Piotr Karpenko

To carry out this decision of ours, we chose a convenient place not far from the stream, where we could easily defend ourselves against any danger, and set up our camp. Finding that it was too late to do anything more that day, we pitched our tents and, lighting fires in our customary way, we ate and lay down to sleep, having of course arranged watchmen to take turns during the night.

The first thing next day, with the consent of our consciences, degenerated like those of all contemporary people and corresponding exactly to the requirements of Hell, we killed all the goats, which only the day before we had regarded as our sincere friends and associates in overcoming the difficulties of the journey.

After this admirable Christian-Mohammedan manifestation, one of us began to cut their meat into small pieces in order to roast it and fill some of the skins; some began to prepare the bourdiouks and inflate them; others twisted the goats’ intestines to make cords for tying the raft together and attaching the bourdiouks; and still others, including myself, took axes and went to look for hard wood suitable for the raft.

In our search we wandered rather a long distance from our camp. We were looking for a kind of plane tree called there karagatch and for a fibrous birch. Of all the wood to be found in that neighbourhood, only these two kinds were, in our opinion, strong enough to withstand collisions with boulders and rocks in the narrow passages and over the rapids.

Near our camp we came across chiefly fig-trees and other varieties not hard enough for our purpose. As we were going along examining trees, we suddenly saw, sitting on the ground, a man belonging to one of the local tribes. Having talked it over amongst ourselves, we decided to go up to him and ask him where the trees we needed were to be found. Approaching nearer, we saw that he was clothed in rags, and we could tell by his face that he was a kind of ez-ezounavouran, that is, a man who was working on himself for the salvation of his soul, or as Europeans would say, a fakir.