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On Bandits

January 16, 1916: “We are going through the famous tufei [bandits] region where pillage and destruction are the general run of events. Going up the canal it took me four days to go from the Yangchwang locks to Sutsien [Suqian] and just above Sutsien is the tufei belt. It is surely hunting for trouble in these parts to travel after the sun goes down so we always carefully tie up at about five o’clock, selecting the largest village that we can possibly reach to make things doubly sure, for a body of from 30 to 50 tufei will loot and burn a small village if they thought that they could get $5 real money out of it. The whole country as far as way up beyond the lakes around here is infested by brigands, and the trouble is that no one knows just who does the night work, for in the day time these highbinders are at their gentlemanly occupation of agriculture. Most of the most daring tufei are ex-soldiers. . . . I was at first inclined to doubt the full extent of the activity of the tufei and to rather regard all danger from them lightly but the missionaries all have disillusioned me on that score. They would not be likely to do any foreigner physical harm, but they would strip him of anything that he possessed and even take all the clothes off his back and probably be rather apologetic about it. However if one made any resistance there would be a good fight and the foreigner would probably have several holes in his anatomy to worry about for these fellows have first class mauser rifles." 

April 5, 1917: “I saw something that might have interested you, last week inside of the Manchu city of Taoyuan, though it was quite bloody. It was an execution of three “tufei” or banditti who infest the country everywhere outside city walls and town waitzus. The military took them out of the horrible pit with an inverted funnel mouth that the Chinese call a jail. The men were fastened together with heavy boards that passed over their heads & were padlocked around their necks. They were marched by the company of cut throat soldiers from the Yamen down the Main street of the city with all the usual Chinese mysticism – Bhuddist priests carrying burning streamers, wind & water soothsayers etc. with a lot of unholy music, and a huge crowd of spectators. Then they put the doomed men in a depression in the ground & a squad of 5 soldiers shot them one by one. It was interesting to watch the cold & indifferent faces of the men who died. Their expressions, as far as I could see, did not betray by any movement or twitching the excitement they must have been under. Even the last man to die watched the others being killed with as cold and sullen a face as I have ever seen. The only sign of nervousness or disgust was the rolling of his eyeballs.”

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