Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

They sat down at the foot of the pyramid and I sat down not far away, so that I could distinctly hear all they were saying, and began to eat my chourek.

The gentleman who had met us, and who turned out to be a prince, asked the professor among other things:

‘Are you really still disturbing the remains of people who died long ago, and collecting the utterly worthless rubbish supposedly once used in their stupid lives?’

‘What would you?’ answered the professor. ‘This is at least something real and tangible, and not as ephemeral as that to which you have devoted your life, a life which you as a man of health and wealth could have used to the full. You are looking for truth invented once upon a time by some crazy idler; but if what I do contributes nothing to the satisfaction of curiosity, at least, if one wishes, it contributes to the pocket.’

They talked in this way for a long time, and then my employer wished to go on to other pyramids and took leave of the prince, after arranging another meeting in ancient Thebes.

It must be said that I was spending all my free time walking among these places like one possessed, hoping to find, with the help of my map of pre-sand Egypt, an explanation of the Sphinx and of certain other monuments of antiquity.

Several days after the professor’s meeting with the prince, I was sitting at the foot of one of the pyramids deep in thought, with the open map in my hands. Suddenly I felt that someone was standing over me. I hastily folded my map and looked up. It was the man who had accosted my employer at the Pyramid of Cheops. Pale and in great agitation, he asked me in Italian how and where I had obtained this map.

From his appearance and the interest he manifested in the map, I at once guessed that he must be that same prince described by the Armenian priest at whose house I had secretly made a copy of it. And without answering his question, I asked him in turn, in Russian, if he were not the man who had wished to buy the map from such and such a priest. He answered, ‘Yes, I am that man’, and he sat down beside me.