Imágenes de páginas

It is this sort of thing that has con- mortality. A lane skirted by trees of vinced the Chinese of our stupidity. almost jungle girth leads on to another

We got to the foot of Lo Fau San hy night of steps, white with the fallen sunset. Fa Shau Thoi, the Buddhist blossoms of the "nine-mile-fragrant Monastery of the Fair Head, is some tree,” which fills the air with a soft, six hundred feet up the mountain-sidle, heavy scent as of myrtle. Al the top with a good bridle-path leading up from is a courtyard as big as a tennis-lawn, this point. It was quite dark when we with a balustrade around, overhung by arrived, and the heavy folding-doors the upper branches of peach and were already bolted and barred for the pomelo and willow; and on the opponight. We were shown into the guests' site side the monastery runs to left and quarters, and assigned a bedroom and right in long, low wings of red brick, a sitting-room. The monks are used to broken in the middle by a verandali visitors, and foreigners are not un- and portico, rich with texts in red and known; but after a long anıl hungry gold, and highly colored pictures of old day, arły one, Chinese or European, men playing chess, after the wellmiilit do worse than sit down at their known Chinese style. But for this table-d’hôte, before a dish of snow- porch and the blazing golden suu on white rice piled high and a baked the roof-beam where it says in the chicken, flanked by bowls of gravy, middle, an Elizabethan country-house Permicelli, and boiled cabbage. Nor would give no bad idea of Fair Head will he do amiss to guard himself from Monastery. Immediately behind, the chill by a jar of hot sweet rice-wine. cliff of discolored granite runs up so After dinner, I was glad to turn into steeply that the neck aches as you peer my clean straw bed and sleep the sleep up at the blue sky above. Fir-trees of the just.

cling closely to it, their roots twisted Fa Shau Thoi is really a charming sideways into the rock. A brook slips place, quite apart from its being raised broadly over the black face, and breaks high above the reeking stew of the in a patch of undergrowth half-way Canton plain. It is enshadowed by an down, with a monotonous droning. A atmosphere of peace that removes it balf-transparent mist-cloud far away from the profane tramp and Puts forth an arm and creeps from pine to turmoil of swarming China. If the pine, god Buildha could rouse him from the And loiters slowly down ; sleep of his blissful Nirvana, to hallow and you wake to hear yourself saying, any spot amid the million - tongued “ It's just like a Chinese picture.” strugrle and squalor of the land, surely Through the round granite pillars of he would choose the gulley of the Fair the porch you pass into an empty, barnHead. What a contrast between its like room, with a drum as big as shale, the coolness of heavy timber, wine-vat in one corner, and a monthe rivulet drippivg down between the strous bell engraved with sutras in anrounded granite boulders, and the rice- other. This vestibule opens by two field swellering in the beat below, doors on to cloisters which ruu round at wliere the soil is half mud, half ma- courtyarıl and rise by steps with the pure, and the water a thrice-ilefiled slope of the hill to the side opposite. off-couring of both !

Crossing the courtyard, you mount to The path crosses a little waterfall, the carved and fretted folding-doors of and leads by a flight of rough steps up the chief shirine. If you go in, which to the squat brick archway that bounds you are quite at liberty to do, you will the precincts of the monastery. Just see that it is a plain, whitewashed inside is a little plaster image of room, supported on wooden pillars Buildha on a pedestal, looking, it must running up to the tiled roof. In the be confessed, more like Father Christ. centre, and facing the doorway, is an mas on a cracker than a saint who altar on which are block-tin candelabra fasted anıl suffered and fought off his and vases filled with artificial flowers;


a little wooden drum, shaped like a leach by liis praying-mat, facing each whispering-shell ; and a brazen bowl in other in rows on this side and that of which half-a-dozen joss-sticks smoulder Buddha's throne. The candle-light day and night, planted in the tightly from the altar catches the carving and packed ashes of their predecessors. the lacquer - work, and — the cleanBehind this altar, and reaching half- shaven heads of the brethren. A monk way to the roof-beams, there is a huge folds his hands before him, shuts his wooden frame carved and varnisleil, eyes, and launches forth into a prayer, with a glass front, and inside sits which, being in corrupt Sanscrit, is Buddha Shakyamuni on his hrone. not understanded of the general. He The idol is uplike anything in heaven gabbles through it as fast as he can go, above or in the carth beneath — least in a high, nasal sing-song which seems of all like to that Buddha whom the strangely familiar; it appears to be a siglit of suffering drove from his harem sort of litany, the congregation making and his palace into the forest, to fight the responses in unison. At intervals against his passions and to conquer a gong jars the semi-silence; while after years of suffering and tempta- through all you are aware of a queer, tion. The only thing it does resemble droning throb, and discover at length at all is a Chinaman who has read the that it comes from a novice, who, with classics. The artist has not been able a sublime air of abstraction and the to avoid giving the patronizing droop slightest perceptible movement of his of the eyes and the smooth, unthink- hand, is tap-tapping at a tiny wooden ing brow which are his conventions for drum. The blend of subdued sounds, dignity ; even the supercilious little lights, colors, gives the indescribable finger is there, cocked up to show its something of sensuous charm

