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gate. A furious barking of dogs answered me and through the cracks of the fence I made out four huge black Mongol dogs, showing their teeth and growling as they rushed toward the gate. Inside the court someone opened the door and called out: “Who is there?”

I answered that I was traveling through from Uliassutai. The dogs were first caught and chained and I was then admitted by a man who looked me over very carefully and inquiringly from head to foot. A revolver handle stuck out of his pocket. Satisfied with his observations and learning that I knew his relatives, he warmly welcomed me to the house and presented me to his wife, a dignified old woman, and to his beautiful little adopted daughter, a girl of five years. She had been found on the plain beside the dead body of her mother exhausted in her attempt to escape from the Bolsheviki in Siberia.

Bobroff told me that the Russian detachment of Kazagrandi had succeeded in driving the Red troops away from the Kosogol and that we could consequently continue our trip to Khathyl without danger.

“Why did you not stop with me instead of with those brigands?” asked the old fellow.

I began to question him and received some very important news. It seemed that Kanine was a Bolshevik, the agent of the Irkutsk Soviet, and stationed here for purposes of observation. However, now he was rendered harmless, because the road between him and Irkutsk was interrupted. Still from Biisk in the Altai country had just come a very important commissar.

“Gorokoff?” I asked.

“That’s what he calls himself,” replied the old fellow; “but I am also from Biisk and I know everyone there. His real name is Pouzikoff and the short-haired girl with him is his mistress. He is the commissar of the ‘Cheka’ and she is the agent of this establishment. Last August the two of them shot with their revolvers seventy bound officers from Kolchak’s army. Villainous, cowardly murderers! Now they have come here for a reconnaissance. They wanted to stay in my house but I knew them too well and refused them place.”

“And you do not fear him?” I asked, remembering the different words and glances of these people as they sat at the table in the station.

“No,” answered the old man. “I know how to defend myself and my family and I have a protector too–my son, such a shot, a rider and a fighter as does not exist in all Mongolia. I am very sorry that you will not make the acquaintance of my boy. He has gone off to the herds and will return only tomorrow evening.”

We took most cordial leave of each other and I promised to stop with him on my return.

“Well, what yarns did Bobroff tell you about us?” was the question with which Kanine and Gorokoff met me when I came back to the station.

“Nothing about you,” I answered, “because he did not even want to speak with me when he found out that I was staying in your house. What is the trouble between you?” I asked of them, expressing complete astonishment on my face.

“It is an old score,” growled Gorokoff.

“A malicious old churl,” Kanine added in agreement, the while the frightened, suffering-laden eyes of his wife again gave expression to terrifying horror, as if she momentarily expected a deadly blow. Gorokoff began to pack his luggage in preparation for the journey with us the following morning. We prepared our simple beds in an adjoining room and went to sleep. I whispered to my friend to keep his revolver handy for anything that might happen but he only smiled as he dragged his revolver and his ax from his coat to place them under his pillow.

“This people at the outset seemed to me very suspicious,” he whispered. “They are cooking up something crooked. Tomorrow I shall ride behind this Gorokoff and shall prepare for him a very faithful one of my bullets, a little dum-dum.”

The Mongols spent the night under their tent in the open court beside their camels, because they wanted to be near to feed them. About seven o’clock we started. My friend took up his post as rear guard to our caravan, keeping all the time behind Gorokoff, who with his sister, both armed from tip to toe, rode splendid mounts.

“How have you kept your horses in such fine condition coming all the way from Samgaltai?” I inquired as I looked over their fine beasts.

When he answered that these belonged to his host, I realized that Kanine was not so poor as he made out; for any rich Mongol would have given him in exchange for one of these lovely animals enough sheep to have kept his household in mutton for a whole year.

Soon we came to a large swamp surrounded by dense brush, where I was much astonished by seeing literally hundreds of white kuropatka or partridges. Out of the water rose a flock of duck with a mad rush as we hove in sight. Winter, cold driving wind, snow and wild ducks! The Mongol explained it to me thus:

“This swamp always remains warm and never freezes. The wild ducks live here the year round and the kuropatka too, finding fresh food in the soft warm earth.”

As I was speaking with the Mongol I noticed over the swamp a tongue of reddish-yellow flame. It flashed and disappeared at once but later, on the farther edge, two further tongues ran upward. I realized that here was the real will-o’-the-wisp surrounded by so many thousands of legends and explained so simply by chemistry as merely a flash of methane or swamp gas generated by the putrefying of vegetable matter in the warm damp earth.

“Here dwell the demons of Adair, who are in perpetual war with those of Muren,” explained the Mongol.

“Indeed,” I thought, “if in prosaic Europe in our days the inhabitants of our villages believe these flames to be some wild sorcery, then surely in the land of mystery they must be at least the evidences of war between the demons of two neighboring rivers!”

After passing this swamp we made out far ahead of us a large monastery. Though this was some half mile off the road, the Gorokoffs said they would ride over to it to make some purchases in the Chinese shops there. They quickly rode away, promising to overtake us shortly, but we did not see them again for a while. They slipped away without leaving any trail but we met them later in very unexpected circumstances of fatal portent for them. On our part we were highly satisfied that we were rid of them so soon and, after they were gone, I imparted to my friend the information gleaned from Bobroff the evening before.

CHAPTER XXIII

ON A VOLCANO

The following evening we arrived at Khathyl, a small Russian settlement of ten scattered houses in the valley of the Egingol or Yaga, which here takes its waters from the Kosogol half a mile above the village. The Kosogol is a huge Alpine lake, deep and cold, eighty-five miles in length and from ten to thirty in width. On the western shore live the Darkhat Soyots, who call it Hubsugul, the Mongols, Kosogol. Both the Soyots and Mongols consider this a terrible and sacred lake. It is very easy to understand this prejudice because the lake lies in a region of present volcanic activity, where in the summer on perfectly calm sunny days it sometimes lashes itself into great waves that are dangerous not only to the native fishing boats but also to the large Russian passenger steamers that ply on the lake. In winter also it sometimes entirely breaks up its covering of ice and gives off great clouds of steam. Evidently the bottom of the lake is sporadically pierced by discharging hot springs or, perhaps, by streams of lava. Evidence of some great underground convulsion like this is afforded by the mass of killed fish which at times dams the outlet river in its shallow places. The lake is exceedingly rich in fish, chiefly varieties of trout and salmon, and is famous for its wonderful “white fish,” which was previously sent all over Siberia and even down into Manchuria so far as Moukden. It is fat and remarkably tender and produces fine caviar. Another variety in the lake is the white khayrus or trout, which in the migration season, contrary to the customs of most fish, goes down stream into the Yaga, where it sometimes fills the river from bank to bank with swarms of backs breaking the surface of the water. However, this fish is not caught, because it is infested with worms and is unfit for food. Even cats and dogs will not touch it. This is a very interesting phemonenon and was being investigated and studied by Professor Dorogostaisky of the University at Irkutsk when the coming of the Bolsheviki interrupted his work.

In Khathyl we found a panic. The Russian detachment of Colonel Kazagrandi, after having twice defeated the Bolsheviki and well on its march against Irkutsk, was suddenly rendered impotent and scattered through internal strife among the officers. The Bolsheviki took advantage of this situation, increased their forces to one thousand men and began a forward movement to recover what they had lost, while the remnants of Colonel Kazagrandi’s detachment were retreating on Khathyl, where he determined to make his last stand against the Reds. The inhabitants were loading their movable property with their families into carts and scurrying away from the town, leaving all their cattle and horses to whomsoever should have the power to seize and hold them. One party intended to hide in the dense larch forest and the mountain ravines not far away, while another party made southward for Muren Kure and Uliassutai. The morning following our arrival the Mongol official received word that the Red troops had outflanked Colonel Kazagrandi’s men and were approaching Khathyl. The Mongol loaded his documents and his servants on eleven camels and left his yamen. Our Mongol guides, without ever saying a word to us, secretly slipped off with him and left us without camels. Our situation thus became desperate. We hastened to the colonists who had not yet got away to bargain with them for camels, but they had previously, in anticipation of trouble, sent their herds to distant Mongols and so could do nothing to help us. Then we betook ourselves to Dr. V. G. Gay, a veterinarian living in the town, famous throughout Mongolia for his battle against rinderpest. He lived here with his family and after being forced to give up his government work became a cattle dealer. He was a most interesting person, clever and energetic, and the one who had been appointed under the Czarist regime to purchase all the meat supplies from Mongolia for the Russian Army on the German Front. He organized a huge enterprise in Mongolia but when the Bolsheviki seized power in 1917 he transferred his allegiance and began to work with them. Then in May, 1918, when the Kolchak forces drove the Bolsheviki out of Siberia, he was arrested and taken for trial. However, he was released because he was looked upon as the single individual to organize this big Mongolian enterprise and he handed to Admiral Kolchak all the supplies of meat and the silver formerly received from the Soviet commissars. At this time Gay had been serving as the chief organizer and supplier of the forces of Kazagrandi.

When we went to him, he at once suggested that we take the only thing left, some poor, broken-down horses which would be able to carry us the sixty miles to Muren Kure, where we could secure camels to return to Uliassutai. However, even these were being kept some distance from the town so that we should have to spend the night there, the night in which the Red troops were expected to arrive. Also we were much astonished to see that Gay was remaining there with his family right up to the time of the expected arrival of the Reds. The only others in the town were a few Cossacks, who had been ordered to stay behind to watch the movements of the Red troops. The night came. My friend and I were prepared either to fight or, in the last event, to commit suicide. We stayed in a small house near the Yaga, where some workmen were living who could not, and did not feel it necessary to, leave. They went up on a hill from which they could scan the whole country up to the range from behind which the Red detachment must appear. From this vantage point in the forest one of the workmen came running in and cried out:

“Woe, woe to us! The Reds have arrived. A horseman is galloping fast through the forest road. I called to him but he did not answer me. It was dark but I knew the horse was a strange one.”

“Do not babble so,” said another of the workmen. “Some Mongol rode by and you jumped to the conclusion that he was a Red.”

“No, it was not a Mongol,” he replied. “The horse was shod. I heard the sound of iron shoes on the road. Woe to us!”

“Well,” said my friend, “it seems that this is our finish. It is a silly way for it all to end.”

He was right. Just then there was a knock at our door but it was that of the Mongol bringing us three horses for our escape. Immediately we saddled them, packed the third beast with our tent and food and rode off at once to take leave of Gay.

In his house we found the whole war council. Two or three colonists and several Cossacks had galloped from the mountains and announced that the Red detachment was approaching Khathyl but would remain for the night in the forest, where they were building campfires. In fact, through the house windows we could see the glare of the fires. It seemed very strange that the enemy should await the morning there in the forest when they were right on the village they wished to capture.

An armed Cossack entered the room and announced that two armed men from the detachment were approaching. All the men in the room pricked up their ears. Outside were heard the horses’ hoofs followed by men’s voices and a knock at the door.

“Come in,” said Gay.

