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ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



ACROSS ASIA ON A 
BICYCLE 



THE JOUKNEY OF TWO AMERICAN HTUDENTS 
FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO PEKINO 



BY 

THOMAS GASKELL ALLEN, Jr. 

AND ^ 

WILLIAM LEWIS SACHTLEBEN 




NEW YOKK 

THE CENTURY CO. 

1894 



\. 



380579 



Copyright, 1894, by 
The Century Co. 

All rights reserved. 



« • • • • 



THE DEVINNE PRCM. 



TO 

THOSE AT HOME 

WHOSE THOUGHTS AND 

WISHES WERE EVER 

WITH US IN OUR 

WANDERINGS 



PEEFACE 

TfflS volume is made up of a series of sketches describ- 
ing the most interesting jiart of a bicycle journey around 
the world, — our ride across Asia. We were actuated by 
no desire to make a *• record" in bicycle travel, althou^ 
we covered 15,044 miles on the wheel, the longest contin- 
uous land journey ever made ai-ound the world- 

The day after we were graduated at Washington Uni- 
versity, St. Louis, Mo., we left for New York. Thence we 
sailed for Liverpool on June 23, 1890. Just three years 
afterward, lacking twenty days, we rolled into New York 
on our wheels, having ** put a girdle round the earth.^ 

Our bicycHng ex}>erience began at LiveriX)ol. After 
following many of the beaten lines of ti-avel in the British 
Isles we an-ived in London, where we fonned our plans 
for travehng across Europe, Asia, and America. The most 
dangerous regions to be travei-sed in such a journey, we 
were told, were western China, the Desert of Gobi, and 
central China. Never since the days of Marco Polo had 
a Eui'opeau traveler succeeded in crossing tlie Chinese 
empire from the west to Peking. 

Crossing the Cliannel, we rode through Normandy to 
Paris, across the lowlands of western France to Bordeaux, 
eastward over the Lesser Alps to Marseilles, and along the 
Riviera into Italy. After visiting every important city on 
the peninsida, we left Italy at Brindisi on the last day of 
1890 for Corfu, in Greece. Thence we traveled to Patras, 



xii ^ PREFACE 

proceeding along the Corinthian Gulf to Athens, where we 
passed the winter. We went to Constantinople by vessel 
in the spring, crossed the Bosporus in April, and began 
the long journey described in the following pages. When 
we had finally completed our travels in the Flowery King- 
dom, we sailed from Shanghai for Japan. Thence we voy- 
aged to San Francisco, where we arrived on Christmas 
night, 1892. Three weeks later we resumed our bicycles 
and wheeled by way of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas 
to New York. 

During all of this journey we never employed the ser- 
vices of guides or interpreters. We were compelled, there- 
fore, to leam a little of the language of every country 
through which we passed. Our independence in this re- 
gard increased, perhaps, the hardships of tlie journey, but 
cortaiidy contributed much toward the object we sought 
— a close acquaintance with strange peoples. 

During our travels we took more than two thousand 
five hundred photogi'aphs, selections from which are re- 
produced in the illustrations of this volume. 



CO]:^TE]S^TS 

PAGE 

I. Beyond the Bosporus . . . . .1 

II. The Ascent of Mount Ararat ... 43 

III. Through Persia to Samarkand . . .83 

IV. The Journey prom Samarkand to Kuldja . 115 

V. Over the Gobi Desert and through the West- 
ern Gate of the Great Wall . . . 149 

VI. An Interview with the Prime Minister of China 207 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

THE JOURNEY OF TWO AMERICAN STUDElfT^: 
FROM CONSTANTINOPLE TO PEKING '' 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 

ON a morning early in April the little steamer con- 
veying us across from Stamboul touched the wharf 
at Haider Pasha. Amid the rabble of Greeks, Armenians, 
Turks, and Italians we trundled our bicycles across the 
gang-plank, which for us was the thi*eshold of Asia, the 
beginning of an inland journey of seven thousand miles 
from the Bosporus to the Pacific. Thi-ough the morning 
fog which enveloped the shipping in the Golden Horn, 
the " stars and stripes " at a single masthead were waving 
farewell to two American students fresh from college who 
had nerved themselves for nearly two years of separation 
from the comforts of western civilization. 

Our guide to the road to Ismid was the little twelve- 
year-old son of an Armenian doctor, whose guests we had 

1 



2 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

been during our sojourn in Stamboul. He trotted for 
some distance by our side, and then, pressing our hands 
in both of his, he said with childhke sincerity : " I hope 
God will take care of you " ; for h^ 'was possessed with 
the thought popular among Aj'uleniaits, of pDlages and 
massacres by marauding bn^^iicfer 

The idea of a trip arp.uhd ttie world had been conceived 
by us as a practical l^nish to a theoretical education ; and 
the bicycle • f eatiire -Was adopted merely as a means to 
that end.-. On reaching London we had formed the plan 
of p,elicJ^Q,ting the heart of the Asiatic continent, instead 
, c^^kti*'tiiig its more civiUzed coast-line. For a passport 
'/^kd other credentials necessary in journeying through 
' Russia and Central Asia we had been advised to make 
application to the Czar\s rex)resentative on our arrival at 
Teheran, as we would enter the Russian dominions from 
Persia ; and to that end the Russian minister in London 
had providinl us with a letter of introduction. In London 
the secretary of the Chinese legation, a Scotchman, had 
assisted us in mapping out a possi])le route across the 
Celestial empire, although he endeavored, from the very 
start, to dissuade us from our puri)ose. Application had 
then been mad(^ to tlu^ Chinese minister himself for the 
necessary passport. Tlie reply we received, though cour- 
teous, smackinl strongly of reproof. ^'Western China," 
he said, ^' is overrun with lawless bands, and the people 
tliemselves are very much averse to foreigners. Your 
extraordinary mode of locomotion would subject you to 
annoyance, it* not to positive danger, at the hands of a 
people who ai'c naturally curious and superstitious. How- 
ever," he added, after some reflection, ''if yom* minis- 
ter makes a recpiest for a passport we will see what can 
be done. The most I can do will be to ask for you the 
protection and assistance of the ofiicials onlyj for the 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 3 

people themselves I cannot answer. If you go into that 
country you do so at your own risk." Minister Lincoln 
was sitting in his private office when we called the next 
morning at the American legation. He listened to the 
recital of our plans, got down the huge atlas from his 
bookcase, and went over with us the route we proposed 
to follow. He did not regard the undertaking as feasi- 
ble, and apprehended that, if he should give his official 
assistance, he would, in a measure, be responsible for the 
result if it shoidd prove unhappy. When assured of the 
consent of our parents, and of our determination to make 
the attempt at all hazards, he picked up his pen and 
began a letter to the Chinese minister, remarking as he 
finished reading it to us, " I would mu(»Ji rather not have 
written it." The documents received from the Chinese 
minister in response to Mr. Lincoln's letter proved to be 
indispensable when, a year and a half later, we left the 
last outpost of western civilization and plunged into the 
Gobi desert. Wlien we had paid a final visit to the Per- 
sian minister in London, who had asked to see our bi- 
cycles and their baggage equipments, he signified his 
intention of writing in our behalf to friends in Teheran ; 
and to that capital, after cycling through Europe, we were 
now actually en route. 

Since the opening of the Trans-Bosporus Railwa}', the 
wagon-road to Ismid, and even the Angora military high- 
way beyond, have fallen rapidly into disrepair. In April 
they were almost impassable for the wheel, so that for the 
greater part of the way we were obliged to take to the 
track. Like the railway skirting the Italian Riviera, and 
the Patras- Athens line along the Saronic Gulf, this Trans- 
Bosporus road for a great distance scarps and tunnels the 
cliffs along the Gulf of Ismid, and sometimes runs so close 
to the watei-'s edge that the puffing of the hira vapor or 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 




^* land steamer," as the Turks call it, is drowned by the 
roaring breakers. The country between Scutari and 
Ismid surpasses in agricultural advantages any part of 
Asiatic Turkey through wliich we passed. Its fertile soil, 
and the luxuriant vegetation it supports, are, as we after- 
ward learned, in striking contrast with the sterile plateaus 
and mountains of the interior, many parts of which are 
as desolate as the deserts of Ara])ia. In area, Asia Minor 
equals France, but the water-supply of its rivers is only 
one third. 

One of the principal agents in the work of transform- 
ing Asia Minor is tlie railroad, to which the natives have 
taken with unusual readiness. The locomotive is already 
competing with the hundred and sixty thousand camels 
employed in the peninsula caravan-trade. At Geiveh, the 
last station on the Trans-Bosporus Railway, where we left 
the track to follow the Angora highway, the " ships of 
the desert" are beginning to transfer their cargoes to the 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 




"land steamer," instead of continuing on as in former 
days to the Bosporus. 

The Trans-Bosporus line, in the year of our visit, was 
being built and operated by a German company, under 
the direct patronage of the Sultan. We ventured to ask 
some natives if they thought the Sultan had sufficient 
funds to consummate so gigantic a scheme, and they 
replied, with the deepest reverence : " God has given the 
Padishah much property and power, and certainly he 
must give him enough money to utilize it." 

A week's cycling from the Bosporus brought us beyond 
the Allah Dagh mountains, among the barren, variegated 
hills that skirt the Angora plateau. We had already 
passed through Ismid, the ancient Nicomedia and capital 
of Diocletian -, and had left behind us the heavily timbered 
valley of the Sakaria, upon whose banks the " Freebooter 
of the Bithynian hills " settled with his four hundred tents 
and laid the foundation of the Ottoman empire. Since 



6 ACROSS ASIA UN A B1C3YCLE 

leayiiig Geiveb wo liad been attended by a inoiiiited 
guai'dj or zaptieJi, who was sometuneis forctsd upon ua by 
the authorities iu theii- anxiety to eaiiy out the wishes 
expressed in the letters of the Grrand Vizb. On emerging 
from the door of an inn we frequently found this nnex- 




THU DONKKV BOVS INSi'ECT THlt '* DKVJL's CARKIAGE.** 

pected gnaM waiting with a Winchester rifle swung over 
his shoulder^ and a fleet steed standing by his aide. Im- 
mediately on onr a-ppi^ai^Riiee he w^(ndd swing into the 
saddle and ehai'ge through the astseiiibled rftljl>le. Awity 
we w^onld go at a mpid pace down tJie streets of the town 
or \dllage, to the ntter ainazemeut of the natives and the 




BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 7 

great satisfaction of onr vainglorious zaptieh. As long 
as his horse was fresh, or until we were out of sight of 
the village, he would ui'ge us on with cries of " Gellcha- 
buk'' (" Come on, ride fast")- When a bad piece of road 
or a steep ascent forced us to dismount he would bring 
his horse to a walk, roll a cigarette, and draw invidious 
comparisons between our steeds. His tone, however, 
changed when we reached a decline or long stretch of 
reasonably good road. Then he would cut across country 
to head us off, or shout after us at the top of his voice, 
" Yavash-yavash " ("Slowly, slowly"). On the whole we 
found them good-natured aud conij){ini()nable fellows, not- 
withstanding their interest in hahsheesh which we were 
compelled at last, in self-defense, to fix at one piaster an 
hour. We frequently shared with them our frugal, and 
even scanty meals j and in turn tluy assisted us in our 
purchases and arrangements for lodgings, for tludr word, 
we found, was with the common people an almost un- 
written law. Then, too, they were of great assistance in 
crossing streams wlu^re the depth would have necessi- 
tated the stripping of garments ; although their fiery little 
steeds sometimes objected to having an extra rider astride 
their haunches, and a bicycle across their shoulders. They 
seized every opportunity to impress us with the necessity 
of being accompanied by a government representative. 
In some lonely portion of the rciad, or in the suggestive 
stillness of an evening twilight, our Turkish Don Quixote 
would sometimes cast mysterious glances around him, 
take his Winchester from his shoulder, and throwing it 
across the ponmiel of his saddle, charge ahead to meet 
the imaginarj^ enemy. But we were more harmful than 
harmed, for, despite our most vigilant care, the bicycles 
were sometimes the occasion of a stampede or runaway 
among the caravans and teams along the highway, and 




M^LrlNCi A TURK WHOSB ItORSHS RAN AWAY AT SIGHT OF OUR BICYCLES. 



we frequently assisted in replaeinp; the loads thus npset. 
On such occasions our pretentious eavalior would i*euiRin 
ou his horse, i^nioking his cigiirette aud sniiliug diisidain- 
fuUj. 

It \Ym in the company of one of these niilitaiy cham- 
pions that we emerged on the morning of April 12 upon 
the plateau of jlngora. On the spring patstiu*e were feed- 
ing several flocks of the famous Angora goats, and the 
hmimanU or fat-tailed slieep^ tended by tlie Yurak shep- 
herds and their half-wild and monstrous colliesj whose 
half- savage nature fits them to cope with the jaekals which 
infest the eoimtry. The shepherds did not check their 
sudden onslaught up(ui u^ until we wltc pressed to very 
close quarters, and had drawn onr revolvei*s in self-defense. 
These Yin-aks are the nomadic portion c>f the Turkish 
peasantry. They live in caves or inidely constructed 
hntSj shifting their hahitation at will, or upon the exhaus- 



10 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

tion of the pasturage. Their costume is most primitive 
both in style and material j the trousers and caps being 
made of sheepskin and the tunic of plaited wheat-straw. 
In contradistinction to the Yuraks the settled inhabitants 
of the country are called Turks. That term, however, 
which means rustic or clown, is never used by the Turks 
themselves except in derision or disdain j they always 
speak of themselves as " Osmanli." 

The great length of the Angora fleece, which some- 
times reaches eight inches, is due solely to the peculiar 
climate of the locality. The same goats taken elsewhere 
have not thriven. Even the Angora dogs and cats are 
remarkable for the extraordinary length of their fleecy 
covering. On nearing Angora itself, we raced at high 
speed over the undulating plateau. Our zaptieh on his 
jaded horse faded away in the dim distance, and we saw 
liim no more. This was our last guard for many weeks 
to come, as we decided to dispense with an escoi't that 
really retai'ded us. But on reaching Erzerum, the Vali 
refused us permission to enter the district of Alashgerd 
without a guard, so we were forced to take one. 

We were now on historic ground. To our right, on 
the Owas, a tributary of the Sakaria, was the little village 
of Istanas, where stood the ancient seat of Midas, the 
Phrygian king, and where .Alexander the Great cut with 
his sword the Gordian knot to prove his right to the 
rulership of the world. On the plain, over which we were 
now skimming, the great Tatar, Timur, fought the mem- 
orable battle with Bajazet I., which resulted in the capture 
of the Ottoman conqueror^ Since the time that the title 
of Asia applied to the small coast-province of Lydia, this 
country has been the theater for the grandest events in 
human histor}\ 

The old mud-houses of modem Angora, as we rolled 



12 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



into the city, contrasted strongly with the cyclopean 
walls of its ancient fortress. After two days in Angora 
we diverged from the direct route to Sivas through Yliz- 
gat, so as to visit the city of Kaisarieh. Through the 
efforts of the progressive Vali at Angora, a macadamized 
road was in the course of construction to this point, a 
part of which — to the town of Kirshehr — was already 
completed. Although surrounded by unusual fei'tility 
and luxuriance for an interior town, the low mud-houses 




A CONTRAST. 



and treeless streets give Kirshehr that same thirsty and 
painfully unifonn appearance which characterizes every 
village or city in Asiatic Turkey. The mud buildings of 
Babylon, and not the marble edifices of Nineveh, have 
served as models for the Turkish architect. We have 
seen the Tiu'ks, when making the mud-straw bricks used 
in house-building, scratch dirt for the purpose from be- 
tween the marble slabs and boulders that lay in profu- 
sion over the ground. A few of the government buildings 
and some of the larger private residences are improved by 
a coat of whitewash, and now and then the warm spring 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 



13 



showers bring out on the mud roofs a reUeving verdure, 
that frequently serves as pasture for the family goat. 
Everything is low and contracted, especially the door- 
ways. When a foreigner bumps his head, and demands 
the reason for such stupid architecture, he is met with 
that decisive answer, "Adet" — custom, the most powerful 
of all influences in Turkey and the East. 

Our entry into Kirshehr was typical of our reception 
everywhere. When we were seen approaching, several 
horsemen came out to get a first look at our strange 
horses. They challenged us to a race, and set a spanking 
pace down into the streets of the town. Before we reached 
the lilian, or inn, we were obliged to dismount. " Bin ! 
bin!" ("Ride! ride!'^ went up in a shout. "Nimkin 
deyil" ("It is impossible ^^), we explained, in such a jam; 
and the crowd opened up three or four feet ahead of us. 
"Bin bocale^^ ("Ride, so that we can see"), they shouted 
again ; and some of tliem rushed up to hold our steeds for 
us to mount. With tlie greatest difficulty we impressed 
upon our persistent assistants that they could not help us. 
By the time we reached the klian the crowd had become 
almost a mob, pushing and tumbling over one another, 
and yelling to every one in sight that " the deviPs carts 
have come." The 
inn-keeper came 
out, and we had 
to assure him 
that the mob was 
actuated only 
by curiosity. As 
soon as the bi- 
cycles were over 
the threshold, the 
doors were bolted ^^^ ^ tui^klsh pi^i'r^wjiu 




14 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

and braced. The crowds swarmed to the windows. While 
the klianji prepared coffee we sat down to watch the amus- 
ing by-play and repartee going on around us. Those 
who by virtue of their friendship with the khanji were 
admitted to the room with us began a tirade against the 
boyish curiosity of their less fortunate brethren on the 
outside. Their own curiosity assumed tangible shape. 
Our clothing, and even our hair and faces, were criti- 
cally examined. When we attempted to jot down the 
day's events in our note-books they crowded closer than 
ever. Our fountain-pen was an additional puzzle to them. 
It was passed around, and explained and commented on 
at length. 

Our camera was a " mysterious " black box. Some said 
it was a telescope, about which they had only a vague 
idea; others, that it was a box containing our money. 
But our ma23 of Asiatic Turkey was to them the most 
curious thing of all. They spread it on the floor, and 
hovered over it, wliile ^ve pointed to the towns and cities. 
How could we tell where the 2)laces were until we had 
been there? How did we even know their names? It 
was wonderful — wonderful ! We traced for them our own 
journey, where we had been and where we were going, 
and then endeavored to show them how, by starting from 
our homes and continuing always in an easterly direction, 
we could at last reach our starting-point from the west. 
The more intelligent of them grasped the idea. " Aroimd 
the world," they repeated again and again, with a mysti- 
fied expression. 

Relief came at last, in the person of a messenger from 
Osman Beg, the inspector-general of agi'iculture of the 
Angora vilayet, bearing an invitation to supper. He 
stated that he had already heard of our undertaking 
through the Constantinople press, and desired to make 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 



15 



our acquaintance. His note, which was written in French, 
showed him to be a man of European education j and on 
shaking hands with him a half-hour later, we found him 
to be a man of European origin — an Albanian Greek, and 
a cousin of the Vali at Angora. He said a report had 
gone out that two devils were passing through the coun- 
try. The dinner was one of those incongruous Turkish 
mixtui'es of sweet and sour, which was by no means re- 
lieved by the hari'owing Turkish music which oui' host 
ground out from an antiquated hand-organ. 

Although it 
was late when 
we returned to 
the khan, we 
found every- 
body still up. 
The room in 
which we were 
to sleep (there 
was only one 
room) was 
filled with a 
crowd of loi- 
terers, and to- 
bacco smoke. 
Some were 
playing games similai" 
to our chess and back- 
gammon, while othcrt^ were 
looking on, and ymokiug 
the gurgling nai^gliilo, or water-pipt). 
The bicycles had Inien jmt away un- 
der lock and key, and tlit! crowd gi'ad- 
ually dispersed. We lay down in oui* 




MILL IN ASIA MINOR. 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 17 

clothes, and tried to lose consciousness ; but the Turkish 
supper, the tobacco smoke, and the noise of the quarrel- 
ing gamesters, put sleep out of the question. At mid- 
night the sudden boom of a cannon reminded us that we 
were in the midst of the Turkish Ramadan. The sound 
of tramping feet, the beating of a bass drum, and the 
whining tones of a Turkish bagpipe, came over the mid- 
night air. Nearer it came, and louder grew the soimd, 
tin it reached the inn door, where it remained for some 
time. The fast of Ramadan commemorates the revela- 
tion of the Koran to the prophet Mohammed. It lasts 
thi'ough the four phases of the moon. From daylight, or, 
as the Koran reads, " from the time you can distinguish 
a white thread from a black one," no good Mussulman 
will eat, drink, or smoke. At midnight the mosques are 
illuminated, and bands of music go about the streets all 
night, making a tremendous u2)roar. One cannon is fired 
at dusk, to annoimce the time to break the fast by eating 
supper, another at midnight to arouse tlie people for the 
preparation of breakfast, and still another at daylight as 
a signal for resuming the fast. This, of course, is very 
hard on the poor man who has to work during the day. 
As a precaution against oversleepmg, a watchman goes 
about just before daybreak, and makes a rousing clatter 
at the gate of every Mussulman^s house to warn him that 
if he wants anything to eat he must get it instanter. Our 
roommates evidently intended to make an " all night " of 
it, for they forthwith commenced the preparation of their 
morning meal. How it was despatched we do not know, 
for we fell asleep, and were only awakened by the muezzin 
on a neighboring minaret, calling to morning prayer. 

Our morning ablutions were usually made a la Turk; 
by having water poured upon the hands from a spouted 
vessel. Cleanliness is, with the Turk, perhaps, more than 
2 



18 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

ourselves, the next thing to godliness. But his ideas are 
based npon a very different theory. Although he uses 
no soap for washing either his person or his clothes, yet 
he considers himself much cleaner than the giaour, for the 
reason that he nses running water exclusively, never al- 
lowing the same particles to touch him the second time. 
A Turk believes that all water is purified after running 
six feet. As a test of his faith we have often seen him 
lading up drinking-water from a stream where the women 
were washing clothes just a few yards above. 

As all cooking and eating had stopped at the sound of 
the morning cannon, we found great difficulty in gather- 
ing together even a cold breakfast of ehnehy yaotirt, and 
raisins. Ekmek is a cooked bran-flour paste, which has 
the thinness, consistency, and ahnost the taste of blotting- 
paper. Tliis is the Tiu^kish peasant's staff of life. He 
carries it with him eveiywhere; so did we. As it was 
made in huge circular sheets, we would often punch a 
hole in the middle, and slip it up over our arms. This we 
found the handiest and most serviceable mode of trans- 
portation, being handy to eat without removing our hands 
from the handle-bars, and also answering the purpose of 
sails in case of a favoring wind. Yaourt, another almost 
universal food, is milk curdled with rennet. This, as well 
as all foods that are not liquid, they scoop up with a roll 
of ekmek, a part of the scoop being taken with every 
mouthful. Raisins here, as well as in many other parts 
of the countiy, are very cheap. We paid two piasters 
(about nine cents) for an oclie (two and a half pounds), 
but we soon made the discovery that a Turkish oche con- 
tained a gi^eat many "stones" — which of course was 
purely accidental. Eggs, also, we found exceedingly 
cheap. On one occasion, twenty-five were set before us, 
in response to our call for eggs to the value of one piaster 



20 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



— four and a luilf ce3it8. In Asiatic Turkey we tad some 
extniordiiiury dishes nerved t(^ iis^ incdudiiig daintily pre- 
pared k4*€^iieK. But till! woi'st jTiixtiire, perhaps, wm tlie 
^* BairHiH soup/' whicdi (contains ovei" a dozen iii^edieiits, 
includiiij^ peaSy l)riiiii'itii, v^^alimtSj cliei'rie^, tlateSj wbite and 
black beans, apricotBj craciked wheat, raisin Bj etc, ^ all 




EATING KAISERIOIEM (BKMEK) UK FKKAH. 



inixetj in cold water, Bairam is the peiiod of feasting 
after the Kaniadaii fast. 

On pri'parin^ to leave Kirshehr after our frugal break- 
fast we fonnd that Turkish eiiriosity had extended even 
to the eontents of our baggage, wldeh fitted in the f i*aniea 
of the ]iiaehiiies, Thei'e was nothing nii losing, liowevt'r; 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 21 

and we did not lose so much as a button during oui* so- 
journ among them. Thieving is not one of their faults, 
but they take much latitude in helping themselves. Many 
a time an inn-keeper would " help us out " by disposing of 
one third of a chicken that we had paid him a high price 
to prepare. 

When we were ready to start the chief of police cleared 
a riding space through the streets, which for an houi' had 




GRINDING WHEAT. 



been filled with people. As we passed among them they 
shouted "Oorooglar olsun" ("May good fortune attend 
you "). " InshaUah " (" If it please God "), we replied, and 
waved our helmets in acknowledgment. 

At the village of Topakle, on the following night, our 
reception was not so innocent and good-natured. It was 
already dusk when we reached the outskirts of the village, 
where we were at once spied by a young man who was 



22 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



'^i 




Uk CAbKlElt, 



driving in the lowing herd. 
The alarm was given, and 
the people swarmed like so 
many rats from a corn-bin. 
We could see from their 
costume and features that 
they were not pure-blood- 
ed Turks. We asked if 
we could get food and 
lodging, to which they re- 
plied, ^'Evet, evet" ("Yes, 
yes "), but when we asked 
them where, they simply 
pointed ahead, and shout- 
ed, " Bin, bin ! '^ We did not 
"bin" this time, because 
it was too dark, and the 
streets were bad. We walked, or rather were pushed along 
by the impatient rabble, and abiiost deafened by their 
shouts of "Bin, bin ! " At the end of the village we re- 
peated our question of where. Again they pointed ahead, 
and shouted, " Bin ! " Finally an old man led us to what 
seemed to be a private residence, where we had to drag 
our bicycles up a dark narrow stau'way to the second 
story. The crowd soon filled the room to suffocation, 
and were not disposed to heed our request to be left 
alone. One stalwart youth showed such a spirit of oppo- 
sition that we were obliged to eject Imn upon a crowded 
stairway, causing the mob to go down like a row of ten- 
pins. Then the owner of the house came in, and in an 
agitated manner declared he could not allow us to remain 
in his house overnight. Our reappearance caused a jeer- 
ing shout to go up from the crowd ; but no violence was 
attempted beyond the catching hold of the rear wheel 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 



23 



when our backs were turned, and the throwing of clods 
of earth. They followed us, en masse, to the edge of 
the village, and there stopped short, to watch us till we 
disappeared in the darkness. The nights at this high 
altitude were chilly. We had no blankets, and not enough 
clothing to warrant a camp among the rocks. There was 
not a twig on the whole plateau with which to build a fire. 
We were alone, however, and that was rest in itseK. After 
walking an hour, perhaps, we saw a light gleaming from 
a group of mudhuts a short distance off the road. From 
the numerous flocks around it, we took it to be a shepherds' 
village. Everything was quiet except the restless sheep, 
whose silky fleece glistened in the light of the rising moon. 




t^^i^-^X^ ^*J>J^ 



TURKISH WOMEN GOING TO PRAYERS IN KAISARIEH. 



Supper was not yet over, for we caught a whiff of its savory 
odor. Leaving our wheels outside, we entered the first 
door we came to, and, follomng along a narrow passage- 
way, emerged into a room where four rather rough-look- 



24 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

ing shepherds were ladling the soup from a huge bowl in 
their midst. Before they were aware of our presence, we 
uttered the usual salutation " Sahala kliayr olsun." This 
startled some little boys who were playing in the corner, 
who yelled, and ran into the haremliik, or women^s apart- 
ment. This brought to the door the female occupants, 
who also uttered a shriek, and sunk back as if in a swoon. 
It was evident that the visits of giaours to this place had 
been few and far between. The shepherds returned our 
salutation with some hesitation, while their ladles dropped 
into the soup, and their gaze became fixed on oiu' huge 
helmets, our dogskin top-coats^ and abbreviated nether 
garments. The women by this time had sufficiently re- 
covered from their nervous shock to give scope to their 
usual curiosity through the cracks in the partition. Con- 
fidence now being inspired by our own composure, we 
were invited to sit down and participate in the evening 
meal. Although it was only a gruel of sour milk and rice, 
we managed to make a meal off it. Meantime the wheels 
had been discovered by some passing neighbor. The news 
was spread throughout tlie village, and soon an excited 
throng came in with our bicycles borne upon the shoulders 
of two powerful Tui'ks. Again we were besieged with 
entreaties to ride, and, hoping that this would gain for 
us a comfortable night^s rest, we yielded, and, amid peals 
of laughter from a crowd of Turkish peasants, gave an 
exhibition in the moonlight. Our only reward, when we 
returned to our quarters, was two greasy pillows and a 
filthy carpet for a coverlet. But the much needed rest 
we did not secure, for the suspicions aroused by the first 
glance at our bed-cover proved to be well grounded. 

About noon on April 20, our road turned abruptly into 
the broad caravan trail that runs between Smyrna and 
Kaisarieh, about ten miles west of the latter city. A long 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 



25 



caravan of camels was moving majestically up the road, 
headed by a little donkey, which the devedejee (camel-driver) 
was riding with his feet dangling almost to the gi'ound. 
That proverbially stubborn creature moved not a muscle 
until we came alongside, when all at once he gave one of 
his characteristic side lurches, and precipitated the rider 
to the ground. The first camel, with a protesting grunt, 
began to sidle off, and the broadside movement continued 
down the line till the whole caravan stood at an angle of 




FLIRTING TOWER TN SJVj^S. 



about forty-five degrees to the road. The camel of Asia 
Minor does not share that antipathy for the equine species 
which is so general among their Asiatic cousins ; but steel 
horses were more than even they could endure. 

A sudden turn in the road now brought us in sight of 
old Arjish Dagh, which towers 13,000 feet above the city 
of Kaisarieh, and whose head and shoulders were covered 
with snow. Native tradition tells us that against this 
lofty summit the ark of Noah struck in the rising flood j 



26 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



and for this reason Noah cursed it, and prayed that it 
might ever be covered with snow. It was in connection 
with this very mountain that we first conceived the idea 
of making the ascent of Ararat. Here and there, on some 
of the most prominent peaks, we could distinguish little 



^^ 




HOUSE OF THE AMERICAN CONSUL IN SIVAS. 



mounds of earth, the ruined watch-towers of the prehis- 
toric Hittites. 

Kaisarieh (ancient Capsarea) is filled with the ruins and 
the monuments of the fom^teenth-century Seljuks. Aitow- 
heads and other relics are every day unearthed there, to 
serve as toys for the street urchins. Since the develop- 
ment of steam-communication around the coast, it is no 
longer the caravan center that it used to be ; but even 
now its charshi, or inclosed bazaars, are among the finest 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 27 

in Turkey, being far superior in appearance to those of 
Constantinople. These charshi are nothing more than 
narrow streets, inclosed by brick arches, and lined on 
either side with booths. It was through one of these 
that our only route to the khan lay — and yet we felt that 
in such contracted quarters, and in such an excited mob 
as had gathered around us, disaster was sure to follow. 
Our only salvation was to keep ahead of the jam, and get 
through as soon as possible. We started on the spurt ; 
and the race began. The unsuspecting merchants and 
their customers were suddenly distracted from their 
thoughts of gain as we whirled by ; the crowd close be- 
hind sweeping everj^thing before it. The falling of barrels 
and boxes, the rattling of tin cans, the crashing of crock- 
ery, the howling of the vagrant dogs that were trampled 
under foot, only added to the general tumult. 

Through the courtesy of Mr. Peet of the American 
Bible House at Constantinople, we were provided with 
letters of introduction to the missionaries at Kaisarieh, 
as well as elsewhere along our route through Asiatic 
Turkey, and upon them we also had drafts to the amount 
of our deposit made at the Bible House before starting. 
Besides, we owed much to the hospitality and kindness of 
these people. The most striking feature of the mission- 
ary work at Kaisarieh is the education of the Armenian 
women, whose social position seems to be even more 
degraded than that of their Turkish sisters. With the 
native Annenians, as with the Turks, fleshiness adds 
much to the price of a wife. The wife of a missionary 
is to them an object both of wonderment and contempt. 
As she walks along the street, they will whisper to one 
another : " There goes a woman who knows all her hus- 
band's business; and who can manage just as well as 
himself." This will generally be followed in an under- 



28 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

tone by the expression, " Madana satana," which means, 
in common parlance, " a female devil." At fu-st it was a 
struggle to overcome this ignorant prejudice, and to get 
girls to come to the school free of charge ; now it is hard 
to find room for them even when they are asked to pay 
for their tuition. 

The costume of the Armenian woman is generally of 
some bright-colored cloth, prettily trimmed. Her coif- 
fure, always elaborate, sometimes includes a string of gold 
coins, encircling the head, or stning down the plait. A 
silver belt incloses the waist, and a necklace of coins calls 
attention to her pretty neck. When washing clothes by 
the stream, they frequently show a gold ring encircling 
an ankle. 

In the simplicity of their costumes, as well as in the 
fact that they do not expose the face, the Turkish women 
stand in strong contrast to the Armenian. Baggy trou- 
sers d la Bloomer, a loose robe skirt opening at the sides, 
and a voluminous shawl-like girdle around the waist and 
body, constitute the main featm*es of the Turkish indoor 
costume. On the street a shroud-like robe called yash- 
mak, usua% white, but sometimes crimson, pm'ple, or 
black, covers them from head to foot. When we would 
meet a bevy of these creatures on the road in the dusk of 
evening, their white, fluttering garments would give them 
the appearance of winged celestials. The Tm*kish women 
are generally timorous of men, and especially so of for- 
eigners. Those of the iniral districts, however, are not 
so shy as their city cousins. We frequently met them at 
work in groups about the villagers or in tlu^- open fields, 
and would sometimes ask for a drink of water. If they 
were a party of maidens, as was often the case, they would 
draw back and hide behind one another. We would offer 
one of them a ride on our "very nice horses." This 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 



29 



would cause a general giggle among her companions, and 
a drawing of the yashmak closer about the neck and face. 
The road scenes in the interior provinces are but little 
varied. One of the most characteristic features of the 
Anatolian landscape are the storks, which come in flocks 
of thousands from their winter quarters in Egypt and 




ARABS CONVERSING WITH A TURK, 



build summer nests, unmolested, on the village housetops. 
These, like the crows, magpies, and swallows, prove valu- 
able allies to the husbandmen in their war against the 
locust. A still more ser^dceable friend in this direction 
is the smarm aVy a pink thrush with black wings. Besides 
the various caravan trains of camels, donkeys, horses, and 
mules, the road is frequently dotted with ox-carts, run 
on solid wooden wheels without tires, and drawn by that 
peculiar bovine species, the buffalo. With their distended 
necks, elevated snouts, and hog-like bristles, these animals 



30 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



present an ugly appearance, especially when wallowing 
in mud puddles. 

