Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/121

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

PERILOUS SITUATION.

99

determined to try the effect of a Snider or Berdan bullet on him.

Our situation, however, was one of great danger. The temple, already inconveniently crowded, could not accommodate us and our camels. We, therefore, were obliged to encamp about half a mile off in an open grass plain. Here we took every precaution against attack. All the boxes containing our collections, the bags with supplies and provisions, and the pack-saddles were formed into a hollow square, within which we could retreat. Here stood our rifles with bayonets fixed, and near them piles of cartridges and ten revolvers. Before night all the camels were made to lie down and tethered round our improvised fortification, their ungainly bodies forming an additional protection against a mounted enemy. Lastly, to prevent waste of ammunition, we measured the distances on all sides, marking them with piles of stones.

The first night all the natives retreated within the temple, and we remained quite alone face to face with the robbers, who might appear at any moment in hundreds, or even thousands, and overpower us with their superior numbers. The weather was fine, and we sat for a long while in the moonlight talking over old times, our country, and friends whom we had not seen for so long. About midnight three of us lay down to rest, of course without undressing, leaving one to keep watch till morning. The following day passed as quietly as the first. The robbers had vanished, and even the miraculous warrior did