Two young men entered, their moustaches and beards white and their cheeks blazing red from the cold. They were dressed in the common Siberian overcoat with the big Astrakhan caps, but they had no weapons. Questions began. It developed that it was a detachment of White peasants from the Irkutsk and Yakutsk districts who had been fighting with the Bolsheviki. They had been defeated somewhere in the vicinity of Irkutsk and were now trying to make a junction with Kazagrandi. The leader of this band was a socialist, Captain Vassilieff, who had suffered much under the Czar because of his tenets.

Our troubles had vanished but we decided to start immediately to Muren Kure, as we had gathered our information and were in a hurry to make our report. We started. On the road we overtook three Cossacks who were going out to bring back the colonists who were fleeing to the south. We joined them and, dismounting, we all led our horses over the ice. The Yaga was mad. The subterranean forces produced underneath the ice great heaving waves which with a swirling roar threw up and tore loose great sections of ice, breaking them into small blocks and sucking them under the unbroken downstream field. Cracks ran like snakes over the surface in different directions. One of the Cossacks fell into one of these but we had just time to save him. He was forced by his ducking in such extreme cold to turn back to Khathyl. Our horses slipped about and fell several times. Men and animals felt the presence of death which hovered over them and momentarily threatened them with destruction. At last we made the farther bank and continued southward down the valley, glad to have left the geological and figurative volcanoes behind us. Ten miles farther on we came up with the first party of refugees. They had spread a big tent and made a fire inside, filling it with warmth and smoke. Their camp was made beside the establishment of a large Chinese trading house, where the owners refused to let the colonists come into their amply spacious buildings, even though there were children, women and invalids among the refugees. We spent but half an hour here. The road as we continued was easy, save in places where the snow lay deep. We crossed the fairly high divide between the Egingol and Muren. Near the pass one very unexpected event occurred to us. We crossed the mouth of a fairly wide valley whose upper end was covered with a dense wood. Near this wood we noticed two horsemen, evidently watching us. Their manner of sitting in their saddles and the character of their horses told us that they were not Mongols. We began shouting and waving to them; but they did not answer. Out of the wood emerged a third and stopped to look at us. We decided to interview them and, whipping up our horses, galloped toward them. When we were about one thousand yards from them, they slipped from their saddles and opened on us with a running fire. Fortunately we rode a little apart and thus made a poor target for them. We jumped off our horses, dropped prone on the ground and prepared to fight. However, we did not fire because we thought it might be a mistake on their part, thinking that we were Reds. They shortly made off. Their shots from the European rifles had given us further proof that they were not Mongols. We waited until they had disappeared into the woods and then went forward to investigate their tracks, which we found were those of shod horses, clearly corroborating the earlier evidence that they were not Mongols. Who could they have been? We never found out; yet what a different relationship they might have borne to our lives, had their shots been true!

After we had passed over the divide, we met the Russian colonist D. A. Teternikoff from Muren Kure, who invited us to stay in his house and promised to secure camels for us from the Lamas. The cold was intense and heightened by a piercing wind. During the day we froze to the bone but at night thawed and warmed up nicely by our tent stove. After two days we entered the valley of Muren and from afar made out the square of the Kure with its Chinese roofs and large red temples. Nearby was a second square, the Chinese and Russian settlement. Two hours more brought us to the house of our hospitable companion and his attractive young wife who feasted us with a wonderful luncheon of tasty dishes. We spent five days at Muren waiting for the camels to be engaged. During this time many refugees arrived from Khathyl because Colonel Kazagrandi was gradually falling back upon the town. Among others there were two Colonels, Plavako and Maklakoff, who had caused the disruption of the Kazagrandi force. No sooner had the refugees appeared in Muren Kure than the Mongolian officials announced that the Chinese authorities had ordered them to drive out all Russian refugees.

“Where can we go now in winter with women and children and no homes of our own?” asked the distraught refugees.

“That is of no moment to us,” answered the Mongolian officials. “The Chinese authorities are angry and have ordered us to drive you away. We cannot help you at all.”

The refugees had to leave Muren Kure and so erected their tents in the open not far away. Plavako and Maklakoff bought horses and started out for Van Kure. Long afterwards I learned that both had been killed by the Chinese along the road.

We secured three camels and started out with a large group of Chinese merchants and Russian refugees to make Uliassutai, preserving the warmest recollections of our courteous hosts, T. V. and D. A. Teternikoff. For the trip we had to pay for our camels the very high price of 33 lan of the silver bullion which had been supplied us by an American firm in Uliassutai, the equivalent roughly of 2.7 pounds of the white metal.

CHAPTER XXIV

A BLOODY CHASTISEMENT

Before long we struck the road which we had travelled coming north and saw again the kindly rows of chopped down telegraph poles which had once so warmly protected us. Over the timbered hillocks north of the valley of Tisingol we wended just as it was growing dark. We decided to stay in Bobroff’s house and our companions thought to seek the hospitality of Kanine in the telegraph station. At the station gate we found a soldier with a rifle, who questioned us as to who we were and whence we had come and, being apparently satisfied, whistled out a young officer from the house.

“Lieutenant Ivanoff,” he introduced himself. “I am staying here with my detachment of White Partisans.”

He had come from near Irkutsk with his following of ten men and had formed a connection with Lieutenant-Colonel Michailoff at Uliassutai, who commanded him to take possession of this blockhouse.

“Enter, please,” he said hospitably.

I explained to him that I wanted to stay with Bobroff, whereat he made a despairing gesture with his hand and said:

“Don’t trouble yourself. The Bobroffs are killed and their house burned.”

I could not keep back a cry of horror.

The Lieutenant continued: “Kanine and the Pouzikoffs killed them, pillaged the place and afterwards burned the house with their dead bodies in it. Do you want to see it?”

My friend and I went with the Lieutenant and looked over the ominous site. Blackened uprights stood among charred beams and planks while crockery and iron pots and pans were scattered all around. A little to one side under some felt lay the remains of the four unfortunate individuals. The Lieutenant first spoke:

“I reported the case to Uliassutai and received word back that the relatives of the deceased would come with two officers, who would investigate the affair. That is why I cannot bury the bodies.”

“How did it happen?” we asked, oppressed by the sad picture.

“It was like this,” he began. “I was approaching Tisingol at night with my ten soldiers. Fearing that there might be Reds here, we sneaked up to the station and looked into the windows. We saw Pouzikoff, Kanine and the short-haired girl, looking over and dividing clothes and other things and weighing lumps of silver. I did not at once grasp the significance of all this; but, feeling the need for continued caution, ordered one of my soldiers to climb the fence and open the gate. We rushed into the court. The first to run from the house was Kanine’s wife, who threw up her hands and shrieked in fear: “I knew that misfortune would come of all this!” and then fainted. One of the men ran out of a side door to a shed in the yard and there tried to get over the fence. I had not noticed him but one of my soldiers caught him. We were met at the door by Kanine, who was white and trembling. I realized that something important had taken place, placed them all under arrest, ordered the men tied and placed a close guard. All my questions were met with silence save by Madame Kanine who cried: ‘Pity, pity for the children! They are innocent!’ as she dropped on her knees and stretched out her hands in supplication to us. The short- haired girl laughed out of impudent eyes and blew a puff of smoke into my face. I was forced to threaten them and said:

“‘I know that you have committed some crime, but you do not want to confess. If you do not, I shall shoot the men and take the women to Uliassutai to try them there.’

“I spoke with definiteness of voice and intention, for they roused my deepest anger. Quite to my surprise the short-haired girl first began to speak.

“‘I want to tell you about everything,’ she said.

“I ordered ink, paper and pen brought me. My soldiers were the witnesses. Then I prepared the protocol of the confession of Pouzikoff’s wife. This was her dark and bloody tale.

“‘My husband and I are Bolshevik commissars and we have been sent to find out how many White officers are hidden in Mongolia. But the old fellow Bobroff knew us. We wanted to go away but Kanine kept us, telling us that Bobroff was rich and that he had for a long time wanted to kill him and pillage his place. We agreed to join him. We decoyed the young Bobroff to come and play cards with us. When he was going home my husband stole along behind and shot him. Afterwards we all went to Bobroff’s place. I climbed upon the fence and threw some poisoned meat to the dogs, who were dead in a few minutes. Then we all climbed over. The first person to emerge from the house was Bobroff’s wife. Pouzikoff, who was hidden behind the door, killed her with his ax. The old fellow we killed with a blow of the ax as he slept. The little girl ran out into the room as she heard the noise and Kanine shot her in the head with buckshot. Afterwards we looted the house and burned it, even destroying the horses and cattle. Later all would have been completely burned, so that no traces remained, but you suddenly arrived and these stupid fellows at once betrayed us.’

“It was a dastardly affair,” continued the Lieutenant, as we returned to the station. “The hair raised on my head as I listened to the calm description of this young woman, hardly more than a girl. Only then did I fully realize what depravity Bolshevism had brought into the world, crushing out faith, fear of God and conscience. Only then did I understand that all honest people must fight without compromise against this most dangerous enemy of mankind, so long as life and strength endure.”

As we walked I noticed at the side of the road a black spot. It attracted and fixed my attention.

“What is that?” I asked, pointing to the spot.

“It is the murderer Pouzikoff whom I shot,” answered the Lieutenant. “I would have shot both Kanine and the wife of Pouzikoff but I was sorry for Kanine’s wife and children and I haven’t learned the lesson of shooting women. Now I shall send them along with you under the surveillance of my soldiers to Uliassutai. The same result will come, for the Mongols who try them for the murder will surely kill them.”

This is what happened at Tisingol, on whose shores the will-o’-the- wisp flits over the marshy pools and near which runs the cleavage of over two hundred miles that the last earthquake left in the surface of the land. Maybe it was out of this cleavage that Pouzikoff, Kanine and the others who have sought to infect the whole world with horror and crime made their appearance from the land of the inferno. One of Lieutenant Ivanoff’s soldiers, who was always praying and pale, called them all “the servants of Satan.”

Our trip from Tisingol to Uliassutai in the company of these criminals was very unpleasant. My friend and I entirely lost our usual strength of spirit and healthy frame of mind. Kanine persistently brooded and thought while the impudent woman laughed, smoked and joked with the soldiers and several of our companions. At last we crossed the Jagisstai and in a few hours descried at first the fortress and then the low adobe houses huddled on the plain, which we knew to be Uliassutai.

