Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/310

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248
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

Like and yet unlike the Tibetans I had seen in Tachienlu, they were slighter of build and gayer and more open of expression; they attracted me as the others had repelled me. Scrambling over the grassy slopes, I more than once lost my way, but some Mongol always turned up to put me straight.

Our first stops at noon and at night were at wayside inns built much like a Turkish khan on two or three sides of an enclosure of mud and stones, and furnished with a strong gate. At one, the small private room off a large common hall was given to me and to a neat-looking Chinese woman who apparently was travelling alone and on horseback. Two thirds of the room was taken up by a "kang," or plaster furnace, raised some three feet above the floor, and on this our beds were spread. But that was my last sight of a house for many a day; henceforth there was nothing but tents and "yurts."

Our stop the next night was at a small Mongol settlement of several yurts. One of these was vacated for me. Judging from those I stayed in later, it was unusually large and clean.

Here I was in the unchanging East, if it be anywhere to-day. More than six centuries ago an observant Venetian passed this way, and his brief description of a Mongol abode fits as well now as it did then. "Their huts or tents," says Marco Polo, "are formed of rods covered with felt, and being exactly