Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/303

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
241
THE MONGOLIAN GRASSLAND

damp that a fire was out of the question, while the lime juice made drinkable the roiliest and warmest water. The only time when I felt like losing my temper with good Wang was when he smashed the last bottle. I had to gallop off to keep from saying things. By good luck I succeeded in hiring an old American army saddle, and it proved just what I wanted. There is nothing like that sort of saddle for long tours on horseback, easy for rider and beast.

The question of money required careful planning;it always does in out-of-the-way travel; but finally, through the kindness of the officials of the Russo-Asiatic Bank, everything was arranged. I would use little money in crossing the desert, and of course the less I carried the better, but a good sum must be forthcoming when I reached Urga and the railway, so the bank furnished me with drafts on the native banks and their own branches, and I had no difficulty, while from Peking I carried dollars and taels to meet expenses at the start. I felt like Pilgrim freed from his burden, to be quit of carrying a lot of small change, for a dollar's worth of cash is almost twenty pounds in weight.

Fortunately my arrangements were so complete when I arrived in Kalgan that during my two days' wait for letters I had little to do, for my various activities in Peking, combined with the damp heat, had rather done me up, and I was glad to take my ease