CHAPTER XXV

HARASSING DAYS

Once more we found ourselves in the whirl of events. During our fortnight away a great deal had happened here. The Chinese Commissioner Wang Tsao-tsun had sent eleven envoys to Urga but none had returned. The situation in Mongolia remained far from clear. The Russian detachment had been increased by the arrival of new colonists and secretly continued its illegal existence, although the Chinese knew about it through their omnipresent system of spies. In the town no Russian or foreign citizens left their houses and all remained armed and ready to act. At night armed sentinels stood guard in all their court-yards. It was the Chinese who induced such precautions. By order of their Commissioner all the Chinese merchants with stocks of rifles armed their staffs and handed over any surplus guns to the officials, who with these formed and equipped a force of two hundred coolies into a special garrison of gamins. Then they took possession of the Mongolian arsenal and distributed these additional guns among the Chinese vegetable farmers in the nagan hushun, where there was always a floating population of the lowest grade of transient Chinese laborers. This trash of China now felt themselves strong, gathered together in excited discussions and evidently were preparing for some outburst of aggression. At night the coolies transported many boxes of cartridges from the Chinese shops to the nagan hushun and the behaviour of the Chinese mob became unbearably audacious. These coolies and gamins impertinently stopped and searched people right on the streets and sought to provoke fights that would allow them to take anything they wanted. Through secret news we received from certain Chinese quarters we learned that the Chinese were preparing a pogrom for all the Russians and Mongols in Uliassutai. We fully realized that it was only necessary to fire one single house at the right part of the town and the entire settlement of wooden buildings would go up in flames. The whole population prepared to defend themselves, increased the sentinels in the compounds, appointed leaders for certain sections of the town, organized a special fire brigade and prepared horses, carts and food for a hasty flight. The situation became worse when news arrived from Kobdo that the Chinese there had made a pogrom, killing some of the inhabitants and burning the whole town after a wild looting orgy. Most of the people got away to the forests on the mountains but it was at night and consequently without warm clothes and without food. During the following days these mountains around Kobdo heard many cries of misfortune, woe and death. The severe cold and hunger killed off the women and children out under the open sky of the Mongolian winter. This news was soon known to the Chinese. They laughed in mockery and soon organized a big meeting at the nagan hushun to discuss letting the mob and gamins loose on the town.

A young Chinese, the son of a cook of one of the colonists, revealed this news. We immediately decided to make an investigation. A Russian officer and my friend joined me with this young Chinese as a guide for a trip to the outskirts of the town. We feigned simply a stroll but were stopped by the Chinese sentinel on the side of the city toward the nagan hushun with an impertinent command that no one was allowed to leave the town. As we spoke with him, I noticed that between the town and the nagan hushun Chinese guards were stationed all along the way and that streams of Chinese were moving in that direction. We saw at once it was impossible to reach the meeting from this approach, so we chose another route. We left the city from the eastern side and passed along by the camp of the Mongolians who had been reduced to beggary by the Chinese impositions. There also they were evidently anxiously awaiting the turn of events, for, in spite of the lateness of the hour, none had gone to sleep. We slipped out on the ice and worked around by the river to the nagan hushun. As we passed free of the city we began to sneak cautiously along, taking advantage of every bit of cover. We were armed with revolvers and hand grenades and knew that a small detachment had been prepared in the town to come to our aid, if we should be in danger. First the young Chinese stole forward with my friend following him like a shadow, constantly reminding him that he would strangle him like a mouse if he made one move to betray us. I fear the young guide did not greatly enjoy the trip with my gigantic friend puffing all too loudly with the unusual exertions. At last the fences of nagan hushun were in sight and nothing between us and them save the open plain, where our group would have been easily spotted; so that we decided to crawl up one by one, save that the Chinese was retained in the society of my trusted friend. Fortunately there were many heaps of frozen manure on the plain, which we made use of as cover to lead us right up to our objective point, the fence of the enclosures. In the shadow of this we slunk along to the courtyard where the voices of the excited crowd beckoned us. As we took good vantage points in the darkness for listening and making observations, we remarked two extraordinary things in our immediate neighborhood.

Another invisible guest was present with us at the Chinese gathering. He lay on the ground with his head in a hole dug by the dogs under the fence. He was perfectly still and evidently had not heard our advance. Nearby in a ditch lay a white horse with his nose muzzled and a little further away stood another saddled horse tied to a fence.

In the courtyard there was a great hubbub. About two thousand men were shouting, arguing and flourishing their arms about in wild gesticulations. Nearly all were armed with rifles, revolvers, swords and axes. In among the crowd circulated the gamins, constantly talking, handing out papers, explaining and assuring. Finally a big, broad-shouldered Chinese mounted the well combing, waved his rifle about over his head and opened a tirade in strong, sharp tones.

“He is assuring the people,” said our interpreter, “that they must do here what the Chinese have done in Kobdo and must secure from the Commissioner the assurance of an order to his guard not to prevent the carrying out of their plans. Also that the Chinese Commissioner must demand from the Russians all their weapons. ‘Then we shall take vengeance on the Russians for their Blagoveschensk crime when they drowned three thousand Chinese in 1900. You remain here while I go to the Commissioner and talk with him.'”

He jumped down from the well and quickly made his way to the gate toward the town. At once I saw the man who was lying with his head under the fence draw back out of his hole, take his white horse from the ditch and then run over to untie the other horse and lead them both back to our side, which was away from the city. He left the second horse there and hid himself around the corner of the hushun. The spokesman went out of the gate and, seeing his horse over on the other side of the enclosure, slung his rifle across his back and started for his mount. He had gone about half way when the stranger behind the corner of the fence suddenly galloped out and in a flash literally swung the man clear from the ground up across the pommel of his saddle, where we saw him tie the mouth of the semi-strangled Chinese with a cloth and dash off with him toward the west away from the town.

“Who do you suppose he is?” I asked of my friend, who answered up at once: “It must be Tushegoun Lama. . . .”

His whole appearance did strongly remind me of this mysterious Lama avenger and his manner of addressing himself to his enemy was a strict replica of that of Tushegoun. Late in the night we learned that some time after their orator had gone to seek the Commissioner’s cooperation in their venture, his head had been flung over the fence into the midst of the waiting audience and that eight gamins had disappeared on their way from the hushun to the town without leaving trace or trail. This event terrorized the Chinese mob and calmed their heated spirits.

The next day we received very unexpected aid. A young Mongol galloped in from Urga, his overcoat torn, his hair all dishevelled and fallen to his shoulders and a revolver prominent beneath his girdle. Proceeding directly to the market where the Mongols are always gathered, without leaving his saddle he cried out:

“Urga is captured by our Mongols and Chiang Chun Baron Ungern! Bogdo Hutuktu is once more our Khan! Mongols, kill the Chinese and pillage their shops! Our patience is exhausted!”

Through the crowd rose the roar of excitement. The rider was surrounded with a mob of insistent questioners. The old Mongol Sait, Chultun Beyli, who had been dismissed by the Chinese, was at once informed of this news and asked to have the messenger brought to him. After questioning the man he arrested him for inciting the people to riot, but he refused to turn him over to the Chinese authorities. I was personally with the Sait at the time and heard his decision in the matter. When the Chinese Commissioner, Wang Tsao-tsun, threatened the Sait for disobedience to his authority, the old man simply fingered his rosary and said:

“I believe the story of this Mongol in its every word and I apprehend that you and I shall soon have to reverse our relationship.”

I felt that Wang Tsao-tsun also accepted the correctness of the Mongol’s story, because he did not insist further. From this moment the Chinese disappeared from the streets of Uliassutai as though they never had been, and synchronously the patrols of the Russian officers and of our foreign colony took their places. The panic among the Chinese was heightened by the receipt of a letter containing the news that the Mongols and Altai Tartars under the leadership of the Tartar officer Kaigorodoff pursued the Chinese who were making off with their booty from the sack of Kobdo and overtook and annihilated them on the borders of Sinkiang. Another part of the letter told how General Bakitch and the six thousand men who had been interned with him by the Chinese authorities on the River Amyl had received arms and started to join with Ataman Annenkoff, who had been interned in Kuldja, with the ultimate intention of linking up with Baron Ungern. This rumour proved to be wrong because neither Bakitch nor Annenkoff entertained this intention, because Annenkoff had been transported by the Chinese into the Depths of Turkestan. However, the news produced veritable stupefaction among the Chinese.

Just at this time there arrived at the house of the Bolshevist Russian colonist Bourdukoff three Bolshevik agents from Irkutsk named Saltikoff, Freimann and Novak, who started an agitation among the Chinese authorities to get them to disarm the Russian officers and hand them over to the Reds. They persuaded the Chinese Chamber of Commerce to petition the Irkutsk Soviet to send a detachment of Reds to Uliassutai for the protection of the Chinese against the White detachments. Freimann brought with him communistic pamphlets in Mongolian and instructions to begin the reconstruction of the telegraph line to Irkutsk. Bourdukoff also received some messages from the Bolsheviki. This quartette developed their policy very successfully and soon saw Wang Tsao-tsun fall in with their schemes. Once more the days of expecting a pogrom in Uliassutai returned to us. The Russian officers anticipated attempts to arrest them. The representative of one of the American firms went with me to the Commissioner for a parley. We pointed out to him the illegality of his acts, inasmuch as he was not authorized by his Government to treat with the Bolsheviki when the Soviet Government had not been recognized by Peking. Wang Tsao-tsun and his advisor Fu Hsiang were palpably confused at finding we knew of his secret meetings with the Bolshevik agents. He assured us that his guard was sufficient to prevent any such pogrom. It was quite true that his guard was very capable, as it consisted of well trained and disciplined soldiers under the command of a serious- minded and well educated officer; but, what could eighty soldiers do against a mob of three thousand coolies, one thousand armed merchants and two hundred gamins? We strongly registered our apprehensions and urged him to avoid any bloodshed, pointing out that the foreign and Russian population were determined to defend themselves to the last moment. Wang at once ordered the establishment of strong guards on the streets and thus made a very interesting picture with all the Russian, foreign and Chinese patrols moving up and down throughout the whole town. Then we did not know there were three hundred more sentinels on duty, the men of Tushegoun Lama hidden nearby in the mountains.

