Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/380

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A WAYFARER IN CHINA

and stolid-looking. The scenery along the river was dull and monotonous, low, heavily wooded banks, broken now and then by a little clearing. It was a sodden, unkempt, featureless country, and I found myself longing for the journey's end.

On the boat the third-class passengers were mostly Russian peasants and a few Chinese, with a little group of frightened-looking Mongols. I fancy they wished themselves back in the desert; I know I did. In the first and second class there were almost none but military people, the men all in full uniform of bewildering variety. Most of them were tall and large, but rather rough in manner. I imagine one does not find the pick of the Russian army on the frontier.

We reached Verchneudinsk well after dark, and a queer little tumble-down phaeton took us to the inn chosen because of its German-speaking landlord. Here I spent two days waiting for the Moscow Express. After I had started my invaluable Wang off on his journey back to Peking by way of Harbin and Mukden, I had nothing to do but rest and enjoy the charming courtesies of the officials of the Russo-Asiatic Bank. Verchneudinsk has little of interest, however; it is just a big, new town, raw and unfinished, half logs and half stucco, with streets that are mostly bog, and several pretentious public buildings and an ugly triumphal arch marking the visit of the Tsar a few years ago. Civilization has some com-