Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/342

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274
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

coated Celestials moved sedately along, slow, persistent, sure to gain the goal in good time,—that was China all over.

And then the valley opened into a wide plain seamed by many rivers, and there before us, on the high right bank of the Tola and facing Bogda Ola, the Holy Mountain, lay Urga the Sacred, second to Lhasa only in the Buddhist world.

But we were not there yet; between us and our goal flowed the rivers that criss-cross the valley, and the long lines of carts and horses and camels and bullocks crowded on the banks bore out the tale of the Chinese. We push on to the first ford; the river, brimming full, whirls along at a great rate, but a few carts are venturing in, and we venture too. Tchagan leads the way, I follow in the buggy, while the boy on the pony brings up the rear, Jack swimming joyously close by. The first time is great fun, and so is the second, but the third is rather serious, for the river gets deeper and the current swifter each time. The water is now almost up to the floor of the buggy, and the horse can hardly keep his footing. I try to hold him to the ford, cheering him on at the top of my voice, but the current carries us far down before we can make the opposite bank.

Four times we crossed, and then we reached a ford that seemed unfordable. Crowds are waiting, but no one crosses. Now and then some one tries it, only to