Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

rods wide, and differing in level by the Great panniers of strawberries, half of height of a man. I have also seen the them still green, are collected in the mounsides of a gully in which a child could not tain ravines and offered in the markets. stand undiscovered cut into shelves for No weed or stalk escapes the bamboo rake making a string of rice-plots no larger of the autumnal fuel-gatherer. The grass than a table-cloth, irrigated by a trickle tufts on the rough slopes are dug up by no bigger than a baby's finger. One of the roots. The sickle reaps the grain close these plots, duly banked and set out with to the ground, for straw and chaff are nineteen rice-plants at the regulation eight needed to burn under the rice-kettle. The inches, could be covered by a dinner nap- leaves of the trees are a crop to be carekin!

fully gathered. One never sees a rotting Were it not for an agriculture of in- stump or a mossy log. Bundles of brush, credible painstaking, the fertility of the carried miles on the human back, heat the soil would have been spent ages ago. In brick-kiln and the potter's furnace. After a low-lying region like Kiang-su, for ex- the last trees have been taken, the far and ample, the farmer digs an oblong settling forbidding heights are scaled by lads with basin, into which every part of his farm ax and mattock to cut down or dig up drains. In the spring, from its bottom the seedlings that, if left alone, would he scoops for fertilizer the rich muck reclothe the devastated ridges. We asked washed from his fields. It is true the a Szechuenese if he did not admire a ceroverflow from his pond carries away some tain craggy peak with gnarled pines clingprecious elements, but these he recovers by ing to it. “No,” he replied; “how can it dredging the private canal that connects be beautiful when it is so steep that we him with the main artery of the district. cannot get at the trees to cut them In the loess belt of north China the down?" farmer simply digs a pit in the midst of The cuisine of China is one of the great his field and scatters the yellow earth toothsome cuisines of the world; but for from it as a manure. A Chinese city has the common people the stomach and not no sewers nor does it greatly need them. the palate decides what shall be food. The Long before sunrise, tank-boats from the silkworms are eaten after the cocoon has farms have crept through the city by a been unwound from them. After their network of canals, and by the time the work is done, horses, donkeys, mules, and foreigner has finished his morning coffee, a camels become butcher's meat. The cow legion of scavengers have collected for the or pig that has died a natural death is not encouragement of the crops that which we disdained. A missionary who had always cast into our sewers. After a rain, coun- let his cook dispose of a dead calf noticed trymen with buckets prowl about the that his calves always died. Finally he streets scooping black mud out of hollows saturated the carcass of the calf with carand gutters or dipping liquid filth from bolic acid and made the cook bury it. the wayside sinks. A highway traversed Thereafter his calves lived. In Canton by two hundred carts a day is as free dressed rats and cats are exposed for sale. from filth as a garden path, for the neigh- Our boatmen cleaned and ate the head, boring farmers patrol it with basket and feet, and entrails of the fowls used by our rake.

cook. Scenting a possible opening for a No natural resource is too trilling to be tannery, the governor of Hong-Kong once turned to account by the teeming popula- set on foot an inquiry as to what became tion. The sea is raked and strained for of the skins of the innumerable pigs edible plunder. Seaweed and kelp have slaughtered in the colony. He learned a place in the larder. Great quantities that they were all made up as “marine of shell-fish, no bigger than one's finger- delicacy” and sold among the Chinese. nail, are opened and made to yield a Another time he was on the point of orfood that finds its way far inland. The dering the extermination of the mangy fungus that springs up in the grass after curs that infest the villages in the Kowa rain is eaten. Fried sweet potato-vines loon district because they harassed the furnish the poor man's table. The road- Sikh policemen in the performance of side ditches are bailed out for the sake their duties. He found just in time that of fishes no longer than one's finger. such an act would "interfere with the

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed]

food of the people,” something a British rarely live beyond forty-five or fifty. The colonial governor must never do.

term of a chair-bearer is eight years, that Though the farmer thriftily combs his of a rickshaw-runner four years; for the harvest-field, every foot of the short stub- rest of his life he is an invalid. Moreover, ble is gone over again by poor women and carriers and chair-bearers are afflicted with children, who are content if in a day's varicose veins and aneurisms because the gleaning they can gather a handful of constant tension of the muscles interferes wheat-heads to keep them alive the mor- with the return circulation of the blood. row. On the Hong-Kong water-front the A woman physician in Fuhkien who had path of the coolies carrying produce be- examined some scores of carrying coolies tween warehouse and junk is lined with told me she found only two who were free tattered women, most of them with a baby from the heart trouble caused by burdenon the back. Where bags of beans or rice bearing. are in transit, a dozen wait with basket In Canton, city of a million without a and brush to sweep up the grains dropped wheel or a beast of burden, even the carefrom the sacks. On a wharf where crude less eye marks in the porters that throng sugar is being repacked squat sixty women the streets the plain signs of overstrain: scraping the inside of the discarded sacks, faces pale and haggard, with the drawn while others run by the bearer, if his sack and flat look of utter exhaustion; eyes leaks a little, to catch the particles as they pain-pinched, or astare and unseeing with fall. When sugar is being unloaded, a mob supreme effort; jaw sagging; mouth open of gleaners swarm upon the lighter the from weariness. The dog-trot, the whismoment the last sack leaves and eagerly' tling breath, the clenched teeth, the scrape from the gang-plank and the deck streaming face of those under a burden of the sugar mixed with dirt, that for two from one to two hundredweight that must hours has been trampled into a muck by be borne, are as eloquent of ebbing life as the bare feet of twoscore coolies trotting a jetting artery. At rest the porter often back and forth across a dusty road.

