Traveling over a paved road, the explorers entered Ta-li in the middle of the afternoon. Their arrival was expected and a large crowd pressed about them, waking memories of the incidents earlier in the expedition’s journey when curiosity seekers had become a threat to safety. Followed by the crowd, but escorted by Muslim soldiers, they came to the center of the city. Here they halted in front of the Sultan’s palace, a grim fortified building. None of the Frenchmen was ready for the next development. As they stood expectantly below the palace walls, a soldier grasped de Carnés hair, jerking his face upward, apparently seeking to show the European’s face to a hidden watcher in the palace. De Carné struck out and the soldier retreated, his face bloodied. For an instant, it seemed that the French party might be overwhelmed. The crowd surged forward, only to hesitate before the expedition’s escort who stood with their long bayonets fixed to their rifles. Two Muslim officials hastily intervened to bring the incident to a close. It was an unhappy augury for the future.