Now and then in the villages we passed by a primitive 
flour-mill moved by a small stream playing upon a hori- 
zontal wheel beneath the floor ; or, more primitive still, 
by a blindfolded donkey plodding ceaselessly around in 
his circular path. In the streets we frequently encoun- 
tered boys and old men gathering manure for their winter 
fuel ; and now and then a cripple or invalid would accost 
us as "Hakim" ('^Doctor"), for the medical work of the 
missionaries has given these simple-minded folk the im- 
pression that all foreigners are physicians. Coming up 
and extending a hand for us to feel the pulse they would 
ask us to do something for the disease, which we could 
see was rapidly carrying them to the grave. 

Our first view of Sivas was obtained from the top of 
Mount Yildiz, on which still stands the ruined castle of 
Mithridates, the Pontine monar(ih, whom Lucullus many 
times defeated, but never conquered. From this point 

we made a very rapid de- 
scent, crossed the Kizil 
Iniiiik for the third time 
by iiu old ruined bridge, 
and half an hour later saw 
the ^^ stars and stripes" 
flying above the U. S. 
consulate. In the society 
of oar representative, Mr. 
Henry M. Jewett, we 
were destined to 
^■■^ spend several 
^ weeks; for a 
day or two after 
our arrival, one 




A KADI EXPOUNDING THE KORAN. 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 31 

of US was taken with a slight attack of typhoid fever, 
supposed to have been contracted by drinking from 
the roadside streams. No better place could have been 
chosen for such a mishap; for recovery was speedy in 
such comfortable quarters, under the care of the mission- 
ary ladies. 

The comparative size and prosperity of Sivas, in the 
midst of rather ban*en surroundings, are explained by 
the fact that it lies at the converging point of the chief 
caravan routes between the Euxine, Eui:)hrates, and Medi- 
terranean. Besides being the capital of Rumili, the for- 
mer Seljuk province of Cappadocia, it is the place of resi- 
dence for a French and American consular representative, 
and an agent of the Russian government for the collec- 
tion of the war indemnity, stipulated in the treaty of 78. 
The dignity of office is here upheld with something of 
the pomp and splendor of tlie East, even by the rep- 
resentative of democratic America. In our tours with 
Mr. Jewett we were escorted at the head by a Circassian 
cavass (Turkish police), clothed in a long black coat, with 
a huge dagger dangling from a belt of cartridges. An- 
other native cavass, with a broadsword dragging at his 
side, usually brought up the rear. At night he was the 
one to carry the huge lantern, which, according to the 
number of candles, is the insignia of rank. ^' I must give 
the Turks what they want," said the consul, with a twin- 
kle in his eye — "form and red tape. I would not be a 
consul in their eyes, if I didn't." To illustrate the formal- 
ity of Turkish etiquette he told this story : "A Turk was 
once engaged in saving furniture from his burning home, 
when he noticed that a bystander was rolling a cigarette. 
He immediately stopped in his hurry, struck a match, and 
offered a light." 

The most flagrant example of Turkish formality that 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 



33 



came to our notice was the following address on an official 
document to the Sultan : 

"The Arbiter; the Absolute; the Soul and Body of the 
Universe ; the Father of all the sovereigns of the earth ; 
His Excellency, the Eagle Monarch; the Cause of the 
never-changing order of things ; the Source of all honor ; 
the Son of the 
Sultan of Sul- 
tans, under 
whose feet we 
are dust, whose 
awful shadow 
protects us ; Ab- 
dul Hamid II., 
Son of Abdul 
Med j id, whose 
residence is in 
Paradise ; our 
glorious Lord, to whose sacred body be given health, and 
strength, and endless days ; whom Allah keeps in his palace, 
and on his throne with joy and glory, forever. Amen." 

This is not the flattery of a cringing subordinate, for 
the same spirit is revealed in an address by the Sultan 
himself to his Grand Vizir : 




PRISHTIVK WEAVING. 



" Most honored Vizir ; Maintainer of the good order of 
the World ; Director of public affairs with wisdom and 
judgment ; Accomplisher of the important transactions of 
mankind with intelligence and good sense ; Consolidator 
of the edifice of Empire and of Glor}^ ; endowed by the 
Most High with abundant gifts; and 'Moushir/ at this 
time, of my Gate of Felicity ; my Vizir Mehmed Pasha, 
3 



34 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

may God be pleased to preserve him long in exalted 
dignity." 

Though the Turks cannot be called lazy, yet they like 
to take their time. Patience, they say, belongs to God ; 
hurry, to the devil. Nowhere is this so well illustrated 
as in the manner of shopping in Turkey. This was 
brought particularly to our notice when we visited the 
Sivas bazaars to examine some inlaid silverware, for 
which the place is celebrated. The customer stands in 
the street inspecting the articles on exhibition ; the mer- 
chant sits on his heels on the booth floor. If the customer 
is of some position in life, he climbs uj) and sits down on 
a level with the merchant. If he is a foreigner, the mer- 
chant is quite deferential. A merchant is not a merchant 
at all, but a host entertaining a guest. C'offee is served ; 
then a cigarette rolled up and handed to tlie ^' guest," 
while the various social and other local topics are freely 
discussed. After coffee and smoking the question of 
purchase is gradually approached 5 not abruptly, as that 
would involve a loss of dignity ; but circumspectly, as if 
the buying of anything were a mere afterthought. Maybe, 
after half an hour, the customer has indicated what he 
wants, and after discussing the quality of the goods, the 
customer asks the price in an off-hand way, as though he 
were not particularly interested. The merchant replies, 
^^ Oh, whatever your highness pleases," or, "I shall be 
proud if your highness will do me the honor to accept it 
as a gift." This means nothing whatever, and is merely 
the introduction to the haggling which is sure to follow. 
The seller, with silken manners and brazen countenance, 
will always name a price four times as large as it should 
be. Then the real business begins. The buyer offers one 
half or one fourth of what he finally expects to pay 5 and 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 35 

a war of words, in a blustering tone, leads up to the close 
of this eveiy-day farce. 

The superstition of the Turks is nowhere so apparent 
as in their fear of the '^evil eye." Jugs placed around 
the edge of the roof, or an old shoe filled with garlic and 
blue beets (blue glass balls or rings) are a sure guard 
against this illusion. Whenever a pretty child is playing 
upon tlie street the passers-by will say : "Oh, what an 
ugly child ! " for fear of inciting the evil spirit against its 
beauty. The peasant classes in Turkey are of course the 
most superstitious because they are the most ignorant. 
They have no education whatever, and can neither read 
nor write. Stamboul is the only great city of which 
they know. Paris is a term signifying the whole outside 
world. An American missionary was once asked: "In 
what part of Paris is America ? " Yet it can be said that 
they are generally honest, and always patient. They 
earn from about six to eight cents a day. This will fur- 
nish them with ekmek and pilaff, and that is all they ex- 
pect. They eat meat only on feast-days, and then only 
mutton. The tax-gatherer is their only grievance ; they 
look upon him as a necessary evil. They have no idea of 
being ground down under the oppressor's iron heel. Y^t 
they are happy because they are contented, and have no 
envy. The poorer, the more ignorant, a Turk is, the bet- 
ter he seems to be. As he gets money and power, and 
becomes " contaminated '^ by western civilization, he de- 
teriorates. A resident of twenty years' experience said : 
" In the lowest classes I have sometimes found truth, hon- 
esty, and gratitude ; in the middle classes, seldom ; in the 
highest, never." The corruptibility of the Turkish official 
is almost proverbial ; but such is to be expected in the 
land where " the public treasury " is regarded as a " sea," 
and "who does not drink of it, as a pig." Peculation 



36 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

and malversation are fully expected in the public official. 
They are necessary evils — adet (custom) has made them 
so. Offices are sold to the highest bidder. The Turkish 
official is one of the politest and most agreeable of men. 
He is profuse in his compliments, but he has no conscience 
as to bribes, and little regard for virtue as its o^vn reward. 
We are glad to be able to I'ecord a brilliant, though per- 
haps theoretical, exception to this general rule. At Koch- 
Hi ssar, on our way from Sivas to Kara Hissar, a delay was 
caused by a rather serious break in one of our bicycles. 
In the interval we were the invited guests of a district 
kadi, a venerable-looking and genial old gentleman whose 
acquaintance we had made in an official visit on the pre- 
vious day, as he was then tlie acting caimacam (mayor). His 
house was situated in a neigliboring valley in the shadow 
of a towering bluff. We were ushered into the selamlUh^ 
or guest apartment, in company with an Armenian friend 
who had been educated as a doctor in America, and wlio 
had consented to acit as interpreter for the occasion. 

The kadi entered with a smile on his countenance, and 
made the usual picturesque form of salutation by describ- 
ing the figure 3 with his right hand from the floor to his 
forehead. Pei'haps it was because he wanted to be polite 
that he said he had enjoyed our company on the previous 
day, and had determined, if possible, to have a more ex- 
tended conversation. With the usual coffee and cigarettes, 
the kadi became informal and (chatty. He was evidently 
a firm believer in predestination, as he remarked that God 
had foreordained our trip to that country, even the food 
we were to eat, and the invention of the extraordinary 
^^ cart " on which we were to ride. The idea of such a 
journey, in such a peculiar way, was not to be accredited 
to the ingenuity of man. There was a purpose in it all. 
When we ventured to thank him for his hospitality to- 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 37 

ward two strangers, and even foreigners, lie said that this 
world occupied so small a space in God^s dominion, that 
we could well afford to be brothers, one to another, in 
spite of our individual beliefs and opinions. " We may 
have different religious beliefs," said he, ^^ but we all be- 
long to the same great father of humanity ; just as chil- 
dren of different complexions, dispositions, and intel- 
lects may belong to one common parent. We should ex- 
ercise reason always, and have charity for other people's 
opinions." 

From charity the conversation naturally turned to jus- 
tice. We were much interested in his opinion on this 
subject, as that of a Turkish judge, and rather high offi- 
cial. "Justice," said he, '^should be administered to the 
humblest person ; though a king should be the offending 
party, all alike must yield to the sacred law of justice. 
We must account to God for our acts, and not to men." 

The regular route from Sivas to Erzerum passes through 
Erzinjan. From this, however, we diverged at Zara, in 
order to visit the city of Kara Ilissar, and the neighbor- 
ing Lidjissy mines, wliich had been pioneered by the Gen- 
oese explorers, and were now being worked by a party of 
Enghshmen. This divergence on to unbeaten paths was 
made at a very inopportune season ; for the rainy spell 
set in, which lasted, with scarcely any intermission, for 
over a fortnight. At the base of Kosse Dagh, which 
stands upon the watershed between the two largest riv- 
ers of Asia Minor, the Kizil Irmak and Yeshil Irmak, 
our road was blocked by a mountain freshet, which at its 
height washed everything before it. We spent a day and 
night on its bank, in a primitive flour-mill, which was so 
far removed from domestic life that we had to send three 
miles up in the mountains to get something to eat. The 
Yeshil Irmak, which we crossed just before reaching Kara 



38 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



Hissar, was above our shoulders as we waded through, 
holding our bicycles and baggage over our heads ; while 
the swift current rolled the small boulders against us, and 
almost knocked us off our feet. There were no bridges 
in this part of the coimtry. With horses and wagons the 
rivers were usually f ordable ; and what more would you 
want? With the Turk, as with all Asiatics, it is not a 
question of what is better, but what will do. Long before 
we reached a stream, the inhabitants of a certain town 







or village would gather round, and with troubled counte- 
nances say, '^Christian gentlemen — there is no bridge," 
pointing to the river beyond, and grapliically describing 
that it was over our horses' heads. That would settle it, 
they thought j it never occurred to tliem that a " Christian 
gentleman " could take off his clothes and wade. Some- 
times, as we walked along in the mud, the wheels of our 
bicycles would become so clogged that we could not even 
push them before us. In such a case we would take the 
nearest shelter, whatever it might be. The night before 
reaching Kara Hissar, we entered an abandoned stable, 
from which everything had fled except the fleas. Another 
night was spent in the pine-forests just on the border be- 



BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 39 

tween Asia Minor and Armenia, which were said to be the 
haunts of the border robbers. Our surroundings could 
not be relieved by a fire for fear of attracting their at- 
tention. 

When at last we reached the Trebizond-Erzerum high- 
way at Baiboot, the contrast was so gi^eat that the scaling 
of Kop Dagh, on its comparatively smooth surface, was 
a mere breakfast spell. From here we looked down for 
the fii'st time into the valley of the historic Euphrates, 
and a few hours later we were skimming over its bottom 
lands toward^ the embattled heights of Erzerum. 

As we neared the city, some Turkish peasants in the 
fields caught sight of us, and shouted to their companions : 
" Russians ! Russians ! There they are ! Two of them ! " 
This was not the first time we had been taken for the sub- 
jects of the Czar ; the whole country seemed to be in dread 
of them. Erzerum is the capital of that district which 
Russia will no doubt demand, if the stipulated war indem- 
nity is not paid. 

The entrance into the city was made to twist and turn 
among the ramparts, so as to avoid a rush in case of an 
attack. But this was no proof against a surprise in the 
case of the noiseless wheel. In we dashed with a roaring 
wind, past the affrighted guards, and were fifty yards 
away before they could collect their scattered senses. 
Then suddenly it dawned upon them that we were human 
beings, and foreigners besides — perhaps even the dreaded 
Russian spies. They took after us at full speed, but it 
was too late. Before they reached us we were in the 
house of the commandant pasha, the military governor, 
to whom we had a letter of introduction from our consul 
at Sivas. That gentleman we found extremely good- 
natured; he laughed heartily at our escapade with the 
guards. Nothing would do but we must visit the Vali, 




Arai'at, an expeni^m^e which will Ik> desunbed in the uext 
ehaptf4% A few days lH'f<>iT, we heard, a siiiiihir ajjpliea- 
ti<m had Imen iiiado by an English traveler from Bagdad, 
l>ut owiiJi^ tf) eertaiu suspicions the pevmisskni was in- 
fused. It was with no littlt* eoiicern, thei-eforej that we 
approaelied tlie VaU*s pilvate ofliee in <?oiupany with his 




BEYOND THE BOSPORUS 41 

French intei^preter. Circumstances augured ill at the 
very start. The Vali was evidently in a bad humor, for 
we overheard him storming in a high key at some one in 
the room with him. As we passed under the heavy matted 
curtains the two attendants who were holding them up 
cast a rather horrified glance at our dusty shoes and un- 
conventional costume. The Vali was sitting in a large 
arm-chair in front of a very small desk, placed at the far 
end of a vacant-looking room. After the usual salaams, 
he motioned to a seat on the divan, and proceeded at once 
to examine our credentials while we sipped at our coffee, 
and whiffed the small cigarettes which were immediately 
served. This furnished the Vali an opportunity to regain 
his usual composure. He was evidently an autocrat of 
the severest type ; if we pleased him, it would be all right ; 
if we did not, it would be all wrong. We showed him 
everything we had, from our Chinese passport to the little 
photographic camera, and related some of the most amus- 
ing incidents of our journey through his country. From 
the numerous questions he asked we felt certain of his 
genuine interest, and were more than pleased to see an 
occasional broad smile on liis countenance. ^^ Well," said 
he, as we rose to take leave, '^ your passports will be ready 
any time after to-morrow ; in the mean time I shall be 
pleased to have your horses quartered and fed at gov- 
ernment expense." This was a big joke for a Turk, and 
assured us of his good-will. 

A bicycle exhibition which the Vali had requested was 
given the morning of our departure for Bayazid, on a 
level stretch of road just outside the city. Several mis- 
sionaries and members of the consulates had gone out in 
caniages, and formed a little group by themselves. We 
rode up with the *' stars and stripes " and " star and cres- 
cent" fluttering side by side from the handle-bars. It 




ACEOSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



was always our eustoni^ especially on diplomatic oeca-" 
sionSj to have a little Hag of the country asBoeiated with 
that of our own. This little arraii^jrejueut evokt^d a smile 
from the Yalij who, when the exhibition was finished^ 
stepped forward and said^ *' I am satisfied, I am pleased," 
His* ritdily caparisoned wliite charger was now hi-ought 
up. Leaping into the jiaddle, he waved us good-by, and 
moved away with Ins suite toward the city. We our- 
Belves remained fr^r a few iimments to bid y:ood-by to our 
hospitable frieiKls, and then, once more, continued 
journey toward the east. 



our 





II 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 

ACCORDING to tradition, Mount Ararat is the scene 
XV. of two of the most important events in the histoiy 
of the human race. In the sacred land of Eden, which 
Armenian legend places at its base, tlie first of human 
life was born ; and on its solitary peak the last of human 
life was saved from an all-destroying flood. The remark- 
able geographical position of tliis mountain seems to jus- 
tify the Armenian view that it is the center of the world. 
It is on the longest line drawn through the Old World 
from the Cape of Good Hope to Bering Strait ; it is also 
on the line of the great deserts and inland seas stretch- 
ing from Gibraltar to Lake Baikal in Siberia — a line of 
continuous depressions ; it is equidistant from the Black 
and Caspian Seas and the Mesopotamian plain, which three 
depressions are now watered by three distinct river-sys- 
tems emanating from Ararat^s immediate vicinity. No 
other region has seen or heard so much of the story of 
mankind. In its grim presence empires have come and 
gone ; cities have risen and fallen ; human hf e has soared 
up on the wings of hope, and dashed against the rocks 
of despair. 

To the eye Ararat presents a gently inclined slope of 

43 



44 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

sand and ashes rising into a belt of green, another zone 
of black volcanic rocks streaked with snow-beds, and then 
a glittering crest of silver. From the burning desert at 
its base to the icy pinnacle above, it rises through a verti- 
cal distance of 13,000 feet. There are but few peaks in 
the world that rise so high (17,250 feet above sea-level) 
from so low a plain (2000 feet on the Russian, and 4000 
feet on the Tui-kish, side), and wliich, therefore, present 
so grand a spectacle. Unlike many of the world's moun- 
tains, it stands alone. Little Ararat (12,840 feet above 
sea-level), and the other still smaller heights that dot the 
plain, only serve as a standard by which to measure Ara- 
rat's immensity and grandeur. 

Little Ai^arat is the meeting-point, or comer-stone, of 
three great empires. On its conic^al peak converge the 
dominions of the Czar, the Sultan, and the Shah. The 
Russian border-line runs from Little Ararat along the 
high ridge whi(5h separates it from Great Ararat, through 
the peak of the latter, and onward a short distance to the 
northwest, then turns shai'ply to the west. On the Sar- 
darbulakh pass, between Great and Little Ararat, is sta- 
tioned a handful of Russian Cossacks to remind lawless 
tribes of the guardianship of the '^ White Sultan." 

The two Ararats together form an elliptical mass, about 
twenty-five miles in length, running northwest and south- 
east, and about half that in width. Out of this massive 
base rise the two Ararat peaks, their liases being contig- 
uous up to 8800 feet and their tops about seven miles 
apart. Little Ararat is an almost perfect truncated cone, 
while Great Ararat is more of a broad-shoiddered dome 
supported by strong, rough-ribbed buttresses. The iso- 
lated position of Ararat, its structure of igneous rocks, 
the presence of small craters and immense volcanic fis- 
sures on its slopes, and the scoriae and ashes on the sur- 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT AEAEAT 45 

rounding plain, establish beyond a doubt its volcanic 
origin. But according to the upheaval theory of the 
eminent geologist, Hermann Abich, who was among the 
few to make the ascent of the mountain, there never was 
a great central crater in either Great or Little Ararat. 
Certain it is that no craters or signs of craters now ex- 
ist on the summit of either mountain. But Mr. James 
Bryce, who made the last ascent, in 1876, seems to think 
that there is no sufficient reason why craters coidd not 
have previously existed, and been filled up by their own 
irruptions. There is no record of any irruption in histor- 
ical times. The only thing approaching it was the earth- 
quake which shook the mountain in 1840, accompanied by 
subterranean rumblings, and destructive blasts of wind. 
The Tatar village of Arghuri and a Kurdish encamp- 
ment on the northeast slope were entirely destroyed by the 
precipitated rocks. Not a man was left to tell the story. 
Mr. Bryce and others have spoken of the astonishing 
height of the snow-line on Mount Ararat, which is placed 
at 14,000 feet ; while in the Alps it is only about 9000 
feet, and in the Caucasus on an average 11,000 feet, al- 
though they lie in a very little higher latitude. They 
assign, as a reason for this, the exceptionally dry region 
in which Ararat is situated. Mr. Bryce ascended the 
mountain on September 12, when the snow-line was at its 
very highest, the first large snow-bed he encountered be- 
ing at 12,000 feet. Our own ascent being made as early 
as July 4, — in fact, the earliest ever recorded, — we found 
some snow as low as 8000 feet, and large beds at 10,500 
feet. The top of Little Ararat was still at that time 
streaked with snow, but not covered. With so many 
extensive snow-beds, one would naturally expect to find 
copious brooks and streams flowing down the mountain 
into the plain ; but owing to the porous and dry nature 



46 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

of the soil, the water is entirely lost before reaching the 
base of the mountain. Even as early as July we saw no 
stream below 6000 feet, and even above this height the 
mountain freshets frequently flowed far beneath the sur- 
face under the loosely packed rocks, bidding defiance to 
our efforts to reach them. Notwithstanding the scarcity 
of snow-freshets, there is a middle zone on Mount Ararat, 
extending from about 5000 feet to 9000 feet elevation, 
which is covered with good pasturage, kept green by 
heavy dews and frequent showers. The hot aii* begins 
to rise from the desert plain as the morning sun peeps 
over the horizon, and continues through the dayj this 
warm current, striking against the snow-covered summit, 
is condensed into clouds and moisture. In consequence, 
the top of Ararat is usually — during the summer months, 
at least — obscured by clouds from some time after dawn 
until sunset. On the last day of our ascent, however, we 
were particularly fortunate in having a clear summit until 
1 : 15 in the afternoon. 

Among the crags of the upper slope are found only a 
few specimens of the wild goat and sheep, and, lower 
down, the fox, wolf, and lynx. The bird and insect life 
is very scanty, but lizards and scorpions, especially on the 
lowest slopes, are abimdant. The rich pasturage of Ara- 
rat's middle zone attracts pastoral Kurdish tribes. These 
nomadic shepherds, a few Tatars at New Arghuri, and a 
camp of Russian Cossacks at the well of Sardarbulakh, 
are the only human beings to disturb the quiet solitude 
of this grandest of nature's sanctuaries. 

The first recorded ascent of Mount Ararat was in 1829, 
by Dr. Frederick Parrot, a Russo-German professor in 
the University of Doi*pat. He reached the summit with 
a party of three Armenians and two Russian soldiers, 
after two unsuccessful attempts. His ascent, however, 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 47 

was doubted, not only by the people in the neighborhood, 
but by many men of science and position in the Russian 
empire, notwithstanding his clear account, which has been 
confirmed by subsequent observers, and in spite of the 
testimony of the two Russian soldiers who had gone with 
him.^ Two of the Armenians who reached the summit 
with him declared that they had gone to a great height, 
but at the point where they had left off had seen much 
higher tops rising around them. This, thereupon, became 
the opinion of the whole country. After Antonomoff, in 
1834, Herr Abich, the geologist, made his valuable ascent 
in 1845. He reached the eastern summit, which is only a 
few feet lower than the western, and only a few minutes' 
walk from it, but was obliged to return at once on account 
of the threatening weather. When he produced his com- 
panions as witnesses before the authorities at Erivaii, 
they turned against him, and solemnly swore that at the 
point which they had reached a higher peak stood be- 
tween them and the western horizon. This strengthened 
the Armenian belief in the inaccessibility of Ararat, which . 
was not dissipated when the Russian military engineer. 
General Chodzko, and an English party made the ascent 

1 Eight years before the first recorded ascent of Ararat by Dr. Par- 
rot (1829), there appeared the following from ^'Travels in Georgia, 
Persia, Armenia, and Ancient Babylonia," by Sir Robert Ker Porter, 
who, in his time, was an authority on southwestern Asia: ^* These 
inaccessible heights [of Mount Ararat] have never been trod by the 
foot of man since the days of Noah, if even then ; for my idea is that 
the Ark rested in the space between the two heads (Great and Little 
Ararat), and not on the top of either. Various attempts have been 
made in different ages to ascend these tremendous mountain pyra- 
mids, but in vain. Their forms, snows, and glaciers are insurmount- 
able obstacles : the distance being so great from the commencement 
of the icy region to the highest points, cold alone would be the de- 
struction of any one who had the hardihood to persevere." 



48 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

iu 1856. Nor were their prejudiced minds convinced by 
the ascent of Mr. Bryce twenty years later, in 1876. Two 
days after his ascent, that gentleman paid a visit to the 
Armenian monastery at Echmiadzin, and was presented 
to the archimandrite as the EngUshman who had just 
ascended to the top of "Masis." "No," said the eccle- 
siastical dignitary; "that cannot be. No one has ever 
been there. It is impossible." Mr. Bryce himself says : 
" I am persuaded that there is not a person living within 
sight of Ararat, unless it be some exceptionally educated 
Russian official at Erivan, who believes that any human 
foot, since Father Noah's, has trodden that sacred sum- 
mit. So much stronger is faith than sight ; or rather so 
much stronger is prejudice than evidence." 

We had expected, on our arrival in Bayazid, to find in 
waiting for us a Mr. Richardson, an American missionary 
from Erzerum. Two years later, on our arrival home, we 
received a letter explaining that on his way from Van 
he had been captured by Kurdish brigands, and held a 
prisoner until released through the intervention of the 
British consul at Erzerum. It was some such fate as this 
that was predicted for us, should we ever attempt the 
ascent of Mount Ararat through the lawless Kurdish 
tribes upon its slopes. Our first duty, therefore, was to 
see the mutessarif of Bayazid, to whom we bore a letter 
from the Grand Vizir of Turkey, in order to ascertain 
what protection and assistance he would be willing to 
give us. We found with him a Circassian who belonged 
to the Russian camp at Sardarbulakh, on the Ararat pass, 
and who had accompanied General Chodzko on his ascent 
of the mountain in 1856. Both he and the mutessarif 
thought an ascent so early in the year was impossible ; 
that we ought not to think of such a thing until two 
months later. It was now six weeks earlier than the time 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 49 

of General Chodzko's ascent (August 11 to 18), then the 
earliest on record. They both strongly recommended 
the northwestern slope as being more gradual. This is 
the one that Parrot ascended in 1829, and where Abich 
was repulsed on his third attempt. Though entirely in- 
experienced in mountain-climbing, we ourselves thought 
that the southeast slope, the one taken by General Chod- 
zko, the English party, and Mr. Bryce, was far more feasi- 
ble for a small party. One thing, however, the mutessarif 
was determined upon : we must not approach the moun- 
tain without an escort of Turkish zaptiehs, as an emblem 
of government protection. Besides, he would send for 
the chief of the Ararat Kurds, and endeavor to arrange 
with him for our safety and guidance up the mountain. 
As we emerged into the streets an Armenian professor 
gravely shook his liead. ^' Ah," said he, " you Avill never 
do it." Then dropping his voice, he told us that those 
other ascents were all fictitious ; that the summit of " Ma- 
sis" had never yet been reached except by Noah; and 
that we were about to attempt what was an utter impos- 
sibility. 

In Bayazid we could not procure even proper wood for 
alpenstocks. Willow branches, two inches thick, very dry 
and brittle, were the best we could obtain. Light as this 
wood is, the alpenstocks weighed at least seven pounds 
apiece when the iron hooks and points were riveted on at 
the ends by the native blacksmith, for whom we cut paper 
patterns, of the exact size, for everything we wanted. We 
next had large nails driven into the souls of our shoes by 
a local shoemaker, who made them for us by hand out of 
an old English file, and who wanted to pull them all out 
again because we would not pay him the exorbitant price 
he demanded. In buying provisions for the expedition, 
we spent three hours among the half dilapidated bazaars 
4 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 51 

of the town, which have never been repaired since the 
disastrous Russian bombardment. The most difficult task, 
perhaps, in our work of preparation was to strike a bar- 
gain with an Armenian muleteer to carry our food and 
l^aggage up the mountain on his two little donkeys. 

Evening came, and no word from either the mutessarif 
or the Kurdish chief. Although we were extremely anx- 
ious to set off on the expedition before bad weather set in, 
we must not be in a hurry, for the militarj^ governor of 
Karakillissa was now the guest of the mutessarif, and it 
would be an interference with his social duties to try to 
see him until after his guest had departed. On the mor- 
row we were sitting in our small dingy room after dinner, 
when a cavalcade hastened up to our inn, and a few min- 
utes later we were surprised to liear ourselves addressed 
in our native tongue. Before us stood a dark-complex- 
ioned young man, and at his side a small wiry old gentle- 
man, who proved to be a native Austrian Tyrolese, who 
followed the profession of an artist in Paris. He was 
now making his way to Erivan, in Russia, on a sight-see- 
ing tour from Trebizond. His companion was a Greek 
from Salonica, who had lived for several years in London, 
whence he had departed not many weeks before, for Te- 
heran, Persia. These two travelers had met in Constan- 
tinople, and the young Greek, who could speak English, 
Greek, and Turkish, had been acting as interpreter for 
the artist. They had heard of the " deviPs carts " when 
in Van, and had made straight for our quarters on their 
arrival in Bayazid. At this point they were to separate. 
When we learned that the old gentleman (Ignaz Raffl by 
name) was a member of an Alpine club and an experienced 
mountain-climber, we urged him to join in the ascent. 
Though his shoulders were bent by the cares and troubles 
of sixty-three years, we finally induced him to accompany 



52 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

our party. Kantsa, the Greek, reluctantly agreed to do 
likewise, and proved to be an excellent interpreter, but a 
poor climber. 

The following morning we paid the mutessarif a second 
visit, with Kantsa as interpreter. Inasmuch as the Kurd- 
ish chief had not arrived, the mutessarif said he would 
make us bearers of a letter to him. Two zaptiehs were to 
accompany us in the morning, while others were to go 
ahead and announce our approach. 

At ten minutes of eleven, on the morning of the second 
of July, our small cavalcade, with the two exasperating 
donkeys at the head laden with mats, bags of provisions, 
extra clothing, alpenstocks, spiked shoes, and coils of 
stout rope, filed down the streets of Bayazid, followed by 
a curious rabble. As Bayazid lies hidden behind a pro- 
jecting spur of the mountains we could obtain no view of 
the peak itself until we had tramped some distance out 
on the plain. Its huge giant mass broke upon us all at 
once. We stopped and looked — and looked again. No 
mountain-peak we liave seen, tliough several have been 
higher, has ever inspired the feeling Avliich filled us when 
we looked for the first time upon towering Ararat. We 
had not proceeded far before we descried a party of Kurd- 
ish horsemen approaching from the mountain. Our zap- 
tiehs advanced rather cautiously to meet them, with rifles 
thrown across the pommels of their saddles. After a 
rather mysterious parley, our zaptiehs signaled that all 
was well. On coming up, they reported that these horse- 
men belonged to the party that was friendly to the Turk- 
ish government. The Kurds, they said, were at this time 
divided among themselves, a portion of them having 
adopted conciliatory measures with the government, and 
the rest holding aloof. But we rather considered their 



54 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

little performance as a scheme to extort a little more bak- 
sheesh for their necessary presence. 

The plain we were now on was drained by a tributary 
of the Aras River, a small stream reached after two 
hours' steady tramping. From the bordering hillocks 
we emerged in a shoi*t time upon another vast plateau, 
which stretched far away in a gentle rise to the base of 
the mountain itself. Near by we discovered a lone willow- 
tree, the only one in the whole sweep of our vision, under 
the gracious foliage of which sat a band of Kurds, retired 
from the heat of the afternoon sun, their horses feeding 
on some swamp grass near at hand. Attracted by this 
sign of water, we drew near, and found a copious spring. 
A few words f I'oni the zaptiehs, Avho had advanced among 
them, seemed to put the Kurds at their ease, though they 
did not by any means appease their ciu'iosity. They in- 
vited us to partake of their frugal lunch of ekmek and 
goatVmilk cheese. Om* clothes and ])aggage were dis- 
cussed piece by i)iece, with loud exi)ressi()ns of merriment, 
until one of us arose, and, stealing behind the group, 
snapped the camera. ^'What was tliatf said a burly 
member of the grouj), as he looked round Avith scowling 
face at his comi)anions. '^Yes; Avhat was that?" they 
echoed, and then made a rush for the manipulator of the 
black box, which they evidently took for some instrument 
of the black art. The photographer stood serenely inno- 
cent, and winked at the zaptieh to gi\'e the proper expla- 
nation. He was equal to the occasion. ^^ That," said he, 
" is an instrument for taking time by the sun." At this 
the box went the round, each one gazing intently into the 
lens, then scratching his head, and casting a bewildered 
look at his nearest neighbor. We noticed that every one 
about us was armed with knife, revolver, and Martini 
rifle, a belt of cartridges surrounding his waist. It oc- 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 55 

curred to us that Turkey was adopting a rather poor 
method of clipping the wings of these mountain birds, by 
selling them the very best equipments for war. Legally, 
none but government guards are permitted to carry 
arms, and yet both guns and ammunition are sold in the 
bazaars of almost every city of the Turkish dominions. 
The existence of these people, in their wild, semi-indepen- 
dent state, shows not so much the power of the Kurds as 
the weakness of the Turkish government, which desires 
to use a people of so fierce a reputation for the suppres- 
sion of its other subjects. After half an hour's rest, we 
prepared to decamp, and so did our Kurdish companions. 
They were soon in then- saddles, and galloping away in 
front of us, with their arms clanking, and glittering in 
the afternoon sunlight. 

At the spring we had turned off the trail that led over 
the Sardarbulakh pass into Russia, and were now follow- 
ing a horse-path which winds up to the Kurdish encamp- 
ments on the southern slope of the mountain. The plain 
was strewn with sand and rocks, with here and there a 
bunch of tough, wiry grass about a foot and a half high, 
which, though early in the year, was partly dry. It would 
have been hot work except for the rain of the day before 
and a strong southeast wind. As it was, our feet were 
blistered and bruised, the thin leather sandals worn at 
the outset offering very poor protection. The atmosphere 
being dry, though not excessively hot, we soon began to 
suffer from thirst. Although we searched diligently for 
water, we did not find it till after two hours more of con- 
stant marching, when at a height of about 6000 feet, fifty 
yards from the path, we discerned a picturesque cascade 
of sparkling, cold mountain water. Even the old gentle- 
man, Raflfl, joined heartily in the gaiety induced by this 
clear, cold water from Ararat's melting snows. 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 57 

Our ascent for two and a half hours longer was through 
a luxuriant vegetation of flowers, grasses, and weeds, which 
grew more and more scanty as we advanced. Prominent 
among the specimens were the wild pink, poppy, and rose. 
One small fragrant herb, that was the most abundant of 
all, we were told was used by the Kurds for making tea. 
All these filled the evening air with perfume as we trudged 
along, passing now and tlien a Kurdish lad, with his flock 
of sheep and goats feeding on the mountain-grass, which 
was here much more luxuriant than below. Looking 
backward, we saw that we were higher than the precipi- 
tous cliffs which overtower the town of Bayazid, and 
which are perhaps from 1500 to 2000 feet above the low- 
est part of the plain. The view over the plateau was now 
grand. Though we were all fatigued by the day^s work, 
the cool, moisture-laden air of evening revived our flag- 
ging spirits. We forged ahead with nimble step, joking, 
and singing a variety of national airs. The French ^' Mar- 
seillaise," in which the old gentleman heartily joined, 
echoed and reechoed among the rocks, and caused the 
shepherd lads and their flocks to crane their heads in 
wonderment. Even the Armenian muleteer so far over- 
came his fear of the Kurdish robbers as to indulge in one 
of his accustomed funeral dirges ; but it stopped short., 
never to go again, when we came in sight of the Kurdish 
encampment. The poor fellow instinctively grabbed his 
donkeys about their necks, as though they were about to 
plunge over a precipice. The zaptiehs dashed ahead with 
the mutessarif s letter to the Kurdish chief. We followed 
slowly on foot, while the Armenian and his two pets kept 
at a respectful distance in the rear. 

