Here's a few paragraphs from where Richie first introduces Nat to "China".
Richie led the way at such a pace he’d have had trouble keeping up even when he was fully fit. Now it was killing him. He stuck it for a couple of hundred yards, until they reached a different terrace, one without a pool. There he stopped, bent over with his hands on his knees, and called. ‛Hang on, mate. I’m still hopping about on this bloody leg.’
‛Sorry, I forgot.’ Richie sounded contrite. He slowed down, but the way was still a confusing maze that confounded Nat's sense of direction so thoroughly he had no idea where he was. They marched through a rockery full of gullies and ravines; they clambered beside a tiny, splashing stream; and finally the path curved down under a high cliff, part natural, part made of stone.
‛The Great Wall of China.’ Richie flung the words over his shoulder, but whether it was a joke or not, Nat couldn’t tell.
Richie stopped soon afterwards on the edge of a lake. It was too dark to see how big it was, but water lapping over pebbles created soft music and the scent of damp earth filled his nose. Twin stands of giant rhubarb framed the stygian view, grey on indigo on black until the moon rose and splashed silvery light on the pallid timbers of a little ‘Willow Pattern’ bridge. At the far end of the bridge a summer-house nestled amongst the trees; as they got closer he realised it was a pagoda, roofed in pantiles and covered in red and gold paint. It was fronted by a verandah that led out across the pool, and along the balustrade hung a row of tiny bells. He shook the nearest one and it tinkled, the sweet high note clashing with Richie’s throaty laugh.
‛That’s prosperity sorted, then.’
‛All the bells have different meanings, apparently. Health and wealth and long life and so on. Typical Oriental mumbo-jumbo if you ask me, but then what do I know?’
‛And you can tell which is which just by hearing them?’
‛Comes of being a musician. The third one along’s for love.’
He knew he shouldn’t, but some inner demon drove Nat to reach out and tug the third bell. It chimed once, a lower tone than before, and then the echoes caught it, tossing it back and forth across the lake in a rising crescendo of one repeated note. Nat found he was holding his breath, shivering in the cool air as the dizzying harmony faded to a silence charged with hidden sound.
‛I’ve never heard it do that before.’ Richie’s eyes were wide. ‛Must be an omen.’
‛Good or bad?’
‛Dunno. I’ve never been one for all that mysticism. Best left for the fairies. Are you going to stand there all night or are you coming indoors?’ And taking a key from a nail by the door he opened up.