Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/164

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ployed for a whole year, but no sooner was the edifice completed than the whole suddenly tumbled to pieces. Again the work was begun, and again, from some unknown cause, it fell to ruins. It was rebuilt a third time, but the result was just the same. The king, startled and alarmed, applied to one of the gigens to explain this phenomenon. Though the prophet could give no satisfactory answer, he was able to inform his master that in the far East there lived a saint who alone of mortals possessed the secret, and that if the king could extort it from him the building might be completed. On receiving this answer, the monarch chose a trusty lama and sent him in search of the saint.

In the course of some years the envoy travelled through nearly all the Buddhist countries, visiting the most famous shrines and conversing with the different gigens without finding anybody answering to the prophet's description. At length, disgusted with the ill-success of his mission, he determined to return home by those great steppes which stretch on the borders of China and Tibet. One day as he was riding over the plain, the buckle of his saddle-girth broke, and seeing a solitary little yurta (tent) not far off, he went towards it for help. On entering he found a blind old man engaged in prayer, who welcomed his guest, and gave him a buckle from his own saddle. He then invited the traveller to sit down and drink tea, and enquired of him whence he had come and whither he was going. Unwilling to disclose the object of his journey, the envoy replied