that long, dainty nail, which

say's, “Look steals upon a man in a Catholic place at me, and judge if we ever do any of worship; and I felt a secret synwork." Yes, this overdressed, imper- pathy with Ah Man at my side AL tinent Celestial is the weather-beaten Man, the declared agnostic — when he etherealized Messiah !

whispered, “ Perhaps true indeed! I There are half-a-lozen lesser shrines perceive that these men fervently bewithin the precinct, all much the same lieve.” to look at, connected by cloisters and Suddenly all face round to the doorcourtyards. The Heavenly Wells, as way, their backs to the altar. The fat these courtyards are called, are fillel oli abbot kneels and prostrates himself with lotus-lilies, white and red, and thrice, striking his head on the stone flowering shrubs, and little tanks of floor. Then they form in procession goldfish. Now and then one of the and march round the shrine, chanting dingy, sodden monks will saunter out the key-note of their religion as it has to renew the incense-sticks, or to pick reached them from the mouths of the a flower and lay it upon the altar ; but Indian missionaries to China more than during the daytime they keep very two thousand years ago : “Nan-Vu quiet with their opium-pipes in their 0-Ni-To Fut!" Holy Buddha Indicells, and are not much in evidence ; nite ! More prayers, more kou tous ; and a perfect calm rests over the Fair and so the day's work ends; except Head.

there are two, for whom it is a duty But when the drum beats for even- (whether of fatigue or supererogation, ing prayer all is changed. Thirty I know not) to beat the big drum for monks appear from nowhere in partic- some hours, and to strike the carved ular, cach in a cassock of dove-colored bell with a suspended battering-ram six hemp, with a surplice of russet or yel- times eighteen times. Then all is over low fastened at the left shouliler with a for the night, until, an hour before knot of red. Then if you peep throughi (aylight, you wake to hear the new day the carvings of the doorway into the ushered in by renewed throb and clang big shrine, you will see them standing of drum and bell.

[ocr errors]

It sounds very solemn and imposing, pretty good, considering John's idea of but it must not be supposed that the time and a promise. But at ten o'clock Buddhist monks know anything about the other two still were not ; so I made their own doctrine. Any one wishing a start with those I had, leaving the to inform himself on the subject should Late-born to ferret out the perjured turn it up in the “Encyclopædia Bri- beasts of burden and follow after. tannica ; " it will be time wasted to ask It is wisely forbidden by the authoria Chinese monk. Indeed, their igno- lies to cut wood in the valley of the rance of the religion they profess is Fair Head; but I was not grateful to astounding. They know, most of them, my men for taking me by a short cut that “ Fut,” as they call Buddha, was a through the underwood and drenching foreigner of some sort, but that is about me to the waist ; however, as things all. They do not understand the very turned out, a little moisture more or prayers they chant. They burn in- less did not matter. Then began the cense before strange gods — before the real climb, up zigzag tracks of clay, and Tan-ist God of the Five Compass-over slope after slope of grass-clad lillpoints, for instance. They have ab- side, with stepping-stones here and solved themselves from the command there in the steepest bits. As the kulis against eating animal food, and are were carrying ninety pounds apiece, it content to eat maigre, like the Tao-ists, may be imagined that our progress was iwo days a month; though perbaps slow. Over the worst bits they swang they could give a reason for this inno- deliberately from stone to stone, uttervation. Not that their ignorance is ing an exclamatory “Tshaw !”; and Temarkable, considering the way they the clink of Bass against Pilsener jarred are recruited. One takes the vows cruelly on the imagination. Happily, "sbaves the head," as he would say not a bottle was broken. - because he does not see any other After about an hour we made out means of ensuring his daily dose of three little white specks on a yellow opium. Another because he has got line below us, which seemed to be the into trouble, and is “ wanted” at Can- rest of the party, and by our combined lon. After a year's menial service, war-cries attracted their attention. I should he still give satisfaction, he may extemporized a telegraphic apparatus aspire to become an Exalted Brother as out of my sun-hat on a walking-stick, gooul as the rest.

and was engaged in a desperate attempt Are they, then, mere vulgar impos- to signal for some one to post on with tors?

