FROM MONGTSE TO SSUMAO
he should sally forth and interview the rioters. A long silence showed that a parley was being held. I took my stand in the court with Sao, who did not lose his sang froid Of a sudden, about a dozen men burst in armed with guns, 12-feet lances, swords, and tridents. The Hou-Nis (for as such I at once recognised them) were led by a man brandishing a torch, and from their threatening gestures seemed about to fall on; their pieces were at the shoulder and their fingers uncomfortably close to the triggers. I had slipped my revolver into my pocket and loaded my gun, determined not to sell my skin for nothing; though, caught in a trap as we were, we were pretty sure of our quietus if they attacked.
In this crisis Sao surprised me by his cool courage for an Anna-mite. Knowing that, bad as his Chinese was, it would come better from an Asiatic than my gibberish, I left the speaking to him. Our old emissary had by this time prudently made himself scarce. In rough tones the leader of the band invited me to begone. This was not our intention, so we replied by making signs that we were hungry, and to show a firm front began to sweep a space in the court for a fire. Then Sao had an inspiration. Although he could not speak Chinese, he could write it. The yard served as a spacious slate, and he forthwith
A Hou-Ni.A Hou-Ni.