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middle of the pile, and binds them close over the surface of the hay with the longest strands of grass, leaving the ends protruding enough for him to add another foot to the height of the pile, when he again binds the surface with more long strands–all this to keep his winter supply of food from blowing away over the prairie. This stock he always locates right at the door of his den to avoid long winter hauls. The horses and camels are very fond of this small farmer’s hay, because it is always made from the most nutritious grass. The haycocks are so strongly made that one can hardly kick them to pieces.

Almost everywhere in Mongolia I met either single pairs or whole flocks of the greyish-yellow prairie partridges, salga or “partridge swallow,” so called because they have long sharp tails resembling those of swallows and because their flight also is a close copy of that of the swallow. These birds are very tame or fearless, allowing men to come within ten or fifteen paces of them; but, when they do break, they go high and fly long distances without lighting, whistling all the time quite like swallows. Their general markings are light grey and yellow, though the males have pretty chocolate spots on the backs and wings, while their legs and feet are heavily feathered.

My opportunity to make these observations came from traveling through unfrequented regions by the urga, which, however, had its counterbalancing disadvantages. The Mongols carried me directly and swiftly toward my destination, receiving with great satisfaction the presents of Chinese dollars which I gave them. But after having made about five thousand miles on my Cossack saddle that now lay behind me on the cart all covered with dust like common merchandise, I rebelled against being wracked and torn by the rough riding of the cart as it was swung heedlessly over stones, hillocks and ditches by the wild horses with their equally wild riders, bounding and cracking and holding together only through its tenacity of purpose in demonstrating the cosiness and attractiveness of a good Mongol equipage! All my bones began to ache. Finally I groaned at every lunge and at last I suffered a very sharp attack of ischias or sciatica in my wounded leg. At night I could neither sleep, lie down nor sit with comfort and spent the whole night pacing up and down the plain, listening to the loud snoring of the inhabitants of the yurta. At times I had to fight the two huge black dogs which attacked me. The following day I could endure the wracking only until noon and was then forced to give up and lie down. The pain was unbearable. I could not move my leg nor my back and finally fell into a high fever. We were forced to stop and rest. I swallowed all my stock of aspirin and quinine but without relief. Before me was a sleepless night about which I could not think without weakening fear. We had stopped in the yurta for guests by the side of a small monastery. My Mongols invited the Lama doctor to visit me, who gave me two very bitter powders and assured me I should be able to continue in the morning. I soon felt a stimulated palpitation of the heart, after which the pain became even sharper. Again I spent the night without any sleep but when the sun arose the pain ceased instantly and, after an hour, I ordered them to saddle me a horse, as I was afraid to continue further in the cart.

While the Mongols were catching the horses, there came to my tent Colonel N. N. Philipoff, who told me that he denied all the accusations that he and his brother and Poletika were Bolsheviki and that Bezrodnoff allowed him to go to Van Kure to meet Baron Ungern, who was expected there. Only Philipoff did not know that his Mongol guide was armed with a bomb and that another Mongol had been sent on ahead with a letter to Baron Ungern. He did not know that Poletika and his brothers were shot at the same time in Zain Shabi. Philipoff was in a hurry and wanted to reach Van Kure that day. I left an hour after him.

CHAPTER XXXII

AN OLD FORTUNE TELLER

From this point we began traveling along the ourton road. In this region the Mongols had very poor and exhausted horses, because they were forced continuously to supply mounts to the numerous envoys of Daichin Van and of Colonel Kazagrandi. We were compelled to spend the night at the last ourton before Van Kure, where a stout old Mongol and his son kept the station. After our supper he took the shoulder-blade of the sheep, which had been carefully scraped clean of all the flesh, and, looking at me, placed this bone in the coals with some incantations and said:

“I want to tell your fortune. All my predictions come true.”

When the bone had been blackened he drew it out, blew off the ashes and began to scrutinize the surface very closely and to look through it into the fire. He continued his examination for a long time and then, with fear in his face, placed the bone back in the coals.

“What did you see?” I asked, laughing.

“Be silent!” he whispered. “I made out horrible signs.”

He again took out the bone and began examining it all over, all the time whispering prayers and making strange movements. In a very solemn quiet voice he began his predictions.

“Death in the form of a tall white man with red hair will stand behind you and will watch you long and close. You will feel it and wait but Death will withdraw. . . . Another white man will become your friend. . . . Before the fourth day you will lose your acquaintances. They will die by a long knife. I already see them being eaten by the dogs. Beware of the man with a head like a saddle. He will strive for your death.”

For a long time after the fortune had been told we sat smoking and drinking tea but still the old fellow looked at me only with fear. Through my brain flashed the thought that thus must his companions in prison look at one who is condemned to death.

The next morning we left the fortune teller before the sun was up, and, when we had made about fifteen miles, hove in sight of Van Kure. I found Colonel Kazagrandi at his headquarters. He was a man of good family, an experienced engineer and a splendid officer, who had distinguished himself in the war at the defence of the island of Moon in the Baltic and afterwards in the fight with the Bolsheviki on the Volga. Colonel Kazagrandi offered me a bath in a real tub, which had its habitat in the house of the president of the local Chamber of Commerce. As I was in this house, a tall young captain entered. He had long curly red hair and an unusually white face, though heavy and stolid, with large, steel-cold eyes and with beautiful, tender, almost girlish lips. But in his eyes there was such cold cruelty that it was quite unpleasant to look at his otherwise fine face. When he left the room, our host told me that he was Captain Veseloffsky, the adjutant of General Rezukhin, who was fighting against the Bolsheviki in the north of Mongolia. They had just that day arrived for a conference with Baron Ungern.