The disk of the sun had already touched the western 
horizon when we came to the black tents of the Kurdish 
encampment, which at this time of the day presented a 



58 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

rather busy scene. The women seemed to be doing all 
the work, while their lords sat round on their haunches. 
Some of the women were engaged in milking the sheep 
and goats in an inclosure. Others were busy making 
butter in a churn which was nothing more than a skin 
vessel three feet long, of the shape of a Brazil-nut, sus- 
pended from a rude tripod ; this they swung to and fro to 
the tune of a weird Kurdish song. Behind one of the 
tents, on a primitive weaving-machine, some of them were 
making tent-roofing and matting. Others still were walk- 
ing about with a baU of wool in one hand and a distaff in 
the other, spinning yarn. The flocks stood round about, 
bleating and lowing, or chewing their cud in quiet con- 
tentment. AU seemed very domestic and peaceful ex- 
cept the Kurdish dogs, which set upon us with loud, fierce 
growls and gnashing teeth. 

Not so was it with the Km-dish chief, who by this time 
had finished reading the mutessaiif's message, and who 
now advanced from his tent with salaams of welcome. 
As he stood before us in the glowing sunset, he was a 
rather taU, but well-proportioned man, with black eyes 
and dark mustache, contrasting well with his brown- 
tanned complexion. Upon his face was the stamp of a 
rather wild and retiring cliaraciter, although treachery 
and deceit were by no means wanting. He wore a head- 
gear that was something between a hat and a turban, and 
over his baggy Turkish trousers hung a long Persian 
coat of briglit-colored, large-figured cloth, bound at the 
waist by a belt of cartridges. Across the shoulders was 
slung a breech-loading Martini lifle, and from his neck 
dangled a heavy gold chain, which was probably the spoil 
of some predatory expedition. A quiet dignity sat on 
Ismail Deverish's stalwart form. 

It was with no little pleasure that we accepted his invi- 



60 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

tation to a cup of tea. After our walk of nineteen miles, 
in which we had ascended from 3000 to 7000 feet, we were 
in fit condition to appreciate a rest. That Kurdish tent, 
as far as we were concerned, was a veritable palace, al- 
though we were almost blinded by the smoke from the 
green pine-branches on the smoldering fire. We said 
that the chief invited us to a cup of tea : so he did — but 
we provided the tea ; and that, too, not only for our own 
party, but for half a dozen of the chiefs personal friends. 
There being only two glasses in the camp, we of course 
had to wait until our Kurdish acquaintances had quenched 
their buiniing thirst. In thoughtful mood we gazed 
around through the evening twilight. Far away on the 
western slope we could see some Kurdish women plod- 
ding along under heavy burdens of pine-brauches like 
those that were now fumigating our eyes and nostrils. 
Across the hills the Kurdish shepherds were driving home 
their herds and flocks to the tinlding of bells. All this, 
to us, was deeply impressive. Such peaceful scenes, we 
thought, could never be the haunt of warlike robbers. 
The flocks at last came home ; the shouts of the shepherds 
ceased ; darkness fell ; and all was quiet. 

One by one the lights in the tents broke out, like the 
stars above. As the darkness deepened, they shone more 
and more brightly across the amphitheater of the encamp- 
ment. The tent in which we were now sitting was oblong 
in shape, covered with a mixture of goats^ and sheep's 
wool, carded, spim, and woven by the Kurdish women. 
This tenting was all of a dark brown or black color. The 
various strips were badly joined together, allowing the 
snow and rain, during the stormy night that followed, to 
penetrate plentifully. A wickerwork fencing, about three 
feet high, made from the reeds gathered in the swamps of 
the Aras Kiver, was stretched around the bottom of the 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 61 

tent to keep out the cattle as well as to afford some little 
pi'otection from the elements. This same material, of the 
same width or height, was used to partition off the apart- 
ments of the women. Far from being veiled and shut 
up in harems, like their Turkish and Persian sisters, the 
Kurdish women come and go among the men, and talk 
and laugh as they please. The thinness and lowness of 
the partition walls did not disturb their astonishing equa- 
nimity. In their relations with the men the women are 
extremely free. Dui'ing the evening we frequently found 
ourselves surrounded by a concourse of these mountain 
beauties, who would sit and stare at us with their black 
eyes, call attention to our personal oddities, and laugh 
among themselves. Now and then their jokes at our ex- 
pense would produce liilarious laughter among the men. 
The dress of these women consisted of baggy trousers, 
better described in this country as '^divided skirts," a 
bright-colored overskirt and tunic^ and a little round cloth 
cap encircled with a band of red and black. Through the 
right lobe of the nose was hung a peculiar button-shaped 
ornament studded with precious stones. This picturesque 
costume well set off tlieir rich olive complexions, and black 
eyes beneath dark-brown lashes. 

There were no signs of an approaching evening meal 
until we opened our provision-bag, and handed over cer- 
tain articles of raw food to be cooked for us. No sooner 
were the viands intrusted to the care of our hosts, than 
two sets of pots and kettles made their appearance in the 
other compartments. In half an hour our host and friends 
proceeded to indulge their voracious appetites. When our 
own meal was brought to us some time after, we noticed 
that the fourteen eggs we had doled out had been reduced 
to six ; and the other materials suffered a similar reduc- 
tion, the whole thing being so patent as to make their 



62 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

attempt at innocence absurdly ludicrous. We thought, 
however, if Kurdish highway robbery took no worse form 
than this, we could well afford to be content. Supper 
over, we squatted round a slow-burning fire, on the thick 
felt mats which served as carpets, di'ank tea, and smoked 
the usual cigarettes. By the light of the glowing embers 
we could watch the faces about us, and catch their horri- 
fied glances when reference was made to om* intended 
ascent of Ak-Dagh, the mysterious abode of the jinn. Be- 
fore turning in for the night, we reconnoitered our situ- 
ation. The lights in all the tents, save our own, were now 
extinguished. Not a sound was heard, except the heavy 
breathing of some of the slumbering animals about us, 
or the bark of a dog at some distant encampment. The 
huge dome of Ararat, though six to eight miles farther 
up the slope, seemed to be towering over us like some 
giant monster of another world. We could not see the 
summit, so far was it above the enveloping clouds. We 
returned to the tent to find that the zaptiehs had been 
given the best places and best covers to sleep in, and that 
we were expected to accommodate ourselves near the door, 
wrapped up in an old Kurdish carpet. Policy was evi- 
dently a better developed trait of Kurdish character than 
hospitality. 

Although we arose at four, seven o^clock saw us still at 
the encampment. Two hours vanished before our gentle- 
men zaptiehs condescended to rise from their peaceful 
slumbers; then a great deal of time was unnecessarily 
consumed in eating their special breakfast. We ourselves 
had to be content with ekmek and yaourt (blotting-paper 
bread and curdled milk). This over, they concluded not 
to go on without sandals to take the place of their heavy 
mUittuy boots, as at this point their horses would have to 
be discai'ded. After we had employed a Kurd to make 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 63 

these for them, they declared they were afraid to proceed 
without the company of ten Kurds armed to the teeth. 
We knew that this was only a scheme on the part of the 
Kurds, with whom the zaptiehs were in league, to extort 
money from us. We still kept cool, and only casually 
insinuated that we did not have enough money to pay 
for so large a party. This announcement worked like 
a charm. The interest the Kurds had up to this time 
taken in our venture died away at once. Even the three 
Kurds who, as requested in the message of the mutessarif , 
were to accompany us up the mountain to the snow-line, 
refused absolutely to go. The mention of the mutessa- 
rif^s name awakened only a sneer. We had also reUed 
upon the Kurds for blankets, as we had been advised to 
do by our friends in Bayazid. Those we had already 
hired they now snatched from the donkeys standing be- 
fore the tent. All this time our tall, gaunt, meek-looking 
muleteer had stood silent. Now his turn had come. How 
far was he to go with his donkeys? — he didn't think it 
possible for him to go much beyond this point. Patience 
now ceased to be a virtue. We cut off discussion at once ; 
told the muleteer he would either go on, or lose what he 
had already earned ; and informed the zaptiehs that what- 
ever they did would be reported to the mutessarif on our 
return. Under this rather forcible persuasion, they stood 
not on the order of their going, but sullenly followed our 
little procession out of camp before the crestfallen Kurds. 
In the absence of guides we were thrown upon our own 
resources. Far from being an assistance, our zaptiehs 
proved a nuisance. They would carry nothing, not even 
the food they were to eat, and were absolutely ignorant 
of the country we were to traverse. From our observa- 
tions on the previous days, we had decided to strike out 
on a northeast course, over the gentle slope, until we 



64 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

struck the rocky ridges on the southeast buttress of the 
dome. On its projecting rocks, which extended nearer 
to the summit than those of any other part of the moun- 
tain, we could avoid the slippery, precipitous snow-beds 
that stretched far down the mountain at this time of the 
year. 

Immediately after leaving the encampment, the ascent 
became steeper and more difficult; the small volcanic 
stones of yesterday now increased to huge obstructing 
boulders, among which the donkeys with difficulty made 
their way. They frequently tipped their loads, or got 
wedged in between two unyielding walls. In the midst 
of our efforts to extricate them, we often wondered how 
Noah ever managed with the animals from the ark. Had 
these donkeys not been of a philosophical turn of mind, 
they might have offered forcible objections to the way we 
extricated them from their straightened circumstances. 
A remonstrance on our part for carelessness in driving 
brought from the muleteer a burst of Turkish profanity 
that made the rocks of Ararat resound witli indignant 
echoes. The spirit of insubordination seemed to be in- 
creasing in direct ratio with the height of oiu* ascent. 

We came now to a comparatively smooth, green slope, 
which led up to the highest Kurdish encampment met on 
tlie line of our ascent, about 7500 feet. When in sight of 
the black tents, the subject of Kurdish guides was again 
broached by the zaptiehs, and immediately they sat down 
to discuss the question. We ourselves were through with 
discussion, and fully determined to have nothing to do 
with a people who could do absolutely nothing for us. 
We stopjjed at the tents, and asked for milk. ^' Yes," 
they said ; " we have some " : but after waiting for ten 
minutes, we learned that the milk was still in the goats^ 
possession, several hundred yards away among the rocks. 



66 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

It dawned upon us that this was only another trick of the 
zaptiehs to get a rest. 

We pushed on the next 500 feet of the ascent without 
much trouble or controversy, the silence broken only by 
the muleteer, who took the raki bottle off the donkey's 
pack, and asked if he could take a drink. As we had 
only a limited supply, to be used to dilute the snow-water, 
we were obliged to refuse him. 

At 8000 feet we struck our first snowdrift, into which 
the donkeys sank' up to their bodies. It required our 
united efforts to lift them out, and half carry them across. 
Then on we climbed till ten o'clock, to a point about 9000 
feet, where Ave stopped for lunch in a quiet mountain 
glen, by the side of a rippling mountain rill. This snow- 
water we drank with raki. The view in the mean time 
had been growing more and more extensive. The plain 
before us had lost nearly all its detail and (jolor, and was 
merged into one vast whole. Though less picturesque, it 
was incomparably grander. Now we could see how, in 
ages past, the lava had burst out of the lateral fissures in 
the mountain, and flowed in huge streams for miles down 
the slope, and out on the plain below. These l)eds of lava 
were gradually broken up ])y the action of the elements, 
and now presented the appearance of ridges of broken 
volcanic rocks of the most varied and fantastic shapes. 

It was here that the muleteer showed evident signs of 
weakening, which later on developed into a total collapse. 
We had come to a Inroad snow-field where the donkeys 
stuck fast and rolled over helpless in the snow. Even 
after we had unstrapped their baggage and carried it 
over on our shoulders, they could make no headway. The 
muleteer gave up in despair, and refused even to help us 
carry our loads to the top of an adjoining hill, whither 
the zaptiehs had proceeded to wait for us. In conse- 



68 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

quence, Raffl and we were compelled to carry two donkey- 
loads of baggage for half a mile over the snow-beds and 
boulders, followed by the sulking muleteer, who had de- 
serted his donkeys, rather than be left alone himself. On 
reaching the zaptiehs, we sat down to hold a council on 
the situation ; but the clouds, which, dimng the day, had 
occasionally obscm^ed the top of the mountain, now began 
to thicken, and it was not long before a shower compelled 
us to beat a hasty retreat to a neighboring ledge of rocks. 
The clouds that were rolling betAveen us and the moun- 
tain summit seemed but a token of the storm of circum- 
stances. One thing was certain, the muleteer could go 
no farther up the mountain, and yet he was mortally 
afraid to return alone to the Kurdish rol)bers. He sat 
down, and began to cry like a child. This i)redicament of 
their accomplice furnished the zaptiehs with a plausible 
excuse. They now absolutely refused to go any farther 
without him. Om* interpreter, the Greek, again joined the 
majority ; he Avas not going to risk the ascent without the 
Turkish guards, and ])esides, he had noAV come to the con- 
clusion that we had not sufficient l^lankets to spend a 
night at so high an altitude. Disappointed, but not dis- 
couraged, we gazed at the silent old gentleman at our 
side. In his determined countenance we read liis answer. 
Long shall we remember Ignaz Raffl as one of the pluck- 
iest, most persevering of old mi^i. 

There was now only one plan that could be pursued. 
Selecting from our supplies one small blanket, a felt mat, 
two long, stout ropes, enough food to last us two days, a 
bottle of cold tea, and a can of Turkish raki, we packed 
them into two bundles to strap on our l)acks. We then 
instructed the rest of the party to return to the Kurdish 
encampment and await our return. The sky was again 
clear at 2 : 30 p. m., when we bade good-by to our woi-th- 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 



69 



less comrades and resumed the ascent. We were now at 
a height of nine thousand feet, and it was our plan to 
camp at a point far enough up the mountain to enable us 
to complete the ascent on the following day, and return 
to the Kurdish encampment by nightfall. Beyond us was 
a region of snow and barren rocks, among which we still 
saw a small purple flower and bunches of Hchens, which 
grew more rare as we advanced. Our course continued 




LITTLE ARARAT COMES INTO VIEW. 



in a northeast direction, toward the main southeast ridge 
of the mountain. Sometimes we were floundering with 
our heavy loads in the deep snow-beds, or scrambling on 
hands and knees over the huge boulders of the rocky 
seams. Two hours and a half of climbing brought us to 
the crest of the main southeast ridge, about one thousand 
feet below the base of the precipitous dome. At this point 
our course changed from noi-theast to northwest, and con- 



70 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

tinned so dnring the rest of the ascent. Little Ararat 
was now in full view. We eonld even distinguish npon 
its northwest side a deep-cnt gorge, which was not visible 
before. Upon its smooth and perfect slopes remained 
only the tatters of its last wintei^'s garments. We could 
also look far out over the Sardarbulakh ridge, which con- 
nects the two Ararats, and on which the Cossacks are en- 
camped. It was to them that the mutessarif had desired 
us to go, but we had subsequently determined to make 
the ascent directly from the Turkish side. 

Following up this southeast ridge we came at 5 : 45 p. M. 
to a point about eleven thousand feet. Here the ther- 
mometer registered 39° Fahrenheit, and was constantly 
falling. If we should continue on, the cold during the 
night, especially with our scanty clothing, would become 
intolerable ; and then, too, we could scarcely find a spot 
level enough to sleep on. We therefore determined to 
stop here for the night, and to continue the ascent at 
dawn. Some high, rugged crags on the ridge above us 
attracted our attention as affording a comparatively pro- 
tected lodging. Among these we spread our carpet, and 
piled stones in the intervening sx)aces to form a complete 
inclosure. Thus busily engaged, we failed for a time to 
realize the grandeur of the situation. Over the vast and 
misty panorama that spread out before us, the lingering 
rays of the setting sun shed a tinge of gold, which was 
communicated to the snowy beds around us. Behind the 
peak of Little Ararat a brilliant rainbow stretched in one 
grand archway above tlie weeping clouds. But this was 
only one turn of nature's kaleidoscope. The arch soon 
faded away, and the shadows lengthened and deepened 
across the plain, and mingled, till all was lost to view 
behind the falling curtains of the night. The Kurdish 
tents far down the slope, and the white curling smoke 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 71 

from their evening camp-fires, we could see no more ; only 
the occasional bark of a dog was borne upward through 
the impenetrable darkness. 

Colder and colder grew the atmosphere. From 39° the 
thermometer gradually fell to 36° to 33^, and during the 
night dropped below freezing-point. The snow, which 
fell from the clouds just over our heads, covered our fru- 
gal supper-table, on which were placed a few hard-boUed 
eggs, some tough Turkish bread, cheese, and a bottle of 
tea mixed with raki. Ice-tea was no doubt a luxury at 
this time of the year, but not on Mount Ararat, at the 
height of eleven thousand feet, with the temperature at 
freezing-point. M. Raf& was as cheerful as could be ex- 
pected under the circumstances. He expressed his delight 
at our progress thus far ; and now that we were free from 
our " gentlemen " attendants, he considered our chances 
for success much brighter. We turned in together under 
our single blanket, with the old gentleman between us. 
He had put on every article of clotliing, including gloves, 
hat, hood, cloak, and heavy shoes. For pillows we used 
the provision-bags and camera. The bottle of cold tea 
we buttoned up in our coats to prevent it from freezing. 
On both sides, and above us, lay the pure white snow j be- 
low us a huge abyss, into which the rocky ridge descended 
like a darkened stairway to the lower regions. The awful 
stiQness was unbroken, save by the whistling of the wind 
among the rocks. Dark masses of clouds seemed to beai' 
down upon us every now and then, opening up their trap- 
doors, and letting down a heavy fall of snow. The heat 
of our bodies melted the ice beneath us, and our clothes 
became saturated with ice- water. Although we were sur- 
rounded by snow and ice, we were suffering with a burn- 
ing thirst. Since separating from our companions we had 
found no water whatever, while the single bottle of cold 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 73 

tea we had must be preserved for the morrow. Sleep, 
under such circumstances, and in our cramped position, 
was utterly impossible. At one o'clock the morning star 
peeped above the eastern horizon. This we watched hour 
after hour, as it rose in unrivaled beauty toward the ze- 
nith, until at last it began to fade away in the first gray 
streaks of the morning. 

By the light of a flickering candle we ate a hurried 
breakfast, fastened on our spiked shoes, and strapped to 
our backs a few indispensable ai'ticles, leaving the rest of 
our baggage at the camp until our return. Just at day- 
break, 3 : 55 A. M., on the 4th of July, we started off on 
what proved to be the hardest day's work we had ever 
accomplished. We struck out at once across the broad 
snow-field to the second rock rib on the right, which 
seemed to lead up to the only line of rocks above. The 
surface of these large snow-beds had frozen during the 
night, so that we had to cut steps with our ice-picks to 
keep from slipping down their glassy surface. Up this 
ridge we slowly climbed for three weary hours, leaping 
from boulder to boulder, or dragging oui'selves up their 
precipitous sides. The old gentleman halted frequently 
to rest, and showed e\ident signs of weariness. "It is 
hard ; we must take it slowly," he would say (in German) 
whenever oiu' impatience would get the better of our pru- 
dence. At seven o'clock we reached a point about 13,500 
feet, beyond which there seemed to be nothing but the 
snow-covered slope, with only a few projecting rocks 
along the edge of a tremendous gorge which now broke 
upon our astonished gaze. Toward this we directed our 
course, and, an hour later, stood upon its very verge. Our 
venerable companion now looked up at the precipitous 
slope above us, where only some stray, projecting rocks 
were left to guide us through the wilderness of snow. 




NKARIMG TtlE HHflD OF TH K GREAT CHAsM. 



though the old gentleman waii opposed to the aseeiit in 
the firiit iiistaiiee^ hi^; old Ali)ine ^lAiit arose within hini 
with all its former vigor wlieu once he had started np the 
mountain slope ; and now, when almost in sight of the 




THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 75 

very goal, his strength began to fail him. After much 
persuasion and encouragement, he finally said that if he 
could get half an home's rest and sleep, he thought he 
would be able to continue. We then wrapped him up in 
his greatcoat, and dug out a comfortable bed in the snow, 
while one of us sat down, with back against him, to keep 
him from rolling down the mountain-side. 

We were now on the chasm's brink, looking down into 
its unfathomable dei)ths. This gigantic rent, hundreds 
of feet in width and thousands in depth, indicates that 
northwest-southeast line along which the volcanic forces 
of Ararat have acted most powerfully. This fissure is 
perhaps the greatest with which the mountain is seamed, 
and out of which has undoubtedly been discharged a great 
portion of its lava. Starting from the base of the dome, 
it seemed to pierce the shifting clouds to a point about 
500 feet from the summit. This line is continued out 
into the plain in a series of small volcanoes the craters of 
which appear to be as perfect as though they had been in 
activity only yesterday. The solid red and yellow rocks 
which lined the sides of the great chasm projected above 
the opposite brink in jagged and appalling cliffs. The 
whole was incased in a mass of huge fantastic icicles, 
which, glittering in the sunlight, gave it the appearance 
of a natural crystal palace. No more fitting place than 
this could the fancy of the Kurds depict for the home of 
the terrible jinn ; no better symbol of nature for the awful 
jaws of death. 

Our companion now awoke considerably refreshed, 
and the ascent was continued close to the chasm's brink. 
Here were the only rocks to be seen in the vast snow-bed 
around us. Cautiously we proceed, with cat-like tread, 
following directly in one another's footsteps, and holding 
on to our alpenstocks like grim death. A loosened rock 



76 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

would start at first slowly, gain momentum, and fairly 
fly. Striking against some projecting ledge, it would 
bound a hundred feet or more into the air, and then drop 
out of sight among the clouds below. Every few moments 
we would stop to rest ; our knees were like lead, and the 
high altitude made breathing difficult. Now the trail of 
rocks led us within two feet of the chasm's edge; we 
approached it cautiously, probing well for a rock founda- 
tion, and gazing with dizzy heads into the abyss. 

The slope became steeper and steeper, until it abutted 
in an almost precipitous cliff coated with snow and glisten- 
ing ice. There was no escape from it, for all around the 
snow-beds were too steep and slippery to venture an as- 
cent upon them. Cutting steps with our ice-picks, and 
half-crawling, half-dragging ourselves, with the alpen- 
stocks hooked into the rocks above, we scaled its height, 
and advanced to the next abutment. Now a cloud, as 
warm as exhausted steam, enveloped us iu the midst of 
this ice and snow. When it cleared away, the sun was 
reflected with intenser brightness. Our faces were already 
smarting with blisters, and our dark glasses afforded but 
little protection to our aching eyes. 

At 11 A. M. we sat down on the snow to eat our last 
morsel of food. The cold chicken and bread tasted like 
sawdust, for we had no saliva with which to masticate 
them. Our single bottle of tea had given out, and we 
suffered with thirst for several hours. Again the word 
to start was given. We rose at once, but oiu' stiffened 
legs quivered beneath us, and we leaned on our alpen- 
stocks for support. Still we plodded on for two more 
weary hours, cutting our steps in the icy cliffs, or sinking 
to our thighs in the treacherous snow-beds. We could 
see that we were neanng the top of the gi'cat chasm, for 
the clouds, now entirely cleared away, left our view un- 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 77 

obstructed. We could even descry the black Kurdish 
tents upon the northeast slope, and, far below, the Aras 
River, like a streak of silver, threading its way into the 
purple distance. The atmosphere about us grew colder, 
and we buttoned up our now too scanty garments. We 
must be nearing the top, we thought, and yet we were not 
certain, for a huge, precipitous cliff, just in front of us, 
cut off the view. 

" Slowly, slowly," feebly shouted the old gentleman, as 
we began the attack on its precipitous sides, now stop- 
ping to brush away the treacherous snow, or to cut some 
steps in the solid ice. We pushed and pulled one another 
almost to the top, and then, with one more desperate 
effort, we stood upon a vast and gradually sloping snow- 
bed. Down we plunged above our knees through the 
yielding surface, and staggered and fell with failing 
strength ; then rose once more and plodded on, until at 
last we sank exhausted upon the top of Ararat. 

For a moment only we lay gasping for breath; then 
a full realization of our situation dawned upon us, and 
fanned the few faint sparks of enthusiasm that remained 
in our exhausted bodies. We unfurled upon an alpen- 
stock the small silk American flag that we had brought 
from home, and for the first time the " stars and stripes " 
was given to the breeze on the Mountain of the Ark. 
Four shots fii-ed from our revolvers in commemoration 
of Independence Day broke the stillness of the gorges. 
Far above the clouds, which were rolling below us over 
three of the most absolute monarchies in the world, was 
celebrated in our simple way a great event of repubU- 
canism. 

Mount Ararat, it will be observed from the accompany- 
ing sketch, has two tops, a few hundred yards apart, slop- 
ing, on the eastern and western extremities, into rather 



78 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



prominent abutments, and separated by a snow valley, or 
depression, from 50 to 100 feet in depth. The eastern 
top, on which we were standing, was quite extensive, and 




ON THE SUMMIT OF MOINT AKAKAT — FIKING THE FOURTH OF JULY SALUTE. 



30 to 40 feet lower than its western neighbor. Both tox)S 
are hummocks on the huge dome of Ararat, like the 
humps on the back of a camel, on neither one of which 
is there a vestige of anything but snow. 

There remained just as little trace of the crosses left by 
Parrot and Chodzko, as of the ark itself. We remem- 
bered the pictures we had seen in our nursery-books, 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 79 

which represented this mountain-top covered with green 
grass, and Noah stepping out of the ark, in the bright, 
warm sunshine, before the receding waves j and now we 
looked around and saw this very spot covered with per- 
petual snow. Nor did we see any evidence whatever of 
a former existing crater, except perhaps the snow-filled 
depression we have just mentioned. There was notliing 
about this perpetual snow-field, and the freezing atmo- 
sphere that was chilling us to the bone, to remind us that 
we were on the top of an extinct volcano tliat once trem- 
bled with the convulsions of subterranean heat. 

The view from this towering height was immeasurably 
extensive, and almost too grand. All detail was lost — 
all color, all outline; even the surrounding mountains 
seemed to be but excrescent ridges of the plain. Then, 
too, we could catch only occasional glimpses, as the clouds 
shifted to and fro. At one time they opened up beneath 
us, and revealed the Aras valley with its glittering ribbon 
of silver at an abysmal depth below. Now and then we 
could descry the black volcanic peaks of Ali Ghez forty 
miles away to the northwest, and on the southwest the 
low mountains that obscured the town of Bayazid. Of 
the Caucasus, the mountains about Erzerum on the west, 
and Lake Van on the south, and even of the Caspian Sea, 
all of which are said to be in Ararat's horizon, we could 
see absolutely nothing. 

Had it been a clear day we could have seen not only 
the rival peaks of the Caucasus, which for so many years 
formed the northern wall of the civilized world, but, far 
to the south, we might have descried the mountains of 
Quardu land, where Chaldean legend has placed the land- 
ing of the ark. We might have gazed, in philosophic 
mood, over the whole of the Aras valley, which for 3000 
years or more has been the scene of so much misery and 



80 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

conflict. As monuments of two extreme events in this 
historic period, two spots might have attracted our atten- 
tion — one right below us, the ruins of Artaxata, which, 
according to tradition, was built, as the story goes, after 
the plans of the roving conqueror Hannibal, and stonned 
by the Roman legions, A. d. 58 j and farther away to the 
north, the modern fortress of Kars, which so recently re- 
verberated with the thunders of the Turkish war. 

We were suddenly aroused by the rumbling of thunder 
below us. A storm was rolling rapidly up the southeast 
slope of the mountain. The atmosphere seemed to be 
boiling over the heated plain below. Higher and higher 
came the clouds, rolling and seething among the grim 
crags along the chasm j and soon we were caught in its 
embrace. The thermometer dropped at once below freez- 
ing-point, and the dense mists, driven against us by the 
hurricane, formed icicles on our blistered faces, and froze 
the ink in our fountain-pens. Our summer clothing was 
wholly inadequate for such an unexpected experience j we 
were chilled to the bone. To have remained where we 
were would have been jeopardizing our health, if not our 
lives. Although we could scarcely see far enough ahead 
to follow back on the track by which we had ascended, 
yet we were obliged to attempt it at once, for the storm 
around us was increasing every moment 5 we could even 
feel the charges of electricity whenever we touched the 
iron points of our alpenstocks. 

Carefully peering through the clouds, we managed to 
follow the trail we had made along the gradually sloping 
summit, to the head of the great chasm, which now ap- 
peared more terrible than ever. We here saw that it 
would be extremely perilous, if not actually impossible, 
to attempt a descent on the rocks along its treacherous 
edge in such a humcane. The only alternative was to 



THE ASCENT OF MOUNT ARARAT 81 

take the precipitous snow-covered slope. Planting our 
ice-hooks deep in the snow behind us, we started. At 
first the strong head wind, which on the top almost took 
us off our feet, somewhat checked our downward career, 
but it was not long before we attained a velocity that 
made our hair stand on end. It was a thrilling experi- 
ence ; we seemed to be sailing through the air itself, for 
the clouds obscured the slope even twenty feet below. 
Finally we emerged beneath them into the glare of the 
afternoon sunlight ; but on we dashed for 6000 feet, lean- 
ing heavily on the trailing-stocks, which threw up an icy 
spray in our wake. We never once stopped until we 
reached the bottom of the dome, at oui* last night^s camp 
among the rocks. 

In less than an hour we had dashed down through a 
distance which it had taken us nine and a half hours to 
ascend. The camp was reached at 4 p. m., just twelve 
hours from the time we left it. Gathering up the remain- 
ing baggage, we hurried away to continue the descent. 
We must make desperate efforts to reach the Kurdish en- 
campment by nightfall ; for during the last twenty-seven 
hours we had had nothing to drink but half a pint of tea, 
and our thirst by this time became almost intolerable. 

The large snow-bed down which we had been sliding 
now began to show signs of treachery. The snow, at this 
low altitude, had melted out from below, to supply the 
subterranean streams, leaving only a thin crust at the 
sm'f ace. It was not long before one of our party fell into 
one of these pitfalls up to his shoulders, and floundered 
about for some time before he could extricate himself 
from his unexpected snow-bath. 

Over the rocks and boulders the descent was much 
slower and more tedious. For two hours we were thus 
busily engaged, when all at once a shout rang out in the 
6 



82 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

clear evening air. Looking up we saw, sure enough, our 
two zaptiehs and muleteer on the very spot where we had 
left them the evening before. Even the two donkeys were 
on hand to give us a welcoming bray. They had come 
up from the encampment early in the morning, and had 
been scanning the mountain all day long to get some clue 
to oui' whereabouts. They reported that they had seen 
us at one time during the morning, and had then lost 
sight of us among the clouds. This solicitude on their 
part was no doubt prompted by the fact that they were 
to be held by the mutessarif of Bayazid as personally re- 
sponsible for our safe return, and perhaps, too, by the 
hope that they might thus rc^trieve the good gi*aces they 
had lost the day before, and thereby increase the amount 
of the forthcoming ])aksheesh. Nothing, now, was too 
heavy for the donkeys, and even the zaptiehs themselves 
condescended to relieve us of our alpenstocks. 

That night we sat again around the Kurdish camp-fire, 
surrounded by the same group of curious faces. It was 
interesting and even amusing to watch the bewildered 
astonishment that overspread their countenances as we 
related our experiences along tlie slope, and then upon 
the very top, of Ak-Dagh. They listened throughout with 
profound attention, then looked at one another in sUence, 
and gravely shook their heads. They could not beheve 
it. It was impossible. Old Ai-arat stood above us grim 
and terri})le beneath the twinkling stars. To them it was, 
as it always will be, the same mysterious, untrodden height 
— the palace of the jinn. 



Ill 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 

"TT is all bosh/' was the all but universal opinion of 
J- Bayazid in regard to oui* alleged ascent of Ararat. 
None but the Persian consul and the mutessarif himself 
deigned to profess a belief in it, and the gift of several 
letters to Persian officials, and a sumptuous dinner on 
the eve of our departure, went far toward proving their 
sincerity. 

On the morning of July 8, in company with a body- 
guard of zaptiehs, which the mutessarif forced upon us, 
we wheeled down from the ruined embattlements of Bay- 
azid. The assembled rabble raised a lusty cheer at part- 
ing. An hour later we had surmounted the Kazlee Gool, 
and the " land of Iran '' was before us. At our feet lay 
the Turco-Persian battle-plains of Chaldiran, spreading 
like a desert expanse to the parched barren hills beyond, 
and dotted here and there with clumps of trees in the 
village oases. And this, then, was the land where, as the 
poets say, " the nightingale sings, and the rose-tree blos- 
soms," and where ^^ a flower is crushed at every step ! " 
More ti*uth, we thought, in the Scotch traveler's descrip- 
tion, which divides Persia into two portions — " One desert 
with salt, and the other desert without salt." In time we 
came to McGregor's opinion as expressed in his descrip- 

83 



84 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLB 



tio]i of Kliorassiiii. " We should f aiic'.j/- ^aUl be, " a siiiall 
green cirele roiiiid every village indicated on tlie uuip, aiid 
shade all the rest in browii,'^ The mighty hosts whose 
onwaiii sweep fi*oiu the IiadiLS westward was cheeked only 



-■ \ 



4^ 



HAH VEST SCENIC NBAU KHOI. 



I 



by the Grrecian phalanx upon the field of Marathon must 
have come from the seattei*ed ruins ai-ound, which re* 
minded ns that ^' Iran was ; she is no more.'' Those 
injT-iad ranks of Yengliiz Khan and Tamerlane hi'onght 
death and desolation from Tnrau f r> Imn^ which so often 
met to act and react upon one another that both are now 
only landmai*ks in the sea of ohli\^(>n. 

