Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/334

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268
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

and kept pace with us while they satisfied their curiosity. This was my first sight of the northern Mongol, who differs little from his brother of the south, save that he is less touched by Chinese influence. In dress he is more picturesque, and the tall, peaked hat generally worn recalled old-time pictures of the invading Mongol hordes.

The great mountain had again come in sight, crouching like a huge beast of prey along the boulder-strewn plain. But where was the famous lamassery that lay at its foot? Threading our way through a wilderness of rock, heaped up in sharp confusion, we came out on a little ridge, and there before us lay Tuerin,—not a house but a village, built in and out among the rocks. It was an extraordinary sight to stumble upon, here on the edge of the uninhabited desert. A little apart from the rest were four large temples crowned with gilt balls and fluttering banners, and leading off from them were neat rows of small white plastered cottages with red timbers, the homes of the two thousand lamas who live here. The whole thing had the look of a seaside camp-meeting resort. A few herds of ponies were grazing near by, but there was no tilled land, and these hundreds of lamas are supported in idleness by contributions extorted from the priest-ridden people. A group of them, rather repulsive-looking men, came out to meet us, or else to keep us off. As it was growing