Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
Then some of these big passenger junks are sent along by a big paddle-wheel at the stern, which is worked by about twenty men walking a kind of treadmill.
One which I saw was also armed; it had cannons all over it. I counted fourteen, but I doubt whether they were all real ones, for they were pretty big, and if they were real and had a supply of real ammunition the junk would be far too heavy to run along with its crazy old paddle-wheel.
But apparently they serve to put fear into the pirates who still haunt some of the many branches of the Canton River, and who are ready to rob any vessels which appear unable to defend themselves.
The steamer on which I came up from Hong Kong to Canton (a distance of ninety miles up the Canton River) had three or four bullet holes in her bulwarks. These were made, not by pirates, but in the fighting in Canton between the Imperial troops and the Revolutionaries.
A number of leading men of the country who had been educated in Europe saw that this great country of China, one of the largest in the world, is behind all the rest in civilisation and prosperity because of the bad management of the Government. So they planned to get rid of it and to surround the boy-Emperor with a better set of advisers.
The Government refused to comply with their suggestion and turned out the troops to fight them. But the people rose and raised more modern troops against the Government and gained the victory.
The old Government was turned out, and the new one is trying to set things straight again. A Wonderful City
The wonderful part of Canton is the city itself. It is inclosed within a great, high wall about seven miles long, and inside it are crowded together over a million and a half of people.
It is the most curious city I was ever in. The streets are all narrow alleys, only eight feet wide. The roofs of the houses almost meet overhead, so that it is easy for people walking on the roofs – which they are fond of doing – to step across the street from one roof to another. The alleys are all paved, and the shops all open into them and are gorgeously decorated with gilt carving inside.
The private houses have front doors, or rather gates made of bars, through which you can see into them, but at first sight I thought we had arrived at the prison.
The narrow streets are crammed with crowds of Chinamen mostly dressed in blue shirts. The women all wear long tunics and wide trousers, with their hair carefully oiled and flattened down and worn in either a knot or hanging in a long plait down the back.
Many of the women have tiny feet, so small that they can scarcely walk; they hobble stiffly along as if walking on stilts. This is the result of a silly fashion which has gone on for hundreds of years by which girls’ feet, while they are yet children, are tightly bound up and crushed and not allowed to grow any bigger. It is supposed to look nice, but I could not see any beauty in it myself.
You might wonder how they manage about carts and taxi-cabs in this wonderful city. Well, they do without them.
If a load has to be carried, it is slung on a pole and carried on men’s shoulders. If you want to drive through the city, you sit in what is called a “chair” and are carried by four men. There is just room for it in the street and for people to pass it singly.