Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/318

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254
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

His friends have to admit that the Mongol is lazy. His chief duty is to keep an eye on his herds, but mostly they take care of themselves. Each drove of horses is in the charge of a stallion which looks sharply after the mares, fighting savagely with any other stallion which attempts to join the herd. I am told that the owner only needs to count his stallions to be sure that all the mares have come home. There is almost nothing of Mongolian manufacture,—just rugs and felt and saddles; and most of the work is done by the women. Nor does the Mongol till the soil; nothing is found growing near his yurt. Unlike the rice-eating people just across the Great Wall, his diet is almost wholly meat, and milk in some form or other,—cheese, curds, koumiss. The tea which he drinks in enormous quantities, so that even my "boy" opened his eyes, is brought by the Chinese traders.

The Mongol has great endurance; days in the saddle are nothing to him, and he sleeps as soundly on his camel as on the ground. Nor does he seem to mind heat or cold. I have seen them wearing sheepskin coats in the blazing summer sun, and at night the men on the march would throw themselves down without a rug or mat under the open sky, and the nights were often cold. If he must, the Mongol can go a long time without eating, but when the chance comes he is a great glutton, bolting enormous quantities of half-cooked meat. Drunkenness, I am told,