Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/372

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300
A WAYFARER IN CHINA

before, crossing fertile valleys, climbing rough hillsides to avoid bogs. There were not many signs of cultivation, but along the horizon we could see the dark line of a forest, a welcome change. Just before reaching it we turned off across the plain to the yurts of the helpful lama of the morning. We were expected and given a warm welcome in more senses than one, for the yurt into which I was at once taken was so hot that I thought I should faint. How those people in their woollen clothes could endure the heat was a mystery.

The lama, a well-appearing, elderly man, seemed completely fitted out with wife and children and yurts and herds. He was plainly a person of substance, and the head of quite a settlement. The yurt where I was received was very spacious, and was furnished precisely as Huc described sixty years ago. There was one novelty, a stove-pipe connected with a sort of cement stove, but perhaps this was merely for ornament, as my dinner was cooked in a pot placed upon a tripod over a fire of wood and argols. I was given the seat of honour, a sort of divan, and milk was placed on a small, low table before me. But I at once espied something more interesting than food. Round the walls of the yurt were ranged one or two tables and chests of drawers. On one were some books, detached leaves in leather covers with clasps. These were the lama's sacred books. Very stupidly,