Once more the picture changed very sharply and suddenly. The Mongolian Sait received news through the Lamas of the nearest monastery that Colonel Kazagrandi, after fighting with the Chinese irregulars, had captured Van Kure and had formed there Russian- Mongolian brigades of cavalry, mobilizing the Mongols by the order of the Living Buddha and the Russians by order of Baron Ungern. A few hours later it became known that in the large monastery of Dzain the Chinese soldiers had killed the Russian Captain Barsky and as a result some of the troops of Kazagrandi attacked and swept the Chinese out of the place. At the taking of Van Kure the Russians arrested a Korean Communist who was on his way from Moscow with gold and propaganda to work in Korea and America. Colonel Kazagrandi sent this Korean with his freight of gold to Baron Ungern. After receiving this news the chief of the Russian detachment in Uliassutai arrested all the Bolsheviki agents and passed judgment upon them and upon the murderers of the Bobroffs. Kanine, Madame Pouzikoff and Freimann were shot. Regarding Saltikoff and Novak some doubt sprang up and, moreover, Saltikoff escaped and hid, while Novak, under advice from Lieutenant Colonel Michailoff, left for the west. The chief of the Russian detachment gave out orders for the mobilization of the Russian colonists and openly took Uliassutai under his protection with the tacit agreement of the Mongolian authorities. The Mongol Sait, Chultun Beyli, convened a council of the neighboring Mongolian Princes, the soul of which was the noted Mongolian patriot, Hun Jap Lama. The Princes quickly formulated their demands upon the Chinese for the complete evacuation of the territory subject to the Sait Chultun Beyli. Out of it grew parleys, threats and friction between the various Chinese and Mongolian elements. Wang Tsao-tsun proposed his scheme of settlement, which some of the Mongolian Princes accepted; but Jap Lama at the decisive moment threw the Chinese document to the ground, drew his knife and swore that he would die by his own hand rather than set it as a seal upon this treacherous agreement. As a result the Chinese proposals were rejected and the antagonists began to prepare themselves for the struggle. All the armed Mongols were summoned from Jassaktu Khan, Sain-Noion Khan and the dominion of Jahantsi Lama. The Chinese authorities placed their four machine guns and prepared to defend the fortress. Continuous deliberations were held by both the Chinese and Mongols. Finally, our old acquaintance Tzeren came to me as one of the unconcerned foreigners and handed to me the joint requests of Wang Tsao-tsun and Chultun Beyli to try to pacify the two elements and to work out a fair agreement between them. Similar requests were handed to the representative of an American firm. The following evening we held the first meeting of the arbitrators and the Chinese and Mongolian representatives. It was passionate and stormy, so that we foreigners lost all hope of the success of our mission. However, at midnight when the speakers were tired, we secured agreement on two points: the Mongols announced that they did not want to make war and that they desired to settle this matter in such a way as to retain the friendship of the great Chinese people; while the Chinese Commissioner acknowledged that China had violated the treaties by which full independence had been legally granted to Mongolia.

These two points formed for us the groundwork of the next meeting and gave us the starting points for urging reconciliation. The deliberations continued for three days and finally turned so that we foreigners could propose our suggestions for an agreement. Its chief provisions were that the Chinese authorities should surrender administrative powers, return the arms to the Mongolians, disarm the two hundred gamins and leave the country; and that the Mongols on their side should give free and honorable passage of their country to the Commissioner with his armed guard of eighty men. This Chinese-Mongolian Treaty of Uliassutai was signed and sealed by the Chinese Commissioners, Wang Tsao-tsun and Fu Hsiang, by both Mongolian Saits, by Hun Jap Lama and other Princes, as well as by the Russian and Chinese Presidents of the Chambers of Commerce and by us foreign arbitrators. The Chinese officials and convoy began at once to pack up their belongings and prepare for departure. The Chinese merchants remained in Uliassutai because Sait Chultun Beyli, now having full authority and power, guaranteed their safety. The day of departure for the expedition of Wang Tsao-tsun arrived. The camels with their packs already filled the yamen court-yard and the men only awaited the arrival of their horses from the plains. Suddenly the news spread everywhere that the herd of horses had been stolen during the night and run off toward the south. Of two soldiers that had been sent out to follow the tracks of the herd only one came back with the news that the other had been killed. Astonishment spread over the whole town while among the Chinese it turned to open panic. It perceptibly increased when some Mongols from a distant ourton to the east came in and announced that in various places along the post road to Urga they had discovered the bodies of sixteen of the soldiers whom Wang Tsao-tsun had sent out with letters for Urga. The mystery of these events will soon be explained.

The chief of the Russian detachment received a letter from a Cossack Colonel, V. N. Domojiroff, containing the order to disarm immediately the Chinese garrison, to arrest all Chinese officials for transport to Baron Ungern at Urga, to take control of Uliassutai, by force if necessary, and to join forces with his detachment. At the very same time a messenger from the Narabanchi Hutuktu galloped in with a letter to the effect that a Russian detachment under the leadership of Hun Boldon and Colonel Domojiroff from Urga had pillaged some Chinese firms and killed the merchants, had come to the Monastery and demanded horses, food and shelter. The Hutuktu asked for help because the ferocious conqueror of Kobdo, Hun Boldon, could very easily pillage the unprotected isolated monastery. We strongly urged Colonel Michailoff not to violate the sealed treaty and discountenance all the foreigners and Russians who had taken part in making it, for this would but be to imitate the Bolshevik principle of making deceit the leading rule in all acts of state. This touched Michailoff and he answered Domojiroff that Uliassutai was already in his hands without a fight; that over the building of the former Russian Consulate the tri-color flag of Russia was flying; the gamins had been disarmed but that the other orders could not be carried out, because their execution would violate the Chinese- Mongolian treaty just signed in Uliassutai.

Daily several envoys traveled from Narabanchi Hutuktu to Uliassutai. The news became more and more disquieting. The Hutuktu reported that Hun Boldon was mobilizing the Mongolian beggars and horse stealers, arming and training them; that the soldiers were taking the sheep of the monastery; that the “Noyon” Domojiroff was always drunk; and that the protests of the Hutuktu were answered with jeers and scolding. The messengers gave very indefinite information regarding the strength of the detachment, some placing it at about thirty while others stated that Domojiroff said he had eight hundred in all. We could not understand it at all and soon the messengers ceased coming. All the letters of the Sait remained unanswered and the envoys did not return. There seemed to be no doubt that the men had been killed or captured.

Prince Chultun Beyli determined to go himself. He took with him the Russian and Chinese Presidents of the Chambers of Commerce and two Mongolian officers. Three days elapsed without receiving any news from him whatever. The Mongols began to get worried. Then the Chinese Commissioner and Hun Jap Lama addressed a request to the foreigner group to send some one to Narabanchi, in order to try to resolve the controversy there and to persuade Domojiroff to recognize the treaty and not permit the “great insult of violation” of a covenant between the two great peoples. Our group asked me once more to accomplish this mission pro bono publico. I had assigned me as interpreter a fine young Russian colonist, the nephew of the murdered Bobroff, a splendid rider as well as a cool, brave man. Lt.-Colonel Michailoff gave me one of his officers to accompany me. Supplied with an express tzara for the post horses and guides, we traveled rapidly over the way which was now familiar to me to find my old friend, Jelib Djamsrap Huktuktu of Narabanchi. Although there was deep snow in some places, we made from one hundred to one hundred and fifteen miles per day.

CHAPTER XXVI

THE BAND OF WHITE HUNGHUTZES

We arrived at Narabanchi late at night on the third day out. As we were approaching, we noticed several riders who, as soon as they had seen us, galloped quickly back to the monastery. For some time we looked for the camp of the Russian detachment without finding it. The Mongols led us into the monastery, where the Hutuktu immediately received me. In his yurta sat Chultun Beyli. There he presented me with hatyks and said to me: “The very God has sent you here to us in this difficult moment.”

It seems Domojiroff had arrested both the Presidents of the Chambers of Commerce and had threatened to shoot Prince Chultun. Both Domojiroff and Hun Boldon had no documents legalizing their activities. Chultun Beyli was preparing to fight with them.

I asked them to take me to Domojiroff. Through the dark I saw four big yurtas and two Mongol sentinels with Russian rifles. We entered the Russian “Noyon’s” tent. A very strange picture was presented to our eyes. In the middle of the yurta the brazier was burning. In the usual place for the altar stood a throne, on which the tall, thin, grey-haired Colonel Domojiroff was seated. He was only in his undergarments and stockings, was evidently a little drunk and was telling stories. Around the brazier lay twelve young men in various picturesque poses. My officer companion reported to Domojiroff about the events in Uliassutai and during the conversation I asked Domojiroff where his detachment was encamped. He laughed and answered, with a sweep of his hand: “This is my detachment.” I pointed out to him that the form of his orders to us in Uliassutai had led us to believe that he must have a large company with him. Then I informed him that Lt.-Colonel Michailoff was preparing to cross swords with the Bolshevik force approaching Uliassutai.

“What?” he exclaimed with fear and confusion, “the Reds?”

We spent the night in his yurta and, when I was ready to lie down, my officer whispered to me:

“Be sure to keep your revolver handy,” to which I laughed and said:

“But we are in the center of a White detachment and therefore in perfect safety!”

“Uh-huh!” answered my officer and finished the response with one eye closed.

The next day I invited Domojiroff to walk with me over the plain, when I talked very frankly with him about what had been happening. He and Hun Boldon had received orders from Baron Ungern simply to get into touch with General Bakitch, but instead they began pillaging Chinese firms along the route and he had made up his mind to become a great conqueror. On the way he had run across some of the officers who deserted Colonel Kazagrandi and formed his present band. I succeeded in persuading Domojiroff to arrange matters peacefully with Chultun Beyli and not to violate the treaty. He immediately went ahead to the monastery. As I returned, I met a tall Mongol with a ferocious face, dressed in a blue silk outercoat–it was Hun Boldon. He introduced himself and spoke with me in Russian. I had only time to take off my coat in the tent of Domojiroff when a Mongol came running to invite me to the yurta of Hun Boldon. The Prince lived just beside me in a splendid blue yurta. Knowing the Mongolian custom, I jumped into the saddle and rode the ten paces to his door. Hun Boldon received me with coldness and pride.

“Who is he?” he inquired of the interpreter, pointing to me with his finger.

I understood his desire to offend me and I answered in the same manner, thrusting out my finger toward him and turning to the interpreter with the same question in a slightly more unpleasant tone:

“Who is he? High Prince and warrior or shepherd and brute?”

Boldon at once became confused and, with trembling voice and agitation in his whole manner, blurted out to me that he would not allow me to interfere in his affairs and would shoot every man who dared to run counter to his orders. He pounded on the low table with his fist and then rose up and drew his revolver. But I was much traveled among the nomads and had studied them thoroughly– Princes, Lamas, shepherds and brigands. I grasped my whip and, striking it on the table with all my strength, I said to the interpreter:

“Tell him that he has the honor to speak with neither Mongol nor Russian but with a foreigner, a citizen of a great and free state. Tell him he must first learn to be a man and then he can visit me and we can talk together.”

I turned and went out. Ten minutes later Hun Boldon entered my yurta and offered his apologies. I persuaded him to parley with Chultun Beyli and not to offend the free Mongol people with his activities. That very night all was arranged. Hun Boldon dismissed his Mongols and left for Kobdo, while Domojiroff with his band started for Jassaktu Khan to arrange for the mobilization of the Mongols there. With the consent of Chultun Beyli he wrote to Wang Tsao-tsun a demand to disarm his guard, as all of the Chinese troops in Urga had been so treated; but this letter arrived after Wang had bought camels to replace the stolen horses and was on his way to the border. Later Lt.-Colonel Michailoff sent a detachment of fifty men under the command of Lieutenant Strigine to overhaul Wang and receive their arms.

