Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/180

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134
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

chienlu has no West Gate — and found ourselves in a small suburb with a few meagre gardens. A mile farther along we crossed the river again by a striking single arch bridge, known as the "Gate of Tibet." We were now on the great trade route to Lhasa, but between us and the mysterious city lay many days of weary travel.

From time to time we met groups of Tibetans, men and women, rough-looking and shy, with the shyness of a wild animal. Generally after a moment's pause to reassure themselves, they answered my greeting in jolly fashion, seeming quite ready to make friends. Occasionally the way was blocked by trains of ox-like yaks, the burden-bearers of the snow-fields, bringing their loads of skins and felt and musk and gold. Astride of one was a nice old man who stuck out his tongue at me in polite Tibetan fashion.

After an hour's ride we left the highway and turned into a beautiful green valley, following a very bad trail deeper and deeper into the mountains, the soft meadows gay with flowers forming a charming contrast to the snow-peaks that barred the upper end of the valley. We came first to the New Palace, a large rambling building having no more architectural pretensions than an ordinary Chinese inn. As the king's brother, who makes his home there, was away, I saw nothing more of the place than the great court-