Piotr Karpenko

We were, in the full sense of the word, stupefied, and the trembling which took possession of our bodies was so strong that our teeth were chattering.

The old man explained to us in a kindly voice that the bear was a good friend of his who sometimes brought him djungari And it was this that the bear had laid at his feet.

Even after these reassuring words we were unable to fully recover our composure and looked at each other in deep silence, our faces revealing utter bewilderment. The old man, rising heavily from his seat, aroused us out of our stupor and said that it was the hour for his customary walk and if we wished he could accompany us to the dell where the cherry-trees grew.

Then he uttered a prayer and went on ahead, all of us with his pupils following behind. At the dell we did indeed see many clumps of this cherry, and then and there everyone, even including the old man himself, began cutting down the trees we needed, choosing the biggest.

When we had cut two good loads, considering this to be enough, we asked the old man whether he would consent to come with us to our camp, which was not far off, and permit one of our friends to make an exact portrait of him there, which could be done quickly by means of a special small machine he had. At first the old man refused, but his pupils helped us to persuade him, so, taking our loads, we went back to the banks of the stream where we had left the rest of our company at work. On reaching them we quickly explained everything, and Professor Skridlov took the old man’s picture with his camera and immediately began developing it.

While he was doing this we all gathered round the old man, under the shade of a fig-tree. Among us was Vitvitskaïa, who had her neck bound up, as she had been suffering for some months from a painful affection of the throat, fairly common in the mountains, which had the appearance of a goitre.