M. Seeley Husted
Hankow 14. 1. 06
My Dear Friend:-
It is impossible for me to begin to thank you for your kind letter and the two books which I received by todays mail: so I shall not attempt to do so: but shall content myself with the thought that someday I can or may do something for you which will give you as much pleasure as they have given me. As I was not busy when they arrived I started reading "The Mountains of California" and it is like pulling teeth to lay it aside for even a moment. Still I am afraid it will make me want to see all those grand sights so much, that I will not rest easy until I have done so. As I read I can almost picture them in minds eye and long to be there: Little wonder is it that you love your work and have given your life to it, would that I were free to go over the same ground. To be sure I would not be able to explain or understand the great forces which formed it all but I could see and enjoy all the beautiful sights. The books are and always shall be among my most treasured possessions and I know that I shall read them over and over again. How you must have enjoyed your rambles and how little need you had for humane companionship when you were in touch with the grandest companion of all (Nature) Since I wrote you last I have not had
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much time to get out into the country, as we have been fairly busy; We are having (so far) a very mild winter, but one snow storm and that in November, and the days now are beautiful. The river is lower this year than it has been for years and unless the rains or snows begin soon will go much lower.
The natives say it is a bad omen and that years ago whenever the river went so low that the following year was always one of much sickness; I hope it does not prove so this time. Last summer as you probably know was an awful year for the people on the Upper Yang Tsz on account of the floods which devastated hundreds of miles of country and that hundreds died and are dying in Hunan from starvation as the floods swept away all their crops. At Changsha in August there were places where there was no land visable for miles and miles. And still after all that the river is so low now that it is difficult for steamers to come up here from Shanghai now.
The whole of the afternoon today there has be a steady roar of big guns here and my ears are still ringing from it. at 3 pm we had an eclipse (partial) of the sun, and the Chinese have been firing to frighten the dog away. For as you probably know they call an eclipse "Tien kow shih er" or in English "Air dog eating the sun" Their belief is that
by firing guns they can frighten him so that he will leave it alone. Of course the educated ones know what it is but the coohe class fully believe it, and the officials keep up the old custom of firing to satisfy them. I asked an official today, why, if he knew what caused it, did he still fire the guns & would it not be cheaper to teach the poor people what it was? His answer was "If the poor people knew too much they would not be able to control them" And that answer I think answers the question. "Why dont the Chinese advance"?
I am afraid I have already taken up too much of your time so hoping you will forgive me I will close.
With many good wishes and kindest regards
Yours most Sincerely
M. Seeley Husted
J. M. C
P.S. I am writing to people at Ping Shan trying my level best to procure some specimens for you. M. S. H.
The accompaning photo is one I took of the house, I am living in from the river. in the summer the water is level with the top of this wall which is 49 feet above the present level.
Original letter dimensions: 28 x 22.5 cm.
Husted, M. Seeley, "Letter from M. Seeley Husted to [John Muir],  Jan 14." (1907). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 3628.
Reel 16, Image 0549
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