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Title: Across Mongolian Plains - A Naturalist's Account of China's 'Great Northwest'
Author: Andrews, Roy Chapman
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Across Mongolian Plains - A Naturalist's Account of China's 'Great Northwest'" ***


                        ACROSS MONGOLIAN PLAINS


                    +-----------------------------+
                    |   By Roy Chapman Andrews    |
                    +-----------------------------+
                    |                             |
                    |   ACROSS MONGOLIAN PLAINS   |
                    |                             |
                    |  CAMPS AND TRAILS IN CHINA  |
                    | [With Yvette Borup Andrews] |
                    |                             |
                    |     WHALE HUNTING WITH      |
                    |       GUN AND CAMERA        |
                    |                             |
                    |                             |
                    +-----------------------------+
                    |    D. APPLETON & COMPANY    |
                    |     Publishers, New York    |
                    +-----------------------------+
                    T245



[Illustration: A NOMAD OF THE MONGOLIAN PLAINS]



                        ACROSS MONGOLIAN PLAINS

                       A NATURALIST'S ACCOUNT OF
                       CHINA'S "GREAT NORTHWEST"



                                  BY

                          ROY CHAPMAN ANDREWS

    ASSOCIATE CURATOR OF MAMMALS IN THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL
    HISTORY, AND LEADER OF THE MUSEUM'S SECOND ASIATIC EXPEDITION.
            AUTHOR OF "WHALE HUNTING WITH GUN AND CAMERA,"
                   "CAMPS AND TRAILS IN CHINA," ETC.


                            [Illustration]


                            PHOTOGRAPHS BY

                         YVETTE BORUP ANDREWS

                          Photographer of the
                       Second Asiatic Expedition



                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY

                       NEW YORK: LONDON: MCMXXI


                          COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY
                        D. APPLETON AND COMPANY



PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED TO

Dr. J. A. ALLEN

WHO, THROUGH HIS PROFOUND KNOWLEDGE, UNSELFISH DEVOTION TO SCIENCE, AND
NEVER-FAILING SYMPATHY WITH YOUNGER STUDENTS OF ZOÖLOGY HAS BEEN AN
EXAMPLE AND AN INSPIRATION DURING THE YEARS I HAVE WORKED AT HIS SIDE.



PREFACE


During 1916-1917 the First Asiatic Expedition of the American Museum of
Natural History carried on zoölogical explorations along the frontiers
of Tibet and Burma in the little known province of Yün-nan, China.
The narrative of that expedition has already been given to the public
in the first boot of this series "Camps and Trails in China." It was
always the intention of the American Museum to continue the Asiatic
investigations, and my presence in China on other work in 1918 gave the
desired opportunity at the conclusion of the war.

Having made extensive collections along the southeastern edge of the
great central Asian plateau, it was especially desirable to obtain a
representation of the fauna from the northeastern part in preparation
for the great expedition which, I am glad to say, is now in course of
preparation, and which will conduct work in various other branches of
science. Consequently, my wife and I spent one of the most delightful
years of our lives in Mongolia and North China on the Second Asiatic
Expedition of the American Museum of Natural History.


The present book is the narrative of our work and travels. As in
"Camps and Trails" I have written it entirely from the sportsman's
standpoint and have purposely avoided scientific details which would
prove uninteresting or wearisome to the general public. Full reports
of the expedition's results will appear in due course in the Museum's
scientific publications and to them I would refer those readers who
wish further details of the Mongolian fauna.

Asia is the most fascinating hunting ground in all the world, not
because of the _quantity_ of game to be found there but because of
its _quality_, and scientific importance. Central Asia was the point
of origin and distribution for many mammals which inhabit other parts
of the earth to-day and the habits and relationships of some of its
big game animals are almost unknown. Because of unceasing native
persecution, lack of protection, the continued destruction of forests
and the ever increasing facilities for transportation to the remote
districts of the interior, many of China's most interesting and
important forms of wild life are doomed to extermination in the very
near future.

Fortunately world museums are awakening to the necessity of obtaining
representative series of Asiatic mammals before it is too late, and
to the broad vision of the President and Board of Trustees of the
American Museum of Natural History my wife and I owe the exceptional
opportunities which have been given us to carry on zoölogical
explorations in Asia.

We are especially grateful to President Henry Fairfield Osborn, who
is ready, always, to support enthusiastically any plans which tend to
increase knowledge of China or to strengthen cordial relations between
the United States and the Chinese Republic.

Director F. A. Lucas and Assistant Secretary George H. Sherwood have
never failed in their attention to the needs of our expeditions when in
the field and to them I extend our best thanks.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Bernheimer, who have contributed to every
expedition in which I have taken part, generously rendered financial
aid for the Mongolian work.

My wife, who is ever my best assistant in the field, was responsible
for all the photographic work of the expedition and I have drawn much
upon her daily "Journals" in the preparation of this book.

I wish to acknowledge the kindness of the Editors of _Harper's
Magazine_, _Natural History_, _Asia Magazine_ and the _Trans-Pacific
Magazine_ in whose publications parts of this book have already
appeared.

We are indebted to a host of friends who gave assistance to the
expedition and to us personally in the field:

The Wai Chiao Pu (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) freely granted permits
for the expedition to travel throughout China and extended other
courtesies for which I wish to express appreciation on behalf of the
President and Board of Trustees of the American Museum of Natural
History.

In Peking, His Excellency Paul S. Reinsch, formerly American Minister
to China, Dr. C. D. Tenney, Mr. Willys Peck, Mr. Ernest B. Price
and other members of the Legation staff obtained import permits and
attended to many details connected with the Chinese Government.

Mr. A. M. Guptil acted as our Peking representative while we were in
the field and assumed much annoying detail in forwarding and receiving
shipments of supplies and equipment. Other gentlemen in Peking who
rendered us courtesies in various ways are Commanders I. V. Gillis and
C. T. Hutchins, Dr. George D. Wilder, Dr. J. G. Anderson and Messrs. H.
C. Faxon, E. G. Smith, C. R. Bennett, M. E. Weatherall and J. Kenrick.

In Kalgan, Mr. Charles L. Coltman arranged for the transportation of
the expedition to Mongolia and not only gratuitously acted as our agent
but was always ready to devote his own time and the use of his motor
cars to further the work of the party.

In Urga, Mr. F. A. Larsen of Anderson, Meyer & Company, was of
invaluable assistance in obtaining horses, carts and other equipment
for the expedition as well as in giving us the benefit of his long and
unique experience in Mongolia.

Mr. E. V. Olufsen of Anderson, Meyer & Company, put himself, his
house, and his servants at our disposal whenever we were in Urga and
aided us in innumerable ways.

Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Mamen often entertained us in their home. Mr. and
Mrs. E. L. MacCallie, who accompanied us on one trip across Mongolia
and later resided temporarily in Urga, brought equipment for us across
Mongolia and entertained us while we were preparing to return to Peking.

Monsieur A. Orlow, Russian Diplomatic Agent in Urga, obtained permits
from the Mongolian Government for our work in the Urga region and gave
us much valuable advice.

In south China, Reverend H. Castle of Tunglu, and Reverend Lacy Moffet
planned a delightful hunting trip for us in Che-kiang Province.

In Shanghai the Hon. E. S. Cunningham, American Consul-General,
materially aided the expedition in the shipment of specimens. To Mr.
G. M. Jackson, General Passenger Agent of the Canadian Pacific Ocean
Services, thanks are due for arranging for rapid transportation to
America of our valuable collections.

                                           Roy Chapman Andrews

   American Museum of
    Natural History,
  New York City, U. S. A.



CONTENTS


PAGE

  Preface vii


INTRODUCTION

  Early conquests of the Mongols--Why their power was
       lost--Independence of Outer Mongolia--China's opportunity
       to obtain her former power in Mongolia--General Hsu
       Shu-tseng--Memorial to President of China--Cancellation of
       Outer Mongolia's autonomy                                   xix

CHAPTER I

ENTERING THE LAND OF MYSTERY

  Arrival in Kalgan--The Hutukhtu's motor car--Start for the
       great plateau--Camel caravans--The pass--A motor car on
       the Mongolian plains--Start from Hei-ma-hou--Chinese
       cultivation--The Mongol not a farmer--The grasslands of
       Inner Mongolia--The first Mongol village--Construction of a
       _yurt_--Bird life--The telegraph line                         1


CHAPTER II

SPEED MARVELS OF THE GOBI DESERT

  Wells in the desert--Panj-kiang--A lama monastery--A great herd
       of antelope--A wild chase--Long range shooting--Amazing
       speed--An exhibition of high-class running--Difficulties
       in traveling--Description of the northern Mongols--Love of
       sport--Ude--Bustards--Great monastery at Turin--The rolling
       plains of Outer Mongolia--Urga during the World War          13


CHAPTER III

A CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS

  Return trip--The "agony box"--The first accident--My Czech and
       Cossack passengers--The "agony box" breaks a wheel--A
       dry camp--More motor trouble--Meeting with Langdon
       Warner--Our game of hide-and-seek in the Orient--An accident
       near Panj-kiang--We use mutton fat for oil--Arrival at
       Hei-ma-hou--A wet ride to Kalgan--Trouble at the gate        27



CHAPTER IV

NEW TRAVELS ON AN OLD TRAIL

  Winter in Peking--We leave for Mongolia--Inner Mongolia in
       spring--Race with a camel--Geese and cranes--Gophers--An
       electric light in the desert--Chinese motor companies--An
       antelope buck--A great herd--Brilliant atmosphere of
       Mongolia--Notes on antelope speed                            38


CHAPTER V

ANTELOPE MOVIE STARS

  Moving pictures under difficulties--A lost opportunity--A
       zoölogical garden in the desert--Killing a wolf--Speed of a
       wolf--Antelope steak and _parfum de chameau_--A caravan--A
       wild wolf-hunt--Sulphuric acid--The Turin Plains             50


CHAPTER VI

THE SACRED CITY OF THE LIVING BUDDHA

  A city of contrasts--The Chinese quarter like frontier
       America--A hamlet of modern Russia--An indescribable mixture
       of Mongolia, Russia and China in West Urga--Description
       of a Mongol woman--Urga like a pageant on the stage
       of a theater--The sacred mountain--The palace of the
       "Living God"--Love for western inventions--A strange
       scene at the Hutukhtu's palace--A bed for the Living
       Buddha--Lamaism--The Lama City--Ceremony in the temple--Prayer
       wheels--Burial customs--Corpses eaten by dogs--The dogs of
       Mongolia--Cleanliness--Food--Morality--"H. C. L." in
       Urga--A horrible prison--Mr. F. A. Larsen                    62


CHAPTER VII

THE LONG TRAIL TO SAIN NOIN KHAN

  Beginning work--Carts--Ponies--Our interpreter--Mongol tent--Native
       clothes best for work--Supplies--How to keep "fit" in the
       field--Accidents--Sain Noin Khan--The first day--A night
       in a _yurt_--Cranes--We trade horses--Horse stealing--No
       mammals--Birds--Breaking a cart horse--Mongol ponies         84


CHAPTER VIII

THE LURE OF THE PLAINS

  Trapping marmots--Skins valuable as furs--Native methods of
       hunting--A marmot dance--Habits--The first hunting-camp--Our
       Mongol neighbors--After antelope on horseback--The first
       buck--A polecat--The second day's hunt--The vastness of the
       plains--Development of a "land sense"--Another antelope      99


CHAPTER IX

HUNTING ON THE TURIN PLAINS

  Mongol hospitality--Camping on the Turin Plains--An enormous
       herd of antelope--A wonderful ride--Three gazelle--A dry
       camp--My pony, Kublai Khan--Plains life about a well--Antelope
       babies--A wonderful provision of nature--Habits--Species in
       Mongolia--The "goitre"--Speed--Work in camp--Small mammals  116


CHAPTER X

AN ADVENTURE IN THE LAMA CITY

  An unexpected meeting with a river--Our new camp in Urga--"God's
       Brother's House"--Photographing in the Lama City--A critical
       moment--Help from Mr. Olufsen--The motion picture camera
       an instrument of magic--Floods in Urga--Duke Loobitsan
       Yangsen--The Duchess--Vegetables in Urga                    133


CHAPTER XI

MONGOLS AT HOME

  The forests of Mongolia--A bad day's work--The Terelche
       River--Tserin Dorchy's family--A wild-wood romance--Evening
       in the valley--Doctoring the natives--A clever lama--A
       popular magazine--Return of Tserin Dorchy--Independence--His
       hunt on the Sacred Mountain--Punishment--Hunting with the
       Mongols--Tsamba and "buttered tea"--A splendid roebuck--The
       fortune of a naturalist--Eating the deer's viscera--The
       field meet of the Terelche Valley--Horse races--Wrestling   143


CHAPTER XII

NOMADS OF THE FOREST

  An ideal camp--The first wapiti--A roebuck--Currants and
       berries--Catching fish--Enormous trout--A rainy day in
       camp--A wapiti seen from camp--Mongolian weather--Flowers--
       Beautiful country--A musk deer--Habits and commercial
       value--A wild boar--Success and failure in hunting--We kill
       two wapiti--Return to Urga--Mr. and Mrs. MacCallie--Packing
       the collections--Across the plains to Peking                161


CHAPTER XIII

THE PASSING OF MONGOLIAN MYSTERY

  Importance of Far East--Desert, plain, and water in Mongolia--The
       Gobi Desert--Agriculture--Pastoral products--Treatment of
       wool and camel hair--Marmots as a valuable asset--Urga
       a growing fur market--Chinese merchants--Labor--Gold
       mines--Transportation--Motor trucks--Passenger motor
       service--Forests--Aëroplanes--Wireless telegraph            175


CHAPTER XIV

THE GREAT RAM OF THE SHANSI MOUNTAINS

  Brigands, Chinese soldiers and "battles"--The Mongolian
       sheep--Harry Caldwell--Difference between North and
       South China--The "dust age" in China--Inns--Brigand
       scouts--The Tai Hai Lake--Splendid shooting--The sheep
       mountains--An awe-inspiring gorge--An introduction to the
       _argali_--Caldwell's big ram--A herd of sheep--My first
       ram--A second sheep--The end of a perfect day               184


CHAPTER XV

MONGOLIAN "ARGALI"

  A long climb--Roebuck--An unsuspecting ram--My Mongol
       hunter--Donkeys instead of sheep--Two fine rams--The
       big one lost--A lecture on hunting--A night walk in the
       cañon--Commander Hutchins and Major Barker--Tom and I get
       a ram--The end of the sheep hunt                            205


CHAPTER XVI

THE HORSE-DEER OF SHANSI

  Wu-Tai-Hai--The "American Legation"--Interior of a North Shansi
       house--North China villages--The people--"Horse-deer"--The
       names "wapiti" and "elk"--A great gorge--A rock temple--The
       hunting grounds furnish a surprise--A huge bull wapiti      219


CHAPTER XVII

WAPITI, ROEBUCK AND GORAL

  Our camp in a new village--Game at our door--Concentration
       of animal life--Chinese roebuck--A splendid
       hunt--Goral--Difficult climbing--"Hide and seek" with a
       goral--The second wapiti--A happy ending to a cold day      230


CHAPTER XVIII

WILD PIGS ANIMAL AND HUMAN

  Shansi Province famous for wild boar--Flesh delicious--When to
       hunt--Where to go--Inns and coal gas--Kao-chia-chuang--A
       long shot--Our camp at Tziloa--Native hunters--A young
       pig--A hard chase--Pheasants--Another pig--Smith runs down
       a big sow--Chinese steal our game--A wounded boar           241


CHAPTER XIX

THE HUNTING PARK OF THE EASTERN TOMBS

  A visit to Duke Tsai Tse--A "personality"--The _Tung Ling_--The
       road to the tombs--A country inn--The front view of the
       _Tung Ling_--The tombs of the Empress Dowager and Ch'ien
       Lung--The "hinterland"--An area of desolation--Our camp in
       the forest--Reeves's pheasant--The most beautiful Chinese
       deer--"Blood horns" as medicine--Goral--Animals and birds
       of the _Tung Ling_--A new method of catching trout--A forest
       fire--Native stupidity--Wanton destruction--China's great
       opportunity                                                 256


  Index                                                            271



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                FACING
                                                                 PAGE

  A Nomad of the Mongolian Plains                 _Frontispiece_
  Roy Chapman Andrews on "Kublai Khan"                               8
  Yvette Borup Andrews, Photographer of the Expedition               9
  At the End of the Long Trail from Outer Mongolia                  20
  Women of Southern Mongolia                                        21
  The Middle Ages and the Twentieth Century                         34
  A Mongolian Antelope Killed from Our Motor Car                    35
  Watering Camels at a Well in the Gobi Desert                      35
  The Water Carrier for a Caravan                                   46
  A Thirty-five Pound Bustard                                       47
  Young Mongolia                                                    47
  Mongol Horsemen on the Streets of Urga                            60
  The Prison at Urga                                                61
  A Criminal in a Coffin with Hands Manacled                        61
  The Great Temple at Urga                                          72
  A Prayer Wheel and a Mongol Lama                                  72
  Lamas Calling the Gods at a Temple in Urga                        73
  Mongol Praying at a Shrine in Urga                                73
  Mongol Women Beside a _Yurt_                                      82
  The Headdress of a Mongol Married Woman                           82
  The Framework of a _Yurt_                                         83
  Mongol Women and a Lama                                           83
  The Traffic Policeman on Urga's "Broadway"                        98
  A Mongol Lama                                                     98
  The Grasslands of Outer Mongolia                                  99
  Mongol Herdsmen Carrying Lassos                                  116
  A Lone Camp on the Desert                                        117
  Tibetan Yaks                                                     184
  Our Caravan Crossing the Terelche River                          135
  Our Base Camp at the Edge of the Forest                          148
  The Mongol Village of the Terelche Valley                        149
  Wrestlers at Terelche Valley Field Meet                          164
  Women Spectators at the Field Meet                               165
  Cave Dwellings in North Shansi Province                          184
  An Asiatic Wapiti                                                185
  Harry R. Caldwell and a Mongolian Bighorn                        185
  Where the Bighorn Sheep Are Found                                216
  A Mongolian Roebuck                                              217
  The Head of the Record Ram                                       224
  Map of Mongolia and China, Showing Route of Second
    Asiatic Expedition in Broken Lines                             225



INTRODUCTION


The romantic story of the Mongols and their achievements has been
written so completely that it is unnecessary to repeat it here even
though it is as fascinating as a tale from the _Arabian Nights_. The
present status of the country, however, is but little known to the
western world. In a few words I will endeavor to sketch the recent
political developments, some of which occurred while we were in
Mongolia.

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the great Genghiz Khan and
his illustrious successor Kublai Khan "almost in a night" erected the
greatest empire the world has ever seen. Not only did they conquer all
of Asia, but they advanced in Europe as far as the Dnieper leaving
behind a trail of blood and slaughter.

All Europe rose against them, but what could not be accomplished by
force of arms was wrought in the Mongols themselves by an excess of
luxury. In their victorious advance great stores of treasure fell into
their hands and they gave themselves to a life of ease and indulgence.

By nature the Mongols were hard riding, hard living warriors,
accustomed to privation and fatigue. The poison of luxury ate into the
very fibers of their being and gradually they lost the characteristics
which had made them great. The ruin of the race was completed by
the introduction of Lamaism, a religion which carries only moral
destruction where it enters, and eventually the Mongols passed under
the rule of the once conquered Chinese and then under the Manchus.

Until the overthrow of the Manchu regime in China in 1911, and the
establishment of the present republic, there were no particularly
significant events in Mongolian history. But at that time the Russians,
wishing to create a buffer state between themselves and China as well
as to obtain special commercial privileges in Mongolia, aided the
Mongols in rebellion, furnished them with arms and ammunition and with
officers to train their men.

A somewhat tentative proclamation of independence for Outer Mongolia
was issued in December, 1911, by the Hutukhtu and nobles of Urga, and
the Chinese were driven out of the country with little difficulty.
Beset with internal troubles, the Chinese paid but scant attention
to Mongolian affairs until news was received in Peking in October,
1912, that M. Korostovetz, formerly Russian Minister to China, had
arrived secretly in Urga and on November 3, 1912, had recognized the
independence of Outer Mongolia on behalf of his Government.

It then became incumbent upon China to take official note of the
situation, especially as foreign complications could not be faced in
view of her domestic embarrassments.

Consequently on November 5, 1913, there was concluded a Russo-Chinese
agreement wherein Russia recognized that Outer Mongolia was under the
suzerainty of China, and China, on her part, admitted the autonomy of
Outer Mongolia. The essential element in the situation was the fact
that Russia stood behind the Mongols with money and arms and China's
hand was forced at a time when she was powerless to resist.

Quite naturally, Mongolia's political status has been a sore point
with China and it is hardly surprising that she should have awaited an
opportunity to reclaim what she considered to be her own.

This opportunity arrived with the collapse of Russia and the spread of
Bolshevism, for the Mongols were dependent upon Russia for material
assistance in anything resembling military operations, although, as
early as 1914, they had begun to realize that they were cultivating a
dangerous friend. The Mongolian army, at the most, numbered only two
or three thousand poorly equipped and undisciplined troops who would
require money and organization before they could become an effective
fighting force.

The Chinese were not slow to appreciate these conditions and General
Hsu Shu-tseng, popularly known as "Little Hsu," by a clever bit of
Oriental intrigue sent four thousand soldiers to Urga with the excuse
of protecting the Mongols from a so-called threatened invasion of
Buriats and brigands. A little later he himself arrived in a motor car
and, when the stage was set, brought such pressure to bear upon the
Hutukhtu and his Cabinet that they had no recourse except to cancel
Mongolia's autonomy and ask to return to their former place under
Chinese rule.

This they did on November 17, 1919, in a formal Memorial addressed to
the President of the Chinese Republic, which is quoted below as it
appeared in the Peking press, under date of November 24, 1919:

"We, the Ministers and Vice-Ministers [here follow their names and
ranks] of all the departments of the autonomous Government of Outer
Mongolia, and all the princes, dukes, hutukhtus and lamas and others
resident at Urga, hereby jointly and severally submit the following
petition for the esteemed perusal of His Excellency the President of
the Republic of China:--

"Outer Mongolia has been a dependency of China since the reign of the
Emperor Kang Hsi, remaining loyal for over two hundred years, the
entire population, from princes and dukes down to the common people
having enjoyed the blessings of peace. During the reign of the Emperor
Tao Kwang changes in the established institutions, which were opposed
to Mongolian sentiment, caused dissatisfaction which was aggravated
by the corruption of the administration during the last days of the
Manchu Dynasty. Taking advantage of this Mongolian dissatisfaction,
foreigners instigated and assisted the independence movement. Upon the
Kiakhta Convention, being signed the autonomy of Outer Mongolia was
held a _fait accompli_, China retaining an empty suzerainty while the
officials and people of Outer Mongolia lost many of their old rights
and privileges. Since the establishment of this autonomous government
no progress whatsoever has been chronicled, the affairs of government
being indeed plunged in a state of chaos, causing deep pessimism.

"Lately, chaotic conditions have also reigned supreme in Russia,
reports of revolutionary elements threatening our frontiers having
been frequently received. Moreover, since the Russians have no united
government it is only natural that they are powerless to carry out
the provisions of the treaties, and now that they have no control
over their subjects the Buriat tribes have constantly conspired and
cooperated with bandits, and repeatedly sent delegates to Urga urging
our Government to join with them and form a Pan-Mongolian nation.
That this propaganda work, so varied and so persistent, which aims
at usurping Chinese suzerainty and undermining the autonomy of Outer
Mongolia, does more harm than good to Outer Mongolia, our Government
is well aware. The Buriats, with their bandit Allies, now considering
us unwilling to espouse their cause, contemplate dispatching troops to
violate our frontiers and to compel our submission. Furthermore, forces
from the so-called White Army have forcibly occupied Tanu Ulianghai,
an old possession of Outer Mongolia, and attacked both Chinese and
Mongolian troops, this being followed by the entry of the Red Army,
thus making the situation impossible.

"Now that both our internal and external affairs have reached such
a climax, we, the members of the Government, in view of the present
situation, have assembled all the princes, dukes, lamas and others
and have held frequent meetings to discuss the question of our future
welfare. Those present have been unanimously of the opinion that the
old bonds of friendship having been restored our autonomy should be
canceled, since Chinese and Mongolians are filled with a common purpose
and ideal.

"The result of our decision has been duly reported to His Holiness
the Bogdo Jetsun Dampa Hutukhtu Khan and has received his approval
and support. Such being the position we now unanimously petition His
Excellency the President that the old order of affairs be restored."

(Signed)

  "Premier and Acting Minister of the Interior, Prince Lama
     Batma Torgoo.
   Vice-Minister, Prince of Tarkhan Puntzuk Cheilin.
   Vice-Minister, Great Lama of Beliktu, Prince Puntzuk
     Torgoo.
   Minister of Foreign Affairs, Duke Cheilin Torgoo.
   Vice-Minister, Dalai Prince Cheitantnun Lomour.
   Vice-Minister, Prince of Ochi, Kaotzuktanba.
   Minister of War, Prince of Eltoni Jamuyen Torgoo.
   Vice-Minister, Prince of Eltoni Selunto Chihloh.
   Vice-Minister, Prince of Elteni Punktzu Laptan.
   Vice-Minister, Prince of Itkemur Chitu Wachir.
   Minister of Finance, Prince Lama Loobitsan Paletan.
   Vice-Minister, Prince Torgee Cheilin.
   Vice-Minister, Prince of Suchuketu Tehmutgu Kejwan.
   Minister of Justice, Dalai of Chiechenkhan Wananin.
   Vice-Minister, Prince of Daichinchihlun Chackehbatehorhu.
   Vice-Minister, Prince of Cholikota Lama Dashtunyupu,"

Naturally, the President of China graciously consented to allow the
prodigal to return and "killed the fatted calf" by conferring high
honors and titles upon the Hutukhtu. Moreover, he appointed the Living
Buddha's good friend (?) "Little Hsu" to convey them to him.

Thus, Mongolia again has become a part of China. Who knows what the
future has in store for her? But events are moving rapidly and by the
time this book is published the curtain may have risen upon a new act
of Mongolia's tragedy.



ACROSS

MONGOLIAN PLAINS



CHAPTER I

ENTERING THE LAND OF MYSTERY


Careering madly in a motor car behind a herd of antelope fleeing like
wind-blown ribbons across a desert which isn't a desert, past caravans
of camels led by picturesque Mongol horsemen, the Twentieth Century
suddenly and violently interjected into the Middle Ages, should be
contrast and paradox enough for even the most blase sportsman. I am
a naturalist who has wandered into many of the far corners of the
earth. I have seen strange men and things, but what I saw on the great
Mongolian plateau fairly took my breath away and left me dazed, utterly
unable to adjust my mental perspective.


When leaving Peking in late August, 1918, to cross the Gobi Desert in
Mongolia, I knew that I was to go by motor car. But somehow the very
names "Mongolia" and "Gobi Desert" brought such a vivid picture of the
days of Kublai Khan and ancient Cathay that my clouded mind refused to
admit the thought of automobiles. It was enough that I was going to the
land of which I had so often dreamed.

Not even in the railway, when I was being borne toward Kalgan and saw
lines of laden camels plodding silently along the paved road beside
the train, or when we puffed slowly through the famous Nankou Pass and
I saw that wonder of the world, the Great Wall, winding like a gray
serpent over ridge after ridge of the mountains, was my dream-picture
of mysterious Mongolia dispelled. I had seen all this before, and had
accepted it as one accepts the motor cars beside the splendid walls of
old Peking. It was too near, and the railroad had made it commonplace.

But Mongolia! That was different. One could not go there in a roaring
train. I had beside me the same old rifle and sleeping bag that had
been carried across the mountains of far Yün-nan, along the Tibetan
frontier, and through the fever-stricken jungles of Burma. Somehow,
these companions of forest and mountain trails, and my reception at
Kalgan by two khaki-clad young men, each with a belt of cartridges
and a six-shooter strapped about his waist, did much to keep me
in a blissful state of unpreparedness for the destruction of my
dream-castles.

That night as we sat in Mr. Charles Coltman's home, with his charming
wife, a real woman of the great outdoors, presiding at the dinner
table, the talk was all of shooting, horses, and the vast, lone spaces
of the Gobi Desert--but not much of motor cars. Perhaps they vaguely
realized that I was still asleep in an unreal world and knew that the
awakening would come all too soon.

Yet I was dining that night with one of the men who had destroyed the
mystery of Mongolia. In 1916, Coltman and his former partner, Oscar
Mamen, had driven across the plains to Urga, the historic capital of
Mongolia. But most unromantic and incongruous, most disheartening to a
dreamer of Oriental dreams, was what I learned a few days later when
the awakening had really come--that among the first cars ever to cross
the desert was one purchased by the Hutukhtu, the Living Buddha, the
God of all the Mongols.

When the Hutukhtu learned of the first motor car in Mongolia he
forthwith demanded one for himself. So his automobile was brought
safely through the rocky pass at Kalgan and across the seven hundred
miles of plain to Urga by way of the same old caravan trail over which,
centuries ago, Genghis Khan had sent his wild Mongol raiders to conquer
China.

We arose long before daylight on the morning of August 29. In the
courtyard lanterns flashed and disappeared like giant fireflies as the
_mafus_ (muleteers) packed the baggage and saddled the ponies. The cars
had been left on the plateau at a mission station called Hei-ma-hou
to avoid the rough going in the pass, and we were to ride there on
horseback while the food and bed-rolls went by cart. There were five
of us in the party--Mr. and Mrs. Coltman, Mr. and Mrs. Lucander, and
myself. I was on a reconnaissance and Mr. Coltman's object was to visit
his trading station in Urga, where the Lucanders were to remain for the
winter.

The sun was an hour high when we clattered over the slippery paving
stones to the north gate of the city. Kalgan is built hard against the
Great Wall of China--the first line of defense, the outermost rampart
in the colossal structure which for so many centuries protected China
from Tartar invasion. Beyond it there was nothing between us and the
great plateau.

After our passports had been examined we rode through the gloomy
chasm-like gate, turned sharply to the left, and found ourselves
standing on the edge of a half-dry river bed. Below us stretched line
after line of double-humped camels, some crowded in yellow-brown masses
which seemed all heads and curving necks, and some kneeling quietly on
the sand. From around a shoulder of rock came other camels, hundreds
of them, treading slowly and sedately, nose to tail, toward the gate
in the Great Wall. They had come from the far country whither we were
bound. To me there is something fascinating about a camel. Perhaps it
is because he seems to typify the great waste spaces which I love,
that I never tire of watching him swing silently, and seemingly with
resistless power, across the desert.

Our way to Hei-ma-hou led up the dry river bed, with the Great Wall
on the left stretching its serpentine length across the hills, and
on the right picturesque cliffs two hundred feet in height. At their
bases nestle mud-roofed cottages and Chinese inns, but farther up the
river the low hills are all of _loess_--brown, wind-blown dust, packed
hard, which can be cut like cheese. Deserted though they seem from a
distance, they really teem with human life. Whole villages are half
dug, half built, into the hillsides, but are well-nigh invisible, for
every wall and roof is of the same brown earth.

Ten miles or so from Kalgan we began on foot the long climb up the pass
which gives entrance to the great plateau. I kept my eyes steadily on
the pony's heels until we reached a broad, flat terrace halfway up the
pass. Then I swung about that I might have, all at once, the view which
lay below us. It justified my greatest hopes, for miles and miles of
rolling hills stretched away to where the far horizon met the Shansi
Mountains.

It was a desolate country which I saw, for every wave in this vast
land-sea was cut and slashed by the knives of wind and frost and rain,
and lay in a chaotic mass of gaping wounds--cañons, ravines, and
gullies, painted in rainbow colors, crossing and cutting one another at
fantastic angles as far as the eye could see.

When, a few moments later, we reached the very summit of the pass,
I felt that no spot I had ever visited satisfied my preconceived
conceptions quite so thoroughly. Behind and below us lay that
stupendous relief map of ravines and gorges; in front was a limitless
stretch of undulating plain, I knew then that I really stood upon the
edge of the greatest plateau in all the world and that it could be only
Mongolia.

We had tiffin at a tiny Chinese inn beside the road, and trotted on
toward Hei-ma-hou between waving fields of wheat, buckwheat, millet,
and oats--oats as thick and "meaty" as any horse could wish to eat.

After tiffin Coltman and Lucander rode rapidly ahead while I trotted
my pony along more slowly in the rear. It was nearly seven o'clock,
and the trees about the mission station had been visible for half an
hour. I was enjoying a gorgeous sunset which splashed the western sky
with gold and red, and lazily watching the black silhouettes of a
camel caravan swinging along the summit of a ridge a mile away. On the
road beside me a train of laden mules and bullock-carts rested for a
moment--the drivers half asleep. Over all the plain there lay the peace
of a perfect autumn evening.

Suddenly, from behind a little rise, I heard the whir of a motor
engine and the raucous voice of a Klaxon horn. Before I realized what
it meant, I was in the midst of a mass of plunging, snorting animals,
shouting carters, and kicking mules. In a moment the caravan scattered
wildly across the plain and the road was clear save for the author of
the turmoil--a black automobile.

I wish I could make those who spend their lives within a city know
how strange and out of place that motor seemed, alone there upon the
open plain on the borders of Mongolia. Imagine a camel or an elephant
with all its Oriental trappings suddenly appearing on Fifth Avenue!
You would think at once that it had escaped from a circus or a zoo and
would be mainly curious as to what the traffic policeman would do when
it did not obey his signals.

But all the incongruity and the fact that the automobile was a glaring
anachronism did not prevent my abandoning my horse to the _mafu_ and
stretching out comfortably on the cushions of the rear seat. There I
had nothing to do but collect the remains of my shattered dream-castles
as we bounced over the ruts and stones. It was a rude awakening, and
I felt half ashamed to admit to myself as the miles sped by that the
springy seat was more comfortable than the saddle on my Mongol pony.

But that night when I strolled about the mission courtyard, under the
spell of the starry, desert sky, I drifted back again in thought to the
glorious days of Kublai Khan. My heart was hot with resentment that
this thing had come. I realized then that, for better or for worse,
the sanctity of the desert was gone forever. Camels will still plod
their silent way across the age-old plains, but the mystery is lost.
The secrets which were yielded up to but a chosen few are open now to
all, and the world and his wife will speed their noisy course across
the miles of rolling prairie, hearing nothing, feeling nothing, knowing
nothing of that resistless desert charm which led men out into the
Great Unknown.

At daylight we packed the cars. Bed-rolls and cans of gasoline were
tied on the running boards and every corner was filled with food. Our
rifles were ready for use, however, for Coltman had promised a kind of
shooting such as I had never seen before. The stories he told of wild
rides in the car after strings of antelope which traveled at fifty or
sixty miles an hour had left me mildly skeptical. But then, you know, I
had never seen a Mongolian antelope run.

For twenty or thirty miles after leaving Hei-ma-hou we bounced along
over a road which would have been splendid except for the deep ruts
cut by mule- and ox-carts. These carts are the despair of any one who
hopes some time to see good roads in China. The spike-studded wheels
cut into the hardest ground and leave a chaos of ridges and chasms
which grows worse with every year.

We were seldom out of sight of mud-walled huts or tiny Chinese
villages, and Chinese peddlers passed our cars, carrying baskets of
fruit or trinkets for the women. Chinese farmers stopped to gaze at us
as we bounded over the ruts--in fact it was all Chinese, although we
were really in Mongolia. I was very eager to see Mongols, to register
first impressions of a people of whom I had dreamed so much; but the
blue-clad Chinaman was ubiquitous.

For seventy miles from Kalgan it was all the same--Chinese everywhere.
The Great Wall was built to keep the Mongols out, and by the same token
it should have kept the Chinese in. But the rolling, grassy sea of
the vast plateau was too strong a temptation for the Chinese farmer.
Encouraged by his own government, which knows the value of just such
peaceful penetration, he pushes forward the line of cultivation a dozen
miles or so every year. As a result the grassy hills have given place
to fields of wheat, oats, millet, buckwheat, and potatoes.

PLATE I

[Illustration: ROY CHAPMAN ANDREWS on "KUBLAI KHAN"]

[Illustration: YVETTE BORUP ANDREWS, PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE EXPEDITION]

The Mongol, above all things, is not a farmer; possibly because, many
years ago, the Manchus forbade him to till the soil. Moreover, on
the ground he is as awkward as a duck out of water and he is never
comfortable. The back of a pony is his real home, and he will do
wonderfully well any work which keeps him in the saddle. As Mr. F. A.
Larsen in Urga once said, "A Mongol would make a splendid cook if you
could give him a horse to ride about on in the kitchen." So he leaves
to the plodding Chinaman the cultivation of his boundless plains, while
he herds his fat-tailed sheep and goats and cattle.

About two hours after leaving the mission station we passed the limit
of cultivation and were riding toward the Tabool hills. There Mr.
Larsen, the best known foreigner in all Mongolia, has a home, and as we
swung past the trail which leads to his house we saw one of his great
herds of horses grazing in the distance.

All the land in this region has long, rich grass in summer, and water
is by no means scarce. There are frequent wells and streams along the
road, and in the distance we often caught a glint of silver from the
surface of a pond or lake. Flocks of goats and fat-tailed sheep drifted
up the valley, and now and then a herd of cattle massed themselves in
moving patches on the hillsides. But they are only a fraction of the
numbers which this land could easily support.

Not far from Tabool is a Mongol village. I jumped out of the car to
take a photograph but scrambled in again almost as quickly, for as soon
as the motor had stopped a dozen dogs dashed from the houses snarling
and barking like a pack of wolves. They are huge brutes, these Mongol
dogs, and as fierce as they are big. Every family and every caravan
owns one or more, and we learned very soon never to approach a native
encampment on foot.

The village was as unlike a Chinese settlement as it well could be,
for instead of closely packed mud houses there were circular, latticed
frameworks covered with felt and cone-shaped in the upper half. The
_yurt_, as it is called, is perfectly adapted to the Mongols and their
life. In the winter a stove is placed in the center, and the house is
dry and warm. In the summer the felt covering is sometimes replaced by
canvas which can be lifted on any side to allow free passage of air.
When it is time for the semiannual migration to new grazing grounds
the _yurt_ can be quickly dismantled, the framework collapsed, and the
house packed on camels or carts.

The Mongols of the village were rather disappointing, for many of them
show a strong element of Chinese blood. This seems to have developed
an unfortunate combination of the worst characteristics of both races.
Even where there is no real mixture, their contact with the Chinese has
been demoralizing, and they will rob and steal at every opportunity.
The headdresses of the southern women are by no means as elaborate as
those in the north.

When the hills of Tabool had begun to sink on the horizon behind us, we
entered upon a vast rolling plain, where there was but little water and
not a sign of human life. It resembled nothing so much as the prairies
of Nebraska or Dakota, and amid the short grass larkspur and purple
thistles glowed in the sunlight like tongues of flame.

There was no lack of birds. In the ponds which we passed earlier in the
day we saw hundreds of mallard ducks and teal. The car often frightened
golden plover from their dust baths in the road, and crested lapwings
flashed across the prairie like sudden storms of autumn leaves.
Huge, golden eagles and enormous ravens made tempting targets on the
telegraph poles, and in the morning before we left the cultivated area
we saw demoiselle cranes in thousands.

In this land where wood is absent and everything that will make a
fire is of value, I wondered how it happened that the telegraph
poles remained untouched, for every one was smooth and round without
a splinter gone. The method of protection is simple and entirely
Oriental. When the line was first erected, the Mongolian government
stated in an edict that any man who touched a pole with knife or ax
would lose his head. Even on the plains the enforcement of such a law
is not so difficult as it might seem, and after a few heads had been
taken by way of example the safety of the line was assured.

Our camp the first night was on a hill slope about one hundred miles
from Hei-ma-hou. As soon as the cars had stopped, one man was left to
untie the sleeping bags while the rest of us scattered over the plain
to hunt material for a fire. _Argul_ (dried dung) forms the only desert
fuel and, although it does not blaze like wood, it will "boil a pot"
almost as quickly as charcoal. I was elected to be the cook--a position
with distinct advantages, for in the freezing cold of early morning I
could linger about the fire with a good excuse.

It was a perfect autumn night. Every star in the world of space seemed
to have been crowded into our own particular expanse of sky, and each
one glowed like a tiny lantern. When I had found a patch of sand and
had dug a trench for my hip and shoulder, I crawled into the sleeping
bag and lay for half an hour looking up at the bespangled canopy above
my head. Again the magic of the desert night was in my blood, and I
blessed the fate which had carried me away from the roar and rush of
New York with its hurrying crowds. But I felt a pang of envy when, far
away in the distance, there came the mellow notes of a camel-bell.
_Dong, dong, dong_ it sounded, clear and sweet as cathedral chimes.
With surging blood I listened until I caught the measured tread of
padded feet, and saw the black silhouettes of rounded bodies and
curving necks. Oh, to be with them, to travel as Marco Polo traveled,
and to learn to know the heart of the desert in the long night marches!
Before I closed my eyes that night I vowed that when the war was done
and I was free to travel where I willed, I would come again to the
desert as the great Venetian came.



CHAPTER II

SPEED MARVELS OF THE GOBI DESERT


The next morning, ten miles from camp, we passed a party of Russians
en route to Kalgan. They were sitting disconsolately beside two huge
cars, patching tires and tightening bolts. Their way had been marked by
a succession of motor troubles and they were almost discouraged. Woe
to the men who venture into the desert with an untried car and without
a skilled mechanic! There are no garages just around the corner--and
there are no corners. Lucander's Chinese boy expressed it with laconic
completeness when some one asked him how he liked the country.

"Well," said he, "there's plenty of _room_, here."

A short distance farther on we found the caravan which had passed us
early in the night. They were camped beside a well and the thirsty
camels were gorging themselves with water. Except for these wells, the
march across the desert would be impossible. They are four or five feet
wide, walled with timbers, and partly roofed. In some the water is
rather brackish but always cool, for it is seldom less than ten feet
below the surface. It is useless to speculate as to who dug the wells
or when, for this trail has been used for centuries. In some regions
they are fifty or even sixty miles apart, but usually less than that.

The camel caravans travel mostly at night. For all his size and
apparent strength, a camel is a delicate animal and needs careful
handling. He cannot stand the heat of the midday sun and he will not
graze at night. So the Gobi caravans start about three or four o'clock
in the afternoon and march until one or two the next morning. Then the
men pitch a light tent and the camels sleep or wander over the plain.

At noon on the second day we reached Panj-kiang, the first telegraph
station on the line. Its single mud house was visible miles away and we
were glad to see it, for our gasoline was getting low. Coltman had sent
a plentiful supply by caravan to await us here, and every available
inch of space was filled with cans, for we were only one-quarter of the
way to Urga.

Not far beyond Panj-kiang, a lama monastery has been built beside
the road. Its white-walled temple bordered with red and the compound
enclosing the living quarters of the lamas show with startling
distinctness on the open plain. We stopped for water at a well a few
hundred yards away, and in five minutes the cars were surrounded by a
picturesque group of lamas who streamed across the plain on foot and
on horseback, their yellow and red robes flaming in the sun. They were
amiable enough--in fact, too friendly--and their curiosity was hardly
welcome, for we found one of them testing his knife on the tires and
another about to punch a hole in one of the gasoline cans; he hoped it
held something to drink that was better than water.

Thus far the trail had not been bad, as roads go in the Gobi, but I was
assured that the next hundred miles would be a different story, for we
were about to enter the most arid part of the desert between Kalgan and
Urga. We were prepared for the only real work of the trip, however, by
a taste of the exciting shooting which Coltman had promised me.

I had been told that we should see antelope in thousands, but all day
I had vainly searched the plains for a sign of game. Ten miles from
Panj-kiang we were rolling comfortably along on a stretch of good road
when Mrs. Coltman, whose eyes are as keen as those of a hawk, excitedly
pointed to a knoll on the right, not a hundred yards from the trail. At
first I saw nothing but yellow grass; then the whole hillside seemed to
be in motion. A moment later I began to distinguish heads and legs and
realized that I was looking at an enormous herd of antelope, closely
packed together, restlessly watching us.

Our rifles were out in an instant and Coltman opened the throttle. The
antelope were five or six hundred yards away, and as the car leaped
forward they ranged themselves in single file and strung out across
the plain. We left the road at once and headed diagonally toward them.
For some strange reason, when a horse or car runs parallel with a herd
of antelope, the animals will swing in a complete semicircle and cross
in front of the pursuer. This is also true of some African species.
Whether they think they are being cut off from some more desirable
means of escape I cannot say, but the fact remains that with the open
plain on every side they always try to "cross your bows."

I shall never forget the sight of those magnificent animals streaming
across the desert! There were at least a thousand of them, and their
yellow bodies seemed fairly to skim the earth. I was shouting in
excitement, but Coltman said:

"They're not running yet. Wait till we begin to shoot."

I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the speedometer trembling at
thirty-five miles, for we were making a poor showing with the antelope.
But then the fatal attraction began to assert itself and the long
column bent gradually in our direction. Coltman widened the arc of
the circle and held the throttle up as far as it would go. Our speed
increased to forty miles and the car began to gain because the antelope
were running almost across our course.

They were about two hundred yards away when Coltman shut off the gas
and jammed both brakes, but before the car had stopped they had gained
another hundred. I leaped over a pile of bedding and came into action
with the .250 Savage high-power as soon as my feet were on the ground.
Coltman's .30 Mauser was already spitting fire from the front seat
across the wind-shield, and at his second shot an antelope dropped like
lead. My first two bullets struck the dirt far behind the rearmost
animal, but the third caught a full-grown female in the side and she
plunged forward into the grass.

