FROM THE EARLY YEARS OF MY RESPONSIBLE LIFE, another essence-friend of mine, many years older than I, was Skridlov, professor of archaeology, who disappeared, leaving no trace, at the time of the great agitation of minds in Russia.
I first met Professor Skridlov, as I have written in the chapter on Prince Yuri Lubovedsky, when he engaged me as his guide for the environs of Cairo.
Soon after this I met him again in ancient Thebes, where I ended my first trip with Prince Yuri Lubovedsky and where the professor joined us to make some excavations.
We lived there together for three weeks in one of the tombs, and during pauses in our work talked on all kinds of abstract themes. And in spite of the difference in our ages, we gradually became such intimate and good friends that when Prince Yuri left for Russia we did not part, but decided to undertake a long journey a together.
From Thebes we travelled up the Nile to its source, and went on into Abyssinia, where we stayed about three months; and then coming out to the Red Sea we passed through Syria, and finally reached the ruins of Babylon. We were there together for four months, after which Professor Skridlov stayed behind to continue his excavations, and went off through Meshed to Ispahan in the company of two Persians, traders in rugs, whom I chanced to meet in a little village near Babylon and with whom I became great friends owing to our common interest in antique rugs.