Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

On the way we changed horses and asses several times, and sometimes went on foot. More than once we had to swim rivers and cross mountains, and by our sensations of heat and cold it was evident that we sometimes descended into deep valleys or climbed very high. At last, when at the end of the twelfth day our eyes were uncovered, we found ourselves in a narrow gorge through which flowed a small stream whose banks were covered with a rich vegetation.

As it turned out, this was our last halt. After eating, we set off again, but this time not blindfold. We rode on asses up the stream, and after we had ridden half an hour through the gorge, a small valley opened up in front of us surrounded by high mountains. On our right, and in front of us, but a little to the left, we could see snow­capped peaks. While crossing the valley, after a bend in the road, we saw some buildings in the distance on the slope to our left. As we came nearer we were able to make out something like a fortress such as one finds on a smaller scale on the banks of the Amu Darya or the Pyandzh. The buildings were encircled by a high unbroken wall.

Finally we rode in at the first gate, where we were met by an old woman to whom our guides said something; they then immediately rode out again through the same gate. We were left alone with the old woman and, without haste, she led us to one of a number of small rooms, like cells, which were built round a small court, and, pointing to two beds that stood there, went away.

Soon a very venerable old man came and without questioning us about anything began conversing with us very amiably in Turkoman, as though we were old acquaintances of his. He showed us where everything was, and said that for the first few days our meals would be brought to us there. He advised us to rest after our journey, but added that if we were not tired we could go out and walk around. In short, he gave us to understand that we could live as we pleased.