The Material Question

‘In Kumichki we made haste to procure whatever provisions were still obtainable, abandoned our carts to their fate, loaded most of our things on the horses and mules, and carrying the rest ourselves, began to climb up the everlasting mountains.

‘Only after crossing the first pass did we at last breathe freely, feeling that the greatest dangers were behind us; but it was just here that the real difficulties of the journey began.

‘About this part of the expedition from Kumichki over the White River pass to Sochi, across the wilds of the Caucasian range, a journey which lasted about two months, filled with strange and even extraordinary adventures, I will not say anything. And this is because, according to information which has reached me, a description of this escape of ours from the “centre of hell to its edge” through the almost impassable wilds of these mountains, as well as of our successful investigation of dolmens and of all the visible and hidden riches of this region, has already been written and will doubtless soon be published by certain members of this singular scientific expedition, who subsequently returned to Russia and are now cut off from the rest of the world.

“The group of people round me on this journey happened quite unexpectedly to be of such diverse types and education as could not have been more suitable for the aims of our expedition, and they very effectively helped me to resolve the problem of the dolmens. Among them were very good technicians and specialists in various branches of scilence-mining and other engineers, as well as specialists in archaeology, astronomy, zoology, medicine and other fields of knowledge.

I will only add that, of all my impressions during this journey, the most outstanding is of the beauty of the regions between Kumichki and Sochi, especially of those from the pass down to the sea; which indeed deserve the high-sounding name of “terrestrial paradise”, often attributed to other parts of the Caucasus by the so-called intelligentsia. Although these regions would be quite suitable for agriculture as well as for watering-places, and are not very far from populated centres, yet, in spite of the growing need for land of this sort, they remain, for some reason or other, uninhabited and undeveloped.

*They were formerly populated by Cherkesses, who migrated to Turkey forty or fifty years ago; since then they have been abandoned and no man’s foot has trod them.