Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/333

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267
ACROSS THE DESERT OF GOBI

himself in efforts to make me understand how wonderful I was, travelling all alone, and what splendid sights I should behold in Urga.

And so time passed; tiring, monotonous days, refreshing, glorious nights, and then toward the end of a long, weary afternoon I saw for a moment, faintly outlined in the blank northern horizon, a cloud? a mountain? a rock? I hardly dared trust my eyes, and I looked again and again. Yes, it was a mountain, a mountain of rocks just as I was told it would loom up in front of me for a moment, and then disappear; and it disappeared, and I rejoiced, for at its base the desert ended; beyond lay a land of grass and streams.

We camped that evening just off the trail in a little grassy hollow. In the night rain fell, tapping gently on my tent wall, and for hours there mingled with the sound of the falling rain the dull clang of bells, as a long bullock train crawled along in the dark on its way to Urga.

The next day rose cloudless as before. My landmark could no longer be seen, but I knew it was not far off, "a great rock in a weary land," and already the air was fresher and the country seemed to have put on a tinge of green.

In the afternoon a little cavalcade of wild, picturesque-looking men dashed down upon us in true Mongol style, trailing the lasso poles as they galloped. With a gay greeting they turned their horses about,