Our honoraiy escort accompanied \m scvei'al mih\s over 
the Viorder to the Pei*sian village of Kilhssakend, and thei-e 
committed ns to the hospitahty of the district khan, with 
whom is'c managed to convei^se in the Tiirldsh language, 
which J strange to say^ we found available in all the conn- 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 85 

tries that lay in our transcontinental pathway as far as 
the great wall of China. Toward evening we rode in the 
garden of the harem of the klian, and at daybreak the 
next morning were again in the saddle. By a very early 
start we hoped to escape the burden of excessive hos- 
pitality ; in other words, to get rid of an escort that was 
an expensive nuisance. At the next village we were con- 
fronted by what appeared to be a shouting, gesticulating 
maniac. On dismounting, we learned that a harbinger 
had been sent by the khan, the evening before, to have a 
guard ready to join us as we passed through. In fact, 
two armed ferashes were galloping toward us, armed, as 
we afterward learned, with American rifles, and the usual 
Tiammaj or huge dagger, swinging from a belt of car- 
tridges. These fellows, like the zaptiehs, were fond of 
ostentation. They frequently led us a roundabout way 
to show us off to their relatives or friends in a neighbor- 
ing village. Natiu'e at last came to our deliverance. As 
we stood on a prominent ridge taking a last look at Mount 
Ararat, now more than fifty miles away, a storm came 
upon us, showering hailstones as large as walnuts. The 
ferashes with frantic steeds dashed ahead to seek a place 
of shelter, and we saw them no more. 

Five days in Persia brought us to the shores of Lake 
Ooroomeeyah, the saltest body of water in the world. 
Early the next morning we were wading the chilly waters 
of the Hadji Chai, and a few hours later found us in the 
English consulate at Tabreez, where we were received by 
the Persian secretary. The English government, it seemed, 
had become embroiled in a local love-affair just at a time 
when Colonel Stewart was off on " diplomatic duty " on 
the Russian Transcaspian border. An exceptionally bright 
Armenian beauty, a graduate of the American missionary 
schools at this place, had been abducted, it was claimed, 



BICYCLE 




by II yoimj^ Kiirdisli eavtilit'i-, tiiid carried away to lii^ 
niouiitaiii lioiiit\ Her I'atluT, wlio liappuiied to be a natu- 
ralized English siibjiM'tj bad applied for tlie ai^sistajxee of 
his adopted (i oun try in o1>t aiii Id g he r release . Negot i ati on s 
weiv at once net on foot l>etween London and Teln^ran, 
wbii'li fiiinlly led to a formiil dennind upon the Kurds by 
the Shall hinist4f, Upon their i*epeated refnsalj seven 




LBAVlKCi KHui, 



til on sand P*^rsian troc^ps, it was said, were ordered to 
Soak Boiilaky nnder tlie eomniand of the viee-eoiisid^ Mr. 
Patton. The matter at length as^snnuHl su<^h an impor- 
tance as to give rise, in the Honse (^f Commons, to tlie 
finestion, ^^ Wlio is Katty Greontield 1 " This, in time, 
was answered hj that lady herself, who declared nnder 
oath that she liad liecome a M^ihaminedan, and was in 
love %vitli the man with whom she had eloped. More 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 87 

than this, it was learned that she had not a drop of Eng- 
lish blood in her veins, her father being an Austrian, and 
her mother a native Armenian. Whereupon the Persian 
troopers, with their much disgusted leader, beat an in- 
glorious retreat, leaving " Katty Greenfield " mistress of 
the situation, and of a Kurdish heart. 

In Tabreez there is one object sure to attract attention. 
This is the " Ark," or ancient fortified castle of the Per- 
sian rulers. High on one of the sides, which a recent 
earthquake lias rent from top to bottom, tliere is a little 
porch wlien(».e these Persian " Bluebeards," or rather Red- 
beards, were wont to hurl unruly members of the harem. 
Under the shadow of these gloomy walls was enacted a 
tragedy of tliis century. Ba])ism is by no means the only 
heresy that has sprung from the speculative genius of 
Persia ; but it is the one that has most deeply moved the 
society of the present age, and the one which still obtains, 
though in secret and without a leader. Its founder, Seyd 
Mohammed Ali, better known as Bab, or ^^ Gate," promul- 
gated the doctrine of anarchy to the extent of " sparing 
the rod and spoiling the child," and still worse, perhaps, 
of refusing to the ladies no finery that might be at all 
becoming to their person. While not a communist, as 
he has sometimes been wrongly classed, he exhorted the 
wealthy to regard themselves as only trustees of the poor. 
With no thought at first of acquiring civil power, he and 
his rapidly increasing following were driven to revolt by 
the persecuting mollas, and the sanguinary struggle of 
1848 followed. Bab himself was captured, and carried 
to this "most fanatical city of Persia," the burial-place 
of the sons of Ali. On this very spot a company was 
ordered to despatch him with a volley; but when the 
smoke cleared away, Bab was not to be seen. None of 
the bullets had gone to the mark, and the bird had flown 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 89 

— but not to the safest refuge. Had he finally escaped, 
the miracle thus performed would have made Babism in- 
vincible. But he was recaptured and despatched, and his 
body thrown to the canine scavengers. 

Tahreez (fever-dispelling) was a misnomer in our case. 
Our sojourn here was prolonged for more than a month 
by a slight attack of typhoid fever, which this time seized 
Sachtleben, and again the kind nursing of the missionary 
ladies hastened recovery. Our mail, in the mean time, 
having been ordered to Teheran, we were granted the 
privilege of intercepting it. For this purpose we were 
permitted to overhaul the various piles of letters strewn 
over the dirty floor of the distributing-office. Both the 
Turkish and Persian mail is carried in saddle-bags on the 
backs of reinless horses driven at a rapid gallop before 
the mounted mail-carrier or herdsman. Owing to the 
carelessness of the postal officials, legations and consu- 
lates employ special couriers. 

The proximity of Tabreez to the Russian border makes 
it politically, as well as commercially, one of the most 
important cities in Persia. For this reason it is the place 
of residence of the Emir-e-Nizam (leader of the army), or 
prime minister, as well as the Vali-Ahd, or Prince Impe- 
rial. This prince is the Russian candidate, as opposed 
to the English candidate, for the prospective vacancy on 
the throne. Both of these dignitaries invited us to visit 
them, and showed much interest in our " wonderful wind 
horses," of the speed of which exaggerated reports had 
circulated through the country. We were also favored 
with a special letter for the journey to the capital. 

On this stage we started August 15, stopping the first 
night at Turkmanchai, the little village where was signed 
the famous treaty of 1828 by virtue of which the Caspian 
Sea became a Russian lake. The next morning we were 



90 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

on the road soon after daybreak, and on approaching the 
next village overtook a curious cavalcade, just conclud- 
ing a long night's journey. This consisted of a Persian 
palanquin, with its long pole-shafts saddled upon the 
back of a mule at each end ; with servants on foot, and a 
body-guard of mounted soldiers. The occupant of this 
peculiar conveyance remained concealed throughout the 
stampede which our sudden appearance occasioned among 
his hearse-bearing nudes, for as such they will appear in 
the sequel. In our first article we mentioned an interview 
in London with Malcolm Khan, the representative of the 
Shah at the court of St. James. Since then, it seemed, he 
had fallen into disfavor. During the late visit of the Shah 
to England certain members of his retinue were so young, 
both in appearance and conduct, as to be a source of mor- 
tification to the Europeanized minister. This reached the 
ears of the Shah some time after his return home ; and a 
summons was sent for the accused to repair to Teheran. 
Malcolm Khan, however, was too well versed in Oriental 
craft to fall into such a trap, and announced his purpose 
to devote his future leisure to airing his knowledge of 
Persian politics in the London press. The Persian Min- 
ister of Foreign Affairs, Musht-a-Sliar-el-Dowlet, then re- 
siding at Tabreez, who was accused of carrying on a sedi- 
tious correspondence with Malcolm Khan, was differently 
situated, unfortunately. It was during our sojourn in 
that city that his palatial household was raided by a party 
of soldiers, and he was carried to prison as a common 
felon. Being imable to pay the high price of pardon that 
was demanded, he was forced away, a few days before 
our departure, on that dreaded journey to the capital, 
which few, if any, ever complete. For on the way they 
are usually met by a messenger, who proffers them a cup 
of coffee, a sword, and a rope, from which they are to 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 91 

choose the method of their doom. This, then, was the 
occupant of the mysterious palanquin, which now was 
opened as we drew up before the village caravansary. 
Out stepped a man, tall and portly, with beard and hair 




THE CONVEYANCE OF A PERSIAN OFFICIAL TRAVELING IN DISGRACE TO TEHERAN AT 
THE CALL OF THE SHAH. 



of venerable gray. His keen eye, clear-cut features, and 
dignified bearing, bespoke for him respect even in his 
downfall, while his stooped shoulders and haggard coun- 
tenance betrayed the weight of sorrow and sleepless nights 
with which he was going to his tomb. 

At Miana, that town made infamous by its venomous 
insect, is located one of the storage-stations of the Indo- 
European Telegraph Company. Its straight lines of iron 
poles, which we followed veiy closely from Tabreez to 
Teheran, form only a link in that great wire and cable 
chain which connects Melbourne with London. We spent 
the following night in the German operator's room. 

The weakness of the Persian for mendacity is prover- 
bial. One instance of this national weakness was attended 
with considerable inconvenience to us. By some mis- 
chance we had run by the village where we intended to 
stop for the night, which was situated some distance off 
the road. Meeting a Persian lad, we inquired the dis- 



92 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

tance. He was ready at once with a cheerful falsehood. 
" One farsak " (four miles), he replied, although he must 
have known at the time that the village was already be- 
hind us. On we pedaled at an increased rate, in order 
to precede, if possible, the approaching darkness j for al- 
though traditionally the land of a double dawn, Persia has 
only one twilight, and that closely merged into sunset and 
darkness. One, two farsaks were placed behind us, and 
still there was no sign of a human habitation. At length 
darkness fell ; we were obliged to dismount to feel our 
way. By the gradually rising ground, and the rocks, we 
knew we were off the road. Dropping our wheels, we 
groped round on hands and knees, to find, if possible, 
some trace of water. With a l)urning thirst, a chilling 
atmosphere, and swarms of mosquitos biting through our 
clothing, we could not sleep. A slight drizzle began to 
descend. During our gloomy vigil we were glad to hear 
the sounds of a caravan, toward which we groped our 
way, discerning, at length, a long line of camels march- 
ing to the music of their lantern-bearing leader. When 
our nickel-plated bars and white helmets flashed in the 
lantern-light, there was a shriek, and the lantern fell to 
the ground. The rear-guard rushed to the front with 
drawn weapons ; but even they started back at the sound 
of our voices, as we attempted in broken Turkish to reas- 
sure them. Explanations were made, and the camels soon 
quieted. Thereupon we were surrounded with lanterns 
and firebrands, while the remainder of the caravan party 
was called to the front. Finally we moved on, walking 
side by side with the lantern-bearing leader, who ran 
ahead now and then to make sure of the road. The 
night was the blackest we had ever seen. Suddenly one 
of the camels disappeared in a ditch, and rolled o^^er with 
a groan. Fortunately, no bones were broken, and the load 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 93 

was replaced. But we were off the road, and a search 
was begun with lights to find the beaten path. Footsore 
and hungiy, with an almost intolerable thirst, we trudged 
along till morning, to the ding-dong, ding-dong of the 
deep-toned camel-bells. Finally we reached a sluggish 
river, but did not dare to satisfy our thirst, except by 
washing out our mouths, and by taking occasional swal- 
lows, with long intervals of rest, in one of which we fell 
asleep from sheer exhaustion. When we awoke the mid- 
day sun was shining, and a party of Persian travelers was 
bending over us. 

From the high lands of Azerbeidjan, where, strange to 
say, nearly all Persian pestilences arise, we dropped sud- 
denly into the Kasveen plain, a portion of that triangular, 
dried-up basin of the Persian Mediterranean, now for the 
most part a sandy, saline desert. The argillaceous dust 
accumulated on the Kasveen plain by the weathering of 
the surrounding uplands resembles in appearance the 
" yellow earth " of the Hoang Ho district in China, but 
remains sterile for the lack of water. Even the little 
moisture that obtains beneath the surface is sapped by 
the Mnofs, or underground canals, which bring to the 
fevered lips of the desert oases the fresh, cool springs of 
the Elburz. These are dug with unerring instinct, and 
preserved with jealous care by means of shafts or slant- 
ing wells dug at regular intervals across the plain. Into 
these we would occasionally descend to relieve our reflec- 
tion-burned — or, as a Persian would say, "snow-burned" 
— faces, while the thermometer above stood at 120^ in the 
shade. 

Over the level ninety-mile stretch between Kasveen and 
the capital a so-called carriage-road has recently been con- 
structed close to the base of the mountain. A sudden 
turn round a mountain-spur, and before us was presented 



94 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

to view Mount Demavend and Teheran. Soon the paved 
streets, sidewalks, lamp-posts, street-railways, and even 
steam-tramway, of the half modern capital were as much 
of a surprise to us as our " wind horses ^' were to the curi- 
ous crowds that escorted us to the French Hotel. 

From Persia it was our plan to enter Russian central 
Asia, and thence to proceed to China or Siberia. To enter 




A PERSIAN KEl'AIKING THE WHEELS OF HIS WAGON. 

the Transcaspian territory, the border-province of the 
Russian possessions, the sanction of its governor. General 
Kuropatkine, would be quite sufficient j but for the rest 
of the journey through Turkestan the Russian minister 
in Teheran said we would have to await a general per- 
mission from St. Petersburg. Six weeks were spent with 
our English and American acquaintances, and still no 
answer was received. Winter was coming on, and some- 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 95 

thing had to be done at once. If we were to be debarred 
from a northern route, we would have to attempt a pass- 
age into India either through Afglianistan, which we were 
assured by all was quite impossible, or across the deserts 
of southern Persia and Baluchistan. For this latter we 
had already obtained a possible route from the noted 
traveler. Colonel Stewart, whom we met on his way back 
to his consular post at Tabreez. But just at this juncture 
the Russian minister advised another plan. In order to 
save time, he said, we might proceed to Meshed at once, 
and if our permission was not telegraphed to us at that 
point, we could then turn soutli to Baluchistan as a last 
resort. This, our friends unanimously declared, was a 
Muscovite trick to evade an absolute refusal. The Rus- 
sians, they assured us, would never permit a foreign in- 
spection of their doings on the Afghan border; and 
furthermore, we would never be able to cross the unin- 
habited deserts of Baluchistan. Against all protest, we 
waved " farewell " to the foreign and native throng which 
had assembled to see us off, and on October 5 wheeled out 
of the fortified square on the ^' Pilgrim Road to Meshed." 
Before us now lay six hundred miles of barren hills, 
swampy kevirs, brier-covered wastes, and salty deserts, 
with here and there some kanot-fed oases. To the south 
lay the lifeless desert of Lutli, the " Persian Sahara," the 
humidity of which is the lowest yet recorded on the face 
of the globe, and compared with which " the Gobi of China 
and the Kizil-Kum of central Asia are fertile regions." It 
is our extended and rather unique experience on the former 
of these two that prompts us to refrain from further de- 
scription of desert travel here, where the hardships were 
in a measure ameliorated by frequent stations, and by 
the use of cucumbers and pomegranates, both of which 
we carried with us on the long desert stretches. Melons, 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 97 

too, the finest we have ever seen in any land, frequently 
obviated the necessity of drinking the strongly brackish 
water. 

Yet this experience was sufficient to impress us with the 
fact that the national poets, Hafiz and Sadi, like Thomas 
Moore, have sought in fancy what the land of Iran denied 
them. Those ^' spicy groves, echoing with the nightin- 
gale's song," those " rosy bowers and purling brooks," on 
the whole exist, so far as our experience goes, only in the 
poet's dream. 

Leaving on the right the sand-swept ruins of Veramin, 
that capital of Persia before Teheran was even thought 
of, we traversed the pass of Sir-Dara, identified by some 
as the famous ^' Caspian Gate," and early in the evening 
entered the village of Aradan. The usual crowd hemmed 
us in on all sides, yelling, " Min, min ! " (" Ride, ride ! "), 
which took the place of the Turkish refrain of " Bin, bin ! " 
As we rode toward the caravansary they shouted, " Faster, 
faster ! " and when we began to distance them, they caught 
at the rear wheels, and sent a shower of stones after us, 
denting our helmets, and bruising our coatless backs. 
This was too much; we dismounted and exhibited the 
ability to defend ourselves, whereupon they tumbled over 
one another in their haste to get away. But they were 
at our wheels again before we reached the caravansary. 
Here they surged through the narrow gangway, and 
knocked over the fruit-stands of the bazaars. 

We were shown to a room, or windowless cell, in the 
honeycomb structure that suiTounded an open quadran- 
gular court, at the time filled with a caravan of pilgrims, 
carrying triangular white and black flags, with the Per- 
sian coat of arms, the same we have seen over many door- 
ways in Persia as warnings of the danger of trespassing 
upon the religious services held within. The cadaverous 
7 



98 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



stench revealed the presence of half -dried human bones 
being carried by relatives and friends for interment in the 
sacred " City of the Silent." Thus dead bodies, in loosely 




IN A PERSIAN GKAVEYARD. 



nailed boxes, are always traveling from one end of Persia 
to the other. Among the pilgrims were blue and green 
tm'baned Saids, du^ect descendants of the Prophet, as well 
as white-turbaned moUas. All were sitting about on the 
sakoOj or raised platform, just finishing the evening meal. 
But presently one of the mollas ascended the mound in 
the middle of the stable-yard, and in the manner of the 
muezzin called to prayer. AU kneeled, and bowed their 
heads toward Mecca. Then the horses were saddled, the 
long, naiTow boxes attached upright to the pack-mules, 
and the Tcajavas, or double boxes, adjusted on the backs 
of the horses of the ladies. Into these the veiled creatures 
entered, and di-ew the curtains, while the men leaped into 
the saddle at a signal, and, with the tri-cornered flag at 
their head, the cavalcade moved out on its long night pil- 
grimage. We now learned that the village contained a 
chappar khan, one of those places of rest which have re- 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 



99 



cently been provided for the use of foreigners and others, 
who travel chappar, or by relays of post-horses. These 
structures are usually distinguished by a single room built 
on the roof, and projecting some distance over the eaves. 

To this we repaired at once. Its keeper evinced unusual 
pride in the cleanliness of his apartments, for we were 
asked to take off our shoes before entering. But while 
our boastful host was kicking up the mats to convince us 
of the tinith of his assertions, he suddenly retired behind 
the scenes to rid himself of some of the pests. 

Throughout our Asiatic tour eggs were our chief means 
of subsistence, but pillaOj or boiled rice flavored with 
grease, we found more particularly used in Persia, like 




PILGRIMS IN THE CARAVANSARY. 



yaourt in Turkey. This was prepared with chicken when- 
ever it was possible to purchase a fowl, and then we would 
usually make the discovery that a Persian fowl was either 
wingless, legless, or otherwise defective after being pre- 




ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



pared hy a Ferfdmi fuzitl, or foreigner's servant^ who, it is 
saidj "shrinks froiti no l(a!^imesK iu order to eat,'- Though 
mmua these pai^ticidai' Npx>cri<lages, it woidd inyarial>ly 
have a head ; for the fanatical Shi ah frequently snatched 




A fEBSIAN WINE-1'RESS. 



a chicken out of our hands to prevent ns from wringing 
or tihoppiiig its ]iea<l off. Even after onr meal was served, 
we would keep a sharp lookout npon the nnljhisliiiig pil- 
ferers around ns, who had called to pay their respects, 
and to fill the I'oom with clouds of smoke from their ehi- 
bonkn and gnr|j^ling kalians. Por a fanatical Slnah will 
sometimes stick his dii*ty fingers into the dishes of an 
"unbeliever," even thona'h he may subsequently throw 
away the contaminated vessel. And this extreme fanati- 
cism is to be foand in a country noted for its extensive 
latitutle in the profession of religious beliefs* 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 101 

A present from the village khan was announced. In 
stepped two men beaiing a huge tray filled with melons, 
apricots, sugar, rock-candy, nuts, pistachios, etc., all of 
which we must,"^ of course, turn over to the khan-keeper 
and his servants, and,pay double their value to the bear- 
ers, as a present. This" polffee method of extortion was 
followed the next morning b^'* one of a bolder and more 
peremptory nature. Notwithstandiiig the feast of the 
night before at our expense, and in-adxiiticli to furnishing 
us with bedclothes which we really ought to have been 
paid to sleep in, our oily host now insisted upoH -three or 
four prices for his lodgings. We refused to; pay' him 
more than a certain sum, and started to vacate thevprem*- 
ises. Thereupon he and his grown son caught hold of "our 
bicycles. Remonstrances proving of no avail, and being 
unable to force our passage through the narrow doorway 
with the bicycles in our hands, we di'opped them, and 
grappled with our antagonists. A noisy scuffle, and then 
a heavy fall ensued, but luckily we were both on the upper 
side. This unusual disturbance now brought out the in- 
mates of the adjoining anderoon. In a moment there was 
a din of feminine screams, and a flutter of garments, and 
then — a crashing of our pith hehnets beneath the blows 
of pokers and andirons. The villagers, thus aroused, came 
at last to our rescue, and at once proceeded to patch up a 
compromise. This, in view of the Amazonian reinforce- 
ments, who were standing by in readiness for a second 
onset, we were more than pleased to accept. From this 
inglorious combat we came off without serious injury; 
but with those gentle poker taps were knocked out for- 
ever all the sweet delusions of the ^* Light of the Harem." 

The great antiquity of this Teheran-Meshed road, which 
is undoubtedly a section of that former commercial high- 
way between two of the most ancient capitals in history 



102 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

— Nineveh and Balk, is very graphically shown by the 
cai'avan ruts at Lasgird. These have been worn in many 
places to a depth of foui* feet in the^ solid rock. It was 
not far beyond this i^oint that we^^Keg^n'to feel the force 
of that famous " Damghan wind^"\»(3« called from the city 
of that name. Of course Jbftis'Jfe^md was against us. In 
fact, throughout our A§iat%;toitr easterly muds prevailed ; 




CASTLE STRONGHOLD AT LASGIRD. 



and should we ever attempt another transcontinental spin 
we would have a care to travel in the opposite direction. 

Om* peculiar mode of travel subjected us to great ex- 
tremes in our mode of living. Sometimes, indeed, it was 
a change almost from the sublime to the ridiculous, and 
vice versa — from a stable or sheepfold, with a diet of figs 
and bread, and an irrigating-ditch for a lavatory, to a 
palace itself, an Oriental palace, with all the delicacies of 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 103 

the East, and a host of servants to attend to our slightest 
wish. So it was at Bostam, the residence of one of Persia's 
most influential hakims j or governors, literally, '' pillars of 
state," who was also a cousin to the Shah himself. This 
potentate we visited in company with an English engineer 
whom we met in transit at Sharoud. It was on the eve- 
ning before, when at supper with this gentleman in his 
tent, that a special messenger arrived from the governor, 
requesting us, as the invitation ran, '^ to take our bright- 
ness into his presence." As we entered, the governor rose 
from his seat on the floor, a courtesy never shown us by 
a Turkish official. Even the politest of them would, just 
at this particular moment, be (*onveniently engrossed in 
the examination of some book or paper. His courtesy 
was further extended by locking up our "horses," and 
making us his '' prisoners " until the following morning. 
At the dinner which Mr. Evans and we Avere invited to 
eat with his excellency, benclies had to l)e especially pre- 
pared, as there was nothing like a chair to be found on 
the premises. The governor himself took his accustomed 
position on the floor, with his own private dishes around 
him. From these he would occasionally fish out with his 
fingers some choice lamb Irhcibh or cabbage dolmah, and 
have it passed over to his guests — an act which is con- 
sidered one of tlie highest forms of Persian hospitality. 

With a shifting of the scenes of travel, we stood at 
sunset on the summit of the Binalud mountains, overlook- 
ing the valley of the Kashafrud. Our two weeks' journey 
was almost ended, for the city of Meshed was now in view, 
ten miles away. Around us were piles of little stones, to 
which each pious pilgrim adds liis quota when first he sees 
the " Holy Shrine," which we beheld sinning like a ball of 
fire in the glow of the setting sun. 

While we were building our p\Tainid a party of return- 




JMLjQKE;^! stone UHAPS O^EHUMJJilJJG MESiKEP. 



falling night. Dusk overtook lie as we reached the plain. 
A moving fnnn wim revealod to ua on the bank of the 
liTigatiiii^-caMal which s^kirted tliii edge at the rt^ad. Back- 
ward it fell as we dashed l>y, and then the sound of a 
splash and Hjilntter reached ns ais we disappearetl in the 
darkness. On the morrow we learned that the sphits of 
Hassan and HiiHsein were ^een ski mining the eai'tJi In theii* 
fliglib toward tlie ITuly City. We reached the briilge^ and 
crossed the moat, but the gates were closed. We knocked 
and ponnded, but a liollow echo was onr only re.sx>onse. 
At last the light of a lantern illmnined the crevices in the 
weather-beaten dooi*®, and a weird-looking face appeared 
throngh the nndway opening. " Wlio ^s there ? " said a 
voK^e^ whose sepulehi'al tones might have belonged to the 
sexton of the Holy Tomb. ^^ We are Fermghhj^ we said, 
^^and must get into the cit^^ to-night.'- *^ That is impossi- 




THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 



105 



ble," he answered, " for the gates are locked, and the keys 
have been sent away to the governor's palace.'' With tliis 
the night air grew more chill. But another thought struck 
us at once. We would send a note to General McLean, 
the English consul-general, who was already expecting 
us. This our interlocutor, for a certain inam, or Persian 
bakshish, at length agreed to deliver. The general, as we 
afterward learned, sent a servant with a special request 
to the governor's palace. Here, without delay, a squad of 
horsemen was detailed, and ordered with the keys to the 
" Herat Gate." The crowds in the streets, attracted by 
this unusual turnout at this unusual hour, followed in 
theii' wake to the scene of disturbance. There was a click 




RIDING liEKORE THE GOVERNOR AT MESHED. 



of locks, the clanking of chains, and the creaking of rusty 
hinges. The great doors swung open, and a crowd of ex- 
pectant faces received us in the Holy City. 

Meshed claims our attention chiefly for its famous dead. 
In its sacred dust lie buried our old hero Haroun al Rasch- 
id, Firdousi, Persia's gi'eatest epic poet, and the holy Imaum 



106 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



Riza, within whose shrine every criminal may take refuge 
from even tlie Shah himself until the payment of a blood- 
tax, or a debtor until the giving of a guarantee for debt. 
No infidel can enter there. 

Meshed was the pivotal point upon which our wheel of 
fortune was to turn. We were filled with no little anxiety, 
therefore, when, on the day after our arrival, we received 
an invitation to call at the Russian consulate-general. 
With great ceremony we were ushered into a suite of ele- 
gantly furnished rooms, and received by the consul-general 
and his English wife in full dress. Madame de Vlassow 
was radiant with smiles as she served us tea by the side 
of her steaming silver samovar. She could not wait for 




FEMALE PILGRIMS ON THE ROAD TO MESHED. 



the circumlocution of diplomacy, but said : ^' It is all right, 
gentlemen. General Kuropatkine has just telegraphed 
permission for you to proceed to Askabad." This precip- 
itate remark evidently disconcerted the consul, who could 
only nod his head and say, ^' Oui^ ouij^ in affirmation. 
This news lifted a heavy load from our minds ; our desert 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 



107 




IN THE GARDEN OF THE RUSSIAN CONSULATE AT MESHED. 



journey of six hundred miles, therefore, had not been made 
in vain, and the prospect brightened for a trip through 
the heart of Asia. 

Between the rival hospitality of the Russian and Eng- 
hsh consulates our health was now in jeopardy from excess 
of kindness. Among other social attentions, we received 
an invitation from Saliib Devan, the governor of Khoras- 



108 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



san, who next to the Shah is the richest man in Persia. 
Although seventy-six years of age, on the day of our visit 
to his palace he was literally covered with diamonds and 
precious stones. With the photographer to the Shah as 
German intei'preter, we spent half an hour in an interest- 
ing conversation. Among other topics he mentioned the 
receipt, a few days before, of a peculiar telegram from 
the Shah : ^' Cut off the head of any one who attempts op- 
position to the Tobacco Regie ^^ ; and this was followed a 
few days after by the inquiry, "How many heads have 
you taken ? " A retinue of about three hundred courtiers 
followed the governor as he walked out with feeble steps 




WATCH-TOWER ON THE TRANSCASPIAN RAILWAY. 



to the parade-ground. Here a company of Persian cav- 
alry was detailed to clear the field for the " wonderful steel 
horses," which, as was said, had come from the capital in 
two days, a distance of six hundred miles. The gover- 
nor's extreme pleasure was afterward expressed in a special 
letter for our joui*ney to the frontier. 



THROUaH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 



109 



The military road now completed between Askabad and 
Meshed reveals the extreme weakness of Persians defense 
against Russian aggression. Elated by her recent suc- 
cesses in the matter of a Russian consul at Meshed, Russia 




GIVING A "silent PILGRIM " A ROLL TOWARD MESHED. 



has very forcibly invited Persia to construct more than 
half of a road which, in connection with the Transcaspian 
railway, makes Khorassan almost an exclusive Russian 
market, and opens Persia's richest province to Russia's 
troops and cannon on the prospective march to Herat. 
At this veiy writing, if the telegraph speaks the truth, the 
Persian border-province of Dereguez is another cession by 
what the Russians are pleased to call their Persian vassal. 
In addition to its increasing commercial traffic, this road 
is patronized by many Shiah devotees from the north, 
among whom are what the natives term the "silent pil- 
grims." These are large stones, or boulders, rolled along 
a few feet at a time by the passers-by toward the Holy 
City. We ourselves were employed in this pious work at 
the close of our first day's journey from Meshed when we 



110 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

were suddenly aroused by a bantering voice behind us. 
Looking up, we were hailed by Stagno Navarro, the in- 
spector of the Persian telegraph, who was employed with 
his men on a neighboring line. With this gentleman we 
spent the following night in a telegraph station, and 
passed a pleasant evening chatting over the wires with 
friends in Meshed. 

Kuchan, our next stopping-place, Hes on the almost im- 
perceptible watershed which separates the Herat valley 
from the Caspian Sea. This city, only a few months ago, 
was entirely destroyed by a severe earthquake. Under 
date of January 28, 1894, the American press reported : 
" The bodies of ten thousand victims of the awful disaster 
have already been recovered. Fifty thousand cattle were 
destroyed at the same time. The once important and beau- 
tiful city of twenty thousand people is now only a scene 
of death, desolation, and terror." 

From this point to Askabad the construction of the 
military highway speaks well for Russia's engineering 
skill. It crosses the Kopet Dagh mountains over seven 
distinct passes in a distance of eighty miles. This we 
determined to cover, if possible, in one day, inasmuch as 
there was no intermediate stopping-place, and as we were 
not a little delighted by the idea of at last emerging from 
semi-barbarism into semi-civilization. At sunset we were 
scaling the fifth ridge since leaving Kuchan at daybreak, 
and a few minutes later rolled up before the Persian cus- 
tom-house in the valley below. There was no evidence 
of the proximity of a Russian frontier, except the extraor- 
dinary size of the tea-glasses, from which we slaked our 
intolerable thirst. During the day we had had a surfeit 
of cavernous gorges and commanding pinnacles, but very 
little water. The only copious spring we were able to 
find was filled at the time with the unwashed linen of a 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 



111 



Persian traveler, who sat by, smiling in derision, as we 
upbraided him for his disregard of the traveling public. 

It was already dusk when we came in sight of the Rus- 
sian custom-house, a tin-roofed, stone structure, contrast- 
ing strongly with the Persian mud hovels we had left be- 
hind. A Russian official hailed us as we shot by, but we 
could not stop on the down-grade, and, besides, darkness 





^^^^Hk^ r-F^i iBu ^^ 


% 


l^k^ 




1 


Hb«- 


.. .^-^^r*^^^... ^ ^^ 


9 



AN INTERVIEW WITH GENERAL KUROPATKINE AT THE RACES NEAR ASKABAD. 



was too rapidly approaching to brook any delay. Aska- 
bad was twenty-eight miles away, and although wearied 
by an extremely hard day's work, we must sleep that night, 
if possible, in a Russian hotel. Our pace increased with 
the growing darkness until at length we were going at 
the rate of twelve miles per hour down a narrow gorge- 
like valley toward the seventh and last ridge that lay be- 
tween us and the desert. At 9 : 30 p. m. we stood upon its 
summit, and before us stretched the sandy wastes of Kara- 
Kum, enshrouded in gloom. Thousands of feet below us 
the city of Askabad was ablaze with lights, shining like 




!"OSQl'l£ CDK'J'AINIHG THE TOMD OF TAMttHLANE AT SAMARKAND. 



imiil the shriek of a locomotive -whistle stai'tled its from 
our reveriesi;. Aei'osa the desert a train of the Traiificas- 
pian railway was gliduig smoothly along toward the city. 

A hearty welcome back to civilized life was given us 
the next eveniug by General KuropatMne liiinself, the 
Governor-General of Traui^easpia. DmiJig the com^se of 
a dinner with him aud his fritnitl^^j he kindly assured us 
that no further recomuieiidatiou waw needed than the fact 
that we wero Ainencan citizens to entitle us to travel from 
oue eud of the Russian enijare to the other. 

From Ankabad to Samarkand there was a break in the 
eoutinuity of our bicycle Journey, Our Russian friends 
persuaded us t/O take advantaofc of the Trans* asj huh i-ail- 
way^ aud not to hazaixl a junrney aci'oSEii the druade^l Ivara- 
Kum sands. Such a journey, nmde upon the railroail 
trackj where water and food were obtaiiiable at regular 



THROUGH PERSIA TO SAMARKAND 



113 



intervals, would have entailed only a small part of the 
hardships incurred on the deserts in China, yet we were 
more than anxious to reach, before the advent of winter, 
a point whence we could be assured of reaching the Pacific 
during the following season. Through the kindness of 
the railway authorities at Bokhara station our car was 
side-tracked to enable us to visit, ten miles away, that an- 
cient city of the East. On November 6 we reached Sa- 
markand, the ancient capital of Tamerlane, and the present 
terminus of the Transcaspian railway. 




CARAVANSARY AT FAKIDAOUD. 



IV 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 

ON the morning of November 16 we took a last look 
at the blue domes and minarets of Samarkand, inter- 
mingled with the ruins of palaces and tombs, and then 
wheeled away toward the banks of the Zerafshan. Our 
four days^ journey of 180 miles along the regular Russian 
post-road was attended with only the usual vicissitudes 
of ordinary travel. Wading in our Russian top-boots 
through the treacherous fords of the '' Snake " defile, we 
passed the pyramidal slate ro(»k known as the " Gate of 
Tamerlane," and emerged upon a strip of the Kizil-Kum 
steppe, stretching hence in painful monotony to the bank 
of the Sir Daria river. This we crossed by a rude rope- 
ferry, filled at the time with a passing caravan, and then 
began at once to ascend the valley of the Tchirtchick to- 
ward Tashkend. The blackened cotton which the natives 
were gathering from the fields, the lowering snow-line on 
the mountains, the muddy roads, the chilling atmosphere, 
and the falling leaves of the giant poplars — all warned 
us of the approach of winter. 