I realized then what Coltman meant when he said that the antelope had
not begun to run. At the first shot every animal in the herd seemed
to flatten itself and settle to its work. They did not run--they
simply _flew_ across the ground, their legs showing only as a blur.
The one I killed was four hundred yards away, and I held four feet
ahead when I pulled the trigger. They could not have been traveling
less than fifty-five or sixty miles an hour, for they were running in
a semicircle about the car while we were moving at forty miles in a
straight line.

Those are the facts in the case. I can see my readers raise their brows
incredulously, for that is exactly what I would have done before this
demonstration. Well, there is one way to prove it and that is to come
and try it for yourselves. Moreover, I can see some sportsmen smile for
another reason. I mentioned that the antelope I killed was four hundred
yards away. I know how far it was, for I paced it off. I may say, in
passing, that I had never before killed a running animal at that range.
Ninety per cent of my shooting had been well within one hundred and
fifty yards, but in Mongolia conditions are most extraordinary.

In the brilliant atmosphere an antelope at four hundred yards appears
as large as it would at one hundred in most other parts of the world;
and on the flat plains, where there is not a bush or a shrub to obscure
the view, a tiny stone stands out like a golf ball on the putting
green. Because of these conditions there is strong temptation to shoot
at impossible ranges and to keep on shooting when the game is beyond
anything except a lucky chance. Therefore, if any of you go to Mongolia
to hunt antelope take plenty of ammunition, and when you return you
will never tell how many cartridges you used. Our antelope were tied
on the running board of the car and we went back to the road where
Lucander was waiting. Half the herd had crossed in front of him, but he
had failed to bring down an animal.

When the excitement was over I began to understand the significance
of what we had seen. It was slowly borne in upon me that our car had
been going, by the speedometer, at forty miles an hour and that the
_antelope were actually beating us_. It was an amazing discovery, for
I had never dreamed that any living animal could run so fast. It was a
discovery, too, which would have important results, for Professor Henry
Fairfield Osborn, president of the American Museum of Natural History,
even then was carrying on investigations as to the relation of speed
to limb structure in various groups of animals. I determined, with Mr.
Coltman's help, to get some real facts in the case--data upon which we
could rely.

There was an opportunity only to begin the study on the first trip,
but we carried it further the following year. Time after time, as we
tore madly after antelope, singly or in herds, I kept my eyes upon the
speedometer, and I feel confident that our observations can be relied
upon. We demonstrated beyond a doubt that the Mongolian antelope can
reach a speed of from fifty-five to sixty miles an hour. This is
probably the maximum _which is attained only in the initial sprint_ and
after a very short distance the animals must slow down to about forty
miles; a short distance more and they drop to twenty-five or thirty
miles, and at this pace they seem able to continue almost indefinitely.
They never ran faster than was necessary to keep well away from us. As
we opened the throttle of the car they, too, increased their speed. It
was only when we began to shoot and they became thoroughly frightened
that they showed what they could do.

I remember especially one fine buck which gave us an exhibition of
really high-class running. He started almost opposite to us when we
were on a stretch of splendid road and jogged comfortably along at
thirty-five miles an hour. Our car was running at the same speed, but
he decided to cross in front and pressed his accelerator a little.
Coltman also touched ours, and the motor jumped to forty miles. The
antelope seemed very much surprised and gave his accelerator another
push. Coltman did likewise, and the speedometer registered forty-five
miles. That was about enough for us, and we held our speed. The animal
drew ahead on a long curve swinging across in front of the car. He had
beaten us by a hundred yards!

But we had a surprise in store for him, for Coltman suddenly shut off
the gas and threw on both brakes. Before the motor had fully stopped we
opened fire. The first two bullets struck just behind the antelope and
a third kicked the dust between his legs. The shock turned him half
over, but he righted himself and ran to his very limit. The bullets
spattering all about kept him at it for six hundred yards. He put up
a desert hare on the way, but that hare didn't have a chance with the
antelope. It reminded me of the story of the negro who had seen a
ghost. He ran until he dropped beside the road, but the ghost was right
beside him. "Well," said the ghost, "that was _some_ race we had."
"Yes," answered the negro, "but it ain't nothin' to what we're goin' to
have soon's ever I git my breath. And then," said the negro, "we ran
agin. And I come to a rabbit leggin' it up the road, and I said, 'Git
out of the way, rabbit, and let some one run what _can_ run!'" The last
we saw of the antelope was a cloud of yellow dust disappearing over a
low rise.

The excitement of the chase had been an excellent preparation for the
hard work which awaited us not far ahead. The going had been getting
heavier with every mile, and at last we reached a long stretch of sandy
road which the motors could not pull through. With every one except the
driver out of the car, and the engine racing, we pushed and lifted,
gaining a few feet each time, until the shifting sand was passed. It
meant two hours of violent strain, and we were well-nigh exhausted;
a few miles farther, however, it had all to be done again. Where the
ground was hard, there was such a chaos of ruts and holes that our arms
were almost wrenched from their sockets by the twisting wheels.

PLATE II

[Illustration: AT THE END OF THE LONG TRAIL FROM OUTER MONGOLIA]

[Illustration: WOMEN OF SOUTHERN MONGOLIA]

This area more nearly approaches a desert than any other part of the
road to Urga. The soil is mainly sandy, but the Gobi sagebrush and
short bunch grass, although sparse and dry, still give a covering of
vegetation, so that in the distance the plain appears like a rolling
meadowland.

When we saw our first northern Mongol I was delighted. Every one is a
study for an artist. He dresses in a long, loose robe of plum color,
one corner of which is usually tucked into a gorgeous sash. On his
head is perched an extraordinary hat which looks like a saucer, with
upturned edges of black velvet and a narrow cone-shaped crown of
brilliant yellow. Two streamers of red ribbon are usually fastened to
the rim at the back, or a plume of peacock feathers if he be of higher
rank.

On his feet he wears a pair of enormous leather boots with pointed
toes. These are always many sizes too large, for as the weather grows
colder he pads them out with heavy socks of wool or fur. It is nearly
impossible for him to walk in this ungainly footgear, and he waddles
along exactly like a duck. He is manifestly uncomfortable and ill at
ease, but put him on a horse and you have a different picture. The
high-peaked saddle and the horse itself become a part of his anatomy
and he will stay there happily fifteen hours of the day.

The Mongols ride with short stirrups and, standing nearly upright,
lean far over the horse's neck like our western cowboys. As they tear
along at full gallop in their brilliant robes they seem to embody the
very spirit of the plains. They are such genial, accommodating fellows,
always ready with a pleasant smile, and willing to take a sporting
chance on anything under the sun, that they won my heart at once.

Above all things they love a race, and often one of them would range
up beside the car and, with a radiant smile, make signs that he wished
to test our speed. Then off he would go like mad, flogging his horse
and yelling with delight. We would let him gain at first, and the
expression of joy and triumph on his face was worth going far to see.
Sometimes, if the road was heavy, it would need every ounce of gas the
car could take to forge ahead, for the ponies are splendid animals. The
Mongols ride only the best and ride them hard, since horses are cheap
in Mongolia, and when one is a little worn another is always ready.

Not only does the Mongol inspire you with admiration for his
full-blooded, virile manhood, but also you like him because he likes
you. He doesn't try to disguise the fact. There is a frank openness
about his attitude which is wonderfully appealing, and I believe that
the average white man can get on terms of easy familiarity, and even
intimacy, with Mongols more rapidly than with any other Orientals.

Ude is the second telegraph station on the road to Urga. It has the
honor of appearing on most maps of Mongolia and yet it is even less
impressive than Panj-kiang. There are only two mud houses and half
a dozen _yurts_ which seem to have been dropped carelessly behind a
ragged hill.

After leaving Ude, we slipped rapidly up and down a succession of low
hills and entered upon a plain so vast and flat that we appeared to
be looking across an ocean. Not the smallest hill or rise of ground
broke the line where earth and sky met in a faint blue haze. Our cars
seemed like tiny boats in a limitless, grassy sea. It was sixty miles
across, and for three hours the steady hum of the motor hardly ceased,
for the road was smooth and hard. Halfway over we saw another great
herd of antelope and several groups of ten or twelve. These were a
different species from those we had killed, and I got a fine young
buck. Twice wolves trotted across the plain, and at one, which was very
inquisitive, I did some shooting which I vainly try to forget.

But most interesting to me among the wild life along our way was the
bustard. It is a huge bird, weighing from fifteen to forty pounds, with
flesh of such delicate flavor that it rivals our best turkey. I had
always wanted to kill a bustard and my first one was neatly eviscerated
at two hundred yards by a Savage bullet. I was more pleased than if I
had shot an antelope, perhaps because it did much to revive my spirits
after the episode of the wolf.

Sand grouse, beautiful little gray birds, with wings like pigeons and
remarkable, padded feet, whistled over us as we rolled along the road,
and my heart was sick with the thought of the excellent shooting we
were missing. But there was no time to stop, except for such game as
actually crossed our path, else we should never have arrived at Urga,
the City of the Living God.

Speaking of gods, I must not forget to mention the great lamasery at
Turin, about one hundred and seventy miles from Urga. For hours before
we reached it we saw the ragged hills standing sharp and clear against
the sky line. The peaks themselves are not more than two hundred feet
in height, but they rise from a rocky plateau some distance above the
level of the plain. It is a wild spot where some mighty internal force
has burst the surface of the earth and pushed up a ragged core of rocks
which have been carved by the knives of weather into weird, fantastic
shapes. This elemental battle ground is a fit setting for the most
remarkable group of human habitations that I have ever seen.

Three temples lie in a bowl-shaped hollow, surrounded by hundreds
upon hundreds of tiny pill-box dwellings painted red and white. There
must be a thousand of them and probably twice as many lamas. On the
outskirts of the "city" to the south enormous piles of _argul_ have
been collected by the priests and bestowed as votive offerings by
devout travelers. Vast as the supply seemed, it would take all this,
and more, to warm the houses of the lamas during the bitter winter
months when the ground is covered with snow. On the north the hills
throw protecting arms about the homes of these half-wild men, who have
chosen to spend their lives in this lonely desert stronghold. The
houses are built of sawn boards, the first indication we had seen that
we were nearing a forest country.

The remaining one hundred and seventy miles to Urga are a delight, even
to the motorist who loves the paved roads of cities. They are like
a boulevard amid glorious, rolling hills luxuriant with long, sweet
grass. In the distance herds of horses and cattle grouped themselves
into moving patches, and fat-tailed sheep dotted the plain like drifts
of snow. I have seldom seen a better grazing country. It needed but
little imagination to picture what it will be a few years hence when
the inevitable railroad claims the desert as its own, for this rich
land cannot long remain untenanted. It was here that we saw the first
marmots, an unfailing indication that we were in a northern country.

The thick blackness of a rainy night had enveloped us long before we
swung into the Urga Valley and groped our way along the Tola River
bank toward the glimmering lights of the sacred city. It seemed that
we would never reach them, for twice we took the wrong turn and found
ourselves in a maze of sandy bottoms and half-grown trees. But at ten
o'clock we plowed through the mud of a narrow street and into the
courtyard of the Mongolian Trading Company's home.

Oscar Mamen, Coltman's former partner, and Mrs. Mamen had spent several
years there, and for six weeks they had had as guests Messrs. A. M.
Guptil and E. B. Price, of Peking. Mr. Guptil was representing the
American Military Attaché, and Mr. Price, Assistant Chinese Secretary
of the American Legation, had come to Urga to establish communication
with our consul at Irkutsk who had not been heard from for more than a
month.

Urga recently had been pregnant with war possibilities. In the Lake
Baikal region of Siberia there were several thousand Magyars and many
Bolsheviki. It was known that Czechs expected to attack them, and
that they would certainly be driven across the borders into Mongolia
if defeated. In that event what would be the attitude of the Mongolian
government? Would it intern the belligerents, or allow them to use the
Urga district as a base of operations?

As a matter of fact, the question had been settled just before my
arrival. The Czechs had made the expected attack with about five
hundred men; all the Magyars, to the number of several thousand, had
surrendered, and the Bolsheviki had disappeared like mists before the
sun. The front of operations had moved in a single night almost two
thousand miles away to the Omsk district, and it was certain that
Mongolia would be left in peace. Mr. Price's work also was done, for
the telegraph from Urga to Irkutsk was again in operation and thus
communication was established with Peking.

The morning after my arrival Mr. Guptil and I rode out to see the town.
Never have I visited such a city of contrasts, or one to which I was
so eager to return. As we did come back, I shall tell, in a future
chapter, of what we found there.



CHAPTER III

A CHAPTER OF ACCIDENTS


This is a "hard luck" chapter. Stories of ill-fortune are not always
interesting, but I am writing this one to show what can happen to an
automobile in the Gobi. We had gone to Urga without even a puncture and
I began to feel that motoring in Mongolia was as simple as riding on
Fifth Avenue--more so, in fact, for we did not have to watch traffic
policemen or worry about "right of way." There is no crowding on the
Gobi Desert. When we passed a camel caravan or a train of ox-carts we
were sure to have plenty of room, for the landscape was usually spotted
in every direction with fleeing animals.

Our motors had "purred" so steadily that accidents and repair shops
seemed very far away and not of much importance. On the return trip,
however, the reverse of the picture was presented and I learned that
to be alone in the desert when something is wrong with the digestion
of your automobile can have its serious aspects. Unless you are an
expert mechanic and have an assortment of "spare parts," you may have
to walk thirty or forty miles to the nearest water and spend many days
of waiting until help arrives. Fortunately for us, there are few things
which either Coltman or Guptil do not know about the "insides" of a
motor and, moreover, after a diagnosis, they both have the ingenuity to
remedy almost any trouble with a hammer and a screw driver.

Four days after our arrival in Urga we left on the return trip. As
occupants of his car Charles Coltman had Mr. Price, Mrs. Coltman, and
Mrs. Mamen. With the spiritual and physical assistance of Mr. Guptil
I drove the second automobile, carrying in the rear seat a wounded
Russian Cossack and a French-Czech, both couriers. The third car was a
Ford _chassis_ to which a wooden body had been affixed. It was designed
to give increased carrying space, but it looked like a half-grown
hayrack and was appropriately called the "agony box." This was driven
by a chauffeur named Wang and carried Mamen's Chinese house boy and an
_amah_ besides a miscellaneous assortment of baggage.

It was a cold, gray morning when we started, with a cutting wind
sweeping down from the north, giving a hint of the bitter winter which
in another month would hold all Mongolia in an icy grasp. We made our
way eastward up the valley to the Russian bridge across the Tola River
and pointed the cars southward on the caravan trail to Kalgan.

Just as we reached the summit of the second long hill, across which
the wind was sweeping in a glacial blast, there came a rasping crash
somewhere in the motor of my car, followed by a steady _knock, knocks
knock_. "That's a connecting rod as sure as fate," said "Gup." "We'll
have to stop." When he had crawled under the car and found that his
diagnosis was correct, he said a few other things which ought to have
relieved his mind considerably.

There was nothing to be done except to replace the broken part with
a spare rod. For three freezing hours Gup and Coltman lay upon their
backs under the car, while the rest of us gave what help we could. To
add to the difficulties a shower of hail swept down upon us with all
the fury of a Mongolian storm. It was three o'clock in the afternoon
before we were ready to go on, and our camp that night was only sixty
miles from Urga.

The next day as we passed Turin the Czech pointed out the spot where
he had lain for three days and nights with a broken collar bone and
a dislocated shoulder. He had come from Irkutsk carrying important
dispatches and had taken passage in an automobile belonging to a
Chinese company which with difficulty was maintaining a passenger
service between Urga and Kalgan. As usual, the native chauffeur was
dashing along at thirty-five miles an hour when he should not have
driven faster than twenty at the most. One of the front wheels slid
into a deep rut, the car turned completely over and the resulting
casualties numbered one man dead and our Czech seriously injured. It
was three days before another car carried him back to Urga, where the
broken bones were badly set by a drunken Russian doctor. The Cossack,
too, had been shot twice in the heavy fighting on the Russian front,
and, although his wounds were barely healed, he had just ridden three
hundred miles on horseback with dispatches for Peking.

Both my passengers were delighted to have escaped the Chinese motors,
for in them accidents had been the rule rather than the exception.
During one year nineteen cars had been smashed and lay in masses of
twisted metal beside the road. The difficulty had been largely due
to the native chauffeurs. Although these men can drive a car, they
have no mechanical training and danger signals from the motor are
entirely disregarded. Moreover, all Chinese dearly love "show" and the
chauffeurs delight in driving at tremendous speed over roads where they
should exercise the greatest care. The deep cart ruts are a continual
menace, for between them the road is often smooth and fine. But a stone
or a tuft of grass may send one of the front wheels into a rut and
capsize the car. Even with the greatest care accidents will happen, and
motoring in Mongolia is by no means devoid of danger and excitement.

About three o'clock in the afternoon of the second day we saw frantic
signals from the agony box which had been lumbering along behind us. It
appeared that the right rear wheel was broken and the car could go no
farther. There was nothing for it but to camp right where we were while
Charles repaired the wheel. Gup and I ran twenty miles down the road to
look for a well, but without success. The remaining water was divided
equally among us but next morning we discovered that the Chinese had
secreted two extra bottles for themselves, while we had been saving
ours to the last drop. It taught me a lesson by which I profited the
following summer.

On the third day the agony box limped along until noon, but when we
reached a well in the midst of the great plain south of Turin it had
to be abandoned, while we went on to Ude, the telegraph station in the
middle of the desert, and wired Mamen to bring a spare wheel from Urga.

The fourth day there was more trouble with the connecting rod on my
car and we sat for two hours at a well while the motor was eviscerated
and reassembled. It had ceased to be a joke, especially to Coltman and
Guptil, for all the work fell upon them. By this time they were almost
unrecognizable because of dirt and grease and their hands were cut and
blistered. But they stood it manfully, and at each new accident Gup
rose to greater and greater heights of oratory.

We were halfway between Ude and Panj-kiang when we saw two automobiles
approaching from the south. Their occupants were foreigners we were
sure, and as they stopped beside us a tall young man came up to my car.
"I am Langdon Warner," he said. We shook hands and looked at each other
curiously. Warner is an archæologist and Director of the Pennsylvania
Museum. For ten years we had played a game of hide and seek through
half the countries of the Orient and it seemed that we were destined
never to meet each other. In 1910 I drifted into the quaint little town
of Naha in the Loo-Choo Islands, that forgotten kingdom of the East. At
that time it was far off the beaten track and very few foreigners had
sought it out since 1854, when Commodore Perry negotiated a treaty with
its king in the picturesque old Shuri Palace. Only a few months before
I arrived, Langdon Warner had visited it on a collecting trip and the
natives had not yet ceased to talk about the strange foreigner who gave
them new baskets for old ones.

A little later Warner preceded me to Japan, and in 1912 I followed
him to Korea. Our paths diverged when I went to Alaska in 1913, but I
crossed his trail again in China, and in 1916, just before my wife and
I left for Yün-nan, I missed him in Boston where I had gone to lecture
at Harvard University. It was strange that after ten years we should
meet for the first time in the middle of the Gobi Desert!

Warner was proceeding to Urga with two Czech officers who were on their
way to Irkutsk. We gave them the latest news of the war situation and
much to their disgust they realized that had they waited only two weeks
longer they could have gone by train, for the attack by the Czechs on
the Magyars and the Bolsheviki, in the trans-Baikal region, had cleared
the Siberian railway westward as far as Omsk. After half an hour's talk
we drove off in opposite directions. Warner eventually reached Irkutsk,
but not without some interesting experiences with Bolsheviki along the
way, and I did not see him again until last March (1920), when he came
to my office in the American Museum just after we had returned to New
York.

When we reached Panj-kiang we felt that our motor troubles were at an
end, but ten miles beyond the station my car refused to pull through a
sand pit and we found that there was trouble with the differential.
It was necessary to dismantle the rear end of the car, and Coltman and
Gup were well-nigh discouraged. The delay was a serious matter for I
had urgent business in Japan, and it was imperative that I reach Peking
as soon as possible. Charles finally decided to send me, together
with Price, the Czech, and the Cossack, in his car, while he and Gup
remained with the two ladies to repair mine.

Price and I drove back to Panj-kiang to obtain extra food and water for
the working party and to telegraph Kalgan for assistance. We took only
a little tea, macaroni, and two tins of sausage, for we expected to
reach the mission station at Hei-ma-hou early the next morning.

We were hardly five miles from the broken car when we discovered that
there was no more oil for our motor. It was impossible to go much
farther and we decided that the only alternative was to wait until the
relief party, for which we had wired, arrived from Kalgan. Just then
the car swung over the summit of a rise, and we saw the white tent and
grazing camels of an enormous caravan. Of course, Mongols would have
mutton fat and why not use that for oil! The caravan leader assured
us that he had fat in plenty and in ten minutes a great pot of it was
warming over the fire.

We poured it into the motor and proceeded merrily on our way. But
there was one serious obstacle to our enjoyment of that ride. Events
had been moving so rapidly that we had eaten nothing since breakfast,
and when a delicious odor of roast lamb began to arise from the motor,
we realized that we were all very hungry. Dry macaroni would hardly
do and the sausage must be saved for dinner. All the afternoon that
tantalizing odor hovered in the air and I began to imagine that I could
even smell mint sauce.

At six o'clock we saw the first _yurt_ and purchased a supply of
_argul_ so that we could save time in making camp. The lamps of the
car were _hors de combat_ and a watery moon did not give us sufficient
light by which to drive in safety, so we stopped on a hilltop shortly
after dark. In the morning when the motor was cold we could save time
and strength in cranking by pushing it down the slope.

Much to our disgust we found that the _argul_ we had purchased from
the Mongol was so mixed with dirt that it would not burn. After half
an hour of fruitless work I gave up, and we divided the tin of cold
sausage. It was a pretty meager dinner for four hungry men and I
retired into my sleeping bag to dream of roast lamb and mint sauce.
When the Cossack officer found that he was not to have his tea he was
like a child with a stick of candy just out of reach. He tried to sleep
but it was no use, and in half an hour I opened my eyes to see him
flat on his face blowing lustily at a piece of _argul_ which he had
persuaded to emit a faint glow. For two mortal hours the Russian nursed
that fire until his pot of water reached the boiling point. Then he
insisted that we all wake up to share his triumph.

PLATE III

[Illustration: THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE TWENTIETH CENTURY]

[Illustration: A MONGOLIAN ANTELOPE KILLED FROM OUR MOTOR CARS]

[Illustration: WATERING CAMELS AT A WELL IN THE GOBI DESERT]

We reached the mission station at noon next day, and Father Weinz,
the Belgian priest in charge, gave us the first meal we had had in
thirty-six hours. The Czech courier decided to remain at Hei-ma-hou and
go in next day by cart, but we started immediately on the forty-mile
horseback ride to Kalgan. A steady rain began about two o'clock in the
afternoon, and in half an hour we were soaked to the skin; then the
ugly, little gray stallion upon which I had been mounted planted both
hind feet squarely on my left leg as we toiled up a long hill-trail to
the pass, and I thought that my walking days had ended for all time.
At the foot of the pass we halted at a dirty inn where they told us it
would be useless to go on to Kalgan, for the gates of the city would
certainly be closed and it would be impossible to enter until morning.
There was no alternative except to spend the night at the inn, but as
they had only a grass fire which burned out as soon as the cooking was
finished, and as all our clothes were soaked, we spent sleepless hours
shivering with cold.

The Cossack spoke only Mongol and Russian, and, as neither of us knew
a single word of either language, it was difficult to communicate our
plans to him. Finally, we found a Chinaman who spoke Mongol and who
consented to act as interpreter. The natives at the inn could not
understand why we were not able to talk to the Cossack. Didn't all
white men speak the same language? Mr. Price endeavored to explain that
Russian and English differ as much as do Chinese and Mongol, but they
only smiled and shook their heads.

In the morning I was so stiff from the kick which the gray stallion
had given me that I could get to his back only with the greatest
difficulty, but we reached Kalgan at eight o'clock. Unfortunately, the
Cossack had left his passport in the cart which was to follow with his
baggage, and the police at the gate would not let us pass. Mr. Price
was well known to them and offered to assume responsibility for the
Cossack in the name of the American Legation, but the policemen, who
were much disgruntled at being roused so early in the morning, refused
to let us enter.

Their attitude was so obviously absurd that we agreed to take matters
into our own hands. We strolled outside the house and suddenly jumped
on our horses. The sentries made a vain attempt to catch our bridle
reins and we rode down the street at a sharp trot. There was another
police station in the center of the city which it was impossible to
avoid and as we approached it we saw a line of soldiers drawn up
across the road. Our friends at the gate had telephoned ahead to have
us stopped. Without hesitating we kept on, riding straight at the
gray-clad policemen. With wildly waving arms they shouted at us to
halt, but we paid not the slightest attention, and they had to jump
aside to avoid being run down. The spectacle which these Chinese
soldiers presented, as they tried to arrest us, was so ridiculous that
we roared with laughter. Imagine what would happen on Fifth Avenue if
you disregarded a traffic policeman's signal to stop!

Although the officials knew that we could be found at Mr. Coltman's
house, we heard nothing further from the incident. It was so obviously
a matter of personal ill nature on the part of the captain in charge
of the gate police that they realized it was not a subject for further
discussion.

After the luxury of a bath and shave we proceeded to Peking. Charles
and Gup had rather a beastly time getting in. The car could not be
repaired sufficiently to carry on under its own power, and, through a
misunderstanding, the relief party only went as far as the pass and
waited there for their arrival. They eventually found it necessary to
hire three horses to tow them to the mission station where the "hard
luck" story ended.



CHAPTER IV

NEW TRAVELS ON AN OLD TRAIL


The winter of 1918-19 we spent in and out of one of the most
interesting cities in the world. Peking, with its background of history
made vividly real by its splendid walls, its age-old temples and its
mysterious Forbidden City, has a personality of its own.

When we had been away for a month or two there was always a delightful
feeling of anticipation in returning to the city itself and to our
friends in its cosmopolitan community.

Moreover, at our house in Wu Liang Tajen Hutung, a baby boy and his
devoted nurse were waiting to receive us. Even at two years the
extraordinary facility with which he discovered frogs and bugs, which,
quite unknown to us, dwelt in the flower-filled courtyard, showed the
hereditary instincts of a born explorer.

That winter gave us an opportunity to see much of ancient China, for we
visited Shantung, traveled straight across the Provinces of Honan and
Hupeh, and wandered about the mountains of Che-kiang on a serow hunt.

In February the equipment for our summer's work in Mongolia was on its
way across the desert by caravan. We had sent flour, bacon, coffee,
tea, sugar, butter and dried fruit, for these could be purchased in
Urga only at prohibitive prices. Even then, with camel charges at
fourteen cents a _cattie_ (1-1/3 lbs.), a fifty-pound sack of flour
cost us more than six dollars by the time it reached Urga.

Charles Coltman at Kalgan very kindly relieved me of all the
transportation details. We had seen him several times in Peking during
the winter, and had planned the trip across the plains to Urga as _une
belle excursion_.

Mrs. Coltman was going, of course, as were Mr. and Mrs. "Ted" MacCallie
of Tientsin. "Mac" was a famous Cornell football star whom I knew by
reputation in my own college days. He was to take a complete Delco
electric lighting plant to Urga, with the hope of installing it in the
palace of the "Living God."

A soldier named Owen from the Legation guard in Peking was to drive the
Delco car, and I had two Chinese taxidermists, Chen and Kang, besides
Lü, our cook and camp boy.

Chen had been loaned to me by Dr. J. G. Andersson, Mining Adviser
to the Chinese Republic, and proved to be one of the best native
collectors whom I have ever employed. The Coltmans and MacCallies were
to stay only a few days in Urga, but they helped to make the trip
across Mongolia one of the most delightful parts of our glorious summer.

We left Kalgan on May 17. Mac, Owen, and I rode the forty miles to
Hei-ma-hou on horseback while Charles drove a motor occupied by the
three women. There is a circuitous route by which cars can cross the
pass under their own power, but Coltman preferred the direct road and
sent four mules to tow the automobile up the mountains to the edge of
the plateau.

It was the same trail I had followed the previous September. Then, as I
stood on the summit of the pass gazing back across the far, dim hills,
my heart was sad for I was about to enter a new land alone. My "best
assistant" was on the ocean coming as fast as steam could carry her
to join me in Peking. I wondered if Fate's decree would bring us here
together that we might both have, as a precious heritage for future
years, the memories of this strange land of romance and of mystery. Now
the dream had been fulfilled and never have I entered a new country
with greater hopes of what it would bring to me. Never, too, have such
hopes been more gloriously realized.

We packed the cars that night and at half past five the next morning
were on the road. The sky was gray and cloud-hung, but by ten o'clock
the sun burned out and we gradually emerged from the fur robes in which
we had been buried.

Instead of the fields of ripening grain which in the previous autumn
had spread the hills with a flowing golden carpet, we saw blue-clad
Chinese farmers turning long brown furrows with homemade plows. The
trees about the mission station had just begun to show a tinge of
green--the first sign of awakening at the touch of spring from the long
winter sleep. Already caravans were astir, and we passed lines of laden
camels now almost at the end of the long journey from Outer Mongolia,
whither we were bound. But, instead of splendid beasts with upstanding
humps and full neck beards, the camels now were pathetic mountains of
almost naked skin on which the winter hair hung in ragged patches.
The humps were loose and flat and flapped disconsolately as the great
bodies lurched along the trail.

When we passed one caravan a _débonnaire_ old Mongol wearing a derby
hat swung out of line and signaled us to stop. After an appraising
glance at the car he smiled broadly and indicated that he would like
to race. In a moment he was off yelling at the top of his lungs and
belaboring the bony sides of his camel with feet and hands. The
animal's ungainly legs swung like a windmill in every direction it
seemed, except forward, and yet the Mongol managed to keep his rolling
old "ship of the desert" abreast of us for several minutes. Finally
we let him win the race, and his look of delight was worth going far
to see as he waved us good-by and with a hearty "_sai-bei-nah_" loped
slowly back to the caravan.

The road was much better than it had been the previous fall. During the
winter the constant tramp of padded feet had worn down and filled the
ruts which had been cut by the summer traffic of spike-wheeled carts.
But the camels had almost finished their winter's work. In a few weeks
they would leave the trail to ox and pony caravans and spend the hot
months in idleness, storing quantities of fat in their great hump
reservoirs.

There was even more bird life than I had seen the previous September.
The geese had all flown northward where we would find them scattered
over their summer breeding grounds, but thousands of demoiselle cranes
(_Anthropoides virgo_) had taken their places in the fields. They were
in the midst of the spring courting and seemed to have lost all fear.
One pair remained beside the road until we were less than twenty feet
away, stepping daintily aside only when we threatened to run them
down. Another splendid male performed a love dance for the benefit of
his prospective bride quite undisturbed by the presence of our cars.
With half-spread wings he whirled and leaped about the lady while
every feather on her slim, blue body expressed infinite boredom and
indifference to his passionate appeal.

Ruddy sheldrakes, mallards, shoveler ducks, and teal were in even the
smallest ponds and avocets with sky-blue legs and slender recurved
bills ran along the shores of a lake at which we stopped for tiffin.
When we had passed the last Chinese village and were well in the
Mongolian grasslands we had great fun shooting gophers (_Citellus
mongolicus umbratus_) from the cars. It was by no means easy to kill
them before they slipped into their dens, and I often had to burrow
like a terrier to pull them out even when they were almost dead.

We got eighteen, and camped at half past four in order that the
taxidermists might have time to prepare the skins. There was a hint
of rain in the air and we pitched the tent for emergencies, although
none of us wished to sleep inside. Mac suggested that we utilize the
electric light plant even if we were on the Mongolian plains. In half
an hour he had installed wires in the tent and placed an arc lamp
on the summit of a pole. It was an extraordinary experience to see
the canvas walls about us, to hear the mournful wail of a lone wolf
outside, and yet be able to turn the switch of an electric light as
though we were in the city. No arc lamp on Fifth Avenue blazed more
brightly than did this one on the edge of the Gobi Desert where none of
its kind had ever shone before. With the motor cars which had stolen
the sanctity of the plains it was only another evidence of the passing
of Mongolian mystery.

Usually when we camped we could see, almost immediately, the
silhouettes of approaching Mongols black against the evening sky. Where
they came from we could never guess. For miles there might not have
been the trace of a human being, but suddenly they would appear as
though from out the earth itself. Perhaps they had been riding along
some distant ridge far beyond the range of white men's eyes, or the
roar of a motor had carried to their ears across the miles of plain; or
perhaps it was that unknown sense, which seems to have been developed
in these children of the desert, which directs them unerringly to
water, to a lost horse, or to others of their kind. Be it what it may,
almost every night the Mongols came loping into camp on their hardy,
little ponies.

But this evening, when we had prepared an especial celebration, the
audience did not arrive. It was a bitter disappointment, for we were
consumed with curiosity to know what effect the blazing arc would
have upon the Mongolian stoics. We could not believe that natives
had not seen the light but probably they thought it was some spirit
manifestation which was to be avoided. An hour after we were snuggled
in our fur sleeping bags, two Mongols rode into camp, but we were too
sleepy to give an exhibition of the fire-works.

We reached Panj-kiang about noon of the second day and found that a
large mud house and a spacious compound had been erected beside the
telegraph station by the Chinese company which was endeavoring to
maintain a passenger service between Kalgan and Urga. The Chinese
government also had invaded the field and was sending automobiles
regularly to the Mongolian capital as a branch service of the
Peking-Suiyuan railroad. In the previous September we had passed
half a dozen of their motors in charge of a foreign representative
of Messrs. Jardine, Matheson and Co. of Shanghai from whom the cars
were purchased. He discovered immediately that the difficulties which
the Chinese had encountered were largely the result of incompetent
chauffeurs.

We had kept a sharp lookout for antelope, but saw nothing except a fox
which looked so huge in the clear air that all of us were certain it
was a wolf. There are always antelope on the Panj-kiang plain, however,
and we loaded the magazines of our rifles as soon as we left the
telegraph station. I was having a bit of sport with an immense flock
of golden plover (_Pluvialis dominicus fulvus_) when the people in the
cars signaled me to return, for a fine antelope buck was standing only
a few hundred yards from the road. The ground was as smooth and hard as
an asphalt pavement and we skimmed along at forty miles an hour. When
the animal had definitely made up its mind to cross in front of us,
Charles gave the accelerator a real push and the car jumped to a speed
of forty-eight miles. The antelope was doing his level best to "cross
our bows" but he was too far away, and for a few moments it seemed that
we would surely crash into him if he held his course. It was a great
race. Yvette had a death grip on my coat, for I was sitting half over
the edge of the car ready to jump when Charles threw on the brakes.
With any one but Coltman at the wheel I would have been too nervous to
enjoy the ride, but we all had confidence in his superb driving.

The buck crossed the road not forty yards in front of us, just at the
summit of a tiny hill. Charles and I both fired once, and the antelope
turned half over in a whirl of dust. It disappeared behind the hill
crest and we expected to find it dead on the other side, but the slope
was empty and even with our glasses we could not discover a sign of
life on the plain, which stretched away to the horizon apparently as
level as a floor. It had been swallowed utterly as though by the magic
pocket of a conjurer.

Mac had not participated in the fun, for it had been a one-man race.
Fifteen minutes later, however, we had a "free for all" which gave him
his initiation.

An extract from Yvette's "Journal" gives her impression of the chase:

"Some one pointed out the distant, moving specks on the horizon and in
a moment our car had left the road and started over the plains. Nearer
and nearer we came, and faster and faster ran the antelope stringing
out in a long, yellow line before us. The speedometer was moving up
and up, thirty miles, thirty-five miles. Roy was sitting on the edge
of the car with his legs hanging out, rifle in hand, ready to swing to
the ground as soon as the car halted. Mr. Coltman, who was driving,
had already thrown on the brakes, but Roy, thinking in his excitement
that he had stopped, jumped--and jumped too soon. The speed at which
we were going threw him violently to the ground. I hardly dared look
to see what had happened but somehow he turned a complete somersault,
landed on his knees, and instantly began shooting. Mr. Coltman, his
hands trembling with the exertion of the drive, opened fire across the
wind shield. As the first reports crashed out, the antelope, which had
seemed to be flying before, flattened out and literally skimmed over
the plain. Half a dozen bullets struck behind the herd, then as Roy's
rifle cracked again, one of those tiny specks dropped to the ground.

PLATE IV

[Illustration: THE WATER CARRIER FOR A CARAVAN]

[Illustration: A THIRTY-FIVE POUND BUZZARD]

[Illustration: YOUNG MONGOLIA]

"If was a wonderful shot--four hundred and twenty yards measured
distance. No, this isn't a woman's inaccuracy of figures, it's a fact.
But then you must remember the extraordinary clearness of the air in
Mongolia, where every object appears to be magnified half a dozen
times. The brilliant atmosphere is one of the most bewildering things
of the desert. Once we thought we saw an antelope grazing on the
hillside and Mr. Coltman remarked disdainfully: 'Pooh, that's a horse.'
But the laugh was on him for as we drew near the 'horse' proved to be
only a bleached bone. At a short distance camels and ponies stood out
as though cut in steel, seeming as high as a village church steeple;
and, most ridiculous of all, my husband mistook me once at a long, long
distance for a telegraph pole! Tartarin de Tarascon would have had some
wonderful stories to tell of Mongolia!"

We had hardly reached the road again before Mrs. Coltman discovered a
great herd of antelope on the slope of a low hill, and when the cars
carried us over the crest we could see animals in every direction,
feeding in pairs or in groups of ten to forty.

We all agreed that no better place could be found at which to obtain
motion pictures and camp was made forthwith. Unfortunately, the
gazelles were shedding their winter coats and the skins were useless
except for study; however, I did need half a dozen skeletons, so the
animals we killed would not be wasted.

It was four o'clock in the afternoon when the tents were up and too
late to take pictures; therefore, the photography was postponed until
the next day, and we ran over toward a herd of antelope which was
just visible on the sky line. When each of us had killed an animal,
the opinion was unanimous that we had enough. I got mine on the first
chase and thenceforth employed my time in making observations on the
antelope's speed.

Time after time the car reached forty miles an hour, but with an even
start the gazelles could swing about in front and "cross our bows."
One of the antelope had a front leg broken just below the knee, and
gave us a hard chase with the car going at thirty-five miles an hour. I
estimated that even in its crippled condition the animal was traveling
at a rate of _not less than twenty-five miles an hour_.

My field notes tell of a similar experience with the last gazelle
which Mac killed late in the afternoon. "... We ran toward another
group of antelope standing on the summit of a long land swell. There
were fourteen in this herd and as the car neared them they trotted
about with heads up, evidently trying to decide what species of plains
animal we represented. The sun had just set, and I shall never forget
the picture which they made, their graceful figures showing in black
silhouettes against the rose glow of the evening sky. There was one
buck among them and they seemed very nervous. When the men leaped out
to shoot we were fully two hundred and fifty yards away, but at his
third shot Mac dropped the buck. It was up again and off before the
motor started in pursuit and, although running apart from the herd,
it was only a short distance behind the others. Evidently the right
foreleg was broken but with the car traveling at twenty-five miles
an hour it was still drawing ahead. The going was not good and we
ran for two miles without gaining an inch; then we came to a bit of
smooth plain and the motor shot ahead at thirty-five miles an hour.
We gained slowly and, when about one hundred yards away, I leaped out
and fired at the animal breaking the other foreleg low down on the
left side. Even with two legs injured it still traveled at a rate of
fifteen miles, and a third shot was required to finish the unfortunate
business. We found that both limbs were broken below the knee, and that
the animal had been running on the stumps."



CHAPTER V

ANTELOPE MOVIE STARS


It was eight o'clock before we finished breakfast in the morning, but
we did not wish to begin the motion picture photography until the sun
was high enough above the horizon to give us a clear field for work.
Charles and I rigged the tripod firmly in the _tonneau_ of one of the
cars. Mrs. Mac and Wang, a Chinese driver, were in the front seat,
while Yvette and I squeezed in beside the camera. The Coltmans, Mac,
and Owen occupied the other motor. We found a herd of antelope within
a mile of camp and they, paraded in beautiful formation as the car
approached. It would have made a splendid picture, but although the
two automobiles were of the same make, there was a vast difference in
their speed and it was soon evident that we could not keep pace with
the other motor. After two or three ineffectual attempts we roped the
camera in the most powerful car, the three men came in with me, and the
women transferred to Wang's machine.

The last herd of antelope had disappeared over a long hill, and when
we reached the summit we saw that they had separated into four groups
and scattered about on the plains below us. We selected the largest,
containing about fifty animals, and ran toward if as fast as the car
could travel. The herd divided when we were still several hundred
yards away, but the larger part gave promise of swinging across our
path. The ground was thinly covered with short bunch grass, and when
we reached a speed of thirty-five miles an hour the car was bounding
and leaping over the tussocks like a ship in a heavy gale. I tried to
stand, but after twice being almost pitched out bodily I gave it up and
operated the camera by kneeling on the rear seat. Mac helped anchor me
by sitting on my left leg, and we got one hundred feet of film from
the first herd. Races with three other groups gave us two hundred feet
more, and as the gasoline in our tank was alarmingly depleted we turned
back toward camp.

Unfortunately I did not reload the camera with a fresh roll of film and
thereby missed one of the most unusual and interesting pictures which
ever could be obtained upon the plains. The tents were already in sight
when a wolf suddenly appeared on the crest of a grassy knoll. He looked
at us for a moment and then set off at an easy lope. The temptation was
too great to be resisted even though there was a strong possibility
that we might be stalled in the desert with no gas.

The ground was smooth and hard, and our speedometer showed forty miles
an hour. We soon began to gain, but for three miles he gave us a
splendid race. Suddenly, as we came over a low hill, we saw an enormous
herd of antelope directly in front of us. They were not more than two
hundred yards away, and the wolf made straight for them. Panic-stricken
at the sight of their hereditary enemy followed by the roaring car,
they scattered wildly and then swung about to cross our path. The wolf
dashed into their midst and the herd divided as though cut by a knife.
Some turned short about, but the others kept on toward us until I
thought we would actually run them down. When not more than fifty yards
from the motor they wheeled sharply and raced along beside the wolf.

To add to the excitement a fat, yellow marmot, which seemed suddenly to
have lost his mind, galloped over the plain as fast as his short legs
could carry him until he remembered that safety lay underground; then
he popped into his burrow like a billiard ball into a pocket. With this
strange assortment fleeing in front of the car we felt as though we had
invaded a zoölogical garden.

The wolf paid not the slightest attention to the antelope for he had
troubles of his own. We were almost on him, and I could see his red
tongue between the foam-flecked jaws. Suddenly he dodged at right
angles, and it was only by a clever bit of driving that Charles avoided
crashing into him with the left front wheel. Before we could swing
about the wolf had gained five hundred yards, but he was almost done.
In another mile we had him right beside the car, and Coltman leaned
far out to kill him with his pistol. The first bullet struck so close
behind the animal that it turned him half over, and he dodged again
just in time to meet a shot from Mac's rifle which broke his back.
With its dripping lips drawn over a set of ugly teeth, the beast glared
at us, as much as to say, "It is your move next, but don't come too
close," Had it been any animal except a wolf I should have felt a
twinge of pity, but I had no sympathy for the skulking brute. There
will be more antelope next year because of its death.

All this had happened with an unloaded camera in the automobile. I had
tried desperately to adjust a new roll of film, but had given up in
despair for it was difficult enough even to sit in the bounding car.
Were I to spend the remainder of my life in Mongolia there might never
be such a chance again.

But we had an opportunity to learn just how fast a wolf can run, for
the one we had killed was undoubtedly putting his best foot forward.
I estimated that even at first he was not doing more than thirty-five
miles an hour, and later we substantiated it on another, which gave
us a race of twelve miles. With antelope which can reach fifty-five
to sixty miles an hour a wolf has little chance, unless he catches
them unawares, or finds the newly born young. To avoid just this the
antelope are careful to stay well out on the plains where there are no
rocks or hills to conceal a skulking wolf.

The wolf we had killed was shedding its hair and presented a most
dilapidated, moth-eaten appearance; moreover, it had just been feeding
on the carcass of a dead camel, which subsequently we discovered a
mile away. When we reached camp I directed the two taxidermists to
prepare the skeleton of the wolf, but to keep well away from the tents.

Charles and I had been talking a good deal about antelope steak, and
for tiffin I had cut the fillets from one of the young gazelle. We were
very anxious to "make good" on all that had been promised, so we cooked
the steak ourselves. Just when the party was assembled in the tent for
luncheon the Chinese began work upon the wolf. They had obediently
gone to a considerable distance to perform the last rites, but had not
chosen wisely in regard to the wind. As the antelope steak was brought
in, a gentle breeze wafted with it a concentrated essence of defunct
camel. Yvette put down her knife and fork and looked up. She caught
my eye and burst out laughing. Mrs. Mac had her hand clasped firmly
over her mouth and on her face was an expression of horror and deathly
nausea.

Although I am a great lover of antelope steak, I will admit that when
accompanied by _parfum de chameau_, especially when it is a very dead
_chameau_, there are other things more attractive. Moreover, the
antelope which we killed on the Panj-kiang plain really were very
strong indeed. I have never been able to discover what was the cause,
for those farther to the north were as delicious as any we have ever
eaten. The introduction was such an unfortunate one that the party
shied badly whenever antelope meat was mentioned during the remainder
of the trip to Urga. Coltman, who had charge of the commissary, quite
naturally expected that we would depend largely on meat and had not
provided a sufficiency of other food. As a result we found that after
the third day rations were becoming very short.

