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[[underline]] Chapter XIV. [[/underline]] 293. out on horseback up the broad and sandy river-bed---the most direct though not the easiest route---Mr. Wang was to travel by road with our camp-kit in a cart whose driver we had persuaded to accompany us by an offer of extra pay. The last we had accomplished the more easily because about 10 o'clock the weather began to moderate; the sleet and snow ceased and patches of blue sky appeared here and there---though the north wind continued unabated. and if anything increased in force. Accordingly we set out, about 10.45 in the forenoon. Mr. Wang sat cross-legged in the cart, buried to his chin in rugs, packages, and bedrolls, with a small opening in the front weather-curtain through which he might from time to time thrust his suspiciously bibulous nose for a breath of air. Mr. Tung and I were on our horses, clad in our fleece-lined coats and with gauntlets and fur caps. With us trudged the carter and rode our groom, in ragget suits consisting of single thicknesses of cotton cloth, and without either caps or gloves. How they managed to survive at all when the rest of us, warmly dressed as we were, felt the cold so acutely was beyond comprehension. We jogged along for a few miles in the wan and sickly sunlight and then left the road and cart and turned off to the right, up the wide valley of the Yü Ho. Down the river-bed, directly in our faces, blew dense clouds of sand and dust that gave us no little annoyance. Presently we forded the river---on which ice had begun to form---and rode along the western band of the Chên-ch'uan Ho. The hilly country on either hand was white with fresh-fallen snow, lying in long windrows and drifts that dissolved and reformed momentarily. The wind blew constantly in great gusts which we had trouble in forcing our mounts to face. Once we met a caravan of Mongols, traveling south, most of them riding shaggy, soft-footed camels, though a few of them were on horseback. Very picturesque and wild
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