TOWARD the end of the third day from Kalgan we were following a blind trail among low, grass-covered hills, all about us beautiful pastureland dotted over with herds of horses and cattle. A sharp turn in the road revealed a group of yurts like many that we had passed, but two khaki tents a little at one side showed the European, and in a few minutes I found myself among the new friends that so speedily become old friends in the corners of the world.
Here I was to make the real start for my journey across the desert, and by good luck it turned out that one member of the little settlement, a man wise in ways Mongolian, was leaving the next morning for a trip into the heart of Mongolia, and if I went on at once we could journey together for the two or three days that our ways coincided. There was nothing to detain me, fortunately, and by noon the next day I was again on the road.I looked with some complacency at my compact but wholly adequate little caravan. My luggage, including a capacious Chinese cotton tent, was scien-