We camped that night at a well in a sandy river bottom about ten miles
beyond Ude, the halfway point on the trip to Urga. It had been a bad
day, with a bitterly cold wind which drove the dust and tiny pebbles
against our faces like a continual storm of hail. As soon as the cars
had stopped every one of us set to work with soap and water before
anything had been done toward making camp. Our one desire was to remove
a part of the dirt which had sifted into our eyes, hair, mouths, and
ears. In half an hour we looked more brightly upon the world and began
to wonder what we would have for dinner. It was a discussion which
could not be carried on for very long since the bread was almost gone
and only macaroni remained. Just then a demoiselle crane alighted
beside the well not forty yards away. "There's our dinner," Charles
shouted, "shoot it."

Two minutes later I was stripping off the feathers, and in less than
five minutes it was sizzling in the pan. That was a bit too much for
Mrs. Mac, hungry as she was. "Just think," she said, "that bird was
walking about here not ten minutes ago and now it's on my plate. It
hasn't stopped wiggling yet. I can't eat it!"

Poor girl, she went to bed hungry, and in the night waked to find her
face terribly swollen from wind and sunburn. She was certain that she
was about to die, but decided, like the "good sport" she is, to die
alone upon the hillside where she wouldn't disturb the camp. After
half an hour of wandering about she felt better, and returned to her
sleeping bag on the sandy river bottom.

Just before dark we heard the _dong, dong, dong_ of a camel's bell
and saw the long line of dusty yellow animals swing around a sharp
earth-corner into the sandy space beside the well. Like the trained
units of an army each camel came into position, kneeled upon the ground
and remained quietly chewing its cud until the driver removed the load.
Long before the last straggler had arrived the tents were up and a fire
blazing, and far into the night the thirsty beasts grunted and roared
as the trough was filled with water.

For thirty-six days they had been on the road, and yet were only
halfway across the desert. Every day had been exactly like the day
before--an endless routine of eating and sleeping, camp-making and
camp-breaking in sun, rain, or wind. The monotony of it all would
be appalling to a westerner, but the Oriental mind seems peculiarly
adapted to accept it with entire contentment. Long before daylight they
were on the road again, and when we awoke only the smoking embers of an
_argul_ fire remained as evidence that they ever had been there.

Mongolia, as we saw it in the spring, was very different from Mongolia
of the early autumn. The hills and plains stretched away in limitless
waves of brown untinged by the slightest trace of green, and in shaded
corners among rocks there were still patches of snow or ice. Instead
of resembling the grassy plains of Kansas or Nebraska, now it was like
a real desert and I had difficulty in justifying to Yvette and Mac my
glowing accounts of its potential resources.

Moreover, the human life was just as disappointing as the lack of
vegetation, for we were "between seasons" on the trail. The winter
traffic was almost ended, and the camels would not be replaced by cart
caravans until the grass was long enough to provide adequate food for
oxen and horses. The _yurts_, which often are erected far out upon the
plains away from water when snow is on the ground, had all been moved
near the wells or to the summer pastures; and sometimes we traveled a
hundred miles without a glimpse of even a solitary Mongol.

Ude had been left far behind, and we were bowling along on a road as
level as a floor, when we saw two wolves quietly watching us half a
mile away. We had agreed not to chase antelope again; but wolves were
fair game at any time. Moreover, we were particularly glad to be able
to check our records as to how fast a wolf can run when conditions are
in its favor. Coltman signaled Mac to await us with the others, and we
swung toward the animals which were trotting slowly westward, now and
then stopping to look back as though reluctant to leave such an unusual
exhibition as the car was giving them. A few moments later, however,
they decided that curiosity might prove dangerous and began to run in
earnest.

They separated almost immediately, and we raced after the larger of
the two, a huge fellow with rangy legs which carried him forward in
a long, swinging lope. The ground was perfect for the car, and the
speedometer registered forty miles an hour. He had a thousand-yard
start, but we gained rapidly, and I estimated that he never reached a
greater speed than thirty miles an hour. Charles was very anxious to
kill the brute from the motor with his .45 caliber automatic pistol,
and I promised not to shoot.

The wolf was running low to the ground, his head a little to one side
watching us with one bloodshot eye. He was giving us a great race, but
the odds were all against him, and finally we had him right beside the
motor. Leaning far out, Coltman fired quickly. The bullet struck just
behind the brute, and he swerved sharply, missing the right front wheel
by a scant six inches. Before Charles could turn the car he had gained
three hundred yards, but we reached him again in little more than a
mile. As Coltman was about to shoot a second time, the wolf suddenly
dropped from sight. Almost on the instant the car plunged over a bank
four feet in height, landed with a tremendous shock--and kept on!
Charles had seen the danger in a flash, and had thrown his body against
the wheel to hold it steady. Had he not been an expert driver we should
inevitably have turned upside down and probably all would have been
killed.

We stopped an instant to inspect the springs, but by a miracle not a
leaf was broken. The wolf halted, too, and we could see him standing on
a gentle rise with drooping head, his gray sides heaving. He seemed to
be "all in," but to our amazement he was off again like the wind even
before the car had started. During the last three miles the ground had
been changing rapidly, and we soon reached a stony plain where there
was imminent danger of smashing a front wheel. The wolf was heading
directly toward a rocky slope which lay against the sky like the spiny
back of some gigantic monster of the past.

His strategy had almost won the race. For a moment the wolf rested on
the ridge, and I leaped out to shoot, but instantly he dropped behind
the bowlders. Leaving me to intercept the animal, Charles swung behind
the ridge only to run at full speed into a sandy pocket. The motor
ceased to throb, and the race was ended.

These wolves are sneaking carrion-feeders and as such I detest them,
but this one had "played the game." _For twelve long miles_ he had kept
doggedly at his work without a whimper or a cry of "kamerad." The brute
had outgeneraled us completely, had won by strategy and magnificent
endurance. Whatever he supposed the roaring car to be, instinct told
him that safety lay among the rocks and he led us there as straight as
an arrow's flight.

The animal seemed to take an almost human enjoyment in the way we had
been tricked, for he stood on a hillside half a mile away watching
our efforts to extricate the car. We were in a bad place, and it was
evident that the only method of escape was to remove all the baggage
which was tied to the running boards. Spreading our fur sleeping bags
upon the sand, we pushed and lifted the automobile to firm ground after
an hour of strenuous work. Hardly had we started back to the road, when
Charles suddenly clapped both hands to his face yelling, "My Lord, I'm
burning up. What is it? I'm all on fire."

Mrs. Coltman pulled his hands away, revealing his face covered with
blotches and rising blisters. At the same moment Yvette and I felt a
shower of liquid fire stinging our hands and necks. We leaped out of
the car just as another blast swept back upon us. Then Charles shouted,
"I know. It's the Delco plant," and dived toward the front mud guard.
Sure enough, the cover had been displaced from one of the batteries,
and little pools of sulphuric acid had formed on the leather casings.
The wind was blowing half a gale, and each gust showered us with drops
of colorless liquid which bit like tiny, living coals.

In less than ten seconds I had slashed the ropes and the batteries
were lying on the ground, but the acid had already done its work most
thoroughly. The duffle sacks containing all our field clothes had
received a liberal dose, and during the summer Yvette was kept busy
patching shirts and trousers. I never would have believed that a little
acid could go so far. Even garments in the very center of the sacks
would suddenly disintegrate when we put them on, and the Hutukhtu and
his electric plant were "blessed" many times before we left Mongolia.

PLATE V

[Illustration: MONGOL HORSEMEN ON THE STREETS OF URGA]

[Illustration: THE PRISON AT URGA]

[Illustration: A CRIMINAL IN A COFFIN WITH HANDS MANACLED]

When we reached the road, Mrs. Mac was sitting disconsolately in a car
beside the servants. We had been gone nearly three hours and the poor
girl was frantic with anxiety. Mac and Owen had followed our tracks in
another motor, and arrived thirty minutes later. Mac's happy face was
drawn and white.

"I wouldn't go through that experience again for all the money in
Mongolia," he said. "We followed your tracks and at every hill expected
to find you dead on the other side and the car upside down. How on
earth did you miss capsizing when you went over that bank?"

At Turin we found Mr. and Mrs. Mamen camped near the telegraph station
awaiting our arrival. The first cry was "Food! Food!" and two loaves of
Russian bread which they had brought from Urga vanished in less than
fifteen minutes. After taking several hundred feet of "movie" film at
the monastery, we ran on northward over a road which was as smooth
and hard as a billiard table. The Turin plain was alive with game;
marmots, antelope, hares, bustards, geese, and cranes seemed to have
concentrated there as though in a vast zoölogical garden, and we had
some splendid shooting. But as Yvette and I spent two glorious months
on this same plain, I will tell in future chapters how, in long morning
horseback rides and during silent starlit nights, we learned to know
and love it.



CHAPTER VI

THE SACRED CITY OF THE LIVING BUDDHA


Far up in northern Mongolia, where the forests stretch in an unbroken
line to the Siberian frontier, lies Urga, the Sacred City of the Living
Buddha. The world has other sacred cities, but none like this. It is
a relic of medieval times overlaid with a veneer of twentieth-century
civilization; a city of violent contrasts and glaring anachronisms.
Motor cars pass camel caravans fresh from the vast, lone spaces of the
Gobi Desert; holy lamas, in robes of flaming red or brilliant yellow,
walk side by side with black-gowned priests; and swarthy Mongol women,
in the fantastic headdress of their race, stare wonderingly at the
latest fashions of their Russian sisters.

We came to Urga from the south. All day we had been riding over
rolling, treeless uplands, and late in the afternoon we had halted on
the summit of a hill overlooking the Tola River valley. Fifteen miles
away lay Urga, asleep in the darkening shadow of the Bogdo-ol (God's
Mountain). An hour later the road led us to our first surprise in
Mai-ma-cheng, the Chinese quarter of the city. Years of wandering in
the strange corners of the world had left us totally unprepared for
what we saw. It seemed that here in Mongolia we had discovered an
American frontier outpost of the Indian fighting days. Every house and
shop was protected by high stockades of unpeeled timbers, and there
was hardly a trace of Oriental architecture save where a temple roof
gleamed above the palisades.

Before we were able to adjust our mental perspective we had passed from
colonial America into a hamlet of modern Russia. Gayly painted cottages
lined the road, and, unconsciously, I looked for a white church with
gilded cupolas. The church was not in sight, but its place was taken by
a huge red building of surpassing ugliness, the Russian Consulate. It
stands alone on the summit of a knoll, the open plains stretching away
behind it to the somber masses of the northern forests. In its imposing
proportions it is tangible evidence of the Russian Colossus which not
many years ago dominated Urga and all that is left of the ancient
empire of the Khans.

For two miles the road is bordered by Russian cottages; then it
debouches into a wide square which loses its distinctive character
and becomes an indescribable mixture of Russia, Mongolia, and China.
Palisaded compounds, gay with fluttering prayer flags, ornate houses,
felt-covered _yurts_, and Chinese shops mingle in a dizzying chaos of
conflicting personalities. Three great races have met in Urga and each
carries on, in this far corner of Mongolia, its own customs and way of
life. The Mongol _yurt_ has remained unchanged; the Chinese shop, with
its wooden counter and blue-gowned inmates, is pure Chinese; and the
ornate cottages proclaim themselves to be only Russian.

But on the street my wife and I could never forget that we were in
Mongolia. We never tired of wandering through the narrow alleys, with
their tiny native shops, or of watching the ever-changing crowds.
Mongols in half a dozen different tribal dresses, Tibetan pilgrims,
Manchu Tartars, or camel drivers from far Turkestan drank and ate and
gambled with Chinese from civilized Peking.

The barbaric splendor of the native dress fairly makes one gasp for
breath. Besides gowns and sashes of dazzling brilliance, the men wear
on their heads all the types of covering one learned to know in the
pictures of ancient Cathay, from the high-peaked hat of yellow and
black--through the whole, strange gamut--to the helmet with streaming
peacock plumes. But were I to tell about them all I would leave none of
my poor descriptive phrases for the women.

It is hopeless to draw a word-picture of a Mongol woman. A photograph
will help, but to be appreciated she must be seen in all her colors.
To begin with the dressing of her hair. If all the women of the Orient
competed to produce a strange and fantastic type, I do not believe that
they could excel what the Mongol matrons have developed by themselves.

Their hair is plaited over a frame into two enormous flat bands, curved
like the horns of a mountain sheep and reënforced with bars of wood or
silver. Each horn ends in a silver plaque, studded with bits of colored
glass or stone, and supports a pendent braid like a riding quirt. On
her head, between the horns, she wears a silver cap elaborately chased
and flashing with "jewels." Surmounting this is a "saucer" hat of black
and yellow. Her skirt is of gorgeous brocade or cloth, and the jacket
is of like material with prominent "puffs" upon the shoulders. She
wears huge leather boots with upturned, pointed toes, similar to those
of the men, and when in full array she has a whole portière of beadwork
suspended from the region of her ears.

She is altogether satisfying to the lover of fantastic Oriental
costumes, except in the matter of footgear, and this slight exception
might be allowed, for she has so amply decorated every other available
part of her anatomy.

Moreover, the boots form a very necessary adjunct to her personal
equipment, besides providing a covering for her feet. They are many
sizes too large, of course, but they furnish ample space during the
bitter cold of winter for the addition of several pairs of socks,
varying in number according to the thermometer. During the summer she
often wears no socks at all, but their place is taken by an assortment
of small articles which cannot be carried conveniently on her person.
Her pipe and tobacco, a package of tea, or a wooden bowl can easily be
stuffed into the wide top boots, for pockets are an unknown luxury even
to the men.

In its kaleidoscopic mass of life and color the city is like a great
pageant on the stage of a theater, with the added fascination of
reality. But, somehow, I could never quite make myself believe that
it was real when a brilliant group of horsemen in pointed, yellow hats
and streaming, peacock feathers dashed down the street. It seemed
too impossible that I, a wandering naturalist of the drab, prosaic
twentieth century, and my American wife were really a living, breathing
part of this strange drama of the Orient.

But there was one point of contact which we had with this dream-life
of the Middle Ages. Yvette and I both love horses, and the way to a
Mongol's heart is through his pony. Once on horseback we began to
identify ourselves with the fascinating life around us. We lost the
uncomfortable sense of being merely spectators in the Urga theatricals,
and forgot that we had come to the holy city by means of a very
unromantic motor car.

We remained at Urga for ten days while preparations were under way
for our first trip to the plains, and returned to it often during the
summer. We came to know it well, and each time we rode down the long
street it seemed more wonderful that, in these days of commerce, Urga,
and in fact all Mongolia, could have existed throughout the centuries
with so little change.

There is, of course, no lack of modern influence in the sacred city,
but as yet it is merely a veneer which has been lightly superimposed
upon its ancient civilization, leaving almost untouched the basic
customs of its people. This has been due to the remoteness of Mongolia.
Until a few years ago, when motor cars first made their way across the
seven hundred miles of plains, the only access from the south was by
camel caravan, and the monotonous trip offered little inducement to
casual travelers. The Russians came to Urga from the north and, until
the recent war, their influence was paramount along the border. They
were by no means anxious to have other foreigners exploit Mongolia, and
they wished especially to keep the country as a buffer-state between
themselves and China.

Not only is Urga the capital of Mongolia and the only city of
considerable size in the entire country but it is also the residence
of the Hutukhtu, or Living Buddha, the head of both the Church and the
State. Across the valley his palaces nestle close against the base of
the Bogdo-ol (God's Mountain), which rises in wooded slopes from the
river to an elevation of eleven thousand feet above sea level.

The Sacred Mountain is a vast game preserve, which is patrolled by two
thousand lamas, and every approach is guarded by a temple or a camp of
priests. Great herds of elk, roebuck, boar, and other animals roam the
forests, but to shoot within the sacred precincts would mean almost
certain death for the transgressor. Some years ago several Russians
from Urga made their way up the mountain during the night and killed
a bear. They were brought back in chains by a mob of frenzied lamas.
Although the hunters had been beaten nearly to death, it required all
the influence of the Russian diplomatic agent to save what remained of
their lives.

The Bogdo-ol extends for twenty-five miles along the Tola Valley,
shutting off Urga from the rolling plains to the south. Like a gigantic
guardian of the holy city at its base, it stands as the only obstacle
to the wireless station which is soon to be erected.

The Hutukhtu has three palaces on the banks of the Tola River. One of
them is a hideous thing, built in Russian style. The other two at least
have the virtue of native architecture. In the main palace the central
structure is white with gilded cupolas, and smaller pavilions at the
side have roofs of green. The whole is surrounded by an eight-foot
stockade of white posts trimmed with red.

The Hutukhtu seldom leaves his palace now, for he is old and sick and
almost blind. Many strange stories are told of the mysterious "Living
God" which tend to show him "as of the earth earthy." It is said that
in former days he sometimes left his "heaven" to revel with convivial
foreigners in Urga; but all this is gossip and we are discussing a very
saintly person. His passion for Occidental trinkets and inventions
is well known, however, and his palace is a veritable storehouse for
gramophones, typewriters, microscopes, sewing machines, and a host of
other things sold to him by Russian traders and illustrated in picture
catalogues sent from the uttermost corners of the world. But like a
child he soon tires of his toys and throws them aside. He has a motor
car, but he never rides in it. It has been reported that his chief use
for the automobile is to attach a wire to its batteries and give his
ministers an electric shock; for all Mongols love a practical joke, and
the Hutukhtu is no exception.

Now his palace is wired for electricity, and a great arc light
illuminates the courtyard. One evening Mr. Lucander and Mr. Mamen, who
sold the electric plant to the Hutukhtu, were summoned to the palace to
receive payment. They witnessed a scene which to-day could be possible
only in Mongolia. Several thousand dollars in silver were brought
outside to their motor car, and the lama, who paid the bills, insisted
that they count it in his presence.

A great crowd of Mongols had gathered near the palace and at last a
long rope was let out from one of the buildings. Kneeling, the Mongols
reverently touched the rope, which was gently waggled from the other
end, supposedly by the Hutukhtu. A barbaric monotone of chanted prayers
arose from the kneeling suppliants, and the rope was waggled again.
Then the Mongols rode away, silent with awe at having been blessed
by the Living God. All this under a blazing electric light beside an
automobile at the foot of the Bogdo-ol!

The Hutukhtu seemed to feel that it became his station as a ruling
monarch to have a foreign house with foreign furniture. Of course he
never intended to live in it, but other kings had useless palaces
and why shouldn't he? Therefore, a Russian atrocity of red brick was
erected a half mile or so from his other dwellings. The furnishing
became a matter of moment, and Mr. Lucander, who was temporarily in
the employ of the Mongolian Government, was intrusted with the task
of attending to the intimate details. The selection of a bed was most
important, for even Living Buddhas have to sleep sometimes--they
cannot always be blessing adoring subjects or playing jokes on their
ministers of state. With considerable difficulty a foreign bed was
purchased and brought across the seven hundred miles of plains and
desert to the red brick palace on the banks of the Tola River.

Mr. Lucander superintended its installation in the Hutukhtu's boudoir
and himself turned chambermaid. As this was the first time he had
ever made a bed for a Living God, he arranged the spotless sheets and
turned down the covers with the greatest care. When all was done to
his satisfaction he reported to one of the Hutukhtu's ministers that
the bed was ready. Two lamas, high dignitaries of the church, were
the inspection committee. They agreed that it _looked_ all right, but
the question was, how did it _feel?_ Mr. Lucander waxed eloquent on
the "springiness" of the springs, and assured them that no bed could
be better; that this was the bed _par excellence_ of all the beds
in China. The lamas held a guttural consultation and then announced
that before the bed could be accepted it must be tested. Therefore,
without more ado, each lama in his dirty boots and gown laid his
unwashed self upon the bed, and bounced up and down. The result was
satisfactory--except to Lucander and the sheets.

Although to foreign eyes and in the cold light of modernity the
Hutukhtu and his government cut a somewhat ridiculous figure, the
reverse of the picture is the pathetic death struggle of a once
glorious race. I have said that unaccustomed luxury was responsible for
the decline of the Mongol Empire, but the ruin of the race was due to
the Lama Church. Lamaism, which was introduced from Tibet, gained its
hold not long after the time of Kublai Khan's death in 1295. Previous
to this the Mongols had been religious liberals, but eventually Lamaism
was made the religion of the state. It is a branch of the Buddhist
cult, and its teachings are against war and violent death.

By custom one or more sons of every family are dedicated to the
priesthood, and as Lamaism requires its priests to be celibate, the
birth rate is low. To-day there are only a few million Mongols in a
country half as large as the United States (exclusive of Alaska), a
great proportion of the male population being lamas. With no education,
except in the books of their sect, they lead a lazy, worthless
existence, supported by the lay population and by the money they
extract by preying upon the superstitions of their childlike brothers.
Were Lamaism abolished there still would be hope for Mongolia under a
proper government, for the Mongols of to-day are probably the equals of
Genghis Khan's warriors in strength, endurance, and virility.

The religion of Mongolia is like that of Tibet and the Dalai Lama of
Lhassa is the head of the entire Church. The Tashi Lama residing at
Tashilumpo, also in Tibet, ranks second. The Hutukhtu of Mongolia is
third in the Lama hierarchy, bearing the title _Cheptsundampa Hutukhtu_
(Venerable Best Saint). According to ancient tradition, the Hutukhtu
never dies; his spirit simply reappears in the person of some newly
born infant and thus comes forth reëmbodied. The names of infants, who
have been selected as possible candidates for the honor, are written
upon slips of paper incased in rolls of paste and deposited in a golden
urn. The one which is drawn is hailed as the new incarnation.

Some years ago the eyesight of the Hutukhtu began to fail, and a great
temple was erected as a sacrifice to appease the gods. It stands on
a hill at the western end of Urga, surrounded by the tiny wooden
dwellings of the priests. "The Lama City" it is called, for only those
in the service of the Church are allowed to live within its sacred
precincts. In the temple itself there is an eighty-foot bronze image of
Buddha standing on a golden lotus flower. The great figure is heavily
gilded, incrusted with precious stones, and draped with silken cloths.

I was fortunate in being present one day when the temple was opened
to women and the faithful in the city. Somewhat doubtful as to my
reception, I followed the crowd as it filed through an outer pavilion
between a double row of kneeling lamas in high-peaked hats and robes
of flaming yellow. I carried my hat in my hand and tried to wear
a becoming expression of humility and reverence. It was evidently
successful, for I passed unhindered into the Presence. At the entrance
stood a priest who gave me, with the others, a few drops of holy water
from a filthy jug. Silent with awe, the people bathed their faces with
the precious fluid and prostrated themselves before the gigantic figure
standing on the golden lotus blossom, its head lost in the shadows of
the temple roof. They kissed its silken draperies, soiled by the lips
of other thousands, and each one gathered a handful of sacred dirt from
the temple floor. From niches in the walls hundreds of tiny Buddhas
gazed impassively on the worshiping Mongols.

PLATE VI

[Illustration: THE GREAT TEMPLE AT URGA]

[Illustration: A PRAYER WHEEL AND A MONGOL LAMA]

[Illustration: LAMAS CALLING THE GODS AT A TEMPLE IN URGA]

[Illustration: MONGOL PRAYING AT A SHRINE IN URGA]

The scene was intoxicating in its barbaric splendor. The women in their
fantastic headdresses and brilliant gowns; the blazing yellow robes
of the kneeling lamas; and the chorus of prayers which rose and fell
in a meaningless half-wild chant broken by the clash of cymbals and
the boom of drums--all this set the blood leaping in my veins. There
was a strange dizziness in my head, and I had an almost overpowering
desire to fall on my knees with the Mongols and join in the chorus of
adoration. The subtle smell of burning incense, the brilliant colors,
and the barbaric music were like an intoxicating drink which inflamed
the senses but dulled the brain. It was then that I came nearest
to understanding the religious fanaticism of the East. Even with a
background of twentieth-century civilization I felt its sensuous power.
What wonder that it has such a hold on a simple, uneducated people, fed
on superstition from earliest childhood and the religious traditions of
seven hundred years!

The service ended abruptly in a roar of sound. Rising to their feet,
the people streamed into the courtyard to whirl the prayer wheels about
the temple's base. Each wheel is a hollow cylinder of varying size,
standing on end, and embellished with Tibetan characters in gold. The
wheels are sometimes filled with thousands of slips of paper upon which
is written a prayer or a sacred thought, and each revolution adds to
the store of merit in the future life.

The Mongol goes farther still in accumulating virtue, and every native
house in Urga is gay with fluttering bits of cloth or paper on which
a prayer is written. Each time the little flag moves in the wind it
sends forth a supplication for the welfare of the Mongol's spirit in
the Buddhistic heaven. Not only are the prayer wheels found about the
temples, but they line the streets, and no visiting Mongol need be
deprived of trying the virtue of a new device without going to a place
of worship. He can give a whirl or two to half a dozen within a hundred
yards of where he buys his tea or sells his sheep.

On every hand there is constant evidence that Urga is a sacred city. It
never can be forgotten even for a moment. The golden roofs of scores of
temples give back the sunlight, and the moaning chant of praying lamas
is always in the air. Even in the main street I have seen the prostrate
forms of ragged pilgrims who have journeyed far to this Mecca of the
lama faith. If they are entering the city for the first time and crave
exceeding virtue, they approach the great temple on the hill by lying
face down at every step and beating their foreheads upon the ground.
Wooden shrines of dazzling whiteness stand in quiet streets or cluster
by themselves behind the temples. In front of each, raised slightly at
one end, is a prayer board worn, black and smooth by the prostrated
bodies of worshiping Mongols.

Although the natives take such care for the repose of the spirit in
after life, they have a strong distaste for the body from which the
spirit has fled and they consider it a most undesirable thing to have
about the house. The stigma is imposed even upon the dying. In Urga a
family of Mongols had erected their _yurt_ in the courtyard of one of
our friends. During the summer the young wife became very ill, and when
her husband was convinced that she was about to die he moved the poor
creature bodily out of the _yurt_. She could die if she wished, but it
must not be inside his house.

The corpse itself is considered unclean and the abode of evil spirits,
and as such must be disposed of as quickly as possible. Sometimes the
whole family will pack up their _yurt_ and decamp at once, leaving the
body where it lies. More usually the corpse is loaded upon a cart which
is driven at high speed over a bit of rough ground. The body drops off
at some time during the journey, but the driver does not dare look
back until he is sure that the unwelcome burden is no longer with him;
otherwise he might anger the spirit following the corpse and thereby
cause himself and his family unending trouble. Unlike the Chinese, who
treat their dead with the greatest respect and go to enormous expense
in the burial, every Mongol knows that his coffin will be the stomachs
of dogs, wolves, or birds. Indeed, the Chinese name for the raven is
the "Mongol's coffin."

The first day we camped in Urga, my wife and Mrs. MacCallie were
walking beside the river. Only a short distance from our tent they
discovered a dead Mongol who had just been dragged out of the city. A
pack of dogs were in the midst of their feast and the sight was most
unpleasant.

The dogs of Mongolia are savage almost beyond belief. They are huge
black fellows like the Tibetan mastiff, and their diet of dead human
flesh seems to have given them a contempt for living men. Every Mongol
family has one or more, and it is exceedingly dangerous for a man to
approach a _yurt_ or caravan unless he is on horseback or has a pistol
ready. In Urga itself you will probably be attacked if you walk unarmed
through the meat market at night. I have never visited Constantinople,
but if the Turkish city can boast of more dogs than Urga, it must be
an exceedingly disagreeable place in which to dwell. Although the dogs
live to a large extent upon human remains, they are also fed by the
lamas. Every day about four o'clock in the afternoon you can see a cart
being driven through the main street, followed by scores of yelping
dogs. On it are two or more dirty lamas with a great barrel from which
they ladle out refuse for the dogs, for according to their religious
beliefs they accumulate great merit for themselves if they prolong the
life of anything, be it bird, beast, or insect.

In the river valley, just below the Lama City, numbers of dogs can
always be found, for the dead priests usually are thrown there to be
devoured. Dozens of white skulls lie about in the grass, but it is a
serious matter even to touch one. I very nearly got into trouble one
day by targeting my rifle upon a skull which lay two or three hundred
yards away from our tent.

The customs of the Mongols are not all as gruesome as those I have
described, yet Urga is essentially a frontier city where life is seen
in the raw. Its natives are a hard-living race, virile beyond compare.
Children of the plains, they are accustomed to privation and fatigue.
Their law is the law of the northland:

    ".... That only the Strong shall thrive,
    That surely the Weak shall perish and only the Fit survive."

In the careless freedom of his magnificent horsemanship a Mongol seems
as much an untamed creature of the plains as does the eagle itself
which soars above his _yurt_. Independence breathes in every movement;
even in his rough good humor and in the barbaric splendor of the native
dress.

But the little matter of cleanliness is of no importance in his
scheme of life. When a meal has been eaten, the wooden bowl is licked
clean with the tongue; it is seldom washed. Every man and woman
usually carries through life the bodily dirt which has accumulated in
childhood, unless it is removed by some accident or by the wear of
years. One can be morally certain that it will never be washed off by
design or water. Perhaps the native is not altogether to blame, for,
except in the north, water is not abundant. It can be found on the
plains and in the Gobi Desert only at wells and an occasional pond, and
on the march it is too precious to be wasted in the useless process
of bathing. Moreover, from September until May the bitter winds which
sweep down from the Siberian steppes furnish an unpleasant temperature
in which to take a bath.

The Mongol's food consists almost entirely of mutton, cheese, and tea.
Like all northern people, he needs an abundance of fat, and sheep
supply his wants. There is always more or less grease distributed about
his clothes and person, and when Mongols are _en masse_ the odor of
mutton and unwashed humanity is well-nigh overpowering.


I must admit that in morality the Mongol is but little better off than
in personal cleanliness. A man may have only one lawful wife, but may
keep as many concubines as his means allow, all of whom live with the
members of the family in the single room of the _yurt_. Adultery is
openly practiced, apparently without prejudice to either party, and
polyandry is not unusual in the more remote parts of the country.

The Mongol is _unmoral_ rather than immoral. He lives like an untaught
child of nature and the sense of modesty or decency, as we conceive it,
does not enter into his scheme of life. But the operation of natural
laws, which in the lower animals are successful in maintaining the
species, is fatally impaired by the loose family relations which tend
to spread disease. Unless Lamaism is abolished I can see little hope
for the rejuvenation of the race.

In writing of Urga's inhabitants and their way of life I am neglecting
the city itself. I have already told of the great temple on the hill
and its clustering lama houses which overlook and dominate the river
valley. Its ornate roof, flashing in the sun, can be seen for many
miles, like a religious beacon guiding the steps of wandering pilgrims
to the Mecca of their faith.

At the near end of the broad street below the Lama City is the tent
market, and just beyond it are the black-smith shops where bridles,
cooking pots, tent pegs, and all the equipment essential to a wandering
life on the desert can be purchased in an hour--if you have the price!
Nothing is cheap in Urga, with the exception of horses, and when we
began to outfit for our trip on the plains we received a shock similar
to that which I had a month ago in New York, when I paid twenty dollars
for a pair of shoes. We ought to be hardened to it now, but when we
were being robbed in Urga by profiteering Chinese, who sell flour at
ten and twelve dollars a sack and condensed milk at seventy-five cents
a tin, we roared and grumbled--and paid the price! I vowed I would
never pay twenty dollars for a pair of shoes at home, but roaring and
grumbling is no more effective in procuring shoes in New York than it
was in obtaining flour and milk in Urga.

We paid in Russian rubles, then worth three cents each. (In former
years a ruble equaled more than half a dollar.) Eggs were well-nigh
nonexistent, except those which had made their way up from China over
the long caravan trail and were guaranteed to be "addled"--or whatever
it is that sometimes makes an egg an unpleasant companion at the
breakfast table. Even those cost three rubles each! Only a few Russians
own chickens in Urga and their productions are well-nigh "golden
eggs," for grain is very scarce and it takes an astounding number of
rubles to buy a bushel.

Fortunately we had sent most of our supplies and equipment to Urga by
caravan during the winter, but there were a good many odds and ends
needed to fill our last requirements, and we came to know the ins and
outs of the sacred city intimately before we were ready to leave for
the plains. The Chinese shops were our real help, for in Urga, as
everywhere else in the Orient, the Chinese are the most successful
merchants. Some firms have accumulated considerable wealth and the
Chinaman does not hesitate to exact the last cent of profit when
trading with the Mongols.

At the eastern end of Urga's central street, which is made picturesque
by gayly painted prayer wheels and alive with a moving throng of
brilliant horsemen, are the Custom House and the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. The former is at the far end of an enormous compound filled
with camel caravans or loaded carts. There is a more or less useless
wooden building, but the business is conducted in a large _yurt_,
hard against the compound wall. It was an extraordinary contrast to
see a modern filing-cabinet at one end and a telephone box on the
felt-covered framework of the _yurt_.

Not far beyond the Custom House is what I believe to be one of the most
horrible prisons in the world. Inside a double palisade of unpeeled
timbers is a space about ten feet square upon which open the doors of
small rooms, almost dark. In these dungeons are piled wooden boxes,
four feet long by two and one-half feet high. These coffins are the
prisoners' cells.

Some of the poor wretches have heavy chains about their necks and
both hands manacled together. They can neither sit erect nor lie at
full length. Their food, when the jailer remembers to give them any,
is pushed through a six-inch hole in the coffin's side. Some are
imprisoned here for only a few days or weeks; others for life, or for
many years. Sometimes they lose the use of their limbs, which shrink
and shrivel away. The agony of their cramped position is beyond the
power of words to describe. Even in winter, when the temperature
drops, as it sometimes does, to sixty degrees below zero, they are
given only a single sheepskin for covering. How it is possible to live
in indescribable filth, half-fed, well-nigh frozen in winter, and
suffering the tortures of the damned, is beyond my ken--only a Mongol
could live at all.

The prison is not a Mongol invention. It was built by the Manchus and
is an eloquent tribute to a knowledge of the fine arts of cruelty that
has never been surpassed.

I have given this description of the prison not to feed morbid
curiosity, but to show that Urga, even if it has a Custom House, a
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, motor cars, and telephones, is still at
heart a city of the Middle Ages.

In Urga we made a delightful and most valuable friend in the person of
Mr. F. A. Larsen. Most foreigners speak of him as "Larsen of Mongolia"
and indeed it is difficult for us to think of the country without
thinking of the man. Some thirty years ago he rode into Mongolia and
liked it. He liked it so much, in fact, that he dug a well and built a
house among the Tabool hills a hundred miles north of Kalgan. At first
he labored with his wife as a missionary, but later he left that field
to her and took up the work which he loved best in all the world--the
buying and selling of horses.

During his years of residence in Mongolia hundreds of thousands of
horses have passed under his appraising eyes and the Mongols respect
his judgment as they respect the man. I wish that I might write the
story of his life, for it is more interesting than any novel of romance
or adventure. In almost every recent event of importance to the Mongols
Mr. Larsen's name has figured. Time after time he has been sent as
an emissary of the Living Buddha to Peking when misunderstandings or
disturbances threatened the political peace of Mongolia. Not only does
he understand the psychology of the natives, but he knows every hill
and plain of their vast plateau as well as do the desert nomads.

For some time he had been in charge of Andersen, Meyer's branch at
Urga with Mr. E. W. Olufsen and we made their house our headquarters.
Mr. Larsen immediately undertook to obtain an outfit for our work upon
the plains. He purchased two riding ponies for us from Prince Tze Tze;
he borrowed two carts with harness from a Russian friend, and bought
another; he loaned us a riding pony for our Mongol, a cart horse of
his own, and Mr. Olufsen contributed another. He made our equipment a
personal matter and he was never too busy to assist us in the smallest
details. Moreover, we could spend hours listening to the tales of
his early life, for his keen sense of humor made him a delightful
story-teller. One of the most charming aspects of our wandering life is
the friends we have made in far corners of the world, and for none have
we a more affectionate regard than for "Larsen of Mongolia."

PLATE VII

[Illustration: MONGOL WOMEN BESIDE A "YURT"]

[Illustration: THE HEADDRESS OF A MONGOL MARRIED WOMAN]

[Illustration: THE FRAMEWORK OF A YURT]

[Illustration: MONGOL WOMEN AND A LAMA]



CHAPTER VII

THE LONG TRAIL TO SAIN NOIN KHAN


Our arrival in Urga was in the most approved manner of the twentieth
century. We came in motor cars with much odor of gasoline and noise of
horns. When we left the sacred city we dropped back seven hundred years
and went as the Mongols traveled. Perhaps it was not quite as in the
days of Genghis Khan, for we had three high-wheeled carts of a Russian
model, but they were every bit as springless and uncomfortable as the
palanquins of the ancient emperors.

Of course, we ourselves did not ride in carts. They were driven by our
cook and the two Chinese taxidermists, each of whom sat on his own
particular mound of baggage with an air of resignation and despondency.
Their faces were very long indeed, for the sudden transition from the
back seat of a motor car to a jolting cart did not harmonize with their
preconceived scheme of Mongolian life. But they endured it manfully,
and doubtless it added much to the store of harrowing experience with
which they could regale future audiences in civilized Peking.

My wife and I were each mounted on a Mongol pony. Mine was called
"Kublai Khan" and he deserved the name. Later I shall have much to
tell of this wonderful horse, for I learned to love him as one loves
a friend who has endured the "ordeal by fire" and has not been found
wanting. My wife's chestnut stallion was a trifle smaller than Kublai
Khan and proved to be a tricky beast whom I could have shot with
pleasure. To this day she carries the marks of both his teeth and
hoofs, and we have no interest in his future life. Kublai Khan has
received the reward of a sunlit stable in Peking where carrots are in
abundance and sugar is not unknown.

Besides the three Chinese we had a little Mongol priest, a yellow lama
only eighteen years of age. We did not hire him for spiritual reasons,
but to be our guide and social mentor upon the plains. Of course, we
could not speak Mongol, but both my wife and I know some Chinese and
our cook-boy Lü was possessed of a species of "pidgin English" which,
by using a good deal of imagination, we could understand at times.
Since our lama spoke fluent Chinese, he acted as interpreter with the
Mongols, and we had no difficulty. It is wonderful how much you can do
with sign language when you really have to, especially if the other
fellow tries to understand. You always can be sure that the Mongols
will match your efforts in this respect.

An interesting part of our equipment was a Mongol tent which Charles
Coltman had had made for us in Kalgan. This is an ingenious adaptation
of the ordinary wall tent, and is especially fitted for work on the
plains. No one should attempt to use any other kind. From the ridgepole
the sides curve down and out to the ground, presenting a sloping
surface to the wind at every angle. One corner can be lifted to cause
a draft through the door and an open fire can be built in the tent
without danger of suffocation from the smoke; moreover, it can be
erected by a single person in ten minutes. We had an American wall tent
also, but found it such a nuisance that we used it only during bad
weather. In the wind which always blows upon the plains it flapped and
fluttered to such a degree that we could hardly sleep.

As every traveler knows, the natives of a country usually have
developed the best possible clothes and dwellings for the peculiar
conditions under which they live. Just as the Mongol felt-covered
_yurt_ and tent are all that can be desired, so do they know that fur
and leather are the only clothing to keep them warm during the bitter
winter months.

In the carts we had an ample supply of flour, bacon, coffee, tea,
sugar, and dried fruit. For meat, we depended upon our guns, of course,
and always had as much as could be used. Although we did not travel _de
luxe_, nevertheless we were entirely comfortable. When a man boasts of
the way in which he discards even necessaries in the field, you can be
morally certain that he has not done much real traveling. "Roughing
it" does not harmonize well with hard work. One must accept enough
discomforts under the best conditions without the addition of any
which can be avoided. Good health is the prime requisite in the field.
Without it you are lost. The only way in which to keep fit and ready
to give every ounce of physical and mental energy to the problems of
the day is to sleep comfortably, eat wholesome food, and be properly
clothed. It is not often, then, that you will need a doctor. We have
not as yet had a physician on any of our expeditions, even though we
have often been very many miles from the nearest white men.

It never ceases to amuse me that the insurance companies always cancel
my accident policies as soon as I leave for the field. The excuse is
that I am not a "good risk," although they are ready enough to renew
them when I return to New York. And yet the average person has a
hundred times more chance of being killed or injured right on Fifth
Avenue than do we who live in the open, breathing God's fresh air and
sleeping under the stars. My friend Stefansson, the Arctic explorer,
often says that "adventures are a mark of incompetence," and he is
doubtless right. If a man goes into the field with a knowledge of the
country he is to visit and with a proper equipment, he probably will
have very few "adventures." If he has not the knowledge and equipment
he had much better remain at home, for he will inevitably come to grief.

We learned from the Mongols that there was a wonderful shooting ground
three hundred miles southwest of Urga in the country belonging to Sain
Noin Khan. It was a region backed by mountains fifteen thousand feet
in height, inhabited by bighorn sheep and ibex; and antelope were
reported to be numerous upon the plains which merged gradually into the
sandy wastes of the western Gobi where herds of wild horses (_Equus
prjevalski_) and wild asses (_Equus hemionus_) could be found.

Sain Noin, one of the four Mongolian kings, had died only a short time
earlier under suspicious circumstances, and his widow had just visited
the capital. Monsieur Orlow, the Russian Diplomatic Agent, had written
her regarding our prospective visit, and through him she had extended
to us a cordial invitation.

Our start from Urga was on a particularly beautiful day, even for
Mongolia. The golden roof of the great white temple on the hill blazed
with light, and the undulating crest of the Sacred Mountain seemed so
near that we imagined we could see the deer and boar in its parklike
openings. Our way led across the valley and over the Tola River just
below the palace of the Living God. We climbed a long hill and emerged
on a sloping plain where marmots were bobbing in and out of their
burrows like toy animals manipulated by a string. Two great flocks of
demoiselle cranes were daintily catching grasshoppers not a hundred
yards away. We wanted both the cranes for dinner and the marmots for
specimens, but we dared not shoot. Although not actually upon sacred
soil we were in close proximity to the Bogdo-ol and a rifle shot might
have brought a horde of fanatical priests upon our heads. It is best to
take no chances with religious superstitions, for the lamas do not wait
to argue when they are once aroused.

The first day began most beautifully, but it ended badly as all first
days are apt to do. We met our "Waterloo" on a steep hill shortly
after tiffin, for two of the horses absolutely refused to pull. The
loads were evidently too heavy, and the outlook for the future was not
encouraging. An extract from my wife's journal tells what we did that
afternoon.

       *       *       *       *       *

"It took two hours to negotiate the hill, and the men were almost
exhausted when the last load reached the summit. Ever since tiffin
the sky had been growing darker and darker, and great masses of black
clouds gathered about the crest of the Bogdo-ol. Suddenly a vivid
flash of lightning cut the sky as though with a flaming knife, and the
rain came down in a furious beat of icy water. In five minutes we were
soaked and shivering with cold, so when at last we reached the plain we
turned off the road toward two Mongol _yurts_, which rested beside the
river a mile away like a pair of great white birds.

"Roy and I galloped ahead over the soft, slushy grass, nearly blinded
by the rain, and hobbling our horses outside the nearest _yurt_, went
inside with only the formality of a shout. The room was so dark that
I could hardly see, and the heavy smoke from the open fire burned and
stung our eyes. On the floor sat a frowzy-looking woman, blowing at the
fire, and a yellow lama, his saucer hat hidden under its waterproof
covering--apparently he was a traveler like ourselves.

"The frowzy lady smiled and motioned us to sit down on a low couch
beside the door. As we did so, I saw a small face peering out of a big
sheepskin coat and two black eyes staring at us unblinkingly. It was a
little Mongol girl whose nap had been disturbed by so many visitors.
She was rather a pretty little thing and so small--just a little older
than my own baby in Peking--that I wanted to play with her. She was shy
at first, but when I held out a picture advertisement from a package of
cigarettes she gradually edged nearer, encouraged by her mother. Soon
she was leaning on my knee. Then without taking her black eyes from my
face, she solemnly put one finger in her mouth and jerked it out with
a loud 'pop,' much to her mother's gratification. But when she decided
to crawl up into my lap, my interest began to wane, for she exuded such
a concentrated 'essence of Mongol' and rancid mutton fat that I was
almost suffocated.

"Our hostess was busy stirring a thick, white soup in a huge cauldron,
and by the time the carts arrived every one was dipping in with their
wooden bowls. We begged to be excused, since we had already had some
experience with Mongol soup.

"The _yurt_ really was not a bad place when we became accustomed to
the bitter smoke and the combination of native odors. There were two
couches, about six inches from the ground, covered with sheepskins and
furs. Opposite the door stood a chest--rather a nice one--on top of
which was a tiny god with a candle burning before it, and a photograph
of the Hutukhtu."

We had dinner in the _yurt_, and the boys slept there while we used our
Mongol tent. There was no difficulty in erecting it even in the wind
and rain, but it would have been impossible to have put up the American
wall tent. Even though it was the fifth of June, there was a sharp
frost during the night, and we were thankful for our fur sleeping bags.

Always in Mongolia after a heavy rain the air is crystal-clear, and
we had a delightful morning beside the river. Hundreds of demoiselle
cranes were feeding in the meadowlike valley bottom where the grass
was as green as emeralds. We saw two of the graceful birds standing on
a sand bar and, as we rode toward them, they showed not the slightest
sign of fear. When we were not more than twenty feet away they walked
slowly about in a circle, and the lama discovered two spotted brown
eggs almost under his pony's feet. There was no sign of a nest, but the
eggs were perfectly protected by their resemblance to the stones.

Our way led close along the Tola River, and just before tiffin we saw a
line of camels coming diagonally toward us from behind a distant hill.
I wish you could have seen that caravan in all its barbaric splendor
as it wound across the vivid green plains. Three lamas, dressed in
gorgeous yellow robes, and two, in flaming red, rode ahead on ponies.
Then neck and neck, mounted on enormous camels, came four men in gowns
of rich maroon and a woman flashing with jewels and silver. Behind
them, nose to tail, was the long, brown line of laden beasts. It was
like a painting of the Middle Ages--like a picture of the days of
Kublai Khan, when the Mongol court was the most splendid the world has
ever seen. My wife and I were fascinated, for this was the Mongolia of
our dreams.

