Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/251

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LAKE KOKO-NOR. FROZEN. MIRAGES.

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of the Pouhain-gol, pitching our yurta by a small marsh on the borders of a plain, where our horses and camels could find plenty of good grass, and the latter might feast on gudjir and on their favourite tamarisk bushes, which grew in the bed of the river.

The lake itself presented a very different aspect from what it had borne the previous autumn. The dark blue waters, now covered with a glittering expanse of ice, lay like a vast mirror in a framework of mountains and plains. Not a broken space was visible, and but little snow was scattered on the frozen level surface, which in places was clear as crystal and reflected the sun's rays, making it look like open water.

The plains surrounding the lake were clothed with yellow withered grass, for the most part trampled under foot by wild asses, antelope, and Tangutan cattle, whilst the monotony of the landscape was only relieved by mirages. These wеге so frequent and so delusive as to render it impossible to shoot any large animals with the rifle, for the game would appear to float in the air, magnified to twice its natural size.

Having encamped in a spot where there were neither Mongols nor Tangutans to interfere with us, we made daily expeditions along the shores of the lake and the banks of the Pouhain-gol. But, alas! day after day passed without the longed-for arrival of birds. Some there were certainly, but in little variety, and so few in number that we could not always shoot enough for our personal requirements,