Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/257

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'KOTENS.' SIGNS OF SPRING.

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agreeable encounter with Chinese soldiers; and this actually happened to us at the very place where the Dungans had threatened to attack us the year before. This time it was a party of 'Kotens' that met us on their way from Seng-kwan to the Tatung-gol. We showed the commander of the detachment our Peking passport, but while doing so a soldier stole a revolver from one of our holsters. We protested vigorously against this, and though we could only express our sentiments by pantomimic gestures, the Chinese officer understood their meaning, and, afraid lest we should prefer our complaints at Peking, he gave orders that it should be restored to us. He then asked for gunpowder, and on receiving a dozen charges expressed himself entirely satisfied, and we parted good friends.

We reached Chobsen on the 27th April, and after a two days' stay at the temple, started for the mountains in the vicinity of Chertinton, where we had passed the previous summer.

Spring now began in earnest; on the 21st we saw the first butterflies, and on the 23rd the first flower, a species of Ficaria. The southern slopes were tinged with green, small birds arrived in numbers, and near Chobsen ploughing and sowing (barley and wheat) had begun, some corn being already visible above ground.

There was a thunderstorm on the 26th April, which, though accompanied by hail, reminded us of the approach of spring, for which we had so long waited. But vegetation advanced slowly owing to