Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/363

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291
NORTH TO THE SIBERIAN RAILWAY

So I kicked my heels for hours in the Russian merchant's lumberyard, drinking innumerable cups of tea and refusing as many more, and getting light on several things. I had been told that the Russians have little of the Anglo-Saxon's race pride, but I did not suppose they ignored all other distinctions. I was drinking a last glass of tea with the merchant in his pleasant little sitting-room, attractive with many blossoming plants, when Wang came in to collect my things. He was at once boisterously urged to draw up to the table between us. He refused, but the Russian insisted, trying to force him down into a chair. I watched without saying anything as my boy quietly took a glass of tea and a chair and withdrew to the other side of the room. He understood what was suitable better than the Russian.

Passing out of the little Russian trading settlement, like nothing so much as a thriving, hideous Western village, we drove through the main street of the Mongolian quarter, where all the life of Lama-town seemed to have drifted, for the gaiety and colour were intoxicating. Half an hour took us away from the river and into the hills. The track was rough and boggy and often blocked by interminable trains of bullock carts laden with logs or dressed lumber, Urga's important exports. Toward the end of the day the way became steeper and wilder, ascending between slopes well wooded with spruce and pine and larch and