Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/165

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



that he was a native of the West, and had come on a pilgrimage to pray at all the famous temples of the East. 'Ah!' said the old man, 'we are fortunate indeed in possessing so many beautiful shrines. They are trying in vain to build one in Tibet, but their work will never be completed, because in the very place which they have chosen for it, there is a subterranean lake which loosens the foundations as fast as they are laid. But, prithee, keep this secret, for if the Tibetan lamas hear of it, the waters of the lake will pass hitherwards and swallow us up.'

Hardly had he done speaking when his guest started from his seat, and announcing that he was a lama from Tibet whose object was to discover this very secret, jumped on his horse and galloped away. Despair and fear took possession of the old man. He began calling loudly for help, and as soon as one of his sons, who was tending the cattle hard by, came in, the father bade him quickly saddle a horse. 'Haste thee, haste thee after that lama, and wrest his tongue from him.' Of course the old man was thinking of his secret, and meant that the son should put the stranger past blabbing. But the word 'kileh' means in Mongol either the tongue of a man or animal, or the buckle of a saddle-girth. Hence, when the messenger overtook the lama he told him that his father wanted him to return his 'kileh' whereupon the latter unfastened the borrowed buckle and gave it to the son, who returned with it to his father. The latter on finding that his son had only brought back the buckle, and had suffered the lama