After luncheon Colonel Kazagrandi invited me to his yurta and began discussing events in western Mongolia, where the situation had become very tense.

“Do you know Dr. Gay?” Kazagrandi asked me. “You know he helped me to form my detachment but Urga accuses him of being the agent of the Soviets.”

I made all the defences I could for Gay. He had helped me and had been exonerated by Kolchak.

“Yes, yes, and I justified Gay in such a manner,” said the Colonel, “but Rezukhin, who has just arrived today, has brought letters of Gay’s to the Bolsheviki which were seized in transit. By order of Baron Ungern, Gay and his family have today been sent to the headquarters of Rezukhin and I fear that they will not reach this destination.”

“Why?” I asked.

“They will be executed on the road!” answered Colonel Kazagrandi.

“What are we to do?” I responded. “Gay cannot be a Bolshevik, “because he is too well educated and too clever for it.”

“I don’t know; I don’t know!” murmured the Colonel with a despondent gesture. “Try to speak with Rezukhin.”

I decided to proceed at once to Rezukhin but just then Colonel Philipoff entered and began talking about the errors being made in the training of the soldiers. When I had donned my coat, another man came in. He was a small sized officer with an old green Cossack cap with a visor, a torn grey Mongol overcoat and with his right hand in a black sling tied around his neck. It was General Rezukhin, to whom I was at once introduced. During the conversation the General very politely and very skilfully inquired about the lives of Philipoff and myself during the last three years, joking and laughing with discretion and modesty. When he soon took his leave, I availed myself of the chance and went out with him.

He listened very attentively and politely to me and afterwards, in his quiet voice, said:

“Dr. Gay is the agent of the Soviets, disguised as a White in order the better to see, hear and know everything. We are surrounded by our enemies. The Russian people are demoralized and will undertake any treachery for money. Such is Gay. Anyway, what is the use of discussing him further? He and his family are no longer alive. Today my men cut them to pieces five kilometres from here.”

In consternation and fear I looked at the face of this small, dapper man with such soft voice and courteous manners. In his eyes I read such hate and tenacity that I understood at once the trembling respect of all the officers whom I had seen in his presence. Afterwards in Urga I learned more of this General Rezukhin distinguished by his absolute bravery and boundless cruelty. He was the watchdog of Baron Ungern, ready to throw himself into the fire and to spring at the throat of anyone his master might indicate.

Only four days then had elapsed before “my acquaintances” died “by a long knife,” so that one part of the prediction had been thus fulfilled. And now I have to await Death’s threat to me. The delay was not long. Only two days later the Chief of the Asiatic Division of Cavalry arrived–Baron Ungern von Sternberg.

CHAPTER XXXIII

“DEATH FROM THE WHITE MAN WILL STAND BEHIND YOU”

“The terrible general, the Baron,” arrived quite unexpectedly, unnoticed by the outposts of Colonel Kazagrandi. After a talk with Kazagrandi the Baron invited Colonel N. N. Philipoff and me into his presence. Colonel Kazagrandi brought the word to me. I wanted to go at once but was detained about half an hour by the Colonel, who then sped me with the words:

“Now God help you! Go!”

It was a strange parting message, not reassuring and quite enigmatical. I took my Mauser and also hid in the cuff of my coat my cyanide of potassium. The Baron was quartered in the yurta of the military doctor. When I entered the court, Captain Veseloffsky came up to me. He had a Cossack sword and a revolver without its holster beneath his girdle. He went into the yurta to report my arrival.

“Come in,” he said, as he emerged from the tent.

At the entrance my eyes were struck with the sight of a pool of blood that had not yet had time to drain down into the ground–an ominous greeting that seemed to carry the very voice of one just gone before me. I knocked.

“Come in!” was the answer in a high tenor. As I passed the threshold, a figure in a red silk Mongolian coat rushed at me with the spring of a tiger, grabbed and shook my hand as though in flight across my path and then fell prone on the bed at the side of the tent.

“Tell me who you are! Hereabouts are many spies and agitators,” he cried out in an hysterical voice, as he fixed his eyes upon me. In one moment I perceived his appearance and psychology. A small head on wide shoulders; blonde hair in disorder; a reddish bristling moustache; a skinny, exhausted face, like those on the old Byzantine ikons. Then everything else faded from view save a big, protruding forehead overhanging steely sharp eyes. These eyes were fixed upon me like those of an animal from a cave. My observations lasted for but a flash but I understood that before me was a very dangerous man ready for an instant spring into irrevocable action. Though the danger was evident, I felt the deepest offence.

