Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

I did not risk a long stay in Samarkand. I was afraid that the devil would play a joke, and that my sparrows might suddenly get wet in the rain or that some American canary in its cage might take a fancy to bathing in its drinking trough, and then indeed there would be a great uproar, as my American canaries would be turned into disfigured, clipped and miserable sparrows. So I hastened to get away with my skin whole.

From Samarkand I went to New Bukhara, where I expected to find my friend, the dervish Bogga-Eddin. I felt like a rich man, for I had over a hundred and fifty roubles in my pocket, which at that time was considered a fairly large sum.

In New Bukhara, as I have already said, I took a room in the house of a fat Jewish woman who sold kvass. This room had no furniture, and at night I spread out a clean sheet in one corner for a bed and slept on it without a pillow. I did not do this for economy alone. No. … It cannot be denied that such a way of sleeping is indeed very cheap, but I did this chiefly because at that period of my life I was a pure­blooded follower of the ideas of the famous Hindu yogis. All the same I must confess that in those days, even at times of great material difficulty, I could not deny myself the luxury of lying on a clean sheet and of rubbing myself at night with eau de Cologne, which had to be of a strength not less than eighty per cent.

Five or ten minutes after I lay down, when according to the calculations of Philos I should already be asleep, he too would lie down on this improvised bed of mine, never on the side towards my face but at my back. At the head of this ‘ultra-comfortable’ bed there was a no less comfortable little table formed of books, tied together with a string, and dealing with the questions to which I was particularly drawn at the time. On this original library table I put all the things I might need at night such as an oil lamp, a notebook, bug-powder and so on.

One morning, several days after my arrival in New Bukhara, I found on my improvised table a large Jerusalem artichoke. I remember thinking at the time: ‘Ah, that minx of a landlady! In spite of her weight, she is so perceptive that she has immediately detected my weakness for Jerusalem artichokes,’ and I ate it with great pleasure.