Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/329

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263
ACROSS THE DESERT OF GOBI

wolves from their lair, drive them within reach. Sand grouse were plentiful, half running, half flying before us as we advanced, and when we were well in the desert we saw eagles in large numbers, and farther north the marmots abounded, in appearance and ways much like prairie dogs.

At first there were herds on every side. I was struck by the number of white and grey ponies, and was told that horses are bred chiefly for the market in China, and this is the Chinese preference. Cattle and sheep are numbered by thousands, but I believe these fine pasture lands could maintain many more. Occasionally we saw camels turned loose for the summer grazing; they are all of the two-humped Bactrian sort, and can endure the most intense winter cold, but the heat of the summer tells upon them severely, and when used in the hot season, it is generally only at night.

From time to time we passed long baggage trains, a hundred or more two-wheeled carts, each drawn by a bullock attached to the tail of the wagon in front. They move at snail's pace, perhaps two miles an hour, and take maybe eight weeks to make the trip across the desert. Once we met the Russian parcels-post, a huge heavily laden cart drawn by a camel and guarded by Cossacks mounted on camels, their uniforms and smart white visored caps looking very comical on the top of their shambling steeds. Most