In that part of the boat where we had settled ourselves an old Sart made his place beside us. It was evident that he was a rich man because among his things were many bags of money.
I do not know how it is now, but at that time, in Bukhara and the neighbouring countries, there were no coins of high value.
In Bukhara, for instance, the only coin worth anything was called a tianga—an irregularly cut piece of silver equivalent to approximately half a French franc. Any sum larger than fifty francs had therefore to be carried in special bags, which was very inconvenient, especially for travellers.
If one had thousands in this coinage and had to travel with this money, it was necessary to have literally a score of camels or horses to carry it from place to place. On very rare occasions the following method was used: the quantity of tiangi one wished to transport was given to some Bukharian Jew who gave in exchange a note to some acquaintance of his, also a Jew, who lived at the place to which one was going, and there the latter, deducting something for his trouble, returned the same amount of tiangi.
And so, on arriving at the town of Kerki, which was as far as the boat went, we left our steamer, changed to a hired kobzir and continued further.
When we were already quite a long way from Kerki and were making a stop at Termez, where Professor Skridlov had gone ashore with some Sart workmen to get provisions in a nearby village, our kobzir was approached by another one carrying five Sarts, who without saying a word began to unload from their kobzir on to ours, twenty-five large sacks filled with tiangi.
At first I did not understand what it was all about; only after the unloading was finished did I gather from the oldest Sart that they had been passengers on our steamer, and that when we had disembarked these sacks of tiangi were found in the place which we had occupied. Certain that we had forgotten them and having learned where we were going, they decided to make haste to catch up with us and give us back the tiangi we had obviously forgotten in the confusion. And he added: ‘I decided to catch up with you without fail because the same thing happened to me once in my life and so I understand very well how disagreeable it is to arrive in a strange place without the necessary tiangi. And as for me, it makes no difference if I arrive in my village a week later; I shall regard it as if our steamer had run aground an extra time.’