We had hoped at least to reach Vemoye, a provincial 
capital near the converging point of the Turkestan, Sibe- 
rian, and Chinese boundaries, whence we could continue, 
on the opening of the following spring, either through 

115 



lie 



ACROSS ABIA ON A BICYCLE 



Siberia or across the Chinese empire. But iu tliis we 
were doomed to tlisappoiiitmeiit. Tlie delay on the part 
of tlie Rii^smii authorities in granting us periiiissiou to 
elite r Traiiseaspia had jjostpoued at lea^it a month our 




A ttlCUOJOas DRAKA IN SAMAKJCANU. 



aiTival in Tashkeiid, and now, owing t^ the ea^ly advent 
of th*i rainy season, the roads leading nortli were ahTio^t 
impassable even for the native eai'ts, Tliis faet, together 
witli the repoi'ts of hea\7' snowfalls beyond the Alexan- 
drovski monntains, on the road tn Vernoye, lent a rather 
cogent inflnence to the persuasions of our friends to j^peiid 
the winter among tliem. 

Then, too^ such a plan^ we thought, anight not be nn- 
produetive of future ailvanta^t^s. Thus far wi^ hml been 
jounu^yiug throngli Russian territoi;v without a passport. 
We had no antlunnzation excej)t t)ie telegram to '^eome 
on/' reeeived from (-lenei'td Kuropatkine at Askabad, and 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 117 

the verbal permission of Count Rosterzsoff at Samar- 
kand to proceed to Tashkend. Furthermore, the passport 
for which we had just applied to Baron Wrevsky, the Gov- 
ernor-General of Tui'kestan, ^^ould be available only as 
far as the border of Siberia, where we should have to 
apply to the various governors-general along our course 
to the Pacific, in case we should find the route across the 
Chinese empire impracticable. A general permission to 
travel from Tashkend to the Pacific coast, through south- 
ern Siberia, could be obtained from St. Petersburg only, 
and that only through the chief executive of the province 
through which we were passing. 

Permission to enter Turkestan is by no means easily 
obtained, as is well understood by the student of Russian 
policy in central Asia. We were not a little surprised, 
therefore, when our request to spend the winter in its 
capital was graciously granted by Baron Wrevsky, as well 
as the privilege for one of us to return in the mean time 
to London. This we had determined on, in order to se- 
cure some much-needed bicycle supplies, and to complete 
other arrangements for the success of our enterprise. By 
lot the return trip fell to Sachtleben. Proceeding by the 
Transcaspian and Transcaucasus railroads, the Caspian 
and Black seas, to Constantinople, and thence by the " over- 
land express " to Belgrade, Vienna, Frankfort, and Calais, 
he was able to reach London in sixteen days. 

Tashkend, though nearly in the same latitude as New 
York, is so protected by the Alexandrovski mountains 
from the Siberian blizzards and the scorching winds of 
the Kara-Kum desert as to have an even more moderate 
climate. A tributary of the Tchirtchick river forms the 
line of demarcation between the native and the European 
portions of the city, although the population of the latter 
is by no means devoid of a native element. Both together 
8* 



ACROSS ASIA 



BICYCLE 



cover an area m extensive a^ Paris^ though the population 
is ouly 120,000j of M^liich 1UO,000 are couprregated in the 
native, or Sart, quarter. There is a floating element of 
Kashgfai'ians, Bokhariots, Per.sian£^, aud Afghans^ and a 
resident majority of Kir^^liiz, Tatars, Jews, Hindus, gj'psies, 




DUA ^ERRV OVER THE ZlfRAFSHAN. 



and Sarts, thv latter lieing a ^a^ntM-i*.* title for the urlban, 
as distingiiisheil from the uomadj people/ 

Our winter qnarters weiij ohtained at the lionie of a 
typieal Ruf4j^ian family, in eonipany with a yonng reserve 
o ffie L'r . H<^ J li tiyi ti g fi nish ed h ts n n t ver sity eai'eer and tim e 
of niiUtary sendee, was engag^ed in Tashkend in the inter- 
est uf his father^ a wholesale merchant in Moscow. With 
him we were able to converse either in French or German, 
hotli of wliieh laugnages he eoidd speak more pnrely than 
his native Rnssian. Our good-natured, corpulent host had 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 119 

€3nigrated, in the pioneer days, from the steppes of south- 
exp. Russia, and had grown wealthy through the " unearned 
increment." 

The Russian samovar is the characteristic feature of the 
Russian household. Besides a big bowl of cabbage soup 
at every meal, our Russian host would start in with a half- 
tumbler of vodka, dispose of a bottle of beer in the inter- 
vals, and then top off with two or three glasses of tea. 
The mistress of the household, being limited in her bever- 
ages to tea and soup, would usually make up in quantity 
what was lacking in variety. In fact, one day she in- 
formed us that she had not imbibed a drop of water for 
over six years. For this, however, there is a very plau- 
sible excuse. With the water at Tashkend, as with that 
from the Zerafshan at Bokhara, a dangerous worm called 
reshta is absorbed into the system. Nowhere have we 
dnmk better tea than around the steaming samovar of 
our Tashkend host. No peasant is too poor, either in 
money or in sentiment, to buy and feel the cheering influ- 
ence of tea. Even the Cossack, in his forays into the wilds 
of central Asia, is sustained by it. Unlike the Chinese, 
the Russians consider sugar a necessary concomitant of 
tea-drinking. There are three methods of sweetening tea ; 
to put the sugar in the glass ; to place a lump of sugar in 
the mouth, and suck the tea through it ; to hang a lump 
in the midst of a tea-drinking circle, to be swung around 
for each in turn to touch with his tongue, and then to 
take a swaUow of tea. 

The meaning of the name Tashkend is ^^ city of stone," 
but a majority of the houses are one-story mud structures, 
built low, so as to prevent any disastrous effects from 
earthquakes. The roofs are so flat and poorly constructed 
that during the rainy season a dry ceiling is rather the 
exception than the rule. Every building is covered with 



120 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

whitewash or white paint, and fronts directly on the street. 
There are plenty of back and side yards, but none in front. 
This is not so bad on the broad streets of a Russian town. 
In Tashkend they are exceptionally wide, with ditches on 
each side through which the water from the Tchirtchick 
ripples along beneath the double, and even quadruple, 
rows of poplars, acacias, and willows. These trees grow 
here with remarkable luxuriance, from a mere twig stuck 
into the ground. Although twenty years of Russian irri- 
gation has given Nature a chance to rear thousands of 
trees on former barren wastes, yet wood is still compara- 
tively sc^arce and ihniv. 

The administration buildings of the city are for the 
most part exceedingly plain and impretentious. In strik- 
ing contrast is the now Russian cathedral, the recently 
erected school, and a large retail store built by a resident 
Greek, all of which are fine specimens of Russian archi- 
tecture. Among its institutions are an observatory, a 
museum containing an embryo (M)llection of Turkestan 
products and antiquities, and a medical disi>ensary for the 
natives, wlu^re vaccination is performed l)y graduates of 
medicine in the Tashkend school. The rather extensive 
library was originally collected for the chancellery of the 
governor-general, and contains the best collection of works 
on central Asia that is to be f cmiid in the world, including 
in its scope not only books and pamphlets, but even mag- 
azines and newspaper articles. For amusements, the city 
has a theater, a small imitation of the opera-house at 
Paris ; and the Military Club, which, with its billiards and 
gambling, and weekly reunions, balls, and concerts, though 
a regular feature of a Russian garrison town, is especially 
pretentious in Tashkend. In size, arc^hitecture, and ap- 
pointments, the club-house has no equal, we were told, out- 
side the capital and Moscow. 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 121 

Tashkend has long been known as a refuge for damaged 
reputations and shattered fortunes, or '^ the official piirga- 
tory following upon the emperor's displeasure." One of 
the finest houses of the city is occupied by the Grand 
Duke Nicholai Constantinovitch Romanoff, son of the late 
general admiral of the Russian navy, and first cousin to 




PALACE OF THE CZAR S NEPHEW, TASHKEND. 

the Czar, who seems to be cheerfully resigned to his life 
in exile. Most of his time is occupied with the business 
of his silk-factory on the outskirts of Tashkend, and at 
his farm near Hodjent, which a certain firm in Chicago, 
at the time of our sojourn, was stocking with irrigating 
machinery. All of his bills are paid with checks drawn 
on his St. Petersburg trustees. His private life is rather 
unconventional and even democratic. Visitors to his 
household are particularly impressed with the beauty of 



122 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

his wife and the size of his liquor glasses. The example 
of the grand duke illustrates the sentiment in favor of 
industrial pursuits which is growing among the mihtary 
classes, and even among the nobility, of Russia. The gov- 
ernment itself, thanks to the severe lesson of the Crimean 
war, has learned that a gi'cat nation must stand upon a 
foimdation of something more than aristocracy and nobil- 
ity. To this influence is largely due the present growing 
prosperity of Tashkend, which, in military importance, is 
rapidly giving way to Askabad, '^ the key to Herat." 

That spirit of equality and fraternity which characterizes 
the government of a Russian mrr, or village, has been car- 
ried even into central Asia. We have frec^uently seen 
Russian peasants and natives occupying adjoining apart- 
ments in the same household, while in the process of trade 
all classes seem to fraternize in an easy and even cordial 
manner. The same is true of the children, wlio play to- 
gether indiscriminately in the street. Many a one of 
these heterogeneous grouj)s w^e have watched ''playing 
marbles " with the ankle-bones of slieep, and listened, with 
some amusement, to tluur half Russian, half native jargon. 
Schools are now being established to educate the native 
children in the Russian language and methods, and native 
apprentices are being taken, in by Russian merchants for 
the same purpose. 

In Tashkend, as in every European city of the Orient, 
drunkenness, and gambling, and social laxity have followed 
upon the introduction of Western morals and culture. 
Jealousy and intrigue among the officers and function- 
aries are also not strange, perhaps, at so gi'eat a distance 
from headquarters, where the only avenue to distinction 
seems to lie through the public service. At the various 
dinner-parties and sociables given throughout the winter, 
the topic of war always met with general welcome. On 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 123 

one occasion a report was circulated that Abdurrahman 
Khan, the Ameer of Afghanistan, was lying at the point 
of death. Great preparations, it was said, were being made 
for an expedition over the Pamir, to establish on the throne 




a sart rescuing his children from the camera of the 
"foreign devils." 

the Russian candidate, Is-shah Khan from Samarkand, 
before Ayub Khan, the rival British protege, could be 
brought from India. The young officers at once began 
to discuss their chances for promotion, and the number 
of decorations to be forthcoming from St. Petersburg. 
The social gatherings at Tashkend were more convivial 
than sociable. Acquaintances can eat and drink together 
with the greatest of good cheer, but there is veiy little 
sympathy in conversation. It was difficult for them to 
understand why we had come so far to see a country which 
to many of them was a place of exile. 



124 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

An early spring did not mean an early departure from. 
winter quarters. Impassable roads kept us anxious pris- 
oners for a month and a half after the necessary papers 
had been secured. These included, in addition to the local 
passports, a carte-blanche permission to travel from Tash- 
kend tQ Vladivostock through Turkestan and Siberia, a 
document obtained from St. Petersburg through the United 
States minister, the Hon. Charles Emory Smith. Of this 
route to the Pacific we were therefore certain, and yet, 
despite the universal opinion that a bicycle journey across 
the Celestial empire was impracticable, we had determined 
to continue on to the border line, and there to seek better 
information. ^^ Don't go into China'' were the last words 
of our many kind friends as we wheeled out of Tashkend 
on the seventh of May. 

At Chimkend our course turned abi*uptly from what 
was once the main route between Russia's European and 
Asiatic capitals, and along which De Lesseps, in his letter 
to the Czar, proposed a line of railroad to connect Oren- 
burg with Samarkand, a distance about equal to that be- 
tween St. Petersburg and Odessa, 1483 miles. This is also 
the keystone in that waU of forts which Russia gradually 
raised around her unruly nomads of the steppes, and where, 
according to Gortchakoff's circidar of 18G4, " both interest 
and reason " required her to stop ; and yet at that very 
time General Tchernaieff was advancing his forces upon 
the present capital, Tashkend. Here, too, we began that 
journey of 1500 miles along the Celestial mountain range 
which terminated only when we scaled its summit beyond 
Barkul to descend again into the l)urning sands of the 
Desert of Gobi. Here runs the great historical highway 
between China and the West. 

From Auli-eta eastward we had before us about 200 
miles of a vast steppe region. Near the mountains is a 



126 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

wilderness of lakes, swamps, aud streams, which run dry in 
summer. This is the country of the " Thousand Springs '' 
mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim Huen T'sang, and where 
was established the kingdom of Black China, supposed 
by many to have been one of the kingdoms of " Prester 
John." But far away to our left were the white sands of 
the Ak-Kum, over which the cloudless atmosphere quivers 
incessantly, like the blasts of a furnace. Of all these des- 
erts, occupying probably one half of the whole Turkestan 
steppe, none is more terrible than that of the " Golodnaya 
Steppe," or Steppe of Hunger, to the north of the ^' White 
Sands " now before us. Even in the cool of evening, it is 
said that the soles of the wayfarer's feet become scorched, 
and the dog accompanying him finds no repose till he has 
burrowed below the burning surfac^e. The monotonous 
appearance of the steppe itself is only intensified in winter, 
when the snow smooths over the broken surface, and even 
necessitates the ]:)laciiig of mud posts at regular intervals 
to mark the roadway for the Kirgliiz i)ost-drivers. But 
in the spi'ing and autumn its arid sui-face is clothed, as if 
by enchantment, with verdure and j)rairie flowers. Both 
flowers and birds are gorgeously colored. One variety, 
about half the size of the jackdaw which infests the houses 
of Tashkend and Samarkand, has a bright blue body and 
red wings ; another, resembling our field-lark in size and 
habits, combines a pink breast with black head and wings. 
But already this springtide splendor was beginning to dis- 
appear beneath the glare of approaching summer. The 
long wagon-trains of lumber, and the occasional traveler's 
tarantass rumbling along to the discord of its diiga bells, 
were enveloped in a cloud of suffocating dust. 

Now and then we would overtake a party of Russian 
peasants migrating from the famine-stricken districts of 
European Russia to the pioneer colonies along this Tur- 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 127 

kestan highway. The peculiarity of these villages is their 
extreme length, all the houses facing on the one wide 
street. Most of them are merely mud huts, others make 
pretensions to doors and windows, and a coat of white- 
wash. Near-by usually stands the old battered telega 
which served as a home during many months of travel 
over the Orenburg highway. It speaks well for the colo- 
nizing capacity of the Russians that they can be induced to 
come so many hundreds of miles from their native land, 
to settle in such a primitive way among the half-wild 
tribes of the steppes. . As yet they do very little farming, 
but live, like the Kirghiz, by raising horses, cows, sheep, 
and goats, and, in addition, the Russian hog, the last re- 
sembling very much the wild swine of the jungles. In- 
stead of the former military colonies of phindering Cos- 
sacks, who really become more assimilated to the Kirghiz 
than these to their conquerors, the ////>*, or communal sys- 
tem, is now penetrating these fertile districts, and syste- 
matically replacing the Mongolian culture. But the igno- 
rance of this lower class of Russians is almost as notice- 
able as that of the natives themselves. As soon as we 
entered a village, the blacksmith left his anvil, the carpenter 
his bench, the storekeeper his counter, and the milkmaid 
her task. After our parade of the principal street, the 
crowd would gather round us at the station-house. All 
sorts of queries and ejaculations would pass among them. 
One would ask : " Are these gentlemen baptized ? Are 
they really Christians?" On account of their extreme 
ignorance these Russian colonists are by no means able 
to cope with their German colleagues, who are given the 
poorest land, and yet make a better living. 

The steppe is a good place for learning patience. With 
the absence of landmarks, you seem never to be getting 
anywhere. It presents the appearance of a boundless 



128 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

level expanse, the very undulations of which are so uni- 
form as to conceal the intervening troughs. Into these, 
horsemen, and sometimes whole caravans, mysteriously 
disappear. In this way we were often enabled to surprise 
a herd of gazelles gi'azing l)y the roadside. They would 
stand for a moment with necks extended, and then scam- 
per away like a sliot, springing on their pipe-stem limbs 
three or four feet into the air. Our average rate was 
about seven miles an hour, although the roads were some- 
times so soft with dust or sand as to necessitate the lay- 
ing of straw for a foundati(m. There was scarcely an 
hour in the day wlu^n we were not acicompanied by from 
one to twenty Kirgliiz liorsemen, galloping l^ehind us with 
cries of " Yakshee ! " (''Good!") They were especially 
cm'ious to see how we crossed the roadside streams. 
Standing on the bank, they would watch intently every 
move as we stripped and waded through with bicycles and 
clothing on our shoulders. Then they would challenge us 
to a race, and, if the road permitted, we would endeavor 
to reveal some of the p()ssil)iliti(^s of the '' devil's carts." 
On an occasion like this occurred one of our few mishaps. 
The road was liiunl l)y the occupants of a neighboring 
tent village, who had run out to see the race. One of the 
Kirgliiz turned suddenly back in the opposite direction 
from whicli he had started. The wheel struck him at a 
rate of fifteen miles per hour, lifting him off his feet, and 
liurling over the handle-l)ars the rider, who fell u]:)on his 
left arm, and twisted it out of place. With the assistance 
of the bystanders it was puUed back into the socket, and 
bandaged up till we reached the nearest Russian village. 
Here tlie only j)hysician was an old blind woman of the 
faith-cure persuasion. Her massage treatment to replace 
the muscles was really effective, and was accompanied by 
prayers and by signs of the cross, a common method of 



130 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

treatment among the lower class of Russians. In one in- 
stance a cure was supposed to be effected by writing a 
prayer on a piece of buttered bread to be eaten by the 
patient. 

Being users but not patrons of the Russian post-roads, 
we were not legally entitled to the conveniences of the 
post-stations. Tipping alone, as we found on our journey 
from Samarkand, was not always sufficient to preclude a 
request during the night to vacate the best quarters for 
the post-traveler, especially if he happened to wear the 
regulation brass button. To secure us against this incon- 
venience, and to gain some special attention, a letter was 
obtained from the overseer of the Turkestan post and 
telegraph district. This proved advantageous on many 
occasions, and once, at Auli-eta, was even necessary. We 
were surveyed with suspicious glances as soon as we en- 
tered the station-house, and when we asked for water to 
lave our hands and face, we were directed to the irrigat- 
ing ditch in the street. Our request for a better room 
was answered by the question, if the one we had was not 
good enough, and how long we intended to occupy that. 
Evidently our English conversation had gained for us the 
covert reputation of being English spies, and this was 
verified in the minds of our hosts when we began to ask 
questions about the city prisons we had passed on our 
way. To every interrogation they rei)lied, '^ I don't know.'' 
But presto, change, on the presentation of documents ! 
Apologies were now profuse, and besides tea, bread, and 
eggs, the usual rations of a Russian post-station, we were 
exceptionally favored with chicken soup and verainj/ikj the 
latter consisting of cheese wrapped and boiled in dough, 
and then served in butter. 

It has been the custom for travelers in Russia to decry 
the Russian post-station, but the fact is that an appre- 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 131 

ciation of this rather primitive form of accommodation 
depends entirely upon whether you approach it from a 
European hotel or from a Persian khan. Some are clean, 
while others are dirty. Nevertheless, it was always a wel- 
come sight to see a small white building looming up in 
the dim horizon at the close of a long day's ride, and, on 
near approach, to observe the black and white striped post 
in front, and idle tarantasses around it. At the door 
would be found the usual crowd of Kirghiz post-drivers. 
After the presentation of documents to the starosta, who 
would hesitate at first about quartering our horses in the 
travelers' room, we would proceed at once to place our 
dust-covered heads beneath the spindle of the washing- 
tank. Although by this dripping-pan arrangement we 
would usually succeed in getting as much water down our 
backs as on our faces, yet we were consoled by the thought 
that too much was better than not enough, as had been 
the case in Turkey and Persia. Then we would settle 
down before the steaming samovar to meditate in solitude 
and quiet, while the rays of the declining sun shone on 
the gilded eikon in the corner of the room, and on the 
chromo-covered walls. When darkness fell, and the sim- 
mering music of the samovar had gradually died away 5 
when the flitting swallows in the room had ceased their 
chirp, and settled down upon the rafters overhead, we 
ourselves would turn in under our fur-lined coats upon 
the leather-covered benches. 

In consequence of the first of a series of accidents to 
our wheels, we were for several days the guests of the 
director of the botanical gardens at Pishpek. As a branch 
of the Crown botanical gardens at St. Petersburg, some 
valuable experiments were being made here with foreign 
seeds and plants. Peaches, we were told, do not thrive, 
but apples, pears, cherries, and the various kinds of ber- 



132 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

ries, grow as well as they do at home. Rye, however, 
takes three years to reach the height of one year in Amer- 
ica. Through the Russians, these people have obtained 
high-flown ideas of America and Americans. We saw 




UPPER VALLEY OF THE CHU RIVER. 



many chromos of American celebrities in the various sta- 
tion-houses, and the most numerous was that of Thomas 
A. Edison. His phonograph, we were told, had already 
made its appearance in Pishpek, but the natives did not 
seem to realize what it was. " Why," they said, " we have 
often heard l)etter music than that." Dr. Tanner was not 
without his share of fame in this far-away country. Dur- 
ing his fast in America, a similar, though not voluntary, 
feat was being performed here. A Kirghiz messenger 
who had been despatched into the mountains during the 
winter was lost in the snow, and remained for twenty- 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 133 

eight days without food. He was found at last, crazed 
by hunger. When asked what he would have to eat, he 
replied, " Everything." They foolishly gave hun '^ every- 
thing," and in two days he was dead. For a long time 
he was called the " Doctor Tanner of Turkestan." 

A divergence of seventy-five miles from the regular post- 
route was made in order to visit Lake Issik Kul, which is 
probably the largest lake for its elevation in the world, 
being about ten times larger than Lake Geneva, and at a 
height of 5300 feet. Its slightly brackish water, which 
never freezes, teems with several varieties of fish, many 
of which we helped to unhook from a Russian fisherman's 
line, and then helped to eat in his primitive hut near the 
shore. A Russian Cossack, who had just come over the 
snow-capped Ala Tau, " of the Shade," from Fort Narin, 
was also present, and from the frequent glances cast at 
the fisherman's daughter we soon discovered the object of 
his visit. The ascent to this lake, through the famous 
Buam Defile, or Happy Pass, afforded some of the grand- 
est scenery on our route through Asia. Its seething, foam- 
ing, irresistible torrent needs only a large volume to make 
it the equal of the rapids at Niagara. 

Our return to the post-road was made by an unbeaten 
track over the Ala Tau mountains. From the Chu vaUey, 
dotted here and there with Kirghiz tent villages and their 
grazing flocks and herds, we pushed our wheels up the 
broken path, which wound like a mythical stairway far 
up into the low-hanging clouds. We trudged up one of 
the steepest ascents we have ever made with a wheel. The 
scenery was grand, but lonely. The wild tulips, pinks, 
and verbenas dotting the green slopes furnished the only 
pleasant diversion from our arduous labor. Just as we 
turned the highest summit, the clouds shifted for a mo- 
ment, and revealed before us two Kirghiz horsemen. They 
9* 



134 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

started back in astonishment, and gazed at us as though 
we were demons of the air, until we disappeared again 
down the opposite and more gradual slope. Late in the 
afternoon we emerged upon the plain, but no post-road or 
station-house was in sight, as we expected ; nothing but 
a few Kirghiz kibitkas among the straggling rocks, like 




KIRGHIZ ERECTING KIBITKAS BY THE CHU RIVER. 



' the tents of the Egyptian Arabs among the fallen stones 

; of the pyramids. 

p Toward these we now directed our course, and, in view 

I: of a rapidly approaching storm, asked to purchase a night's 

j lodging. This was only too willingly granted in anticipa- 

j tion of the coming tomasha^ or exhibition. The milkmaids 

as they went out to the rows of sheep and goats tied to 
, the lines of woolen rope, and the horsemen with reinless 

- horses to drive in the ranging herds, spread the news from 

tent to tent. By the time darkness fell the kibitka was 

I 
1 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 135 

filled to overflowing. We were given the seat of honor 
opposite the doorway, bolstered up with blankets and pil- 
lows. By the light of the fire curling its smoke upward 
through the central opening in the roof, it was interesting 
to note the faces of our hosts. We had never met a peo- 
ple of a more peaceful temperament, and, on the other 
hand, none more easily frightened. A dread of the evil 
eye is one of their characteristics. We had not been set- 
tled long before the isJian^ or itinerant dervish, was called 
in to drive away the evil spirits, which the ^'devil's carts'' 
might possibly have brought. Immediately on entering, 
he began to shrug his shoulders, and to shiver as though 
passing into a state of trance. Our dervish acquaintance 
was a man of more than average intelligence. He had 
traveled in India, and had even lieard some one speak of 
America. This fact alone was sufficient to warrant him 
in posing as instructor for the rest of the assembly. While 
we were drinking tea, a habit they have recently adopted 
from the Russians, he held forth at great length to his 
audience about the Amerikon. 

The rain now began to descend in torrents. The felt 
covering was drawn over the central opening, and propped 
up at one end with a pole to emit the clouds of smoke 
from the smoldering fire. This was shifted with the veer- 
ing wind. Although a mere circular rib framework cov- 
ered with white or brown felt, according as the occupant 
is rich or poor, the Kirghiz kibitka, or more properly yurt, 
is not as a house builded upon the sand, even in the fierc- 
est storm. Its stanchness and comfort are surprising 
when we consider the rapidity with which it may be taken 
down and transported. In half an hour a whole village 
may vanish, emigrating northward in summer, and south- 
ward in winter. Many a Kirghiz cavalcade was overtaken 
on the road, with long tent-ribs and felts tied upon the 



13G ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

ba<iks of two-humped camels, for the Bactrian dromedary 
has uot been aljle to endure the severities of these North- 
em (*limates. The men would always be mounted on the 
camels' or horses' backs, while the women would be perched 
on the oxen and bullocks, trained for the saddle and as 
beasts of burden. The men never walk j if there is any 
leading to l)e done it falls to the women. The constant 
use of the saddle has made many of the men bandy-legged, 
which, in connection with their usual obesity, — with them 
a mark of dignity, — gives them a comical appearance. 

After their curiosity regarding us had been partly sat- 
isfied, it was suggested that a sheep shoidd be slaughtered 
in our honor. Neither meat nor bread is ever eaten by 
any ])ut the rich Kirghiz. Their universal kumiss, corre- 
sponding to the Turkish yaourt, or coagulated milk, and 
other forms of lacteal dishes, sometimes mixed with meal, 
form the chief diet of the poor. Tlie wife of our host, a 
buxom woman, who, as we had seen, could leap upon a 
h()i-s(»'s back as readily as a man, now entered the door- 
way, canyiiig a full-grown sheep by its woolly coat. This 
she twirled over on its back, and held down with her knee 
while the butcher ai-tist drew a dagger from his belt, and 
held it aloft until tli(» assembly stroked their scant beards, 
and uttered the solemn bismillah. Tired out by the day's 
ride, we fell asleep before the arrangements for the feast 
had been comph^ted. When awakened near midnight, we 
found that the savory odor from the huge caldron on the 
fir(^ had only increased the attraction and the crowd. The 
choicest bits were now selected for the guests. These 
consisted of pieces of hver, served with lumps of fat from 
the tail of their peculiarly fat-tailed sheep. As an act of 
the highest hospitality, our host dipped these into some 
liquid grease, and then, reaching over, placed them in om' 
mouths with his fingers. It required considerable effort 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 137 

on this occasion to subject our feelings of nausea to a 
sense of Kirghiz politeness. In keeping with their char- 
acteristic generosity, every one in the kibitka must par- 
take in some measure of the feast, although the women, 
who had done all the work, must be content with remnants 
and bones ah'eady picked over by the host. But this dis- 
]30sition to share everything was not without its other 
aspect; we also were expected to share everything with 
them. We were asked to bestow any little trinket or nick- 
nack exposed to view. Any extra nut on the machine, a 
handkerchief, a packet of tea, or a lump of sugar, excited 
their cupidity at once. The latter was considered a bon- 
bon by the women and younger portion of the spectators. 
The attractive daughter of our host, ^^ Kumiss John," 
amused herself by stealing lumps of sugar from our pock- 
ets. When the feast was ended, the beards were again 
stroked, the name of Allah solemnly uttered by way of 
thanks for the bounty of heaven, and then each gave 
utterance to his appreciation of the meal. 

Before retiring for the night, the dervish led the 
prayers, just as he had done at sunset. The praying-mats 
were spread, and all heads bowed toward Mecca. The 
only preparation for retiring was the spreading of blan- 
kets from the pile in one of the kibitkas. The Kirghiz are 
not in the habit of removing many garments for this pur- 
pose, and under the circumstances we found this custom 
a rather convenient one. Six of us turned in on the floor 
together, forming a semicircle, with our feet toward the 
fire. " Kumiss John," who was evidently the pet of the 
household, had a rudely constructed cot at the far end of 
the kibitka. 

Vernoye, the old Almati, with its broad streets, low wood 
and brick houses, and Russian sign-boards, presented a 
Siberian aspect. The ruins of its many disastrous earth- 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 139 

quakes lying low on every hand told us at once the cause 
of its deserted thoroughfares. The terrible shocks of the 
year before our visit killed several hundred people, and a 
whole mountain in the vicinity sank. The only hope of 
its persistent residents is a branch from the Transsiberian 
or Transcaspian railroad, or the reannexation by Russia 
of the fertile province of Hi, to make it an indispensable 
depot. Despite these periodical calamities, Vernoye has 
had, and is now constructing, under the genius of the 
French architect, Paul L. Gourdet, some of the finest edi- 
fices to be found in central Asia. The orphan asylum, a 
magnificent three-story structure, is now being built on 
experimental lines, to test its strength against earthquake 
shocks. 

One of the chief incidents of our pleasant sojourn was 
afforded by Governor Ivanoff. We were invited to head 
the procession of the Cossacks on their annual departure 
for their summer encampment in the mountains. After 
the usual religious ceremony, they filed out from the city 
parade-ground. Being unavoidably detained for a few 
moments, we did not come up until some time after the 
column had started. As we dashed by to the front with 
the American and Russian flags fluttering side by side 
from the handle-bars, cheer after cheer arose from the 
ranks, and even the governor and his party doffed their 
caps in acknowledgment. At the camp we were favored 
with a special exhibition of horsemanship. By a single 
twist of the rein the steeds would fall to the ground, and 
their riders crouch down behind them as a bulwark in 
battle. Then dashing forward at full speed, they would 
spring to the ground, and leap back again into the saddle, 
or, hanging by their legs, would reach over and pick up 
a handkerchief, cap, or a soldier supposed to be wounded. 
All these movements we photographed with our camera. 



140 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

Of the endurance of these Cossacks and their Kirghiz 
horses we had a pra<3tical test. Overtaking a Cossack 
(*,oiirier in the early part of a day's journey, he became so 
interestcnl in tlu? velocipede, as the Russians call the bicy- 
(*le, that he d(»tvrinined to see as much of it as possible, 
lie stayed with us the whole day, over a distance of fifty- 
five miles. Uis chief compensation was in witnessing the 
surprise of the natives to whom he would shout across the 
fields to eonu* and st»e the fomasha, adding in explanation 
that we weiv t\w, Anu^riean gentlemen who had ridden 
all the way from America. Our speed was not slow, and 
frequently tlie i)()()r fellow would have to resort to the 
whip, or shout, *' Slowly, gentlemen, my horse is tired; 
th(» town is not far away, it is not necessary to huny so." 
The fa(*t is lliat in all our experience we found no horse 
of even the famed Kii'ghiz or Turkonuin ])reed that could 
ti-avel with the same ease and rapidity as oui'selves even 
over the most ordinary road. 

At Vernoy(^ we ])egan to glean practical information 
a])out China, but all exce})t our genial host, M. Gourdet, 
c(mnseled us against our proposed journey. He alone, as 
a traveller of experience, advise<l a divergence from the 
Siberan route at Altin Iniell, in order to visit the Chinese 
(dty of Kuldja, where, as Ik^ said, with the assistance of 
the resident Russian (*onsul we could test tlu^. viilidity of 
the Chinese passport received, as before mentioned, from 
the Chinese minister at Londcm. 

A few days later we were rolling up the valley of the 
Hi, having crossed that river by the well-constructed Rus- 
sian biidge at Fort Iliysk, the head of navigation for the 
boats from Lake Balkash. New faces here met our curi- 
ous gaze. As an ethnological transition between the in- 
habitants of central Asia and the Chinese, we were now 
among two distinctly agi'icidtural races — the Dungans 



142 ACROSS ASIA OX A BICYCLE 

and Taraiiehis. As the invited guests of these people on 
s(»vtM*al occasions, we were struck with their extreme clean- 
lin(»ss, economy, and indiistiyj but their deep-set eyes 
seem to express reckless cruelty. 

The ^lohammedan mosques of this people are like the 
Chinese pagodas in cmtward appearance, while they seem 
to he (-hinese in half-Kirghiz ganneuts. Their women, 
too, do not veil themselves, although they are much more 
shy than their rugged sisters of the steppes. Tenacious 
of their word, these peoph> were also senipulous about 
returning favors. ( )ur (exhibitions were usually rewarded 
])y a spread of sweets and yellow Dungan tea. Of this 
we would i>artake beneath the shade of their well-trained 
grape-arl)ors, while listening to the music, or rather dis- 
cord, of a peculiar stringed instruuK^nt played by the boys. 
Its l)ow of two parts was so intiTlaced with the strings of 
the insti-ument. as to ])lay upon two at every draw. An- 
other musician usually accompanied by beating little sticks 
on a saucer. 

These are the peoph^ who wen* introduced by the Man- 
chus to re[)lace the Kahuucks in the Kiddja district, and 
w4io in 1S()1) so terribly avenged upcm their masters the 
Wood they previously (*aused to tiow. The fertile province 
of Kuldja, with a population of 2,500,()()0, was reduced by 
their massacn»s to one vast necropolis. On all sides are 
canals that have beconn^ swamps, abandoned fields, wasted 
forests, and towns and vilhigc^s in niins, in some of wliich 
the gi'ound is still strewn w^ith the ])leached bones of the 
murdered. 