But our second day was not destined to be one of unalloyed happiness,
for just after luncheon we reached a bad stretch of road alternating
between jagged rocks and deep mud holes. The white 'horse, which was
so quickly exhausted the day before, gave up absolutely when its cart
became badly mired. Just then a red lama appeared with four led ponies
and said that one of his horses could extricate the cart. He hitched a
tiny brown animal between the shafts, we all put our shoulders to the
wheels, and in ten minutes the load was on solid ground. We at once
offered to trade horses, and by giving a bonus of five dollars I became
the possessor of the brown pony.

But the story does not end there. Two months later when we had returned
to Urga a Mongol came to our camp in great excitement and announced
that we had one of his horses. He said that five animals had been
stolen from him and that the little brown pony for which I had traded
with the lama was one of them. His proof was incontrovertible and
according to the law of the country I was bound to give back the animal
and accept the loss. However, a half dozen hard-riding Mongol soldiers
at once took up the trail of the lama, and the chances are that there
will be one less thieving priest before the incident is closed.

It is interesting to note how a similarity of conditions in western
America and in Mongolia has developed exactly the same attitude of
mutual protection in regard to horses. In both countries horse-stealing
is considered to be one of the worst crimes. It is punishable by death
in Mongolia or, what is infinitely worse, by a life in one of the
prison coffins. Moreover, the spirit of mutual assistance is carried
further, and several times during the summer when our ponies had
strayed miles from the tents they were brought in by passing Mongols,
or we were told where they could be found.

Our camp the second night was on a beautiful, grassy plateau beside
a tiny stream, a tributary of the river. We put out a line of traps
for small mammals, but in the morning were disappointed to find only
three meadow mice (_Microtus_). There were no fresh signs of marmots,
hares, or other animals along the river, and I began to suspect what
eventually proved to be true, viz., that the valley was a favorite
winter camping ground for Mongols, and that all the game had been
killed or driven far away. Indeed, we had hardly been beyond sight of a
_yurt_ during the entire two days, and great flocks of sheep and goats
were feeding on every grassy meadow.

But the Mongols considered cartridges too precious to waste on
birds and we saw many different species. The demoiselle cranes were
performing their mating dances all about us, and while one was chasing
a magpie it made the most amusing spectacle, as it hopped and flapped
after the little black and white bird which kept just out of reach.

Mongolian skylarks were continually jumping out of the grass from
almost under our horses' feet to soar about our heads, flooding the
air with song. Along the sand banks of the river we saw many flocks of
swan geese (_Cygnopsis cygnoides_). They are splendid fellows with
a broad, brown band down the back of the neck, and are especially
interesting as being the ancestors of the Chinese domestic geese.
They were not afraid of horses, but left immediately if a man on foot
approached. I killed half a dozen by slipping off my pony, when about
two hundred yards away, and walking behind the horses while Yvette rode
boldly toward the flock, leading Kublai Khan. Twice the birds fell
across the river, and we had to swim for them. My pony took to the
water like a duck and when we had reached the other bank would arch
his neck as proudly as though he had killed the bird himself. His keen
interest in sport, his gentleness, and his intelligence won my heart at
once. He would let me shoot from his back without the slightest fear,
even though he had never been used as a hunting pony by Prince Tze Tze
from whom he had been purchased.

In the ponds and among the long marsh grass we found the ruddy
sheldrake (_Casarca casarca_), and the crested lapwing (_Vanellus
vanellus_). They were like old friends, for we had met them first in
far Yün-nan and on the Burma frontier during the winter of 1916-17
whence they had gone to escape the northern cold; now they were on
their summer breeding grounds. The sheldrakes glowed like molten gold
when the sun found them in the grass, and we could not have killed the
beautiful birds even had we needed them for food. Moreover, like the
lapwings, they had a trusting simplicity, a way of throwing themselves
on one's mercy, which was infinitely appealing. We often hunted for
the eggs of both the sheldrakes and lapwings. They must have been near
by, we knew, for the old birds would fly about our heads uttering
agonizing calls, but we never found the nests.

I killed four light-gray geese with yellow bills and legs and narrow
brown bars across the head, and a broad brown stripe down the back of
the neck. I could only identify the species as the bar-headed goose of
India (_Eulabeia indica_), which I was not aware ever traveled so far
north to breed. Later I found my identification to be correct, and that
the bird is an occasional visitor to Mongolia. We saw only one specimen
of the bean goose (_Anser fabalis_), the common bird of China, which I
had expected would be there in thousands. There were a few mallards,
redheads, and shoveler ducks, and several bustards, besides half a
dozen species of plover and shore birds.

Except for these the trip would have been infinitely monotonous, for we
were bitterly disappointed in the lack of animal life. Moreover, there
was continual trouble with the carts, and on the third day I had to buy
an extra horse. Although one can purchase a riding pony at any _yurt_,
cart animals are not easy to find, for the Mongols use oxen or camels
to draw most loads. The one we obtained had not been in the shafts for
more than two years and was badly frightened when we brought him near
the cart. It was a liberal education to see our Mongol handle that
horse! He first put a hobble on all four legs, then he swung a rope
about the hind quarters, trussed him tightly, and swung him into the
shafts. When the pony was properly harnessed, he fastened the bridle to
the rear of the other cart and drove slowly ahead. At first the horse
tried to kick and plunge, but the hobbles held him fast and in fifteen
minutes he settled to the work. Then the Mongol removed the hobbles
from the hind legs, and later left the pony entirely free. He walked
beside the animal for a long time, and did not attempt to drive him
from the cart for at least an hour.

Although Mongols seem unnecessarily rough and almost brutal, I do not
believe that any people in the world can handle horses more expertly.
From earliest childhood their real home is the back of a pony. Every
year, in the spring, a children's race is held at Urga. Boys and girls
from four to six years old are tied on horses and ride at full speed
over a mile-long course. If a child falls off it receives but scant
sympathy and is strapped on again more tightly than before. A Mongol
has no respect whatever for a man or woman who cannot ride, and nothing
will win his regard as rapidly as expert horsemanship. Strangely
enough the Mongols seldom show affection for their ponies, nor do they
caress them in any way; consequently, the animals do not enjoy being
petted and are prone to kick and bite. My pony, Kublai Khan, was an
extraordinary exception to this rule and was as affectionate and gentle
as a kitten--but there are few animals like Kublai Khan in Mongolia!

The ponies are small, of course, but they are strong almost beyond
belief, and can stand punishment that would kill an ordinary horse. The
Mongols seldom ride except at a trot or a full gallop, and forty to
fifty miles a day is not an unusual journey. Moreover, the animals are
not fed grain; they must forage on the plains the year round. During
the winter, when the grass is dry and sparse, they have poor feeding,
but nevertheless are able to withstand the extreme cold. They grow a
coat of hair five or six inches in length, and when Kublai Khan arrived
in Peking after his long journey across the plains he looked more
like a grizzly bear than a horse. He had changed so completely from
the sleek, fine-limbed animal we had known in Mongolia that my wife
was almost certain he could not be the same pony. He had to be taught
to eat carrots, apples, and other vegetables and would only sniff
suspiciously at sugar. But in a very short time he learned all the
tastes of his city-bred companions.

Horses are cheap in Mongolia, but not extraordinarily so. In the
spring a fair pony can be purchased for from thirty to sixty dollars
(silver), and especially good ones bring as much as one hundred and
fifty dollars. In the fall when the Mongols are confronted with a hard
winter, which naturally exacts a certain toll from any herd, ponies
sell for about two-thirds of their spring price.

In Urga we had been led to believe that the entire trip to Sain Noin
Khan's village could be done in eight days and that game was plentiful
along the trail. We had already been on the road five days, making an
average of twenty-five miles at each stage, and the natives assured us
that it would require at least ten more days of steady travel before
we could possibly arrive at our destination; if difficulties arose it
might take even longer. Moreover, we had seen only one hare and one
marmot, and our traps had yielded virtually nothing. It was perfectly
evident that the entire valley had been denuded of animal life by the
Mongols, and there was little prospect that conditions would change as
long as we remained on such rich grazing grounds.

It was hard to turn back and count the time lost, but it was certainly
the wisest course for we knew that there was good collecting on the
plains south of Urga, although the fauna would not be as varied as at
the place we had hoped to reach. The summer in Mongolia is so short
that every day must be made to count if results which are worth the
money invested are to be obtained.

Yvette and I were both very despondent that evening when we decided it
was necessary to turn back. It was one of those nights when I wished
with all my heart that we could sit in front of our own camp fire
without the thought of having to "make good" to any one but ourselves.
However, once the decision was made, we tried to forget the past days
and determined to make up for lost time in the future.

PLATE VIII

[Illustration: THE TRAFFIC POLICEMAN ON URGA'S "BROADWAY"]

[Illustration: A MONGOL LAMA]

[Illustration: THE GRASSLANDS OF OUTER MONGOLIA]



CHAPTER VIII

THE LURE OF THE PLAINS


On Monday, June 16, we left Urga to go south along the old caravan
trail toward Kalgan. Only a few weeks earlier we had skimmed over the
rolling surface in motor cars, crossing in one day then as many miles
of plains as our own carts could do in ten. But it had another meaning
to us now, and the first night as we sat at dinner in front of the tent
and watched the after-glow fade from the sky behind the pine-crowned
ridge of the Bogdo-ol, we thanked God that for five long months we
could leave the twentieth century with its roar and rush, and live as
the Mongols live; we knew that the days of discouragement had ended and
that we could learn the secrets of the desert life which are yielded up
to but a chosen few.

Within twenty-five miles of Urga we had seen a dozen marmots and a
species of gopher (_Citellus_) that was new to us. The next afternoon
at two o'clock we climbed the last long slope from out the Tola River
drainage basin, and reached the plateau which stretches in rolling
waves of plain and desert to the frontier of China six hundred miles
away. Before us three pools of water flashed like silver mirrors in
the sunlight, and beyond them, tucked away in a sheltered corner of
the hills, stood a little temple surrounded by a cluster of gray-white
_yurts_.

Our Mongol learned that the next water was on the far side of a plain
thirty-five miles in width, so we camped beside the largest pond. It
was a beautiful spot with gently rolling hills on either side, and in
front, a level plain cut by the trail's white line.

As soon as the tents were up Yvette and I rode off, accompanied by
the lama, carrying a bag of traps. Within three hundred yards of camp
we found the first marmot. When it had disappeared underground we
carefully buried a steel trap at the entrance of the hole and anchored
it securely to an iron tent peg. With rocks and earth we plugged all
the other openings, for there are usually five or six tunnels to every
burrow. While the work was going on other marmots were watching us
curiously from half a dozen mounds, and we set nine traps before it was
time to return for dinner.

The two Chinese taxidermists had taken a hundred wooden traps for
smaller mammals, and before dark we inspected the places they had
found. Already one of them held a gray meadow vole (_Microtus_), quite
a different species from those which had been caught along the Tola
River, and Yvette discovered one of the larger traps dragged halfway
into a hole with a baby marmot safely caught. He was only ten inches
long and covered with soft yellow-white fur.

Shortly after daylight the next morning the lama came to our tent to
announce that there was a marmot in one of the traps. The boy was
as excited as a child of ten and had been up at dawn. When we were
dressed we followed the Mongol to the first burrow where a fine marmot
was securely caught by the hind leg. A few yards away we had another
female, and the third trap was pulled far into the hole. A huge male
was at the other end, but he had twisted his body halfway around a
curve in the tunnel and by pulling with all our strength the Mongol and
I could not move him a single inch. Finally we gave up and had to dig
him out. He had given a wonderful exhibition of strength for so small
an animal.

It was especially gratifying to catch these marmots so easily, for
we had been told in Urga that the Mongols could not trap them. I was
at a loss to understand why, for they are closely related to the
"woodchucks" of America with which every country boy is familiar. Later
I learned the reason for the failure of the natives. In the Urga market
we saw some double-spring traps exactly like those of ours, but when
I came to examine them I found they had been made in Russia, and the
springs were so weak that they were almost useless. These were the only
steel traps which the Mongols had ever seen.

The marmots (_Marmota robusta_) were supposed to be responsible for
the spread of the pneumonia plague which swept into northern China
from Manchuria a few years ago; but I understand from physicians of
the Rockefeller Foundation in Peking, who especially investigated
the disease, that the animal's connection with it is by no means
satisfactorily determined.

The marmots hibernate during the winter, and retire to their burrows
early in October, not to emerge until April. When they first come out
in the spring their fur is bright yellow, and the animals contrast
beautifully with the green grass. After the middle of June the yellow
fur begins to slip off in patches, leaving exposed the new coat, which
is exceedingly short and is mouse-gray in color. Then, of course, the
skins are useless for commercial purposes. As the summer progresses the
fur grows until by September first it has formed a long, soft coat of
rich gray-brown which is of considerable economic value. The skins are
shipped to Europe and America and during the past winter (1919-1920)
were especially popular as linings for winter coats.

We had an opportunity to see how quickly the demand in the great cities
reaches directly to the center of production thousands of miles away.
When we went to Urga in May prime marmot skins were worth thirty cents
each to the Mongols. Early in October, when we returned, the hunters
were selling the same skins for _one dollar and twenty-jive cents
apiece_.

The natives always shoot the animals. When a Mongol has driven one into
its burrow, he lies quietly beside the hole waiting for the marmot to
appear. It may be twenty minutes or even an hour, but the Oriental
patience takes little note of time. Finally a yellow head emerges and
a pair of shining eyes glance quickly about in every direction. Of
course, they see the Mongol but he looks only like a mound of earth,
and the marmot raises itself a few inches higher. The hunter lies
as motionless as a log of wood until the animal is well put of its
burrow--then he shoots.

The Mongols take advantage of the marmot's curiosity in an amusing and
even more effective way. With a dogskin tied to his saddle the native
rides over the plain until he reaches a marmot colony. He hobbles his
pony at a distance of three or four hundred yards, gets down on his
hands and knees, and throws the dogskin over his shoulders. He crawls
slowly toward the nearest animal, now and then stopping to bark and
shake his head. In an instant, the marmot is all attention. He jumps
up and down whistling and barking, but never venturing far from the
opening of his burrow.

As the pseudo-dog advances there seems imminent danger that the fat
little body will explode from curiosity and excitement. But suddenly
the "dog" collapses in the strangest way and the marmot raises on the
very tips of his toes to see what it is all about. Then there is a
roar, a flash of fire and another skin is added to the millions which
have already been sent to the sea-coast from outer Mongolia.

Mr. Mamen often spoke of an extraordinary dance which he had seen the
marmots perform, and when Mr. and Mrs. MacCallie returned to Kalgan
they saw it also. We were never fortunate enough to witness it. Mac
said that two marmots stood erect on their hind legs, grasping each
other with their front paws, and danced slowly about exactly as
though they were waltzing. He agreed with Mamen that it was the most
extraordinary and amusing thing he had ever seen an animal do. I can
well believe it, for the marmots have many curious habits which would
repay close study. The dance could hardly be a mating performance since
Mac saw it in late May and by that time the young had already been born.

One morning at the "Marmot Camp," as we named the one where we first
began real collecting, Yvette saw six or seven young animals on top of
a mound in the green grass. We went there later with a gun and found
the little fellows playing like kittens, chasing each other about and
rolling over and over. It was hard to make myself bring tragedy into
their lives, but we needed them for specimens. A group showing an
entire marmot family would be interesting for the Museum; especially
so in view of their reported connection with the pneumonic plague.
We collected a dozen others before the summer was over to show the
complete transition from the first yellow coat to the gray-brown of
winter.

Like most rodents, the marmots grow rapidly and have so many young in
every litter that they will not soon be exterminated in Mongolia unless
the native hunters obtain American steel traps. Even then it would take
some years to make a really alarming impression upon the millions which
spread over all the plains of northern Mongolia and Manchuria.

Since these marmots are a distinctly northern animal they are a great
help in determining the life zones of this part of Asia. We found that
their southern limit is at Turin, one hundred and seventy-five miles
from Urga. A few scattered families live there, but the real marmot
country begins about twenty-five miles farther north.

The first hunting camp was eighty miles south of Urga, after we had
passed a succession of low hills and reached what, in prehistoric
times, was probably a great lake basin. When our tents were pitched
beside the well they seemed pitifully small in the vastness of the
plain. The land rolled in placid waves to the far horizon on every
hand. It was like a calm sea which is disturbed only by the lazy
progress of the ocean swell. Two _yurts_, like the sails of hull-down
ships, showed black against the sky-rim where it met the earth. The
plain itself seemed at first as flat as a table, for the swells merged
indistinguishably into a level whole. It was only when approaching
horsemen dipped for a little out of sight and the depressions swallowed
them up that we realized the unevenness of the land.

Camp was hardly made before our Mongol neighbors began to pay their
formal calls. A picturesque fellow, blazing with color, would dash up
to our tent at a full gallop, slide off and hobble his pony almost
in a single motion. With a "_sai bina_" of greeting he would squat
in the door, produce his bottle of snuff and offer us a pinch. There
was a quiet dignity about these plains dwellers which was wonderfully
appealing. They were seldom unduly curious, and when we indicated that
the visit was at an end, they left at once.

Sometimes they brought bowls of curded milk, or great lumps of cheese
as presents, and in return we gave cigarettes or now and then a cake of
soap. Having been told in Urga that soap was especially appreciated by
the Mongols, I had brought a supply of red, blue, and green cakes which
had a scent even more wonderful than the color. I can't imagine why
they like it, for it is carefully put away and never used.

Strangely enough, the Mongols have no word for "thank you" other
than "_sai_" (good), but when they wish to express approbation, and
usually when saying "good-by," they put up the thumb with the fingers
closed. In Yün-nan and eastern Tibet we noted the same custom among the
aboriginal tribesmen. I wonder if it is merely a coincidence that in
the gladiatorial contests of ancient Rome "thumbs up" meant mercy or
approval!

The Mongols told us that in the rolling ground to the east of camp we
could surely find antelope. The first morning my wife and I went out
alone. We trotted steadily for an hour, making for the summit of a
rise seven or eight miles from camp. Yvette held the ponies, while I
sat down to sweep the country with my glasses. Directly in front of us
two small valleys converged into a larger one, and almost immediately
I discovered half a dozen orange-yellow forms in its very bottom about
two miles away. They were antelope quietly feeding. In a few moments I
made out two more close together, and then four off at the right. After
my wife had found them with her glasses we sat down to plan the stalk.

It was obvious that we should try to cross the two small depressions
which debouched into the main valley and approach from behind the hill
crest nearest to the gazelles. We trotted slowly across the gully
while the antelope were in sight, and then swung around at full gallop
under the protection of the rising ground. We came up just opposite
to the herd and dismounted, but were fully six hundred yards away.
Suddenly one of those impulses which the hunter never can explain sent
them off like streaks of yellow light, but they turned on the opposite
hillside, slowed down, and moved uncertainly up the valley.

Much to our surprise four of the animals detached themselves from
the others and crossed the depression in our direction. When we saw
that they were really coming we threw ourselves into the saddles and
galloped forward to cut them off. Instantly the antelope increased
their speed and literally flew up the hill slope. I shouted to Yvette
to watch the holes and shook the reins over Kublai Khan's neck. Like
a bullet he was off. I could feel his great muscles flowing between
my knees but otherwise there seemed hardly a motion of his body in
the long, smooth run. Standing straight up in the stirrups, I glanced
back at my wife who was sitting her chestnut stallion as lightly as a
butterfly. Hat gone, hair streaming, the thrill of it all showed in
every line of her body. She was running a close second, almost at my
side. I saw a marmot hole flash by. A second death trap showed ahead
and I swung Kublai Khan to the right. Another and another followed,
but the pony leaped them like a cat. The beat of the fresh, clean air;
the rush of the splendid horse; the sight of the yellow forms fleeing
like wind-blown ribbons across our path--all this set me mad with
excitement and a wild exhilaration. Suddenly I realized that I was
yelling like an Indian. Yvette, too, was screaming in sheer delight.

The antelope were two hundred yards away when I tightened on the reins.
Kublai Khan stiffened and stopped in twenty yards. The first shot was
low and to the left, but it gave the range. At the second, the rearmost
animal stumbled, recovered itself, and ran wildly about in a circle. I
missed him twice, and he disappeared over a little hill. Leaping into
the saddle, we tore after the wounded animal. As we thundered over the
rise I heard my wife screaming frantically and saw her pointing to the
right where the antelope was lying down. There was just one more shell
in the gun and my pockets were empty. I fired again at fifty yards and
the gazelle rolled over, dead.

Leading our horses, Yvette and I walked up to the beautiful
orange-yellow form lying in the fresh, green grass. We both saw its
horns in the same instant and hugged each other in sheer delight. At
this time of the year the bucks are seldom with the does and then only
in the largest herds. This one was in full pelage, spotless and with
the hair unworn. Moreover, it had finer horns than any other which we
killed during the entire trip.

Kublai Khan looked at the dead animal and arched his neck, as much
as to say, "Yes, I ran him down. He had to quit when I really got
started." My wife held the pony's head, while I hoisted the antelope to
his back and strapped it behind the saddle. He watched the proceedings
interestedly but without a tremor, and even when I mounted, he paid not
the slightest attention to the head dangling on his flanks. Thereby he
showed that he was a very exceptional pony. In the weeks which followed
he proved it a hundred times, and I came to love him as I have never
loved another animal.

Yvette and I trotted slowly back to camp, thrilled with the excitement
of the wild ride. We began to realize that we were lucky to have
escaped without broken necks. The race taught us never again to attempt
to guide our ponies away from the marmot holes which spotted the
plains, for the horses could see them better than we could and all
their lives had known that they meant death.

That morning was our initiation into what is the finest sport we have
ever known. Hunting from a motor car is undeniably exciting at first,
but a real sportsman can never care for it very long. The antelope
does not have a chance against gas and steel and a long-range rifle.
On horseback the conditions are reversed. An antelope can run twice as
fast as the best horse living. It can see as far as a man with prism
binoculars. All the odds are in the animal's favor except two--its
fatal desire to run in a circle about the pursuer, and the use of a
high-power rifle. But even then an antelope three hundred yards away,
going at a speed of fifty miles an hour, is not an easy target.

Of course, the majority of sportsmen will say that it cannot be done
with any certainty--until they go to Mongolia and do it themselves!
But, as I remarked in a previous chapter, conditions on the plains are
so unusual that shooting in other parts of the world is no criterion.
After one gets the range of an animal which, like the antelope, has a
smooth, even run, it is not so difficult to hit as one might imagine.
Practice is the great essential. At the beginning I averaged one
antelope to every eight cartridges, but later my score was one to three.

We spent the afternoon at the new camp, setting traps and preparing
for the days to come--days in which we knew, from long experience, we
would have every waking moment full of work. The nights were shortening
rapidly, and the sun did not dip below the rim of our vast, flat world
until half past seven. Then there was an hour of delightful, lingering
twilight, when the stars began to show in tiny points of light; by nine
o'clock the brooding silence of the Mongolian night had settled over
all the plain.

Daylight came at four o'clock, and before the sun rose we had finished
breakfast. Our traps held five marmots and a beautiful golden-yellow
polecat (_Mustela_). I have never seen such an incarnation of fury as
this animal presented. It might have been the original of the Chinese
dragon, except for its small size. Its long, slender body twisted and
turned with incredible swiftness, every hair was bristling, and its
snarling little face emitted horrible squeaks and spitting squeals. It
seemed to be cursing us in every language of the polecat tribe.

The fierce little beast was evidently bent upon a night raid on a
marmot family. We could imagine easily into what terror the tiny demon
would throw a nest of marmots comfortably snuggled together in the
bottom of their burrow. Probably it would be most interested in the
babies, and undoubtedly would destroy every one within a few moments.
All the weasel family, to which the polecat belongs, kill for the pure
joy of killing, and in China one such animal will entirely depopulate a
hen-roost in a single night.

At six o'clock Yvette and I left camp with the lama and rode northeast.
The plain swept away in long, grassy billows, and at every rise I
stopped for a moment to scan the horizon with my glasses. Within half
an hour we discovered a herd of antelope six or seven hundred yards
away. They saw us instantly and trotted nervously about, staring in our
direction.

Dropping behind the crest of the rise, I directed the lama to ride
toward them from behind while we swung about to cut them off. He was
hardly out of sight when we heard a snort and a rush of pounding hoofs.
With a shout to Yvette I loosened the reins over Kublai Khan's neck,
and he shot forward like a yellow arrow. Yvette was close beside me,
leaning far over her pony's neck. We headed diagonally toward the
herd, and they gradually swung toward us as though drawn by a powerful
magnet. On we went, down into a hollow and up again on its slope. We
could not spare the horses for the antelope were already over the crest
and lost to view, but our horses took the hill at full speed, and from
the summit we could see the herd fairly on our course, three hundred
yards away.

Kublai Khan braced himself like a polo pony when he felt the pressure
of my knees, and I opened fire almost under his nose. At the crack of
the rifle there was a spurt of brown dust near the leading animal.
"High and to the left," shouted Yvette, and I held a little lower for
the second trial. The antelope dropped like a piece of white paper,
shot through the neck. I paced the distance and found it to be three
hundred and sixty-seven yards. It seemed a very long shot then, but
later I found that almost none of my antelope were killed at less than
three hundred yards.

As I came up to Kublai Khan with the dead animal, I accidentally
struck him on the flank with my rifle in such a way that he was badly
frightened. He galloped off, and Yvette had a hard chase before he
finally allowed her to catch him. Had I been alone I should probably
have had a long walk to camp.

It taught us never to hunt without a companion, if it could possibly
be avoided. If your horse runs away, you may be left many miles from
water, with rather serious consequences. I think there is nothing which
makes me feel more helpless than to be alone on the plains without
a horse. For miles and miles there is only the rolling grassland or
the wide sweep of desert, with never a house or tree to break the low
horizon. It seems so futile to walk, your own legs carry you so slowly
and such a pitifully short distance, in these vast spaces.

To be left alone in a small boat on the open sea is exactly similar.
You feel so very, very small and you realize then what an insignificant
part of nature you really are. I have felt it, too, amid vast mountains
when I have been toiling up a peak which stretched thousands of feet
above me with others rearing their majestic forms on every side. Then,
nature seems almost alive and full of menace; something to be fought
and conquered by brain and will.

Early in our work upon the plains we learned how easy it is to lose
one's way. The vast sea of land seems absolutely flat, but in reality
it is a gently rolling surface full of slopes and hollows, every one
of which looks exactly like the others. But after a time we developed
a _land sense_. The Mongols all have it to an extraordinary degree. We
could drop an antelope on the plain and leave it for an hour or more.
With a quick glance about our lama would fix the place in his mind, and
dash off on a chase which might carry us back and forth toward every
point of the compass. When it was time to return, he would head his
pony unerringly for that single spot on the plain and take us back as
straight as the flight of an arrow.

At first it gave him unceasing enjoyment when we became completely
lost, but in a very short time we learned to note the position of the
sun, the character of the ground, and the direction of the wind. Then
we began to have more confidence in ourselves. But only by years of
training can one hope even to approximate the Mongols. They have been
born and reared upon the plains, and have the inheritance of unknown
generations whose very life depended upon their ability to come and
go at will. To them, the hills, the sun, the grass, the sand--all have
become the street signs of the desert.

In the afternoon of our second day I remained at the tents to measure
specimens, while Yvette and the lama rode out toward the scene of our
morning hunt to locate an antelope which one of our Mongol neighbors
had reported dead not far away. At six o'clock they came galloping back
with the news that there were two gazelles within three miles of camp.
I saddled Kublai Khan and left with them at once. Twenty minutes of
steady trotting brought us to the summit of a slope, where we could see
the animals quietly feeding not five hundred yards away.

It was just possible to stalk them for a long-range shot, and slipping
off my pony, I flattened out upon the ground. On hands and knees, and
sometimes at full length, I wormed my way through the grass for one
hundred yards. The cover ended there and I must shoot or come into
full view of the gazelles. They were so far away that the front sight
entirely covered the animals, and to increase the difficulty, both
were walking slowly. The first bullet struck low and to the right, but
the antelope only jumped and stared fixedly in my direction; at the
second shot one went down. The other animal dashed away like a flash of
lightning, and although I sent a bullet after its white rump-patch, the
shot was hopeless.

The antelope I had knocked over got to its feet and tried desperately
to get away, but the lama leaped on his pony and caught it by one
hind leg. My automatic pistol was not in working order, and it was
necessary to knife the poor beast--a job which I hate like poison. The
lama walked away a dozen yards and covered his face with the sleeve
of his gown. It is against the laws of the Buddhist religion to take
the life of any animal or even to see it done, although there are no
restrictions as to eating flesh.

With a blanket the Mongol made a seat for himself on his pony's
haunches, and threw the antelope across his saddle; then we trotted
back to camp into the painted western sky, with the cool night air
bringing to us the scent of newborn grass. We would not have exchanged
our lot that night with any one on earth.



CHAPTER IX

HUNTING ON THE TURIN PLAIN


After ten days we left the "Antelope Camp" to visit the Turin plain
where we had seen much game on the way to Urga. One by one our Mongol
neighbors rode up to say "farewell," and each to present us with
a silk scarf as a token of friendship and good will. We received
an invitation to stop for tea at the _yurt_ of an old man who had
manifested an especial interest in us, but it was a very dirty _yurt_,
and the preparations for tea were so uninviting that we managed to exit
gracefully before it was finally served.

Yvette photographed the entire family including half a dozen dogs, a
calf, and two babies, much to their enjoyment. When we rode off, our
hands were heaped with cheese and slabs of mutton which were discarded
as soon, as we had dropped behind a slope. Mongol hospitality is
whole-souled and generously given, but one must be very hungry to enjoy
their food.

A day and a half of traveling was uneventful, for herds of sheep and
horses indicated the presence of _yurts_ among the hills. Game will
seldom remain where there are Mongols. Although it was the first of
July, we found a heavy coating of ice on the lower sides of a deep
well. The water was about fifteen feet below the level of the plain,
and the ice would probably remain all summer. Moreover, it is said that
the wells never freeze even during the coldest winter.

PLATE IX

[Illustration: MONGOL HERDSMEN CARRYING LASSOS]

[Illustration: A LONE CAMP ON THE DESERT]

The changes of temperature were more rapid than in any other country
in which I have ever hunted. It was hot during the day--about 85°
Fahrenheit--but the instant the sun disappeared we needed coats, and
our fur sleeping bags were always acceptable at night.

We were one hundred and fifty miles from Urga and were still going
slowly south, when we had our next real hunting camp. Great bands of
antelope were working northward from the Gobi Desert to the better
grazing on the grass-covered Turin plain. We encountered the main herd
one evening about six o'clock, and it was a sight which made us gasp
for breath. We were shifting camp, and my wife and I were trotting
along parallel to the carts which moved slowly over the trail a mile
away. We had had a delightful, as well as a profitable, day. Yvette
had been busy with her camera, while I picked up an antelope, a
bustard, three hares, and half a dozen marmots. We were loafing in our
saddles, when suddenly we caught sight of the cook standing on his cart
frantically signaling us to come.

In ten seconds our ponies were flying toward the caravan, while we
mentally reviewed every accident which possibly could have happened
to the boys. Lü met us twenty yards from the trail, trembling with
excitement and totally incoherent. He could only point to the south and
stammer, "Too many antelope. Over there. Too many, too many."

I slipped off Kublai Khan's back and put up the glasses. Certainly
there were animals, but I thought they must be sheep or ponies.
Hundreds were in sight, feeding in one vast herd and in many smaller
groups. Then I remembered that the nearest well was twenty miles away;
therefore they could not be horses. I looked again and knew they must
be antelope--not in hundreds, but in thousands.

Mr. Larsen in Urga had told us of herds like this, but we had never
hoped to see one. Yet there before us, as far as the eye could reach,
was a yellow mass of moving forms. In a moment Yvette and I had left
the carts. There was no possibility of concealment, and our only chance
was to run the herd. When we were perhaps half a mile away the nearest
animals threw up their heads and began to stamp and run about, only to
stop again and stare at us. We kept on very slowly, edging nearer every
moment. Suddenly they decided that we were really dangerous, and the
herd strung out like a regiment of yellow-coated soldiers.

Kublai Khan had seen the antelope almost as soon as we left the
carts, and although he had already traveled forty miles that day, was
nervously champing the bit with head up and ears erect. When at last I
gave him the word, he gathered himself for one terrific spring; down
went his head and he dashed forward with every ounce of strength behind
his flying legs. His run was the long, smooth stride of a thoroughbred,
and it sent the blood surging through my veins in a wild thrill of
exhilaration. Once only I glanced back at Yvette. She was almost at
my side. Her hair had loosened and was flying back like a veil behind
her head. Tense with excitement, eyes shining, she was heedless of
everything save those skimming yellow forms before us. It was useless
to look for holes; ere I had seen one we were over or around it. With
head low down and muzzle out, my pony needed not the slightest touch to
guide him. He knew where we were going and the part he had to play.

More than a thousand antelope were running diagonally across our
course. It was a sight to stir the gods; a thing to give one's life to
see. But when we were almost near enough to shoot, the herd suddenly
swerved heading directly away from us. In an instant we were enveloped
in a whirling cloud of dust through which the flying animals were
dimly visible like phantom figures. Kublai Khan was choked, and his
hot breath rasped sharply through his nostrils, but he plunged on and
on into that yellow cloud. Standing in my stirrups, I fired six times
at the wraithlike forms ahead as fast as I could work the lever of my
rifle. Of course, it was useless, but just the same I had to shoot.

In about a mile the great herd slowed down and stopped. We could see
hundreds of animals on every side, in groups of fifty or one hundred.
Probably two thousand antelope were in sight at once and many more
were beyond the sky rim to the west. We gave the ponies ten minutes'
rest, and had another run as unsuccessful as the first. Then a third
and fourth. The antelope, for some strange reason, would not cross our
path, but always turned straight away before we were near enough to
shoot.

After an hour we returned to the carts--for Yvette was exhausted from
excitement--and the lama took her place. We left the great herd and
turned southward, parallel to the road. A mile away we found more
antelope; at least a thousand were scattered about feeding quietly like
those we had driven north. It seemed as though all the gazelles in
Mongolia had concentrated on those few miles of plain.

The ponies were so exhausted that we decided to try a drive and leave
the main herd in peace. When we were concealed from view in the bottom
of a land swell I slipped off and hobbled Kublai Khan. The poor fellow
was so tired he could only stand with drooping head, even though there
was rich grass beneath his feet. I sent the lama in a long circle to
get behind the herd, while I crawled a few hundred yards away and
snuggled out of sight into an old wolf den.

I watched the antelope for fifteen minutes through my binoculars. They
were feeding in a vast semicircle, entirely unconscious of my presence.
Suddenly every head went up; they stared fixedly toward the west for a
moment, and were off like the wind. About five hundred drew together in
a compact mass, but a dozen smaller herds scattered wildly, running in
every direction except toward me. They had seen the lama before he had
succeeded in completely encircling them, and the drive was ruined.

The Mongols kill great numbers of antelope in just this way. When
a herd has been located, a line of men will conceal themselves at
distances of two or three hundred yards, while as many more get behind
the animals and drive them toward the waiting hunters. Sometimes the
gazelles almost step on the natives and become so frightened that they
run the gantlet of the entire firing line.

I did not have the heart to race again with our exhausted ponies, and
we turned back toward the carts which were out of sight. Scores of
antelope, singly or in pairs, were visible on the sky line and as we
rode to the summit of a little rise a herd of fifty appeared almost
below us. We paid no attention to them; but suddenly my pony stopped
with ears erect. He looked back at me, as much as to say, "Don't you
see those antelope?" and began gently pulling at the reins. I could
feel him tremble with eagerness and excitement. "Well, old chap," I
said, "if you are as keen as all that, let's give them a run."

With a magnificent burst of speed Kublai Khan launched himself toward
the fleeing animals. They circled beautifully, straight into the eye
of the sun, which lay like a great red ball upon the surface of the
plain. We were still three hundred yards away and gaining rapidly, but
I had to shoot; in a moment I would be blinded by the sun. As the flame
leaped from my rifle, we heard the dull thud of a bullet on flesh; at
the second shot, another; and then a third. "_Sanga_" (three), yelled
the lama, and dashed forward, wild with excitement.

The three gazelles lay almost the same distance apart, each one
shot through the body. It was interesting evidence that the actions
of working the lever on my rifle and aiming, and the speed of the
antelope, varied only by a fraction of a second. In this case, brain
and eye and hand had functioned perfectly. Needless to say, I do not
always shoot like that.

Two of the antelope were yearling bucks, and one was a large doe. The
lama took the female on his pony, and I strapped the other two on
Kublai Khan. When I mounted, he was carrying a weight of two hundred
and eighty-five pounds, yet he kept his steady "homeward trot" without
a break until we reached the carts six miles away.

Yvette had been afraid that we would miss the well in the gathering
darkness, and had made a "dry camp" beside the road. We had only a
little water for ourselves; but my pony's nose was full of dust, and
I knew how parched his throat must be, so I divided my supply with
him. The poor animal was so frightened by the dish, that he would only
snort and back away; even when I wet his nose with some of the precious
fluid, he would not drink.

The success of our work upon the plains depended largely upon Kublai
Khan. He was only a Mongol pony but he was just as great, in his own
way, as was the Tartar emperor whose name he bore. Whatever it was I
asked him to do, he gave his very best. Can you wonder that I loved him?

Within a fortnight from the time I bought him, he became a perfect
hunting pony. The secret of it all was that he liked the game as well
as I. Traveling with the carts bored him exceedingly but the instant
game appeared he was all excitement. Often he saw antelope before we
did. We might be trotting slowly over the plains, when suddenly he
would jerk his head erect and begin to pull gently at the reins; when I
reached down to take my rifle from the holster, he would tremble with
eagerness to be off.

In hunting antelope you should ride slowly toward the animals, drawing
nearer gradually. They are so accustomed to see Mongols that they will
not begin to run in earnest until a man is five or six hundred yards
away, but when they are really off, a fast pony is the great essential.
The time to stop is just before the animals cross your path, and then
you must stop quickly. Kublai Khan learned the trick immediately. As
soon as he felt the pressure of my knees, and the slightest pull upon
the reins, his whole body stiffened and he braced himself like a polo
pony. It made not the slightest difference to him whether I shot from
his back or directly under his nose; he stood quietly watching the
running antelope. When we were riding across the plaints if a bird ran
along the ground or a hare jumped out of the grass, he was after it
like a dog. Often I would find myself flying toward an animal which I
had never seen.

Yvette's pony was useless for hunting antelope. Instead of heading
diagonally toward the gazelles he would always attempt to follow the
herd. When it was time to stop I would have to put all my strength
upon the reins and the horse would come into a slow gallop and then a
trot. Seconds of valuable time would be wasted before I could begin to
shoot. I tried half a dozen other ponies, but they were all as bad.
They did not have the intelligence or the love of hunting which made
Kublai Khan so valuable.

The morning after encountering the great herd, we camped at a well
thirty miles north of the Turin monastery. Three or four _yurts_ were
scattered about, and a caravan of two hundred and fifty camels was
resting in a little hollow. From the door of our tent we could see
the blue summit of the Turin "mountain," and have in the foreground a
perpetual moving picture of camels, horses, sheep, goats, and cattle
seeking water. All day long hundreds of animals crowded about the well,
while one or two Mongols filled the troughs by means of wooden buckets.

The life about the wells is always interesting, for they are points
of concentration for all wanderers on the plains. Just as we pitch
our tents and make ourselves at home, so great caravans arrive with
tired, laden camels. The huge brutes kneel, while their packs are being
removed, and then stand in a long line, patiently waiting until their
turn comes to drink. Groups of ten or twelve crowd about the trough;
then, majestically swinging their padded feet, they move slowly to one
side, kneel upon the ground, and sleepily chew their cuds until all
the herd has joined them. Sometimes the caravans wait for several days
to rest their animals and let them feed; sometimes they vanish in the
first gray light of dawn.

On the Turin plain we had a delightful glimpse of antelope babyhood.
The great herds which we had found were largely composed of does just
ready to drop their young, and after a few days they scattered widely
into groups of from five to twenty.

We found the first baby antelope on June 27. We had seen half a dozen
females circling restlessly about, and suspected that their fawns could
not be far away. Sure enough, our Mongol discovered one of the little
fellows in the flattest part of the flat plain. It was lying motionless
with its neck stretched out, just where its mother had told it to
remain when she saw us riding toward her.

Yvette called to me, "Oh, please, please catch it. We can raise it on
milk and it will make such an adorable pet."

"Oh, yes," I said, "let's do. I'll get it for you. You can put it in
your hat till we go back to camp."

In blissful ignorance I dismounted and slowly went toward the little
animal. There was not the slightest motion until I tossed my outspread
shooting coat. Then I saw a flash of brown, a bobbing white rump-patch,
and a tiny thing, no larger than a rabbit, speeding over the plain. The
baby was somewhat "wabbly," to be sure, for this was probably the first
time it had ever tried its slender legs, but after a few hundred yards
it ran as steadily as its mother.

I was so surprised that for a moment I simply stared. Then I leaped
into the saddle and Kublai Khan rushed after the diminutive brown
fawn. It was a good half mile before we had the little chap under the
pony's nose but the race was by no means ended. Mewing with fright,
it swerved sharply to the left and ere we could swing about, it had
gained a hundred yards. Again and again we were almost on it, but every
time it dodged and got away. After half an hour my pony was gasping
for breath, and I changed to Yvette's chestnut stallion. The Mongol
joined me and we had another run, but we might have been pursuing a
streak of shifting sunlight. Finally we had to give it up and watch the
tiny thing bob away toward its mother, who was circling about in the
distance.

There were half a dozen other fawns upon the plain, but they all
treated us alike and my wife's hat was empty when we returned to camp.
These antelope probably had been born not more than two or three days
before we found them. Later, after a chase of more than a mile, we
caught one which was only a few hours old. Had it not injured itself
when dodging between my pony's legs we could never have secured it at
all.

Thus, nature, in the great scheme of life, has provided for her
antelope children by blessing them with undreamed-of speed and only
during the first days of babyhood could a wolf catch them on the open
plain. When they are from two to three weeks old they run with the
females in herds of six or eight, and you cannot imagine what a pretty
sight it is to see the little fellows skimming like tiny, brown
chickens beside their mothers. There is another wonderful provision
for their life upon the desert. The digestive fluids of the stomach
act upon the starch in the vegetation which they eat so that it forms
sufficient water for their needs. Therefore, some species never drink.

The antelope choose a flat plain on which to give birth to their young
in order to be well away from the wolves which are their greatest
enemy; and the fawns are taught to lie absolutely motionless upon the
ground until they know that they have been discovered. Apparently
they are all born during the last days of June and in the first week
of July. The great herds which we encountered were probably moving
northward both to obtain better grazing and to drop their young on the
Turin plain. During this period the old bucks go off singly into the
rolling ground, and the herds are composed only of does and yearling
males. It was always possible to tell at once if an antelope had a fawn
upon the plain, for she would run in a wide circle around the spot and
refuse to be driven away.

We encountered only two species of antelope between Kalgan and Urga.
The one of which I have been writing, and with which we became best
acquainted, was the Mongolian gazelle (_Gazella gutturosa_). The other
was the goitered gazelle (_Gazella subgutturosa_). In the western Gobi,
the Prjevalski gazelle (_Gazella prjevalski_) is more abundant than the
other species, but it never reaches the region which we visited.

The goitered antelope is seldom found on the rolling meadowlands
between Kalgan and Panj-kiang on the south, or between Turin and Urga
on the north, according to our observations; they keep almost entirely
to the Gobi Desert between Panj-kiang and Turin, and we often saw
them among the "nigger heads" or tussocks in the most arid parts.
The Mongolian gazelle, on the other hand, is most abundant in the
grasslands both north and south of the Gobi, but nevertheless has a
continuous distribution across the plateau between Kalgan and Urga.

On our northward trip in May, when we took motion pictures of the
antelope on the Panj-kiang plain, both, species were present, but the
goitered gazelle far outnumbered the others--which is unusual in that
locality. It could always be distinguished from the Mongolian gazelle
because of its smaller size, darker coloring, and the long tail which
it carries straight up in the air at right angles to the back; the
Mongolian antelope has an exceedingly short tail. The horns of both
species differ considerably in shape and can easily be distinguished.

During the winter these antelope develop a coat of very long, soft hair
which is light brown-gray in color strongly tinged with rufous on the
head and face. Its summer pelage is a beautiful orange-fawn. The winter
coat is shed during May, and the animals lose their short summer hair
in late August and early September.

Both species have a greatly enlarged larynx from which the goitered
gazelle derives its name. What purpose this extraordinary character
serves the animal, I am at a loss to know. Certainly it is not to
give them an exceptional "voice"; for, when wounded, I have heard them
make only a deep-toned roar which was by no means loud. Specimens of
the larynx which we preserved in formalin are now being prepared for
anatomical study.

Although the two species inhabit the same locality, they keep well by
themselves and only once, on the Panj-kiang plain, did we see them
running together in the same herd; then it was probably because they
were frightened by the car. I doubt if they ever interbreed except in
rare instances.

