Page:A Wayfarer in China.djvu/359

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

lity, and too much colour for the work-a-day crowd of the West or of China. People came and went, stopped to talk, stopped to stare. No one seemed in a hurry except one or two self-important officials and their white-jacketed retinue. Only in the horse-market was there any real business going on. There the crowd seemed really intent on something, but buying and selling horses is a serious matter the world over, in Kentucky or in Mongolia. Indeed, the whole scene reminded me of nothing so much as "Court Day" in Kentucky, done in colour. But the colour made all the difference. Everywhere there were lamas, of course,—lamas in red dress and red hats, or lamas with blue-black shaven heads set off by yellow or flame-coloured garments. Women came and went on foot or on horseback, alone or in groups, just as much at home in the motley crowd as the men. Some of them were gorgeously attired, and the flashing of their silver headgear was quite dazzling. Now and then I caught sight of one more soberly clad and with a shaven head, a widow, perhaps, or an old woman who had become the family priest to the extent of performing the daily simple observances.

Mingling with the gay, happy-go-lucky throng of Mongols were two alien elements: one, the quiet, purposeful, observant, blue-gowned Chinese, each intent on his business; the other, the blue-eyed Cos-