THE GATES OF BEIJING (6)
In which Jim and Kirk argue about drums, bangs, gongs and clepsydras until they come upon a mansion by the lake, and they argue about that, too. Walled retreat? Clandestine lair? What about her?
*JEWEL IN LOTUS
It was one of those glorious mid-autumn days at Houhai when the vault of the sky soared high and the poplars begin to rustle in the breeze and the resplendent ginkgoes put up a shimmering gold canopy. Kirk and I were rounding the lake, kicking up dust, crossing swords by crossing words without mercy, provoking one another along the way.
On most points, we probably agreed more than we disagreed, but being naturally contentious we had to disagree on something.
He liked the Drum Tower; I liked the Bell Tower. Both were ancient watchtowers with classy arched gateways and glazed tile roofs. One wood, one stone, both stacked with multiple eaves, each well-crafted and appealing in its own way. So what the argument finally came down to was the sound of time: the thump of a wooden drum versus the clang of a bronze bell.
Both towers were certified acoustic outposts used for centuries to set the time, announce curfew, instill order, and wake up the world. The periodic rhythmic thumps…