“Sit down,” he snapped out in a hissing voice, as he pointed to a chair and impatiently pulled at his moustache. I felt my anger rising through my whole body and I said to him without taking the chair:

“You have allowed yourself to offend me, Baron. My name is well enough known so that you cannot thus indulge yourself in such epithets. You can do with me as you wish, because force is on your side, but you cannot compel me to speak with one who gives me offence.”

At these words of mine he swung his feet down off the bed and with evident astonishment began to survey me, holding his breath and pulling still at his moustache. Retaining my exterior calmness, I began to glance indifferently around the yurta, and only then I noticed General Rezukhin. I bowed to him and received his silent acknowledgment. After that I swung my glance back to the Baron, who sat with bowed head and closed eyes, from time to time rubbing his brow and mumbling to himself.

Suddenly he stood up and sharply said, looking past and over me:

“Go out! There is no need of more. . . .”

I swung round and saw Captain Veseloffsky with his white, cold face. I had not heard him enter. He did a formal “about face” and passed out of the door.

“‘Death from the white man’ has stood behind me,” I thought; “but has it quite left me?”

The Baron stood thinking for some time and then began to speak in jumbled, unfinished phrases.

“I ask your pardon. . . . You must understand there are so many traitors! Honest men have disappeared. I cannot trust anybody. All names are false and assumed; documents are counterfeited. Eyes and words deceive. . . . All is demoralized, insulted by Bolshevism. I just ordered Colonel Philipoff cut down, he who called himself the representative of the Russian White Organization. In the lining of his garments were found two secret Bolshevik codes. . . . When my officer flourished his sword over him, he exclaimed: ‘Why do you kill me, Tavarische?’ I cannot trust anybody. . . .”

He was silent and I also held my peace.

“I beg your pardon!” he began anew. “I offended you; but I am not simply a man, I am a leader of great forces and have in my head so much care, sorrow and woe!”

In his voice I felt there was mingled despair and sincerity. He frankly put out his hand to me. Again silence. At last I answered:

“What do you order me to do now, for I have neither counterfeit nor real documents? But many of your officers know me and in Urga I can find many who will testify that I could be neither agitator nor. . .”

“No need, no need!” interrupted the Baron. “All is clear, all is understood! I was in your soul and I know all. It is the truth which Hutuktu Narabanchi has written about you. What can I do for you?”

I explained how my friend and I had escaped from Soviet Russia in the effort to reach our native land and how a group of Polish soldiers had joined us in the hope of getting back to Poland; and I asked that help be given us to reach the nearest port.

“With pleasure, with pleasure. . . . I will help you all,” he answered excitedly. “I shall drive you to Urga in my motor car. Tomorrow we shall start and there in Urga we shall talk about further arrangements.”

Taking my leave, I went out of the yurta. On arriving at my quarters, I found Colonel Kazagrandi in great anxiety walking up and down my room.

“Thanks be to God!” he exclaimed and crossed himself.

His joy was very touching but at the same time I thought that the Colonel could have taken much more active measures for the salvation of his guest, if he had been so minded. The agitation of this day had tired me and made me feel years older. When I looked in the mirror I was certain there were more white hairs on my head. At night I could not sleep for the flashing thoughts of the young, fine face of Colonel Philipoff, the pool of blood, the cold eyes of Captain Veseloffsky, the sound of Baron Ungern’s voice with its tones of despair and woe, until finally I sank into a heavy stupor. I was awakened by Baron Ungern who came to ask pardon that he could not take me in his motor car, because he was obliged to take Daichin Van with him. But he informed me that he had left instructions to give me his own white camel and two Cossacks as servants. I had no time to thank him before he rushed out of my room.

Sleep then entirely deserted me, so I dressed and began smoking pipe after pipe of tobacco, as I thought: “How much easier to fight the Bolsheviki on the swamps of Seybi and to cross the snowy peaks of Ulan Taiga, where the bad demons kill all the travelers they can! There everything was simple and comprehensible, but here it is all a mad nightmare, a dark and foreboding storm!” I felt some tragedy, some horror in every movement of Baron Ungern, behind whom paced this silent, white-faced Veseloffsky and Death.

CHAPTER XXXIV

THE HORROR OF WAR!

At dawn of the following morning they led up the splendid white camel for me and we moved away. My company consisted of the two Cossacks, two Mongol soldiers and one Lama with two pack camels carrying the tent and food. I still apprehended that the Baron had it in mind not to dispose of me before my friends there in Van Kure but to prepare this journey for me under the guise of which it would be so easy to do away with me by the road. A bullet in the back and all would be finished. Consequently I was momentarily ready to draw my revolver and defend myself. I took care all the time to have the Cossacks either ahead of me or at the side. About noon we heard the distant honk of a motor car and soon saw Baron Ungern whizzing by us at full speed. With him were two adjutants and Prince Daichin Van. The Baron greeted me very kindly and shouted:

“Shall see you again in Urga!”

“Ah!” I thought, “evidently I shall reach Urga. So I can be at ease during my trip, and in Urga I have many friends beside the presence there of the bold Polish soldiers whom I had worked with in Uliassutai and who had outdistanced me in this journey.”

