Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

‘My ladder was some sixty feet in length; I had not climbed up a third of its height before I emerged from that hell. There above was a beautiful starry and moonlit sky, silence and a stillness such as is rarely found even at home in Eastern Persia. Below, there still reigned something unimaginable; I had the impression of standing on some high cliff on a sea­coast overlooking the most terrible storm and upheaval.

‘While I stood up there on the ladder admiring the beautiful night, the storm began to abate and after half an hour I descended. But below a calamity awaited me. Although now the wind was only half as strong, the man who had accompanied me was still walking, as is customary in these storms, along the crests of the dunes away from the wind, leading after him only one camel; the other, he told me, had broken loose soon after I had mounted the ladder, and had gone off he knew not where.

‘When it began to grow light, we set out to search for the second camel and very soon saw its hoofs sticking out of a dune not far from the place where the ladder had stood. We did not try to dig the camel out, as it was obviously dead and buried quite deep in the sand. We immediately set off on the return journey, eating our food as we went so as not to lose time, and by evening we reached our village.

‘The next day I ordered several pairs of stilts of different sizes, getting them in different places to avoid suspicion, and, taking with me one camel loaded with provisions and a few necessities, I again set out into the desert, where I began practising walking on stilts—first on low ones, and then gradually on higher and higher ones. To walk over the sands on stilts was not so difficult once I had fastened to them the iron soles I had devised, and which I had ordered, again out of caution, in different places from the stilts.