The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners That Shook the World in the Summer of 1900

By Diana Preston | Go to book overview

13

Horsemeat and Hope

Thank God they are coming. -- Mary Bainbridge

THE relief forces were in better heart than the besieged. After the end of the truce many were again skeptical about the prospect of deliverance. They also felt oppressed by the sheer problems of day-to-day existence. In the hospital, supplies were nearly out while casualties were mounting. Caring for the sick and wounded was made yet more harrowing by a British marine who, according to Lenox Simpson, had become "hopelessly mad." He had shot and bayoneted a man early in the siege, driving the bayonet in up to the hilt in the man's chest and then discharging the entire contents of his magazine. Now, badly traumatized, he lay thrashing about, shrieking hour after hour "How it splashes! How it splashes!"

The state of the Chinese converts had deteriorated still further. Morrison went out for the first time since being wounded to see for himself. Carried in a chair by four coolies, he witnessed the pitiful conditions in the Fu, where many Chinese were barely clinging to life. The several hundred able-bodied male converts used in the fortification work were still receiving extra horsemeat and rice, but most of the others were existing on a mixture of chaff, sorghum seeds, wheat, and the leaves of plants and trees made into "a most revolting sort of cake" and on the stray dogs and cats that were shot for them. Seven or eight Chinese children

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