The fact that these animals can develop such an extraordinary speed was
a great surprise to me, as undoubtedly it will be to most naturalists.
Had we not been able to determine it accurately by means of the
speedometers on our cars, I should never have dared state that they
could reach fifty-five or sixty miles an hour. It must be remembered
that the animals can continue at such a high speed only for a short
distance--perhaps half a mile--and will never exert themselves to the
utmost unless they are thoroughly frightened. They would run just fast
enough to keep well away from the cars or our horses, and it was only
when we began to shoot that they showed what they were capable of
doing. When the bullets began to scatter about them they would seem to
flatten several inches and run at such a terrific speed that their legs
appeared only as a blur.

Of course, they have developed their fleetness as a protection from
enemies. Their greatest menace is the wolves, but since we demonstrated
that these animals cannot travel faster than about thirty miles an
hour, the antelope are perfectly safe unless they happen to be caught
off their guard. To prevent just this, the gazelles usually keep well
out on the open plains and avoid rocks or abrupt hills which would
furnish cover for a wolf. Of course, they often go into the rolling
ground, but it is usually where the slopes are gradual and where they
have sufficient space in which to protect themselves.

The gazelles have a perfectly smooth, even run when going at full
speed. I have often seen them bound along when not particularly
frightened, but never when they are really trying to get away in the
shortest possible time. The front limbs, as in the case of a deer, act
largely as supports and the real motive power comes from the hind legs.
If an antelope has only a front leg broken no living horse can catch
it, but with a shattered hind limb my pony could run it down. I have
already related (see page 49) how, in a car, we pursued an antelope
with both front legs broken below the knee; even then, it reached a
speed of fifteen miles an hour. The Mongolian plains are firm and hard
with no bushes or other obstructions and, consequently, are especially
favorable for rapid travel.

The cheetah, or hunting leopard of Africa, has the reputation of being
able to reach a greater speed, for a short dash, than any other animal
in that country, and I have often wondered how it would fare in a race
with a Mongolian gazelle. Unfortunately, conditions in Africa are not
favorable for the use of automobiles in hunting, and no actual facts as
to the speed of the cheetah are available.

At this camp, and during the journey back to Urga, we had many glorious
hunts. Each one held its own individual fascination, for no two were
just alike; and every day we learned something new about the life
history of the Mongolian antelope. We needed specimens for a group in
the new Hall of Asiatic Life in the American Museum of Natural History,
as well as a series representing all ages of both males and females for
scientific study. When we returned to Urga we had them all.

The hunting of large game was only one aspect of our work. We usually
returned to camp about two o'clock in the afternoon. As soon as tiffin
had been eaten my wife worked at her photography, while I busied
myself over the almost innumerable details of the preparation and
cataloguing of our specimens. About six o'clock, accompanied by the two
Chinese taxidermists carrying bags of traps, we would leave the tents.
Sometimes we would walk several miles, meanwhile carefully scrutinizing
the ground for holes or traces of mammal workings, and set eighty or
one hundred traps. We might find a colony of meadow voles (_Microtus_)
where dozens of "runways" betrayed their presence, or discover the
burrows of the desert hamster (_Cricetulus_). These little fellows, not
larger than a house mouse, have their tiny feet enveloped in soft fur,
like the slippers of an Eskimo baby.

As we walked back to camp in the late afternoon, we often saw a
kangaroo rat (_Alactaga mongolica?_) jumping across the plain, and when
we had driven it into a hole, we could be sure to catch it in a trap
the following morning. They are gentle little creatures, with huge,
round eyes, long, delicate ears, and tails tufted at the end like the
feathers on an arrow's shaft. The name expresses exactly what they
are like--diminutive kangaroos--but, of course, they are rodents and
not marsupials. During the glacial period of the early Pleistocene,
about one hundred thousand years ago, we know from fossil remains that
there were great invasions into Europe of most of these types of tiny
mammals, which we were catching during this delightful summer on the
Mongolian plains.

After two months we regretfully turned back toward Urga. Our summer
was to be divided between the plains on the south and the forests
to the north of the sacred city, and the first half of the work had
been completed. The results had been very satisfactory, and our boxes
contained five hundred specimens; but our hearts were sad. The wide
sweep of the limitless, grassy sea, the glorious morning rides, and
the magic of the starlit nights had filled our blood. Even the lure of
the unknown forests could not make us glad to go, for the plains had
claimed us as their own.



CHAPTER X

AN ADVENTURE IN THE LAMA CITY


Late on a July afternoon my wife and I stood disconsolately in the
middle of the road on the outskirts of Urga. We had halted because
the road had ended abruptly in a muddy river. Moreover, the river was
where it had no right to be, for we had traveled that road before
and had found only a tiny trickle across its dusty surface. We were
disconsolate because we wished to camp that night in Urga, and there
were abundant signs that it could not be done.

At least the Mongols thought so, and we had learned that what a Mongol
does not do had best "give us pause." They had accepted the river with
Oriental philosophy and had made their camps accordingly. Already a
score of tents dotted the hillside, and _argul_ fires were smoking in
the doorways. Hundreds of carts were drawn up in an orderly array while
a regiment of oxen wandered about the hillside or sleepily chewed their
cuds beside the loads. In a few hours or days or weeks the river would
disappear, and then they would go on to Urga. Meanwhile, why worry?

Two adventurous spirits, with a hundred camels, tried to cross. We
watched the huge beasts step majestically into the water, only to
huddle together in a yellow-brown mass when they reached midstream.
All their dignity fled, and they became merely frightened mountains of
flesh amid a chaos of writhing necks and wildly switching tails.

But stranger still was a motor car standing on a partly submerged
island between two branches of the torrent. We learned later that its
owners had successfully navigated the first stream and entered the
second. A flooded carburetor had resulted, and ere the car was again in
running order, the water had risen sufficiently to maroon them on the
island.

My wife and I both lack the philosophical nature of the Oriental, and
it was a sore trial to camp within rifle shot of Urga. But we did not
dare leave our carts, loaded with precious specimens, to the care of
servants and the curiosity of an ever increasing horde of Mongols.

For a well-nigh rainless month we had been hunting upon the plains,
while only one hundred and fifty miles away Urga had had an almost
daily deluge. In mid-summer heavy rain-clouds roll southward to burst
against "God's Mountain," which rears its green-clad summits five
thousand feet above the valley. Then it is only a matter of hours
before every streamlet becomes a swollen torrent. But they subside as
quickly as they rise, and the particular river which barred our road
had lost its menace before the sun had risen in a cloudless morning
sky. All the valley seemed in motion. We joined the motley throng of
camels, carts, and horsemen; and even the motor car coughed and wheezed
its way to Urga under the stimulus of two bearded Russians.

PLATE X

[Illustration: TIBETAN YAKS]

[Illustration: OUR CARAVAN CROSSING THE TERELCHE RIVER]

We made our camp on a beautiful bit of lawn within a few hundred yards
of one of the most interesting of all the Urga temples. It is known
to the foreigners in the city as "God's Brother's House," for it was
the residence of the Hutukhtu's late brother. The temple presents a
bewildering collection of carved gables and gayly painted pavilions
flaunting almost every color of the rainbow. Yvette and I were consumed
with curiosity to see what was contained within the high palisades
which surround the buildings. We knew it would be impossible to obtain
permission for her to go inside, and one evening as we were walking
along the walls we glanced through the open gate. No one was in sight
and from somewhere in the far interior we heard the moaning chant of
many voices. Evidently the lamas were at their evening prayers.

We stepped inside the door intending only to take a rapid look. The
entire court was deserted, so we slipped through the second gate and
stood just at the entrance of the main temple, the "holy of holies." In
the half darkness we could see the tiny points of yellow light where
candles burned before the altar. On either side was a double row of
kneeling lamas, their wailing chant broken by the clash of cymbals and
the boom of drums.

Beside the temple were a hideous foreign house and an enormous
_yurt_--evidently the former residences of "God's Brother"; in the
corners of the compound were ornamental pavilions painted green and
red. Except for these, the court was empty.

Suddenly there was a stir among the lamas, and we dashed away like
frightened rabbits, dodging behind the gateposts until we were safe
outside. It was not until some days later that we learned what a really
dangerous thing it was to do, for the temple is one of the holiest in
Urga, and in it women are never allowed. Had a Mongol seen us, our camp
would have been stormed by a mob of frenzied lamas.

A few days later we had an experience which demonstrates how quickly
trouble can arise where religious superstitions are involved. My wife
and I had put the motion picture camera in one of the carts and, with
our Mongol driving, went to the summit of the hill above the Lama City
to film a panoramic view of Urga. We, ourselves, were on horseback.
After getting the pictures, we drove down the main street of the city
and stopped before the largest temple, which I had photographed several
times before.

As soon as the motion picture machine was in position, about five
hundred lamas gathered about us. It was a good-natured crowd, however,
and we had almost finished work, when a "black Mongol" (i.e., one with
a queue, not a lama) pushed his way among the priests and began to
harangue them violently. In a few moments he boldly grasped me by the
arm. Fearing that trouble might arise, I smiled and said, in Chinese,
that we were going away. The Mongol began to gesticulate wildly and
attempted to pull me with him farther into the crowd of lamas, who
also were becoming excited. I was being separated from Yvette, and
realizing that it would be dangerous to get far away from her, I
suddenly wrenched my arm free and threw the Mongol to the ground; then
I rushed through the line of lamas surrounding Yvette, and we backed up
against the cart.

I had an automatic pistol in my pocket, but it would have been suicide
to shoot except as a last resort. When a Mongol "starts anything" he is
sure to finish it; he is not like a Chinese, who will usually run at
the first shot. We stood for at least three minutes with that wall of
scowling brutes ten feet away. They were undecided what to do and were
only waiting for a leader to close in. One huge beast over six feet
tall was just in front of me, and as I stood with my fingers crooked
about the trigger of the automatic in my pocket, I thought, "If you
start, I'm going to nail you anyway."

Just at this moment of indecision our Mongol leaped on my wife's pony,
shouted that he was going to Duke Loobitsan Yangsen, an influential
friend of ours, and dashed away. Instantly attention turned from us to
him. Fifty men were on horseback in a second, flying after him at full
speed. I climbed into the cart, shouting to Yvette to jump on Kublai
Khan and run; but she would not leave me. At full speed we dashed down
the hill, the plunging horses scattering lamas right and left. Our
young Mongol had saved us from a situation which momentarily might have
become critical.

At the entrance to the main street of Urga below the Lama City I saw
the black Mongol who had started all the trouble. I jumped to the
ground, seized him by the collar and one leg, and attempted to throw
him into the cart for I had a little matter to settle with him which
could best be done to my satisfaction where we were without spectators.

At the same instant a burly policeman, wearing a saber fully five feet
long, seized my horse by the bridle. At the black Mongol's instigation
(who, I discovered, was himself a policeman) he had been waiting to
arrest us when we came into the city. Since it was impossible to learn
what had caused the trouble, Yvette rode to Andersen, Meyer's compound
to bring back Mr. Olufsen and his interpreter. She found the whole
courtyard swarming with excited Mongol soldiers. A few moments later
Olufsen arrived, and we were allowed to return to his house on parole.
Then he visited the Foreign Minister, who telephoned the police that we
were not to be molested further.

We could never satisfactorily determine what it was all about for
every one had a different story. The most plausible explanation was
as follows. Russians had been rather _persona non grata_ in Urga
since the collapse of the empire, and the Mongols were ready to annoy
them whenever it was possible to do so and "get away with it." All
foreigners are supposed to be Russians by the average native and, when
the black Mongol discovered us using a strange machine, he thought it
an excellent opportunity to "show off" before the lamas. Therefore, he
told them that we were casting a spell over the great temple by means
of the motion picture camera which I was swinging up and down and from
side to side. This may not be the true explanation of the trouble but
at least it was the one which sounded most logical to us.

Our lama had been caught in the city, and it was with difficulty that
we were able to obtain his release. The police charged that he tried to
escape when they ordered him to stop. He related how they had slapped
his face and pulled his ears before they allowed him to leave the
jail, and he was a very much frightened young man when he appeared at
Andersen, Meyer's compound. However, he was delighted to have escaped
so easily, as he had had excellent prospects of spending a week or two
in one of the prison coffins.

The whole performance had the gravest possibilities, and we were
exceedingly fortunate in not having been seriously injured or killed.
By playing upon their superstitions, the black Mongol had so inflamed
the lamas that they were ready for anything. I should never have
allowed them to separate me from my wife and, to prevent it, probably
would have had to use my pistol. Had I begun to shoot, death for both
of us would have been inevitable.

The day that we arrived in Urga from the plains we found the city
flooded. The great square in front of the horse market was a
chocolate-colored lake; a brown torrent was rushing down the main
street; and every alley was two feet deep in water, or a mass of
liquid mud. It was impossible to walk without wading to the knees and
even our horses floundered and slipped about, covering us with mud and
water. The river valley, too, presented quite a different picture than
when we had seen it last. Instead of open sweeps of grassland dotted
with an occasional _yurt_, now there were hundreds of felt dwellings
interspersed with tents of white or blue. It was like the encampment of
a great army, or a collection of huge beehives.

Most of the inhabitants were Mongols from the city who had pitched
their _yurts_ in the valley for the summer. Although the wealthiest
natives seem to feel that for the reception of guests their "position"
demands a foreign house, they seldom live in it. Duke Loobitsan Yangsen
had completed his mansion the previous winter. It was built in Russian
style and furnished with an assortment of hideous rugs and foreign
furniture which made one shiver. But in the yard behind the house his
_yurt_ was pitched, and there he lived in comfort.

Loobitsan was a splendid fellow--one of the best types of Mongol
aristocrats. From the crown of his finely molded head to the toes of
his pointed boots, he was every inch a duke. I saw him in his house
one day reclining on a hang while he received half a dozen minor
officials, and his manner of quiet dignity and conscious power recalled
accounts of the Mongol princes as Marco Polo saw them. Loobitsan liked
foreigners and one could always find a cordial reception in his
compound. He spoke excellent Chinese and was unusually well educated
for a Mongol.

Although he was in charge of the customs station at Mai-ma-cheng
and owned considerable property, which he rented to the Chinese for
vegetable gardens, his chief wealth was in horses. In Mongolia a man's
worldly goods are always measured in horses, not in dollars. When he
needs cash he sells a pony or two and buys more if he has any surplus
silver. His bank is the open plain; his herdsmen are the guardians of
his riches.

Loobitsan's wife, the duchess, was a nice-looking woman who seemed
rather bored with life. She rejoiced in two gorgeous strings of pearls,
which on state occasions hung from the silver-encrusted horns of hair
to the shoulders of her brocade jacket. Ordinarily she appeared in a
loose red gown and hardly looked regal.

Loobitsan had never seen Peking and was anxious to go. When General
Hsu Shu-tseng made his _coup d'etat_ in November, 1919, Mr. Larsen
and Loobitsan came to the capital as representatives of the Hutukhtu,
and one day, as my wife was stepping into a millinery shop on Rue
Marco Polo, she met him dressed in all his Mongol splendor. But he was
so closely chaperoned by Chinese officials that he could not enjoy
himself. I saw Larsen not long afterward, and he told me that Loobitsan
was already pining for the open plains of his beloved Mongolia.

In mid-July, when we returned to Urga, the vegetable season was at
its height. The Chinese, of course, do all the gardening; and the
splendid radishes, beets, onions, carrots, cabbages, and beans, which
were brought every day to market, showed the wonderful possibilities
for development along these lines. North of the Bogdo-ol there is a
superabundance of rain and vegetables grow so rapidly in the rich soil
that they are deliciously sweet and tender, besides being of enormous
size. While we were on the plains our food had consisted largely of
meat and we reveled in the change of diet. We wished often for fruit
but that is nonexistent in Mongolia except a few, hard, watery pears,
which merchants import from China.

Mr. Larsen was in Kalgan for the summer but Mr. Olufsen turned over
his house and compound for our work. I am afraid we bothered him
unmercifully, yet his good nature was unfailing and he was never too
busy to assist us in the innumerable details of packing the specimens
we had obtained upon the plains and in preparing for our trip into the
forests north of Urga. It is men like him who make possible scientific
work in remote corners of the world.



CHAPTER XI

MONGOLS AT HOME


Until we left Urga the second time Mongolia, to us, had meant only the
Gobi Desert and the boundless, rolling plains. When we set our faces
northward we found it was also a land of mountains and rivers, of
somber forests and gorgeous flowers.

A new forest always thrills me mightily. Be it of stately northern
pines, or a jungle tangle in the tropics, it is so filled with glamour
and mystery that I enter it with a delightful feeling of expectation.
There is so much that is concealed from view, it is so pregnant with
the possibility of surprises, that I am as excited as a child on
Christmas morning.

The forests of Mongolia were by no means disappointing. We entered them
just north of Urga where the Siberian life zone touches the plains of
the central Asian region and the beginnings of a new fauna are sharply
delineated by the limit of the trees. We had learned that the Terelche
River would offer a fruitful collecting ground. It was only forty miles
from Urga and the first day's trip was a delight. We traveled northward
up a branch valley enclosed by forested hills and carpeted with
flowers. Never had we seen such flowers! Acre after acre of bluebells,
forget-me-nots, daisies, buttercups, and cowslips converted the entire
valley into a vast "old-fashioned garden," radiantly beautiful. Our
camp that night was at the base of a mountain called the Da Wat which
shut us off from the Terelche River.

On the second morning, instead of golden sunshine, we awoke to a
cloud-hung sky and floods of rain. It was one of those days when
everything goes wrong; when with all your heart you wish to swear but
instead you must smile and smile and keep on smiling. No one wished
to break camp in the icy deluge but there were three marshes between
us and the Terelche River which were bad enough in dry weather. A few
hours of rain would make them impassable, perhaps for weeks.

My wife and I look back upon that day and the next as one of our few,
real hardships. After eight hours of killing work, wet to the skin
and almost frozen, we crossed the first dangerous swamp and reached
the summit of the mountain. Then the cart, with our most valuable
possessions, plunged off the road on a sharp descent and crashed into
the forest below. Chen and I escaped death by a miracle and the other
Chinese taxidermist, who was safe and sound, promptly had hysterics. It
was discouraging, to say the least. We camped in the gathering darkness
on a forty-five-degree slope in mud twelve inches deep. Next day we
gathered up our scattered belongings, repaired the cart, and reached
the river.

I had a letter from Duke Loobitsan Yangsen to a famous old hunter,
Tserin Dorchy by name, who lives in the Terelche region. He had been
gone for six days on a shooting trip when we came into the beautiful
valley where his _yurts_ were pitched, but his wife welcomed us with
true Mongolian hospitality and a great dish of cheese. Our own camp we
made just within the forest, a mile away.

For a week we hunted and trapped in the vicinity, awaiting Tserin
Dorchy's return. Our arrival created a deal of interest among the half
dozen families in the neighborhood and, after each had paid a formal
call, they apparently agreed that we were worthy of being accepted
into their community. We were nomads for the time, just as they are
for life. We had pitched our tents in the forest, as they had erected
their _yurts_ in the meadow beside the river. When the biting winds of
winter swept the valley a few months later they would move, with all
their sheep and goats, to the shelter of the hills and we would seek
new hunting grounds.

Before many days we learned all the valley gossip. Moreover, we
furnished some ourselves for one of the Chinese taxidermists became
enamored of a Mongol maiden. There were two of them, to be exact,
and they both "vamped" him persistently. The toilettes with which
they sought to allure him were marvels of brilliance, and one of them
actually scrubbed her little face and hands with a cake of my yellow,
scented soap.

Our servant's affections finally centered upon the younger girl and
I smiled paternally upon the wild-wood romance. Every night, with a
sheepish grin, Chen would ask to borrow a pony. The responsibilities
of chaperones sat lightly on our shoulders, but sometimes my wife and I
would wander out to the edge of the forest and watch him to the bottom
of the hill. Usually his love was waiting and they would ride off
together in the moonlight--where, we never asked!

But we could not blame the boy--those Mongolian nights were made for
lovers. The marvel of them we hold among our dearest memories. Wherever
we may be, the fragrance of pine trees or the sodden smell of a marsh
carries us back in thought to the beautiful valley and fills our hearts
again with the glory of its clear, white nights.

No matter what the day brought forth, we looked forward to the evening
hunt as best of all. As we trotted our ponies homeward through the
fresh, damp air we could watch the shadows deepen in the somber
masses of the forest, and on the hilltops see the ragged silhouettes
of sentinel pines against the rose glow of the sky. Ribbons of mist,
weaving in and out above the stream, clothed the alders in ghostly
silver and rested in billowy masses upon the marshes. Ere the moon had
risen, the stars blazed out like tiny lanterns in the sky. Over all the
valley there was peace unutterable.

We were soon admitted to a delightful comradeship with the Mongols of
our valley. We shared their joys and sorrows and nursed their minor
ills. First to seek our aid was the wife of the absent hunter, Tserin
Dorchy. She rode up one day with a two-year-old baby on her arm. The
little fellow was badly infected with eczema, and for three weeks one
of the lamas in the tiny temple near their _yurt_ had been mumbling
prayers and incantations in his behalf, without avail. Fortunately,
I had a supply of zinc ointment and before the month was ended the
baby was almost well. Then came the lama with his bill "for services
rendered," and Tserin Dorchy contributed one hundred dollars to his
priestly pocket. A young Mongol with a dislocated shoulder was my next
patient, and when I had made him whole, the lama again claimed the
credit and collected fifty dollars as the honorarium for his prayers.
And so it continued throughout the summer; I made the cures, and the
priest got the fees.

Although the Mongols all admitted the efficacy of my foreign medicines,
nevertheless they could not bring themselves to dispense with the lama
and his prayers. Superstition was too strong and fear that the priest
would send an army of evil spirits flocking to their _yurts_ if they
offended him brought the money, albeit reluctantly, from their pockets.
Although the lama never proposed a partnership arrangement, as I
thought he might have done, he spent much time about our camp and often
brought us bowls of curded milk and cheese. He was a wandering priest
and not a permanent resident of the valley, but he evidently decided
not to wander any farther until we, too, should leave, for he was with
us until the very end.

A short time after we had made our camp near the Terelche River a
messenger arrived from Urga with a huge package of mail. In it was a
copy of _Harper's Magazine_ containing an account of a flying visit
which I had made to Urga in September, 1918.[1] There were half a dozen
Mongols near our tent, among whom was Madame Tserin Dorchy. I explained
the pictures to the hunter's wife in my best Chinese while Yvette
"stood by" with her camera and watched results. Although the woman
had visited Urga several times she had never seen a photograph or a
magazine and for ten minutes there was no reaction. Then she recognized
a Mongol headdress similar to her own. With a gasp of astonishment
she pointed it out to the others and burst into a perfect torrent of
guttural expletives. A picture of the great temple at Urga, where she
once had gone to worship, brought forth another volume of Mongolian
adjectives and her friends literally fought for places in the front row.

[Footnote 1: _Harper's Magazine_, June, 1919, pp. 1-16.]

News travels quickly in Mongolia and during the next week men and women
rode in from _yurts_ forty or fifty miles away to see that magazine.
I will venture to say that no American publication ever received more
appreciation or had a more picturesque audience than did that copy of
_Harper's_.

The absent Tserin Dorchy returned one day when I was riding down the
valley with his wife. We saw two strange figures on horseback emerging
from the forest, each with a Russian rifle on his back. Their saddles
were strung about with half-dried skins--four roebuck, a musk deer, a
moose, and a pair of elk antlers in the "velvet."

PLATE XI

[Illustration: OUR BASE CAMP AT THE EDGE OF THE FOREST]

[Illustration: THE MONGOL VILLAGE OF THE TERELCHE VALLEY]

With a joyful shout Madame Tserin Dorchy rode toward her husband. He
was an oldish man, of fifty-five years perhaps, with a face as dried
and weather-beaten as the leather beneath his saddle. He may have been
glad to see her but his only sign of greeting was a "_sai_" and a nod
to include us both. Her pleasure was undisguised, however, and as we
rode down the valley she chattered volubly between the business of
driving in half a dozen horses and a herd of sheep. The monosyllabic
replies of the hunter were delivered in a voice which seemed to come
from a long way off or from out of the earth beneath his pony's feet.
I was interested to see what greeting there would be upon his arrival
at the _yurt_. His two daughters and his infant son were waiting at the
door but he had not even a word for them and only a pat upon the head
for the baby.

All Mongols are independent but Tserin Dorchy was an extreme in every
way. He ruled the half dozen families in the valley like an autocrat.
What he commanded was done without a question. I was anxious to get
away and announced that we would start the day after his arrival. "No,"
said he, "we will go two days from now." Argument was of no avail.
So far as he was concerned, the matter was closed. When it came to
arranging wages he stated his terms, which were exorbitant. I could
accept them or not as I pleased; he would not reduce his demands by a
single copper.

As a matter of fact, offers of money make little impression upon the
ordinary Mongols. They produce well-nigh everything they need for they
dress in sheepskins during the winter and eat little else than mutton.
When they want cloth, tea, or ammunition, they simply sell a sheep or a
pony or barter with the Chinese merchants.

We found that the personal equation enters very largely into any
dealings with a Mongol. If he likes you, remuneration is an incident.
If he is not interested, money does not tempt him. His independence is
a product of the wild, free life upon the plains. He relies entirely
upon himself for he has learned that in the struggle for existence, it
is he himself that counts. Of the Chinaman, the opposite is true. His
life is one of the community and he depends upon his family and his
village. He is gregarious above all else and he hates to live alone.
In this dependence upon his fellow men he knows that money counts--and
there is very little that a Chinaman will not do for money.

On one of his trips across Mongolia, Mr. Coltman's car became badly
mired within a stone's throw of a Mongol _yurt_. Two or three oxen were
grazing in front of the house and Coltman asked the native to pull his
car out of the mud. The Mongol, who was comfortably smoking his pipe in
the sun, was not at all interested in the matter, but finally remarked
casually that he would do it for eight dollars. There was no argument.
Eight dollars was what he said, and eight dollars it would have to be
or he would not move. The entire operation of dragging the car to firm
ground consumed just four minutes. But this instance was an exception
for usually a Mongol is the very essence of good nature and is ready to
assist whenever a traveler is in difficulty.

Tserin Dorchy's independence kept us in a constant state of irritation
for it was manifested in a dozen different ways. We would gladly have
dispensed with his services but his word was law in the community
and, if he had issued a "bull" against us, we could not have obtained
another man. For all his age, he was an excellent hunter and we came to
be good friends.

The old man's independence once led him into serious trouble. He had
often looked at the Bogdo-ol with longing eyes and had made short
excursions, without his gun, into its sacred forests. On one of these
trips he saw a magnificent elk with antlers such as he had never
dreamed were carried by any living animal. He could not forget that
deer. Its memory was a thorn that pricked him wherever else he hunted.
Finally he determined to have it, even if Mongolian law and the Lama
Church had proclaimed it sacred.

Toward the end of July, when he deemed the antlers just ripe for
plucking, he slipped into the forest during the night and climbed
the mountain. After two days he killed the elk. But the lamas who
patrol "God's Mountain" had heard the shot and drove him into a great
rock-strewn gorge where they lost his trail. Believing that he was
still within hearing distance, they shouted to one another that it
was useless to hunt longer and that they had best return. Then they
concealed themselves and awaited results. An hour later Tserin Dorchy
crawled out from under a bowlder directly into their hands.

He had been well-nigh killed before the lamas brought him down to Urga
and was still unconscious when they dumped him unceremoniously into
one of the prison coffins. He was sentenced to remain a year; but the
old man would not have lived a month if Duke Loobitsan Yangsen, with
whom he had often hunted, had not obtained his release. His independent
spirit is by no means chastened, however, and I feel sure that he will
shoot another deer on the Bogdo-ol before he dies!

Three days after his return home, my wife and I left with him and three
other Mongols on our first real hunt. Our equipment consisted only of
sleeping bags and such food as could be carried on our horses; it was
a time when living "close to nature" was really necessary. Eight miles
away we stopped at the entrance to a tiny valley. By arranging a bit of
canvas over the low branches of a larch tree we prepared a shelter for
ourselves and another for the hunters.

In fifteen minutes camp was ready and a fire blazing. When a huge iron
basin of water had begun to warm one of the Mongols threw in a handful
of brick tea, which resembled nothing so much as powdered tobacco.
After the black fluid had boiled vigorously for ten minutes each one
filled his wooden eating bowl, put in a great chunk of rancid butter,
and then a quantity of finely-ground meal. This is what the Tibetans
call _tsamba_, and the buttered tea was prepared exactly as we had seen
the Tibetans make it. The _tsamba_, however, was only to enable them to
"carry on" until we killed some game; for meat is the Mongols' "staff
of life," and they care little for anything except animal food.

The evening hunt yielded no results. Two of the Mongols had missed a
bear, I had seen a roebuck, and the old man had lost a wounded musk
deer on the mountain ridge above the camp. But the game was there and
we knew where to find it on the morrow. In the gray light of early
morning Tserin Dorchy and I rode up the valley through the dew-soaked
grass. Once the old man stopped to examine the rootings of a _ga-hai_
(wild boar), then he continued steadily along the stream bed. In the
half-gloom of the forest the bushes and trees seemed flat and colorless
but suddenly the sun burned through an horizon cloud, flooding the
woods with golden light. The whole forest seemed instantly to awaken.
It was as though we had come into a dimly lighted room and touched an
electric switch. The trees and bushes assumed a dozen subtle shades of
green, and the flowers blazed like jewels in the gorgeous wood-land
carpet.

I should have liked to spend the morning in the forest but we knew
the deer were feeding in the open. On foot we climbed upward through
knee-high grass to the summit of a hill. There seemed nothing living in
the meadow but as we walked along the ridge a pair of grouse shot into
the air followed by half a dozen chicks which buzzed away like brown
bullets to the shelter of the trees. We crossed a flat depression and
rested for a moment on a rounded hilltop. Below us a new valley sloped
downward, bathed in sunshine. Tserin Dorchy wandered slowly to the
right while I studied the edge of a marsh with my glasses.

Suddenly I heard the muffled beat of hoofs. Jerking the glasses from
my eyes I saw a huge roebuck, crowned with a splendid pair of antlers,
bound into view not thirty feet away. For the fraction of a second he
stopped, with his head thrown back, then dashed along the hillside.
That instant of hesitation gave me just time to seize my rifle, catch a
glimpse of the yellow-red body through the rear sight, and fire as he
disappeared. Leaping to my feet, I saw four slender legs waving in the
air. The bullet had struck him in the shoulder and he was down for good.

My heart pounded with exultation as I lifted his magnificent head. He
was the finest buck I had ever seen and I gloated over his body as a
miser handles his gold. And gold, shining in the sunlight, was never
more beautiful than his spotless summer coat.

Right where he lay upon the hillside, amid a veritable garden of
bluebells, daisies, and yellow roses, was the setting for the group we
wished to prepare in the American Museum of Natural History. He would
be its central figure for his peer could not be found in all Mongolia.

As I stood there in the brilliant sunlight, mentally planning the
group, I thought how fortunate I was to have been born a naturalist. A
sportsman shoots a deer and takes its head; later, it hangs above his
fireplace or in the trophy room. If he be one of imagination, in years
to come it will bring back to him the feel of the morning air, the
fragrance of the pine trees, and the wild thrill of exultation as the
buck went down. But it is a memory picture only and limited to himself.
The mounted head can never bring to others the smallest part of the joy
he felt and the scene he saw.

The naturalist shares his pleasure and, after all, it is largely that
which counts. When the group is constructed in the Museum under his
direction he can see reproduced with fidelity and in minutest detail
this hidden corner of the world. He can share with thousands of city
dwellers the joy of his hunt and teach them something of the animals he
loves and the lands they call their own.

To his scientific training he owes another source of pleasure. Every
animal is a step in the solution of some one of nature's problems.
Perhaps it is a new discovery, a species unknown to science. Asia is
full of such surprises--I have already found many. Be the specimen
large or small, if it has fallen to your trap or rifle, there is the
thrill of knowing that you have traced one more small line on the white
portion of nature's map.

While I was gazing at the fallen buck Tserin Dorchy stood like a statue
on the hilltop, scanning the forest and valley with the hope that my
shot had disturbed another animal. In a few moments he came down to
me. The old man had lost some of his accustomed calm and, with thumb
upraised, murmured, "_Sai, sai._" Then he gave, in vivid pantomime, a
recital of how he suddenly surprised the buck feeding just below the
hill crest and how he had seen me jerk the glasses from my eyes and
shoot.

Sitting down beside the deer we went through the ceremony of a smoke.
Then Tserin Dorchy eviscerated the animal, being careful to preserve
the heart, liver, stomach, and intestines. Like all other Orientals
with whom I have hunted, the Mongols boiled and ate the viscera as soon
as we reached camp and seemed to consider them an especial delicacy.

Some weeks later we killed two elk and Tserin Dorchy inflated and dried
the intestines. These were to be used as containers for butter and
mutton fat. After tanning the stomach he manufactured from it a bag to
contain milk or other liquids. His wife showed me some really beautiful
leather which she had made from roebuck skins. Tanning hides and making
felt were the only strictly Mongolian industries which we observed in
the region visited by our expedition. The Mongols do a certain amount
of logging and charcoal burning and in the autumn they cut hay; but
with these exceptions we never saw them do any work which could not be
done from horseback.

Our first hunting trip lasted ten days and in the following months
there were many others. We became typical nomads, spending a day
or two in some secluded valley only to move again to other hunting
grounds. For the time we were Mongols in all essentials. The primitive
instincts, which lie just below the surface in us all, responded to
the subtle lure of nature and without an effort we slipped into the
care-free life of these children of the woods and plains.

We slept at night under starlit skies in the clean, fresh forest; the
first gray light of dawn found us stealing through the dew-soaked grass
on the trail of elk, moose, boar or deer; and when the sun was high,
like animals, we spent the hours in sleep until the lengthening shadows
sent us out again for the evening hunt. In those days New York seemed
to be on another planet and very, very far away. Happiness and a great
peace was ours, such as those who dwell in cities can never know.

In the midst of our second hunt the Mongols suddenly announced that
they must return to the Terelche Valley. We did not want to go, but
Tserin Dorchy was obdurate. With the limited Chinese at our command we
could not learn the reason, and at the base camp Lü, "the interpreter,"
was wholly incoherent. "To-morrow, plenty Mongol come," he said.
"Riding pony, all same Peking. Two men catch hold, both fall down." My
wife was perfectly sure that he had lost his mind, but by a flash of
intuition I got his meaning. K was to be a field meet. "Riding pony,
all same Peking" meant races, and "two men catch hold, both fall down"
could be nothing else than wrestling. I was very proud of myself, and
Lü was immensely relieved.

Athletic contests are an integral part of the life of every Mongol
community, as I knew, and the members of our valley family were to
hold their annual games. At Urga, in June, the great meet which
the Living God blesses with his presence is an amazing spectacle,
reminiscent of the pageants of the ancient emperors. All the _élite_ of
Mongolia gather on the banks of the Tola River, dressed in their most
splendid robes, and the archery, wrestling, and horse racing are famous
throughout the East.

This love of sport is one of the most attractive characteristics of the
Mongols. It is a common ground on which a foreigner immediately has
a point of contact. The Chinese, on the contrary, despise all forms
of physical exercise. They consider it "bad form," and they do not
understand any sport which calls for violent exertion. They prefer to
take a quiet walk, carrying their pet bird in a cage for an airing; to
play a game of cards; or, if they must travel, to loll back in a sedan
chair, with the curtains drawn and every breath of air excluded.

The Terelche Valley meet was held on a flat strip of ground just below
our camp. As my wife and I rode out of the forest, a dozen Mongols
swept by, gorgeous in flaming red and streaming peacock plumes. They
waved a challenge to us, and we joined them in a wild race to a flag
in the center of the field. On the side of the hill sat a row of lamas
in dazzling yellow gowns; opposite them were the judges, among whom
I recognized Tserin Dorchy, though he was so bedecked, behatted and
beribboned that I could hardly realize that it was the same old fellow
with whom we had lived in camp. (I presume if he saw me in the clothes
of civilization he would be equally surprised.)

In front of the judges, who represented the most respected laity of the
community, were bowls of cheese cut into tiny cubes. The spectators
consisted of two groups of women, who sat some distance apart in
compact masses, the "horns" of their headdresses almost interlocked.
Their costumes were marvels of brilliance. They looked like a flock of
gorgeous butterflies, which had alighted for a moment on the grass.

The first race consisted of about a dozen ponies, ridden by
fourteen-year-old boys and girls. They swept up the valley from the
starting point in full run, hair streaming, and uttering wailing yells.
The winner was led by two old Mongols to the row of lamas, before whom
he prostrated himself twice, and received a handful of cheese. This he
scattered broadcast, as he was conducted ceremoniously to the judges,
from whom he returned with palms brimming with bits of cheese.

Finally, all the contestants in the races, and half a dozen of the
Mongols on horseback, lined up in front of the priests, each one
singing a barbaric chant. Then they circled about the lamas, beating
their horses until they were in a full run. After the race came
wrestling matches. The contestants sparred for holds and when finally
clinched, each with a grip on the other's waistband, endeavored to
obtain a fall by suddenly heaving. When the last wrestling match was
finished, a tall Mongol raised the yellow banner, and followed by every
man and boy on horseback, circled about the seated lamas. Faster and
faster they rode, yelling like demons, and then strung off across the
valley to the nearest _yurt_.

Although the sports in themselves were not remarkable, the scene was
picturesque in the extreme. Opposite to the grassy hill the forest-clad
mountains rose, tier upon tier, in dark green masses. The brilliant
yellow lamas faced by the Mongols in their blazing robes and pointed
yellow hats, the women, flashing with "jewels" and silver, the
half-wild chant, and the rush of horses, gave a barbaric touch which
thrilled and fascinated us. We could picture this same scene seven
hundred years ago, for it is an ancient custom which has come down from
the days of Kublai Khan. It was as though the veil of centuries had
been lifted for a moment to allow us to carry away, in motion pictures,
this drama of Mongolian life.



CHAPTER XII

NOMADS OF THE FOREST


Three days after the field meet we left with Tserin Dorchy and two
other Mongols for a wapiti hunt. We rode along the Terelche River for
three miles, sometimes splashing through the soggy edges of a marsh,
and again halfway up a hillside where the ground was firm and hard;
then, turning west on a mountain slope, we came to a low plateau which
rolled away in undulating sweeps of hush-land between the edges of the
dark pine woods. It was a truly boreal landscape; we were on the edge
of the forest, which stretches in a vast, rolling sea of green far
beyond the Siberian frontier.

From the summit of the table-land we descended between dark walls of
pine trees to a beautiful valley filled with parklike openings. Just
at dark Tserin Dorchy turned abruptly into the stream and crossed to a
pretty grove of spruces on a little island formed by two branches of
the river. It was as secluded as a cavern, and made an ideal place in
which to camp. A hundred feet away the tent was invisible and, save for
the tiny wreaths of smoke which curled above the tree-tops, there was
no sign of our presence there.

After dinner Tserin Dorchy shouldered a pack of skins and went to a
"salt lick" in a meadow west of camp to spend the night. He returned
in the first gray light of dawn, just as I was making coffee, and
reported that he had heard wapiti barking, but that no animals had
visited the lick. He directed me to go along the hillsides north of
camp, while the Mongol hunters struck westward across the mountains.

I had not been gone an hour, and had just worked across the lower end
of a deep ravine, when I heard a wapiti bark above and behind me. It
was a hoarse roar, exactly like a roebuck, except that it was deeper
toned and louder. I was thrilled as though by an electric current. It
seemed very far away, much farther than it really was, and as I crept
to the summit of a ridge a splendid bull wapiti broke through the
underbrush. He had been feeding in the bottom of the ravine and saw my
head instantly as it appeared above the sky line. There was no chance
to shoot because of the heavy cover; and even when he paused for a
moment on the opposite hillside a screen of tree branches was in my way.

Absolutely disgusted with myself, I followed the animal's trail until
it was lost in the heavy forest. The wapiti was gone for good, but on
the way back to camp I picked up a roebuck which acted as some balm to
my injured feelings.

I had climbed to the crest of the mountains enclosing the valley in
which we were camped, and was working slowly down the rim of a deep
ravine. In my soft leather moccasins I could walk over the springy moss
without a sound, and suddenly saw a yellow-red form moving about in a
luxurious growth of grass and tinted leaves. My heart missed a beat,
for I thought it was a wapiti.

Instantly I dropped behind a bush and, as the animal moved into the
open, I saw it was an enormous roebuck bearing a splendid pair of
antlers. I watched him for a moment, then aimed low behind the foreleg
and fired. The deer bounded into the air and rolled to the bottom of
the ravine, kicking feebly; my bullet had burst the heart. It was one
of the few times I have ever seen an animal instantly killed with a
heart shot for usually they run a few yards, and then suddenly collapse.

The buck was almost as large as the first one I had killed with Tserin
Dorchy but it had a twisted right antler. Evidently it had been injured
during the animal's youth and had continued to grow at right angles to
the head, instead of straight up in the normal way.

When I reached camp I found Yvette busily picking currants in the
bushes beside the stream. Her face and hands were covered with red
stains and she looked like a very naughty little boy who had run
away from school for a day in the woods. Although blueberries grew
on every hillside, we never found strawberries, such as the Russians
in Urga gather on the Bogdo-ol, and only one patch of raspberries on
a burned-off mountain slope; But the currants were delicious when
smothered in sugar.

Yvette and I rode out to the spot where I had killed the roebuck to
bring it in on Kublai Khan and before we returned the Mongol hunters
had reached camp; neither of them had seen game of any kind. During
the day we discovered some huge trout in the stream almost at our door.
We had no hooks or hues, but the Mongols devised a way to catch the
fish which brought us food, although it would have made a sportsman
shiver. They built a dam of stones across the stream and one man waded
slowly along, beating the water with a branch to drive the trout out
of the pools into the ripples; then we dashed into the water and tried
to catch them with our hands. At least a dozen got away but we secured
three by cornering them among the rocks.

They were huge trout, nearly three feet long. Unfortunately I was
not able to preserve any of them and I do not know what species they
represented. The Mongols and Chinese often catch the same fish in the
Tola River by means of nets and we sometimes bought them in Urga. One,
which we put on the scales, weighed nine pounds. Although Ted MacCallie
tried to catch them with a fly at Urga he never had any success but
they probably would take live bait.

August 20 was our second day in camp. At dawn I was awakened by the
patter of rain on the tent and soon it became a steady downpour. There
was no use in hunting and I went back to sleep. At seven o'clock Chen,
who was fussing about the fire, rushed over to say that he could see
two wapiti on the opposite mountain. Yvette and I scrambled out of our
sleeping bags just in time to see a doe and a fawn silhouetted against
the sky rim as they disappeared over the crest. Half an hour later they
returned, and I tried a stalk but I lost them in the fog and rain.
Tserin Dorchy believed that the animals had gone into a patch of forest
on the other side of the mountain. We tried to drive them out but the
only thing that appeared was a four-year-old roebuck which the Mongol
killed with a single shot.

PLATE XII

[Illustration: WRESTLERS AT TERELCHE VALLEY FIELD MEET]

[Illustration: WOMEN SPECTATORS AT THE FIELD MEET]

We had ridden up the mountain by zigzagging across the slope, but
when we started back I was astounded to see Tserin Dorchy keep to his
saddle. The wet grass was so slippery that I could not even stand erect
and half the time was sliding on my back, while Kublai Khan picked his
way carefully down the steep descent. The Mongol never left his horse
till we reached camp. Sometimes he even urged the pony to a trot and,
moreover, had the roebuck strapped behind his saddle. I would not have
ridden down that mountain side for all the deer in Mongolia!

It had begun to rain in earnest by eleven o'clock, and we spent a
quiet afternoon. There is a charm about a rainy day when one can read
comfortably and let it pour. The steady patter on the tent gives one
the delightful sensation of immediately escaping extreme discomfort.
There is no pleasure in being warm unless the weather is cold; and one
never realizes how agreeable it is to be dry unless the day is wet.
This day was very wet indeed. We had a month's accumulation of unopened
magazines which a Mongol had brought to our base camp just before
we left, so there was no chance of being bored. The fire had been
built half under a huge, back-log which kept a cheery glow of coals
throughout all the downpour, and Chen made us "_chowdzes_"--delicious
little balls of meat mixed with onions and seasoned with Chinese sauce.
The Mongols slept and ate and slept some more. We ate and slept and
read. Therefore, we were very happy.

The weather during that summer in the forest was a source of constant
surprise to us. We had never seen such rapid changes from brilliant
sunshine to sheets of rain. For an hour or two the sky might stretch
above us like a vast blue curtain flecked with tiny masses of
snow-white clouds. Suddenly, a leaden blanket would spread itself over
every inch of celestial space, while a rush of rain and wind changed
the forest to a black chaos of writhing branches and dripping leaves.
In fifteen minutes the storm would sweep across the mountain tops, and
the sun would again flood our peaceful valley with the golden light of
early autumn.

For autumn had already reached us even though the season was only
mid-August. It was like October in New York, and we had nightly frosts
which withered the countless flowers and turned the leaves to red and
gold. In the morning, when I crossed the meadows to the forest, the
grass was white with frost and crackled beneath my feet like delicate
threads of spun glass. My moccasins were powdered with gleaming
crystals of frozen dew, but at the first touch of sun every twig and
leaf and blade of grass began to drip, as though from a heavy rain. My
feet and legs waist-high were soaked in half an hour, and at the end of
the morning hunt I was as wet as though I had waded a dozen rivers.

One cannot move on foot in northern Mongolia without the certainty of
a thorough wetting. When the sun has dried the dew, there are swamps
and streamlets in every valley and even far up the mountain slopes.
It is the heavy rainfall, the rich soil, and the brilliant sunshine
that make northern Mongolia a paradise of luxurious grass and flowers,
even though the real summer lasts only from May till August. Then, the
valleys are like an exquisite garden and the woods are ablaze with
color. Bluebells, their stalks bending under the weight of blossoms,
clothe every hillside in a glorious azure dress bespangled with yellow
roses, daisies, and forget-me-nots. But I think I like the wild
poppies best of all, for their delicate, fragile beauty is wonderfully
appealing. I learned to love them first in Alaska, where their pale,
yellow faces look up happily from the storm-swept hills of the Pribilof
Islands in the Bering Sea.

