START FOR THE DESERT.
Fortune, however, again befriended us. Before our tent was a small projecting ledge of rock upon which the waves threw up stones which soon formed a breakwater, and this saved us. Towards evening the rain slackened, the torrent quickly subsided, and the following morning beheld only a small stream flowing where the day before the waters of a mighty river had swept along. A bright sun lit up the scene of yesterday's destruction, and displayed so complete a change in the appearance of the valley that we could not recognise it for the same.
On returning to Din-yuan-ing we equipped our caravan, bartered away our bad camels, bought new ones, and on the morning of the 26th July started on our journey. Thanks to our Peking passport, and still more to the presents we bestowed on the tosalakchi, who acted as regent during the Prince's absence, we were able to hire two guides to escort us to the border of Ala-shan, where we were to obtain others, and for this purpose the yamen (or magistracy) of Ala-shan issued an official document: in this way we continued to obtain guides from one banner to another; a matter of great importance, for our road lay through the wildest part of the Gobi, in a meridional direction from Ala-shan to Urea, and we could not possibly have found our way without them.
Another long series of hardships now awaited us. We suffered most from the July heat, which at midday rose to 113° Fahr. in the shade, and at night was never less than 73°. No sooner did the sun