Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

Everything would probably have ended as we had planned, if it had not been for the accident to Soloviev.

We had been travelling mostly at night, making use of the abilities of our comrade, the experienced astronomer Dashtamirov, to orient ourselves by the stars.

One day we made a halt at dawn to eat and also to feed our sheep.

It was still very early. The sun had only just begun to grow hot. We were just sitting down to our freshly prepared mutton and rice, when on the horizon there suddenly appeared a herd of camels. We at once guessed that they must be wild ones.

Soloviev, a passionate hunter and a dead shot, immediately seized his rifle and ran in the direction where the silhouettes of the camels could be seen; and we, laughing at Soloviev’s passion for hunting, settled down to the hot food, excellently prepared in these unprecedented conditions. I say unprecedented because, in the midst of these sands, and so deep in the interior, it is usually considered impossible to build a fire, as there is sometimes not even saksaul to be found for hundreds of miles. But we built fires at least twice a day to cook our meals and prepare coffee or tea, and not only ordinary tea, but also Tibetan tea, brewed in the stock from the bones of the slaughtered sheep. For this luxury we were indebted to the device of Pogossian, who had the idea of making saddles of special wooden sticks for loading the sheep with the bladders of water; so now, as we killed the sheep, there was quite enough wood left over every day for the fires.

An hour and a half had passed since Soloviev had gone after the camels. We were already preparing to continue our journey, and there was still no sign of him. We waited a further half-hour. Well knowing the punctiliousness of Soloviev, who never kept anyone waiting, and fearing some mishap, all but two of us took our guns and set off to search for him. Soon we again perceived the silhouettes of the camels in the distance and went towards them. As we came near, the camels, evidently sensing our approach, fled to the south, but we kept on going.