Besides its flowers, this northern country is one of exceeding beauty.
The dark green forests of spruce, larch and pine, broken now and then
by a grove of poplars or silver birches, the secluded valleys and the
rounded hills are strangely restful and give one a sense of infinite
peace. It is a place to go for tired nerves. Ragged peaks, towering
mountains, and yawning chasms, splendid as they are, may be subtly
disturbing, engendering a feeling of restlessness and vague depression.
There is none of this in the forests of Mongolia. We felt as though we
might be happy there all our lives--the mad rush of our other world
seemed very far away and not much worth while.

As yet this land has been but lightly touched by the devastating hand
of man. A log road cuts the forest here and there and sometimes we saw
a train of ox-carts winding through the trees; but the primitive beauty
of the mountains remains unmarred, save where a hillside has been swept
by fire. In all our wanderings through the forests we saw no evidences
of occupation by the Mongols except the wood roads and a few scattered
charcoal pits. These were old and moss-grown, and save for ourselves
the valleys were deserted.

One morning while I was hunting north of camp, I heard a wapiti roar
on the summit of a mountain. I found its tracks in the soft earth of
a game trail which wound through forest so dense that I could hardly
see a dozen yards. As I stole along the path I heard a sudden sneeze
exactly like that of a human being and saw a small, dark animal dash
off the trail. I stopped instantly and slowly sank to the ground,
kneeling motionless, with my rifle ready. For five minutes I remained
there--the silence of the forest broken only by the clucking of a
hazel grouse above my head. Then came that sneeze again, sounding even
more human than before. I heard a nervous patter of tiny hoofs, and
the animal sneezed from the bushes at my right. I kept as motionless
as a statue, and the sneezes followed each other in rapid succession,
accompanied by impatient stampings and gentle rustlings in the brush.
Then I saw a tiny head emerge from behind a leafy screen and a pair of
brilliant eyes gazing at me steadily. Very, very slowly I raised the
rifle until the stock nestled against my cheek; then I fired quickly.

Running to the spot where the head had been I found a beautiful
brown-gray animal lying behind a bush. It was no larger than a
half-grown fawn, but on either side of its mouth two daggerlike tusks
projected, slender, sharp and ivory white. It was a musk deer--the
first living, wild one I had ever seen. Even before I touched the body
I inhaled a heavy, not unpleasant, odor of musk and discovered the
gland upon the abdomen. It was three inches long and two inches wide,
but all the hair on the rump and belly was strongly impregnated with
the odor.

These little deer are eagerly sought by the natives throughout the
Orient, as musk is valuable for perfume. In Urga the Mongols could sell
a "pod" for five dollars (silver) and in other parts of China it is
worth considerably more. When we were in Yün-nan we frequently heard of
a musk buyer whom the Paris perfumer, Pinaud, maintained in the remote
mountain village of Atunzi, on the Tibetan frontier.

Because of their commercial value the little animals are relentlessly
persecuted in every country which they inhabit and in some places they
have been completely exterminated. Those in Mongolia are particularly
difficult to kill, since they live only on the mountain summits in the
thickest forests. Indeed, were it not for their insatiable curiosity it
would be almost impossible ever to shoot them.

They might be snared, of course, but I never saw any traps or devices
for catching animals which the Mongols used; they seem to depend
entirely upon their guns. This is quite unlike the Chinese, Koreans,
Manchus, Malays, and other Orientals with whom I have hunted, for they
all have developed ingenious snares, pitfalls and traps.

The musk sac is present only in the male deer and is, of course, for
the purpose of attracting the does. Unfortunately, it is not possible
to distinguish the sexes except upon close examination, for both are
hornless, and as a result the natives sometimes kill females which they
would prefer to leave unmolested.

The musk deer use their tusks for fighting and also to dig up the food
upon which they live. I frequently found new pine cones which they had
torn apart to get at the soft centers. During the winter they develop
an exceedingly long, thick coat of hair which, however, is so brittle
that it breaks almost like dry pine needles; consequently, the skins
have but little commercial value.

Late one rainy afternoon Tserin Dorchy and I rode into a beautiful
valley not far from where we were camped. When well in the upper end,
we left our horses and proceeded on foot toward the summit of a ridge
on which he had killed a bear a month earlier.

Motioning me to walk to the crest of the ridge from the other side, the
old man vanished like a ghost among the trees. When I was nearly at
the top I reached the edge of a small patch of burned forest. In the
half darkness the charred stumps and skeleton trees were as black as
ebony. As I was about to move into the open I saw an object which at
first seemed to be a curiously shaped stump. I looked at it casually,
then something about it arrested my attention. Suddenly a tail switched
nervously and I realized that the "stump" was an enormous wild boar
standing head-on, watching me.

I fired instantly, but even as I pressed the trigger the animal moved
and I knew that the bullet would never reach its mark. But my brain
could not telegraph to my finger quickly enough to stop its action
and the boar dashed away unharmed. It was the largest pig I have ever
seen. As he stood on the summit of the ridge he looked almost as big as
a Mongol pony. It was too dark to follow the animal so I returned to
camp, a very dejected man.

I have never been able to forget that boar and I suppose I never shall.
Later, I killed others but they can never destroy the memory of that
enormous animal as he stood there looking down at me. Had I realized
that it was a pig only the fraction of a second sooner it would have
been a different story. But that is the fortune of shooting. In no
other sport is the line between success and failure so closely drawn;
of course, it is that which makes it so fascinating. At the end of a
long day's hunt one chance may be given; then all depends on a clear
eye, a steady hand and, above all, judgment. In your action in that
single golden second rests the success or failure of, perhaps, a
season's trip. You may have traveled thousands of miles, spent hundreds
of dollars, and had just one shot at the "head of heads."

Some men tell me that they never get excited when they hunt. Thank
God, I do. There would be no fun at all for me if I _didn't_ get
excited. But, fortunately, it all comes after the crucial moment. When
the stock of the rifle settles against my cheek and I look across the
sights, I am as cold as steel. I can shoot, and keep on shooting, with
every brain cell concentrated on the work in hand but when it is done,
for better or worse, I get the reaction which makes it all worth while.

One morning, a week after we had been in camp, Tserin Dorchy and I
discovered a cow and a calf wapiti feeding in an open forest. It was
a delight to see how the old Mongol stalked the deer, slipping from
tree to bush, sometimes on his knees or flat on his face in the soft
moss carpet. When we were two hundred yards away we drew up behind a
stump. I took the cow, while Tserin Dorchy covered the calf and at the
sound of our rifles both animals went down for good. I was glad to have
them for specimens because we never got a shot at a bull in Mongolia,
although twice I lost one by the merest chance. One of our hunters
brought in a three-year-old moose a short time after we got the wapiti
and another had a long chase after a wounded bear.

It was the first week in September when we returned to the base
camp, our ponies heavily loaded with skins and antlers. The Chinese
taxidermists under my direction had made a splendid collection of small
mammals, and we had pretty thoroughly exhausted the resources of the
forests in the Terelche region. Therefore, Yvette and I decided that
it would be well to ride into Urga and make arrangements for our return
to Peking.

We did the fifty miles with the greatest ease and spent the night with
Mamen in Mai-ma-cheng. Next day Mr. and Mrs. MacCallie arrived, much to
our delight. They were to spend the winter in Urga on business and they
brought a supply of much needed ammunition, photographic plates, traps
and my Mannlicher rifle. This equipment had been shipped from New York
ten months earlier but had only just reached Peking and been released
from the Customs through the heroic efforts of Mr. Guptil.

We had another two weeks' hunting trip before we said good-by to
Mongolia but it netted few results. All the valleys, which had been
deserted when we were there before, were filled with Mongols cutting
hay for the winter feed of their sheep and goats. Of course, every camp
was guarded by a dog or two, and their continual barking had driven the
moose, elk, and bear far back into the deepest forests where we had no
time to follow.

Mr. and Mrs. MacCallie had taken a house in Urga, just opposite
the Russian Consulate, and they entertained us while I packed our
collections which were stored in Andersen, Meyer's godown. It was
a full week's work, for we had more than a thousand specimens. The
forests of Mongolia had yielded up their treasures as we had not dared
to hope they would, and we left them with almost as much regret as we
had left the plains.

October first the specimens started southward on camel back. Kublai
Khan, my pony, went with them, while we left in the Chinese Government
motor cars. For two hundred miles we rushed over the same plains which,
a few months earlier, we had laboriously crossed with our caravan.
Every spot was pregnant with delightful memories. At this well we had
camped for a week and hunted antelope; in that ragged mass of rocks we
had killed a wolf; out on the Turin plain we had trapped twenty-six
marmots in an enormous colony.

Those had been glorious days and our hearts were sad as we raced back
to Peking and civilization. But one bright spot remained--we need not
yet leave our beloved East! Far to the south, in brigand-infested
mountains on the edge of China, there dwelt a herd of bighorn sheep,
the _argali_ of the Mongols. Among them was a great ram, and we had
learned his hiding place. How we got him is another story.



CHAPTER XIII

THE PASSING OF MONGOLIAN MYSTERY


I know of no other country about which there is so much
_misinformation_ as about Mongolia. Because the Gobi Desert stretches
through its center the popular conception appears to be that it is
a waste of sand and gravel incapable of producing anything. In the
preceding chapters I have attempted to give a picture of the country
as we found it and, although our interests were purely zoölogical,
I should like to present a few notes regarding its commercial
possibilities, for I have never seen a land which is readily accessible
and is yet so undeveloped.

Every year the Far East is becoming increasingly important to the
Western World, and especially to the people of the United States, for
China and its dependencies is the logical place for the investment of
American capital. It is the last great undeveloped field, and I am
interested in seeing the American business man appreciate the great
opportunities which await him in the Orient.

It is true that the Gobi Desert is a part of Mongolia, but only in
its western half is it a desolate waste; in the eastern section it
gradually changes into a rolling plain covered with "Gobi sage brush"
and short bunch grass. When one looks closely one sees that the
underlying soil is very fine gravel and sand.

There is little water in this region except surface ponds, which are
usually dry in summer, and caravans depend upon wells. The water in the
desert area contains some alkali but, except in a few instances, the
impregnation is so slight that it is not especially disagreeable to the
taste. Mr. Larsen told me that there is no part of the country between
Kalgan and Urga in which water cannot be found within ten or twenty
feet of the surface. I am not prepared to say what this arid region
could be made to produce. Doubtless, from the standpoint of agriculture
it would be of little importance but sheep and goats could live upon
its summer vegetation, I am sure.

It is difficult to say where the Gobi really begins or ends when
crossing it between Kalgan and Urga, for the grasslands both on the
south and north merge so imperceptibly into the arid central part
that there is no real "edge" to the desert; however, it is safe to
take Panj-kiang as the southern margin, and Turin as the northern
limit, of the Gobi. Both in the north and south the land is rich and
fertile--much like the plains of Siberia or the prairies of Kansas and
Nebraska.

Such is the eastern Gobi from June to mid-September. In the winter,
when the dried vegetation exposes the surface soil, the whole aspect of
the country is changed and then it does resemble the popular conception
of a desert. But what could be more desertlike than our north China
landscape when frost has stripped away the green clothing of its hills
and fields?

The Chinese have already demonstrated the agricultural possibilities in
the south and every year they reap a splendid harvest of oats, wheat,
millet, buckwheat and potatoes. On the grass-covered meadowlands, both
north and south of the Gobi, there are vast herds of sheep, goats,
cattle and horses, but they are only a fraction of the numbers which
the pasturage could support. The cattle and sheep which are exported
through China can be sent to Kalgan "on the hoof," for since grass is
plentiful, the animals can graze at night and travel during the day.
This very materially reduces the cost of transportation.

Besides the great quantities of beef and mutton which could be raised
and marketed in the Orient, America or Europe, thousands of pounds of
wool and camel hair could be exported. Of course both of these articles
are produced at the present time, but only in limited quantities. In
the region where we spent the summer, the Mongols sometimes do not
shear their sheep or camels but gather the wool from the ground when it
has dropped off in the natural process of shedding. Probably half of
it is lost, and the remainder is full of dirt and grass which detracts
greatly from its value. Moreover, when it is shipped the impurities
add at least twenty per cent to its weight, and the high cost of
transportation makes this an important factor. Indeed, under proper
development the pastoral resources of Mongolia are almost unlimited.

The Turin-Urga region has another commercial asset in the enormous
colonies of marmots which inhabit the country for hundreds of miles to
the north, east and west. The marmots are prolific breeders--each pair
annually producing six or eight young--and, although their fur is not
especially fine, it has always been valuable for coats. Several million
marmot pelts are shipped every year from Mongolia, the finest coming
from Uliassutai in the west, and were American steel traps introduced
the number could be doubled.

Urga is just being discovered as a fur market. Many skins which have
been taken well across the Russian frontier are sold in Urga, and
as the trade increases it will command a still wider area. Wolves,
foxes, lynx, bear, wildcats, sables, martens, squirrels and marmots
are brought in by thousands; and great quantities of sheep, goat, cow
and antelope hides are sent annually to Kalgan. Several foreign fur
houses of considerable importance already have their representatives in
Urga and more are coming every year. The possibilities for development
in this direction are almost boundless, and I believe that within a
very few years Urga will become one of the greatest fur markets of the
Orient.

As in the south the Chinese farmer cultivates the grasslands of the
Mongols, so in the north the Chinese merchant has assumed the trade.
Many firms in Peking and Tientsin have branches in Urga and make
huge profits in the sale of food, cloth and other essentials to the
Mongols and foreigners and in the export of furs, skins and wool. It
is well-nigh impossible to touch business in Mongolia at any point
without coming in contact with the Chinese.

All work not connected with animals is assumed by Chinese, for the
Mongols are almost useless for anything which cannot be done from
the back of a horse. Thus the Chinese have a practical monopoly and
they exercise all their prerogatives in the enormous prices which
they charge for the slightest service. Mongols and foreigners suffer
together in this respect, but there is no alternative--the Chinaman can
charge what he pleases, for he knows full well that no one else will do
the work.

Although there is considerable mineral wealth in northern Mongolia, up
to the present time very little prospecting has been done. For several
years a Russian company has carried on successful operations for gold
at the Yero mines, between Urga and Kiakhta on the Siberian frontier,
but they have had to import practically all their labor from China. We
often passed Chinese in the Gobi Desert walking across Mongolia pushing
a wheelbarrow which contained all their earthly belongings. They were
on their way to the Yero mines for the summer's work; in the fall they
would return on foot the way they had come. Now that Mongolia is once
more a part of the Chinese Republic, the labor problem probably will
be improved for there will certainly be an influx of Chinese who are
anxious to work.

Transportation is the greatest of all commercial factors in the
Orient and upon it largely depends the development of any country. In
Mongolia the problem can be easily solved. At the present time it
rests upon camel caravans, ox and pony carts and upon automobiles for
passengers. Camel traffic begins in September and is virtually ended
by the first of June. Then their places on the trail are taken by ox-
and pony-carts. Camels make the journey from Kalgan to Urga in from
thirty to fifty days, but the carts require twice as long. They travel
slowly, at best, and the animals must be given time to graze and rest.
Of course, they cannot cross the desert when the grass is dry, so that
transportation is divided by the season--camels in winter and carts in
summer. Each camel carries from four hundred and fifty to five hundred
pounds, and the charges for the journey from Kalgan to Urga vary with
conditions at from five to fifteen cents (silver) per _cattie_ (one and
one-third pounds). Thus, by the time goods have reached Urga, their
value has increased tremendously.

I can see no reason why motor trucks could not make the trip and am
intending to use them on my next expedition. Between Panj-kiang and
Turin, the first and third telegraph stations, there is some bad going
in spots, but a well made truck with a broad wheel base and a powerful
engine certainly could negotiate the sand areas without difficulty.
After Turin, where the Gobi may be said to end, the road is like a
boulevard.

The motor service for passengers which the Chinese Government maintains
between Kalgan and Urga is a branch of the Peking-Suiyuan Railway and
has proved successful after some initial difficulties due to careless
and inexperienced chauffeurs. Although the service badly needs
organization to make it entirely safe and comfortable, still it has
been effective even in its crude form.

At the present time a great part of the business which is done with
the Mongols is by barter. The Chinese merchants extend credit to the
natives for material which they require and accept in return cattle,
horses, hides, wool, etc., to be paid at the proper season. In recent
years Russian paper _rubles_ and Chinese silver have been the currency
of the country, but since the war Russian money has so depreciated
that it is now practically valueless. Mongolia greatly needs banking
facilities and under the new political conditions undoubtedly these
will be materially increased.

A great source of wealth to Mongolia lies in her magnificent forests of
pine, spruce, larch and birch which stretch away in an almost unbroken
line of green to far beyond the Siberian frontier. As yet but small
inroads have been made upon these forests, and as I stood one afternoon
upon the summit of a mountain gazing over the miles of timbered hills
below me, it seemed as though here at least was an inexhaustible supply
of splendid lumber. But no more pernicious term was ever coined than
"inexhaustible supply!" I wondered, as I watched the sun drop into
the somber masses of the forest, how long these splendid hills would
remain inviolate. Certainly not many years after the Gobi Desert has
been crossed by lines of steel, and railroad sheds have replaced the
gold-roofed temples of sacred Urga.

We are at the very beginning of the days of flying, and no land which
contains such magnificent spruce can keep its treasure boxes unspoiled
for very long. Even as I write, aëroplanes are waiting in Peking to
make their first flight across Mongolia. The desert nomads have not yet
ceased to wonder at the motor cars which cover as many miles of plain
in one day as their camels cross in ten. But what _will_ they think
when twenty men leave Kalgan at noon and dine in Urga at seven o'clock
that night! Seven hundred miles mean very little to us now! The start
has been made already and, after all, it is largely that which counts.
The automobile has come to stay, we know; and motor trucks will soon
do for freight what has already been done for passengers, not only
from Kalgan to Urga, but west to Uliassutai, and on to Kobdo at the
very edge of the Altai Mountains. Few spots in Mongolia need remain
untouched, if commercial calls are strong enough.

Last year the first caravans left Feng-chen with wireless equipment for
the eighteen hundred mile journey across Mongolia to Urumchi in the
very heart of central Asia. Construction at Urga is well advanced and
it will soon begin at Kashgar. When these stations are completed Kobdo
in Mongolia, Hami in Chinese Turkestan, and Sian-fu in Shensi will
see wireless shafts erected; and old Peking will be in touch with the
remotest spots of her far-flung lands at any time by day or night.

These things are not idle dreams--they are hard business facts already
in the first stages of accomplishment. Why, then, should the railroad
be long delayed? It may be built from Kalgan to Urga, or by way
of Kwei-hua-cheng--either route is feasible. It will mean a direct
connection between Shanghai, China's greatest port, and Verkhin Udinsk
on the Trans-Siberian Railroad via Tientsin, Peking, Kalgan, Urga,
Kiakhta. It will shorten the trip to London by at least four days for
passengers and freight. It will open for settlement and commercial
development a country of boundless possibilities and unknown wealth
which for centuries has been all but forgotten.

Less than seven hundred years ago Mongolia well-nigh ruled the world.
Her people were strong beyond belief, but her empire crumbled as
quickly as it rose, leaving to posterity only a glorious tradition
and a land of mystery. The tradition will endure for centuries; but
the motor car and aëroplane and wireless have dispelled the mystery
forever.



CHAPTER XIV

THE GREAT RAM OF THE SHANSI MOUNTAINS


Away up in northern China, just south of the Mongolian frontier, is a
range of mountains inhabited by bands of wild sheep. They are wonderful
animals, these sheep, with horns like battering-rams. But the mountains
are also populated by brigands and the two do not form an agreeable
combination from the sportsman's standpoint.

In reality they are perfectly nice, well-behaved brigands, but
occasionally they forget their manners and swoop down upon the
caravan road less than a dozen miles away. This is done only when
scouts bring word that cargo valuable enough to make it worth while
is about to pass. Each time the brigands make a foray a return raid
by Chinese soldiers can be expected. Occasionally these are real,
"honest-to-goodness" fights, and blood may flow on both sides, but the
battle sometimes takes a different form.

With bugles blowing, the soldiers march out to the hills. Through
"middle men" the battle ground has been agreed upon, and a "David" is
chosen from the soldiers to meet the "Goliath" of the brigands. But
David is particularly careful to leave his gun behind, and to have his
"sling" well stuffed with rifle shells. Goliath advances to the combat
armed only with a bag of silver dollars. Then an even trade ensues--a
dollar for a cartridge--and the implement of war changes hands.

PLATE XIII

[Illustration: CAVE DWELLINGS IN NORTH SHANSI PROVINCE]

[Illustration: AN ASIATIC WAPITI]

[Illustration: HARRY R. CALDWELL AND A MONGOLIAN BIGHORN]

The soldiers return to the city with bugles sounding as merrily as
when they left. The commander sends a report to Peking of a desperate
battle with the brigands. He says that, through the extreme valor of
his soldiers, the bandits have been dispersed and many killed; that
hundreds of cartridges were expended in the fight; therefore, kindly
send more as soon as possible.

All this because the government has an unfortunate way of forgetting
to pay its soldiers in the outlying provinces. When no money is
forthcoming and none is visible on the horizon, it is not surprising
that they take other means to obtain it. "Battles" of this type are by
no means exceptions--they are more nearly the rule in many provinces of
China.

But what has all this to do with the wild sheep? Its relation is very
intimate, for the presence of brigands in those Shansi mountains has
made it possible for the animals to exist. The hunting grounds are
only five days' travel from Peking and many foreigners have turned
longing eyes toward the mountains. But the brigands always had to be
considered. Since Sir Richard Dane, formerly Chief Inspector of the
Salt Gabelle, and Mr. Charles Coltman were driven out by the bandits
in 1915, the Chinese Government has refused to grant passports to
foreigners who wished to shoot in that region. The brigands themselves
cannot waste cartridges at one dollar each on the sheep, so the
animals have been allowed to breed unmolested.

Nevertheless, there are not many sheep there. They are the last
survivors of great herds which once roamed the mountains of north
China. The technical name of the species is _Ovis commosa_ (formerly
_O. jubata_) and it is one of the group of bighorns known to sportsmen
by the Mongol name of _argali_. In size, as well as ancestry, the
members of this group are the grandfathers of all the sheep. The
largest ram of our Rocky Mountains is a pygmy compared with a
full-grown _argali_. Hundreds of thousands of years ago the bighorns,
which originated in Asia, crossed into Alaska by way of the Bering Sea,
where there was probably a land connection at that time. From Alaska
they gradually worked southward, along the mountains of the western
coast, into Mexico and Lower California. In the course of time, changed
environment developed different species; but the migration route from
the Old World to the New is there for all to read.

The supreme trophy of a sportsman's life is the head of a Mongolian
bighorn sheep. I think it was Rex Beach who said, "Some men can shoot
but not climb. Some can climb but not shoot. To get a sheep you must be
able to climb and shoot, too."

For its Hall of Asiatic Life, the American Museum of Natural History
needed a group of _argali_. Moreover, we wanted a ram which would
fairly represent the species, and that meant a very big one. The
Reverend Harry R. Caldwell, with whom I had hunted tiger in south
China, volunteered to get them with me. The brigands did not worry
us unduly, for we both have had considerable experience with Chinese
bandits and we feel that they are like animals--if you don't tease
them, they won't bite. In this case the "teasing" takes the form of
carrying anything that they could readily dispose of--especially money.
I decided that my wife must remain in Peking. She was in open rebellion
but there was just a possibility that the brigands might annoy us, and
we had determined to have those sheep regardless of consequences.

Although we did not expect trouble, I knew that Harry Caldwell could
be relied upon in any emergency. When a man will crawl into a tiger's
lair, a tangle of sword grass and thorns, just to find out what the
brute has had for dinner; when he will walk into the open in dim light
and shoot, with a .22 high-power rifle, a tiger which is just ready to
charge; when he will go alone and unarmed into the mountains to meet a
band of brigands who have been terrorizing the country, it means that
he has more nerve than any one man needs in this life!

After leaving the train at Feng-chen, the journey was like all others
in north China; slow progress with a cart over atrocious roads which
are either a mass of sticky mud or inches deep in fine brown dust.
We had four days of it before we reached the mountains but the trip
was full of interest to us both, for along the road there was an
ever-changing picture of provincial life. To Harry it was especially
illuminating because he had spent nineteen years in south China and had
never before visited the north. He began to realize what every one
soon learns who wanders much about the Middle Kingdom--that it is never
safe to generalize in this strange land. Conditions true of one region
may be absolutely unknown a few hundred miles away. He was continually
irritated to find that his perfect knowledge of the dialect of Fukien
Province was utterly useless. He was well-nigh as helpless as though he
had never been in China, for the languages of the north and the south
are almost as unlike as are French and German. Even our "boys" who
were from Peking had some difficulty in making themselves understood,
although we were not more than two hundred miles from the capital.

Instead of hills thickly clothed with sword grass, here the slopes
were bare and brown. We were too far north for rice; corn, wheat, and
_kaoliang_ took the place of paddy fields. Instead of brick-walled
houses we found dwellings made of clay like the "adobe" of Mexico and
Arizona. Sometimes whole villages were dug into the hillside and the
natives were cave dwellers, spending their lives within the earth.

All north China is spread with loess. During the Glacial Period, about
one hundred thousand years ago, when in Europe and America great rivers
of ice were descending from the north, central and eastern Asia seems
to have suffered a progressive dehydration. There was little moisture
in the air so that ice could not be formed. Instead, the climate was
cold and dry, while violent winds carried the dust in whirling clouds
for hundreds upon hundreds of miles, spreading it in ever thickening
layers over the hills and plains. Therefore, the "Ice Age" for Europe
and America was a "Dust Age" for northeastern Asia.

The inns were a constant source of interest to us both. Their spacious
courtyards contrasted strangely with the filthy "hotels" of southern
China. In the north all the traffic is by cart, and there must be
accommodation for hundreds of vehicles; in the south where goods are
carried by boats, coolies, or on donkey back, extensive compounds are
unnecessary. Each night, wherever we arrived, we found the courtyard
teeming with life and motion. Line after line of laden carts wound
in through the wide swinging gates and lined up in orderly array;
there was the steady "crunch, crunch, crunch" of feeding animals,
shouts for the _jonggweda_ (landlord), and good-natured chaffing
among the carters. In the great kitchen, which is also the sleeping
room, over blazing fires fanned by bellows, pots of soup and macaroni
were steaming. On the two great _kangs_ (bed platforms), heated from
below by long flues radiating outward from the cooking fires, dozens
of _mafus_ were noisily sucking in their food or already snoring
contentedly, rolled in their dusty coats.

Many kinds of folk were there; rich merchants enveloped in splendid
sable coats and traveling in padded carts; peddlers with packs of
trinkets for the women; wandering doctors selling remedies of herbs,
tonics made from deerhorns or tigers' teeth, and wonderful potions
of "dragons' bones." Perhaps there was a Buddhist priest or two, a
barber, or a tailor. Often a professional entertainer sat cross-legged
on the hang telling endless stories or singing for hours at a time in a
high-pitched, nasal voice, accompanying himself upon a tiny snake-skin
violin. It was like a stage drama of concentrated Chinese country life.

Among this polyglot assembly perhaps there may be a single man who has
arrived with a pack upon his back. He is indistinguishable from the
other travelers and mingles among the _mafus_, helping now and then to
feed a horse or adjust a load. But his ears and eyes are open. He is
a brigand scout who is there to learn what is passing on the road. He
hears all the gossip from neighboring towns as well as of those many
miles away, for the inns are the newspapers of rural China, and it is
every one's business to tell all he knows. The scout marks a caravan,
then slips away into the mountains to report to the leader of his band.
The attack may not take place for many days. While the unsuspecting
_mafus_ are plodding on their way, the bandits are hovering on the
outskirts among the hills until the time is ripe to strike.

I have learned that these brigand scouts are my best protection,
for when a foreigner arrives at a country inn all other subjects of
conversation lose their interest. Everything about him is discussed and
rediscussed, and the scouts discover all there is to know. Probably
the only things I ever carry which a bandit could use or dispose of
readily, are arms and ammunition. But two or three guns are hardly
worth the trouble which would follow the death of a foreigner. The
brigands know that there would be no sham battle with Chinese soldiers
in that event, for the Legations at Peking have a habit of demanding
reparation from the Government and insisting that they get it.

As a _raison d'être_ for our trip Caldwell and I had been hunting
ducks, geese, and pheasants industriously along the way, and not even
the "boys" knew our real destination.

We had looked forward with great eagerness to the Tai Hai, a large
lake, where it was said that water fowl congregated in thousands during
the spring and fall. We reached the lake the second night after leaving
Feng-chen. Darkness had just closed about us when we crossed the summit
of a high mountain range and descended into a narrow, winding cut which
eventually led us out upon the flat plains of the Tai Hai basin. While
we were in the pass a dozen flocks of geese slipped by above our heads,
flying very low, the "wedges" showing black against the starlit sky.

With much difficulty we found an inn close beside the lake and, after a
late supper, snuggled into our fur bags to be lulled to sleep by that
music most dear to a sportsman's heart, the subdued clamor of thousands
of water-fowl settling themselves for the night.

At daylight we dressed hurriedly and ran to the lake shore. Harry took
a station away from the water at the base of the hills, while I dropped
behind three conical mounds which the natives had constructed to obtain
salt by evaporation.

I was hardly in position before two geese came straight for me. Waiting
until they were almost above my head, I knocked down both with a right
and left. The shots put thousands of birds in motion. Flock after flock
of geese rose into the air, and long lines of ducks skimmed close to
the surface, settling away from shore or on the mud flats near the
water's edge.

No more birds came near me, and in fifteen minutes I returned to the
inn for breakfast. Harry appeared shortly after with only a mallard
duck, for he had guessed wrong as to the direction of the flight, and
was entirely out of the shooting.

When the carts had started at eight o'clock Harry and I rode down the
shore of the lake to the south, with Chen to hold our horses. The mud
flats were dotted with hundreds of ruddy sheldrakes, their beautiful
bodies glowing red and gold in the sunlight. A hundred yards from shore
half a dozen swans drifted about like floating snow banks, and ducks
and geese by thousands rose or settled in the lake. We saw a flock of
mallards alight in the short marsh grass and when I fired at least five
hundred greenheads, yellow-nibs, and pintails rose in a brown cloud.

Crouched behind the salt mounds, we had splendid shooting and then rode
on to join the carts, our ponies loaded with ducks and geese. The road
swung about to the north, and we saw geese in tens of thousands coming
into the lake across the mountain passes from their summer breeding
grounds in Mongolia and far Siberia. Regiment after regiment swept
past, circled away to the west, and dropped into the water as though
at the command of a field marshal.

Although we were following the main road to Kwei-hua-cheng, a city of
considerable importance not far from the mountains which contained the
sheep, we had no intention of going there. Neither did we wish to pass
through any place where there might be soldiers, so on the last day's
march we left the highway and followed an unimportant trail to the tiny
village of Wu-shi-tu, which nestles against the mountain's base. Here
we made our camp in a Chinese house and obtained two Mongol hunters. We
had hoped to live in tents, but there was not a stick of wood for fuel.
The natives burn either coal or grass and twigs, but these would not
keep us warm in an open camp.

About the village rose a chaotic mass of saw-toothed mountains cut,
to the east, by a stupendous gorge. We stood silent with awe, when we
first climbed a winding, white trail to the summit of the mountain and
gazed into the abysmal depths. My eye followed an eagle which floated
across the chasm to its perch on a projecting crag; thence down the
sheer face of the cliff a thousand feet to the stream which has carved
this colossal cañon from the living rock. Like a shining silver tracing
it twisted and turned, foaming over rocks and running in smooth, green
sheets between vertical walls of granite. To the north we looked across
at a splendid panorama of saw-toothed peaks and ragged pinnacles tinted
with delicate shades of pink and lavender. Beneath our feet were slabs
of pure white marble and great blocks of greenish feldspar. Among the
peaces were deep ravines and, farther to the east, rolling uplands
carpeted with grass. There the sheep are found.

We killed only one goral and a roebuck during the first two days, for
a violent gale made hunting well-nigh impossible. On the third morning
the sun rose in a sky as blue as the waters of a tropic sea, and not a
breath of air stirred the silver poplar leaves as we crossed the rocky
stream bed to the base of the mountains north of camp. Fifteen hundred
feet above us towered a ragged granite ridge which must be crossed ere
we could gain entrance to the grassy valleys beyond the barrier.

We had toiled halfway up the slope, when my hunter sank into the
grass, pointed upward, and whispered, "_Pan-yang_" (wild sheep).
There, on the very summit of the highest pinnacle, stood a magnificent
ram silhouetted against the sky. It was a stage introduction to the
greatest game animal in all the world.

Motionless, as though sculptured from the living granite, it gazed
across the valley toward the village whence we had come. Through my
glasses I could see every detail of its splendid body--the wash of gray
with which many winters had tinged its neck and flanks, the finely
drawn legs, and the massive horns curling about a head as proudly
held as that of a Roman warrior. He stood like a statue for half an
hour, while we crouched motionless in the trail below; then he turned
deliberately and disappeared.

When we reached the summit of the ridge the ram was nowhere to be seen,
but we found his tracks on a path leading down a knifelike outcrop to
the bottom of another valley. I felt sure that he would turn eastward
toward the grassy uplands, but Na-mon-gin, my Mongol hunter, pointed
north to a sea of ragged mountains. We groaned as we looked at those
towering peaks; moreover, it seemed hopeless to hunt for a single
animal in that chaos of ravines and cañons.

We had already learned, however, that the Mongol knew almost as much
about what a sheep would do as did the animal itself. It was positively
uncanny. Perhaps we would see a herd of sheep half a mile away. The
old fellow would seat himself, nonchalantly fill his pipe and puff
contentedly, now and then glancing at the animals. In a few moments he
would announce what was about to happen, and he was seldom wrong.

Therefore, when he descended to the bottom of the valley we accepted
his dictum without a protest. At the creek bed Harry and his young
hunter left us to follow a deep ravine which led upward a little to
the left, while Na-mon-gin and I climbed to the crest by way of a
precipitous ridge.

Not fifteen minutes after we parted, Harry's rifle banged three
times in quick succession, the reports rolling out from the gorge in
majestic waves of sound. A moment later the old Mongol saw three sheep
silhouetted for an instant against the sky as they scrambled across the
ridge. Then a voice floated faintly up to me from out the cañon.

"I've got a f-i-n-e r-a-m," it said, "a b-e-a-u-t-y," and even at that
distance I could hear its happy ring.

"Good for Harry," I thought. "He certainly deserved it after his work
of last night;" for on the way home his hunter had seen an enormous ram
climbing a mountain side and they had followed it to the summit only to
lose its trail in the gathering darkness. Harry had stumbled into camp,
half dead with fatigue, but with his enthusiasm undiminished.

When Na-mon-gin and I had reached the highest peak and found a trail
which led along the mountain side just below the crest, we kept
steadily on, now and then stopping to scan the grassy ravines and
valleys which radiated from the ridge like the ribs of a giant fan.
At half past eleven, as we rounded a rocky shoulder, I saw four sheep
feeding in the bottom of a gorge far below us.

Quite unconscious of our presence, they worked out of the ravine across
a low spur and into a deep gorge where the grass still showed a tinge
of green. As the last one disappeared, we dashed down the slope and
came up just above the sheep. With my glasses I could see that the
leader carried a fair pair of horns, but that the other three rams were
small, as _argali_ go.

Lying flat, I pushed my rifle over the crest and aimed at the biggest
ram. Three or four tiny grass stems were directly in my line of sight,
and fearing that they might deflect my bullet, I drew back and shifted
my position a few feet to the right.

One of the sheep must have seen the movement, although we were
directly above them, and instantly all were off. In four jumps they
had disappeared around a bowlder, giving me time for only a hurried
shot at the last one's white rump-patch. The bullet struck a few inches
behind the ram, and the valley was empty.

Looking down where they had been so quietly feeding only a few moments
before, I called myself all known varieties of a fool. I felt very bad
indeed that I had bungled hopelessly my first chance at an _argali_.
But the sympathetic old hunter patted me on the shoulder and said in
Chinese, "Never mind. They were small ones anyway--not worth having."
They were very much worth having to me, however, and all the light
seemed to have gone out of the world. We smoked a cigarette, but there
was no consolation in that, and I followed the hunter around the peak
with a heart as heavy as lead.

Half an hour later we sat down for a look around. I studied every ridge
and gully with my glasses without seeing a sign of life. The four sheep
had disappeared as completely as though one of the yawning ravines
had swallowed them up; the great valley bathed in golden sunlight was
deserted and as silent as the tomb.

I was just tearing the wrapper from a piece of chocolate when the
hunter touched me on the arm and said quietly, "_Pan-yang li la_" (A
sheep has come). He pointed far down a ridge running out at a right
angle to the one on which we were sitting, but I could see nothing.
Then I scanned every square inch of rock, but still saw no sign of life.

The hunter laughingly whispered, "I can see better than you can even
with your foreign eyes. He is standing in that trail--he may come right
up to us."

I tried again, following the thin, white line as it wound from us along
the side of the knifelike ridge. Just where it vanished into space I
saw the sheep, a splendid ram, standing like a statue of gray-brown
granite and gazing squarely at us. He was fully half a mile away, but
the hunter had seen him the instant he appeared. Without my glasses the
animal was merely a blur to me, but the marvelous eyes of the Mongol
could detect its every movement.

"It is the same one we saw this morning," he said. "I was sure we would
find him over here. He has very big horns--much better than those
others."

That was quite true; but the others had given me a shot and this ram,
splendid as he was, seemed as unobtainable as the stars. For an hour we
watched him. Sometimes he would turn about to look across the ravines
on either side and once he came a dozen feet toward us along the path.
The hunter smoked quietly, now and then looking through my glasses.
"After a while he will go to sleep," he said, "then we can shoot him."

I must confess that I had but little hope. The ram seemed too splendid
and much, much too far away. But I could feast my eyes on his
magnificent head and almost count the rings on his curling horns.

A flock of red-legged partridges sailed across from the opposite ridge,
uttering their rapid-fire call and alighted almost at our feet. Then
each one seemed to melt into the mountain side, vanishing like magic
among the grass and stones. I wondered mildly why they had concealed
themselves so suddenly, but a moment later there sounded a subdued
whir, like the motor of an aëroplane far up in the sky. Three shadows
drifted over, and I saw three huge black eagles swinging in ever
lowering circles about our heads. I knew then that the partridges had
sought the protection of our presence from their mortal enemies, the
eagles.

When I looked at the sheep again he was lying down squarely in the
trail, lazily raising his head now and then to gaze about. The hunter
inspected the ram through my glasses and prepared to go. We rolled
slowly over the ridge and then hurried around to the projecting spur at
the end of which the ram was lying.

The going was very bad indeed. Pieces of crumbled granite were
continually slipping under foot, and at times we had to cling like
flies to a wall of rock with a sheer drop of hundreds of feet below us.
Twice the Mongol cautiously looked over the ridge, but each time shook
his head and worked his way a little farther. At last he motioned me to
slide up beside him. Pushing my rifle over the rock before me, I raised
myself a few inches and saw the massive head and neck of the ram two
hundred yards away. His body was behind a rocky shoulder, but he was
looking squarely at us and in a second would be off.

I aimed carefully just under his chin, and at the roar of the
high-power shell, the ram leaped backward. "You hit him," said the
Mongol, but I felt he must be wrong; if the bullet had found the neck
he would have dropped like lead.

Never in all my years of hunting have I had a feeling of such intense
surprise and self-disgust. I had been certain of the shot and it was
impossible to believe that I had missed. A lump rose in my throat and
I sat with my head resting on my hands in the uttermost depths of
dejection.

And then the impossible happened! Why it happened, I shall never know.
A kind Providence must have directed the actions of the sheep, for, as
I raised my eyes, I saw again that enormous head and neck appear from
behind a rock a hundred yards away; just that head with its circlet of
massive horns and the neck--nothing more. Almost in a daze I lifted my
rifle, saw the little ivory bead of the front sight center on that gray
neck, and touched the trigger. A thousand echoes crashed back upon us.
There was a clatter of stones, a confused vision of a ponderous bulk
heaving up and back--and all was still. But it was enough for me; there
could be no mistake this time. The ram was mine.

The sudden transition from utter dejection to the greatest triumph of
a sportsman's life set me wild with joy, I yelled and pounded the old
Mongol on the back until he begged for mercy; then I whirled him about
in a war dance on the summit of the ridge. I wanted to leap down the
rocks where the sheep had disappeared but the hunter held my arm. For
ten minutes we sat there waiting to make sure that the ram would not
dash away while we were out of sight in the ravine below. But I knew
in my heart that it was all unnecessary. My bullet had gone where I
wanted it to go and that was quite enough. No sheep that ever walked
could live with a Mannlicher ball squarely in its neck.

When we finally descended, the animal lay halfway down the slope,
feebly kicking. What a huge brute he was, and what a glorious head! I
had never dreamed that an _argali_ could be so splendid. His horns were
perfect, and my hands could not meet around them at the base.

Then, of course, I wanted to know what had happened at my first shot.
The evidence was there upon his face. My bullet had gone an inch high,
struck him in the corner of the mouth, and emerged from his right
cheek. It must have been a painful wound, and I shall never cease to
wonder what strange impulse brought him back after he had been so badly
stung. The second ball had been centered in the neck as though in the
bull's-eye of a target.

The skin and head of the sheep made a pack weighing nearly one hundred
pounds, and the old Mongol groaned as he looked up at the mountain
barriers which separated us from camp. On the summit of the first
ridge we found the trail over which we had passed in the morning. Half
an hour later the hunter jerked me violently behind a ledge of rock.
"_Pan-yang_" he whispered, "there, on the mountain side. Can't you see
him?" I could not, and he tried to point to it with my rifle. Just at
that instant what I had supposed to be a brown rock came to life in a
whirl of dust and vanished into the ravine below.

We waited breathlessly for perhaps a minute--it seemed hours--then the
head and shoulders of a sheep appeared from behind a bowlder. I aimed
low and fired, and the animal crumpled in its tracks. A second later
two rams and a ewe dashed from the same spot and stopped upon the
hillside less than a hundred yards away. Instinctively I sighted on the
largest but dropped my rifle without touching the trigger. The sheep
was small, and even if we did need him for the group we could not carry
his head and skin to camp that night. The wolves would surely have
found his carcass before dawn, and it would have been a useless waste
of life.

The one I had killed was a fine young ram. With the skin, head, and
parts of the meat packed upon my shoulders we started homeward at six
o'clock. Our only exit lay down the river bed in the bottom of a great
cañon, for in the darkness it would have been dangerous to follow the
trail along the cliffs. In half an hour it was black night in the
gorge. The vertical walls of rock shut out even the starlight, and we
could not see more than a dozen feet ahead.

I shall never forget that walk. After wading the stream twenty-eight
times I lost count. I was too cold and tired and had fallen over too
many rocks to have it make the slightest difference how many more than
twenty-eight times we went into the icy water. The hundred-pound pack
upon my back weighed more every hour, but the thought of those two
splendid rams was as good as bread and wine.

Harry was considerably worried when we reached camp at eleven o'clock,
for in the village there had been much talk of bandits. Even before
dinner we measured the rams and found that the horns of the one he had
killed exceeded the published records for the species by half an inch
in circumference. The horns were forty-seven inches in length, but
were broken at the tips; the original length was fifty-one inches; the
circumference at the base was twenty inches. Moreover, mine was not far
behind in size.

As I snuggled into my fur sleeping bag that night, I realized that it
had been the most satisfactory hunting day of my life. The success of
the group was assured, with a record ram for the central figure. We had
three specimens already, and the others would not be hard to get.

The next morning four soldiers were waiting in the courtyard when we
awoke. With many apologies they informed us that they had been sent by
the commander of the garrison at Kwei-hua-cheng to ask us to go back
with them. The mountains were very dangerous; brigands were swarming
in the surrounding country; the commandant was greatly worried for our
safety. Therefore, would we be so kind as to break camp at once.

We told them politely, but firmly, that it was impossible for us to
comply with their request. We needed the sheep for a great museum in
New York, and we could not return without them. As they could see for
themselves our passports had been properly viséed by the Foreign Office
in Peking, and we were prepared to stay.

The soldiers returned to Kwei-hua-cheng, and the following day we were
honored by a visit from the commandant himself. To him we repeated
our determination to remain. He evidently realized that we could not
be dislodged and suggested a compromise arrangement. He would send
soldiers to guard our house and to accompany us while we were hunting.
We assented readily, because we knew Chinese soldiers. Of course, the
sentinel at the door troubled us not at all, and the ones who were to
accompany us were easily disposed of. For the first day's hunt with our
guard we selected the roughest part of the mountain, and set such a
terrific pace up the almost perpendicular slope that before long they
were left far behind. They never bothered us again.



CHAPTER XV

MONGOLIAN _ARGALI_


Although we had seen nearly a dozen sheep where we killed our first
three rams, the mountains were deserted when Harry returned the
following morning. He hunted faithfully, but did not see even a
roebuck; the sheep all had left for other feeding grounds. I remained
in camp to superintend the preparation of our specimens.

The next day we had a glorious hunt. By six o'clock we were climbing
the winding, white trail west of camp, and for half an hour we stood
gazing into the gloomy depths of the stupendous gorge, as yet unlighted
by the morning sun. Then we separated, each making toward the grassy
uplands by different routes.

