Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/325

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259
ACROSS THE DESERT OF GOBI

ous dawn, no severe heat but for a short time in the middle of the day, which cooled off rapidly in the late afternoon, the short twilight ending in cold, starlit nights. The wonder of those Mongolian nights! My tent was always pitched a little apart from the confusion of the camp, and lying wrapped in rugs in my narrow camp-bed before the doors open to the night wind, I fell asleep in the silence of the limitless space of the desert, and woke only as the stars were fading in the sky.

At first we were still in the grassland; the rolling country was covered with a thick mat of grass dotted with bright flowers, and yurts and men and herds abounded. Happenings along the road were few. The dogs always rushed out from the yurts to greet us. They looked big and savage, and at first, mindful of warnings, I kept close guard over Jack; but he heeded them as little as he had the Chinese curs, and hardly deigned a glance as he trotted gaily along by the horses who had captured his Irish heart. Once we stopped to buy a pony, and secured a fine "calico" one, unusually large and strong. Again a chance offered to get a sheep, not always possible even though thousands are grazing on the prairie, for a Mongol will sell only when he has some immediate use for money. The trade once made, it took only a short time to do the rest,—to kill, to cut up, to boil in a big pot brought for the purpose, to eat.