Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/124

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102

PREPARE FOR DEPARTURE.

sulted their auguries with a similar result, were well content to delay the start, and expected that in a few days the marshes would be frozen over. We held a council and fixed our departure for October 5, till which day we determined to keep our plans secret. The guides received ten lans as earnest-money, and retired to Chobsen, while we returned into the mountains, and encamped on the southern edge of the southern chain, whence my companion rode to the temple of Chertinton and delivered the boxes containing our collections into the charge of the gigen of that place.

Our twelve days' halt on the southern chain of the mountains was almost unproductive of scientific results; for no forests grow on the southern slopes of these mountains, and the alpine zone is almost without a flora; besides which many of the mountains were in their higher parts covered with snow and rain, and hail-storms occurred daily. The chief flight of birds took place in the first half of September, and on the 16th of that month large flocks of cranes, passing at such a height as hardly to be visible, directed their flight southwards.

Meanwhile the Chinese troops had begun operations against the Dungans at Si-ning, having marched into Kan-su 25,000 strong in July that year, and established themselves at Nim-pi and Ou-yam-pu. In the next chapter I will describe their operations before Si-ning; suffice it for the present to remark, that in consequence of orders which had been issued, prohibiting the sale of provisions to anyone except the troops, we