CHAPTER XXVII

MYSTERY IN A SMALL TEMPLE

Prince Chultun Beyli and I were ready to leave the Narabanchi Kure. While the Hutuktu was holding service for the Sait in the Temple of Blessing, I wandered around through the narrow alleyways between the walls of the houses of the various grades of Lama Gelongs, Getuls, Chaidje and Rabdjampa; of schools where the learned doctors of theology or Maramba taught together with the doctors of medicine or Ta Lama; of the residences for students called Bandi; of stores, archives and libraries. When I returned to the yurta of the Hutuktu, he was inside. He presented me with a large hatyk and proposed a walk around the monastery. His face wore a preoccupied expression from which I gathered that he had something he wished to discuss with me. As we went out of the yurta, the liberated President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and a Russian officer joined us. The Hutuktu led us to a small building just back of a bright yellow stone wall.

“In that building once stopped the Dalai Lama and Bogdo Khan and we always paint the buildings yellow where these holy persons have lived. Enter!”

The interior of the building was arranged with splendor. On the ground floor was the dining-room, furnished with richly carved, heavy blackwood Chinese tables and cabinets filled with porcelains and bronze. Above were two rooms, the first a bed-room hung with heavy yellow silk curtains; a large Chinese lantern richly set with colored stones hung by a thin bronze chain from the carved wooden ceiling beam. Here stood a large square bed covered with silken pillows, mattresses and blankets. The frame work of the bed was also of the Chinese blackwood and carried, especially on the posts that held the roof-like canopy, finely executed carvings with the chief motive the conventional dragon devouring the sun. By the side stood a chest of drawers completely covered with carvings setting forth religious pictures. Four comfortable easy chairs completed the furniture, save for the low oriental throne which stood on a dais at the end of the room.

“Do you see this throne?” said the Hutuktu to me. “One night in winter several horsemen rode into the monastery and demanded that all the Gelongs and Getuls with the Hutuktu and Kanpo at their head should congregate in this room. Then one of the strangers mounted the throne, where he took off his bashlyk or cap-like head covering. All of the Lamas fell to their knees as they recognized the man who had been long ago described in the sacred bulls of Dalai Lama, Tashi Lama and Bogdo Khan. He was the man to whom the whole world belongs and who has penetrated into all the mysteries of Nature. He pronounced a short Tibetan prayer, blessed all his hearers and afterwards made predictions for the coming half century. This was thirty years ago and in the interim all his prophecies are being fulfilled. During his prayers before that small shrine in the next room this door opened of its own accord, the candles and lights before the altar lighted themselves and the sacred braziers without coals gave forth great streams of incense that filled the room. And then, without warning, the King of the World and his companions disappeared from among us. Behind him remained no trace save the folds in the silken throne coverings which smoothed themselves out and left the throne as though no one had sat upon it.”

The Hutuktu entered the shrine, kneeled down, covering his eyes with his hands, and began to pray. I looked at the calm, indifferent face of the golden Buddha, over which the flickering lamps threw changing shadows, and then turned my eyes to the side of the throne. It was wonderful and difficult to believe but I really saw there the strong, muscular figure of a man with a swarthy face of stern and fixed expression about the mouth and jaws, thrown into high relief by the brightness of the eyes. Through his transparent body draped in white raiment I saw the Tibetan inscriptions on the back of the throne. I closed my eyes and opened them again. No one was there but the silk throne covering seemed to be moving.

“Nervousness,” I thought. “Abnormal and over-emphasized impressionability growing out of the unusual surroundings and strains.”

The Hutuktu turned to me and said: “Give me your hatyk. I have the feeling that you are troubled about those whom you love, and I want to pray for them. And you must pray also, importune God and direct the sight of your soul to the King of the World who was here and sanctified this place.”

The Hutuktu placed the hatyk on the shoulder of the Buddha and, prostrating himself on the carpet before the altar, whispered the words of prayer. Then he raised his head and beckoned me to him with a slight movement of his hand.

“Look at the dark space behind the statue of Buddha and he will show your beloved to you.”

Readily obeying his deep-voiced command, I began to look into the dark niche behind the figure of the Buddha. Soon out of the darkness began to appear streams of smoke or transparent threads. They floated in the air, becoming more and more dense and increasing in number, until gradually they formed the bodies of several persons and the outlines of various objects. I saw a room that was strange to me with my family there, surrounded by some whom I knew and others whom I did not. I recognized even the dress my wife wore. Every line of her dear face was clearly visible. Gradually the vision became too dark, dissipated itself into the streams of smoke and transparent threads and disappeared. Behind the golden Buddha was nothing but the darkness. The Hutuktu arose, took my hatyk from the shoulder of the Buddha and handed it to me with these words:

“Fortune is always with you and with your family. God’s goodness will not forsake you.”

We left the building of this unknown King of the World, where he had prayed for all mankind and had predicted the fate of peoples and states. I was greatly astonished to find that my companions had also seen my vision and to hear them describe to me in minute detail the appearance and the clothes of the persons whom I had seen in the dark niche behind the head of Buddha.*

* In order that I might have the evidence of others on this extraordinarily impressive vision, I asked them to make protocols or affidavits concerning what they saw. This they did and I now have these statements in my possession.

The Mongol officer also told me that Chultun Beyli had the day before asked the Hutuktu to reveal to him his fate in this important juncture of his life and in this crisis of his country but the Hutuktu only waved his hand in an expression of fear and refused. When I asked the Hutuktu for the reason of his refusal, suggesting to him that it might calm and help Chultun Beyli as the vision of my beloved had strengthened me, the Hutuktu knitted his brow and answered:

“No! The vision would not please the Prince. His fate is black. Yesterday I thrice sought his fortune on the burned shoulder blades and with the entrails of sheep and each time came to the same dire result, the same dire result! . . .”

He did not really finish speaking but covered his face with his hands in fear. He was convinced that the lot of Chultun Beyli was black as the night.

In an hour we were behind the low hills that hid the Narabanchi Kure from our sight.

CHAPTER XXVIII

THE BREATH OF DEATH

We arrived at Uliassutai on the day of the return of the detachment which had gone out to disarm the convoy of Wang Tsao-tsun. This detachment had met Colonel Domojiroff, who ordered them not only to disarm but to pillage the convoy and, unfortunately, Lieutenant Strigine executed this illegal and unwarranted command. It was compromising and ignominious to see Russian officers and soldiers wearing the Chinese overcoats, boots and wrist watches which had been taken from the Chinese officials and the convoy. Everyone had Chinese silver and gold also from the loot. The Mongol wife of Wang Tsao-tsun and her brother returned with the detachment and entered a complaint of having been robbed by the Russians. The Chinese officials and their convoy, deprived of their supplies, reached the Chinese border only after great distress from hunger and cold. We foreigners were astounded that Lt.-Colonel Michailoff received Strigine with military honors but we caught the explanation of it later when we learned that Michailoff had been given some of the Chinese silver and his wife the handsomely decorated saddle of Fu Hsiang. Chultun Beyli demanded that all the weapons taken from the Chinese and all the stolen property be turned over to him, as it must later be returned to the Chinese authorities; but Michailoff refused. Afterwards we foreigners cut off all contact with the Russian detachment. The relations between the Russians and Mongols became very strained. Several of the Russian officers protested against the acts of Michailoff and Strigine and controversies became more and more serious.

At this time, one morning in April, an extraordinary group of armed horsemen arrived at Uliassutai. They stayed at the house of the Bolshevik Bourdukoff, who gave them, so we were told, a great quantity of silver. This group explained that they were former officers in the Imperial Guard. They were Colonels Poletika, N. N. Philipoff and three of the latter’s brothers. They announced that they wanted to collect all the White officers and soldiers then in Mongolia and China and lead them to Urianhai to fight the Bolsheviki; but that first they wanted to wipe out Ungern and return Mongolia to China. They called themselves the representatives of the Central Organization of the Whites in Russia.

The society of Russian officers in Uliassutai invited them to a meeting, examined their documents and interrogated them. Investigation proved that all the statements of these officers about their former connections were entirely wrong, that Poletika occupied an important position in the war commissariat of the Bolsheviki, that one of the Philipoff brothers was the assistant of Kameneff in his first attempt to reach England, that the Central White Organization in Russia did not exist, that the proposed fighting in Urianhai was but a trap for the White officers and that this group was in close relations with the Bolshevik Bourdukoff.

A discussion at once sprang up among the officers as to what they should do with this group, which split the detachment into two distinct parties. Lt.-Colonel Michailoff with several officers joined themselves to Poletika’s group just as Colonel Domojiroff arrived with his detachment. He began to get in touch with both factions and to feel out the politics of the situation, finally appointing Poletika to the post of Commandant of Uliassutai and sending to Baron Ungern a full report of the events in the town. In this document he devoted much space to me, accusing me of standing in the way of the execution of his orders. His officers watched me continuously. From different quarters I received warnings to take great care. This band and its leader openly demanded to know what right this foreigner had to interfere in the affairs of Mongolia, one of Domojiroff’s officers directly giving me the challenge in a meeting in the attempt to provoke a controversy. I quietly answered him:

“And on what basis do the Russian refugees interfere, they who have rights neither at home nor abroad?”

The officer made no verbal reply but in his eyes burned a definite answer. My huge friend who sat beside me noticed this, strode over toward him and, towering over him, stretched his arms and hands as though just waking from sleep and remarked: “I’m looking for a little boxing exercise.”

On one occasion Domojiroff’s men would have succeeded in taking me if I had not been saved by the watchfulness of our foreign group. I had gone to the fortress to negotiate with the Mongol Sait for the departure of the foreigners from Uliassutai. Chultun Beyli detained me for a long time, so that I was forced to return about nine in the evening. My horse was walking. Half a mile from the town three men sprang up out of the ditch and ran at me. I whipped up my horse but noticed several more men coming out of the other ditch as though to head me off. They, however, made for the other group and captured them and I heard the voice of a foreigner calling me back. There I found three of Domojiroff’s officers surrounded by the Polish soldiers and other foreigners under the leadership of my old trusted agronome, who was occupied with tying the hands of the officers behind their backs so strongly that the bones cracked. Ending his work and still smoking his perpetual pipe, he announced in a serious and important manner: “I think it best to throw them into the river.”

Laughing at his seriousness and the fear of Domojiroff’s officers, I asked them why they had started to attack me. They dropped their eyes and were silent. It was an eloquent silence and we perfectly understood what they had proposed to do. They had revolvers hidden in their pockets.

“Fine!” I said. “All is perfectly clear. I shall release you but you must report to your sender that he will not welcome you back the next time. Your weapons I shall hand to the Commandant of Uliassutai.”

My friend, using his former terrifying care, began to untie them, repeating over and over: “And I would have fed you to the fishes in the river!” Then we all returned to the town, leaving them to go their way.

Domojiroff continued to send envoys to Baron Ungern at Urga with requests for plenary powers and money and with reports about Michailoff, Chultun Beyli, Poletika, Philipoff and myself. With Asiatic cunning he was then maintaining good relations with all those for whom he was preparing death at the hands of the severe warrior, Baron Ungern, who was receiving only one-sided reports about all the happenings in Uliassutai. Our whole colony was greatly agitated. The officers split into different parties; the soldiers collected in groups and discussed the events of the day, criticising their chiefs, and under the influence of some of Domojiroff’s men began making such statements as:

“We have now seven Colonels, who all want to be in command and are all quarreling among themselves. They all ought to be pegged down and given good sound thrashings. The one who could take the greatest number of blows ought to be chosen as our chief.”

