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<p> Another feature was boats large and small, and junks, some laboriously tracked or rowed like my own, when the wind failed, against the powerful stream, or descending, keeping the necessary steerage headway by crowds of standing men on the low deck, facing forwards, vigorously working great sweeps or yulows, five or ten at each, the gorge echoing all along its length to the rise and fall of the wild chants to which the rowers keep time and which are only endurable when softened by distance. After some hours of this region of magic and mystery, near sunset we emerged into open water, with broken picturesque shores, and at dusk tied up in a pebbly bay with glorious views of mountain and woodland, not far from the beautiful village of Nan-to, and the "needle" or "pillar" of heaven, well known to the dwellers in Ichang. The Ichang gorge is about twelve miles long; the Niu-kan, grander yet, about three; the Mitan about three and a half; the Wushan about twenty; and the Feng-hsiang, or "Wind Box," the last of the great gorges, about four. These are the great gorges. </p>
<p>With a strong, fair wind our sail was set; the creak and swish of the oars was exchanged for the low music of the river as it parted under our prow; and the deep water (from fifty to a hundred feet), of a striking bottle-green colour, was unbroken by a swirl or ripple, and slid past in a grand, full volume. The stillness was profound, enlivened only as some big junk with lowered mast glided past us at great speed, the fifty or sixty <pb n="107"/> <pb n="108"/> <figure> <p> "Entrance to Ichang Gorge." </p> </figure> <pb n="109"/> men at the sweeps raising a wild chant in keeping with the scene. Scuds of snow, wild, white clouds whirling round pinnacles, and desolate snow-clothed mountains, apparently blocking further progress, added to the enchantment. </p>