As we ascended the Hi vidley piles of stones marked in 
succession the sites of the towns of Turgen, Jarkend, Ak- 
kend, and Khorgos, names wdii(*li the Russians are abeady 
reviving in their pioneer settlements. The largest of these, 
Jarkend, is the coming frontier town, to take the place of 





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144 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

evacuated Kiildja. About twenty-two miles east of this 
point the large white Russian fort of Khorgos stands 
bristling on the bank of the river of that name, which, by 
the treaty of 1881, is now the boundaiy-line of the Celes- 
tial empire. On a ledge of rocks overlooking the ford a 
Russian sentinel was walking his beat in the solitude of 
a dreary outpost. lie stopped to watch us as we plunged 
into tlie flood, witli our Russian telega for a ferry-boat. 
** All 's well," we heard him cry, as, bumping over the 
rocky ])()tt()m, we passed from Russia into China. "Ah, 
yes," we thought ; '* ' All \s well that ends well,' but this is 
only the ])egiuiii]ig." 

A few minutes later we dashed thi'ough the arched 
driveway ot* tlu» Chinese custom-house, and were several 
yai-ds away hcfoin^ the lounging officials realized what it 
was that flitted aci-oss their vision. '' Stop ! Come back ! ^ 
they shouted in ])roken Russian. -iVmid a confusion of 
(*hattering voices, rustling gowns, clattering shoes, swing- 
ing pigtails, and ch)uds of ()})ium and tobacco smoke, we 
were l)i*onglit into the presen<'e of the head official. Put- 
ting on his hug(^ spectacles, he read ah)ud the vise written 
upon our American passports ])y the (^hinese minister in 
London. Ilis wonderment was increased when he further 
read that such a journey was ])eing made on the "foot- 
moved carriages," which w(m*(^ ])eing curiously fingered by 
the attendants. Our garments were minutely scrutinized, • 
especially the buttons, while our caps and dark-colored 
specta(;les were taken from our heads, and passed round 
for each to tiy on in tin*n, amid nuicli laughter. 

O^ing to the predominant influence of Russia in these 
noi*t]iwestern confines, our Russian papers would have been 
quite sufficient to cross the border into Kiddja. It was 
only beyond this point that our Chinese passport would 
be found necessary, and possibly invalid. After the usual 



THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 145 




THE CHINESE MILITARY COMMANDER OF KULDJA. 



vis6s had been stamped and written over, we were off on 
what proved to be our six months' experience in the 
" Middle Kingdom or Central Empire/' as the natives call 
it, for to Chinamen there is a fifth point to the compass — 
the center, which is China. Not far on the road we heard 
the clatter of hoofs behind us. A Kalmuck was dashing 
toward us with a portentous look on his features. We 
dismounted in apprehension. He stopped short some 
twenty feet away, leaped to the ground, and, crawling up 
10 




-TWO CATHOLIC MISSiaKAKt£S fN Tl|K VAIJD QF QUK KULUJA INK^ 

Chinaman spi'aiig out froiu the speeeliless crowd, aud 
threw himself in the road before us. By a (U^xterou^ turn 
W"t* missed Ins head^ and passed oxer his exteuded queue. 
Kiildja, witli its Russian consul and Cossack statiou, 
still maintains a Russian telegrapli and postal service. 
The mail is canned from the border in a train of three or 
four telegas, which rattle along over the primitivL^ roads 
in a cloud of dust, with armed CosKacks galloping before 
and after, and a Russian flag carried by the h(?rald in 
front, Ev^en in tlie Kuldja post-office a heavily armed 




THE JOURNEY FROM SAMARKAND TO KULDJA 147 

picket stands guard over the money-chest. This postal 
caravan we now overtook encamped by a small stream, 
during the glaring heat of the afternoon. We found that 
we had been expected several days before, and that quar- 
ters had been prepared for us in the postal station at the 
town of Suidun. Here we spent the night, and continued 
on to Kuldja the following morning. 

Although built by the Chinese, who call it Nin-yuan, 
Kuldja, with its houses of beaten earth, strongly resembles 
the towns of Russian Turkestan. Since the evacuation 
by the Russians the Chinese have built around the city 
the usual quadrangular wall, thirty feet in height and 
twenty feet in width, with parapets still in the course of 
construction. But the rows of poplars, the whitewash, 
and the telegas were still left to remind us of the tempo- 
rary Russian occupation. For several days we were objects 
of excited interest to the mixed population. The doors 
and windows of our Russian quarters were besieged by 
crowds. In defense of our host, we gave a public exhibi- 
tion, and with the consent of the Tootai made the circuit 
on the top of the city walls. Fully 3000 people lined the 
streets and housetops to witness the race to which we had 
been challenged by four Dungan horsemen, riding below 
on the encircling roadway. The distance around was two 
miles. The horsemen started with a rush, and at the end 
of the first mile were ahead. At the third turning we 
overtook them, and came to the finish two hundred yards 
ahead, amid great excitement. Even the commander of 
the Kuldja forces was brushed aside by the chasing rabble. 



OVER THE GOBI DESERT AND THROUGH THE WESTERN 
GATE OF THE GREAT WALL 

RUSSIAN influence, which even now predominates at 
Knldja, was forcibly indicated, the day after onr ar- 
rival, during our investigations as to the validity of our 
Chinese passports for the journey to Peking. The Russian 
consul, whose favor we had secured in advance through 
letters from Governor Ivanoff at Yernoye, had pronounced 
them not only good, but by far the best that had been 
presented by any traveler entering China at this point. 
After endeavoring to dissuade us from what he called a 
foolhardy undertaking, even with the most valuable papers, 
he sent us, with his interpreter, to the Kuldja Tootai for 
the proper vise. 

That dignitary, although deeply interested, was almost 
amused at the boldness of our enterprise. He said that 
no passport would insure success by the method we pro- 
posed to pursue ; that, before he could allow us to make 
the venture, we must wait for an order from Peking. 
This, he said, would subject us to considerable delay and 
expense, even if the telegraph and post were utilized 
through Siberia and Kiakhta. This was discouraging in- 
deed. But when we discovered, a few minutes later, that 
his highness had to call in the learned secretary to trace 
our proposed route for him on the map of China, and 
10* 149 



150 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

even to locate the capital, Peking, we began to question 
his knowledge of Chinese diplomacy. The matter was 
again refeiTcd to the consul, who reported back the fol- 
lowing day that his previous assui'ances were reliable, 
that the Tootai would make the necessary vis^s, and send 
away at once, l)y the regidar relay post across the empire, 
an open letter that could ])c read by the officials along the 
route, and l^e delivered long before our arrival at Peking. 
Such easy succ(iss we had not anticipated. The difficulty, 
as well as nec(*ssity, of obtaining the proper credentials 
for traveling in China was impressed upon us by the arrest 
the previous day of three Af glian visitors, and by the fact 
that a (jcrnian traveler had been refused, just a few weeks 
before, x)erniission even to cross the Mozart pass into 
Kashgar. So much, we thought, for Russian friendship. 
U2)()n this assuran(*e of at least official consent to hazard 
the journey to IVking, a telegram was sent to the chief 
of polices at Tomsk, to wliose care we liad directed our 
letters, ])h()t()gra])lii(i material, and bicycle supplies to be 
sent from Loudon in the expectati(m of being forced to 
take the Siberian r(mte. These last could not have been 
dispensed with much longer, as our cushion-tires, ball- 
])earings, and axles were badly worn, while the rim of one 
of the rear wheels was broken in eight places for the lack 
of spokes. These supplies, however, did not reach us till 
six weeks after the date of our telegram, to which a pre- 
paid re2)ly was received, after a week's delay, asking in 
advance for the extra postage. This, A\ith that prepaid 
from London, amounted to just fifty dollars. The warm 
weather, after the extreme cold of a Siberian winter, had 
caused the tires to stretch so much beyond their intended 
size that, on their arrival, they were almost unfit for use. 
Somci of our photographi(; material also had been spoiled 
through the useless inspection of postal officials. 



152 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

The delay thus caused was well utilized in f amiliariziiig 
ourselves as iiiueli as possible ^-ith the language and char- 
act<?risties of the Chinese, for, as we were without guides, 
interi)reters, or servants, and in some places lacked even 
offieiid assistance, no travelers, perhaps, were ever more 
dependent upon the people than ourselves. The Chinese 
language, the most primitive in the world, is, for this very- 
reason ])erhaps, the hardest to learn. Its poverty of words 
reduces its grammar almost to a question of syntax and 
intonation. Many a time our expressions, by a wrong in- 
flection, would convey a meaning different from the one 
intendtnl. Even when told tlie difference, our ears could 
not detect it. 

Our work of preparation was principally a process of 
elimination. AVe now had to prepare for a forced march 
in cas(» of necrssity. Ilandle-bars and seat-i)osts were 
shortened to save wei<rht, and even the leather baggage- 
carriers, fitlin<»: in the frames of the machines, which we 
ours(4v(^s liad patented Ix'fore leaving England, were re- 
placed by a (M)iii)l(* of sleei)ing-bags made for us out of 
woolen shawls and Chinese oiled-canvas. The cutting off 
of Imttons and extra parts of our clothing, as well as the 
shaving of our heads and faces, was also included by our 
fric^nds in the list of curtailments. For the same reason 
one of our cameras, whic^h w(^ always carried on our backs, 
and refilled at night under the bedclothes, we sold to a 
C'hinc^se photographer at Suidim, to make room for an 
extra jn'ovision-bag. The sui'jJus film, with our extra 
baggage, was shipped by post, via Siberia and Kiakhta, 
to meet us on our ari'ival in Peking. 

And now the money problem was the most perplexing 
of all. ^' This alone," said the Russian consul, " if nothing 
else, will defeat your plans." Those Western bankei-s who 
advertise to furnish " letters of credit to any part of the 



154 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

world " are, to say the least, rather sweeping in their 843- 
sertions. At any rate, our own London letter was of no 
use l)eyond the Bosporus, except with the Persian imperial 
banks iiiii by an English syndicate. At the American 
Bible House at Constantinople we were allowed, as a per- 
sonal favor, to buy drafts on the vaiious missionaries along 
the rout(i througli Asiatic Turkey. But in central Asia 
we found that tlie liussian bankers and merchants would 
not handle Englisli paper, and we were therefore compelled 
to send our letter of credit by mail to Moscow. Thither 
we had recently sent it on heaving Tashkend, with instruc- 
tions to reuiit in currency to Irkutsk, Siberia. We now 
had to tel(^grai)h to that point to re-f(n'ward over the 
Kiaklita i)ost-r()ute to lacking. With the cash on hand, 
and Ww. j,)r()(M'e(ls of the (*amera, sold for more than half 
its wei^glit in silver, fonr and one third p(mnds, we thought 
we had snilieicnt money to carry us, or, rather, as much 
as w(^ (M)ul(l <*arry, to that j,)oint; for the weight of the 
( -hiuest^ uioney necessary for a journey of over three thou- 
sand miles was, as the Unssian consul thought, one of the 
gr(^at('sfc ot* onr almost insnrmountable obstacles. In the 
interior of China there is no coin (^\(*ept the chen, or sapeks, 
an alloy of copper and tin, in tluj form of a disk, having 
a h()l(^ in the center by wliicjh the coins may be stiung to- 
getlier. The vc^ry recently (coined Hang, or faeJ, the Mexi- 
can 2>iaster sx)e(nally minted for the Chinese market, and 
the other foreign coins, have not yet penetrated from the 
coast. For six hundred miles over the border, however, 
we found both the Russian money and language service- 
able among the Tatar merchants, while the ffngay or Kash- 
gar silver-piece, was pref(»rred by the natives even beyond 
the flobi, being miu».h handier than th(^ larger or smaller 
bits of silver broken from the yamha bricks. All, how- 
ever, would have to be weigluHl in the fhjza, or snuill Chi- 




oust RLiiSlAfJ MtttllSD ANLi MR. SAL ht 1 LlfLlKTM UKXUKU Wli» ENOUGH CHINE3R 
TO PAY FOR A MttAl* AT A KULDJA KBSTAUHANT. 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 157 

nese scales we carried with us, and on which were marked 
the fmij tcJiatij and Hang of the monetary scale. But the 
value of these terms is reckoned in cheny and changes with 
almost every district. This necessity for vigilance, together 
with the frequency of bad silver and loaded yamhas, and 
the propensity of the Chinese to " knock down " on even 
the smallest purchase, tends to convert a traveler in China 
into a veritable Shylock. There being no banks or ex- 
changes in the interior, we were obliged to purchase at 
Kuldja all the silver we would need for the entire jour- 
ney of over three thousand miles. ^^ How much would it 
take ? " was the question tliat our past experience in Asiatic 
travel now aided us to answer. That our calculations 
were close is proved by tlie fact that we reached Peking 
with silver in our pockets to the value of half a dollar. 
Our money now constituted the principal part of our lug- 
gage, which, with camera and film, weiglied just twenty- 
five pounds apiece. Most of the silver was chopped up 
into small bits, and placed in the hollow tubing of the 
machines to conceal it from Chinese inquisitiveness, if not 
something worse. We are glad to say, however, that no 
attempt at robbery was ever discovered, although efforts 
at extortion were frequent, and sometimes, as will appear, 
of a serious nature. 

The blowing of the long horns and boom of the mortar 
cannon at the fort awoke us at daylight on the morning 
of July 13. Farewells had been said the night before. 
Only our good-hearted Russian host was up to put an ex- 
tra morsel in our provision-bag, for, as he said, we could 
get no food until we reached the Kirghiz aouls on the 
high plateau of the Talki pass, by which we were to cut 
across over unbeaten paths to the regular so-called impe- 
rial highway, running from Suidun. From the Catholic 
missionaries at Kuldja we had obtained very accurate in- 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 159 

formation about this route as far as the Gobi desert. The 
expression Tian Shan Pe-lu, or northern Tian Shan route, 
in opposition to the Tian Shan Nan-lu, or southern Tian 
Shan route, shows that the Chinese had fully appreciated 
the importance of this historic highway, which continues 
the road running from the extreme western gate of the 
Great Wall obliquely across Mongolian Kan-su, through 
Hami and Barkul, to Urumtsi. From here the two natu- 
ral highways lead, one to the head-waters of the Black 
Irtish, the other to the passes leading into the Ili valley, 
and other routes of the Arolo-Caspian depression. The 
latter route, which is now commanded at intervals by Chi- 
nese forts and military settlements, was recently relin- 
quished by Russia only when she had obtained a more 
permanent footing on the former in the trading-posts of 
Chuguchak and Kobdo, for she very early recognized the 
importance of this most natural entry to the only feasible 
route across the Chinese empire. In a glowing sunset, at 
the end of a hot day's climb, we looked for the last time 
over the Ili valley, and at dusk, an hour later, rolled into 
one of the Kirghiz aouls that are here scattered among 
the rich pasturage of the plateau. 

Even here we found that our reputation had extended 
from Kuldja. The chief advanced with amans of welcome, 
and the heavy-matted ciu-tains in the kibitka doorway 
were raised, as we passed, in token of honor. When the 
refreshing kumiss was served around the evening camp- 
fire, the dangers of the journey through China were dis- 
cussed among our hosts with frequent looks of misgiving. 
Thus, from first to last, every judgment was against us, 
and every prediction was of failure, if not of something 
worse ; and now, as we stole out from the tent by the light 
of the rising moon, even the specter-like mountain-peaks 
around us, like symbols of coming events, were casting 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 161 

the Ebi-nor, startling the mountain deer from the brink 
of the tree-arched rivulet, we reached a spot which once 
was the haunt of a band of those border-robbers about 




• THE HEAD OF A CKIGANU EXPOSED ON THE HIGHWAY. 



whom we had heard so much from our apprehensive 
friends. At the base of a volcano-shaped mountain lay 
the ruins of their former dens, from which only a year 
ago they were wont to sally forth on the passing caravans. 
When they were exterminated by the government, the 
head of their chief, wdth its dangling queue, was mounted 
on a pole near-by, and preserved in a cage from birds of 
prey, as a warning to all others who might aspire to the 
same notoriety. In this lonely spot we were forced to 
spend the night, as here occurred, through the carelessness 
of the Kuldja Russian blacksmith, a very serious break in 
one of our gear wheels. It was too late in the day to 
walk back the sixteen miles to the Kirghiz encampment, 
and there obtain horses for the remaining fifty-eight miles 
11 



162 ACROSS ASL\ OX A BICYCLE 

to Kiildja. fur uo where eke, we euneluded, conld such a 
hn*ak l>e ineiuled. Our sleeping-bags were now put to a 
severe test l)etween the damp ground and the heavy moun- 
tain dew. The i>enetrating cold, and the occasional pan- 
ther-like en' of some i)rowling animal^ kept us amrake the 
gi-eater |>art of the night, awaiting with revolvers in hand 
some exjKH'ted attaek. 

Five days hiter we had rejmssed this spot and were toil- 
in «r over the sand and SiUine-eovereil depression of the 
jrivat -llan-Hai." or Dried-up Sea. The mountain fresh- 
ets. dissolviu«r the salt fi*om their sandy channels, carry it 
down in solution and dejwsit it ^Wth evaporation in mass- 
ive layers, foniiinjr a eomparatively hard roadway in the 
midst of th<* sliiftin«r sand-dunes. Over these latter our 
pn )fn*«*ss was i*x l rt luely sh > w. One stretch of fifteen miles, 
wliieli it took us six houi-s to cover, was as fonnidable as 
any part of tlie Tuikonian desert along the Transeaspian 
railway. At an altitude of only six Imndi'ed feet above 
tilt* sea, a<*cor(Iinir to our aneroid l>arometer, and beneath 
tlio rays of a .luly sun against which even our felt caps 
W(^re not much protection, we were half-dragging, half- 
pushing, our wheels through a foot of sand, and slapping 
at the m()S(piitos swarming upon our necks and faces. 
Th(*se pests, which throughout this low country are the 
largest and most numerous we have ever met, are bred in 
the intermediate swamps, which exist only through the 
negligence of the neighboiing villagers. At night smol- 
dering fires, which half suffocate the human inmates, are 
built l)ef()re the doors and windows to keep out the intrud- 
ing insects. All travelers wear gloves, and a huge hood 
covering the head and face up to the eyes, and in their 
hands caiTy a horse-tail switch to lash back and forth 
over their shoulders. Being without such protection we 
suffered both day and night. 



164 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

The mountain freshets all along the road to Urumtsi 
were more frequent and dangerous than any we had yet 
encountered. Toward evening the melting snows, and 
the condensing currents from the plain heated during the 
day, fill and overflow the channels that in the morning 
are almost dry. One stream, with its ten branches, swept 
the stones and boulders over a shifting channel one mile 
in width. It was when wading through such streams as 
this, where every effort was required to balance ourselves 
and our luggage, that the mosquitos would make up for 
lost time with impunity. The river, before reaching Ma- 
nas, was so swift and deep as to necessitate the use of reg- 
ular government carts. A team of three horses, on mak- 
ing a misstep, were shifted away from the ford into deep 
water and carried far down the stream. A caravan of 
Chinese traveling- vans, loaded with goods from India, were 
crossing at the time, on their way to the outlying prov- 
inces and the Russian border. General Bauman at Ver- 
noye had informed us that in this way English goods were 
swung clear around the circle and brought into Russia 
through the unguarded back door. 

With constant wading and tramping, our Russian shoes 
and stockings, one of which was almost torn off by the 
sly grab of a Chinese spaniel, were no longer fit for use. 
In their place we were now obliged to purchase the short, 
white cloth Chinese socks and string sandals, which for 
mere cycling purposes and wading streams proved an ex- 
cellent substitute, being light and soft on the feet and 
very quickly dried. The calves of our legs, however, being 
left bare, we were obliged, for state occasions at least, to 
retain and utilize the upper portion of our old stockings. 
It was owing to this scantiness of wardi'obe that we were 
obliged when taking a bath by the roadside streams to 
make a quick wash of our linen, and put it on wet to 




11' 




166 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

dry, or allow it to flutter from the handle-bars as we rode 
along. It was astonishing: even to ourselves how little a 
man required when onee beyond the pale of Western con- 
ventionalities. 

From Manas to Urumtsi we began to strike more till- 
age and fertility. Maize, wheat, and rice were gi'owing, 
but rather h)w and thin. The last is by no means the 
staple food of China, as is commonly supposed, except in 
tlie southern portion. In the northern, and especially the 
outlying, provinces it is considered more a liixuiy for the 
wealthy. Millet and coarse flour, from which the viien or 
dough-strings are made, is the foundation, at least, for 
more than half the siij)sistence of tlie common classes. 
Nor is there much truth, we think, in the assertion that 
Chinamen eat rats, althougli we sometimes regretted that 
they did not. After a mouth or more without meat a dish 
of rats w(mld hav(^ been relished, liad we been able to get 
it. On the other hand we have learned that there is a 
society of Chinamen who are vegetarians from choice, and 
still another that will eat the meat of no animal, such as 
the ass, horse, dog, etc., which can serve man in a better 
way. 

Urumtsi, or Hun-miao (red tem2)le) of the Chinese, still 
retains its ancic^nt prestige in being the seat of govern- 
ment for the viceroyaity of Sin-tsiang, which includes all 
that portion of western China lying without the limit of 
Mongolia and Tibet. Thanks to its ha2)t)y positi(m, it has 
always rapidly recovered after every fresh disaster. It 
now does considerable trade with Russia through the town 
of Chuguchak, and with China through the gi-eat gap which 
here occurs in the Tian Shan range. It lies in a pictu- 
resque amphitheater beliind the solitary ^' Holy Mount," 
which towers above a well-constructed bridge across its 
swiftly flowing river. This cit}^ was one of our principal 





1 1 




1 












ACEOSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



landmarks across the eiopire 5 a long stage of the Joiimej 
was here complet-ed. 

On entering a Chinese city we always made it a ride to 
run rapidly through nntil we came to an inn, and then lock 
np our wheels before the crowd eoidd collect. Urumtsi, 
however, was too large and intricate for such a manoeuver. 




KJDING UEFOIIE THS GOV£KNOR or )AAtiA!i^ 



We were obliged to dismount in the principal thorough^ 
fare. The excited tlirong pressed in upon ns. Among 
them was a Cliinaraan who coidd talk a little Russiau, and 
wlio niidertook to dii*ect its to a comfortal>le inn at the 
far end of the city* This street parade gathered to the 
inn yartl an overwhelming moh, aiid announced to the 
whole conimuiiity that *^the foreign horses" had come. 
It had been postedj we were told, a month before, that 
^^ two peoi>le of tJie new world " were eoining through on 
*^ s;tT'ange iron hr^rsc^s/' and every owe was retinested not 
t4i molest them. By thiSj pnhlie curiosity was raised to 
the highest pitch. When we returned fi'om supper at a 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 169 

neighboring restaurant, we were treated to a novel scene. 
The doors and windows of our apartments had been 
blocked with boxes, bales of cotton, and huge cart-wheels 
to keep out the irrepressible throng. Our host was agi- 
tated to tears ; he came out wringing his hands, and urg- 
ing upon us that any attempt on our part to enter would 
cause a rush that would break his house down. We list- 
ened to his entreaties on the condition that we should be 
allowed to mount to the roof with a ladder, to get away 
from the annoying curiosity of the crowd. There we sat 
through tlie evening twilight, while the crowd below, some- 
what balked, but not discouraged, stood taking in every 
move. Nightfall and a drizzling rain came at last to our 
relief. 

The next morning a squad of soldiers was despatched 
to raise the siege, and at the same time presents began to 
arrive from the various officials, from the Tsongtu, or vice- 
roy, down to the suj^eriiitendent of the local prisons. The 
matter of how much to accept of a Chinese present, and 
how much to pay for it, in the way of a tip to the bearer, 
is one of the finest points of that finest of fine arts, Chi- 
nese etiquette j and yet in the midst of such an abundance 
and variety we were hopelessly at sea. Fruits and teas 
were brought, together with meats and chickens, and even 
a live sheep. Our Chinese visiting-cards — with the Chi- 
nese the great insignia of rank — were now returned for 
those sent with the presents, and the hour appointed for 
the exhibition of our bicycles as requested. 

Long before the time, the streets and housetops leading 
from the inn to the viceroy's palace at the far end of the 
city began to fiU with people, and soldiers were detailed 
at our request to make an opening for us to ride through 
abreast. This, however, did not prevent the crowd from 
pushing us against each other, or sticking sticks in the 




ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



wheels, or tbrowiug their hats and shoes in front of uSj as 
we rode b}^ When in sig^ht of the viceroy's palaee, they 
closed in on tis entirely. It was the worst jam we had 
ever been in. By nt> possibility uould we mount onr ma- 
chineS| aithongh the inub wa.s gixjwing iiiore and more 
impatient. They kept gh (in ting for lis to ride, bnt would 
give lis no ruonu Tiiose on the outside pnslied the inner 
ones against ns. With the greatest difficulty could we 
presei've onr equilil>riu]n^ and prevent the wheels from 
being crash ed, as we slugged along toward the palace gate ; 
while all the time onr Rnssian interpreter, Alafoo, onhoi-se- 
back in frontj continued to shont and gesticidate in tbe 
wildest manner above their heady. Twenty soldiei's bad 
been stationed at the palace gate to keep back the mob 




MUl^JLiMEM' TtJ A MtlKSl' AT UKUMTSI. 



with cudgels, Wlten we reached themj they pulled na 
and our wheels qnickly through into the inclosnraj and 
then tried to stem the tide l>y belaboring the heads and 




THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 171 

shoulders in reach, iuchiding those of our unfortunate 
interpreter, Mafoo. But it was no use. Everything was 
swept away before this surging wave of humanity. The 




A BANK IN URUMTSI. 



viceroy liimself, who now came out to receive us, was 
powerless. All he could do was to request them to make 
room around the palace courtyard for the coming exhibi- 
tion. Thousands of thumbs were uplifted that afternoon, 
in praise of the wonderful twee-tdh-chehj or two-wheeled 
carts, as they witnessed our modest attempt at trick rid- 
ing and special manoeuvering. After refreshments in the 
palace, to which we were invited by the viceroy, we were 
counseled to leave by a rear door, and return by a round- 
about way to the inn, leaving the mob to wait till dark 
for our exit from the front. 

The restaurant or tea-house in China takes the place of 
the Western club-room. All the current news and gossip 



172 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

is liei-e eiiviilated and discussed over their eating or gam- 
bling. One of their games of chance, which we ha\'e fre- 
quently noticed, seems to consist in tlu-owing their fingers 
at one another, and shouting at the top of their voices. 
It is YQiiily a matching of numbers, for which the China- 
men make signs on their fingers, up to the numeral ten. 
Our entry into a crowded dnngan, or native Mohammedan 
restaunmt, tlie next morning, was the signal for exciting 
accounts of the events of the previous day. We were 
immediately in\dted to take tea with tliis one, a morning 
disli of ftoifj-jwsas, or nut and sugar dimiplings, with an- 
other, while a thifd came over ^dth his can of sojeu, or 
Chinese gin, with an invitation " to join him.'' The Chi- 
nese of all nations seem to live in order to eat, and from 
tliis race of epicures has developed a nation of excellent 
cooks. Our fare in China, outside the Gobi district, was 
far better than in Turkey or l^ersia, and, for this reason, 
we wen."^ better able to endure the increased hardships. 
A plat^ of sliced nu^at stewed with vegetables, and served 
irith a piquant sauce, sliced radishes and onions with 
A-inegar, two loaves of Cliinese mo-mo, or steamed bread, 
aud a l>ot of tea, would usually cost us about three and 
.ttie quarter wnts apiece. Everything in China is sliced 
SI- ^;hat it can be eaten with the chop-sticks. These we at 
-CLsrsi lt«pmHl to manipulate ^dtli sufficient dexterity to 
TWi.UT a A>vosegg — the highest attainment in the chop- 
,ri*ft dcs. The Chinese have rather a sour than a sweet 
^**«i. >uc«r is rarely used in anything, and never in 
■^ "^ s5<«<^>i tea-flowers, which the higher classes 
^-v ??* ^^^ ^B^'^^ **^®*y without it. In many of the 
(sor visits to the restaui'ant would sonie- 
-K «mi5*ierable damage to its keepers, for 
.w,^ * rn«iL" -s»-»itt in after us, knocking over the 
, V rnv^jiTV as they went, and collect in a 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 173 

circle around us to watch the '^foreigners" eat, and to 
add their opium and tobacco smoke to the suffocating 
atmosphere. 

A visit to the local mint in Urumtsi revealed to us the 
primitive method of making the chen^ or money-disks 
before mentioned. Each is molded instead of cut and 
stamped as in the West. By its superintendent we were 




A MAID OF WESTERN CHINA. 



invited to a special breakfast on the morning of our 
departure. 

The Chinese are the only people in tlie Orient, and, so 
far as we know, in the European and Asiatic continents, 
who resemble the Americans in their love for a good, sub- 
stantial morning meal. This was much better adapted 
to our purpose than the Russian custom, which compelled 
us to do the greater part of our day's work on merely 
bread and weak tea. 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 175 

From Urumtsi we had decided to take the northern 
route to Hami, via Gutchen and Barkul, in order to avoid 
as much as possible the sands of the Tarim basin on the 
southern slope of the Tian Shan mountains. Two guards 
were commissioned by the viceroy to take us in charge, 
and hand us over to the next relay station. Papers were 
given them to be signed by the succeeding authorities on 
our safe arrival. This plan had been adopted by everj^ 
chief mandarin along the route, in order, not only to fol- 
low out the request of the London minister as written 
on the passport, but principally to do us honor in return 
for the favor of a bicycle exhibition ; but many times 
we would leave our discomfited guards to return with un- 
signed papers. Had we been traveling in the ordinary 
way, not only these favors might not have been shown us, 
but our project entirely defi^ated by loc^al obstructions, as 
was the case mtli many who attempted the same journey 
by caravan. To the good-will of the mandarins, as well 
as the people, an indispensable concomitant of a journey 
through China, our bicycles were after all our best pass- 
ports. They everywhere overcame the antipathy for the 
foreigner, and made us cordially welcome. 

The costumes of our soldiers were strikingly pictu- 
resque. Over the front and back of the scarlet waistcoats 
were worked in black silk letters their military credentials. 
Over their full baggy trousers were drawn their riding 
overalls, which cover only the front and sides of the legs, 
the back being cut out just above the cloth top of theii* 
Chinese boots. Instead of a cap, they wear a piece of 
printed cloth wrapped tightly around the head, like the 
American washerwomen. Their well-cushioned saddles 
did not save them from the constant jolting to which our 
high speed subjected them. At every stopping-place they 
would hold forth at length to the curious crowd about 



176 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



their roadside experiences. It was amusiug to hear their 
graphic descriptions of the mysterious '^ ding," by which 
they referred to the ring of tlie cyclometer at every mile. 
But the phi'ase quai-U-henn (very fast), which conchided 
almost every sentence, showed what feature impressed 
them most. Then, too, they disliked very much to travel 
in the heat of the day, for all summer traveling in China 




A CHINESE PEDDLER FROM BARKUL. 



is done at night. They would wake us up many hours 
before daylight to make a start, despite our previous re- 
quest to be left alone. Our week's run to Barkul was 
made, with a good natural road and favoring conditions, 
at the rate of fifty-three miles per day, eight miles more 
than our general average across the empire. From Kuldja 
to the Great Wall, where our cyclometer broke, we took 
accurate measurements of the distances. In this way, we 
soon discovered that the length of a Chinese li was even 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 177 

more changeable than the value of the tael. According to 
time and place, from 185 to 250 were variously reckoned 
to a degree, while even a difference in direction would 
very often make a considerable difference in the distance. 
It is needless to say that, at this rate, the guards did not 
stay with us. Official courtesy was now confined to des- 
patches sent in advance. Through this exceptionally wild 
district were encountered several herds of antelope and 
wild asses, which the natives were hunting with their 
long, heavy, fork-resting rifles. Through the exceptional 
tameness of the jack-rabbits along the road, we were some- 
times enabled to procure with a revolver the luxury of a 
meat supper. 

At Barkul (Tatar) the first evidence of English influ- 
ence began to appear in the place of the fading Russian, 
although the traces of Russian nianufactui^e were by no 
means wanting far beyond the Great Wall. English pul- 
verized sugar now began to take the place of Russian 
lump. India rubber, instead of the Russianized French 
elastiquej was the native name for our rubber tires. Eng- 
lish letters, too, could be recognized on the second-hand 
paper and bagging appropriated to the natives' use, and 
even the gilded buttons worn by the soldiers bore the 
stamp of '^ treble gilt." From here the road to Hami 
turns abruptly south, and by a pass of over nine thousand 
feet crosses tlie declining spurs of the Tian Shan moun- 
tains, which stand like a barrier between the two great 
historic highways, deflecting the westward waves of migra- 
tion, some to Kashgaria and others to Zungaria. On the 
southern slope of the pass we met with many large cara- 
vans of donkeys, dragging down pine-logs to serve as 
poles in the proposed extension of the telegraph-line from 
8u-Chou to Urumtsi. In June of this year the following 
item appeared in the newspapers : 
12 



178 



ACKUHH AWIA ON A BICYCLE 



"Within El few iiiijntiis Peking will lii^ iniited by wire 
with St. PBtersliurg; and, in (^(mseqnence, with thi! tele- 
graph system of the entire civilised workl. According 
to the latest issue of the Tnrkestan ^Gazette/ the tele- 



CHIHESE GRAVES ON THE ROAI> TO HAMI. 



graph-line from Peking has been lirought m far west as 
the city of Kaahgar. The Enropoan <*nd <jf the line is at 
Oshj and a small streteh of about 140 ndlew now alone 
breaks the direct telegrajA commnmcation from the At- 
lantic to the Pa(;iflc " 



Haini is one of those eities which may be regarded as 
iji dispensable. At the edge of the Great Gobi an*l the 
eonverging i)oint of the Nan-iu and Pe-lu — ^that is, the 
southern and noilhern routes to the western world — this 
oasis is a necessary resting-place. During ouv stop of 
two days, to make necessary repairs and recuperate onr 
strength for the hardships of the desert, the usual calls 
were exchanged with the leatliug offieitals. In the matter 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 179 

of social politeness the Chinese, especially the ^^ literati," 
have reason to look down upon the barbarians of the 
West. Politeness has been likened generally to an air- 
cushion. There is nothing in it, but it eases the jolts 
wonderfully. As a mere ritual of technicalities it has per- 
haps reached its highest point in China. The multitude 
of honorific titles, so bewildering and even maddening to 
the Occidental, are here used simply to keep in view the 
fixed relations of gradiiated superiority. When wishing 
to be exceptionally c/ourteous to " the foreigners,'' the more 
experienced mandarins would lay their doubled fists in the 
palms of our hands, instead of raising them in front of 
their foreheads, with the usual salutation Homa. In shak- 
ing hands with a Chinaman we thus very often had our 
hands full. After the exchange of visiting-cards, as an 




SCENE IN A TOWN OF WESTERN CHINA. 



indication that their visits would be welcome, they would 
come on foot, in carts, or palanquins, according to their 
rank, and always attended by a larger or smaller retinue. 




the wlieeLs, either aluue or witlj our iot^i^preter, if we eoiild 
find one, for our Chinese was a« yet painfully defective^ 
Russian had served us in good stead, though uot always 



I 



p 




A UEgSOK IN CIIINESIL^ 




direetly. In a eouvei'Siiti^ni with the Toutai of Si'liiclio, 
for iiiwtaw^e, oui' Riij^siaii had to be tniiii<hited into Turki 
and tJieuce intei^pi-eted in Chinese. Tlie more inteihgent 
of these eouversations were alK>iit our own and other 
countries of tlu^ worhl, especially Englantl and Russia, 
who, it was nnnoriKl, had gone to war on the Afghanistan 
border. Btit the most of them generally consisted of a 
series of trivial mterroj^atinys bej^nning usually with i 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 181 

" How old are you ? " Owing to our beards, which were 
now full grown, and which had gained for us the frequent 
title of yeh renn, or wild men, the guesses were far above 
the mark. One was even as high as sixty years, for the 
reason, as was stated, that no Chinaman could raise such 
a beard before that age. We were frequently surprised 
at their persistence in calling us brothers when there was 
no apparent reason for it, and were finally told that we 
must be " because we were both named Mister on our pass- 
ports." 