It was an ominous joke that proved the demoralization of the Russian detachment.

“It seems,” my friend frequently observed, “that we shall soon have the pleasure of seeing a Council of Soldiers here in Uliassutai. God and the Devil! One thing here is very unfortunate–there are no forests near into which good Christian men may dive and get away from all these cursed Soviets. It’s bare, frightfully bare, this wretched Mongolia, with no place for us to hide.”

Really this possibility of the Soviet was approaching. On one occasion the soldiers captured the arsenal containing the weapons surrendered by the Chinese and carried them off to their barracks. Drunkenness, gambling and fighting increased. We foreigners, carefully watching events and in fear of a catastrophe, finally decided to leave Uliassutai, that caldron of passions, controversies and denunciations. We heard that the group of Poletika was also preparing to get out a few days later. We foreigners separated into two parties, one traveling by the old caravan route across the Gobi considerably to the south of Urga to Kuku-Hoto or Kweihuacheng and Kalgan, and mine, consisting of my friend, two Polish soldiers and myself, heading for Urga via Zain Shabi, where Colonel Kazagrandi had asked me in a recent letter to meet him. Thus we left the Uliassutai where we had lived through so many exciting events.

On the sixth day after our departure there arrived in the town the Mongol-Buriat detachment under the command of the Buriat Vandaloff and the Russian Captain Bezrodnoff. Afterwards I met them in Zain Shabi. It was a detachment sent out from Urga by Baron Ungern to restore order in Uliassutai and to march on to Kobdo. On the way from Zain Shabi Bezrodnoff came across the group of Poletika and Michailoff. He instituted a search which disclosed suspicious documents in their baggage and in that of Michailoff and his wife the silver and other possessions taken from the Chinese. From this group of sixteen he sent N. N. Philipoff to Baron Ungern, released three others and shot the remaining twelve. Thus ended in Zain Shabi the life of one party of Uliassutai refugees and the activities of the group of Poletika. In Uliassutai Bezrodnoff shot Chultun Beyli for the violation of the treaty with the Chinese, and also some Bolshevist Russian colonists; arrested Domojiroff and sent him to Urga; and . . . restored order. The predictions about Chultun Beyli were fulfilled.

I knew of Domojiroff’s reports regarding myself but I decided, nevertheless, to proceed to Urga and not to swing round it, as Poletika had started to do when he was accidentally captured by Bezrodnoff. I was accustomed now to looking into the eyes of danger and I set out to meet the terrible “bloody Baron.” No one can decide his own fate. I did not think myself in the wrong and the feeling of fear had long since ceased to occupy a place in my menage. On the way a Mongol rider who overhauled us brought the news of the death of our acquaintances at Zain Shabi. He spent the night with me in the yurta at the ourton and related to me the following legend of death.

“It was a long time ago when the Mongolians ruled over China. The Prince of Uliassutai, Beltis Van, was mad. He executed any one he wished without trial and no one dared to pass through his town. All the other Princes and rich Mongols surrounded Uliassutai, where Beltis raged, cut off communication on every road and allowed none to pass in or out. Famine developed in the town. They consumed all the oxen, sheep and horses and finally Beltis Van determined to make a dash with his soldiers through to the west to the land of one of his tribes, the Olets. He and his men all perished in the fight. The Princes, following the advice of the Hutuktu Buyantu, buried the dead on the slopes of the mountains surrounding Uliassutai. They buried them with incantations and exorcisings in order that Death by Violence might be kept from a further visitation to their land. The tombs were covered with heavy stones and the Hutuktu predicted that the bad demon of Death by Violence would only leave the earth when the blood of a man should he spilled upon the covering stone. Such a legend lived among us. Now it is fulfilled. The Russians shot there three Bolsheviki and the Chinese two Mongols. The evil spirit of Beltis Van broke loose from beneath the heavy stone and now mows down the people with his scythe. The noble Chultun Beyli has perished; the Russian Noyon Michailoff also has fallen; and death has flowed out from Uliassutai all over our boundless plains. Who shall be able to stem it now? Who shall tie the ferocious hands? An evil time has fallen upon the Gods and the Good Spirits. The Evil Demons have made war upon the Good Spirits. What can man now do? Only perish, only perish. . . .”

Part III

THE STRAINING HEART OF ASIA

CHAPTER XXIX

ON THE ROAD OF GREAT CONQUERORS

The great conqueror, Jenghiz Khan, the son of sad, stern, severe Mongolia, according to an old Mongolian legend “mounted to the top of Karasu Togol and with his eyes of an eagle looked to the west and the east. In the west he saw whole seas of human blood over which floated a bloody fog that blanketed all the horizon. There he could not discern his fate. But the gods ordered him to proceed to the west, leading with him all his warriors and Mongolian tribes. To the east he saw wealthy towns, shining temples, crowds of happy people, gardens and fields of rich earth, all of which pleased the great Mongol. He said to his sons: ‘There in the west I shall be fire and sword, destroyer, avenging Fate; in the east I shall come as the merciful, great builder, bringing happiness to the people and to the land.'”

Thus runs the legend. I found much of truth in it. I had passed over much of his road to the west and always identified it by the old tombs and the impertinent monuments of stone to the merciless conqueror. I saw also a part of the eastern road of the hero, over which he traveled to China. Once when we were making a trip out of Uliassutai we stopped the night in Djirgalantu. The old host of the ourton, knowing me from my previous trip to Narabanchi, welcomed us very kindly and regaled us with stories during our evening meal. Among other things he led us out of the yurta and pointed out a mountain peak brightly lighted by the full moon and recounted to us the story of one of the sons of Jenghiz, afterwards Emperor of China, Indo-China and Mongolia, who had been attracted by the beautiful scenery and grazing lands of Djirgalantu and had founded here a town. This was soon left without inhabitants, for the Mongol is a nomad who cannot live in artificial cities. The plain is his house and the world his town. For a time this town witnessed battles between the Chinese and the troops of Jenghiz Khan but afterwards it was forgotten. At present there remains only a half-ruined tower, from which in the early days the heavy rocks were hurled down upon the heads of the enemy, and the dilapidated gate of Kublai, the grandson of Jenghiz Khan. Against the greenish sky drenched with the rays of the moon stood out the jagged line of the mountains and the black silhouette of the tower with its loopholes, through which the alternate scudding clouds and light flashed.

When our party left Uliassutai, we traveled on leisurely, making thirty-five to fifty miles a day until we were within sixty miles of Zain Shabi, where I took leave of the others to go south to this place in order to keep my engagement with Colonel Kazagrandi. The sun had just risen as my single Mongol guide and I without any pack animals began to ascend the low, timbered ridges, from the top of which I caught the last glimpses of my companions disappearing down the valley. I had no idea then of the many and almost fatal dangers which I should have to pass through during this trip by myself, which was destined to prove much longer than I had anticipated. As we were crossing a small river with sandy shores, my Mongol guide told me how the Mongolians came there during the summer to wash gold, in spite of the prohibitions of the Lamas. The manner of working the placer was very primitive but the results testified clearly to the richness of these sands. The Mongol lies flat on the ground, brushes the sand aside with a feather and keeps blowing into the little excavation so formed. From time to time he wets his finger and picks up on it a small bit of grain gold or a diminutive nugget and drops these into a little bag hanging under his chin. In such manner this primitive dredge wins about a quarter of an ounce or five dollars’ worth of the yellow metal per day.

I determined to make the whole distance to Zain Shabi in a single day. At the ourtons I hurried them through the catching and saddling of the horses as fast as I could. At one of these stations about twenty-five miles from the monastery the Mongols gave me a wild horse, a big, strong white stallion. Just as I was about to mount him and had already touched my foot to the stirrup, he jumped and kicked me right on the leg which had been wounded in the Ma-chu fight. The leg soon began to swell and ache. At sunset I made out the first Russian and Chinese buildings and later the monastery at Zain. We dropped into the valley of a small stream which flowed along a mountain on whose peak were set white rocks forming the words of a Tibetan prayer. At the bottom of this mountain was a cemetery for the Lamas, that is, piles of bones and a pack of dogs. At last the monastery lay right below us, a common square surrounded with wooden fences. In the middle rose a large temple quite different from all those of western Mongolia, not in the Chinese but in the Tibetan style of architecture, a white building with perpendicular walls and regular rows of windows in black frames, with a roof of black tiles and with a most unusual damp course laid between the stone walls and the roof timbers and made of bundles of twigs from a Tibetan tree which never rots. Another small quadrangle lay a little to the east and contained Russian buildings connected with the monastery by telephone.

“That is the house of the Living God of Zain,” the Mongol explained, pointing to this smaller quadrangle. “He likes Russian customs and manners.”

To the north on a conical-shaped hill rose a tower that recalled the Babylonian zikkurat. It was the temple where the ancient books and manuscripts were kept and the broken ornaments and objects used in the religious ceremonies together with the robes of deceased Hutuktus preserved. A sheer cliff rose behind this museum, which it was impossible for one to climb. On the face of this were carved images of the Lamaite gods, scattered about without any special order. They were from one to two and a half metres high. At night the monks lighted lamps before them, so that one could see these images of the gods and goddesses from far away.

We entered the trading settlement. The streets were deserted and from the windows only women and children looked out. I stopped with a Russian firm whose other branches I had known throughout the country. Much to my astonishment they welcomed me as an acquaintance. It appeared that the Hutuktu of Narabanchi had sent word to all the monasteries that, whenever I should come, they must all render me aid, inasmuch as I had saved the Narabanchi Monastery and, by the clear signs of the divinations, I was an incarnate Buddha beloved of the Gods. This letter of this kindly disposed Hutuktu helped me very much–perhaps I should even say more, that it saved me from death. The hospitality of my hosts proved of great and much needed assistance to me because my injured leg had swelled and was aching severely. When I took off my boot, I found my foot all covered with blood and my old wound re-opened by the blow. A felcher was called to assist me with treatment and bandaging, so that I was able to walk again three days later.

I did not find Colonel Kazagrandi at Zain Shabi. After destroying the Chinese gamins who had killed the local Commandant, he had returned via Van Kure. The new Commandment handed me the letter of Kazagrandi, who very cordially asked me to visit him after I had rested in Zain. A Mongolian document was enclosed in the letter giving me the right to receive horses and carts from herd to herd by means of the “urga,” which I shall later describe and which opened for me an entirely new vista of Mongolian life and country that I should otherwise never have seen. The making of this journey of over two hundred miles was a very disagreeable task for me; but evidently Kazagrandi, whom I had never met, had serious reasons for wishing this meeting.

