Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/379

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
305
NORTH TO THE SIBERIAN RAILWAY

the Iro, the starting-point of the steamer to Verchneudinsk. There, together with some scores of people, mostly Russian officers and their families, I kicked my heels among the lumber for ten hours, waiting for the belated boat. It rained most of the time, and the two tiny waiting-rooms were crowded to overflowing with people and luggage; there was no restaurant, and I should have starved had not good Wang made friends with some Chinese workmen and got me some eggs. Finally we were told the boat would not come till morning, so each person tried to find a corner and go to sleep. I had just curled up comfortably, at one end of a great, unfinished shed where the horses had been put out of the rain, when a cry sounded through the dark that the boat was coming. By one o'clock we were off. Everything was in confusion and every one was cross. I had secured a cabin beforehand, and then found I was expected to share it with a young Russian officer going home on leave. I quite regretted my airy, quiet corner in the open shed.

All the next day we were steaming in leisurely fashion down the Iro, making long stops at little hamlets in the forest, where all the inhabitants of the half-dozen log houses clustered round the invariable white church with green domes turned out to meet us, often bringing bottles of delicious milk to sell. They were mostly of the peasant type, large, fair,