Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/299

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237
THE MONGOLIAN GRASSLAND

even Chinese inns, in Mongolia, so I would not need to fear being too comfortable. But above all, there was the charm in the very word Mongolia. Out of that great, little known plateau, almost as large as all of China proper, had come in days past horde upon horde of savage warriors, the scourge of God, the terror of the West, carrying north and south, from Peking to Budapest, from the Volga to the Hugli, their victorious banners. What was the land that bred such a race? What of the Mongols nowadays? Even a few weeks would tell me something.

Having made up my mind to go, I set about learning the how and the where, with the usual results; much advice asked and unasked of a very contradictory sort. The American Legation with fine courtesy offered no counsel, but gave every possible help, securing for me the proper visés for my passports, even speeding the wheels of the slow-moving Wai-wu-pu so that I might not be delayed. The matter of getting a servant proved rather difficult. One who was proposed declined to go with a lady, for he "would have to be braver than she"; others were daunted by the sound of Mongolia; but finally, through the kind help of Captain Reeves, the American military attaché, I got hold of my invaluable Wang, interpreter, cook, and general factotum in one, and faithfullest of Chinese. Dr. Morrison, the famous Times correspondent, gave me much-needed encour-