At one o’clock the day after my arrival I was visited by the local “Very God,” Gheghen Pandita Hutuktu. A more strange and extraordinary appearance of a god I could not imagine. He was a short, thin young man of twenty or twenty-two years with quick, nervous movements and with an expressive face lighted and dominated, like the countenances of all the Mongol gods, by large, frightened eyes. He was dressed in a blue silk Russian uniform with yellow epaulets with the sacred sign of Pandita Hutuktu, in blue silk trousers and high boots, all surmounted by a white Astrakhan cap with a yellow pointed top. At his girdle a revolver and sword were slung. I did not know quite what to think of this disguised god. He took a cup of tea from the host and began to talk with a mixture of Mongolian and Russian.

“Not far from my Kure is located the ancient monastery of Erdeni Dzu, erected on the site of the ruins of Karakorum, the ancient capital of Jenghiz Khan and afterwards frequently visited by Kublai Kahn for sanctuary and rest after his labors as Emperor of China, India, Persia, Afghanistan, Mongolia and half of Europe. Now only ruins and tombs remain to mark this former ‘Garden of Beatific Days.’ The pious monks of Baroun Kure found in the underground chambers of the ruins manuscripts that were much older than Erdeni Dzu itself. In these my Maramba Meetchik-Atak found the prediction that the Hutuktu of Zain who should carry the title of ‘Pandita,’ should be but twenty-one years of age, be born in the heart of the lands of Jenghiz Khan and have on his chest the natural sign of the swastika–such Hutuktu would be honored by the people in the days of a great war and trouble, would begin the fight with the servants of Red evil and would conquer them and bring order into the universe, celebrating this happy day in the city with white temples and with the songs of ten thousand bells. It is I, Pandita Hutuktu! The signs and symbols have met in me. I shall destroy the Bolsheviki, the bad ‘servants of the Red evil,’ and in Moscow I shall rest from my glorious and great work. Therefore I have asked Colonel Kazagrandi to enlist me in the troops of Baron Ungern and give me the chance to fight. The Lamas seek to prevent me from going but who is the god here?”

He very sternly stamped his foot, while the Lamas and guard who accompanied him reverently bowed their heads.

As he left he presented me with a hatyk and, rummaging through my saddle bags, I found a single article that might be considered worthy as a gift for a Hutuktu, a small bottle of osmiridium, this rare, natural concomitant of platinum.

“This is the most stable and hardest of metals,” I said. “Let it be the sign of your glory and strength, Hutuktu!”

The Pandita thanked me and invited me to visit him. When I had recovered a little, I went to his house, which was arranged in European style: electric lights, push bells and telephone. He feasted me with wine and sweets and introduced me to two very interesting personages, one an old Tibetan surgeon with a face deeply pitted by smallpox, a heavy thick nose and crossed eyes. He was a peculiar surgeon, consecrated in Tibet. His duties consisted in treating and curing Hutuktus when they were ill and . . . in poisoning them when they became too independent or extravagant or when their policies were not in accord with the wishes of the Council of Lamas of the Living Buddha or the Dalai Lama. By now Pandita Hutuktu probably rests in eternal peace on the top of some sacred mountain, sent thither by the solicitude of his extraordinary court physician. The martial spirit of Pandita Hutuktu was very unwelcome to the Council of Lamas, who protested against the adventuresomeness of this “Living God.”

Pandita liked wine and cards. One day when he was in the company of Russians and dressed in a European suit, some Lamas came running to announce that divine service had begun and that the “Living God” must take his place on the altar to be prayed to but he had gone out from his abode and was playing cards! Without any confusion Pandita drew his red mantle of the Hutuktu over his European coat and long grey trousers and allowed the shocked Lamas to carry their “God” away in his palanquin.

Besides the surgeon-poisoner I met at the Hutuktu’s a lad of thirteen years, whose youthfulness, red robe and cropped hair led me to suppose he was a Bandi or student servant in the home of the Hutuktu; but it turned out otherwise. This boy was the first Hubilgan, also an incarnate Buddha, an artful teller of fortunes and the successor of Pandita Hutuktu. He was drunk all the time and a great card player, always making side-splitting jokes that greatly offended the Lamas.

That same evening I made the acquaintance of the second Hubilgan who called on me, the real administrator of Zain Shabi, which is an independent dominion subject directly to the Living Buddha. This Hubilgan was a serious and ascetic man of thirty-two, well educated and deeply learned in Mongol lore. He knew Russian and read much in that language, being interested chiefly in the life and stories of other peoples. He had a high respect for the creative genius of the American people and said to me:

“When you go to America, ask the Americans to come to us and lead us out from the darkness that surrounds us. The Chinese and Russians will lead us to destruction and only the Americans can save us.”

It is a deep satisfaction for me to carry out the request of this influential Mongol, Hubilgan, and to urge his appeal to the American people. Will you not save this honest, uncorrupted but dark, deceived and oppressed people? They should not be allowed to perish, for within their souls they carry a great store of strong moral forces. Make of them a cultured people, believing in the verity of humankind; teach them to use the wealth of their land; and the ancient people of Jenghiz Khan will ever be your faithful friends.

When I had sufficiently recovered, the Hutuktu invited me to travel with him to Erdeni Dzu, to which I willingly agreed. On the following morning a light and comfortable carriage was brought for me. Our trip lasted five days, during which we visited Erdeni Dzu, Karakorum, Hoto-Zaidam and Hara-Balgasun. All these are the ruins of monasteries and cities erected by Jenghiz Khan and his successors, Ugadai Khan and Kublai in the thirteenth century. Now only the remnants of walls and towers remain, some large tombs and whole books of legends and stories.

“Look at these tombs!” said the Hutuktu to me. “Here the son of Khan Uyuk was buried. This young prince was bribed by the Chinese to kill his father but was frustrated in his attempt by his own sister, who killed him in her watchful care of her old father, the Emperor and Khan. There is the tomb of Tsinilla, the beloved spouse of Khan Mangu. She left the capital of China to go to Khara Bolgasun, where she fell in love with the brave shepherd Damcharen, who overtook the wind on his steed and who captured wild yaks and horses with his bare hands. The enraged Khan ordered his unfaithful wife strangled but afterwards buried her with imperial honors and frequently came to her tomb to weep for his lost love.”

“And what happened to Damcharen?” I inquired.

The Hutuktu himself did not know; but his old servant, the real archive of legends, answered:

“With the aid of ferocious Chahar brigands he fought with China for a long time. It is, however, unknown how he died.”

Among the ruins the monks pray at certain fixed times and they also search for sacred books and objects concealed or buried in the debris. Recently they found here two Chinese rifles and two gold rings and big bundles of old manuscripts tied with leather thongs.

“Why did this region attract the powerful emperors and Khans who ruled from the Pacific to the Adriatic?” I asked myself. Certainly not these mountains and valleys covered with larch and birch, not these vast sands, receding lakes and barren rocks. It seems that I found the answer.

The great emperors, remembering the vision of Jenghiz Khan, sought here new revelations and predictions of his miraculous, majestic destiny, surrounded by the divine honors, obeisance and hate. Where could they come into touch with the gods, the good and bad spirits? Only there where they abode. All the district of Zain with these ancient ruins is just such a place.

“On this mountain only such men can ascend as are born of the direct line of Jenghiz Khan,” the Pandita explained to me. “Half way up the ordinary man suffocates and dies, if he ventures to go further. Recently Mongolian hunters chased a pack of wolves up this mountain and, when they came to this part of the mountainside, they all perished. There on the slopes of the mountain lie the bones of eagles, big horned sheep and the kabarga antelope, light and swift as the wind. There dwells the bad demon who possesses the book of human destinies.”

“This is the answer,” I thought.

In the Western Caucasus I once saw a mountain between Soukhoum Kale and Tuopsei where wolves, eagles and wild goats also perish, and where men would likewise perish if they did not go on horseback through this zone. There the earth breathes out carbonic acid gas through holes in the mountainside, killing all animal life. The gas clings to the earth in a layer about half a metre thick. Men on horseback pass above this and the horses always hold their heads way up and snuff and whinny in fear until they cross the dangerous zone. Here on the top of this mountain where the bad demon peruses the book of human destinies is the same phenomenon, and I realized the sacred fear of the Mongols as well as the stern attraction of this place for the tall, almost gigantic descendants of Jenghiz Khan. Their heads tower above the layers of poisonous gas, so that they can reach the top of this mysterious and terrible mountain. Also it is possible to explain this phenomenon geologically, because here in this region is the southern edge of the coal deposits which are the source of carbonic acid and swamp gases.

Not far from the ruins in the lands of Hun Doptchin Djamtso there is a small lake which sometimes burns with a red flame, terrifying the Mongols and herds of horses. Naturally this lake is rich with legends. Here a meteor formerly fell and sank far into the earth. In the hole this lake appeared. Now, it seems, the inhabitants of the subterranean passages, semi-man and semi-demon, are laboring to extract this “stone of the sky” from its deep bed and it is setting the water on fire as it rises and falls back in spite of their every effort. I did not see the lake myself but a Russian colonist told me that it may be petroleum on the lake that is fired either from the campfires of the shepherds or by the blazing rays of the sun.

At any rate all this makes it very easy to understand the attractions for the great Mongol potentates. The strongest impression was produced upon me by Karakorum, the place where the cruel and wise Jenghiz Khan lived and laid his gigantic plans for overrunning all the west with blood and for covering the east with a glory never before seen. Two Karakorums were erected by Jenghiz Khan, one here near Tatsa Gol on the Caravan Road and the other in Pamir, where the sad warriors buried the greatest of human conquerors in the mausoleum built by five hundred captives who were sacrificed to the spirit of the deceased when their work was done.

The warlike Pandita Hutuktu prayed on the ruins where the shades of these potentates who had ruled half the world wandered, and his soul longed for the chimerical exploits and for the glory of Jenghiz and Tamerlane.

On the return journey we were invited not far from Zain to visit a very rich Mongol by the way. He had already prepared the yurtas suitable for Princes, ornamented with rich carpets and silk draperies. The Hutuktu accepted. We arranged ourselves on the soft pillows in the yurtas as the Hutuktu blessed the Mongol, touching his head with his holy hand, and received the hatyks. The host then had a whole sheep brought in to us, boiled in a huge vessel. The Hutuktu carved off one hind leg and offered it to me, while he reserved the other for himself. After this he gave a large piece of meat to the smallest son of the host, which was the sign that Pandita Hutuktu invited all to begin the feast. In a trice the sheep was entirely carved or torn up and in the hands of the banqueters. When the Hutuktu had thrown down by the brazier the white bones without a trace of meat left on them, the host on his knees withdrew from the fire a piece of sheepskin and ceremoniously offered it on both his hands to the Hutuktu. Pandita began to clean off the wool and ashes with his knife and, cutting it into thin strips, fell to eating this really tasty course. It is the covering from just above the breast bone and is called in Mongolian tarach or “arrow.” When a sheep is skinned, this small section is cut out and placed on the hot coals, where it is broiled very slowly. Thus prepared it is considered the most dainty bit of the whole animal and is always presented to the guest of honor. It is not permissible to divide it, such is the strength of the custom and ceremony.

