Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/119

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GUIDES. OUR FAME AS MARKSMEN.

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their way from the town of Tatung[1] to plunder in Eastern Kan-su; and so great was the terror they produced that nothing would induce the Mongol whom we hired at Chobsen to accompany us to Gadjur, until we took another Tangutan guide well acquainted with the country, when the two, after holding some parley together in their own language, consented to proceed. I think they mutually agreed to desert in case we were attacked; but as we never trusted to the assistance of our guides in case of danger, this would not have made the slightest difference to us. Our fame as marksmen, and the reports of our wonderful guns, which had spread far and wide, were of much greater importance. I was regarded as a magician, whom no bullet could harm, and I, of course, took care not to undeceive them. We weге always on the alert, however, and kept watch in dangerous places. We never held intercourse with the natives after dark for fear of admitting an enemy unawares. But we were not molested, although bands of robbers frequently passed our camp, and must have known of our whereabouts.

After the middle of August animal and vegetable life rapidly declined, and by the end of the month autumn had set in. The leaves were yellow, and the fruit of the mountain-ash and barberry adorned the ravines. The grass had withered, and only a few solitary flowers were left. One after the other the gay birds disappeared in search of a warmer

  1. This town stands on the Tatung-gol, sixty-seven miles above the temple of Chertinton.