It was already dusk on the evening of August 10 when 
we drew up to the hamlet of Shang-loo-shwee at the end 
of the Hami oasis. The Great Gobi, in its awful loneli- 
ness, stretched out before us, like a vast ocean of endless 
space. The growing darkness threw its mantle on the 
scene, and left imagination to picture for us the night- 
mare of our bo}'liood days. We seemed, as it were, to be 
standing at the end of the world, looking out into the 
realm of nowhere. Foreboding thoughts disturbed our 
repose, as we contemplated the four hundred miles of this 
barren stretch to the Great Wall of China. With an early 
morning start, however, we struck out at once over the 
eighty-five miles of the Takla Makan sands. This was the 
worst we could have, for beyond the caravan station of 
Kooshee we would strike the projecting limits of Mongo- 
lian Kan-su. This narrow tract, now lying to our left 
between Hami and the Nan Shan mountains, is character- 
ized by considerable diversity in its surface, soil, and 
climate. Traversed by several copious streams from the 
Nan Shan mountains, and the moisture-laden currents 
from the Bay of Bengal and the Brahmaputra valley, its 
" desert " stretches are not the dismal solitudes of the Ta- 
rim basin or the ^^ Black" and ^*Red" sands of central 
Asia. Water is found almost everywhere near the sur- 
12* 



182 



ACEOaS ASIA OX A BICYCLE 



face, and spnn^s buTililt* ii[> in I lie hfiUowi4, often i^oeivcled 
by exterior tvatscw. I^h erywlieiT tlie ^^ound iiji traversable 
by horses and carts. This (^oniparatively fertile tract, 
cutting the trobi into tW4> gi^at sections, has l>eeu, ever 
^ince its eonqnest two thousand yeai's ago, of vast impor- 
tajice to China, l>eing the only feasible avenue of eomiim- 



A TRAIL m THE GOBI IJI^SERT. 



nitration with the we stein provinces, and the more impor- 
tant link in the only great liighway aeross the empire. 
A regiilai^ line of cai'avan stations is maintained hy the 
constant traffic both in win tin' and snnimer. Bnt we wen? 
now on a bit of the genuine Oobi — that is, "Sinidy Des- 
erf — of the Mougohan, or '*Shajno'- of the Chinest\ 
Everywhei^e was the same interminable pictnre of vast 
nndnlating plains of shifting I'edthsh sands, intei'sj>prsed 
with quartz pebbles, agates, and cai'nelians, and relieved 
here and there by patches of why shi*ubs, used as fuel at 
the desert stations, or lines of lulloeks succeeding each 
other like waves on the surface of the shoreless deep. The 
windj even more than the natiu*al barrenness of the soil, 
prevents the gi^wth of any vegetation except low, pliant 




THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 183 

herbage. Withered plants are uprooted and scattered by 
the gale like patches of foam on the stormy sea. These 
terrible winds, which of course were against us, with the 
frequently heavy cart-tracks, would make it quite impos- 
sible to ride. The monotony of many weary hours of 
plodding was relieved only by the bones of some aban- 
doned beast of burden, or the occasional train of Chinese 
carts, or rather two-wheeled vans, loaded with merchan- 
dise, and drawn by five to six horses or mules. For miles 
away they would see us coming, and crane their necks in 
wondering gaze as we approached. The mulish leaders, 
wdth distended ears, would view our strange-looking ve- 
hicles with suspicion, and then lurch fur out in their twenty- 




IN THE GOBI DESEKl'. 



foot traces, pulling the heavily loaded vehicles from the 
deep-rutted track. But the drivers were too busy with 
their eyes to notice any little divergence of this kind. 
Dumb with astonishment they continued to watch us till 
we disappeared again toward the opposite horizon. Far- 
ther on we would meet a party of Chinese emigi'ants or 



184 ACROSS ASIA OX A BICYCLE 

exiles, on their way to the fertile regions that skirt the 
northern and southern slopes of the Tian Shan mountains. 
By these people even the distant valley of the Ili is being 
lai'gely populated. Being on foot, with their extraordi- 
nary loads balanced on flexible shoulder-poles, these poor 
fellows could make only one station, or from twelve to 
twenty miles a day. In the presence of their patience and 
endurance, we were ashamed to think of such a thing as 
hardship. 

The station-houses on the desert were nothing more 
than a collection of mud huts near a sm*face weU of 
strongly brackish water. Here, most of the caravans 
would put up during the day, and travel at night. There 
was no such thing as a restaurant ; each one by turn must 
do his own cooking in the inn kitchen, open to all. We, 
of course, were expected to carry our own provisions and 
do our own culinary work like any other respectable trav- 
elers. This we had fi*e(iU(4itly done before where restau- 
rants were not to be found. Many a time we would enter 
an inn with our arms filled with provisions, purchased at 
the neighboring bazaars, take possession of the oven and 
cooking utensils, and proceed to get up an American meal, 
while all the time a hundred eyes or more would be star- 
ing at us in blank amazement. But here on the desert 
we could buy nothing but very coarse flour. When asked 
if they had an egg or a piece of vegetable, they would 
shout '^ Ma-you^^ ('^ There is none ") in a tone of rebuke, as 
much as to say : " My conscience ! man, what do you ex- 
pect on the Gobi?" We would have to be content with 
our own tea made in the iron pot, fitting in the top of the 
mud oven, and a kind of sweetened bread made up with 
our supply of sugar brought from Hami. This we nick- 
named our "Gobi cake," although it did taste rather 
strongly of brackish water and the garlic of previous con- 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 185 

tents of the one common cooking-pot. We would usually 
take a large supply for road use on the following day, or, 
as sometimes proved, for the midnight meal of the half- 
starved inn-dog. The interim between the evening meal 
and bedtime was always employed in writing notes by the 




STATION OF SEB-BOO-TCHAN. 



feeble, flickering light of a primitive taper-lamp, which 
was the best we had throughout the Chinese journey. 

A description of travehng in China would by no means 
be complete without some mention of the vennin which 
infest, not only inns and houses, but the persons of nearh^ 
all the lower classes. Lice and fleas seem to be the sine 
qua non of Chinese life, and in fact the itching with some 
seems to furnish the only occasion for exercise. We have 
seen even shopkeepers before their doors on a sunny after- 
noon, amusing themselves by picking these insidious crea- 



180 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

tiires from their inner garments. They are one of the 
necessary evils it seems, and no secret is made of it. The 
sleeping lauujii of the Chinese inns, which are made of 
beaten earth and heated in winter like an oven, harbor 
these pests the year round, not to mention the filthy cov- 
(^'lets and greasy pillows that were sometimes offered us. 
Had we not liad our own sleeping-bags, and used tlie 
camera, ]>ro vision-bag, and coats for pillows, our life would 
have been intolcrabh*. As it was there was but little rest 
for the weary. 

Tlie longest station on the desert was thirty-one miles. 
Tliis was the only time that we suffered at all with thirst. 
In addition to the high mean elevation of the Gobi, about 
foiu' thousand feet, we had cloiuly weather for a consider- 
al)le portion of tlie journey, and, in the Kan-su district, 
(iven a heavy thunder-sliower. These occasional summer 
rains form, here and there, temporary meres and lakes, 
which \xvi> soon evaporated, leaving nothing behind except 
a saline efflorescdicc^ Elsewliere the ground is furrowed 
]>y sudden torrents tearing down the slopes of the occa- 
sional hills or mountains. Theses dried up river-beds fur- 
nished the oidy continuously hard surfaces we found on 
the (jobi ; although even here we were sometimes brought 
up with a round turn in a chuck hole, with the sand fly- 
ing above our heads. 

Our aneroid barometer registered approximately six 
thousand five hundred feet, when we reached at dusk the 
summit of the highest range of hills we encountered on 
the desert journey. But instead of the station-hut we ex- 
l)ected to find, we were confronted by an old Mongolian 
monastery. These institutions, we had found, were gen- 
erally situated as this one, at the top of some difficult 
mountain-pass or at the mouth of some cavernous gorge, 
wliere the pious intercessors might, to the best advantage, 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 187 

strive to appease the wrathful forces of nature. In this 
line of duty the lama was no doubt engaged when we 
walked into his feebly-lighted room, but, like all Orientals, 
he would let nothing interfere with the performance of 
his religious duties. With his gaze centered upon one 
spot, his fingers flew over the string of beads in his lap. 




A ROCKY PASS IN THE MOUNTAINS OF THE GOBI. 



and his tongue over the stereotyped prayers, with a rapid- 
ity that made our head swim. We stood unnoticed till 
the end, when we were at oiK^e invited to a cup of tea, and 
directed to our destination, five U beyond. Toward this 
we plodded through the growing darkness and rapidly 
cooling atmosphere ; for in its extremes of temperature 
the Gobi is at once both Siberian and Indian, and that, 
too, within the short period of a few hours. Some of the 
mornings of what proved to be very hot days were cold 
enough to make our extremities fairly tingle. 
A constant diet of bread and tea, together with the 



188 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



hard physical exercise and mental anxiety, caused our 
strength at length to fail. 

The constant drinking of brackish water made one of 
us so ill that he could retain no food. A high fever set 
in on the evening of August 15, and as we pulled into 
the station of Bay-doon-sah, he was forced to go to bed 
at once. The other, with the aid of our small medicine 
supply, endeavored to ward off the ominous symptoms. 
In his anxiety, however, to do all that was possible he 
made a serious blunder. Instead of antipyrin he admin- 
istered the poison, sidpliate of zinc, which we carried to 
relieve our eyes when inflamed by the alkali dust. This 
was swallowed before the truth was discovered. It was 




A WASTE OF IJLACK SAND IN THE GOBI. 



an anxious moment for us botli when we picked up the 
paper from the floor and read the inscription. We could 
do nothing but look at each other in silence. Happily it 
was an overdose, and the vomiting which immediately 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 189 

followed relieved both the patient and the anxious doctor. 
What to do we did not know. The patient now suggested 
that his companion should go on without him, and, if 
possible, send back medical aid or proper food ; but not 
to remain and get woi*se himself. He, on the other hand. 






A KOAU MARK IN IHE GOBI DKSEKT. 



refused to k^ave without the other. Then too, the outly- 
ing town of Ngan-si-ehou, ihe first where proper food and 
water could be obtained, was only one day^s journey away. 
Another effort was decided upon. But when morning 
came, a violent hurricane from the southeast swept the 
sand in our faces, and fairly blew the sick man over on 
his wheel. Famishing with thirst, tired beyond expres- 
sion, and burning with fever as well as the withering heat, 
we reached at last the bank of the Su-la-ho. Eagerly we 
plunged into its sluggish waters, and waded through under 
the walls of Ngan-si-chou. 

Ngan-si-chou was almost completely destroyed during 
the late Dungan rebellion. Little is now to be seen ex- 
cept heaps of rubbish, ruined temples, and the scattered 
fragments of idols. The neglected gardens no longer 



190 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

check the advancing sands, which in some places were 
di^ifting over the ramparts. Through its abandoned gate- 
way we ahnost staggered with weakness, and directed our 
course to the miserable bazaar. The only meat we could 
find was pork, that shibboleth between Mohammedanism 
and Confucianism. The Dungan restaurant-keeper would 
not cook it, and only after much persuasion consented to 
have it prepared outside and brought back to be eaten 
beneath his roof. With better water and more substantial 
food we began, from this time on, to recuperate. But be- 
fore us still a strong head wind was sweeping over the 
many desert stretches that lay between the oases along 
the Su-la-ho, and with the constant walking our sandals 
and socks were almost worn away. For this reason w^e 
were delayed one evening in reaching the town of Dyou- 
min-shan. In tlie lonely stillness of its twilight a horse- 
man was approaching across the barren plain, bearing a 
huge Chinese lantern in his liand, and singing aloud, as 
is a Chinaman's custom, to drive off the evil spirits of the 
night. He started l)ack, as we suddenly appeared, and 
then dismounted, hiu-riedly, to throw his lantern^s glare 
upon us. ^^ Are you the two Americans 1 " he asked in an 
agitated manner. His question was surprising. Out in 
this desert (country we were not aware that oui* identity 
was known, or our visit exi)ected. He then explained that 
he had been instructed by the magistrate of Dyou-min- 
shan to go out and look for us, and escoi-t us into the 
town. He also mentioned in this connection the name of 
Ling Darin — a name that we liad heard sj^oken of almost 
with veneration ever since leaving Urumtsi. Wlio this 
personage was we were unable to find out beyond that he 
was an influential mandarin in the city of Su-chou, now 
only a day's journey away. 

Near that i^ame fortieth ])aranel of latitudes on which 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 191 

our Asiatic journey was begun and ended, we now struck, 
at its extreme western limit, the Great Wall of China. 
The Kiayu-kuan, or " Jade Gate," by which it is here in- 
tersected, was originally so called from the fact that it 
led into the Khotan country, whence the Chinese traders 
brought back the precious mineral. This, with the Shang- 




WITHIN THE WESTERN GATE OF THE GREAT WALL. 



hai-kuan near the sea, and the Yuamin-kuan, on the Nan- 
kow pass, are the principal gateways in this " wall of ten 
thousand Zi*," which, until forced by Yengiz Khan, pro- 
tected the empire from the Mongolian nomads for a period 
of fourteen hundred years. In its present condition the 
Great Wall belongs to various epochs. With the sudden 
and violent transitions of temperature in the severe Mon- 
golian chmate, it may be doubted whether any portion of 
Shi Hoangti's original work still siu-vives. Nearly aU the 



192 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

eastern section, from Ordos to the Yellow Sea, was rebuilt 
in the fifth centmy, and the double rampart along the 
northwest frontier of the plains of l^eking was twice re- 
stored in the fifteenth and sixteenth. North of Peking, 
where this prodigious structure has a mean height of 
about twenty-six feet, and width of twenty feet, it is still 
in a state of perfect repair, whereas in many western dis- 
tricts along the Gobi frontier, as here before us, it is little 
more than an earthen rampart about fifteen feet in height, 
while for considerable distances, as along the road from 
Su-chou to Kan-choii, it has entirely disappeared for miles 
at a stretch. Both tlu^ gate and the wall at this point had 
been recently repaired. We could now see . it rising and 
falling in pi(;tures(pie undulations as far as the Tibetan 
ranges. Tlu^rc^ it stops altogether, after a westward course 
of over fifteen hundred miles. In vit^w of what was be- 
fore us, we could not but smile as we thought of that 
French abbe who undertook, in an elaborate volume, to 
])r()ve that tlu^ '^ (freat Wall of ( 'hiiia'^ was nothing more 
than a myth. 

We were now past another long anticipated land-mark, 
and before us, far down in the plain, lay the city of Su- 
chou, which, as the terminal point of the Chinese telegraph- 
line, would bring us again into electric touch with the 
civilized world. But betwecMi us and our goal lay the 
Edzina river, now swollen by a recent freshet. We be- 
gan to wade cautiously through with luggages and wheels 
])alanced on cmr shoulders. But just at that moment we 
perceived, a])proaching from the distance, what we took 
to be a mounted Chinese mandarin, and his servant lead- 
ing behind him two richly caparisoned and riderless horses. 
At sight of us they spurred ahead, and reached the oppo- 
site bank just as we passed the middle of the stream. The 
leader now rose in his stuTups, waved his hat in the air 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 193 

and shouted, in clear though broken English, " Well, gen- 
tlemen, you have arrived at last ! " To hear our mother 
tongue so unexpectedly spoken in this out-of-the-way part 
of the world, was startling. This strange individual, al- 
though clad in the regular mandarin garb, was Ught-com- 
plexioned, and had an auburn instead of a black queue 




RIDING BY THE GREAT WALL ON THE ROAD TO SU-CHOU. 

dangling from his shaven head. He gi'asped us warmly 
by the hand as we came dripping out of the water, while 
all the time his benevolent countenance fairly beamed 
witli joy. " I am glad to see you, gentlemen," he said. 
" I was afraid you would be taken sick on the road ever 
since I heard you had started across China. I just got 
the news five minutes ago that you were at Kiayu-kuan, 
and immediately came out with these two horses to bring 
you across the river, which I feared would be too deep 
13 



194 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

and swift for you. Mount your ponies, and we will ride 
into the city together/' 

It was some time before the idea flashed across our 
minds that this might indeed be the mysterious Ling Da- 
rin about wliom we had heard so much. " Yes," said he, 
" that is what I am called here, but my real name is Splin- 
gard." He then went on to tell us that he was a Belgian 
by birth ; that he had traveled extensively through China, 
as the companion of Baron Richthofen, and had thus be- 
come so thoroughly acquainted with the country and its 
people that on his return to the coast he had been offered 
by the Chinese government the position of custom man- 
darin at Su-chou, a position just then established for the 
levying of duty on the Russian goods passing in through 
the northwest provinces ; that he had adopted the Chinese 
dress and mode of living, and had even married, many 
years ago, a Chinese girl educated at the Catholic schools 
in Tientsin. We were so a])S()rbed in this romantic his- 
tory that we scarcely noticed the crowds that lined the 
streets leading to tlie Ling Darin's i)alace, until the boom 
of a cannon recalled us to our situation. From the smile 
on the jolly face beside us, we knew at once whom we 
could hold responsible for this reception. The palace 
gates were now thrown open by a host of servants, and in 
our rags and tatters we rolled at once from the hardships 
of the inhospitable desert into the lap of luxury. 

A surplus is not always so easily disposed of as a deficit 
— at least we were inclined to think so in the case of our 
Su-chou diet. The Ling Darin's table, which, for the ex- 
ceptional occasion, was set in the foreign fashion with 
knives and forks, faii'ly teemed with abundance and vari- 
ety. There was even butter, made from the milk of the 
Tibetan yak, and condensed milk for our coffee, the first 
we had tasted since leaving Turkey, more than a year be- 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 195 

fore. The Ling Darin informed us that a can of this 
milk, which he once presented to Chinese friends, had been 
mistaken for a face cosmetic, and was so used by the ladies 
of the family. The lack of butter has led many of the 
missionaries in China to substitute lard, while the Chinese 
fry their fat cakes in various oils. The Ling Darin's wife 
we found an excellent and even artistic cook, while his 
buxom twin daughters could read and write their own 
language — a rare accomplishment for a Chinese woman. 
Being unaccustomed to foreign manners, they would never 
eat at the same table with us, but would come in during 
the evening with their mother, to join the family circle 
and read aloud to us some of their fatlier^s official des- 
patches. This they would do with remarkable fluency 
and intelligence. 

As guests of our highly respected and even venerated 
host, we were visited by nearly all the magistrates of the 
city. The Ling Darin was never before compelled to an- 
swer so many questions. In self-defense lie was at last 
forced to get up a stereotyped speech to deliver on each 
social occasion. The people, too, besieged the palace gates, 
and clamored for an exhibition. Although oui* own clothes 
had been sent away to be boiled, we could not plead this 
as an excuse. The flowing Chinese garments which had 
been provided from the private wardrobe of the Ling Da- 
rin fluttered wildly in the breeze, as we rode out through 
the city at the appointed hour. Our Chinese shoes, also, 
were constantly slipping off, and as we raised the foot to 
readjust them, a shout went up from the crowd for what 
they thought was some fancy touch in the way of riding. 

From the bari'enness of the Gobi to the rank vegetation 
of the Edzina valley, where the gi'ass and grain were actu- 
ally falling over from excessive weight, was a most reliev- 
ing change. Water was everywhere. Even the roadway 



196 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

served in many places as a temporary irrigating-canaL 
On the journey to Kan-chou we were sometimes compelled 
to ride on the narrow mud-wall fences that separated the 
flooded fields of wheat, miUet, and sorghum, the prevail- 
ing cereals north of the Hoang-ho river. Fields of rice 
and the opium poppy were sometimes met with, but of the 
silk-worm and tea-plant, which furnish the great staples 




A TYI'ICAI. KKl KI'TION IN A CHINESE TOWN. 



of tlu^ ('hiiK^Kc (iX))()rt trade, we saw ahsohitely nothing on 
our route through tlie uortlua-n provinces. Apart from 
the *< Yi^llow Lands" of the 1 loan g-lio, which need no 
manun^, tln^ anil)l(^ regions of (/liina seem to have main- 
tained i]mv f(H'-undity for over four thousand years, en- 
tirely through tli(^ thouglitful care of tlu^ peasantry in re- 
storing to tlu) soil, und(^r anotlu^r form, all tliat the crops 
have tak(^n from it. Tlu^ ])lowing of the Chinese is very 
poor. Th(\y scarcely do more than scratch the surface 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 197 

of the gi'ound with their bent-stick plows, wooden-tooth 
drills, and wicker-work haiTOWS ; and instead of straight 
lines, so dear to the eye of a Western farmer, the ridges 
and furrows are as crooked as serpents. The real secret 
of their success seems to lie in the care they take to re- 
plenish the soil. All the sewage of the towns is carried 
out every morning at daybreak by special coolies, to be 
preserved for manure 5 while the dried herbs, straw, roots, 
and other vegetable refuse, ai*e economized with the great- 
est care for fuel. The Chinese peasant offsets the rude- 
ness of his im2)lements with manual skill. He weeds the 
ground so carefidly that there is scarcely a leaf above the 
ground that does not appertain to tlie crop. All kinds of 
pumps and hydi-aidic wheels are worked, either by the 
hand, animals, or the wind. Tlie system of tillage, there- 
fore, resembles market-gardening rather than the broad 
method of cultivation common in Europe and America. 
The land is too valuable to be devoted to pasture, and the 
forests nearly everywhere have been sacrificed to tillage 
to such an extent that the material for the enormously 
thick native coffins has now to be imported from abroad. 
Streams and irrigating-ditches were so frequent that 
we were continually saturated with water or covered with 
mud. Our bare arms and legs were so tanned and coated 
that we were once asked by a group of squalid villagers 
if "foreigners" ever bathed like themselves. On dashing 
down into a village, we would produce consternation or 
fright, especially among the women and children, but after 
the first onset, giggling would generally foUow, for our 
appearance, especially from the rear, seemed to strike them 
as extremely ridicidous. The wheel itself presented vari- 
ous aspects to their ignorant fancies. It was called the 
"flying machine" and "foot-going carriage," while some 
even took it for the '^ fii*e-wheel cart," or locomotive, about 
13* 



198 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

whicli they had heard only the vaguest rumors. Their 
ignorance of its source of motive power often prompted 
them to name it the " self -moving cart/' just as the natives 
of Shanghai are wont to call the electric-light " the self- 
coming moon." 

In one out-of-the-way village of northwestern China, we 
were evidently taken for some species of centaurs j the 
people came up to examine us while on the wheel to see 
whether or no rider and wheel were one. "We became so 
harassed with importunities to ride that w^e were com- 
pelled at last to seek rehef in subterfuge, for an absolute 
refusal, we found, was of no avail. "We would promise 
to ride for a certain siun of money, thinking thus to 
throw the ])urdeii of refusal on themselves. But, nothing 
daunted, they would 2)ass round the hat. On several oc- 
casions, when told that eggs could not ])e bcmght in the 
community, an offer of an exhibition would bring them 
out by the dozen. In the same way we received presents 
of tea, and by this means our casli exj^enses were consid- 
erably curtailed. The interest in the ^^ foreign horses'' 
was sometimes so great as to stop business and even amuse- 
ments. A rather notable incident of this kind occurred 
on one of the Chinese holidays. The flag-decked streets, 
as we rode through, were filled with the neighboring peas- 
antry, attracted by some traveling theatrical troupe en- 
gaged for the occasion. In fact, a 2)erformance was just 
then in progress at the open-au* theater close at hand. 
Before we were aware of it we had rolled into its crowded 
auditorium. The women were sitting on improvised 
benches, fanning and gossiping, while the men stood about 
in listless groups. But suddenly their attention was 
aroused by the counter attraction, and a general rush fol- 
lowed, to the great detriment of the temporary peddlers'- 
stands erected for the occasion. Although entirely de- 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 199 

serted, and no doubt consumed with curiosity, the actors 
could not lose what the Chinese caU " face." They still 
continued their hideous noises, pantomimes, and dialogues 
to the empty seats. 

The last fifty miles into Liang-chou, a city founded by 
a Catholic Chinaman over two hundred years ago, we 
were compelled to make on foot, owing to an accident 




A CHINAMAN S WHEELBARROW. 



that caused us serious trouble all through the remainder 
of our Chinese journey. In a rapid descent by a narrow 
pathway, the pedal of one of the machines struck upon a 
protuberance, concealed by a tuft of grass, snapping off 
the axle, and scattering the ball-bearings over the ground. 
For some miles we pushed along on the bare axle inverted 
in the pedal-crank. But the wrenching the machine thus 
received soon began to tell. With a sudden jolt on a 
steep descent, it collapsed entirely, and precipitated the 



200 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

rider over the haudle-bai*s. The lower part of the frame 
had broken short off, where it was previously cracked, 
and had bent the top bar almost double in the fall. In 
this sad plight, we were rejoiced to find in the ^'City 
under the Shade " the Scotch missionary, Mr. Laughton, 
who had founded here the most remote of the China In- 
land Missions. But even with his assistance, and that of 
the best luitive mechanic, our repairs were ineffective. 
At several points along the route we were delayed on this 
account. At last the front and rear parts of the machine 
became entirely separated. There was no such thing as 
steel to be found in the country, no tools fit to work with, 
and no one who knew the first principles of soldering. 
After endeavoring to convince the native blacksmiths that 
a delicate ])i('ycle would not stand pounding like a Chinese 
cart-wluH^l, we took the matter into our own hands. An 
iron bar was placed in the hollow tubing to hold it in 
shape, and a ])aiid of telegraph wire passed round from 
front to rear, along the upper and lower rods, and then 
twisted so as to bring the two parts as tightly together as 
possible. With a waddling frame, and patched rear- wheel 
describing eccentric revolutions, we must have presented 
a rather comical appearance over the remaining thousand 
miles to the coast. 

Across tlie Yellow Hoang-ho, which is the largest river 
we encountcired in Asia, a pontoon bridge leads into the 
city of Lan-chou-foo. Its strategical position at the point 
where the Hoang-ho makes its great bend to the north, 
and where the gateway of the West begins, as weU as its 
])icturesque location in one of the greatest fruit-bearing 
districts of China, makes it one of the most important 
cities of the empire. On the commanding heights across 
the river, we stopped to photograph the picturesque scene. 
As usual, the crowd swarmed in front of the camera to 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 201 

gaze into the mysterious lens. All the missionaries we 
had met cautioned us against taking photographs in 
China, lest we should do violence to the many popular 
superstitions, but the only trouble we ever experienced in 
this respect was in arousing popular curiosity. We soon 
learned that in order to get something besides Chinese 
heads in our pictures it was necessary first to point the 




MONUMENT TO THE BUILDER OF A BRIDGE. 

camera in the opposite direction, and then wheel suddenly 
round to the scene we wislied to take. As we crossed the 
river, the bridge of boats so creaked and swayed beneath 
the rushing rabble, that we were glad to stand once more 
upon the terra flrma of the city streets, which were here 
paved with granite and marble blocks. As we rode down 
the principal thoroughfare, amid the usual din and uproar, 
a weU-dressed Chinaman rushed out from one of the stores 
and grabbed us by the arm. " Do you speak English f " 



202 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

he shouted, with an accent so like an American, that we 
leaped from our wheels at once, and grasped his hand as 
that of a fellow countryman. This, in fact, he proved to 
be in everything but birth. He was one of that party of 
mandarins^ sous which had been sent over to our country 
some years ago, as an experiment by the Chinese govern- 
ment, to receive a thorough American training. We can- 
not here give the history of that experiment, as Mr. Woo 
related it — liow they were subsequently accused of cut- 
ting off their queues and becoming denationalized ; how, 
in consequence, they were recalled to their native land, 
and degi'aded rather than elevated, both by the people 
and the goveriimeut, because they were foreign in their 
sentiments and habits j and how, at last, they gradually 
began to force recognition tln-ough the power of merit 
alone. He liad now l)een sent out by the government to 
engineer tlie extension of the telegraph-line from Su-chou 
to Uruiutsi, for it was feared by the government that the 
employment of a foreigner in tins cai)acity would only 
increase the power for evil w^liich the natives already at- 
tributed to this foreign innovation. The similarity in the 
phrases, telegraph pole and dry heaven, had inspired the 
common belief that the line of poles then stretching 
across the country was responsible for the long-existing 
di'ought. In one night several miles of poles were sawed 
short off, by the secret order of a banded conspiracy. 
After several decapitations, the poles were now being 
restored, and labeled with the words, " Put up by order 
of the Emperor." 

In company with the English missionary, Mr. Redfern, 
while attempting to get out of the city on the way to his 
mountain home, we were caught in another jam. He 
counseled us to conceal the weapons we were carrying in 
our belts, for fear the sight of them should incite the mob 



THE GOBI DESERT AND THE GREAT WALL 203 

to some act of violence. Our own experience, however, 
had taught us that a revolver in China was worth nothing if 
not shown. For persistence, this mob sui-passed any we had 
ever seen. They followed us out of tlie city and over the 
three miles' stretch to the mission premises, and there an- 
nounced their intention of remaining indefinitely. Again 
Mr. Redf ern feared some outbreak, and counseled us to re- 




TVVO PAGODAS AT LAN-CHOU-FOO. 



turn to the city and apply to the viceroy himself for protec- 
tion. This proved a good move. A special exhibition on the 
palace parade-grounds gained for us the valuable favor of 
one who was only fourth in rank to the emperor himself. 
A body-guard of soldiers was furnished, not only during 
our sojourn in the city, but for the journey to Singan-foo, 
on which a good reception was everywhere insured by an 
official despatch sent in advance. In order to secure for 
us future respect, a small flag with the government stamp 
and of yellow color was given us to fly by the side of our 



204 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

" stars and stripes." Oii this was inscribed the title of 
" The Traveling Students," as well as answers to the more 
frequent of the common questions — our nationality, des- 
tination, and age. The best mechanic in the local cannon- 
foundry was then ordered to make, at government expense, 
whatever repairs were possible on our disabled machines. 
This, however, as it proved, was not much ; most of his 
time was spent in taking measurements and patterns for 
another purpose. If his intentions have been carried out, 
Lan-chou-foo is to-day possessed of a '' foot-moving car- 
riage " of home production. 

Our sojourn in this city is especially associated with 
the three names of Woo, Choo, and Moo — names by no 
means uncommon in Chinese nomeiu^lature. We heai*d of 
a boy named the abstract niuneral, '^ sixty-five," because 
his grandfather haj^pened to reach that age on the very 
day of his birth. Mr. Moo was the local telegraph opera- 
tor, with whom we, and om* friends Woo and Choo, of 
Shanghai, associated. All operators in the Chinese tele- 
graph system are required to read and write English. 
The school established for this purpose at Lan-chou we 
occasionally visited, and assisted the Chinese schoolmas- 
ter to hear the recitations from Routledge's spelling-book. 
He, in turn, was a frequent partaker of our '^foreign 
chows," which our English-speaking friends served with 
knives and forks boiTowed from the missionaries. Lily 
and bamboo roots, sharks^ fins and swallows^ nests, and 
many other Chinese delicacies, were now served in abun- 
dance, and with the ever-accompanying bowl of lice. In 
the matter of eating and di'inking, Chinese formality is 
extreme. A round table is the only one that can be used 
in an aristocratic household. The seat of honor is always 
the one next to the wall. Not a mouthful can be taken 
untU the host raises his chop-sticks in the air, and gives 




THE GOBI DESEKT AND THE GREAT WALL 

tlie sigual. SileiLco then prevails^ ; for C\)uiTi{iiu8 says : 
'^ When a man eats lie lias no time for ttilk/ ' Wlieii a 
eup of tea is served to any one in a social party, he must 
ofter it to every one in the room, no matter how many 
there are, before proceeding to drink himseli'. The real 
basis of Chinese politeness seems to be this : Tliey must 
lie polite enough to offer, and yon must be polite enough 
to i^efuse, Olu' ignorance of this great underlyuig priii- 
eiple duiiug the early part of the Chinese joimiey led us 
into eri*oi*s both many and grievous. In oMer to show a 
desire to be sociable^ we accepted tdmost eveiytlmig that 
was offered ns, to the great chagrin, we fear, of the 
coiu*teous donors. 



I 




uiSSiCWAmi!:^ Ai lak-lhul'-koUh 



VI 



AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 

OUR departure from Lau-chou was not, we thought, 
regretted by the officials themselves, for we heard 
that apprehension was expressed lest the ei-owds eimtinu- 
ing to collect around the telegi-aph-office should indidge 
in a riot. However, we were loath to leave oiu* genial 
friends for the society of opium-smokers, for we were now 
in that province of China which, nc^vt to Scchuen, is most 
addicted to this habit. From dusk till bed-time, the streets 
of the villages were almost deserted for the squalid opium 
dens. Even our soldier attendant, as soon as the wooden 
saddle was taken from his sore-backed government steed, 
would produce his portable lamp, and proceed to melt on 
his needle the wax-like contents of a small, black box. 
When of the proper consistency, the paste was rolled on 
a metal plate to point it for the aperture in the flute- 
shaped pipe. Half the night would be given to this pro- 
cess, and a considerable portion of the remaining half 
would be devoted to smoking small pinches of tobacco in 
the peculiar Chinese water-pipe. According to an official 
note, issued early in 1882, by Mr. Hart, Inspector-General 
of Chinese Customs, considerably less than one per cent, 
of the population is addicted to opium-smoking, while 
those who smoke it to excess are few. More to be feared 

207 



208 ACKOSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

is the use of opium as a poison, especially among Chinese 
women. The government raises large sums from the im- 
port duty on opium, and tacitly connives at its cnltivation 
in most of the provinces, where the traders and mandarins 
share l)etween them tlie profits of this officially prohibited 
drug. 