After dinner our host proposed a hunt for bighorns, a large herd of which was known to graze in the mountains within less than a mile from the yurtas. Horses with rich saddles and bridles were led up. All the elaborate harness of the Hutuktu’s mount was ornamented with red and yellow bits of cloth as a mark of his rank. About fifty Mongol riders galloped behind us. When we left our horses, we were placed behind the rocks roughly three hundred paces apart and the Mongols began the encircling movement around the mountain. After about half an hour I noticed way up among the rocks something flash and soon made out a fine bighorn jumping with tremendous springs from rock to rock, and behind him a herd of some twenty odd head leaping like lightning over the ground. I was vexed beyond words when it appeared that the Mongols had made a mess of it and pushed the herd out to the side before having completed their circle. But happily I was mistaken. Behind a rock right ahead of the herd a Mongol sprang up and waved his hands. Only the big leader was not frightened and kept right on past the unarmed Mongol while all the rest of the herd swung suddenly round and rushed right down upon me. I opened fire and dropped two of them. The Hutuktu also brought down one as well as a musk antelope that came unexpectedly from behind a rock hard by. The largest pair of horns weighed about thirty pounds, but they were from a young sheep.

The day following our return to Zain Shabi, as I was feeling quite recovered, I decided to go on to Van Kure. At my leave-taking from the Hutuktu I received a large hatyk from him together with warmest expressions of thanks for the present I had given him on the first day of our acquaintance.

“It is a fine medicine!” he exclaimed. “After our trip I felt quite exhausted but I took your medicine and am now quite rejuvenated. Many, many thanks!”

The poor chap had swallowed my osmiridium. To be sure it could not harm him; but to have helped him was wonderful. Perhaps doctors in the Occident may wish to try this new, harmless and very cheap remedy–only eight pounds of it in the whole world–and I merely ask that they leave me the patent rights for it for Mongolia, Barga, Sinkiang, Koko Nor and all the other lands of Central Asia.

An old Russian colonist went as guide for me. They gave me a big but light and comfortable cart hitched and drawn in a marvelous way. A straight pole four metres long was fastened athwart the front of the shafts. On either side two riders took this pole across their saddle pommels and galloped away with me across the plains. Behind us galloped four other riders with four extra horses.

CHAPTER XXX

ARRESTED!

About twelve miles from Zain we saw from a ridge a snakelike line of riders crossing the valley, which detachment we met half an hour later on the shore of a deep, swampy stream. The group consisted of Mongols, Buriats and Tibetans armed with Russian rifles. At the head of the column were two men, one of whom in a huge black Astrakhan and black felt cape with red Caucasian cowl on his shoulders blocked my road and, in a coarse, harsh voice, demanded of me: “Who are you, where are you from and where are you going?”

I gave also a laconic answer. They then said that they were a detachment of troops from Baron Ungern under the command of Captain Vandaloff. “I am Captain Bezrodnoff, military judge.”

Suddenly he laughed loudly. His insolent, stupid face did not please me and, bowing to the officers, I ordered my riders to move.

“Oh no!” he remonstrated, as he blocked the road again. “I cannot allow you to go farther. I want to have a long and serious conversation with you and you will have to come back to Zain for it.”

I protested and called attention to the letter of Colonel Kazagrandi, only to hear Bezrodnoff answer with coldness:

“This letter is a matter of Colonel Kazagrandi’s and to bring you back to Zain and talk with you is my affair. Now give me your weapon.”

But I could not yield to this demand, even though death were threatened.

“Listen,” I said. “Tell me frankly. Is yours really a detachment fighting against the Boisheviki or is it a Red contingent?”

“No, I assure you!” replied the Buriat officer Vandaloff, approaching me. “We have already been fighting the Bolsheviki for three years.”

“Then I cannot hand you my weapon,” I calmly replied. “I brought it from Soviet Siberia, have had many fights with this faithful weapon and now I am to be disarmed by White officers! It is an offence that I cannot allow.”

With these words I threw my rifle and my Mauser into the stream. The officers were confused. Bezrodnoff turned red with anger.

“I freed you and myself from humiliation,” I explained.

Bezrodnoff in silence turned his horse, the whole detachment of three hundred men passed immediately before me and only the last two riders stopped, ordered my Mongols to turn my cart round and then fell in behind my little group. So I was arrested! One of the horsemen behind me was a Russian and he told me that Bezrodnoff carried with him many death decrees. I was sure that mine was among them.

Stupid, very stupid! What was the use of fighting one’s way through Red detachments, of being frozen and hungry, of almost perishing in Tibet only to die from a bullet of one of Bezrodnoff’s Mongols? For such a pleasure it was not worth while to travel so long and so far! In every Siberian “Cheka” I could have had this end so joyfully accorded me.

When we arrived at Zain Shabi, my luggage was examined and Bezrodnoff began to question me in minutest detail about the events in Uliassutai. We talked about three hours, during which I tried to defend all the officers of Uliassutai, maintaining that one must not trust only the reports of Domojiroff. When our conversation was finished, the Captain stood up and offered his apologies for detaining me in my journey. Afterwards he presented me a fine Mauser with silver mountings on the handle and said:

“Your pride greatly pleased me. I beg you to receive this weapon as a memento of me.”

The following morning I set out anew from Zain Shabi, having in my pocket the laissez-passer of Bezrodnoff for his outposts.

CHAPTER XXXI

TRAVELING BY “URGA”

Once more we traveled along the now known places, the mountain from which I espied the detachment of Bezrodnoff, the stream into which I had thrown my weapon, and soon all this lay behind us. At the first ourton we were disappointed because we did not find horses there. In the yurtas were only the host with two of his sons. I showed him my document and he exclaimed:

“Noyon has the right of ‘urga.’ Horses will be brought very soon.”

He jumped into his saddle, took two of my Mongols with him, providing them and himself with long thin poles, four or five metres in length, and fitted at the end with a loop of rope, and galloped away. My cart moved behind them. We left the road, crossed the plain for an hour and came upon a big herd of horses grazing there. The Mongol began to catch a quota of them for us with his pole and noose or urga, when out of the mountains nearby came galloping the owners of the herds. When the old Mongol showed my papers to them, they submissively acquiesced and substituted four of their men for those who had come with me thus far. In this manner the Mongols travel, not along the ourton or station road but directly from one herd to another, where the fresh horses are caught and saddled and the new owners substituted for those of the last herd. All the Mongols so effected by the right of urga try to finish their task as rapidly as possible and gallop like mad for the nearest herd in your general direction of travel to turn over their task to their neighbor. Any traveler having this right of urga can catch horses himself and, if there are no owners, can force the former ones to carry on and leave the animals in the next herd he requisitions. But this happens very rarely because the Mongol never likes to seek out his animals in another’s herd, as it always gives so many chances for controversy.

It was from this custom, according to one explanation, that the town of Urga took its name among outsiders. By the Mongols themselves it is always referred to as Ta Kure, “The Great Monastery.” The reason the Buriats and Russians, who were the first to trade into this region, called it Urga was because it was the principal destination of all the trading expeditions which crossed the plains by this old method or right of travel. A second explanation is that the town lies in a “loop” whose sides are formed by three mountain ridges, along one of which the River Tola runs like the pole or stick of the familiar urga of the plains.

Thanks to this unique ticket of urga I crossed quite untraveled sections of Mongolia for about two hundred miles. It gave me the welcome opportunity to observe the fauna of this part of the country. I saw many huge herds of Mongolian antelopes running from five to six thousand, many groups of bighorns, wapiti and kabarga antelopes. Sometimes small herds of wild horses and wild asses flashed as a vision on the horizon.

In one place I observed a big colony of marmots. All over an area of several square miles their mounds were scattered with the holes leading down to their runways below, the dwellings of the marmot. In and out among these mounds the greyish-yellow or brown animals ran in all sizes up to half that of an average dog. They ran heavily and the skin on their fat bodies moved as though it were too big for them. The marmots are splendid prospectors, always digging deep ditches, throwing out on the surface all the stones. In many places I saw mounds the marmots had made from copper ore and farther north some from minerals containing wolfram and vanadium. Whenever the marmot is at the entrance of his hole, he sits up straight on his hind legs and looks like a bit of wood, a small stump or a stone. As soon as he spies a rider in the distance, he watches him with great curiosity and begins whistling sharply. This curiosity of the marmots is taken advantage of by the hunters, who sneak up to their holes flourishing streamers of cloth on the tips of long poles. The whole attention of the small animals is concentrated on this small flag and only the bullet that takes his life explains to him the reason for this previously unknown object.

I saw a very exciting picture as I passed through a marmot colony near the Orkhon River. There were thousands of holes here so that my Mongols had to use all their skill to keep the horses from breaking their legs in them. I noticed an eagle circling high overhead. All of a sudden he dropped like a stone to the top of a mound, where he sat motionless as a rock. The marmot in a few minutes ran out of his hole to a neighbor’s doorway. The eagle calmly jumped down from the top and with one wing closed the entrance to the hole. The rodent heard the noise, turned back and rushed to the attack, trying to break through to his hole where he had evidently left his family. The struggle began. The eagle fought with one free wing, one leg and his beak but did not withdraw the bar to the entrance. The marmot jumped at the rapacious bird with great boldness but soon fell from a blow on the head. Only then the eagle withdrew his wing, approached the marmot, finished him off and with difficulty lifted him in his talons to carry him away to the mountains for a tasty luncheon.

In the more barren places with only occasional spears of grass in the plain another species of rodent lives, called imouran, about the size of a squirrel. They have a coat the same color as the prairie and, running about it like snakes, they collect the seeds that are blown across by the wind and carry them down into their diminutive homes. The imouran has a truly faithful friend, the yellow lark of the prairie with a brown back and head. When he sees the imouran running across the plain, he settles on his back, flaps his wings in balance and rides well this swiftly galloping mount, who gaily flourishes his long shaggy tail. The lark during his ride skilfully and quickly catches the parasites living on the body of his friend, giving evidence of his enjoyment of his work with a short agreeable song. The Mongols call the imouran “the steed of the gay lark.” The lark warns the imouran of the approach of eagles and hawks with three sharp whistles the moment he sees the aerial brigand and takes refuge himself behind a stone or in a small ditch. After this signal no imouran will stick his head out of his hole until the danger is past. Thus the gay lark and his steed live in kindly neighborliness.

In other parts of Mongolia where there was very rich grass I saw another type of rodent, which I had previously come across in Urianhai. It is a gigantic black prairie rat with a short tail and lives in colonies of from one to two hundred. He is interesting and unique as the most skilful farmer among the animals in his preparation of his winter supply of fodder. During the weeks when the grass is most succulent he actually mows it down with swift jerky swings of his head, cutting about twenty or thirty stalks with his sharp long front teeth. Then he allows his grass to cure and later puts up his prepared hay in a most scientific manner. First he makes a mound about a foot high. Through this he pushes down into the ground four slanting stakes, converging toward the