Perhaps not. They say they the tobacco (for I was in a cigarless believe — something which they have region), when the mist closed down on never taken the trouble to think out us, and we were alone in a green grey anything that is the “correct thing” island, cut off from life of any sort. It for Buddhists to believe ; and I doubt also began to rain, and things did not their making any mental reservations. look cheerful. Even å halt for lunch The fact is, ibey are past reasoning, as brought little comfort ; for as I munched they are past curiosity, past hope and the homely biscuit, the bearers pleaded fear. They are absolutely careless and so earnestly for a share that it went to useless and besotted. If this is the life my heart to refuse them — although, as of the lotus-eater, most people would I pointed out, they had already - eaten prefer to live the life of a naked Sakai full," and my foreign-tin cakes " on a Malay mountain, with a blow-pipe were “ for me, one individual, probhunting squirrels for the evening meal. ably not enough.” They then squatted

Our next ambition was the very top on their haunches and watched me, of the mountain — pamely, Pat Yun gulping pathetically after the manner Tshz, the Buddhist Monastery of the of dogs. But when one of them deOpening Cloud. Of the four bearers manded “Wi-si-ki spirit," I began to who were engaged for 6 A.M. sharp, suspect that they were not so unsophistwo turned up at eight, which was ' ticated as they looked.



[ocr errors]

When, after four hours' climbing, we way round the green earth floor of my had covered some two-thirds of the dis- room, and in drying our clothes and tance, the spirits of the angry mountain bedding in one corner round a charcoal determined to do their worst ; and the stove as big as a flower-pol. rain, which up to this point had been For him who shuns his fellow-men Tit, tit, tat, tat," as a Chinaman ex- the Opening Cloud is the place ; there pressively puts it, became “ Pi-pa-la, le may rest assured that he is sis good pi-li-pa-la," and in a very few minutes miles from any living soul. The monwe were drenched to the skin. How- astery was almost entirely destroyed ever, we bore up manfully, and bearer during a storm last year, and the sole Number One vexed the solitude with a remaining monk is a “Howing-water mountain ditly, sug, or, as we should smoker" — that is, he never leaves liis say, howled, in a drawling falsetto. bell and opium-pipe except for meals. The first verse gocs something like He and his man-of-all-work are the this :

only society. It is true that on my Still is all around us, still and fair to see,

arrival there was a third, but he was None on all your mountain-sides can sing an interloper. IIaving chanced to a song like me.

stray up, he had decided that a You, you know the mountain-song ; sing Shang's ” life would be a happy one, a stave or two.

and proposed in due course to shave Come, my little sister, join in harmony ! off his pigtail and enter the oriler. At There are a great many verses, most of first my friend, with the indifference which are not exactly of a lrawing- of a confirmed smoker, had raised no room nature, though they appeared to objections; but as time went on, it relieve the singer's feelings immensely. dawned on him that lighting twenty Perhaps they recalled a romantic pas-joss-sticks a day and banging a gong sion of the days gone by, when some no sort of equivalent for the fair grass-cutter on the hillside forgot man's keep, for he was a gross feeder. the husband who bought her, in rap- Accordingly he loudly urged the imture at the strain, and encouraged his propriety of a man, with wife and advances by replying:

parents still alive, aspiring to the monkhood.

And when the new-comier Through the dewy moorland round about I stray,

expressed his willingness to sell the Sleeve rolled back to elbow, cutting grass one and renounce the other, the monk, all day ;

feeling unequal to a forcible expulsion, Weary of my labor; fainting in the was reduced to the absurd expedient of heat,

scolding the unfortunate man all day Lo! here comes a stranger ; very sweet his long — for the way he beat the drum ! lay.

