have settled the matter. But it had no right to count on having time, while a railway across the desert, taking not long to build, would have bound all Mongolia to the empire with bands truly of steel, that even the Russians could not break. And now—is it too late?
The hours were quite too short which I had to spend in Urga, the Urga of the Mongols; the other settlements were merely frontier posts, one Chinese style and the other Russian, new and uninteresting. But Urga, Ta Huren, was another story. To reach it we forded the river, the strong current washing my feet as we rode through. There may be some other way, but that sort of thing is part of the ordinary day's work with the Mongol, and I believe he is rather shy of the one or two bridges the Russians have built.
Ta Huren has a temporary look that suits its name; fire or flood could easily sweep it away. And there is nothing of any architectural interest save two or three temples and lamasseries, and having seen one you have seen all, for there is little of beauty or fine workmanship about them. The broad main street and the open spaces above the river were much more attractive, for there the life of the settlement had gathered, and again you had the impression of a holiday. There was too much leisure, too much jol-