From the Hankow Wesleyan Mission. All night there has been heavy gunfire, by far the worst that has been experienced so far. Emily managed to get to sleep in the middle of it all, but was awakened by a bad dream and was unable to settle after that. She heard several shells scream past the building and splash into the water. The morning saw them all safe. The first part of the week had been fairly quiet except for a period when the rebels shelled a large warehouse containing Imperial soldiers - it is about three hundred yards away at the end of the bund, so the row can be imagined. After banging away for two days they finally managed to set the place on fire.
Ever since Friday night the rebels have been trying to surround the Imperials on three sides, having previously cut them off from resupply of munitions and other essentials. The fleet under Admiral Sah has joined the revolutionaries and it has been arranged for the ships to come up from Kiukiang to shell the Imperial camp from the river while the ground forces assault the position from land. The attack had been planned for yesterday but the fleet was late so the operation had to be postponed. It is feared that if the Imperial forces get wind of the plan before the ships arrive, they can launch a pre-emptive offensive and wipe the rebels out.
On Friday morning they went to the top of the R.T.S. buildings and saw one of the Imperial batteries quite clearly. This morning after a service in the little English Church, [George Alfred] Clayton took Bell and Emily to the top of the Chamber of Commerce buildings, from where they could get a fine view of the native city, which was laid desolate by the fire. It was however impossible to be 'solemn' as there was a [Royal Navy] sailor on look-out duty whose contempt of the Chinese methods of warfare was quite amusing. The rating's lack of belief in the effectiveness of Chinese shells, was corrected after they returned and saw a room in the [London Missionary Society] building which had been struck by a round, damaging the wall in seventeen places.
They had a rather exciting time yesterday over the sudden arrival of a large number of Szechuan refugees. They have really had a bad time - about thirty of them were put up for the night. They have continued on to Shanghai today. Most of them belonged to the Canadian Methodist Church.
Today some letters and parcels arrived from England. Nora had a lovely box of biscuits and confectionary from Miss Gorch, who is now on furlough. Pat sent Emily a book and some toffee from Shanghai.
She does hope that her Christmas box arrives. There is a lot of people here and it is hoped that everyone will have a good festive season. The boys are here from the Blind School, together with many other people. Since she began this letter the [rebel] gunboats have arrived and have commenced shelling the Imperial batteries. One 'plucky' little torpedo boat ran the gauntlet of batteries in order to get to Wuchang. It had its boilers burst in the process but pressed on and finally reached safety.
Emily and Bell have been studying this week and Bell took her Wang exam yesterday.