Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/68

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

48

RANDZEMBA:

of the escort in their red blouses and forage caps, mounted on camels, was very striking and picturesque; as for their fighting capacities, they were no better than their fellows. But the most remarkable personage of the party was a Tangutan named Randzemba, on his way from Peking to Tibet. He was a man of about forty, frank in manner and good-natured, very talkative, willing to assist everyone, and have a finger in everybody's pie. The loquacity of our new friend, accompanied with his emphatic gestures, suggested our bestowing upon him the sobriquet of the 'many-worded, Avvakum' which very soon passed through the caravan, and became thenceforward the usual appellation of Randzemba. His ruling passions were the chase and target firing; the latter amusement was indeed frequently indulged in by the whole party. Almost every day, as soon as we had arrived in camp, some would begin shooting at a mark; others would soon gather round, first as mere spectators, then, desirous of trying their skill, they would bring their guns, and in this way the firing became general. Randzemba was the leading spirit of all these parties. It was enough for him if he heard the report of fire-arms; no matter what he might be doing at the time, even though asleep or resting after a long march, the indefatigable Avvakum would rouse himself at once and proceed bare-footed to the scene of action. Here he would frequently advise how the target should be placed, upon the size of the charge, how a broken gun might be repaired, &c. Although he had the reputation of