Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/37

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CAMELS LOST; LAMAS REFUSE HELP.

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from some camels belonging to other caravans which were on their way from Kuku-khoto. Just at this place the steppe grass was entirely trodden down; our beasts therefore crossed a little hill a short distance off to find some better food and seek shelter from the wind, which had been blowing in gusts for five days without intermission. After a little while a Cossack and our Mongol started to drive back to the tent the strayed camels, but they had disappeared from the hillock, and their tracks, partly obliterated by the wind, were undistinguishable from those of other camels. As soon as I heard of their disappearance, I despatched the same men in search of them; they were absent the whole day inspecting the camels of all the caravans in the neighbourhood, but not a vestige could be seen or heard of the animals, which were as completely lost as though they had been swallowed up by the earth. Early the following morning I sent my Cossack interpreter to the monastery of Shireti-tsu, on the land of which we had sustained the loss, to give notice of the theft and ask assistance in finding the missing camels. Our messenger was very reluctantly admitted into the monastery, where the lamas, after examining our Peking passport in which it is mentioned that assistance is to be given when needed, coolly remarked, 'We are not the guardians of your camels; seek them yourselves as best you can.' A similar reply was given by the Mongol official, to whom we likewise applied for aid. Meanwhile the Chinese refused to sell us straw to feed our only remaining sick