tiny candles and surrounded by masses
of white cotton, through which shone red holly berries. Holly branches from
the forest and spruce boughs lined the tent and hung in green waves from
the ridge pole. At the base of the tree gifts which she had purchased in
Hongkong in the preceding August were laid out.
Heller mixed a fearful and wonderful cocktail from the Chinese wine and
orange juice, and we drank to each other and to those at home while sitting
on the ground and opening our packages. We had purchased two Tibetan rugs
in Li-chiang and Wei-hsi, as Christmas presents for Yvette. These rugs
usually are blue or red, with intricate designs in the center, and are well
woven and attractive.
To the servants and _mafus_ we gave money and cigarettes. When the
muleteers were brought to the tent to receive their gifts they evidently
thought our blazing tree represented an altar, for they kneeled down and
began to make the "chin, chin joss" which is always done before their
Our Christmas dinner was a masterpiece. Four days previously I had shot a
pair of mallard ducks and they formed the _piece de resistance_. The dinner
consisted of soup, ducks stuffed with chestnuts, currant jelly, baked
squash, creamed carrots, chocolate cake, cheese and crackers, coffee and
Christmas day we traveled, and in the late afternoon passed through a very
dirty Chinese town in a deep valley near some extensive salt wells. Red
clay dust lay thick over everything and the filth of the streets and houses
was indescribable. We camped in a cornfield a mile beyond the village, but
were greatly annoyed by the Chinese who insisted on swarming into camp.
Finally, unable longer to endure their insolent stares, I drove them with
stones to the top of the hill, where they sat in row upon row exactly as in
the "bleachers" at an American baseball game.
When we left the following day we passed dozens of caravans and groups of
men and women carrying great disks of salt. Each piece was stamped in red
with the official mark for salt is a government monopoly and only licensed
merchants are allowed to deal in it; moreover, the importation of salt from
foreign countries is forbidden. For the purposes of administration, China
is divided into seven or eight main circuits, each of which has its own
sources of production and the salt obtained in one district may not be sold
In Yuen-nan the salt of the province is supplied from three regions. The
water from the wells is boiled in great caldrons for several days, and the
resulting deposit is earth impregnated with salt. This is crushed, mixed
with water, and boiled again until only pure salt remains. After passing a
village of considerable size called Pei-ping, we began the ascent of an
exceedingly steep mountain range twelve thousand feet high. All the
afternoon we toiled upward in the rain and camped late in the evening at a
pine grove on a little plateau two-thirds of the way to the summit. During
the night it snowed heavily and we awoke to find ourselves in a transformed
Every tree and bush was dressed in garments of purest white and between the
branches we could look westward across the valley toward the Mekong and the
purple mountain wall of the Burma border. There were still one thousand
feet of climbing between us and the summit of the pass. The trail was
almost blocked, but by slow work we forced our way through the drifts. Some
of the mules were already weak from exposure and underfeeding, and two of
them had to be relieved of their loads; they died the next day. Our _mafus_
did not appear to suffer greatly although their legs were bare from the
knees down and their feet had no covering except straw sandals. Indeed when
we discovered, on the summit of the pass, a tiny hut in which a fire was
burning, they waited only a few moments to warm themselves.
We met two other caravans fighting their way up the mountain from the other
side, and by following the trail which they had broken through the drifts
we made fairly good time on the descent. There had been no snow on the
broad, flat plain which we reached in the late afternoon and we found that
its ponds and fields were alive with ducks, geese, and cranes. The birds
were wild but we had good shooting when we broke camp in the morning and
killed enough to last us several days.
On December 31, our weary days of crossing range after range of tremendous
mountains were ended, and we stood on the last pass looking down upon the
great Chien-chuan plain. Outside the grim walls of the old city, which lies
on the main A-tun-tzu--Ta-li Fu road, are two large marshy ponds and, away
to the south, is an extensive lake. We camped just without the courtyard of
a fine temple, and at four o'clock Yvette and I went over to the water
which was swarming with ducks and geese.
Neither of us will ever forget that shoot in the glorious afternoon
sunlight. Cloud after cloud of ducks rose as we neared the pond and circled
high above our heads, but now and then a straggling mallard or "pin tail"
would swing across the sky within range; as my gun roared out the birds
would whirl to the ground like feathered bombs or climb higher with
frightened quacks if the shot went wild. An hour before dark the brahminy
ducks began to come in. We could hear their melodious plaintive calls long
before we could see the birds, and we flattened ourselves out in the grass
and mud. Soon a thin, black line would streak the sky, and as they drew
nearer, Yvette would draw such seductive notes from a tiny horn of wood and
bone that the flock would swing and dive toward us in a rush of flashing
wings. When we could see the brown bodies right above our heads I would sit
up and bang away.
Now and then a big white goose would drop into the pond or an ibis flap
lazily overhead, seeming to realize that it had nothing to fear from the
prostrate bodies which spat fire at other birds. The stillness of the marsh
was absolute save for the voices of the water fowl mingled in the wild,
sweet clamor so dear to the heart of every sportsman. As the day began to
die, hung about with ducks and geese, we walked slowly back across the rice
fields, to the yellow fires before our tents. It was our last camp for the
year and, as if to bid us farewell as we journeyed toward the tropics, the
peaks of the great Snow Mountain far to the north, had draped themselves in
a gorgeous silver mantle and glistened against a sky of lavender and gold
like white cathedral spires.
On January 3, we camped early in the afternoon on a beautiful little plain
beside a spring overhung with giant trees at the head of Erh Hai, or Ta-li
Fu Lake, which is thirty miles long. The fields and marshes were alive with
ducks, geese, cranes, and lapwings, and we had a glorious day of sport over
decoys and on the water before we went on to Ta-li Fu.
Mr. Evans was about to leave for a long business trip to the south of the
province and we took possession of a pretty temple just within the north
gate of the city. Here we read a great accumulation of mail and learned
that a thousand pounds of supplies which we had ordered from Hongkong had
Through the good offices of Mr. Howard Page, manager of the Standard Oil
Company of Yuen-nan Fu, their passage through Tonking had been facilitated,
and he had dispatched the boxes by caravan to Ta-li Fu. Mr. Page rendered
great assistance to the Expedition in numberless ways, and to him we owe
our personal thanks as well as those of the American Museum of Natural
All the servants except our faithful Wu left at Ta-li Fu but, with the aid
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