East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Little Mysteries


Peter Fleming Ella Maillart AsiaWe have been on the road for less than a week and already we have met some interesting mysteries.

The little Cantonese man in spats is the most obvious.
While both Maillart and Fleming worry that he might be a spy, the British is quick in dismissing him as a poser. With the change of lorry, he will be soon forgotten.

But two other interesting bits come from Fleming – bringing up two facts about Maillart that she does not include in her memoir.

  • First, from Fleming’s letter to The Times, we learn that Kini is traveling with “a big gun”. She does not mention such weapon in her book.
  • Second, we learn that, in Pinliang, Maillart received “some medicine that she needed for an ailment in her nose”.
    She does not write about it – neither the ailment nor the medicine.
    Curious, considering in the earlier chapters of her book she discussed some of her medical worries.

This is curious because, all things considered, I would have considered Fleming the likelier of the couple to show some reticence.
We’ll have to keep an eye out for more inconsistencies.

Also, it’s time to get the maps out, because after Lanchouw (or Lanzhou), the going will get rough.
But first, Lanchouw, coming up next.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “Little Mysteries

  1. Lanzhou streets are romantic, Peter says. Ella strolls in the outskirts and there is a certain peace on his comments. She also likes the wide streets with their china and linen shops. Both are reasonably happy at the China Inland Mission, with true beds except when they deal with bureaucrats, that finally will not allow the Smig couple to continue the trip with them

    Ella forgot her revolver in Langzhou.

    We will follow the use of the weapons, I remember quite a lot of references to them, that we will find “en-route”

    As well, of course, they personal adventure. Some hints may be found in the version of Peter’s book I follow (French translation, edited by Phebus, 1989, Paris) that includes an interview with Ella, then 86 year old


    • A different interview from the one I have in the Italian edition of her book 🙂
      This thing will get more interesting as we go on.
      But in the next post, we’ll have to talk about the Smigunovs.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.