Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/56

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36

PARCHING AIR. ENVOYS.

and SW., or cold quarters; in May from the SE., or warm quarter.

Rain fell more frequently in the latter month than in the former, and was sometimes accompanied by thunderstorms; but it only lasted a short time, and the atmosphere became terribly dry. All our things suffered; we were obliged to moisten our collection of plants, otherwise they became so brittle as to break into little bits. I could hardly write my journal, for the ink dried in the pen as rapidly as it froze in winter, thus affording a curious instance of similar effects being produced by two opposite causes — heat and cold.[1]

Towards the end of May we entered Ala-shan, and soon afterwards met two officials sent from Din-yuan-ing by the prince to welcome us and conduct us through the desert. The real motive of their politeness was impatience on the part of the prince and his sons to receive our presents, of which they had heard through Baldin Sordji. We met this lama in April, near the Munni-ula, on his way home from Peking, whither he had been sent by his master on business. We presented him with a token of our gratitude for his past services, and showed him the handsome presents which we were bearing to the princes. With these gifts we hoped to win over to our interests the lords of Ala-shan, upon whose good-will our future journey to Lake Koko-nor entirely depended.

1 'The parching air Burns frore and cold performs the effect of fire.' Paradise Lost. — Y.

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