Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/340

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272
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

but we made a little blaze with the wood of my sodawater box. For two days we had tried in vain to buy a sheep, and the men's provisions were running short. If it had not been for the generous gift of the Kalgan Foreign Office, we should have fared badly, but Mongols and Chinese alike seemed to be free from inconvenient prejudices, and my men, whom I called in to share the tent with me, feasted off tins of corned beef, bologna sausage, and smoked herring, washed down by bowls of Pacific Coast canned peaches and plums; and then they smoked; that comfort was always theirs, and if the fire burned at all, it smoked, too, and occasionally a drenched traveller stopped in to be cheered with a handful of cigarettes. And then all curled up in their sheepskins and slept away long hours, and I also slept on my little camp-bed, and outside the rain fell steadily.

But at last a morning broke clear and brilliant; the rain was really over. The ponies looked full and fit after the good rest, and if all went well we should be in Urga before nightfall. We were off at sunrise, and soon we entered a beautiful valley flanked on either hand by respectable hills, their upper slopes clothed with real forests of pine. These were the first trees I had seen, except three dwarfed elms in Gobi, since I left behind the poplars and willows of China. Yurts, herds, men were everywhere. Two Chinese that we met on the road stopped to warn us that the