After the meeting with the Baron my Cossacks became very attentive to me and sought to distract me with stories. They told me about their very severe struggles with the Bolsheviki in Transbaikalia and Mongolia, about the battle with the Chinese near Urga, about finding communistic passports on several Chinese soldiers from Moscow, about the bravery of Baron Ungern and how he would sit at the campfire smoking and drinking tea right on the battle line without ever being touched by a bullet. At one fight seventy-four bullets entered his overcoat, saddle and the boxes by his side and again left him untouched. This is one of the reasons for his great influence over the Mongols. They related how before the battle he had made a reconnaissance in Urga with only one Cossack and on his way back had killed a Chinese officer and two soldiers with his bamboo stick or tashur; how he had no outfit save one change of linen and one extra pair of boots; how he was always calm and jovial in battle and severe and morose in the rare days of peace; and how he was everywhere his soldiers were fighting.

I told them, in turn, of my escape from Siberia and with chatting thus the day slipped by very quickly. Our camels trotted all the time, so that instead of the ordinary eighteen to twenty miles per day we made nearly fifty. My mount was the fastest of them all. He was a huge white animal with a splendid thick mane and had been presented to Baron Ungern by some Prince of Inner Mongolia with two black sables tied on the bridle. He was a calm, strong, bold giant of the desert, on whose back I felt myself as though perched on the tower of a building. Beyond the Orkhon River we came across the first dead body of a Chinese soldier, which lay face up and arms outstretched right in the middle of the road. When we had crossed the Burgut Mountains, we entered the Tola River valley, farther up which Urga is located. The road was strewn with the overcoats, shirts, boots, caps and kettles which the Chinese had thrown away in their flight; and marked by many of their dead. Further on the road crossed a morass, where on either side lay great mounds of the dead bodies of men, horses and camels with broken carts and military debris of every sort. Here the Tibetans of Baron Ungern had cut up the escaping Chinese baggage transport; and it was a strange and gloomy contrast to see the piles of dead besides the effervescing awakening life of spring. In every pool wild ducks of different kinds floated about; in the high grass the cranes performed their weird dance of courtship; on the lakes great flocks of swans and geese were swimming; through the swampy places like spots of light moved the brilliantly colored pairs of the Mongolian sacred bird, the turpan or “Lama goose”; on the higher dry places flocks of wild turkey gamboled and fought as they fed; flocks of the salga partridge whistled by; while on the mountain side not far away the wolves lay basking and turning in the lazy warmth of the sun, whining and occasionally barking like playful dogs.

Nature knows only life. Death is for her but an episode whose traces she rubs out with sand and snow or ornaments with luxuriant greenery and brightly colored bushes and flowers. What matters it to Nature if a mother at Chefoo or on the banks of the Yangtse offers her bowl of rice with burning incense at some shrine and prays for the return of her son that has fallen unknown for all time on the plains along the Tola, where his bones will dry beneath the rays of Nature’s dissipating fire and be scattered by her winds over the sands of the prairie? It is splendid, this indifference of Nature to death, and her greediness for life!

On the fourth day we made the shores of the Tola well after nightfall. We could not find the regular ford and I forced my camel to enter the stream in the attempt to make a crossing without guidance. Very fortunately I found a shallow, though somewhat miry, place and we got over all right. This is something to be thankful for in fording a river with a camel; because, when your mount finds the water too deep, coming up around his neck, he does not strike out and swim like a horse will do but just rolls over on his side and floats, which is vastly inconvenient for his rider. Down by the river we pegged our tent.

Fifteen miles further on we crossed a battlefield, where the third great battle for the independence of Mongolia had been fought. Here the troops of Baron Ungern clashed with six thousand Chinese moving down from Kiakhta to the aid of Urga. The Chinese were completely defeated and four thousand prisoners taken. However, these surrendered Chinese tried to escape during the night. Baron Ungern sent the Transbaikal Cossacks and Tibetans in pursuit of them and it was their work which we saw on this field of death. There were still about fifteen hundred unburied and as many more interred, according to the statements of our Cossacks, who had participated in this battle. The killed showed terrible sword wounds; everywhere equipment and other debris were scattered about. The Mongols with their herds moved away from the neighborhood and their place was taken by the wolves which hid behind every stone and in every ditch as we passed. Packs of dogs that had become wild fought with the wolves over the prey.

At last we left this place of carnage to the cursed god of war. Soon we approached a shallow, rapid stream, where the Mongols slipped from their camels, took off their caps and began drinking. It was a sacred stream which passed beside the abode of the Living Buddha. From this winding valley we suddenly turned into another where a great mountain ridge covered with dark, dense forest loomed up before us.

“Holy Bogdo-Ol!” exclaimed the Lama. “The abode of the Gods which guard our Living Buddha!”

Bogdo-Ol is the huge knot which ties together here three mountain chains: Gegyl from the southwest, Gangyn from the south, and Huntu from the north. This mountain covered with virgin forest is the property of the Living Buddha. The forests are full of nearly all the varieties of animals found in Mongolia, but hunting is not allowed. Any Mongol violating this law is condemned to death, while foreigners are deported. Crossing the Bogdo-Ol is forbidden under penalty of death. This command was transgressed by only one man, Baron Ungern, who crossed the mountain with fifty Cossacks, penetrated to the palace of the Living Buddha, where the Pontiff of Urga was being held under arrest by the Chinese, and stole him.

