Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/166

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144

SEQUEL OF STORY. ANIMALS.

to continue his journey, exclaimed, 'God's will be done! All is over! We are lost!' Sure enough that night a fearful subterranean noise was heard; the earth opened; and streams of water pouring forth from below soon flooded the wide plain. Much cattle and many souls perished, the old man among the rest. At length God took pity on sinful mortals and sent a wonderful bird, which flew away with a huge rock from the Nan-shan mountains, and deposited it in the fissure whence the waters were pouring forth. The flood was now stopped; but the plain had been already converted into a lake, and the safety-bringing rock became the island which you see to this day.

The lake is closely hemmed in by mountains on its northern and southern shores, while on the east and west the mountains are at some distance. The narrow strip of level ground between the lake and the mountains is excellent steppe-land, resembling the best parts of the Gobi, only more plentifully watered. The contrast between the climate, flora, and fauna here and those of Kan-su is very remarkable. Instead of the unceasing rain, snow, and moisture which we had lately experienced, we now had fine autumnal weather which continued every day. But instead of alpine meadows, forests, and a damp loamy soil, we were now in the midst of plains of saline clay, covered with steppe-grass and tall dirisun, where those ever-recurring denizens of the steppe, the dzeren and ogotono (alpine hare), larks, and sand-grouse were to be seen. Here too were