This part of tlie great historic highway on which we 
were now traveling, l)etween the two bends of the Hoang- 
lio, was found more extensively patronized than hereto- 
fore. Besides the usual caravans of horses, donkeys, and 
two-wlieeled vans, w(^ occasionally met with a party of 
shaven-head(Ml Til)etans ti'aveling either as emissaries, or 
as tradei's in th(^ famous Tilx^aii slieei)-skins and fm*s, and 
the stronj^ly-scented bags of tlu» musk-deer. A funeral 
c()rteg(^ was also a veiy fiHujuent sight. C'hinese custom 
riMpiires that the remains ot* Ihe dead be brought back 
to theii- natives place, no matter how far they may have 
wandered dui'ini*' life, and as tln^ carriage of a single body 
woidd often be expensive, they luv generally interred in 
temporary eeniel cries or mortuary villages, until a suffi- 
cient number can be got togethei* to form a large convoy. 
iMandai-ins, however, in death as in life, travel alone and 
with retinue. One coffin we nu't which rested upon poles 
supported on the shoidders of thirty-two men. Above on 
tlu^ coflin was perched the usual white rooster, which is 
supposed to incorporate, during transportation, the spirit 
of the de})arted. In funeral ceremonies, esi)ecially of the 
father, custom also reqiures the children to give public 
expression to their grief. Besides many other filial ob- 
servances, the eldest son is in duty bound to render the 
journey easy for the departed hy scattering fictitious paper- 
money, as spirit toll, at the various roadside temples. 

kSingan-foo, the capital of the Middle Kingdom, undei* 
the Tsin dynasty, and a city of the first importance more 



210 



ArROSS A8IA ON A BICYCLE 



tliaii two thousaiHl yi'ars ngiy, is Btill oot^ of tlie liirgest 
}^la*■e8 ju tlit^ tniipire, br^iug oxiM^eded in popttlation |)ro1> 
ably hy Canton alone. Eaeli at its four walls, facing the 
caniinal |jomtB, is over six miles long and is pierced in 



i I- 



All.^lOfJAHUilS AT TAI-YltN-l-OO. 



the center by a monumental gate with lofty pavilions. It 
WEB here, among the mins of an old Nestfinan eliiUTihj 
l)nilt sevurid eimturies before^ tliat was fonnd thv fanious 
tablet now sought at a high piice hy the British Museum, 
The harassing molis gathei-ed from its teeming ijopidationj 
as well as the lateness of the season, prompted ns to make 
our sojcmrn as short as possible. Only a day sufficed to 
reach Toug-qnan, which is the nenti-al stronghold of the 
Hoang-ho basin, and one of the best defended points in 
China, Here, between procipitcms ehffs, this giant stream 
rushes madly hy^ as if in protest against its sudden dellec- 



INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 211 

tion. Our ferry this time was not the back of a Chinese 
coolie nor a jolting ox-cart, but a spacious flat-boat made 
to accommodate one or two vehicles at a time. This was 
rowed at the stern, like the gondolas of Venice. The mob 
of hundreds that had been dogging our foot-steps and 
making life miserable, during our brief stop for food, 
watched our embarkation. We reached the opposite 
shore, a mile below the starting-point, and began to as- 
cend from the river-basin to the highlands by an exca- 
vated fissure in the famous '^ yellow earth." This gives 
its name, not only to the river it discolors, but, from the 
extensive region comprised, even to the emperor himself, 
who takes the title of ^' Yellow Lord," as equivalent to 
" Master of the World." The thickness of this the richest 
soil in China, which according to Baron Richthofen is 




ENTERING TONG-QUAN BY THE WEST GATE. 



nothing more than so much dust accumulated during the 
course of ages by the winds from the northern deserts, is 
in some places at least two thousand feet. Much ingenu- 
ity has been displayed in overcoming the difficulties offered 



212 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



to fi'ee comniiini(^ation hy the perpendicular walls of these 
yellow lands. Some of the most frequented roads have 
been excavated to depths of from forty to one hundred 
feet. Being seldom more than eight or ten feet wide, the 
wheeled traffic is conducted by means of sidings, like the 
*^ stations " in the Suez Canal. Being undrained or un- 




MONUMKNIS NJCAK (-(NE-SIIK-CIMKN. 



swept l)y the winds, these walled-up tracks are either dust- 
beds or quagmires, according to the season j for us, the 
autumn rains had converted them into the latter. Al- 
though on one of tlie imperial highways which once ex- 
cited the admiration of Marco Polo, we were now treated 
to some of the worst stretches we have ever seen. The 
mountain asc(uits, especially those stau*-like approaches to 
the " Heavenly Gates ^' before reaching the Pe-chili plains, 
were steep, gradeless inclines, strewn with huge upturned 
blocks of stone, over which the heavy carts were fairly 
lifted by the sheer force of additional horse-flesh. The 
bridges, too, whose Roman-like masonry attests the high 



INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 213 

degree of Chinese civilization during the middle ages, 
have long since been abandoned to the ravages of time ; 
while over the whole country the late Dungan rebellion 
has left its countless ruins. 

The people of Shan-si province are noted for their spe- 
cial thrift, but this quality we observed was sometimes 
exhibited at the expense of the higher virtue of honesty. 
One of the most serious of the many cases of attempted 
extortion occurred at a remote country town, where we 
arrived late one evening, after learning to our dismay that 
one of oiu' remarkably few mistakes in the road had 
brought us just fifty miles out of the way. Unusually 
wearied as we were by the cross-coimtry cuts, we desired 
to retire early. In fact, on this account, we were not so 
observant of Chinese formality as we might have been. 
We did not heed the hinted recjuests of the visiting offi- 
cials for a moon-light exhibition, nor go to the inn-door 
to bow them respectfully out. We were glad to take them 
at their word when tlu^y said, with the usual hypocritical 
smirk, ^'Now, don't come out any farther." This indis- 
cretion on our part caused them, as well as oiu'selves, to 
suffer in the respect of the assembled rabble. With offi- 
cial connivance, the latter were now free, they thought, to 
take unusual liberties. So far, in our dealings with the 
Chinese, we had never objected to anything that was rea- 
sonable even from the native point of view. We had long 
since learned the force of the Chinese proverb that, "in 
order to avoid suspicion you must not live behind closed 
doors"; and in consequence had always recognized the 
common prerogative to ransack our private quarters and 
our luggage, so long as nothing was seriously disturbed. 
We never objected, either, to their wetting our paper win- 
dows with their tongues, so that they might noiselessly 
slit a hole in them with their exceptionally long finger 
14* 



214 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

nails, although we (lid wake up some mornings to find the 
panes entirely gone. It was only at the request of the 
innkeeper that we sometimes undertook the job of clean- 
ing out the inn-yard J but this, with the prevalent super- 
stition about the " withering touch of the foreigner," was 
very easily accomplished. Nor had we ever shown the 
slightest resentment at being called " foreign devils " ; for 
this, we l(?arned, was, with the younger generation at least, 
the only title by which foreigners were known. But on 
this i)articular night, our forbearance being quite ex- 
hausted, we ejected the intruders bodily. Mid mutterings 
and threats we turned out the lights, and the crowd as 
well as ourselves retired. The next morning the usual 
exorbitant l)ill was })resented by the innkeeper, and, as 
usual, one lialf or one third was offered and finally ac- 
cepted, with the customary protestations about being 
under-paid. The innkeeper's gnnnblings incited the 
crowd which early assembled, and from their whispers 
and glances we eouUI see that trouble of some kind was 
brc^wiug. We now hastened to get the wheels into the 
road. eTust then the innkee})er, at the instigation of tlie 
(^rowd, rushed out and gral)bed the handle-bars, demand- 
ing at the same time a smn that was even in advance of 
his original price. Extortion was now self-evident, and, 
remonstranee being of no avail, we were obliged to pro- 
tect ourselves with oiu* fists. The crowd began to close 
in upon us, until, with our backs against the adjoining 
wall, we drew our weapons, at which the onward move- 
ment changed suddenly to a retreat. Then we assumed 
the aggressive, and regained the wheels which had been 
left in the middle of the road. The innkeeper and his 
friend now caught hold of the rear wheels. Only by seiz- 
ing their queues could we drag them away at all, but even 
then before we could mount they would renew their grasp. 



INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 215 

It was only after another direct attack upon them that 
we were able to mount, and dash away. 

A week's journeying after this unpleasant episode 
brought us among the peanuts, pigs, and pig-tails of the 




MONUMENT NEAR CHANG-SHIN-DIEN. 



famous Pe-chili plains. Vast fields of peanuts were now 
being plowed, ready to be passed through a huge coarse 
sieve to separate the nuts from the sandy loam. Sweet 
potatoes, too, were plentiful. These, as well as rice balls, 
boiled with a peculiar dry date in a triangular corn-leaf 
wrapper, we purchased every morning at daybreak from 
the pots of the early street- venders, and then proceeded 
to the local bake-shops, where the rattling of the rolling- 
pins prophesied of stringy fat cakes cooked in boiling lin- 
seed oil, and heavy dough biscuits cleaving to the urn-like 
oven. 

It was well that we were now approaching the end of 



216 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

our journey, for our wheels and clothing were nearly in 
pieces. Our bare calves were pinched by the frost, for 
on some of the coldest mornings we would find a quarter 
of an inch of ice. Our rest at night was broken for the 
want of sufficient covering. The straw-heated hangs would 
soon cool off, and leave us half the night with only our 
thin sleeping-bags to ward off rheumatism. 

But over the ])eaten paths made by coimtless wheelbar- 
rows we were now fast nearing the end. It was on the 
evening of November 8, that the giant walls of the great 
" Residence," as the ]KM)ple call their imperial capital, broke 
suddt^ily into vit^w through a vista in the surrounding 
foliage. The goal of our thrtHsthousand-one-hundred-and- 
sixteen-mile joiii-nev was now before us, and the work of 
the seventy-iirst riding day almost ended. With the dusk 
of evening we entered tlie western gate of the " Manchu 
(^ity," and began to thread its crowded thoroughfares. 
By th(^ time we reaelied Legation street or, as the natives 
egotistically call it, ^^The Street of the Foreign Depen- 
dencies," night had veiled our haggard features and ragged 
garments. In a dimly lighted c(mrtyard we came face to 
face with the English })r()i)rietor of the Hotel de Peking. 
At our request for lodging, he said, " Pardon me, but may 
I first ask who you are and where you come from ? " Our 
unprepossessing appearance was no doubt a sufficient 
excuse for this precaution. But just then his features 
(Jianged, and he greeted us effusively. Explanations were 
now superfluous. The " North Chma Herald " correspon- 
dent at Pao-ting-f 00 had already published our story to the 
coast. 

That evening the son of the United States minister 
visited us, and offered a selection from his own wardrobe 
until a Chinese tailor could renew our clothing. With 
borrowed plumes we were able to accept invitations from 



INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 217 

foreign and Chinese officials. Polite cross-examinations 
were not infrequent, and we fear that entire faith in our 
alleged journey was not general until, by riding through 
the dust and mud of Legation street, we proved that Chi- 




ON THE PEI-HO. 



nese roads were not altogether impracticable for bicycle 
traveling. 

The autumn rains had so flooded the low-lying countiy 
between tlie capital and its seaport, Tientsin, that we were 
obliged to abandon the idea of continuing to the coast on 
the wheels, which by this time were in no condition to 
stand unusual strain. On the other hand the house-boat 
journey of thirty-six hours down the Pei-ho river was a 
rather pleasant diversion. 

Oar first evening on the river was made memorable by 
an unusiial event. Suddenly the rattling of tin pans, the 



218 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

tooting of horns, and the shouting of men, women, and 
children, aroused ns to the realization that something ex- 
traordinary was occurring. Then we noticed that the full 
moon in a cloudless sky had already passed the half-way 
mark in a total eclipse. Our boatmen now joined in the 
general uproar, whic^li reached its height when the moon 




A CHINAMAN SCULLING ON THE I'EI-HO. 



was entirely obscured. In explanation we were told that 
the ^^ Great Dragon " was endeavoring to swallow up the 
moon, and tliat the loudest possil)le noise must be made 
to frighten liini away. Slioiits hailed the reappearance 
of the nioon. Although om' boatmen had a smattering 
of pidjin, or business, English, we were unable to get a 
very clear idea of Chinese astronomy. In journeying 
across the empire we found sufficient analogy in the vari- 
ous provincial dialects to enable us to acquire a smatter- 
ing of one from another as we proceeded, but we were 



INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 219 

now unable to see any similarity whatever between " You 
makee walkee look see," and " You go and see," or between 
" That belong number one pidjin," and " That is a first- 
class business." This jargon has become a distinct dialect 
on the Chinese coast. 

On our arrival in Tientsin we called upon the United 
States Consul, Colonel Bowman, to whom we had brought 
several letters from friends in Peking. During a supper 
at his hospitable home, he suggested that the viceroy 
might be pleased to receive us, and that if we had no 
objection, he would send a communication to the yamen, 
or official residence. Colonel Bowman^s secretary, Mr. Ten- 
ney, who had been some time tlie instructor of the vice- 
roy^s sons, and who was on ratlier intimate terms with the 
viceroy himself, kindly offered to act as interpreter. A 
favorable answer was received the next morning, and the 
time for our visit fixed for the afternoon of the day fol- 
lowing. But two hours before the appointed time a mes- 
sage was received from tlie viceroy, stating tliat he was 
about to receive an unexpected official visit from the phan- 
taij or treasurer, of the Pe-chili province (over which Li- 
Hung-Chang himself is viceroy), and asking for a post- 
ponement of our visit to the following morning at 11 
o'clock. Even before we had finished reading this unex- 
pected message, the booming of cannon along the Pei-ho 
river announced the arrival of the phantaVs boats before 
the city. The postponement of our engagement at this 
late hour threatened to prove rather awkward, inasmuch 
as we had already purchased our steamship tickets for 
Shanghai, to sail on the Fei-ching at five o'clock the next 
morning. But through the kindness of the steamship 
company it was arranged that we should take a tug-boat 
at Tong-ku, on the line of the Kai-ping railroad, and over- 
t^e the steamer outside the Taku bar. This we could 



220 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

do by taking the train at Tientsin, even as late as seven 
hours after the departure of the steamer. Steam naviga- 
tion in the Pei-ho river, over the forty or fifty miles' 
stretch from Tientsin to the gulf, is rendei'ed very slow 
by the sharp turns in the nan'ow stream — the adjoining 
banks being frequently struck and plowed away by the 
bow or stern of the large ocean steamers. 

When we entered the consulate the next morning, we 
found three palanquins and a dozen coolies in waiting to 
convey our party to the viceroy's residence. Under other 
circumstances we would have patrcmized our " steeds of 
steel," but a visit to the '^biggest" man in Cliina had to 
be conducted in state. We were even in some doubt as 
to the proi)riety of appearing before his excellency in 




SALT HEAPS AT THE GOVERNMENT WORKS AT TONG-KU. 

bicycle costume ; but we determined to plead our inability 

to carry luggage as an excuse for this breach of etiquette. 

The first peculiarity the Chinese notice in a foreigner 

is his dress. It is a requisite with them that the clothes 



INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 221 

must be loose, and so draped as to conceal the contour of 
the body. The short sack-coat and tight trousers of the 
foreigner are looked upon as certainly inelegant, if not 
actually indecent. 

It was not long before we were out of the foreign settle- 




WINUMILLS AT TONG-Kf FOK KAISING SALT WATi:K. 



ment, and wending our way through the narrow, winding 
streets, or lanes, of the densely populated Chinese city. 
The palanquins we met were always occupied by some 
high dignitary or official, who went sweeping by with his 
usual vanguard of servants, and his usual frown of exces- 
sive dignity. The fact that we, plain ^'foreign devils," 
were using this mode of locomotion, made us the objects 
of considerable curiosity from the loiterers and passers- 
by, and in fact had this not been the case, we should have 
felt rather uncomfortable. The unsympathetic observa- 
tion of mobs, and the hideous Chinese noises, had become 
features of our daily life. 



222 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

The yameti courtyard, as we entered, was filled with 
empty palanquins and coolie servants waiting for the 
different mandarins who had come on official visits. The 
yamen itself consisted of low one-story structures, built in 
the usual Chinese style, of wood and adobe brick, in a 
quadrangular form around an inner courtyard. The com- 
mon Chinese paper which serves for window-glass had 
long since vanislied from the ravages of time, and the 
finger-puncli(»s of vandals. Even here, at the yamen of 
the prime minister of China, dirt and dilapidation were 
evident on every hand. The anteroom into which we 
were ushered was in keeping with its exterior. The paper 
that covered the low walls and squatty ceiUng, as well as 
the calico covin-ing on the divans, was soiled and torn. 
The room itself was filled with mandarins from various 
parts of tli(^ country, waiting for an audience with his ex- 
celk^ncy. Each wore the official robe and dish-pan hat, 
with its i)arti(*nlar button or insignia of rank. Each had 
a portly, well-fed api)earaiice, with a pompous, dignified 
mien overspreading his features. The servant by whom 
we had sent in our Chinese visiting-cards returned and 
asked us to follow him. Passing through several rooms, 
and then along a narrow, darkened hallway, we emerged 
into an inner courtyard. Here there were several ser- 
vants standing like sentinels in waiting for orders ; others 
were hm-rying hither and thither with different messages 
intmsted to their care. This was all there was to give to 
the place the air of busy headquarters. On one side of 
the courtyard the doors of the " foreign reception " room 
opened. Through these we were ushered by the liveried 
servant, who bore a message from the viceroy, asking us 
to wait a few moments until he should finish some impor- 
tant business. 

The foreign reception-room in which we were now sit- 



INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 223 

ting was the only one in any official residence in the em- 
pu'e, and this single instance of compliance with foreign 
customs was significant as bearing upon the attitude to- 
ward Western ideas of the man who stands at the head of 
the Chinese government. Everything about us was for- 
eign except a Chinese divan in one corner of the room. 
In the middle of the floor stood a circular sofa of the 
latest pattern, with chairs and settees to match, and at 
one end a foreign stove, in which a fire had been recently 
lighted for our coming. Against the wall were placed a 
full-length mirror, several brackets, and some fancy work. 
The most interesting of the ornaments in tlie room were 
portraits of Li-Hung-Chang himself, Ea^upp the gun-maker, 
Armstrong the ship-builder, and the immortal " Chinese 
Gordon," the only foreigner, it is said, who lias ever won 
a spark of admiration from the Chinese peoph^ 

While we were waiting for the vic^eroy, his second son, 
the pupil of Mr. Tenney, eanie in and was introduced in 
the foreign fashion. His English was fluent and correct. 
He was a bright, intelligent lad of nineteen years, then 
about to take his flrst trial examinations for the Chinese 
degree of scholarship, which, if attained, would make him 
eligible for official position. Although a son of the vice- 
roy he will have to rise by his own merit. 

Our conversation with the viceroy's son extended over 
ten or fifteen minutes. He asked many questions about 
the details of our journey. " How," said he, " could you 
get along without intei-preter, guide, or servant, when 
every foreigner who goes even from here to Peking has 
to have them ? " He questioned us as to whether or not 
the Chinese had ever called us names. We replied that 
we usually traveled in China under the nmi de Chhiois, 
yang queedza (the foreign devils), alias yeh rmn (the wild 
men). A blush overspread his cheeks as he said : " I must 



224 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYl'LiE 

a|M»lo^i/(' tor my countn'men ; I hope you will excuse 
tlniii, tor tlh'v know no l)etter." The young* man ex- 
pitssrd dvv\) interest in America and American institu- 
tions, and said if lie eould obtain his father's consent he 
wouM ftrtainly nmke a visit to our country. This was 
tlh' only son tli(»n at himie ^ith tlie vicei-oy, his eldest son 
lM*in«r niinistt'r t(» Japan. The youngest, the ^'iceroy's fa- 
\ oritt\ wMs. it was said, the ])rightest and most promising. 
His tlcatli (MMMirrcd only a few months before our arrival 
in TiiMitsin. 

\Vi' \V( ro lioldinir an animated conversation when the 
vicrroy hiinscir was announced. We all stood to show 
our rcspt'ct tor tlu' prime minister whom General Grant 
iucludrd aniouir tlie thn^e greatest statesmen of his day. 
'Die \ icrroy was preceded by two body-servants. We 
stiMMJ bd'ijn' a uiau who appeared to be over six feet in 
lu'itrlil, ;ilili(»uirl» liis head and slioidders were considerably 
bent with aue. His llowing dress was made of rich col- 
ored silk, l)ut. very plain indeed. Any ornamentation 
would liavr been a profanation of the natural dignity and 
^>lati'liuess ot* Iji-lIuug-Cliang. With slow pace he walked 
into tlie room, stopped a moment to look at us, then ad- 
vanced with outstretched hand, while a faint smile played 
about liis features and softened the piercing glance of his 
eyes, lli^ shook oiu' hands heartily in the foreign fashion, 
and without any show of ceremony led the way into an 
adjoining room, where a long ccmncil-table extended over 
halt* the length. The viceroy took the arm-chair at the 
head, and moti(med us to take the two seats on his left, 
while Mr. Tenney and the viceroy's son sat on his right. 
For abnost a minute not a word was said on either side. 
The vi(Hn*()y had fixed his gaze intently upon us, and, like 
a good general perhaps, was taking a thorough survey of 
the field before he opened up the cannonade of questions 



INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 226 

that was to follow. We in turn were just as busily en- 
gaged in taking a mental sketch of his most prominent 
physical characteristics. His face was distinctly oval, 
tapering from a very broad forehead to a sharp pointed 




FURNACE FOR BURNING WASTE PAPER BEARING WRITTEN CHARACTERS. 



chin, half-obscured by his thin, gray " goatee." The crown 
of his head was shaven in the usual Tsing fashion, leav- 
ing a tuft of hair for a queue, which in the viceroy's case 
was short and very thin. His dry, sallow skin showed 
signs of wrinkling; a thick fold lay under each eye, and 
15 



226 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

at each end of his upper lip. There were no prominent 
cheek-bones or ahnond-shaped eyes, wliich are so distinc- 
tively seen in most of the Mongolian race. Under the 
scraggy mustache we could distinguish a rather benevo- 
lent though determined mouth ; while his small, keen eyes, 
which were somewhat sunken, gave forth a flash that was 
perhaps but a flickering ember of the fii*e they once con- 
tained. Tlie left eye, which was partly closed by a para- 
lyti(5 stroke several years ago, gave him a rather artful, 
waggish appearance. The whole i)liysiognomy was that 
of a man of strong intuition, with the ability to force his 
point wluMi necessary, and the shrewd common sense to 
yield when desiring to be i)olitic. 

"Well, gentlemen," he said at last, through Mr. Tenney 
as interpreter, "you don't look any the worse for your 
long journey." 

"We are glad to hear your excellency say so," vre re- 
plied ; " it is gratifying to know that our appearance 
speaks well for llu^ treatment we have received in China." 

We lio})t^ our rcadei's will consider the requirements of 
Chinese eticpiette as suHicitait excuse for our failure to 
say candidly that, if we looked healthy, it was not the 
fault of his countrymen. 

" Of all th(i countries tlinmgh which you have passed, 
which do you consider the best f " the viceroy then asked. 

In our answer to this question the reader would no 
doubt expect us to follow etiquette, and say that we 
thought China was the best; and, perhaps, the viceroy 
himself had a similar expectation. But between telling 
a positive lie, and not telling the truth, there is perhaps 
sufficient difference to shield us from the charge of gross 
inconsistency. We answered, therefore, that in many re- 
specits, we considered America the gi'eatest country we had 
seen. We ought of course to have said that no reasonable 



INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 227 

person in the world would ever think of putting any other 
country above the Celestial Empire ; our bluntness elicited 
some surprise, for the ^dceroy said : 

" If then you thought that America was the best why 
did you come to see other countries ? ^' 

" Because until we had seen other countries," we replied, 
" we did not know that America was the best." But this 
answer the viceroy evidently considered a mere subter- 
fuge. He was l)y no means satisfied. 

"What w^as your real object in undertaking such a 
peculiar journey ? " he asked rather impatiently. 

" To see and study tlie world and its peoi)les," we an- 
swered 5 " to get a practical training as a finish to a theo- 
retical education. The bicycle was adopted only because 
we considered it the most convenient means of accom- 
plishing that purpose." 

The viceroy, however, could not understand liow a man 
should wish to use Jiis own strength when he could travel 
on the physical for(*e of some one (»lse ; nor why it was 
that we should adopt a course through central Asia and 
northwestern China when the southern route through 
India would have been far easier and less dangerous. He 
evidently gave it up as a conundrum, and started out on 
another line. 

" Do you consider the Shah of Persia a powerful mon- 
arch?" was his next question. 

" Powerful, perhaps, in the Oriental sense," we replied, 
" but very weak in comparison with the Western nations. 
Then, too, he seems to be losing the power that he does 
have — he is compelled to play more and more into the 
hands of the Russians." 

" Do you think that Russia will eventually try to take 
possession of Persia ? " the viceroy interrupted. 

" That, of course, is problematical," we answered, with the 



^2S 



ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 



emliarrassTneiit men of inw a^*^ miglit feel at lifiiig iuf^ti- 
gated to talk puUtics witJi u prime luiiiister, ** Wluit wti 
do know, for eertaiii, is that Russia is noWf witli her Ti*aiis*- 
easpiao I'ailruatl, witlun al)i*iit forty iiiik's of Meshed, the 
capital of Persia's lichesit province* of Kliorat^iaii ; that she 
now lias a well-engineered and, f(>r a gi*eat portion of the 
way, a macadamized I'oad to that eity ac-ross the Kopet 




DK- UANCif l!:DCt:,<rBI3 IN THE tlNUlID BTATEK, NOSV IN THE tiKimNG HUFilNfi&S. 




Dagh mountains from Askahad, the capital of Russian 
Transcaspia ; ajid that half that road the Persians were 
rather foi-eibly invdted tu tMiii struct.'^ 

^'Do yon tliiiLk/' again iiiteiTupted the viceroy^ whose 
interest in the Russians now began to take a more domes- 
tic torn, ** tluit the Russians wonld like to have the Chi- 
nese pro^-inee <»f IH f " 

To this question we might verj^ appro]>iiately have said, 
*^ No " f for the reason that we thought Ru!:>t^ia had it al- 



» 




INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 229 

ready. She is only waiting to draw it in, when she feels 
certain that her Siberian flank is better protected. The 
completion of the Transsiberian railroad, by which troops 
can be readily transported to that portion of her domin- 
ion, may change Russians attitude toward the province of 
Ili. We did not, however, say this to his excellency. We 
merely replied that we believed Russia was seldom known 
to hold aloof from anything of value, which she thought 
she could get with impunity. As she was now sending 
cart-load after cart-load of goods over the border, through 
Ili, into northern and western China, without paying a 
cent of customs duty, while on the other hand not even a 
leaf of tea or thread of cotton passed over the Russian 
line from China without the payment of an exorbitant 
tariff; and as she had already established in Kuldja a 
postal, telegraph, and Cossack station, it would seem that 
she does not even now ^iew the province of Ili as wholly 
foreign to the Russian empire. 

At this the viceroy cleared his throat, and dropped his 
eyes in thoughtful mood, as much as to say : " Ah, I know 
the Russians ; but there is no help for it." ^ 

At this point we ventiu-ed to ask the viceroy if it were 
true, as we had been informed, that Russia had aiTanged 
a treaty with Cliina, by which she was entitled to establish 
consuls in several of the interior i)rovinces of the Chinese 
empire, but he evaded the question with adroitness, and 
asked : 

'-'- Did n't you find the roads very bad in China ? " 

This question was creditable to the viceroy^s knowledge 
of his own country, but to this subject we brought the 
very best Chinese politeness we could muster. We said 
that inasmuch as Cliina had not yet adopted the bicycle, 
her roads, of course, were not adapted to that mode of 
locomotion. 
15* 



230 



ACEOSS ASIA ON A BICYCLiE 



The \iceroy tben a^ked iis to describe the bieyelej and 
inquired if *sneii a veliicle did nut ei-eate eoiiKideralile con- 
sternation among the peoi>le. 

We tolil him that the bi(?iycle from a CMneBO point of 
view wa^ capable of various descriptions. On the pa^s- 




A cms lis li SE]=:P]NU'DRIU„ 



poi"ts given ns by the Chinese tnlnister in London the 
bicyele was called^* a seat^t^ittingj foot-nio^iiig machim*.'^ 
The natives in the interior hml apphcd to it vai-iinif^ epi- 
thets, among which wei*e y(in(f ma (foi-eign horse)j fei-efutt/ 
{flying-]naehine)j siiahtoi eha}/ {self-moving cart), and 
others. The most graphic description, pt^rliapSj was given 
by a CliiQaman whom we overheard relating to his neij^h- 
bors the fii*st appearance of the bicyele in his (juict little vil- 
lage, " It is a httle mule," said he, '^ that yon drive by the 
earSj and kick in the sides to make him go," A dignified 
smile overspread the viceroy- s features. 



INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 231 

" Did n^t the people try to steal your money ? '' he next 
inquired. 

"No," we replied. "From onr impoverished appear- 
ance, they evidently thought we had nothing. Our ward- 
robe being necessarily limited by our mode of travel, we 
were sometimes reduced to the appearance of traveling 
mendicants, and were often the objects of pity or con- 
tempt. Either this, or our peculiar mode of travel, seemed 
to dispel all tliought of highway robbery ; we never lost 
even so much as a button on our journey of over three 
thousand miles across the Chinese empire." 

" Did the governors you met treat you well ? " he asked ; 
and then immediately added : " Being scholars, were you 
not subjected to some indignity T)y being urged to perform 
for every mandarin you met f " 

" By nearly all tlie governors," we said, " we were treated 
very kindly indeed ; but we were not so certain that the 
same favors would have been extended to us had we 
not cheerfully consented to give exhibitions of bicycle 
riding." 

There was now a lull in the conversation. The viceroy 
shifted his position in his chair, and took another whiff 
from the long, slender Chinese pipe held to his mouth by 
one of his body-servants. One whiff, and the pipe was 
taken away to be emptied and refilled. After a short res- 
pite he again resumed the conversation, but the questions 
he now asked were of a personal nature. We enumerate 
a few of them, without comment, only for the purpose of 
throwing some additional light on the character of our 
questioner. 

"About how much did the trip cost you? Do you ex- 
pect to get back all or more than you spent ? Will you 
write a book ? 

" Did you find on youi' route any gol^ or silver deposits ? 



•{ 

I 232 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

• t 

; '' Do you like the Chinese diet; and how much did one 

' meal cost you? 

i I ** How old are you 1 [One of the first questions a Chinese 

1 1 host usually asks his guest.] Ai'e you married? What 

!( is the trade or profession of your parents? Are they 

ll wealthy ? Do they own niueh land ?" (A Chinaman's idea 

;* of wealth is liniit^nl somewhat by the amount of land 

I, owned.) 

!l *'Will you telegra])h to your parents from Shanghai 

. ;t your safe arrival there? 

)} "Were you not rash in attempting such a journey? 

:| Suppose you had been killed out in the interior of Asia, 

. uo one would ever have heard of you again. 

I' '-Are you Democrats or Republicans?" (The viceroy 

i| showed <*onsiderable knowledge of oiu* government and 

j iiisiilutions.) 

'' Will you i-uM for any political office in America? Do 
you evei' expect 1o get into (-(mgress? 

'' Do you Inive 1o buy ollices in America?" was the last 
iiKjuiry. 

There was considerable hesitancy on the part of us both 
to answer this (piestion. Finally we were obliged to 
admit that sometimes such was the case. "Ah," said the 
viceroy, "that is a very bad thing about American poli- 



J 



■3 tics." Dut in this censure ho, was even more severe on 

a his own country than America, lief erring to ourselves 
in this connection, the viceroy ventured to predict that we 

'^ might beconu^ so well-known as the result of our journey 

:j that we could get into office without paying for it. " You 

I' are both young," he added, " and can hope for anything." 
f During the conversation the viceroy frequently smiled, 

i and sometimes came so near overstepping the bounds of 

r. Chinese propriety as to .chuckle. At first his reception 

i was more formal, biit his interest soon led him to dispense 



INTERVIEW WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OF CHINA 233 

with all formality, and before the close of the interview 
the questions were rapidly asked and discussed. We have 
had some experience with examining attorneys, and an 
extended acquaintance with the American reporter; but 
we are convinced that for genuine inquisitiveness Li- 
Hung-Chang stands peerless. We made several attempts 




A CHINESE BRIDE. 



to take leave, but were interrupted each time by a ques- 
tion from the viceroy. Mr. Tenney, in fact, became fa- 
tigued with the task of interpreting, so that many of the 
long answers were translated by the viceroy^s son. 

The interview was conducted as nearly as possible in 
the foreign fashion. We smoked cigarettes, and a bottle 
of champagne was served. Finally the interview was 
brought to a close by a healtli from the viceroy to " Ta- 
ma-quo" (the great American country). 

In conclusion we thanked the viceroy for the honor he 



234 ACROSS ASIA ON A BICYCLE 

had done us. He replied that we must not thank hun at 
all ; that he was only doing his duty. " Scholars,'' said 
lie, " must reeeiv^e seliolars.'' 

The viceroy rose from his chair with difficulty -, the ser- 
vant took him by the elbows and lialf lifted him to his feet. 
lie then walked slowly out of the room with us, and across 
the courtyard to the main exit. Here he shook us heartily 
by the hand, and bowed us out in the Chinese manner. 

Li-lIung-Chang is virtually the emperor of the Celestial 
Kmi)i]-(' ; the i)]-esent ^' Son of Heaven" (the young empe- 
ror) has only recently reached his majority. Li-Huug- 
('liaii<jf is (liiiia's intellectual height, from whom enmnate 
nearly all licr progressive ideas. He stands to-day in the 
light of a incdiator betw(H*n foreign progressiveness and 
native prejudice and conservatism. It has been said that 
Iji-IIiing-('li;uig is really anti-foreign at heart; that he 
e]n})loys the Oeeidentals only long enough for them to 
teach liis own countrymen how to get ahmg without them. 
Whether tliis Ix^ so or not, it is certain that the viceroy 
riH'ognizes tlu^ advantages to be derived from foreign 
methods and inventions, and employs them for the ad- 
vancement of his country. Upon him rests the decision 
in nearly all the great (piestions of the empire. Scarcely 
an edict or document of any kind is issiu>d that does not 
go over his signature or under his direct supervision. To 
T)usy liims(»lf with the smallest details is a distinctive 
characteristic of the man. Systematic methods, combined 
with an extraordinary mind, enable him to accomplish his 
herculean task. In the eastern horizon Li-Hung-Chang 
shines as the brilliant star of morning that tells of the 
coming of a brighter dawn. 



iiiiilllll 

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