I did not know how to reply or what to say to this queer fellow; it was just too unexpected for me and all I could do was pretend that I understood very little Sart and wait for the return of the professor. Meanwhile I offered him and his companions some vodka.
When I saw Skridlov returning, I quickly went ashore to meet him as if to help him carry the provisions, and told him all about it. We decided not to refuse the money, but to find out the address of this still unspoiled man, in order to send him a pesh kesh in gratitude for his trouble, and then to hand over the tiangi to the nearest Russian frontier post, giving the name of the boat and the date of its last trip and explaining in as much detail as possible all the facts which could serve to identify our fellow-traveller, the Sart, who had forgotten these sacks of money on the boat. And so we did.
Soon after this incident, which, in my opinion, could never have occurred among contemporary Europeans, we arrived at the famous town associated with the name of Alexander of Macedonia, which is now nothing more than an ordinary Afghan fort. Here we went ashore and, assuming the roles thought out beforehand, continued our journey on foot.
Passing from one valley to another and coming in contact with many different tribes, we finally came to the central settlement of the Afridis, in a region considered to be the heart of Kafiristan.
On the way, we did everything required of a dervish and a Seïd, that is to say, I sang religious verses in Persian, and the professor, after a fashion, beat out corresponding rhythms on the tambourine, in which he then collected alms.
I shall not describe the rest of our trip and the many extraordinary adventures connected with it, but will go on to the account of our accidental meeting with a certain man, not far from the aforementioned settlement—a meeting, the result of which gave quite another direction to our inner world, and thereby changed all our expectations, intentions and the plan itself of our future movements.