Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/300

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A WAYFARER IN CHINA

agement at just the right moment. He had long hoped to do it himself, he said, and of course I could do it; and speaking of his own recent extended trip the length of Mongolia and Chinese Turkestan, he flung out a remark which was very comforting to my soul: Did I not hate to have people tell me that I could not do a thing, that it was too difficult or too dangerous? If they would only stop with giving you the facts as they knew them, and keep their opinions to themselves. Well, I thought, if people dare to tell Dr. Morrison what he can and cannot do, I must not mind if I am treated in the same way.

But I needed to take that comfort to my heart more than once in those days. A request for some bit of information so often met with no facts, but simply the stern remark that it was not a thing for a woman to do. And when I did get precise statements they could not all be facts, they were so very contradictory. I could go from Kalgan to Urga in eighteen days; I must allow twenty-four or thirty; it usually took thirty days to the railway; I must not expect to do it under forty-five. I must buy ponies to cross from Kalgan; camels were the only thing to use; no camels could be had in summer. Beyond Urga I must hire a droshky; the only way to travel was by steamer; I could never stand a cart; I could never sit so many hours in the saddle. There would be no water; I could not drink it if there were. The weather would