Na-mon-gin led me along the summit of a broken ridge, but, evidently,
he did not expect to find sheep in the ravines, for he kept straight
on, mile after mile, with never a halt for rest. At last we reached a
point where the plateau rolled away in grassy waves of brown. We were
circling a rounded hill, just below the crest, when, not thirty yards
away, three splendid roe deer jumped to their feet and stood as though
frozen, gazing at us; then, with a snort, they dashed down the slope
and up the other side. They had not yet disappeared, when two other
bucks crossed a ridge into the bottom of the draw. It was a sore trial
to let them go, but the old hunter had his hand upon my arm and shook
his head.

Passing the summit of the hill, we sat down for a look around. Before
us, nearly a mile away, three shallow, grass-filled valleys dropped
steeply from the rolling meadowland. Almost instantly through my
binoculars I caught the moving forms of three sheep in the bottom of
the central draw. "_Pan-yang_," I said to the Mongol. "Yes, yes, I see
them," he answered. "One has very big horns." He was quite right; for
the largest ram carried a splendid head, and the other was by no means
small. The third was a tiny ewe. The animals wandered about nibbling at
the grass, but did not move out of the valley bottom. After studying
them awhile the hunter remarked, "Soon they will go to sleep. We'll
wait till then. They would hear or smell us if we went over now."

I ate one of the three pears I had brought for tiffin and smoked a
cigarette. The hunter stretched himself out comfortably upon the grass
and pulled away at his pipe. It was very pleasant there, for we were
protected from the wind, and the sun was delightfully warm. I watched
the sheep through the glasses and wondered if I should carry home the
splendid ram that night. Finally the little ewe lay down and the others
followed her example.

We were just preparing to go when the hunter touched my arm.
"_Pan-yang_" he whispered. "There, coming over the hill. Don't move."
Sure enough, a sheep was trotting slowly down the hillside in our
direction. Why he did not see or smell us, I cannot imagine, for the
wind was in his direction. But he came on, passed within one hundred
feet, and stopped on the summit of the opposite swell. What a shot!
He was so close that I could have counted the rings on his horns--and
they were good horns, too, just the size we wanted for the group. But
the hunter would not let me shoot. Hi? heart was set upon the big ram
peacefully sleeping a mile away.

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" is a motto which I have
followed with good success in hunting, and I was loath to let that
_argali_ go even for the prospect of the big one across the valley.
But I had a profound respect for the opinion of my hunter. He usually
guessed right, and I had found it safe to follow his advice.

So we watched the sheep walk slowly over the crest of the hill. The
Mongol did not tell me then, but he knew that the animal was on his way
to join the others, and his silence cost us the big ram. You may wonder
how he knew it. I can only answer that what that Mongol did not know
about the ways of sheep was not worth learning. He seemed to think as
the sheep thought, but, withal, was a most intelligent and delightful
companion. His ready sympathy, his keen humor, and his interest in
helping me get the finest specimens of the animals I wanted, endeared
him to me in a way which only a sportsman can understand. His Shansi
dialect and my limited Mandarin made a curious combination of the
Chinese language, but we could always piece it out with signs, and we
never misunderstood each other on any important matter.

We had many friendly differences of opinion about the way in which to
conduct a stalk, and his childlike glee when he was proved correct was
most refreshing. One morning I got the better of him, and for days he
could not forget it. We were sitting on a hillside, and with my glasses
I picked up a herd of sheep far away on the uplands. "Yes," he said,
"one is a very big ram." How he could tell at that distance was a
mystery to me, but I did not question his statement for he had proved
too often that his range of sight was almost beyond belief.

We started toward the sheep, and after half a mile I looked again. Then
I thought I saw a grasscutter, and the animals seemed like donkeys. I
said as much but the hunter laughed. "Why, I saw the horns," he said.
"One is a big one, a _very_ big one." I stopped a second time and made
out a native bending over, cutting grass. But I could not convince the
Mongol. He disdained my glasses and would not even put them to his
eyes. "I don't have to--I _know_ they are sheep," he laughed. But I,
too, was sure. "Well, we'll see," he said. When we looked again, there
could be no mistake; the sheep were donkeys. It was a treat to watch
the Mongol's face, and I made much capital of his mistake, for he had
so often teased me when I was wrong.

But to return to the sheep across the valley which we were stalking
on that sunlit Thursday noon. After the ram had disappeared we made
our way slowly around the hilltop, whence he had come, to gain a
connecting meadow which would bring us to the ravine where the _argali_
were sleeping. On the way I was in a fever of indecision. Ought I to
have let that ram go? He was just what we wanted for the group, and
something might happen to prevent a shot at the others. It was "a bird
in the hand" again, and I had been false to the motto which had so
often proved true.

Then the "something" I had feared did happen. We saw a grasscutter
with two donkeys emerge from a ravine on the left and strike along
the grassy bridge five hundred yards beyond us. If he turned to the
right across the upper edge of the meadows, we could whistle for our
sheep. Even if he kept straight ahead, possibly they might scent him.
The Mongol's face was like a thundercloud. I believe he would have
strangled that grasscutter could he have had him in his hands. But
the Fates were kind, and the man with his donkeys kept to the left
across the uplands. Even then my Mongol would not hurry. His motto was
"Slowly, slowly," and we seemed barely to crawl up the slope of the
shallow valley which I hoped still held the sheep.

On the summit of the draw the old hunter motioned me behind him and
cautiously raised his head. Then a little farther. Another step and a
long look. He stood on tiptoe, and, settling back, quietly motioned me,
to move up beside him.

Just then a gust of wind swept across the hilltop and into the ravine.
There was a rush of feet, a clatter of sliding rock, and three
_argali_ dashed into view on the opposite slope. They stopped two
hundred yards away. My hunter was frantically whispering, "One more.
Don't shoot. Don't shoot." I was at a loss to understand, for I knew
there were only three sheep in the draw. The two rams both seemed
enormous, and I let drive at the leader. He went down like lead--shot
through the shoulders. The two others ran a few yards and stopped
again. When I fired, the sheep whirled about but did not fall. I threw
in another shell and held the sight well down. The "putt" of a bullet
on flesh came distinctly to us, but the ram stood without a motion.

The third shot was too much, and he slumped forward, rolled over,
and crashed to the bottom of the ravine. All the time Na-mon-gin was
frantically whispering, "Not right. Not right. The big one. The big
one." As the second sheep went down I learned the reason. Out from the
valley directly below us rushed a huge ram, washed with white on the
neck and shoulders and carrying a pair of enormous, curling horns. I
was too surprised to move. How could four sheep be there, when I knew
there were only three!

Usually I am perfectly cool when shooting and have all my excitement
when the work is done, but the unexpected advent of that ram turned on
the thrills a bit too soon. I forgot what I had whispered to myself
at every shot, "Aim low, aim low. You are shooting down hill." I held
squarely on his gray-white shoulder and pulled the trigger. The bullet
just grazed his back. He ran a few steps and stopped. Again I fired
hurriedly, and the ball missed him by the fraction of an inch. I saw
it strike and came to my senses with a jerk; but it was too late, for
the rifle was empty. Before I could cram in another shell the sheep was
gone.

Na-mon-gin was absolutely disgusted. Even though I had killed two fine
rams, he wanted the big one. "But," I said, "where did the fourth sheep
come from? I saw only three." He looked at me in amazement. "Didn't
you know that the ram which walked by us went over to the others?" he
answered. "Any one ought to have known that much."

Well, I hadn't known. Otherwise, I should have held my fire. Right
there the Mongol read me a lecture on too much haste. He said I was
like every other foreigner--always joy out of the others; and to make
matters worse, the magnificent animal stationed himself on the very
hillside where we had been sitting when we saw them first and, with the
little ewe close beside him, watched us for half an hour.

Na-mon-gin glared at him and shook his fist. "We'll get you to-morrow,
you old rabbit," he said; and then to me, "Don't you care. I won't eat
till we kill him."

For the next ten minutes the kindly old Mongol devoted himself to
bringing a smile to my lips. He told me he knew just where that ram
would go; we couldn't have carried in his head anyway; that it would
be much better to save him for to-morrow; and that I had killed the
other two so beautifully that he was proud of me.

I continued to feel better when I saw the two dead _argali_. They were
both fine rams, in perfect condition, with beautiful horns. One of them
was the sheep which had walked so close to us; there was no doubt of
that, for I had been able to see the details of his "face and figure."
Every _argali_ has its own special characters which are unmistakable.
In the carriage of his head, the curve of his horns, and in coloration,
he is as individual as a human being.

While we were examining the sheep, Harry and his hunter appeared upon
the rim of the ravine. They brought with them, on a donkey, the skin
and head of a fine two-year-old ram which he had killed an hour earlier
far beyond us on the uplands. It fitted exactly into our series, and
when we had another big ram and two ewes, the group would be complete.

Poor Harry was hobbling along just able to walk. He had strained a
tendon in his right leg the previous morning, and had been enduring the
most excruciating pain all day. He wanted to stay and help us skin the
sheep, but I would not let him. We were a long way from camp, and it
would require all his strength to get back at all.

At half-past four we finished with the sheep, and tied the skins and
much of the meat on the two donkeys which Harry had commandeered. Our
only way home lay down the river bed, for in the darkness we could not
follow the trail along the cliffs. By six o'clock it was black night in
the gorge.

The donkeys were our only salvation, for by instinct--it couldn't have
been sight--they followed the trail along the base of the cliffs. By
keeping my hands upon the back of the rearmost animal, and the two
Mongols close to me, we got out of the cañon and into the wider valley.
When we reached the village I was hungry enough to eat chips, for I had
had only three pears since six o'clock in the morning, and it was then
nine at night.

Harry, limping into camp just after dark, had met my cousin, Commander
Thomas Hutchins, Naval Attaché of the American Legation, and Major
Austin Barker of the British Army, whom we had been expecting. They
had reached the village about ten o'clock in the morning and spent
the afternoon shooting hares near a beautiful temple which Harry had
discovered among the hills three miles from camp. The boys had waited
dinner for me, and we ate it amid a gale of laughter--we were always
laughing during the five days that Tom and Barker were with us.

Harry was out of the hunting the next day because his leg needed a
complete rest. I took Tom out with me, while Barker was piloted by an
old Mongol who gave promise of being a good hunter. Tom and I climbed
the white trail to the summit of the ridge, while Barker turned off to
the left to gain the peaks on the other side of the gorge. Na-mon-gin
was keen for the big ram which I had missed the day before. He had a
very definite impression of just where that sheep was to be found, and
he completely ignored the ravines on either side of the trail.

Not half a mile from the summit of the pass, the Mongol stopped and
said, "_Pan-yang_--on that ridge across the valley," He looked again
and turned to me with a smile. "It is the same ram," he said. "I knew
he would be here." Sure enough, when I found the sheep with my glasses,
I recognized our old friend. The little ewe was with him, and they had
been joined by another ram carrying a circlet of horns, not far short
of the big fellow's in size.

For half an hour we watched them while the Mongols smoked. The sheep
were standing on the very crest of a ridge across the river, moving
a few steps now and then, but never going far from where we first
discovered them. My hunter said that soon they would go to sleep, and
in less than half an hour they filed down hill into the valley; then
we, too, went down, crossed a low ridge, and descended to the river's
edge. The climb up the other side was decidedly stiff, and it was
nearly an hour before we were peering into the ravine where the sheep
had disappeared. They were not there, and the hunter said they had gone
either up or down the valley--he could not tell which way.

We went up first, but no sheep. Then we crossed to the ridge where
we had first seen the _argali_ and cautiously looked over a ledge of
rocks. There they were, about three hundred yards below, and on the
alert, for they had seen Tom's hunter, who had carelessly exposed
himself on the crest of the ridge. Tom fired hurriedly, neglecting to
remember that he was shooting down hill, and, consequently, overshot
the big ram. They rushed off, two shots of mine falling short at nearly
four hundred yards as they disappeared behind a rocky ledge.

My Mongol said that we might intercept them if we hurried, and he
led me a merry chase into the bottom of the ravine and up the other
side. The sheep were there, but standing in an amphitheater formed by
inaccessible cliffs. I advocated going to the ridge above and trying
for a shot, but the hunter scoffed at the idea. He said that they would
surely scent or hear us long before we could see them.

Tom and his Mongol joined us in a short time, and for an hour we lay
in the sunshine waiting for the sheep to compose themselves. It was
delightfully warm, and we were perfectly content to remain all the
afternoon amid the glorious panorama of encircling peaks.

At last Na-mon-gin prepared to leave. He indicated that we were to go
below and that Tom's hunter was to drive the sheep toward us. When we
reached the river, the Mongol placed Tom behind a rock at the mouth
of the amphitheater. He took me halfway up the slope, and we settled
ourselves behind two bowlders.

I was breathing hard from the strenuous climb, and the old fellow
waited until I was ready to shoot; then he gave a signal, and Tom's
hunter appeared at the very summit of the rocky amphitheater. Instantly
the sheep were on the move, running directly toward us. They seemed
to be as large as elephants, for never before had I been as close to
a living _argali_. Just as the animals mounted the crest of a rocky
ledge, not more than fifty yards away, Na-mon-gin whistled sharply, and
the sheep stopped as though turned to stone.

"Now," he whispered, "shoot." As I brought my rifle to the level
it banged in the air. I had been showing the hunters how to use
the delicate set-trigger, and had carelessly left it on. The sheep
instantly dashed away, but there was only one avenue of escape, and
that was down hill past me. My second shot broke the hind leg of
the big ram; the third struck him in the abdomen, low down, and he
staggered, but kept on. The sheep had reached the bottom of the valley
before my fourth bullet broke his neck.

Tom opened fire when the other ram and the ewe appeared at the mouth
of the amphitheater, but his rear sight had been loosened in the climb
down the cliff, and his shots went wild. It was hard luck, for I was
very anxious to have him kill an _argali_.

The abdomen shot would have finished the big ram eventually, and I
might have killed the other before it crossed the creek; but experience
has taught me that it is best to take no chances with a wounded animal
in rough country such as this. I have lost too many specimens by being
loath to finish them off when they were badly hit.

PLATE XIV

[Illustration: WHERE THE BIGHORN SHEEP ARE FOUND]

[Illustration: A MONGOLIAN ROEBUCK]

My ram was a beauty. His horns were almost equal to those of the
record head which Harry had killed on the first day, but one of them
was marred by a broken tip. The old warrior must have weathered nearly
a score of winters and have had many battles. But his new coat was
thick and fine--the most beautiful of any we had seen. As he lay in
the bottom of the valley I was impressed again by the enormous size
of an _argali's_ body. There was an excellent opportunity to compare
it with a donkey's, for before we had finished our smoke, a Mongol
arrived driving two animals before him. The sheep was about one-third
larger than the donkey, and with his tremendous neck and head must have
weighed a great deal more.

After the ram had been skinned Tom and I left the men to pack in the
meat, skin, and head, while we climbed to the summit of the pass and
wandered slowly home in the twilight. Major Barker came in shortly
after we reached the village. He was almost done, for his man had taken
him into the rough country north of camp. A strenuous day for a man
just from the city, but Barker was enthusiastic. Even though he had
not killed a ram, he had wounded one in the leg and had counted twenty
sheep--more than either Harry or I had seen during the entire time we
had been at Wu-shi-tu.

When we awoke at five o'clock in the morning, Tom stretched himself
very gingerly and remarked that the only parts of him which weren't
sore were his eyelids! Harry was still _hors de combat_ with the
strained tendon in his leg, and I had the beginning of an attack of
influenza. Barker admitted that his joints "creaked" considerably;
still, he was full of enthusiasm. We started off together but separated
when six miles from camp. He found sheep on the uplands almost at
once, but did not get a head. Barker was greatly handicapped by using
a special model U. S. Army Springfield rifle, which weighed almost as
much as a machine gun, and could not have been less fitted for hunting
in rough country. No man ever worked harder for an _argali_ than he
did, and he deserved the best head in the mountains. By noon I was
burning with fever and almost unable to drag myself back to camp. I
arrived at four o'clock, just after Tom returned. He had not seen a
sheep.

The Major hunted next day, but was unsuccessful, and none of us went to
the mountains again, for I had nearly a week in bed, and Harry was only
able to hobble about the court. On the 28th of October, Tom and Barker
left for Peking. Harry and I were sorry to have them leave us. I have
camped with many men in many countries of the world, but with no two
who were better field companions. Neither Harry nor I will ever forget
the happy days with them.

It was evident that I could not hunt again for at least a week,
although I could sit a horse. We had seven sheep, and the group was
assured; therefore, we decided to shift camp to the wapiti country,
fifty miles away hoping that by the time we reached there, we both
would be fit again.



CHAPTER XVI

THE "HORSE-DEER" OF SHANSI


All the morning our carts had humped and rattled over the stones in a
somber valley one hundred and fifty _li_[2] from where we had killed
the sheep. With every mile the precipitous cliffs pressed in more
closely upon us until at last the gorge was blocked by a sheer wall
of rock. Our destination was a village named Wu-tai-hai, but there
appeared to be no possible place for a village in that narrow cañon.

[Footnote 2: A _li_ equals about one-third of a mile.]

We were a quarter of a mile from the barrier before we could
distinguish a group of mud-walled huts, seemingly plastered against
the rock like a collection of swallows' nests. No one but a Chinese
would have dreamed of building a house in that desolate place. It
was Wu-tai-hai, without a doubt, and Harry and I rode forward to
investigate.

At the door of a tiny hut we were met by one of our Chinese
taxidermists. He ushered us into the court and, with a wave of his
hand, announced, "This is the American Legation." The yard was a mass
of straw and mud. From the gaping windows of the house bits of torn
paper fluttered in the wind; inside, at one end of the largest room,
was a bed platform made of mud; at the other, a fat mother hog with
five squirming "piglets" sprawled contentedly on the dirt floor. Six
years before Colonel (then Captain) Thomas Holcomb, of the United
States Marine Corps, had spent several days at this hut while hunting
elk. Therefore, it will be known to Peking Chinese until the end of
time as the "American Legation."

An inspection of the remaining houses in the village disclosed no
better quarters, so our boys ousted the sow and her family, swept the
house, spread the _kang_ and floor with clean straw, and pasted fresh
paper over the windows. We longed to use our tents, but there was
nothing except straw or grass to burn, and cooking would be impossible.
The villagers were too poor to buy coal from Kwei-hua-cheng, forty
miles away, and there was not a sign of wood on the bare, brown hills.

At the edge of the _kang_, in these north Shansi houses, there is
always a clay stove which supports a huge iron pot. A hand bellows is
built into the side of the stove, and by feeding straw or grass with
one hand and energetically manipulating the bellows with the other, a
fire sufficient for simple cooking is obtained.

Except for a few hours of the day the house is as cold as the yard
outside, but the natives mind it not at all. Men and women alike dress
in sheepskin coats and padded cotton trousers. They do not expect to
remove their clothing when they come indoors, and warmth, except at
night, is a nonessential in their scheme of life. A system of flues
draws the heat from the cooking fires underneath the _kang_, and the
clay bricks retain their temperature for several horn's.

At best the north China natives lead a cheerless existence in winter.
The house is not a home. Dark, cold, dirty, it is merely a place in
which to eat and sleep. There is no home-making instinct in the Chinese
wife, for a centuries' old social system, based on the Confucian
ethics, has smothered every thought of the privileges of womanhood. Her
place is to cook, sew, and bear children; to reflect only the thoughts
of her lord and master--to have none of her own.

Wu-tai-hai was typical of villages of its class in all north China;
mud huts, each with a tiny courtyard, built end to end in a corner of
the hillside. A few acres of ground in the valley bottom and on the
mountain side capable of cultivation yield enough wheat, corn, turnips,
cabbages, and potatoes to give the natives food. Their life is one of
work with few pleasures, and yet they are content because they know
nothing else.

Imagine, then, what it meant when we suddenly injected ourselves into
their midst. We had come from a world beyond the mountains--a world
of which they had sometimes heard, but which was as unreal to them as
that of another planet. Europe and America were merely names. A few had
learned from passing soldiers that these strange men in that dim, far
land had been fighting among themselves and that China, too, was in
some vague way connected with the struggle.

But it had not affected them in their tiny rock-bound village. Their
world was encompassed within the valley walls or, in its uttermost
limits, extended to Kwei-hua-cheng, forty miles away. They knew, even,
that a "fire carriage" running on two rails of steel came regularly to
Feng-chen, four days' travel to the east, but few of them had ever seen
it. So it was almost as unreal as stories of the war and aëroplanes and
automobiles.

All the village gathered at the "American Legation" while we
unpacked our carts. They gazed in silent awe at our guns and cameras
and sleeping bags, but the trays of specimens brought forth an
active response. Here was something that was a part of their own
life--something they could understand. Mice and rabbits like these they
had seen in their own fields; that weasel was the same kind of animal
which sometimes stole their chickens. They pointed to the rocks when
they saw a red-legged partridge, and told us there were many there;
also pheasants.

Why we wanted the skins they could not understand, of course. I told
them that we would take them far away across the ocean to America and
put them in a great house as large as that hill across the valley; but
they smilingly shook their heads. The ocean meant nothing to them, and
as for a house as large as a hill--well, there never could be such a
place. They were perfectly sure of that.

We had come to Wu-tai-hai to hunt wapiti--_ma-lu_ (horse-deer) the
natives call them--and they assured us that we could find them on the
mountains behind the village. Only last night, said one of the men, he
had seen four standing on the hillside. Two had antlers as long as that
stick, but they were no good now--the horns were hard--we should have
come in the spring when they were soft. Then each pair was worth $150,
at least, and big ones even more. The doctors make wonderful medicine
from the horns--only a little of it would cure any disease no matter
how bad it was. They themselves could not get the _ma-lu_, for the
soldiers had long since taken away all their guns, but they would show
us where they were.

It was pleasant to hear all this, for we wanted some of those wapiti
very badly, indeed. It is one of the links in the chain of evidence
connecting the animals of the Old World and the New--the problem which
makes Asia the most fascinating hunting ground of all the earth.

When the early settlers first penetrated the forests of America they
found the great deer which the Indians called "wapiti." It was supposed
for many years that it inhabited only America, but not long ago similar
deer were discovered in China, Manchuria, Korea, Mongolia, Siberia,
and Turkestan, where undoubtedly the American species originated. Its
white discoverers erroneously named the animal "elk," but as this title
properly belongs to the European "moose," sportsmen have adopted the
Indian name "wapiti" to avoid confusion. Of course, changed environment
developed different "species" in all the animals which migrated from
Asia either to Europe or America, but their relationships are very
close, indeed.

The particular wapiti which we hoped to get at Wu-tai-hai represented
a species almost extinct in China. Because of relentless persecution
when the antlers are growing and in the "velvet" and continual cutting
of the forests only a few individuals remain in this remote corner
of northern Shansi Province. These will soon all be killed, for
the railroad is being extended to within a few miles of their last
stronghold, and sportsmen will flock to the hills from the treaty ports
of China.

Our first hunt was on November first. We left camp by a short cut
behind the village and descended to the bowlder-strewn bed of the creek
which led into a tremendous gorge. We felt very small and helpless as
our eyes traveled up the well-nigh vertical walls to the ragged edge
of the chasm a thousand feet above us. The mightiness of it all was
vaguely depressing, and it was with a distinct feeling of relief that
we saw the cañon widen suddenly into a gigantic amphitheater. In its
very center, rising from a ragged granite pedestal, a pinnacle of rock,
crowned by a tiny temple, shot into the air. It was three hundred feet,
at least, from the stream bed to the summit of the spire--and what a
colossal task it must have been to transport the building materials for
the temple up the sheer sides of rock! The valley sinners must gain
much merit from the danger and effort involved in climbing there to
worship.

Farther on we passed two villages and then turned off to the right up
a tributary valley. We were anxiously looking for signs of forest, but
the only possible cover was in a few ravines where a sparse growth of
birch and poplar bushes, not more than six or eight feet high, grew on
the north slope. Moreover, we could see that the valley ended in open
rolling uplands.

PLATE XV

[Illustration: THE HEAD OF THE RECORD RAM]

[Illustration: MAP OF MONGOLIA AND CHINA SHOWING ROUTE OF SECOND
ASIATIC EXPEDITION IN BROKEN LINES]

Turning to Na-mon-gin, I said, "How much farther are the _ma-lu?_"
"Here," he answered. "We have already arrived. They are in the bushes
on the mountain side."

Caldwell and I were astounded. The idea of looking for wapiti in such
a place seemed too absurd! There was hardly enough cover successfully
to conceal a rabbit, to say nothing of an animal as large as a horse.
Nevertheless, the hunters assured us that the _ma-lu_ were there, and
we began to take a new interest in the birch scrub. Almost immediately
we saw three roebuck near the rim of one of the ravines, their white
rump-patches showing conspicuously as they bobbed about in the thin
cover. We could have killed them easily, but the hunters would not let
us shoot, for we were after larger game.

A few moments later we separated, Harry keeping on up the main valley,
while my hunter and I turned into a patch of brush directly above us.
We had not gone fifty yards when there was a crash, a rush of feet, and
four wapiti dashed through the bushes. The three cows kept straight on,
but the bull stopped just on the crest of the ridge directly behind
a thick screen of twigs. My rifle was sighted at the huge body dimly
visible through the branches. In a moment I would have touched the
trigger, but the hunter caught my arm, whispering frantically, "Don't
shoot! Don't shoot!"

Of course I knew it was a long chance, for the bullet almost certainly
would have been deflected by the twigs, but those splendid antlers
seemed very near and very, very desirable. I lowered my rifle
reluctantly, and the bull disappeared over the hill crest whence the
cows had gone.

"They'll stop in the next ravine," said the hunter, but when we
cautiously peered over the ridge the animals were not there--nor were
they in the next. At last we found their trail leading into the grassy
uplands; but the possibility of finding wapiti, these animals of the
forests, on those treeless slopes seemed too absurd even to consider.
Yet, the old Mongol kept straight on across the rolling meadow.

Suddenly, off at the right, Harry's rifle banged three times in quick
succession--then an interval, and two more shots. Ten seconds later
three wapiti cows showed black against the sky line. They were coming
fast and straight toward us. We flattened ourselves in the grass, lying
as motionless as two gray bowlders, and a moment later another wapiti
appeared behind the cows. As the sun glistened on his branching antlers
there was no doubt that he was a bull, and a big one, too.

The cows were headed to pass about two hundred yards above us and
behind the hill crest. I could easily have reached the summit where
they would have been at my mercy, but lower down the big bull also
was coming, and the hunter would not let me move. "Wait, wait," he
whispered, "we'll surely get him. Wait, we can't lose him."

"What about that ravine?" I answered. "He'll go into the cover. He will
never come across this open hillside. I'm going to shoot."

"No, no, he won't turn there. I am sure he won't." The Mongol was
right. The big fellow ran straight toward us until he came to the
entrance to the valley. My heart was in my mouth as he stopped for an
instant and looked down into the cover. Then, for some strange reason,
he turned and came on. Three hundred yards away he halted suddenly,
swung about, and looked at the ravine again as if half decided to go
back.

He was standing broadside, and at the crash of my rifle we could hear
the soft thud of the bullet striking flesh; but without a sign of
injury he ran forward and stopped under a swell of ground. I could
see just ten inches of his back and the magnificent head. It was a
small target at three hundred yards, and I missed him twice. With the
greatest care I held the little ivory bead well down on that thin brown
line, but the bullet only creased his back. It was no use--I simply
could not hit him. Running up the hill a few feet, I had his whole body
exposed, and the first shot put him down for good.

With a whoop of joy my old Mongol dashed down the steep slope. I had
never seen him excited while we were hunting sheep, but now he was wild
with delight. Before he had quieted we saw Harry coming over the hill
where the wapiti had first appeared. He told us that he had knocked
the bull down at long range and had expected to find him dead until he
heard me shooting. We found where his bullet had struck the wapiti in
the shoulder, yet the animal was running as though untouched.

I examined the bull with the greatest interest, for it was the first
Asiatic wapiti of this species that I had ever seen. Its splendid
antlers carried eleven points but they were not as massive in the beam
or as sharply bent backward at the tips as are those of the American
elk. Because of its richer coloration, however, it was decidedly
handsomer than any of the American animals.

But the really extraordinary thing was to find the wapiti there at
all. It seemed as incongruous as the first automobile that I saw upon
the Gobi Desert, for in every other part of the world the animal is a
resident of the parklike openings in the forests. Here not a twig or
bush was in sight, only the rolling, grass-covered uplands. Undoubtedly
these mountains had been wooded many years ago, and as the trees
were cut away, the animals had no alternative except to die or adapt
themselves to almost plains conditions. The sparse birch scrub in the
ravines still afforded them limited protection during the day, but they
could feed only at night. It was a case of rapid adaptation to changed
environment such as I have seen nowhere else in all the world.

The wapiti, of course, owed their continued existence to the fact that
the Chinese villagers of the valley had no firearms; otherwise, when
the growing antlers set a price upon their heads, they would all have
been exterminated within a year or two.



CHAPTER XVII

WAPITI, ROEBUCK, AND GORAL


After the first day we left the "American Legation" and moved camp to
one of two villages at the upper end of the valley about a mile nearer
the hunting grounds. There were only half a dozen huts, but they were
somewhat superior to those of Wu-tai-hai, and we were able to make
ourselves fairly comfortable. The usual threshing floor of hard clay
adjoined each house, and all day we could hear the steady beat, beat,
beat, of the flails pounding out the wheat.

The grain was usually freed from chaff by the simple process of
throwing it into the air when a brisk wind was blowing, but we saw
several hand winnowing machines which were exceedingly ingenious and
very effective. The wheat was ground between two circular stones
operated by a blindfolded donkey which plodded round and round tied to
a shaft. Of course, had the animal been able to see he would not have
walked continuously in a circle without giving trouble to his master.

Behind our new house the cliffs rose in sheer walls for hundreds of
feet, and red-legged partridges, or chuckars, were always calling from
some ledge or bowlder. We could have excellent shooting at almost any
hour of the day and often picked up pheasants, bearded partridges, and
rabbits in the tiny fields across the stream. Besides the wapiti and
roebuck, goral were plentiful on the cliffs and there were a few sheep
in the lower valley. Altogether it was a veritable game paradise, but
one which I fear will last only a few years longer.

We found that the wapiti were not as easy to kill as the first day's
hunt had given us reason to believe. The mountains, separated by deep
ravines, were so high and precipitous that if the deer became alarmed
and crossed a valley it meant a climb of an hour or more to reach the
crest of the new ridge. It was killing work, and we returned to camp
every night utterly exhausted.

The concentration of animal life in these scrub-filled gorges was
really extraordinary, and I hope that a "game hog" never finds that
valley. Probably in no other part of China can one see as many roebuck
in a space so limited. It is due, of course, to the unusual conditions.
Instead of being scattered over a large area, as is usual in the forest
where there is an abundance of cover, the animals are confined to the
few ravines in which brush remains. The surrounding open hills isolate
them almost as effectively as though they were encircled by water; when
driven from one patch of cover they can only run to the next valley.

The facility with which the roebuck and wapiti had adapted themselves
to utterly new conditions was a continual marvel to me, and I never
lost the feeling of surprise when I saw the animals on the open
hillside or running across the rolling, treeless uplands. Had an
elephant or a rhinoceros suddenly appeared in place of a deer, it would
not have seemed more incongruous.

After we had killed the first wapiti we did not fire a shot for two
days, even though roebuck were all about us and we wanted a series for
the Museum. This species, _Capreolus bedfordi_, is smaller both in
body and in antlers than the one we obtained in Mongolia and differs
decidedly in coloration.

On the second hunt I, alone, saw forty-five roebuck, and Harry, who
was far to the north of me, counted thirty-one. The third day we were
together and put out at least half as many. During that time we saw
two wapiti, but did not get a shot at either. Both of us were becoming
decidedly tired of passing specimens which we wanted badly and decided
to go for roebuck regardless of the possibility of frightening wapiti
by the shooting. Na-mon-gin and the other hunters were disgusted with
our decision, for they were only interested in the larger game. For
the first two drives they worked only half-heartedly, and although
seventeen deer were put out of one ravine, they escaped without giving
us a shot.

Harry and I held a council of war with the natives and impressed
upon them the fact that we were intending to hunt roebuck that day
regardless of their personal wishes. They realized that we were not to
be dissuaded and prepared to drive the next patch of cover in a really
businesslike manner.

Na-mon-gin took me to a position on the edge of a projecting rock to
await the natives. As they appeared on the rim of the ravine we saw
five roe deer move in the bushes where they had been asleep. Four of
them broke back through the line of beaters, but one fine buck came
straight toward us. He ran up the slope and crossed a rock-saddle
almost beneath me, but I did not fire until he was well away on the
opposite hillside; then he plunged forward in his tracks, dead.

Without moving from our position we sent the men over the crest of the
mountain to drive the ravines on the other side. The old Mongol and I
stretched out upon the rock and smoked for half an hour, while I tried
to tell him in my best Chinese--which is very bad--the story of a bear
hunt in Alaska. I had just killed the bear, in my narrative, when we
saw five roebuck appear on the sky line. They trotted straight toward
Harry, and in a moment we heard two shots in quick succession. I knew
that meant at least one more deer.

Five minutes later we made out a roebuck rounding the base of the
spur on which we sat. It seemed no larger than a brown rabbit at that
distance, but the animal was running directly up the bottom of the
ravine which we commanded. It was a buck carrying splendid antlers and
we watched him come steadily on until he was almost below us.

Na-mon-gin whispered, "Don't shoot until he stops"; but it seemed that
the animal would cross the ridge without a pause. He was almost at the
summit when he halted for an instant, facing directly away from us. I
fired, and the buck leaped backward shot through the neck.

Na-mon-gin was in high good humor, for I had killed two deer with two
shots. Harry brought a splendid doe which he had bored neatly through
the body as it dashed at full speed across the valley below him. Even
the old Mongol had to admit that the wapiti could not have been greatly
disturbed by the shooting, and all the men were as pleased as children.
There was meat enough for all our boys as well as for the beaters.

Our next day's hunt was for goral on the precipitous cliffs north of
camp. Goral belong to a most interesting group of mammals known as the
"goat-antelopes" because of the intermediate position which they occupy
between the true antelope and the goats. The takin, serow, and goral
are the Asiatic members of this sub-family, the _Rupicaprinæ_, which
is represented in America by the so-called Rocky Mountain goat and in
Europe by the chamois. The goral might be called the Asiatic chamois,
for its habits closely resemble those of its European relative.

I had killed twenty-five goral in Yün-nan on the first Asiatic
expedition and, therefore, was not particularly keen, from the sporting
standpoint, about shooting others. But we did need several specimens,
since the north China goral represents a different species, _Nemorhædus
caudatus_; from the one we had obtained in Yün-nan, which is _N.
griseus_.

Moreover, Harry was exceedingly anxious to get several of the animals
for he had not been very successful with them. He had shot one at
Wu-shi-tu, while we were hunting sheep, and after wounding two others
at Wu-tai-hai had begun to learn how hard they are to kill.

The thousand-foot climb up the almost perpendicular cliff was one of
the most difficult bits of going which we encountered anywhere in the
mountains, and I was ready for a rest in the sun when we reached the
summit. Although my beaters were not successful in putting out a goral,
we heard Harry shoot once away to the right; and half an hour later I
saw him through my binoculars accompanied by one of his men who carried
a goral on his shoulders.

On the way Harry disturbed a goral which ran down the sheer wall
opposite to us at full speed, bouncing from rock to rock as though
made of India rubber. It was almost inconceivable that anything except
a bird could move along the face of that cliff, and yet the goral ran
apparently as easily as though it had been on level ground. I missed
it beautifully and the animal disappeared into a cave among the rocks.
Although I sent two bullets into the hole, hoping to drive out the
beast, it would not move. Two beaters made their way from above to
within thirty feet of the hiding place and sent down a shower of dirt
and stones, but still there was no sign of action. Then another native
climbed up from below at the risk of his life, and just as he gained
the ledge which led to the cave the goral leaped out. The Mongol yelled
with fright, for the animal nearly shoved him off the rocks and dashed
into the bottom of the ravine where it took refuge in another cave.

I would not have taken that thousand-foot climb again for all the
gorals in China, but Harry started down at once. The animal again
remained in its cave until a beater was opposite the entrance and then
shot out like an arrow almost into Harry's face. He was so startled
that he missed it twice.

I decided to abandon goral hunting for that day. Na-mon-gin took me
over the summit of the ridge with two beaters and we found roebuck at
once. I returned to camp with two bucks and a doe. In the lower valley
I met Harry carrying a shotgun and accompanied by a boy strung about
with pheasants and chuckars. After losing the goral he had toiled up
the mountain again but had found only two roebuck, one of which he shot.

Our second wapiti was killed on November seventh. It was a raw day with
an icy wind blowing across the ridges where we lay for half an hour
while the beaters bungled a drive for twelve roebuck which had gone
into a scrub-filled ravine. The animals eluded us by running across
a hilltop which should have been blocked by a native, and I got only
one shot at a fox. The report of my rifle disturbed eight wapiti which
the beaters discovered as they crossed the uplands in the direction of
another patch of cover a mile away.

It was a long, cold walk over the hills against the biting wind, and
after driving one ravine unsuccessfully Harry descended to the bottom
of a wide valley, while I continued parallel with him on the summit
of the ridge. Three roebuck suddenly jumped from a shallow ravine in
front of me, and one of them, a splendid buck, stopped behind a bush.
It was too great a temptation, so I fired; but the bullet went to
pieces in the twigs and never reached its mark. Harry saw the deer go
over the hill and ran around the base of a rocky shoulder just in time
to intercept three wapiti which my shot had started down the ravine.
He dropped behind a bowlder and let a cow and a calf pass within a
few yards of him, for he saw the antlers of a bull rocking along just
behind a tiny ridge. As the animal came into view he sent a bullet into
his shoulder, and a second ball a few inches behind the first. The elk
went down but got to his feet again, and Harry put him under for good
with a third shot in the hip.

Looking up he saw another bull, alone, emerging from a patch of cover
on the summit of the opposite slope four hundred yards away. He fired
point-blank, but the range was a bit too long and his bullet kicked up
a cloud of snow under the animal's belly.

I was entirely out of the race on the summit of the hill, for the
nearest wapiti was fully eight hundred yards away. Harry's bull was
somewhat smaller than the first one we had killed, but had an even more
beautiful coat.

We were pretty well exhausted from the week's strenuous climbing and
spent Sunday resting and looking after the small mammal work which our
Chinese taxidermists had been carrying on under my direction.

Monday morning we were on the hunting grounds shortly after sunrise.
At the first drive a beautiful buck roe deer ran out of a ravine into
the main valley where I was stationed. Suddenly he caught sight of
us where we sat under a rock and stopped with head thrown up and one
foot raised, I shall never forget the beautiful picture which he made
standing there against the background of snow with the sun glancing on
his antlers. Before I could shoot he was off at top speed bounding over
the bushes parallel to us. My first shot just creased his back, but the
second caught him squarely in the shoulder, while he was in mid-air,
turning him over in a complete somersault.

A few moments later we saw the two beaters on the hill run toward each
other excitedly and felt sure they had seen something besides roebuck.
When they reached us they reported that seven wapiti had run out
directly between them and over the ridge.

The climb to the top of the mountain was an ordeal. It was the highest
ridge on that side of the valley and every time we reached what
appeared to be the crest, another and higher summit loomed above us.
We followed the tracks of the animals into a series of ravines which
ran down on the opposite side of the mountain and tried a drive. It was
too large a territory for our four beaters, and the animals escaped
unobserved up one of the valleys. Na-mon-gin and I sat on the hillside
for an hour in the icy wind. We were both shaking with cold and I doubt
if I could have hit a wapiti if it had stopped fifty feet away.

Harry saw a young elk go into a mass of birch scrub in the bottom
of the valley, and when he descended to drive it out, his hunter
discovered a huge bull walking slowly up a ravine not two hundred
yards from me but under cover of the hill and beyond my sight.

A little before dark we started home by way of a deep ravine which
extended out to the main valley. We were talking in a low tone and I
was smoking a cigarette--my rifle slung over my shoulder. Suddenly
Harry exclaimed, "Great Scott, Roy! There's a _ma-lu_."

On the instant his rifle banged, and I looked up just in time to see
a bull wapiti stop on an open slope of the ravine about ninety yards
away. Before I had unslung my rifle Harry fired again, but he could not
see the notch in his rear sight and both bullets went high.

Through the peep sight in my Mannlicher the animal was perfectly
visible, and when I fired, the bull dropped like lead, rolling over and
over down the hill. He attempted to get to his feet but was unable to
stand, and I put him down for good with a second shot. It all happened
so quickly that we could hardly realize that a day of disappointment
had ended in success.

On our way back to camp Harry and I decided that this would end our
hunt, for we had three fine bulls, and it was evident that only a very
few wapiti remained. The species is doomed to early extinction for,
with the advent of the railroad, the last stand which the elk have
made by means of their extraordinary adaptation to changed conditions
will soon become easily accessible to foreign sportsmen. We at least
could keep our consciences clear and not hasten the inevitable day by
undue slaughter. In western China other species of wapiti are found in
greater numbers, but there can be only one end to the persecution to
which they are subjected during the season when they are least able to
protect themselves.

It is too much to hope that China will make effective game laws
before the most interesting and important forms of her wild life have
disappeared, but we can do our best to preserve in museums for future
generations records of the splendid animals of the present. Not only
are they a part of Chinese history, but they belong to all the world,
for they furnish some of the evidence from which it is possible to
write the fascinating story of those dim, dark ages when man first came
upon the earth.



CHAPTER XVIII

WILD PIGS--ANIMAL AND HUMAN


Shansi Province is famous for wild boar among the sportsmen of China.
In the central part there are low mountains and deep ravines thickly
forested with a scrub growth of pine and oak. The acorns are a favorite
food of the pigs, and the pigs are a favorite food of the Chinese--and
of foreigners, too, for that matter. No domestic pork that I have ever
tasted can excel a young acorn-fed wild pig! Even a full-grown sow
is delicious, but beware of an old boar; not only is he tough beyond
description, but his flesh is so "strong" that it annoys me even to see
it cooked. I tried to eat some boar meat, once upon a time--that is why
I feel so deeply about it.

It is useless to hunt wild pig until the leaves are off the trees, for
your only hope is to find them feeding on the hillsides in the morning
or early evening. Then they will often come into the open or the thin
forests, and you can have a fair shot across a ravine or from the
summit of a hill. If they are in the brush it is well-nigh impossible
to see them at all. A wild boar is very clever at eluding his pursuers,
and for his size can carry off more lead and requires more killing than
any other animal of which I know. Therefore, you may be sure of a
decidedly interesting hunt. On the other hand, an unsuspecting pig is
easy to stalk, for his eyesight is not good; his sense of smell is not
much better; and he depends largely upon hearing to protect him from
enemies.

In Tientsin and Shanghai there are several sportsmen who year after
year go to try for record tusks--they are the real authorities on wild
boar hunting. My own experience has been limited to perhaps a dozen
pigs killed in Korea, Mongolia, Celebes, and various parts of China.

Harry Caldwell and I returned from our bighorn sheep and wapiti hunt
on November 19. He was anxious to go with me for wild boar, but
business required his presence in Foochow, and Everett Smith, who
had been my companion on a trip to the Eastern Tombs the previous
spring, volunteered to accompany me. We left on November 28 by the
Peking-Hankow Railroad for Ping-ting-cho, arriving the following
afternoon at two o'clock. There we obtained donkeys for pack and
riding animals. All the traffic in this part of Shansi is by mules or
donkeys. As a result the inns are small, with none of the spacious
courtyards which we had found in the north of the province. They were
not particularly dirty, but the open coal fires which burned in every
kitchen sometimes drove us outside for a breath of untainted air. How
it is possible for human beings to exist in rooms so filled with coal
gas is beyond my knowledge. Of course, death from gas poisoning is not
unusual, but I suppose the natives have become somewhat immune to its
effects.

Our destination was a tiny village in the mountains about eight miles
beyond Ho-shun, a city of considerable size in the very center of the
province. Tai-yuan-fu, the capital, at the end of the railway, is
a famous place for pigs; but they have been hunted so persistently
in recent years that few remain within less than two or three days'
journey from the city.

It was a three days' trip from the railroad to Ho-shun, and there was
little of interest to distinguish the road from any other in north
China. It is always monotonous to travel with pack animals or carts,
for they go so slowly that you can make only two or three miles an
hour, at best. If there happens to be shooting along the way, as there
is in most parts of Shansi, it helps to pass the time. We picked up a
few pheasants, some chuckars, and a dozen pigeons, but did not stop to
do any real hunting until we entered a wooded valley and established
ourselves in a fairly comfortable Chinese hut at the little village
of Kao-chia-chuang. On the way in we met a party of Christian Brother
missionaries who had been hunting in the vicinity for five days. They
had seen ten or twelve pigs and had killed a splendid boar weighing
about three hundred and fifty pounds as well as two roebuck.

The mountains near the village had been so thoroughly hunted that
there was little chance of finding pigs, but nevertheless we decided
to stay for a day or two. I killed a two-year-old roebuck on the first
afternoon; and the next morning, while Smith and I were resting on a
mountain trail, one of our men saw an enormous wild boar trot across
an open ridge and disappear into a heavily forested ravine. I selected
a post on a projecting shoulder, while one Chinese went with Smith to
pick up the trail of the pig. There were so many avenues of escape open
to the boar that I had to remain where it was possible to watch a large
expanse of country.

