Professor Skridlov

His request was so sincere and touching that I could not flatly refuse him and I asked him to wait a moment. Certain that there was very little time left before the departure of the train, I ran off at full speed, spilling hot water all around me, to consult the professor.

While I was squeezing my way with difficulty through the crowd of passengers getting in and out of the carriage, the professor, seeing me coming, waved his hand and shouted: I’m already collecting our things; go back quickly and take them through the window.’

He had evidently seen my chance meeting and had guessed the suggestion that had been made to me. When I went back no less hurriedly to the platform and began to take the things he handed me through the window, it turned out that our haste was quite unnecessary, as the train was to stay there for more than two hours, waiting for a connection from the Kushka branch which was late.

At supper that evening, after the religious ceremony of the christening, there sat next to me an old Turkoman nomad, a friend of the host and owner of a large flock of caracul sheep. In the course of my conversation with him about the life of nomads in general and about the different tribes of Central Asia, we began talking about the various independent tribes inhabiting the region of Kafiristan.

Continuing our conversation after supper, during which of course Russian vodka had not been economized, the old man, by the way and as though to himself, expressed an opinion which Professor Skridlov and I took as advice; and in accordance with it we drew up a definite plan for carrying out our intention.

He said that, notwithstanding the almost organic distaste of the inhabitants of this region for having anything to do with people not belonging to their own tribes, there was nevertheless developed in nearly every one of them, to whatever tribe he belonged, a certain something which naturally arouses in him a feeling of respect and even love towards all persons, whatever their race, who devote themselves to the service of God.