CHAPTER XXXV

IN THE CITY OF LIVING GODS, OF 30,000 BUDDHAS AND 60,000 MONKS

At last before our eyes the abode of the Living Buddha! At the foot of Bogdo-Ol behind white walls rose a white Tibetan building covered with greenish-blue tiles that glittered under the sunshine. It was richly set among groves of trees dotted here and there with the fantastic roofs of shrines and small palaces, while further from the mountain it was connected by a long wooden bridge across the Tola with the city of monks, sacred and revered throughout all the East as Ta Kure or Urga. Here besides the Living Buddha live whole throngs of secondary miracle workers, prophets, sorcerers and wonderful doctors. All these people have divine origin and are honored as living gods. At the left on the high plateau stands an old monastery with a huge, dark red tower, which is known as the “Temple Lamas City,” containing a gigantic bronze gilded statue of Buddha sitting on the golden flower of the lotus; tens of smaller temples, shrines, obo, open altars, towers for astrology and the grey city of the Lamas consisting of single-storied houses and yurtas, where about 60,000 monks of all ages and ranks dwell; schools, sacred archives and libraries, the houses of Bandi and the inns for the honored guests from China, Tibet, and the lands of the Buriat and Kalmuck.

Down below the monastery is the foreign settlement where the Russian, foreign and richest Chinese merchants live and where the multi-colored and crowded oriental bazaar carries forward its bustling life. A kilometre away the greyish enclosure of Maimachen surrounds the remaining Chinese trading establishments, while farther on one sees a long row of Russian private houses, a hospital, church, prison and, last of all, the awkward four-storied red brick building that was formerly the Russian Consulate.

We were already within a short distance of the monastery, when I noticed several Mongol soldiers in the mouth of a ravine nearby, dragging back and concealing in the ravine three dead bodies.

“What are they doing?” I asked.

The Cossacks only smiled without answering. Suddenly they straightened up with a sharp salute. Out of the ravine came a small, stocky Mongolian pony with a short man in the saddle. As he passed us, I noticed the epaulets of a colonel and the green cap with a visor. He examined me with cold, colorless eyes from under dense brows. As he went on ahead, he took off his cap and wiped the perspiration from his bald head. My eyes were struck by the strange undulating line of his skull. It was the man “with the head like a saddle,” against whom I had been warned by the old fortune teller at the last ourton outside Van Kure!

“Who is this officer?” I inquired.

Although he was already quite a distance in front of us, the Cossacks whispered: “Colonel Sepailoff, Commandant of Urga City.”

Colonel Sepailoff, the darkest person on the canvas of Mongolian events! Formerly a mechanician, afterwards a gendarme, he had gained quick promotion under the Czar’s regime. He was always nervously jerking and wriggling his body and talking ceaselessly, making most unattractive sounds in his throat and sputtering with saliva all over his lips, his whole face often contracted with spasms. He was mad and Baron Ungern twice appointed a commission of surgeons to examine him and ordered him to rest in the hope he could rid the man of his evil genius. Undoubtedly Sepailoff was a sadist. I heard afterwards that he himself executed the condemned people, joking and singing as he did his work. Dark, terrifying tales were current about him in Urga. He was a bloodhound, fastening his victims with the jaws of death. All the glory of the cruelty of Baron Ungern belonged to Sepailoff. Afterwards Baron Ungern once told me in Urga that this Sepailoff annoyed him and that Sepailoff could kill him just as well as others. Baron Ungern feared Sepailoff, not as a man, but dominated by his own superstition, because Sepailoff had found in Transbaikalia a witch doctor who predicted the death of the Baron if he dismissed Sepailoff. Sepailoff knew no pardon for Bolshevik nor for any one connected with the Bolsheviki in any way. The reason for his vengeful spirit was that the Bolsheviki had tortured him in prison and, after his escape, had killed all his family. He was now taking his revenge.

