Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/59

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THE TANGUTAN CARAVAN.

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gans. The further to impress them with the efficiency of our arms, we went through some firing exercise with rifles and revolvers. Numbers of spectators were present, and great was their astonishment at the rapidity and accuracy of our fire. The Tangutans almost danced with delight at their good luck in having secured such travelling companions.

The opportunity which thus presented itself of reaching Chobsen was a real piece of good fortune. Without it we could not have expected to procure a guide even across Southern Ala-shan. We were still more pleased when we heard from the Tangutans that their temple was situated in the midst of lofty mountains covered with forests, abounding in birds and wild animals. In fact, nothing could have been more opportune. We had only to obtain the consent of the Prince of Ala-shan to our departure with the Tangutans, who could not otherwise take us with them.

He, however, tried by every means in his power to deter us from proceeding to Koko-nor. What his motives may have been I cannot say; most probably he obeyed instructions from Peking, and had perhaps received a rebuke from head-quarters for his civility to the Russians last year.

However that may have been, Baldin Sordji now took an active part in forwarding his master's intrigues; at first he suggested our consulting the lamas as to whether the auguries were in favour of our journey. Of course they would have opposed