Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/291

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COLLECTIONS ENDANGERED.

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torrent with terrific roar and speed. Dull echoes high up in the mountains warned us of its approach, and in a few minutes the deep bed of our ravine was inundated with a turbid, coffee-coloured stream, carrying with it rocks and heaps of smaller fragments, while it dashed with such violence against the sides that the very ground trembled as though with the shock of an earthquake. Above the roar of the waters we could hear the clash of great boulders as they met in their headlong course. From the loose banks and from the upper parts of the defile whole masses of smaller stones were detached by the force of the current and thrown up on either side of the channel, whilst trees were torn up by their roots and rent into splinters.

In the meanwhile the rain continued with undiminished violence, and the torrent kept ever swelling. The deep bed of the ravine was soon choked with stones, mud, and fallen timber, which forced the water out of its channel on to higher ground. Barely twenty feet from our tent rushed the torrent, destroying everything in its course. Another minute, another foot of water, and our collections, the fruit of our expedition, were irrevocably gone! The flood had been so sudden that we had not a chance of rescuing them; all we could have done would have been to save our own lives by climbing on the nearest rocks. The disaster was so unexpected, the ruin so imminent, that a feeling of apathy took possession of me, and although face to face with so terrible a misfortune I could not realise it.