I put up with a Russian firm and was at once visited by my associates from Uliassutai, who greeted me with great joy because they had been much exercised about the events in Van Kure and Zain Shabi. When I had bathed and spruced up, I went out with them on the street. We entered the bazaar. The whole market was crowded. To the lively colored groups of men buying, selling and shouting their wares, the bright streamers of Chinese cloth, the strings of pearls, the earrings and bracelets gave an air of endless festivity; while on another side buyers were feeling of live sheep to see whether they were fat or not, the butcher was cutting great pieces of mutton from the hanging carcasses and everywhere these sons of the plain were joking and jesting. The Mongolian women in their huge coiffures and heavy silver caps like saucers on their heads were admiring the variegated silk ribbons and long chains of coral beads; an imposing big Mongol attentively examined a small herd of splendid horses and bargained with the Mongol zahachine or owner of the horses; a skinny, quick, black Tibetan, who had come to Urga to pray to the Living Buddha or, maybe, with a secret message from the other “God” in Lhasa, squatted and bargained for an image of the Lotus Buddha carved in agate; in another corner a big crowd of Mongols and Buriats had collected and surrounded a Chinese merchant selling finely painted snuff-bottles of glass, crystal, porcelain, amethyst, jade, agate and nephrite, for one of which made of a greenish milky nephrite with regular brown veins running through it and carved with a dragon winding itself around a bevy of young damsels the merchant was demanding of his Mongol inquirers ten young oxen; and everywhere Buriats in their long red coats and small red caps embroidered with gold helped the Tartars in black overcoats and black velvet caps on the back of their heads to weave the pattern of this Oriental human tapestry. Lamas formed the common background for it all, as they wandered about in their yellow and red robes, with capes picturesquely thrown over their shoulders and caps of many forms, some like yellow mushrooms, others like the red Phrygian bonnets or old Greek helmets in red. They mingled with the crowd, chatting serenely and counting their rosaries, telling fortunes for those who would hear but chiefly searching out the rich Mongols whom they could cure or exploit by fortune telling, predictions or other mysteries of a city of 60,000 Lamas. Simultaneously religious and political espionage was being carried out. Just at this time many Mongols were arriving from Inner Mongolia and they were continuously surrounded by an invisible but numerous network of watching Lamas. Over the buildings around floated the Russian, Chinese and Mongolian national flags with a single one of the Stars and Stripes above a small shop in the market; while over the nearby tents and yurtas streamed the ribbons, the squares, the circles and triangles of the princes and private persons afflicted or dying from smallpox and leprosy. All were mingled and mixed in one bright mass strongly lighted by the sun. Occasionally one saw the soldiers of Baron Ungern rushing about in long blue coats; Mongols and Tibetans in red coats with yellow epaulets bearing the swastika of Jenghiz Khan and the initials of the Living Buddha; and Chinese soldiers from their detachment in the Mongolian army. After the defeat of the Chinese army two thousand of these braves petitioned the Living Buddha to enlist them in his legions, swearing fealty and faith to him. They were accepted and formed into two regiments bearing the old Chinese silver dragons on their caps and shoulders.

As we crossed this market, from around a corner came a big motor car with the roar of a siren. There was Baron Ungern in the yellow silk Mongolian coat with a blue girdle. He was going very fast but recognized me at once, stopping and getting out to invite me to go with him to his yurta. The Baron lived in a small, simply arranged yurta, set up in the courtyard of a Chinese hong. He had his headquarters in two other yurtas nearby, while his servants occupied one of the Chinese fang-tzu. When I reminded him of his promise to help me to reach the open ports, the General looked at me with his bright eyes and spoke in French:

“My work here is coming to an end. In nine days I shall begin the war with the Bolsheviki and shall go into the Transbaikal. I beg that you will spend this time here. For many years I have lived without civilized society. I am alone with my thoughts and I would like to have you know them, speaking with me not as the ‘bloody mad Baron,’ as my enemies call me, nor as the ‘severe grandfather,’ which my officers and soldiers call me, but as an ordinary man who has sought much and has suffered even more.”

The Baron reflected for some minutes and then continued:

“I have thought about the further trip of your group and I shall arrange everything for you, but I ask you to remain here these nine days.”

What was I to do? I agreed. The Baron shook my hand warmly and ordered tea.

CHAPTER XXXVI

A SON OF CRUSADERS AND PRIVATEERS

“Tell me about yourself and your trip,” he urged. In response I related all that I thought would interest him and he appeared quite excited over my tale.

“Now I shall tell you about myself, who and what I am! My name is surrounded with such hate and fear that no one can judge what is the truth and what is false, what is history and what myth. Some time you will write about it, remembering your trip through Mongolia and your sojourn at the yurta of the ‘bloody General.'”

He shut his eyes, smoking as he spoke, and tumbling out his sentences without finishing them as though some one would prevent him from phrasing them.

“The family of Ungern von Sternberg is an old family, a mixture of Germans with Hungarians–Huns from the time of Attila. My warlike ancestors took part in all the European struggles. They participated in the Crusades and one Ungern was killed under the walls of Jerusalem, fighting under Richard Coeur de Lion. Even the tragic Crusade of the Children was marked by the death of Ralph Ungern, eleven years old. When the boldest warriors of the country were despatched to the eastern border of the German Empire against the Slavs in the twelfth century, my ancestor Arthur was among them, Baron Halsa Ungern Sternberg. Here these border knights formed the order of Monk Knights or Teutons, which with fire and sword spread Christianity among the pagan Lithuanians, Esthonians, Latvians and Slavs. Since then the Teuton Order of Knights has always had among its members representatives of our family. When the Teuton Order perished in the Grunwald under the swords of the Polish and Lithuanian troops, two Barons Ungern von Sternberg were killed there. Our family was warlike and given to mysticism and asceticism.

“During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries several Barons von Ungern had their castles in the lands of Latvia and Esthonia. Many legends and tales lived after them. Heinrich Ungern von Sternberg, called ‘Ax,’ was a wandering knight. The tournaments of France, England, Spain and Italy knew his name and lance, which filled the hearts of his opponents with fear. He fell at Cadiz ‘neath the sword of a knight who cleft both his helmet and his skull. Baron Ralph Ungern was a brigand knight between Riga and Reval. Baron Peter Ungern had his castle on the island of Dago in the Baltic Sea, where as a privateer he ruled the merchantmen of his day.

