Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/371

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299
NORTH TO THE SIBERIAN RAILWAY

Russian helps, and with much pushing and floundering the horses manage to struggle back to shore. This is plainly no ford, and as there is no help in sight we camp on the bank for the rest of the night, no grass for the horses, nothing to make a fire. After a bite of black bread and a tea-cup of the Foreign Office Bordeaux, I curl up in the tarantass, shivering with damp river cold, and Wang, rolled up in his sheepskin, sleeps on the ground underneath. As for the Russians, I commit them cheerfully to all the joys of rheumatism.

For once every one is up at dawn. A passing lama directs us to a ferry down the river, where we cross by means of a flat-bottomed boat worked by an iron cable. On the other side the men start a fire and we get some hot tea. Again I am struck by the familiar way in which the Russians hobnob with the Mongols. Anglo-Saxons of their class would not do it. I wonder if the "hail-fellow-well-met" treatment offsets the injustice and rough handling the natives often get from their northern neighbours, and if on the whole they like it better than the Anglo-Saxon's fairness when coupled with his reserve. A distinguished Indian, not a reformer, once said to me, "My countrymen prefer sympathy to justice." Perhaps that is true of other Asiatics also.

For three or four hours after starting off again we traversed much the same sort of country as the day