Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/276

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



although their nests were ready. In the middle of June we could have collected any number of them in the mountains, especially in the thickets on the banks of streams; but we could not remain longer in the vicinity of Chertinton, so straitened were our finances, which were again reduced to a small lump of silver weighing only a few ounces. Owing to the density of the population, moreover, game was scarce, and we could not shoot enough to supply ourselves with food. Under these circumstances we were constrained to hurry our departure for Ala-shan, for which country we set out, following the same route by which we had come the year before when travelling in the company of the Tangutan caravan. Deserted villages lay by the roadside then as now, although the Chinese population had begun to reappear; and it is most probable that in a few years' time the ruined houses will be rebuilt, the deserted fields cultivated, and the inhabitants as numerous as they were before the Dungan insurrection.

The first half of June was, contrary to our expectations, again characterised by severe, changeable weather. On May 28th there was a fall of snow at night, and the following four nights it froze (25° Fahr.). In the second week of June, the very last of our stay in Kan-su, the weather was even worse; for on the 9th of that month a violent storm continued the whole day, covering the ground to the depth of a foot with snow; towards morning there was a sharp frost (23° Fahr.), and this occurred in