“In the beginning of the eighteenth century there was also a well- known Baron Wilhelm Ungern, who was referred to as the ‘brother of Satan’ because he was an alchemist. My grandfather was a privateer in the Indian Ocean, taking his tribute from the English traders whose warships could not catch him for several years. At last he was captured and handed to the Russian Consul, who transported him to Russia where he was sentenced to deportation to the Transbaikal. I am also a naval officer but the Russo-Japanese War forced me to leave my regular profession to join and fight with the Zabaikal Cossacks. I have spent all my life in war or in the study and learning of Buddhism. My grandfather brought Buddhism to us from India and my father and I accepted and professed it. In Transbaikalia I tried to form the order of Military Buddhists for an uncompromising fight against the depravity of revolution.”

He fell into silence and began drinking cup after cup of tea as strong and black as coffee.

“Depravity of revolution! . . . Has anyone ever thought of it besides the French philosopher, Bergson, and the most learned Tashi Lama in Tibet?”

The grandson of the privateer, quoting scientific theories, works, the names of scientists and writers, the Holy Bible and Buddhist books, mixing together French, German, Russian and English, continued:

“In the Buddhistic and ancient Christian books we read stern predictions about the time when the war between the good and evil spirits must begin. Then there must come the unknown ‘Curse’ which will conquer the world, blot out culture, kill morality and destroy all the people. Its weapon is revolution. During every revolution the previously experienced intellect-creator will be replaced by the new rough force of the destroyer. He will place and hold in the first rank the lower instincts and desires. Man will be farther removed from the divine and the spiritual. The Great War proved that humanity must progress upward toward higher ideals; but then appeared that Curse which was seen and felt by Christ, the Apostle John, Buddha, the first Christian martyrs, Dante, Leonardo da Vinci, Goethe and Dostoyevsky. It appeared, turned back the wheel of progress and blocked our road to the Divinity. Revolution is an infectious disease and Europe making the treaty with Moscow deceived itself and the other parts of the world. The Great Spirit put at the threshold of our lives Karma, who knows neither anger nor pardon. He will reckon the account, whose total will be famine, destruction, the death of culture, of glory, of honor and of spirit, the death of states and the death of peoples. I see already this horror, this dark, mad destruction of humanity.”

The door of the yurta suddenly swung open and an adjutant snapped into a position of attention and salute.

“Why do you enter a room by force?” the General exclaimed in anger.

“Your Excellency, our outpost on the border has caught a Bolshevik reconnaissance party and brought them here.”

The Baron arose. His eyes sparkled and his face contracted with spasms.

“Bring them in front of my yurta!” he ordered.

All was forgotten–the inspired speech, the penetrating voice–all were sunk in the austere order of the severe commander. The Baron put on his cap, caught up the bamboo tashur which he always carried with him and rushed from the yurta. I followed him out. There in front of the yurta stood six Red soldiers surrounded by the Cossacks.

The Baron stopped and glared sharply at them for several minutes. In his face one could see the strong play of his thoughts. Afterwards he turned away from them, sat down on the doorstep of the Chinese house and for a long time was buried in thought. Then he rose, walked over to them and, with an evident show of decisiveness in his movements, touched all the prisoners on the shoulder with his tashur and said: “You to the left and you to the right!” as he divided the squad into two sections, four on the right and two on the left.

“Search those two! They must be commissars!” commanded the Baron and, turning to the other four, asked: “Are you peasants mobilized by the Bolsheviki?”

“Just so, Your Excellency!” cried the frightened soldiers.

“Go to the Commandant and tell him that I have ordered you to be enlisted in my troops!”

On the two to the left they found passports of Commissars of the Communist Political Department. The General knitted his brows and slowly pronounced the following:

“Beat them to death with sticks!”

He turned and entered the yurta. After this our conversation did not flow readily and so I left the Baron to himself.

After dinner in the Russian firm where I was staying some of Ungern’s officers came in. We were chatting animatedly when suddenly we heard the horn of an automobile, which instantly threw the officers into silence.

“The General is passing somewhere near,” one of them remarked in a strangely altered voice.

Our interrupted conversation was soon resumed but not for long. The clerk of the firm came running into the room and exclaimed: “The Baron!”

He entered the door but stopped on the threshold. The lamps had not yet been lighted and it was getting dark inside, but the Baron instantly recognized us all, approached and kissed the hand of the hostess, greeted everyone very cordially and, accepting the cup of tea offered him, drew up to the table to drink. Soon he spoke:

“I want to steal your guest,” he said to the hostess and then, turning to me, asked: “Do you want to go for a motor ride? I shall show you the city and the environs.”

Donning my coat, I followed my established custom and slipped my revolver into it, at which the Baron laughed.

“Leave that trash behind! Here you are in safety. Besides you must remember the prediction of Narabanchi Hutuktu that Fortune will ever be with you.”

“All right,” I answered, also with a laugh. “I remember very well this prediction. Only I do not know what the Hutuktu thinks ‘Fortune’ means for me. Maybe it is death like the rest after my hard, long trip, and I must confess that I prefer to travel farther and am not ready to die.”

We went out to the gate where the big Fiat stood with its intruding great lights. The chauffeur officer sat at the wheel like a statue and remained at salute all the time we were entering and seating ourselves.

“To the wireless station!” commanded the Baron.

