Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/81

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A FALSE ALARM.

61

Leaving the little town of Sung-shan (also destroyed by Dungans) on our left, we directed our march across an uneven steppe which lay immediately beyond the border range, between it and other mountains that rose in front of us.

We had no further cause for trouble about pasturage or water. Water poured from every cleft in the rocks, and the profusion of rich grass reminded us of our meadows at home. Here we saw dzerens (steppe antelopes), and a small herd of horses run wild, which had been let loose at the time of the insurrection. They were so shy that we tried in vain to capture one.

Traces of the ravages committed by the insurgents now met us at every step. The numerous villages were all in ruins, human skulls littered the ground, and not a soul was to be seen. Our companions showed symptoms of the greatest cowardice; they refused to make a fire at night, lighted their matchlocks, and begged us to go in front: all their fears, however, were dissipated in the most ludicrous way.

In the valley of the Chagrin-gol, the lamas espied some men running away; taking them for Dungans, and overjoyed at the small number of the enemy, they opened fire, although the fugitives were a long way off. My companion and I hastened to the scene of action, imagining that an attack had actually been made, but when we saw how matters stood we remained as spectators. The lamas continued firing although the enemy were by this time out of sight.