It was Sunday, but men and women in straw-hats busied themselves in the fields, flailing rice and tying up the stems.
Children helped too; carrying water from lakes to irrigation ditches, or holding the plough behind a bored looking bullock.
The purple mountains of Nanjing had passed long ago. Now the area was flat and open on both sides of the moving train, and the sun lowered towards the fields.
After sunset, I climbed onto my bunk and tried to make further progress with 'Slow Boats to China'.
No music played on the overhead speaker, but someone was speaking and it sounded like a badly tuned radio reception.
Below me, five men smoked cheap Chinese cigarettes. I accepted a peeled pear, grateful to clear my throat with its juices.
That night I dreamt of a Forbidden City ruled by a boy Emperor.