Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/321

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257
ACROSS THE DESERT OF GOBI

tifically stowed away in a small Russian baggage cart, a strong, rough, two-wheeled affair drawn by two ponies, and driven by the Mongol who was to guide me to Urga. My boy bestrode rather gingerly a strong, wiry little Mongol pony, of the "buckskin" sort, gay with Western saddle and red cloth. Wang bravely said he would do his best to ride the pony when I did not care to use him, but he added pathetically that he had never before mounted anything save a donkey. As for me, I sat proudly in an American buggy, a "truly" one, brought from the United States to Tientsin and then overland to Kalgan. It was destined for a Mongol prince in Urga, and I was given the honour of taking it across the desert. There are various ways of crossing Mongolia, in the saddle, by pony, or camel cart; one and all are tiring; the desert takes its toll of the body and the spirit. But here was a new way, and if comfort in Gobi is obtainable it is in an American buggy; and with a pony for change, no wonder I faced the desert without dismay.

The combined caravans looked very imposing as we moved off. All told, we were one Swede, one American, one Chinese, seven Mongols, one Irishman (Jack), and twelve horses, Three of the Mongols were lamas, the rest were laymen, or "black men," so called from their unshorn black hair worn in a queue. They were all dressed much alike, al-