Professor Skridlov

I next met Professor Skridlov two years later when he arrived with Prince Lubovedsky in the town of Orenburg, which was to be the starting-point of our big expedition across Siberia for a certain purpose connected with the programme drawn up by that same group of Seekers of Truth which I have already mentioned several times.

After the Siberian trip we often met again for long and short journeys through various remote places, chiefly in Asia and Africa, as well as for brief exchanges of personal opinions when necessary, and we also met by chance.

I will describe, in as much detail as possible, one meeting of ours and the ensuing long journey together, during which Professor Skridlov reached a turning-point in his general inner psyche in the sense that, from then on, it began to be activated not only by his thoughts but also by his feelings and his instinct. These latter even began to predominate or, as is said, to take the initiative.

On this occasion I met him quite by chance, in Russia, very soon after the meeting I had had with Prince Lubovedsky in Constantinople. I was on my way to Transcaucasia, and in the buffet of one of the railway stations I was hurrying to finish one of the famous ‘beef cutlets made of horse­flesh, which the Kazanian Tartars supply to the Russian railway buffets, when all of a sudden someone standing behind me put his arms around me. I turned round and saw my old friend Skridlov.

It turned out that he was going, on the same train as I, to see his daughter, who was then living at the health resort of Piatigorsk.

The meeting was a happy one for us both. We decided to sit together for the rest of the journey, and the professor gladly changed from second class to third, in which of course I was travelling. We talked all the way.

He told me how, after leaving the ruins of Babylon, he had returned to Thebes and had made some further excavations in the environs. During these two years he had made numerous interesting and valuable discoveries, but finally, becoming very homesick for Russia and his children, he had decided to take a vacation. On his return to Russia he had gone straight to St. Petersburg, and then to Yaroslavl to see his elder daughter, and he was now on his way to see the younger, who during his absence had ‘prepared’ two grandchildren for him. How long he would stay in Russia and what he would do next, he did not yet know.