The excitement was a great strain on It is a pity that this sort of romance the poor child of Buildha, and I was should be the only form possible under glad when he plucked up courage to Chinese conditions.

settle the business by cutting off supWhen, after a last long scramble, a plics. low wall and a cluster of corrugated- Even at Pat Yun Tslız new faces are iron roofs loomed through the down- seen occasionally. During my stay a pour, we all were glad. The solitary party of rush-cutters called who had monk at the Opening Cloud Monastery never before seen a foreigner. They

a hearty welcome, and in- were very respectful, and rather nerstalled me in the only shrine that did vous — quite different from the type of not leak. The rest of our party arrived Chinaman who stares at you, laughing not long after, with stirring tales of just as insolently as is safe under the peril incurred in crossing a torrent, circumstances, and who bursts into where a yard-wide streamlet had trick- filthy abuse as soon as your back is led an hour before. The remaining turned. This ruffian, who is seen to as daylight was spent in planking a path-great advantage iu civilized Canton as


gave me

anywhere, is the product of familiarity, “Yes, it was so !” he went on. not ignorance.

" When I was crossing the bridge, opNot such a one was Tshya lau Pak posite where the great pagoda is, then - dear old Uncle Grace — who in his at that time in heaven above we men wanderings after calladia for medicine heard a cry of Lonk, lonk, lonk.' came up to the monastery, and gave us Just like this was the sound” (and he the benefit of his company through one made the brass mouthpiece of his pipe delightful evening. He was a little, ring against the cast-iron tea-pan). withered, smiling old man from an up- 6. When it was thus, as many as were country Ilakka village, who seemed to there, we raised our heads, and behold have outgrown his Chinesity and to there were lumps of silver and gold bave become merely human. In a floating above us." sarong and headkerchief he might have “Geese, maybe," said Late-born, the passed for a Malay raja of the old sceptic. school ; or, in a smock-frock and clod- “ Geese ? Plague seize thy mother!” hoppers, for an English cottager of the Old Uncle Grace replied, still smiling. old school. It was a foggy, drizzling - Gold and silver geese bast thou ever night when I found old Uncle Grace seen unto this day? Nay, they were seated at the kitchen table near the round things like plates, neither fire, with a pipe in one hand and head nor wing; there were also threethe other wrapped cosily around the cornered ones, and four-cornered ones ; teapot; while the Late-born and the and they flew by. Then in a moment man-of-all-work were listening to him we men all knelt down and prayed open-mouthed. Over the fire a pan of them, “Pray ye do not go, ah ! Pray fresh-cut tea a-drying filled the air with ye deign to tarry with us, ah!' And a fragrant steam and a suggestion of ther, as we spoke, straightway they all comfort that my room lacked. So I turned back and parted into two flights, too sat and listened, and longed for first the silver in a big flight, and then a Kipling to immortalize the endless the gold in a lesser fight; and wheelstream of stories with which he edified ing-wheeling fashion they flew lower us — each one ending with, “ Ha ! that and lower, and when one touched anwas the way of it. What more would other they chinked · Louk, louk.'' ye have ? But I remember

“ Did they settle ?” the mau-of-all80 on to the next.

work whispered. In course of time he asked me the “ Ill-luck and alas ! there was one inevitable questions, Had not I come small boy picked up a stone even thus, up to search for treasure ? Could not and threw it, thinking by chance to hit I see a fathom into the ground because them. Then in a fash away they flew, my eyes were blue? But when I de- fi, fu the sound of it, towards this flashclared with some irritation that I did ing-basket bill; and to this day no man not believe there was auy treasure at bas seen them more. Hai, tai. So all in his mountains, “There is !” he strange an affair! And I saw it with replied eagerly ; “I have seen it Aying these eyes.”' like a bird.

Hai, ya-a! I shall not Then he told us stories of tigers, and forget it. But that was twenty years of birds that turned to snakes and bit or more ago, Kwong Si not yet being their owners, and of men whom devils emperor.

At Fi Chu Fu I saw it. seized and thrust living into graves. For there lived a bookman there sur- He also gave an account of the capture named Tshin; his little girl's eyes had of Pekin in '60 by a cuckoo clock, grown a cataract, and he bade me climb which, as far as I remember, has the hills, seek medicine, give her to escaped the attention of historians. eat

" And so the foreign men," he said, “And the treasure ?" I hinted, for emphasizing the last word to draw my the good man was rather apt to wabble attention to the compliment implied

" the foreigu men, they made a clock.


[ocr errors]

out of the groove.

« AnteriorContinuar »