Smith had not yet reached the bottom of the ravine when the native
who had remained with me suddenly began to gesticulate wildly and to
point to a wooded slope directly in front of us. He hopped about like
a man who has suddenly lost his mind and succeeded in keeping in front
of me so that I could see nothing but his waving arms and writhing
body. Finally seizing him by the collar, I threw him to the ground so
violently that he realized his place was behind me. Then I saw the pig
running along a narrow trail, silhouetted against the snow which lay
thinly on the shaded side of the hill.

He was easily three hundred and fifty yards away and I had little hope
of hitting him, but I selected an open patch beyond a bit of cover and
fired as he emerged. The boar squealed and plunged forward into the
bushes. A moment later he reappeared, zigzagging his way up the slope
and only visible through the trees when he crossed a patch of snow. I
emptied the magazine of my rifle in a futile bombardment, but the boar
crossed the summit and disappeared.

We picked up his bloody trail and for two hours followed it through a
tangled mass of scrub and thorns. It seemed certain that we must find
him at any moment, for great red blotches stained the snow wherever he
stopped to rest. At last the trail led us across an open ridge, and the
snow and blood suddenly ceased. We could not follow his footprints in
the thick grass and abandoned the chase just before dark.

Two more days of unsuccessful hunting convinced us that the
missionaries had driven the pigs to other cover. There was a region
twelve miles away to which they might have gone, and we shifted camp
to a village named Tziloa a mile or more from the scrub-covered hills
which we wished to investigate.

The natives of this part of the country were in no sense hunters. They
were farmers who, now that the crops were harvested, had plenty of
leisure time and were glad to roam the hills with us. Although their
eyesight was remarkable and they were able to see a pig twice as far
as we could, they had no conception of stalking the game or of how to
hunt it. When we began to shoot, instead of watching the pigs, they
were always so anxious to obtain the empty cartridge cases that a wild
scramble ensued after every shot. They were like street boys fighting
for a penny. It was a serious handicap for successful hunting, and they
kept me in such a state of irritation that I never shot so badly in all
my life.

We found pigs at Tziloa immediately. The carts went by road to the
village, while Smith and I, with two Chinese, crossed the mountains.
On the summit of a ridge not far from the village we met eight native
hunters. Two of them had ancient muzzle-loading guns but the others
only carried staves. Evidently their method of hunting was to surround
the pigs and drive them close up to the men with firearms.

We persuaded one of the Chinese, a boy of eighteen, with cross-eyes
and a funny, dried-up little face, to accompany us, for our two guides
wished to return that night to Kao-chia-chuang. He led us down a spur
which projected northward from the main ridge, and in ten minutes we
discovered five pigs on the opposite side of a deep ravine. The sun lay
warmly on the slope, and the animals were lazily rooting in the oak
scrub. They were a happy family--a boar, a sow, and three half-grown
piglets.

We slipped quietly among the trees until we were directly opposite to
them and not more than two hundred yards away. The boar and the sow had
disappeared behind a rocky corner, and the others were slowly following
so that the opportunity for a shot would soon be lost. Telling Smith to
take the one on the left, I covered another which stood, half facing
me. At the roar of my rifle the ravine was filled with wild squeals,
and the pig rolled down the hill bringing up against a tree. The boar
rushed from behind the rock, and I fired quickly as he stood broadside
on. He plunged out of sight, and the gorge was still!

Smith had missed his pig and was very much disgusted. The three Chinese
threw themselves down the slope, slipping and rolling over logs and
stones, and were up the opposite hill before we reached the bottom of
the ravine. They found the pig which I had killed and a blood-splashed
trail leading around the hill where the boar had disappeared.

My pig was a splendid male in the rich red-brown coat of adolescence.
The bullet had struck him "amid-ships" and shattered the hip on the
opposite side. From the blood on the trail we decided that I had shot
the big boar through the center of the body about ten inches behind the
forelegs.

We had learned by experience how much killing a full-grown pig
required, and had no illusions about finding him dead a few yards away,
even though both sides of his path were blotched with red at every
step. Therefore, while the Chinese followed the trail, Smith and I
sprinted across the next ridge into a thickly forested ravine to head
off the boar.

We took stations several yards apart, and suddenly I heard Smith's
rifle bang six times in quick succession. The Chinese had disturbed the
pig from a patch of cover and it had climbed the opposite hill slope in
full view of Smith, who apparently had missed it every time. Missing a
boar dodging about among the bushes is not such a difficult thing to
do, and although poor Smith was too disgusted even to talk about it, I
had a good deal of sympathy for him.

We had little hope of getting the animal when we climbed to the summit
of the ridge and saw the tangle of brush into which it had disappeared,
but nevertheless we followed the trail which was still showing blood.
I was in front and was just letting myself down a snow-covered bowlder,
when far below me I saw a huge sow and a young pig walking slowly
through the trees. I turned quickly, lost my balance, and slipped feet
first over the rock into a mass of thorns and scrub. A locomotive could
not have made more noise, and I extricated myself just in time to see
the two pigs disappear into a grove of pines. I was bleeding from a
dozen scratches, but I climbed to the summit of the ridge and dashed
forward hoping to cut them off if they crossed below me. They did
not appear, and we tried to drive them out from the cover into which
they had made their way; but we never saw them again. It was already
beginning to grow dark and too late to pick up the trail of the wounded
boar, so we had to call it a day and return to the village.

One of our men carried my shotgun and we killed half a dozen pheasants
on the way back to camp. The birds had come into the open to feed, and
small flocks were scattered along the valley every few hundred yards.
We saw about one hundred and fifty in less than an hour, besides a few
chuckars.

I have never visited any part of China where pheasants were so
plentiful as in this region. Had we been hunting birds we could have
killed a hundred or more without the slightest difficulty during the
time we were looking for pigs. We could not shoot, however, without
the certainty of disturbing big game and, consequently, we only killed
pheasants when on the way back to camp. During the day the birds kept
well up toward the summits of the ridges and only left the cover in the
morning and evening.

Our second hunt was very amusing, as well as successful. We met the
same party of Chinese hunters early in the morning, and agreed to
divide the meat of all the pigs we killed during the day if they would
join forces with us. Among them was a tall, fine-looking young fellow,
evidently the leader, who was a real hunter--the only one we found in
the entire region. He knew instinctively where the pigs were, what they
would do, and how to get them.

He led us without a halt along the summit of the mountain into a ravine
and up a long slope to the crest of a knifelike ridge. Then he suddenly
dropped in the grass and pointed across a cañon to a bare hillside. Two
pigs were there in plain sight--one a very large sow. They were fully
three hundred yards away and on the edge of a bushy patch toward which
they were feeding slowly. Smith left me to hurry to the bottom of the
cañon where he could have a shot at close range if either one went down
the hill, while I waited behind a stone. Before he was halfway down the
slope the sow moved toward the patch of cover into which the smaller
pig had already disappeared. It must be then, if I was to have a shot
at all. I fired rather hurriedly and registered a clean miss. Both
pigs, instead of staying in the cover where they would have been safe,
dashed down the open slope toward the bottom of the cañon. At my first
shot all eight of the Chinese had leaped for the empty rifle shell and
were rolling about like a pack of dogs after a bone. One of them struck
my leg just as I fired the second time and the bullet went into the
air; I delivered a broadside of my choicest Chinese oaths and the man
drew off. I sent three shots after the fleeing sow, but she disappeared
unhurt.

One shell remained in my rifle, and I saw the other pig running like a
scared rabbit in the very bottom of the cañon. It was so far away that
I could barely see the animal through my sights, but when I fired it
turned a complete somersault and lay still; the bullet had caught it
squarely in the head.

Meanwhile, Smith was having a lively time with the old sow. He had
swung around a corner of rock just in time to meet the pig coming at
full speed from the other side not six yards away. He tried to check
himself, slipped, and sat down suddenly but managed to fire once,
breaking the animal's left foreleg. It disappeared into the brush with
Smith after it.

He began an intermittent bombardment which lasted half an hour.
_Bang, bang, bang_--then silence. _Bang, bang, bang_--silence again.
I wondered what it all meant and finally ran down the bottom of the
valley until I saw Smith opposite to me just under the rim of the
ravine. He was tearing madly through the brush not far behind the
sow. As the animal appeared for an instant on the summit of a rise he
dropped on one knee and fired twice. Then I saw him race over the hill,
leaping the bushes like a roebuck. Once he rolled ten feet into a mass
of thorn scrub, but he was up again in an instant, hurdling the brush
and fallen logs, his eye on the pig.

It was screamingly funny and I was helpless with laughter. "Go it.
Smith," I yelled. "Run him down. Catch him in your hands." He had no
breath to waste in a reply, for just then he leaped a fallen log and
I saw the sow charge him viciously. The animal had been lying under a
tree, almost done, but still had life enough to damage Smith badly if
it had reached him. As the man landed on his feet, he fired again at
the pig which was almost on him. The bullet caught the brute in the
shoulder at the base of the neck and rolled it over, but it struggled
to its feet and ran uncertainly a few steps; then it dropped in a
little gully.

By the time I had begun to climb the hill Smith shouted that the pig
might charge again, and I kept my rifle ready, but the animal was "all
in." I circled warily and, creeping up from behind, drove my hunting
knife into its heart; even then it struggled to get at me before it
rolled over dead.

Smith was streaming blood from a score of scratches, and his clothes
were in ribbons, but his face was radiant. "I'd have chased the blasted
pig clear to Peking," he said. "All my shells are gone, but I wasn't
going to let him get away. If I hadn't kept that last cartridge he'd
have caught me, surely."

It was fine enthusiasm and, if ever a man deserved his game. Smith
deserved that sow. The animal had been shot in half a dozen places; two
legs were broken, and at least three of the bullets had reached vital
spots. Still the brute kept on. Any one who thinks pigs are easy to
kill ought to try the ones in Shansi! The sow weighed well over three
hundred pounds, and it required six men to carry the two pigs into
camp. We got no more, although we saw two others, but still we felt
that the day had not been ill spent. As long as I live I shall never
forget Smith's hurdle race after that old sow.

Although I killed two roebuck, the next day I returned to camp with
rage in my heart. Smith and I had separated late in the afternoon, and
I was hunting with an old Chinese when we discovered three pigs--a huge
boar, a sow, and a shote--crossing an open hill. Crawling on my face,
I reached a rock not seventy yards from the animals. At the first shot
the boar pitched over the bluff into a tangle of thorns, squealing
wildly. My second bullet broke the shoulder of the sow, and I had a mad
chase through a patch of scrub, but finally lost her.

When I returned to get the big boar I discovered my Chinese squatted on
his haunches in the ravine. He blandly informed me that the pig could
not be found. I spent the half hour of remaining daylight burrowing in
the thorn scrub without success. I learned later that the native had
concealed the dead pig under a mass of stones and that during the night
he and his confreres had carried it away. Moreover, after we left, they
also got the sow which I had wounded. Although at the time I did not
suspect the man's perfidy, nevertheless it was apparent that he had not
kept his eyes on the boar as I had told him to do; otherwise the pig
could not possibly have escaped.

We had one more day of hunting because Smith had obtained two
weeks' leave. The next morning dawned dark and cloudy with spurts
of hail--just the sort of weather in which animals prefer to stay
comfortably snuggled under a bush in the thickest cover. Consequently
we saw nothing all day except one roebuck, which I killed. It was
running at full speed when I fired, and it disappeared over the crest
of a hill without a sign of injury. Smith was waiting on the other
side, and I wondered why he did not shoot, until we reached the summit
and discovered the deer lying dead in the grass. Smith had seen the
buck plunge over the ridge, and just as he was about to fire, it
collapsed.

We found that my bullet had completely smashed the heart, yet the
animal had run more than one hundred yards. As it fell, one of its
antlers had been knocked off and the other was so loose that it dropped
in my hand when I lifted the head. This was on December 11. The other
bucks which I had killed still wore their antlers, but probably they
would all have been shed before Christmas. The growth takes place
during the winter, and the velvet is all off the new antlers by the
following May.

On the way back to camp we saw a huge boar standing on an open
hillside. Smith and I fired hurriedly and both missed a perfectly easy
shot. With one of the Chinese I circled the ridge, while Smith took
up the animal's trail. We arrived on the edge of a deep ravine just
as the boar appeared in the very bottom. I fired as it rushed through
the bushes, and the pig squealed but never hesitated. The second shot
struck behind it, but at the third it squealed again and dived into a
patch of cover. When we reached the spot we found a great pool of blood
and bits of entrails--but no pig. A broad red patch led through the
snow, and we followed, expecting at every step to find the animal dead.
Instead, the track carried us down the hill, up the bottom of a ravine,
and onto a hill bare of snow but thickly covered with oak scrub.

While Smith and I circled ahead to intercept the pig, the Chinese
followed the trail. It was almost dark when we went back to the men,
who announced that the blood had ceased and that they had lost the
track. It seemed incredible; but they had so trampled the trail where
it left the snow that we could not find it again in the gloom.

Then Smith and I suspected what we eventually found to be true,
viz., that the men had discovered the dead pig and had purposely led
us astray. We had no proof, however, and they denied the charge so
violently that we began to think our suspicions were unfounded.

We had to leave at daylight next morning in order to reach Peking
before Smith's leave expired. Two days after we left, one of my friends
arrived at Kao-chia-chuang, where we had first hunted, and reported
that the Chinese had brought in all four of the pigs which we had
wounded. One of them, probably the boar we lost on the last night,
was an enormous animal which the natives said weighed more than five
hundred pounds. Of course, this could not have been true, but it
probably did reach nearly four hundred pounds.

What Smith and I said when we learned that the scoundrels had cheated
us would not look well in print. However, it taught us several things
about boar hunting which will prove of value in the future. The Chinese
can sell wild pig meat for a very high price since it is considered
to be a great delicacy. Therefore, if I wound a pig in the future I
shall, myself, follow its trail to the bitter end. Moreover, I learned
that, to knock over a wild boar and keep him down for good, one needs a
heavy rifle. The bullet of my 6.5 mm. Mannlicher, which has proved to
be a wonderful killer for anything up to and including sheep, has not
weight enough behind it to stop a pig in its tracks. These animals have
such wonderful vitality that, even though shot in a vital spot, they
can travel an unbelievable distance. Next time I shall carry a rifle
especially designed for pigs and thieving Chinese!



CHAPTER XIX

THE GREAT PARK OF THE EASTERN TOMBS


The sunshine of an early spring day was flooding the flower-filled
courtyards of Duke Tsai Tse's palace in Peking when Dr. G. D. Wilder,
Everett Smith, and I alighted from our car at the huge brass-hound
gate. We came by motor instead of rickshaw, for we were on an official
visit which had been arranged by the American Minister. We would have
suffered much loss of "face" had we come in any lesser vehicle than
an automobile, for we were to be received by a "Royal Highness," an
Imperial Duke and a man in whose veins flowed the bluest of Manchu
blood. Although living in retirement, Duke Tsai Tse is still a powerful
and a respected man.

We were ushered through court after court into a large reception hall
furnished in semi-foreign style but in excellent taste. A few moments
later the duke entered, dressed in a simple gown of dark blue silk.
Had I met him casually on the street I should have known he was a
"personality." His high-bred features were those of a maker of history,
of a man who has faced the ruin of his own ambitions; who has seen his
emperor deposed and his dynasty shattered; but who has lost not one
whit of his poise or self-esteem. He carried himself with a quiet
dignity, and there was a royal courtesy in his greeting which inspired
profound respect. Had he been marked for death in the revolution I am
sure that he would have received his executioners in the same calm way
that he met us in the reception hall. He listened with a courteous
interest while we explained the object of our visit. We had come, we
told him, to ask permission to collect natural history specimens in
the great hunting park at the _Tung Ling_, Eastern Tombs. Here, and at
the _Hsi Ling_, or Western Tombs, the Manchu emperors and their royal
consorts sleep in splendid mausoleums among the fragrant pines.

The emperors are buried at the lower end of a vast, walled park, more
than one hundred miles in length. True to their reverence for the dead,
the Chinese conquerors have never touched these sacred spots, and
doubtless will never do so. They belong unquestionably to the Manchus,
even if their dynasty has been overthrown by force of arms. According
to custom, some member of the royal court is always in residence at
the Eastern Tombs. This fact Tsai Tse gravely explained, and said that
he would commend us in a letter to Duke Chou, who would be glad to
grant us the privileges we asked. Then, by touching his teacup to his
lips, he indicated that our interview was ended. With the same courtesy
he would have shown to a visiting diplomat he ushered us through the
courtyards, while at each doorway we begged him to return. Such is the
custom in China. That same afternoon a messenger from the duke arrived
at my house in Wu Liang Tajen Hutung bearing a letter beautifully
written in Chinese characters.

Everett Smith and I left next morning for the Eastern Tombs. We went
by train to Tung-cho, twelve miles away, where a _mafu_ was waiting
with our ponies and a cart for baggage. The way to the _Tung Ling_ is
a delight, for along it north China country life passes before one in
panoramic completeness. For centuries this road has been an imperial
highway. I could imagine the gorgeous processions that had passed over
it and the pomp and ceremony of the visits of the living emperors to
the resting places of the dead.

Most vivid of all was the picture in my mind of the last great funeral
only nine years ago. I could see the imperial yellow bier slowly,
solemnly, borne over the gray Peking hills. In it lay the dead body
of the Dowager Empress, Tz'u-hsi--most dreaded yet most beloved--the
greatest empress of the last century, the woman who tasted of life and
power through the sweetest joys to their bitter core.

We spent the first night at an inn on the outskirts of a tiny village.
It was a clean inn, too--very different from those in south China. The
great courtyard was crowded with arriving carts. In the kitchen dozens
of tired _mafus_ were noisily gulping huge bowls of macaroni, and
others, stretched upon the _kang_, had already become mere, shapeless
bundles of dirty rags. After dinner Smith and I wandered outside the
court. An open-air theater was in full operation a few yards from the
inn, and all the village had gathered in the street. But we were of
more interest to the audience than the drama itself, and in an instant
a score of men and women had surrounded us. They were all good-natured
but frankly curious. Finally an old man joined the crowd. "Why," said
he, "there are two foreigners!" Immediately the hum of voices ceased,
for Age was speaking. "They've got foreign clothes," he exclaimed; "and
what funny hats! It is true that foreign hats are much bigger than
Chinese caps, and they cost a lot more, too! See that gun the tall
one is carrying! He could shoot those pigeons over there as easily as
not--all of them with one shot--probably he will in a minute."

The old man continued the lecture until we strolled back to the inn.
Undoubtedly he is still discussing us, for there is little to talk
about in a Chinese village, except crops and weather and local gossip.

We reached the Eastern Tombs in the late afternoon of the same day.
Emerging from a rocky gateway on the summit of a hill, we had the whole
panorama of the _Tung Ling_ spread out before us. It was like a vast
green sea where wave after wave of splendid forests rolled away to the
blue haze of distant mountains.

The islands in this forest-ocean were the yellow-roofed tombs, which
gave back the sun in a thousand points of golden light. After the
monotonous brown of the bare north China hills, the vivid green of the
trees was as refreshing as finding an unknown oasis in a sandy desert.
To the right was the picturesque village of Ma-lin-yü, the residence of
Duke Chou.

From the wide veranda of the charming temple which we were invited
to occupy we could look across the brown village to the splendid park
and the glistening yellow roofs of the imperial tombs. We found next
day that it is a veritable paradise, a spot of exquisite beauty where
profound artistic sentiment has been magnificently expressed. Broad,
paved avenues, bordered by colossal animals sculptured in snow-white
marble, lead through the trees to imposing gates of red and gold.
There is, too, a delightful appreciation of climax. As one walks up a
spacious avenue, passing through gate after gate, each more magnificent
than the last, one is being prepared by this cumulative splendor for
the tomb itself. One feels everywhere the dignity of space. There is no
smallness, no crowding. One feels the greatness of the people that has
done these things: a race that looks at life and death with a vision as
broad as the skies themselves.

At the _Tung Ling_ Nature has worked hand in hand with man to produce a
harmonious whole. Most of the trees about the tombs have been planted,
but the work has been cleverly done. There is nothing glaringly
artificial, and you feel as though you were in a well-groomed forest
where every tree has grown just where, in Nature's scheme of things, it
ought to be.

Although the tombs are alike in general plan, they are, at the same
time, as individual as were the emperors themselves. Each is a subtle
expression of the character of the one who sleeps beneath the yellow
roof. The tomb of Ch'ien-Lung, the artist emperor, lies not far
away from that of the Empress Dowager. Stately, beautiful in its
simplicity, it is an indication of his life and deeds. In striking
contrast is the palace built by the Empress for her eternal dwelling.
A woman of iron will, holding her place by force and intrigue, a lover
of lavish display--she has expressed it all in her gorgeous tomb. The
extravagance of its decoration and the wealth of gold and silver seem
to declare to all the world her desire to be known even in death as
the greatest of the great. It is said that her tomb cost ten million
dollars, and I can well believe it. But a hundred years from now, when
Ch'ien-Lung's mausoleum, like the painting of an old master, has grown
even more beautiful by the touch of age, that of the Empress will be
worn and tarnished.

Charmed with the calm, the peace, the exquisite beauty of the spot,
we spent a delightful day wandering among the red and gold pavilions.
But fascinating as were the tombs, we were really concerned with the
"hinterland," the hunting park itself. Sixty miles to the north, but
still within the walls, are towering mountains and glorious forests;
these were what we had come to see.

All day, behind three tiny donkeys, we followed a tortuous, foaming
stream in the bottom of a splendid valley, ever going upward. At night
we slept in the open, and next day crossed the mountain into a forest
of oak and pine sprinkled with silver birches. Hundreds of wood-cutters
passed us on the trail, each carrying a single log upon his back.
Before we reached the village of Shing Lung-shan we came into an area
of desolation. Thousands of splendid trees were lying in a chaos of
charred and blackened trunks. It was the wantonness of it all that
depressed and horrified me.

The reason was perfectly apparent. On every bit of open ground Manchu
farmers were at work with plow and hoe. The land was being cleared
for cultivation, regardless of all else. North China has very little
timber--so little, in fact, that one longs passionately to get away
from the bare hills. Yet in this forest-paradise the trees were being
sacrificed relentlessly simply to obtain a few more acres on which the
farmer could grow his crops. If it had to be done--and Heaven knows it
need not have been--the trees might have been utilized for timber. Many
have been cut, of course, but thousands upon thousands have been burned
simply to clear the hillside.

At Shing Lung-shan we met our hunters and continued up the valley for
three hours. With every mile there were fewer open spaces; we had come
to a region of vast mountains, gloomy valleys, and heavy forests. The
scenery was superb! It thrilled me as did the mountains of Yün-nan
and the gorges of the Yangtze. Yet all this grandeur is less than one
hundred miles from Peking!

On a little ridge between two foaming streams we made our camp in the
forest. From the door of the tent we could look over the tops of the
trees into the blue distance of the valley; behind us was a wall of
forests broken only by the winding corridor of the mountain torrent.

We had come to the _Tung Ling_ especially to obtain specimens of the
sika deer (_Cervus hortulorum_) and the Reeves's pheasant (_Syrmaticus
reevesi_). The former, a noble animal about the size of our Virginia
deer in America, has become exceedingly rare in north China. The
latter, one of the most beautiful of living birds, is found now in only
two localities--near Ichang on the Yangtze River, and at the _Tung
Ling_. When the forests of the Eastern Tombs have been cleared this
species will be extinct in all north China.

Early in the morning we left with six hunters. Our way led up the
bottom of the valley toward a mountain ridge north of camp. As we
walked along the trail, suddenly one of the hunters caught me by the
arm and whispered, "_Sang-chi_" (wild chicken). There was a whir
of wings, a flash of gold--and I registered a clean miss! The bird
alighted on the mountain side, and in the bliss of ignorance Smith and
I dashed after it. Ten minutes later we were exhausted from the climb
and the pheasant had disappeared. We learned soon that it is useless to
chase a Reeves's pheasant when it has once been flushed, for it will
invariably make for a mountain side, run rapidly to the top, and, once
over the summit, fly to another ridge.

On the way home I got my first pheasant, and an hour later put up half
a dozen. I should have had two more, but instead of shooting I only
stared, fascinated by the beauty of the thing I saw. It was late in the
afternoon and the sun was drawing oblique paths of shimmering golden
light among the trees. In a clearing near the summit of a wooded
shoulder I saw six pheasants feeding and I realized that, by skirting
the base of the ridge, I could slip up from behind and force them to
fly across the open valley. The stalk progressed according to schedule.
When I crossed the ridge there was a whir of wings and six birds shot
into the air not thirty feet away. The sun, glancing on their yellow
backs and streaming plumes, transformed them into golden balls, each
one with a comet-trail of living fire.

The picture was so indescribably beautiful that I watched them sail
across the valley with the gun idle in my hands. Not for worlds would I
have turned one of those glorious birds into a crumpled mass of flesh
and feathers. For centuries the barred tail plumes, which sometimes are
six feet long, have been worn by Chinese actors, and the bird is famous
in their literature. It will be a real tragedy when this species has
passed out of the fauna of north China, as it will do inevitably if the
wanton destruction of the _Tung Ling_ forests is continued unchecked.

The next afternoon four sika deer gave me a hard chase up and down
three mountain ridges. Finally, we located the animals in a deep
valley, and I had an opportunity to examine them through my glasses.
Much to my disgust I saw that the velvet was not yet off the antlers
and that their winter coats were only partly shed. They were valueless
as specimens and forthwith I abandoned the hunt. Before leaving Peking
I had visited the zoölogical garden to make sure that the captive sika
had assumed their summer dress and antlers. But at the _Tung Ling_,
spring had not yet arrived, and the animals were late in losing their
winter hair.

In summer the sika is the most beautiful of all deer. Its bright red
body, spotted with white, is, when seen among the green leaves of the
forest, one of the loveliest things in nature. We wished to obtain a
group of these splendid animals for the new Hall of Asiatic Life in
the American Museum of Natural History, but the specimens had to be in
perfect summer dress.

My hunter was disgusted beyond expression when I refused to shoot
the deer. The antlers of the sika when in the velvet are of greater
value to the natives than those of any other species. A good pair of
horns in full velvet sometimes sells for as much as $450. The growing
antlers are called _shueh-chiao_ (blood horns) by the Chinese, who
consider them of the highest efficacy as a remedy for certain diseases.
Therefore, the animals are persecuted relentlessly and very few remain
even in the _Tung Ling_.

The antlers of the wapiti are also of great value to the native
druggists, but strangely enough they care little for those of the moose
and the roebuck. Hundreds of thousand of deerhorns are sent from the
interior provinces of China to be sold in the large cities, and the
complete extermination of certain species is only a matter of a few
decades. Moreover, the female elk, just before the calving season,
receive unmerciful persecution, for it is believed that the unborn
fawns have great medicinal properties.

Since the roebuck at the _Tung Ling_ were in the same condition as the
sika, they were useless for our purposes. The goral, however, which
live high up on the rocky peaks, had not begun to shed their hair,
and they gave us good shooting. One beautiful morning Smith killed a
splendid ram just above our camp. We had often looked at a ragged,
granite outcrop, sparsely covered with spruce and pine trees, which
towered a thousand feet above us. We were sure there must be goral
somewhere on the ridge, and the hunters told us that they had sometimes
killed them there. It was a stiff climb, and we were glad to rest when
we reached the summit. The old hunter placed Smith opposite an almost
perpendicular face of rock and stationed me beyond him on the other
side. Three beaters had climbed the mountain a mile below us and were
driving up the ridge.

For half an hour I lay stretched out in the sun luxuriating in the
warmth and breathing in the fragrant odor of the pines. While I was
lazily watching a Chinese green woodpecker searching for grubs in a
tree near by, there came the faintest sound of a loosened pebble on the
cliff above my head. Instantly I was alert and tense. A second later
Smith's rifle banged once. Then all was still.

In a few moments he shouted to me that he had fired at a big goral, but
that it had disappeared behind the ridge and he was afraid' it had not
been hit. The old hunter, however, had seen the animal scramble into a
tiny grove of pine trees. As it had not emerged, I was sure the goral
was wounded, and when the men climbed up the cliff they found it dead,
bored neatly through the center of the chest.

Gorals, sika, and roebuck are by no means the only big game animals in
the _Tung Ling_. Bears and leopards are not uncommon, and occasionally
a tiger is killed by the natives. Among other species is a huge flying
squirrel, nearly three feet long, badgers, and chipmunks, a beautiful
squirrel with tufted ears which is almost black in summer and now is
very rare, and dozens of small animals. But perhaps most interesting of
all the creatures of these noble forests are the only wild monkeys to
be found in northeastern China.

The birds are remarkable in variety and numbers. Besides the Reeves's
pheasant, of which I have spoken, there are two other species of this
most beautiful family. One, the common ring-necked pheasant, is very
abundant; the other is the rare Pucrasia, a gray bird with a dark-red
breast, and a yellow striped head surmounted by a conspicuous crest. It
is purely a mountain form requiring a mixed forest of pine and oak and,
although more widely distributed than the Reeves's pheasant, it occurs
in comparatively few localities of north China.

One morning as Smith and I were coming back from hunting we saw our
three boys perched upon a ledge above the stream peering into the
water. They called to us, "Would you like some fish?" "Of course," we
answered, "but how can you get them?"

In a second they had slipped from the rock and were stripping off their
clothes. Then one went to the shallows at the lower end of the pool
and began to beat the surface with a leafy branch, while the other
two crouched on the bowlders in midstream. Suddenly, one of the boys
plunged his head and arms into the water and emerged with a beautiful
speckled trout clutched tightly in both hands. He had seen the fish
swim beneath the rock where it was cornered and had caught it before it
could escape.

For an hour the two boys sat like kingfishers, absolutely motionless
except when they dived into the water. Of course, they often missed;
but when we were ready to go home they had eight beautiful trout,
several of them weighing as much as two pounds. The stream was full of
fish, and we would have given worlds for a rod and flies.

Lü baked a loaf of com bread in his curious little oven made from a
Standard Oil tin, and we found a jar of honey in our stores. Brook
trout fried in deep bacon fat, regular "southern style" corn bread and
honey, apple pie, coffee, and cigarettes--the "hardships of camping in
the Orient!"

When we had been in camp a week we awoke one morning to find a heavy
cloud of smoke drifting up the valley. Evidently a tremendous fire was
raging, and Smith and I set out at once on a tour of investigation.
A mile down the valley we saw the whole mountain side ablaze. It was
a beautiful sight, I admit, but the destruction of that magnificent
forest appalled us. Fortunately, the wind was blowing strongly from
the east, and there was no danger that the fire might sweep northward
in the direction of our camp. As we emerged into a tiny clearing,
occupied by a single log hut, we saw two Chinese sitting on their
heels, placidly watching the roaring furnace across the valley.

With a good deal of excitement we asked them how the fire possibly
could have originated.

"Oh," said one, "we started it ourselves." "In the name of the five
gods why did you do it?" Smith asked. "Well, you see," returned the
Chinese, "there was quite a lot of brush here in our clearing and we
had to get rid of it. To-day the wind was right, so we set it on fire."

"But don't you see that you have burned up that whole mountain's side,
destroyed thousands of trees, and absolutely ruined this end of the
valley?"

"Oh, yes, but never mind; it can't be helped," the native answered.
Then I exploded. I frankly confess that I cursed that Chinese and
all his ancestors; which is the only proper way to curse in China.
I assured him that he was an "old rabbit" and that his father and
his grandfather and his great-grandfather were rabbits. To tell a
man that he is even remotely connected with a rabbit is decidedly
uncomplimentary in China.

But when it was all said I had accomplished nothing. The man looked
at me in blank amazement as though I had suddenly lost my mind. He
had not the faintest idea that burning up that beautiful forest was
reprehensible in the slightest degree. To him and all his kind, the
only thing worth while was to clear that bit of land in the valley.
If every tree on the mountain was destroyed in the process, what
difference did it make? It would be done eventually, anyway. Land,
whether it be on a hill or in a valley, was made to grow crops and to
be cultivated by Chinese farmers.

The wanton destruction which is being wrought at the _Tung Ling_ makes
me sick at heart. Here is one of the most beautiful spots in all China,
within less than one hundred miles of Peking, which is being ruined
utterly as fast as ax and fire can do the work. One can travel the
length and breadth of the whole Republic and not find elsewhere so
much glorious scenery in so small a space. Moreover, it is the last
sanctuary of much of north China's wild life. When the forests of the
_Tung Ling_ are gone, half a dozen species of birds and mammals will
become extinct. How much of the original flora of north China exists
to-day only in these forests I would not dare say, for I am not a
botanist, but it can be hardly less than the fauna of which I know.

If China could but realize before it is too late how priceless a
treasure is being hewed and burned to nothingness and take the first
step in conservation by making a National Park of the Eastern Tombs!

Politically there are difficulties, it is true. The _Tung Ling_, and
all the surroundings, as I have said, belong unquestionably to the
Manchus, and they can do as they wish with their own. But it is largely
a question of money, and were the Republic to pay the price for the
forests and mountains beyond the Tombs it would not be difficult to
do the rest. No country on earth ever had a more splendid opportunity
to create for the generations of the present and the future a living
memorial to its glorious past.

THE END



INDEX


  Aëroplanes, 182
  Altai Mountains, 182
  American Museum of Natural History, Asiatic Explorations of, vii;
    trustees of, viii, ix.
  Anderson, Dr. J. G., Mining Adviser to Chinese Republic, ix, 39
  Anderson, Meyer and Co., assistance rendered to expedition by, ix, 82,
    138, 173
  Andrews, Yvette B., extract from "Journal" of, 46, 47
  _Anser fabalis_, 95
  Antelope, description of hunt for, 15, 107; speed of, 23, 44, 97,
    106, 118
  _Anthropoides virgo_, 11, 42, 55, 88, 91, 93
  _Argali_, 174, 186, 197, 201, 210, 212
  _Argul_, desert fuel, 11, 24, 34
  Asia, viii
  _Asia Magazine_, ix
  Asian plateau, viii
  Asiatic mammals, viii
  Asiatic zoölogical explorations, vii
  Asses, wild (_Equus hemionus_), 88
  Atunzi, 169
  Avocets, 42

  Baikal Lake, 25
  Barker, Major Austin, 213, 215, 217
  Beach, Rex, quoted, 186
  Bear, 67
  Bennett, C. B., ix
  Bernheimer, Mr. and Mrs. Charles L., viii
  Bighorn sheep (_Argali_), 87, 174, 186
  Boar, 67, 171
  _Bogdo-ol_ (God's Mountain), 62, 67, 88, 99, 142, 151
  Bolsheviki, 25, 82
  Bolshevism, xii
  Buriats, xiii
  Burma, vii, 2
  Bustard, 23, 61, 95

  Caldwell, Rev. Harry R., 186, 191, 195, 203, 212, 216, 225, 232, 242
  Canadian Pacific Ocean Service, transportation to America, of
    collections by, x
  _Capreolus bedfordi_, 232
  Caravans, camel, 13, 27, 62, 66, 91
  _Casarca casarca_, 94
  Castle, Rev. H., x
  Cathay, 1, 64
  _Cervus hortulorum_, 263
  Cheetah, 130
  Che-kiang, Province of, x, 38
  Chen, Chinese taxidermist, 39, 164
  Chinese, xi, 8, 63, 75, 79
  Chinese Turkestan, 182
  Chou, Duke, 257
  _Citellus mongolicus umbratus_, 42
  Coltman, Charles L., Mr. and Mrs., ix, 2, 14, 25, 31, 47, 60, 150, 185
  Cranes, 61;
    demoiselle, 11, 42, 55, 88, 91, 93
  _Cricetulus_, 131
  Cunningham, Hon. E. S., American Consul General, x
  _Cygnopsis cygnoides_, 94
  Czechs, 26, 32

  Dane, Sir Richard, 185
  Da Wat Mountain, camped at foot of, 144
  Delco Electric lighting plant, 39, 60
  De Tarascon, Tartarin, 47
  Dogs, 9, 76
  Dorchy, Tserin, 144, 146, 149, 151, 153, 155, 161, 163, 165, 170, 172
  Ducks, mallard, 11, 42, 95;
    ducks, shoveler, 42, 95

  Eagles, 11
  Elk, 67, 238
  _Equus hemionus_, 88
  _Equus prjevalski_, 87
  _Eulabeia indica_, 95

  Fauna, Mongolian, vii
  Faxon, H. C, ix
  Feng-chen, 187, 181
  Fuel, 11

  _Gazella gutturosa_, 127;
    _Gazella prjevalski_, 127;
    _Gazella subgutturosa_, 127
  Gazelles, 47, 48, 127
  Genghis Khan, xi, 3, 71, 84
  Gillis, I. V., ix
  Gobi Desert, 1, 15, 27, 43, 62, 77, 128, 175, 181
  God's Mountain (_Bogdo-ol_), 62, 67, 151
  Goose, bar-headed, 95;
    bean, 95
  Gophers (_Citellus mongolicus umbratus_), 42, 99
  Goral, 194, 231, 234, 266
  Great Wall of China, 2, 4, 8
  Grouse, sand, 23
  Guptil, A. M., ix, 25, 26, 28, 29, 31, 33, 37, 173

  Hami, 182
  Hamster, desert (_Cricetulus_), 131
  Hares, 61
  _Harper's Magazine_, ix
  Hei-ma-hou, 3, 4, 5, 7, 11, 33, 39
  Holcomb, Captain Thomas, 220
  Honan, 38
  Horses, wild (_Equus prjevalski_), 87
  Ho-shun, 243
  _Hsi Ling_, 257
  Hsu Shu-tseng, General, xiii, 141
  Hupeh, 38
  Hutchins, C. T., Naval Attaché, American Legation, ix, 213
  Hutukhtu, the Living Buddha, xii, xiii, 3, 60, 67, 68, 71

  Ibex, 87
  Irkutsk, 25, 29, 32

  Jackson, G. M., General Passenger Agent, Canadian Pacific Ocean Service,
    appreciation for assistance in transportation of collections by, x
  Jardine, Matheson and Co,, of Shanghai, 44

  Kalgan, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 15, 28, 29, 33, 35, 36, 39, 44, 99, 127, 142,
    176, 182, 183
  Kang, Chinese taxidermist, 39
  Kang Hsi, Emperor, xiii
  Kao-chia-chuang, 243, 246
  Kendrick, J., ix
  Khans, 63
  Kiakhta, xiv, 179, 183
  Kobdo, 182
  Korostovetz, M., xii
  Kublai Khan, xi, 1, 7, 71, 160
  Kwei-hua-cheng, 183, 193, 203

  Lake Baikal, 25
  Lama church, 71
  Lama City, 76, 79
  Lamaism, xi, 71
  Lamas, 14, 24, 62;
    monastery of, 14
  Lapwing (_Vanellus vanellus_), 94
  Lapwings, 11
  Larsen, F, A., ix, 9, 81, 118, 141, 176
  "Little Hsu," xiii
  Loo-Choo Islands, 31
  Lucander, Mr. and Mrs., 3, 5, 18, 69, 79
  Lucas, Dr. F. A., acknowledgment to, viii
  Lü, cook for expedition, 39, 85, 117
  Lung, Ch'ien, Emperor, tomb of, 260

  MacCallie, Mr. and Mrs. E. L., x, 39, 43, 46, 48, 50, 53, 54, 67, 61,
    75, 103, 164, 173
  Magyars, 25, 32
  Mai-ma-cheng, 62, 141, 173
  Mallards, 192
  Ma-lin-yü, residence of Duke Chou, 259
  _Ma-lu_, 223, 225
  Mamen, Mr. and Mrs. Oscar, x, 3, 25, 28, 61, 69, 103, 173
  Mammals, Asiatic, viii
  Manchu, xi;
    dynasty of, xiv
  Manchus, 8
  Mannlicher, 173, 239
  _Marmota robusta_, 101
  Marmot, 25, 52, 61, 88, 99, 100;
    Mongols' method of capturing, 103, 174, 178
  Mauser, 16
  Meadow mice (_Microtus_), 93
  Memorial addressed to President of Chinese Republic, xiii
  _Microtus_, 93, 100, 181
  Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ix
  Mongolia, fauna of, vii;
    religion of, 71
  Mongolian Trading Company, 25
  Mongols, 8, 22, 41, 43;
    dislike for the body of the dead, 74;
    dress of, 21, 64, 65;
    food of, 78;
    manner of riding of, 21;
    manner of catching trout by, 164;
    morals of, 78;
    Southern, 10
  Motion picture photography, 47, 50, 136
  Motor cars, 2, 3, 43, 50, 58, 62, 66, 84, 134, 174, 182;
    Ford, 28;
    hunting from, 109;
    troubles with, 13, 27, 150
  Musk deer, 169, 170
  _Mustela_, 110

  Naha, 31
  Na-mon-gin, Mongol hunter, 195, 196, 205, 210, 213, 232, 236
  Nankou Pass, 2
  _Natural History_, ix
  _Nemorhædus caudatus_, 234
  _Nemorhædus griseus_, 234

  Olufsen, E. V., ix, 82, 138, 142
  Omsk, 32
  Orlow, A., Russian Diplomatic Agent, x, 88
  Osborn, Henry Fairfield, viii, 18
  Outer Mongolia, xii, 41
  _Ovis commosa_, 186
  _Ovis jubata_, 186
  Owen, 39, 50

  Panj-kiang, telegraph station at, 14, 22, 31, 44, 54, 128
  _Pan-yang_ wild sheep, 176, 180, 194, 201, 214
  Peck, Willys, ix
  Peking, 1, 26, 29, 37, 173, 178, 183
  Peking-Hankow Railroad, 242
  Peking Press, quoted from, xiii-xv
  Peking-Suiyuan Railway, 44;
    motor service of, 180
  Perry, Commodore, 31
  Pheasant, Reeves's (_Syrmaticus reevesi_), 263
  Photography, motion picture, 47, 50, 136
  Ping-ting-cho, 242
  Plover, 11, 45, 95
  _Pluvialis dominicus fulvus_, 45
  Polecat (_Mustela_), 110
  Polo, Marco, 12
  Prayer wheels, 73, 80
  President, Chinese Republic, Memorial addressed to, xiii
  Price, Ernest B., ix, 25, 33
  Prisons, description of, 80
  Pucrasia, 267

  Rat, kangaroo (_Alactaga mongolica?_), 132
  Ravens, 11
  Red Army, xiv
  Redheads, 95
  Reinsch, Paul S., ix
  Rifles used on expedition;
    Mannlicher, 173, 234;
    Savage, 16
  Rockefeller Foundation, 100
  Roebuck, 67, 154, 163, 194, 231, 243
  _Rupicaprinæ_, 234
  Russia, xii, xiv
  Russian Consulate, 63
  Russians, xii, 13, 67
  Russo-Chinese, xii

  Sain Noin Khan, 87, 88, 97
  Savage rifle, 16
  Serow, 38, 234
  Shanghai, 183
  Shansi Mountains, 5
  Shantung, 38
  Sheep, bighorn, 205
  Sheldrake (_Casarca casarca_), 42, 94
  Shensi, 182
  Sherwood, George H., assistance rendered to expedition by, viii
  Shing Lung-shan, 261
  Shuri, Palace, 32
  Sian-fu, 182
  Siberian frontier, 179
  Sika deer (_Cervus hortulorum_), 263
  Skylarks, 93
  Smith, E. G., ix, 242, 244, 246, 250, 253, 256
  Stefansson, 87
  Swan geese (_Cygnopsis cygnoides_), 94
  _Syrmaticus reevesi_, 263

  Tabool, 9, 10
  Tai Hai, 191
  Tai-yuan-fu, 243
  Takin, 234
  Tanu Ulianghai, xiv
  Tao Kwang, Emperor, xiii
  Teal, 11, 42
  Telegraph poles, method of protection of, 11
  Tenney, Dr. C. D., ix
  Tent, American wall, 90;
    Mongol, 85, 90
  Terelche region, 172
  Terelche River, 143, 147
  Terelche Valley, 157
  Tibet, vii, 106
  Tientsin, 178, 183
  Tola River, 25, 28, 62, 68, 70, 88, 91, 99, 158, 161, 164
  Tola Valley, 67
  Tombs, 257
  _Trans-Pacific Magazine_, ix
  Trans-Siberian Railroad, 183
  Trout, manner of catching by Mongols, 164
  Tsai Tse, Duke, visit to palace of, 256
  Tung-cho, 258
  _Tung Ling_, 257;
    pheasants and deer found at, 263
  Turin, 29, 81, 61, 104, 176, 180;
    lamasery at, 23
  Tziloa, pigs found at, 245
  Tz'u-hsi, Dowager Empress, funeral of, 258

  Ude, telegraph station, 22, 31, 55
  Uliassutai, 178, 182
  Urga, important fur market, 173, 178, 182
  Urumchi, 182

  Verkhin Udinsk, 183
  Vole, meadow (_Microtus_), 100, 131

  Wai Chiao Pu, (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), ix
  Wapiti, 164, 168, 172, 228, 231
  Warner, Langdon, 31, 32
  Weatherall, M. E., ix
  Weinz, Father, Belgian priest, 35
  Wells, description of, 13
  White Army, xiv
  Wilder, Dr. George D., ix, 256
  Wireless station in course of erection, 182
  Wolf, 51, 67
  Wu Liang Tajen Hutung, 38, 257
  Wu-shi-tu, 234
  Wu-tai-hai, 219, 221, 235

  Yangsen, Loobitsan, Duke, 137, 140, 144, 152
  Yero mines, gold found at, 179
  Yün-nan, vii, 2, 106
  _Yurt_, Mongol house, description of, 10, 57, 63


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber Note

Minor typos corrected. Text rearranged to prevent Plates from splitting
paragraphs. _Anser fabalis_ was listed as _Fabalis anser_ in the
Index which has been corrected. Several species genera were listed as
_prejevalski_ in the Index which were corrected to _prjevalski_.




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