Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

I, of course, instantly agreed to everything. My only regret was to part from Soloviev, to whom I had become greatly attached; so, just on the chance, I asked the old man whether I could take a good friend of mine with me on this journey. After thinking a little, he replied: ‘I think you may, if, of course, you can vouch for his honour and for his keeping the oath, which will be required of him also.’

I could fully vouch for Soloviev, as during our friendship he had already proved his ability to keep his word.

When we had talked everything over, it was agreed that a month later, to the day, we would be met near the ruins of Yeni-Hissar on the banks of the Amu Darya, by people whom we would recognize by a password, and who would serve as our guides to the monastery.

On the appointed date, Soloviev and I arrived at the ancient ruins of the fortress of Yeni-Hissar, and that same day met the four KaraKirghiz who had been sent for us. After the customary ceremony, we all ate together, and when it began to grow dark we repeated the oath they required of us, and after they had pulled bashliks over our eyes, we mounted our horses and rode off.

Throughout the whole of our journey, we strictly and conscientiously kept our oath not to look and not to try to find out where we were going and through what places we were passing. When we halted for the night, and occasionally by day when we ate in some secluded place, our bashliks were removed. But while on the way we were only twice permitted to uncover our eyes. The first time was on the eighth day, when we were about to cross a swinging bridge which one could neither cross on horseback nor walk over two abreast, but only in single file, and this it was impossible to do with eyes covered.

From the character of the surroundings then revealed to us we deduced that we were either in the valley of the Pyandzh River or of the Zeravshan, as there was a broad stream flowing beneath us, and the bridge itself with the mountains surrounding it was very similar to the bridges in the gorges of these two rivers.