we halted in a narrow defile covered with brushwood, where we had the utmost difficulty in pitching our tent and lighting a fire to warm our benumbed and bruised limbs.
The following five days' journey passed without any adventure, and we reached Mur-zasak in safety. This station is on the bank of the Tatung, only eight miles from the Dungan town of Yunan-chen; but, notwithstanding the evil repute of his rebel neighbours, the Mongol commander lived on the best terms with them, selling them cattle and taking their merchandise in exchange. Thanks to the letter of the treasurer of Chobsen, describing me as a personage of exalted rank nearly related to the Emperor, we obtained two guides to the next Tangutan station; of course not without presents to the commander and handsome pay to the guides.
The road now ascended the left bank of the Tatung, and was much better than the one we had come, the only obstacle to our progress being the daily fall of snow, which made it very muddy and slippery for our exhausted camels. The Tangutan officer at the station (twenty-seven miles from Mur-zasak) was an excellent fellow; on receiving five yards of plush and 1 ,000 needles, he sent us a sheep and ten pounds of yak butter. We stayed a day with him, and, having obtained new guides, left the valley of the Tatung on our way southwards towards Lake Koko-nor.
The basin of the Upper Tatung is very mountainous and wild, the two chains of mountains