Rumor and Rumor Panic
The month before last Yizhong told me that when a certain photographic studio [in the capital] had been set on fire some fresh litchis from Guangdong were found inside. When they were passed around and examined, the consensus was that they were gouged-out human eyeballs.a Everyone bristled with anger. People didn't realize that what they had found was a food product that was sweet and refreshing. It was like mistaking a camel for a horse with a swollen back. In the unsettled conditions of the present, eight or nine out of ten things one hears are rumors of this "tiger-in-the-marketplace" 1 sort.
Ye Changchi, Beijing official
On a certain day red-colored marks that looked like bloodstains suddenly appeared on people's doorways. On account of this rumors sprang up all over alleging that the blood had been smeared by Christians. One rumor had it that, if there was a bloodstain on a doorway, the Boxers' magic would not work. Another claimed that in only a hundred days time [the people within the house] would kill each other off. Still another alleged that in only seven days the house would catch fire. No one knew who had said "in only a hundred days" or "in only seven days." Those who repeated these statements didn't realize how absurd they were; those who heard them believed them to be true. How detestable is the ignorance of these foolish people.
Liu Mengyang, resident of Tianjin
Various stories were set afloat as to the power of the missionaries to prevent rain, ascribing almost superhuman strength in the way of controlling the elements. Clouds were constantly being driven away by fierce winds, which led to the story -- thoroughly believed by all the people -- that we went into our upper rooms and drove the clouds back by fanning with all our might. The