leans or droops with a corpse-like sag that Haunted by the fear of starving, men betrays utter depletion of vital energy. spend themselves recklessly for the sake of In a few years the face becomes a wrinkled, a wage. It is true that the Chinese are pain-stiffened mask, the veins of the upper still in the handicrafts stage, and the ar- leg stand out like great cords, a frightful tisans one sees busy on their own account net of varicose veins blemishes the calf, in the little workshops along the street go lumps appear at the back of the neck or their own pace. The 'smiths in iron, tin, down the spine, and the shoulders are copper, brass, and silver, the carvers of covered with thick pads of callous under ivory, amber, tortoise-shell, onyx, and jade, a livid skin. Inevitably the children of the workers in wood, rattan, lacquer, wax, the people are drawn into these cogs at the and feathers, the weavers of linen, cotton, age of ten or twelve, and not one boy in and silk -all seem, despite their long eight can be spared till he has learned to hours, less breathless and driven, less prodi- read. gal in their expenditure of life energy, than There are a number of miscellaneous many of the operatives in our machine in- facts that hint how close the masses live to dustries, who feel the spur of piece wage, the edge of subsistence. The brass cash, the team work, and "speeding up." Still, it is most popular coin in China, is worth the obvious that those in certain occupations

certain occupations twentieth of a cent; but as this has been are literally killing themselves by their found too valuable to meet all the needs of exertions. The treadmill coolies who the people, oblong bits of bamboo circulate propel the stern-wheelers on the West in some provinces at the value of half a River admittedly shorten their lives. cash. A Western firm that wishes to Nearly all the lumber used in China is entice the masses with its wares must make hand-sawed, and the sawyers are exhausted a grade of extra cheapness for the China early. The planers of boards, the marble

The British-American Tobacco polishers, the brass filers, the cotton Auff- Company puts up a package of twenty ers, the treaders who work the big rice- cigarettes that sells for two cents. The polishing pestles, are building their coffins. Standard Oil Company sells by the million Physicians agree that carrying coolies a lamp that costs eleven cents and retails, chimney and all, for eight and a half cents. inch and imploring the by-passers to drop Incredibly small are the portions prepared alms into his basket. It held four cash! for sale by the huckster. Two cubic In Canton the Government furnishes inches of bean curd, four walnuts, five lepers two cents a day, which will buy peanuts, fifteen roasted beans, twenty two bowls of cooked rice; for other needs melon-seeds, make a portion. The melon- the lepers must beg. Ax and bamboo vender's stand is decked out with wedges are retained in punishment, and prison of insipid melon the size of two fingers. reform is halted by the consideration that The householder leaves the butcher's stall unless the way of the transgressor is made with a morsel of pork, the pluck of a fowl, Ainty, there are people miserable enough and a strip of fish as big as a sardine, tied to commit crime for the bare sake of prison together with a blade of grass. In Anhwei fare. Not long ago the commissioner of the query corresponding to “How do you customs at a great south China port-a make your living ?” is “How do you get foreigner, of course, -impressed by the through the day?" On taking leave of his fact that every summer the bubonic plague host, it is manners for the guest to thank there carried off about ten thousand Chihim expressly for the food he has provided. nese, planned a rigid quarantine against Careful observers say that four fifths of those ports from which the plague was the conversation among common Chinese. liable to be brought. When he sought the relates to food.

trade.

LXXXII-53

coöperation of the Chinese authorities, the Comfort is scarce as well as food. The taotai objected on the ground that there city coolie sleeps on a plank in an airless were too many Chinese anyway, and that, kennel on a filthy lane with a block for a by thinning them out and making room for pillow and a quilt for a cover. When in the rest, the plague was a blessing in disa south China hospital the beds were pro- guise. The project was dropped, and last vided with springs and mattresses, supplied summer again the plague ravaged the city by a philanthropic American, all the pa- like a fire. But the taotai was not unreatients were found next morning sleeping sonable. After all, it is better to die on the floor. After being used to a board quickly by plague than slowly by starvacovered with a mat, they could not get tion; and, as things now are, if fewer their proper slumber on a soft bed.

Chinese perished by disease, more would be Necessity makes the wits fertile in de

swept away by famine. vising new ways of earning a living. In In a press so desperate, if a man stumsome localities people place about the floors bles, he is not likely to get up again. I of their chambers and living-rooms flea- have heard of several cases where an emtraps, tiny joints of bamboo with a bit of ployee, dismissed for incompetence or açomatic glue at the bottom which attracts fault, returned starving again and again, and holds fast the vermin. Recently in because nowhere could he find work. In Szechuen-where there is a proverb, “The China you should move slowly in getting sooner you get a son, the sooner you get rid of an incompetent. Ruthless dismissal, happiness" --some wight has been enter- such as we tolerate, is bitterly resented and prising enough to begin going about from leads to extreme unpopularity. Again, no house to house cleaning the dead feas and one attempts to stand alone, seeing the lone dried glue from the traps and rebaiting man is almost sure to go under. The son them with fresh glue. For this service he of Han dares not cut himself off from his charges each house one twentieth of a family, his clan, or his gild, for they cent!

throw him the life-line by which he can The great number hanging on to exist- pull himself up if his foot slips. Students ence "by the eyelashes" and dropping into in the schools are strong in mass action, the abyss at a gossamer's touch cheapens strikes, walkouts, etc., for their action, life. "Yan to meng ping" ("Many men however silly or perverse, is always unanilife cheap"), reply the West River water

The sensible lad never thinks of men when reproached for leaving a sick holding out against the folly of his fellows. comrade on the shore to die. In a The whole bidding of his experience has thronged six-foot street I beheld a shriv- been “Conform or starve.” Likewise no eled, horribly twisted leper on his back, duty is impressed like that of standing by hitching himself along sidewise inch by your kinsmen. The official, the arsenal

mous.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »