WHEN the letters of the various ministers had been committed to my care, I returned to
Su Wang Fu, saying to myself, "How shall I ever be able to take these letters to
Tientsin?" I breathed a simple prayer to God to give me some method by which I might
reach my destination in safety. The words had scarcely left my lips when I noticed on the
wall a large straw hat, such as is commonly used by coolies in the summer-time, and as it
was composed of two layers of straw, I wet it, ripped it apart, and concealed my letters
between the two sections, after which I carefully sewed it together as before, with the
prayer upon my lips, "Lord, when do you wish me to start?"When I left the Legation, I crossed the bridge and climbed over a wall of barricades
into Su Wang Fu, where two Japanese soldiers said to me: "What are you doing
here?" "I am going to Tientsin with letters," I replied. "What is your
name?" inquired one of them. When I told him, he said in a kind but warning tone
"You must be careful or you will be killed before you are well started on your
way." He took me to a small lane at the outskirts of the barricades, where he left me
to go on alone; but I had not gone far when I discovered that a Boxer watchman was
stationed at the other end of the street and my heart almost stood still. I had gone too
far, however, to turn back, so I put on a bold front, prayed the Lord for guidance, and
walked boldly onward. "Give me ten cents, and I will let you pass," was all he
said, which I was quite ready to do.
My way through the East Gate was without incident; but when halfway to Tung Chou I
overtook some three hundred of Tung Fuhsiang's soldiers to whom I joined myself and
continued on my way. The canal had overflowed its banks at the Eight Li Bridge, and at
their suggestion we had our dinner, for which they paid, after which one of them offered
to swim across with me on his back, which kindness I was glad to accept, as I saw no other
way of getting to the opposite side. I continued with the soldiers, stopping with them
that night at a Mohammedan inn, the proprietor of which was very kind to me. He refused to
accept payment for my entertainment and asked me to take vows of friendship before I left.
During the night, a crowd passed by, led by a woman Boxer---a member of the Society of
the Red Lantern---who asked me my name, my business, and where I was going. As I seemed to
satisfy them with my answer, they went about their business, which was the destruction of
a Catholic village, and the murder of the Christians. The next morning I continued on my
way, being early joined by a Boxer who invited me to dine with him, after which we
separated.That night I heard the keeper of the inn at which I stopped say to a Boxer, "We
have no Christians here," and I spent the night in peace. The following day a child
warned me not to go through a certain village, saying that the Boxers were taking every
one they suspected, and I saw the fire kindled at which they burnt twenty Christians,
while I at the same time thanked the Lord for putting it into the mind of a child to warn
me, and thus save me, and perhaps the people of the Legation, from a like horrible fate.
The country was flooded. I was compelled to wade through water the depth of which I knew
nothing about, and I was wet and discouraged. I had just emerged from the water when a man
with a gun on his shoulder called out to me in a loud voice "Where are you
"I am going to Tientsin," I answered. "What for?"
"To find the head of a flower establishment in which I was employed before this
trouble broke out." The readiness of my answer seemed to satisfy him, and he allowed
me to continue on my way. At the next village a shoemaker informed me that the road was
dangerous, being crowded with Chinese troops; a thing which I soon found to be true by
being made prisoner and having my money taken from me. My money being all they wanted, the
soldiers at once set me free, and I in turn complained to the officer that I had been
robbed by his troops. "Wait," said he, "until I see who did it."
"No, no," said I, "do not let me trouble you to that extent; the day is far
spent, and I should like to spend the night in your camp." "With pleasure,"
said he. So I spent the night in the protection of my enemies.
"Please search me," said I in the morning, "to see that I have taken
nothing, and I will proceed on my way." He returned my money, warning me not to go on
the Great Road lest I fall into the hands of the foreign troops and suffer at their hands.
"I understand," said I, with a meaning which he did not comprehend, and I left.
When I came to the river, I noticed a boatman and accosted him as follows "Will you
take me to the Red Bridge in Tientsin?" "We do not dare to go as far as the Red
Bridge," he answered, "the Japanese soldiers are there, and they will shoot
us." "You need not be afraid," said I, "I can protect you from
On hearing this he readily consented, but he put me off some distance from the bridge.
I saw the soldiers in the distance, but waved my handkerchief as a token that I was a
messenger, and thus encountered no danger. They escorted me to the Foreign Settlement and
then left me to go alone, but the Russians refused to allow me to pass and I was compelled
to return to the Red Bridge. I took one of the letters out of the hat and showed it to
three Japanese officers who happened to be passing. "Where do you come from?"
"Were you not afraid of the Boxers?"
"You are a good man; wait till I give you a pass." While he was writing, it
began to rain, and they took me to their headquarters, where I saw a high official, dined
with him, and related all my adventures by the way as well as the condition of affairs in
Peking; all of which he wrote down, and then sent four of his soldiers to accompany me to
the British and American Consulates. When I saw the American Consul, I burst into tears
and told him of all that the people in Peking were suffering; how the Boxers were firing
on them from all sides and trying to burn them out; how each man was limited to a small
cup of grain a day, while at the same time they were compelled to labor like coolies,
under a burning sun, in employments to which they were not accustomed, and I urged him to
send soldiers at once to relieve them.
He sent a man to take me to my room, and I found among the servants one of my old
acquaintances, with whom I spent a pleasant evening, and then had a good night's rest. The
following day I went to the Methodist Mission, where I met those who had passed through a
siege similar to the one I had left. When Dr. Benn saw how sore my feet were, she washed
and bandaged them with her own hands. After a rest of two days I secured the letters of
the various consuls, together with others from friends of some of the besieged, and
started on my return journey, depending upon the Lord for his protection. I had not gone a
mile from the city when I was arrested by two foreign soldiers, robbed of all my money,
and taken to the tent of their officer, who, when he saw my pass, recognized it as that of
a messenger from Peking and restored both my money and my liberty. Two miles from the city
I came to a stream I was unable to cross, and found myself compelled to return and leave
by way of the North Gate of the city.
Seven miles from the city I fell into a nest of Boxers, the head of whom asked me
"Where have you been?" "To Tientsin," I replied. "What for?"
"To see the head of the flower establishment with which I was connected before this
trouble broke out," I answered. "How old is he?" "Seventy-six
years," I replied, without hesitation. He said no more, and I asked if I could dine
with them. After dinner I said to the head Boxer "I wish to go to Peking; can you
tell me the safest route for me to take?" He told me, and after wishing him good-bye
I left, taking the direction he suggested. The following day, when passing a melon-patch
watched by Boxers, I walked up to them and asked them to give me a melon, thinking that
they would be less likely to disturb me if I first addressed them.
"Where are you going?" they asked. "To Peking," I answered;
"can you tell me which road it would be safest for me to take?" They told me,
and, as in the former case, I followed their directions, reaching the city without further
adventure other than that of avoiding several crowds of Boxers and Chinese soldiers.
Outside the East Gate I ate two bowls of vermicelli, while I watched the soldiers and
Boxers on top of the city wall. I went west to the Ssu P'ai Lou, thence south to the Tan
P'ai Lou, where I turned west toward the British Legation. All the way through the city I
was compelled to saunter slowly, as though I was merely looking about and not going
anywhere, so that it took me from noon till evening to go from the East Gate to the
Legation. The soldiers in the lines between the Chinese and foreign quarters were gambling
as I passed and paid no attention to me. In the Austrian Legation grounds I noticed a
Chinese soldier digging as though for treasure. Walking up to him I addressed him thus:
"Hello! Captain. What are you doing?" "What are you doing here?" said
he, staring at me and speaking in a loud voice. "Please do not speak so loud," said I in an undertone, as though to enter
into a secret alliance with him; "I was originally a coolie in this place. My home is
in the country, and I have just been to see if my family were killed, and finding them
safe, I have returned to get some treasure I have in the Su Wang Fu."
have you?" he inquired. "About one thousand dollars." "What is your
name?" he inquired further. "Yao Chen-yuan. What is your honorable name?"
"Wu Lien-t'ai," he replied.
"Now you go and get your silver and we two will
open an opium shop." "Very well," I replied. "Have you any silver with
you?" he asked. "Only about four or five ounces." "Well, you give that
to me. Not that I want the silver, but it will cement our friendship, and I will return it
to you when you come back." "Very well," said I, giving him what silver I
While we were talking, an officer with forty or fifty soldiers came up and wanted to
have me killed.
"Do not kill him," said the soldier to whom I had been talking; "he is
an old friend of mine from the country, here to make money out of the foreigners."
"If he is a friend of yours, what is his name?"
"Yao Chen-yuan," he replied. "What is this soldier's name?" asked
the officer, turning to me. "Wu Lien-t'ai," I answered without hesitation.
"Quite right," he said, and passed on to the Great Street.
Just then a crowd of Boxers came up, and the leader asked "What is this fellow
doing here?" "Do not meddle with my affairs," said the soldier, "he is
my friend." And with this they passed on, leaving us alone. "Now you go into Su
Wang Fu," said the soldier, "and get your money; and if you cannot come out
tomorrow, stand behind the wall and hold your hand aloft that I may know you are
"Very well," I replied, "but how am I to get in?" "I will take
you to the end of that alley, where youwill be safe," he said, at which place I bade him good afternoon. In a few moments
the Japanese soldiers, who had observed and recognized me, pulled me up over the wall, and
I was once more safe. I was at once taken to the officer and met Mr. Squiers, to whom I delivered the
letters. When he saw me ripping open the hat and taking them out, one after another until
I had given him eleven, he could not refrain from laughing. He took me with him to the
American Legation, where as we entered he held aloft the letters. The people clapped their
hands and cheered, and many of them wanted to talk with me, but I was led out through the
Russian into the British Legation. Here I met Mr. King, who after a short conversation
asked me for my hat. "It is all ripped apart," I replied. "I can sew it
together again," he answered. "What do you want to do with it?" I inquired.
"Take it back to America as a relic of your trip," said he.