Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/39

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WE BUY INFERIOR CAMELS.

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cash (50l.), left over from the amount realised by the sale of our merchandise and guns at Ala-shan. I therefore resolved to send the Cossack with the Mongol to Kuku-khoto to buy fresh camels. But the question was, how were they to go, as we had only one horse left, and even that was unfit for use? First then I started with the Cossack interpreter to try and buy a horse at some Mongol quarter. After walking the whole day, we succeeded in purchasing one, and the following morning the Cossack and Mongol started for Kuku-khoto. There they bought new, but very inferior, camels, and these at last enabled us to continue our journey, after a detention of seventeen days at Shireti-tsu. Thus, besides the loss of time, we sustained a very considerable loss in money also. Several of our animals had perished before this, owing to want of food and water, heat, frost — in fact from the difficulties of the route. In the first year of the expedition we lost, altogether, twelve camels and eleven horses; most of the latter however were exchanged with the Mongols for better animals, of course with considerable additional payment.

During this long detention, caused by the loss of our camels, we had hardly any occupation, and there were no birds of any kind except larks and sandgrouse. Writing was also out of the question, because, in the first place, there was nothing to record, and secondly, because it is no such easy matter to write in winter out of doors; you must first thaw the frozen ink, and hold your pen frequently to the