Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/366

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294
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

in the morning had it not been for Wang. He it was who roused the men, and did his best to get a fire started, collecting fuel for the whole camp. Although it rained every day, I do not think it ever occurred to the Russians to avail themselves of a chance to get dry wood against the next meal, and Wang remarked sadly that the Russians spent even more time than the Mongols in drinking tea.

After the first day we left behind the wooded hills and were again in rolling grassland like South Mongolia, but there was much more water; indeed, the streams and bogs often forced us to make long detours, and finally we came to a deep, strong-flowing river that could not be forded; but there was a ferryboat made of four huge, hollowed logs securely lashed together and covered with a loose, rough flooring. The horses were taken out and made to swim across, while the Mongol ferrymen, all lamas and big fellows, went back and forth, taking us and the carts over.

The second morning we started again without our breakfasts,—there was no dry wood. Ivan, the tarantass driver, and the only one of the party who knew the road, cheered us with the prospect of something hot at a Russian colonist's house an hour farther on, but it was four hours' hard driving before we reached the place, which then, however, more than made good all he had claimed for it.

The two families that formed the little settlement