Women On Adventure is a blog by K.L. Webber exploring our rich shared history of women's adventure writing. This curated collection of quotations showcases the opinions and experiences of influential female travellers in their own words.

"Taking his sword from its scabbard, he held the naked blade over me..."

Shortly after leaving Chango we saw on the road several drunken Tibetans, who were extorting money from some poor travelers, whose valuable large dog the former had in their possession. They were six of a body of fifty soldiers who had been summoned to compel the natives of Chango to pay their taxes, and had that morning been disbanded, but before leaving the town they had imbibed too freely, and as a result were an unspeakable terror to all travelers who fell into their clutches. My guides congratulated themselves upon having thus easily escaped them, but their gladness was premature, for while we sat in front of a rude farm-house we saw them passing along the road, and when we were again on the way we saw them sitting in a little grassy spot, drinking more wine while their ponies rested on the grass. Soon afterwards, looking back, I saw them galloping toward us, and a great fear possessed me, for Tibetans are very quarrelsome when they are drunk, and woe betide the poor traveler who is unfortunate enough to fall into their hands! The older one of my guides said he would drop behind, and if we should be attacked one of us might have a chance to escape. Presently they reached us, and while four of them stopped to see what the one boy had, the other two rode up opposite to myself and the second boy, and, halting, one of them said, "choh kana du?" (where are you going?). The boy answered that we were just going over yonder, which was a polite answer, but it seemed to incense the man, for, grinding his teeth in rage, he drew from its sheath his sword and made for the boy. His companion, who was not so intoxicated, endeavored to restrain him, but in a moment the six of them were beside us, and one of them caught me roughly by the arm and tried to pull me off my horse, asking me where I was going. In a moment all six dismounted, and while some of them dragged my boy by the queue this way and that, others opened up his load, scattering everything about the ground. My revolver was worse than useless, for they all were heavily armed, and to have incensed them meant that my life would have been taken sooner or later as a result. Anxiously I sat in my saddle, knowing that just as soon as they were through with the boy they would turn their attention to me. One of them, who was more sober than the others, motioned to me with his chin to go towards the other boy, and I turned my horse and followed his advice, but my safety was short-lived, for one of the Tibetans remounted and came up in a moment behind me. I rode astride, as all Tibetan women do, and as he rode along beside me his knee brushed against mine, and, taking his sword from its scabbard, he held the naked blade over me, bidding me dismount and give him my horse. I looked into his face, that was very near to me, saw his eyes glassy from alcohol, realized that he was scarcely responsible for his actions, and my heart was convulsed. As a child would call his father, I called aloud, "Oh God! Oh God!" and in Tibetan said, "Mari, mari," which means "no, no." A strange expression crossed the man's face, and he put his sword away, turned and joined his companions, and in a moment all had galloped down the river, and not only was my life spared, but I had not lost anything; whereas had I been compelled to dismount my horse and my bedding would have been taken, for the latter was on my saddle. Quite unexpectedly, too, my Tibetan gown and pot were not lost, for they were in the load of the boy who sat on the roadside, while the other one's load had been thrown about and only the tea leaves taken, but he himself lost a valuable sword, his tsamba basin and purse, containing thirty rupees.

Qinghai/Tibet border, China, 1898

 

Source: Susie Carson Rijnhart, With the Tibetans in Tent and Temple, Chicago, New York & Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1901 

Further links:

http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/rijnhart/tibetans/tibetans.html

http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/carson_susanna_13E.html

http://www.heroines.ca/history/rijnhart.html

 

 

 

"...could discern around us nothing but mountains of lava, while before us rose the huge smoky column..."

"...slew, wounded, embezzled, and roamed about till the present moment, when I place myself at the feet of your most illustrious Lordship."