Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/364

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292
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

birch. It was a joy to be in a real forest again. The flowers that grew in great profusion were more beautiful than any I had seen before in North Mongolia, especially the wonderful masses of wild larkspur of a blue so intense that it dazzled the eyes.

A storm was gathering and we pushed on as fast as we could; but the road was too rough for speed and we were a long way from our camping-place when a tremendous downpour burst upon us, and in the twinkling of an eye our path was a rushing mountain torrent. Dry under my tarpaulin I could enjoy the scene, splendid masses of blue-black clouds shot with vivid flashes of lightning that served only to show the badness of the way and the emptiness of the country. I will say for Ivan, the tarantass driver, that he knew his business and kept the horses on their feet and in the road better than most men could have done.

We drove on until nine, when the driver declared he could go no farther, and proceeded to make camp by the roadside, not far from a couple of yurts. A light shone out, and there was the sound of angry voices and wrangling, but I could not find out what was the matter. Nicolai's German always gave out, as the Indian babu said his presence of mind did, "in the nick of time." Finally, the Russians sulkily turned their horses loose and set up the little shelter tent where the three men were to sleep. Apparently