We veritably leapt forward. The city swarmed, as earlier, with the Oriental throng, but its appearance now was even more strange and miraculous. In among the noisy crowd Mongol, Buriat and Tibetan riders threaded swiftly; caravans of camels solemnly raised their heads as we passed; the wooden wheels of the Mongol carts screamed in pain; and all was illumined by splendid great arc lights from the electric station which Baron Ungern had ordered erected immediately after the capture of Urga, together with a telephone system and wireless station. He also ordered his men to clean and disinfect the city which had probably not felt the broom since the days of Jenghiz Khan. He arranged an auto-bus traffic between different parts of the city; built bridges over the Tola and Orkhon; published a newspaper; arranged a veterinary laboratory and hospitals; re-opened the schools; protected commerce, mercilessly hanging Russian and Mongolian soldiers for pillaging Chinese firms.

In one of these cases his Commandant arrested two Cossacks and a Mongol soldier who had stolen brandy from one of the Chinese shops and brought them before him. He immediately bundled them all into his car, drove off to the shop, delivered the brandy back to the proprietor and as promptly ordered the Mongol to hang one of the Russians to the big gate of the compound. With this one swung he commanded: “Now hang the other!” and this had only just been accomplished when he turned to the Commandant and ordered him to hang the Mongol beside the other two. That seemed expeditious and just enough until the Chinese proprietor came in dire distress to the Baron and plead with him:

“General Baron! General Baron! Please take those men down from my gateway, for no one will enter my shop!”

After the commercial quarter was flashed past our eyes, we entered the Russian settlement across a small river. Several Russian soldiers and four very spruce-looking Mongolian women stood on the bridge as we passed. The soldiers snapped to salute like immobile statues and fixed their eyes on the severe face of their Commander. The women first began to run and shift about and then, infected by the discipline and order of events, swung their hands up to salute and stood as immobile as their northern swains. The Baron looked at me and laughed:

“You see the discipline! Even the Mongolian women salute me.”

Soon we were out on the plain with the car going like an arrow, with the wind whistling and tossing the folds of our coats and caps. But Baron Ungern, sitting with closed eyes, repeated: “Faster! Faster!” For a long time we were both silent.

“And yesterday I beat my adjutant for rushing into my yurta and interrupting my story,” he said.

“You can finish it now,” I answered.

“And are you not bored by it? Well, there isn’t much left and this happens to be the most interesting. I was telling you that I wanted to found an order of military Buddhists in Russia. For what? For the protection of the processes of evolution of humanity and for the struggle against revolution, because I am certain that evolution leads to the Divinity and revolution to bestiality. But I worked in Russia! In Russia, where the peasants are rough, untutored, wild and constantly angry, hating everybody and everything without understanding why. They are suspicious and materialistic, having no sacred ideals. Russian intelligents live among imaginary ideals without realities. They have a strong capacity for criticising everything but they lack creative power. Also they have no will power, only the capacity for talking and talking. With the peasants, they cannot like anything or anybody. Their love and feelings are imaginary. Their thoughts and sentiments pass without trace like futile words. My companions, therefore, soon began to violate the regulations of the Order. Then I introduced the condition of celibacy, the entire negation of woman, of the comforts of life, of superfluities, according to the teachings of the Yellow Faith; and, in order that the Russian might be able to live down his physical nature, I introduced the limitless use of alcohol, hasheesh and opium. Now for alcohol I hang my officers and soldiers; then we drank to the ‘white fever,’ delirium tremens. I could not organize the Order but I gathered round me and developed three hundred men wholly bold and entirely ferocious. Afterward they were heroes in the war with Germany and later in the fight against the Bolsheviki, but now only a few remain.”

“The wireless, Excellency!” reported the chauffeur.

“Turn in there!” ordered the General.

On the top of a flat hill stood the big, powerful radio station which had been partially destroyed by the retreating Chinese but reconstructed by the engineers of Baron Ungern. The General perused the telegrams and handed them to me. They were from Moscow, Chita, Vladivostok and Peking. On a separate yellow sheet were the code messages, which the Baron slipped into his pocket as he said to me:

“They are from my agents, who are stationed in Chita, Irkutsk, Harbin and Vladivostok. They are all Jews, very skilled and very bold men, friends of mine all. I have also one Jewish officer, Vulfovitch, who commands my right flank. He is as ferocious as Satan but clever and brave. . . . Now we shall fly into space.”

Once more we rushed away, sinking into the darkness of night. It was a wild ride. The car bounded over small stones and ditches, even taking narrow streamlets, as the skilled chauffeur only seemed to guide it round the larger rocks. On the plain, as we sped by, I noticed several times small bright flashes of fire which lasted but for a second and then were extinguished.

“The eyes of wolves,” smiled my companion. “We have fed them to satiety from the flesh of ourselves and our enemies!” he quietly interpolated, as he turned to continue his confession of faith.

“During the War we saw the gradual corruption of the Russian army and foresaw the treachery of Russia to the Allies as well as the approaching danger of revolution. To counteract this latter a plan was formed to join together all the Mongolian peoples which had not forgotten their ancient faiths and customs into one Asiatic State, consisting of autonomous tribal units, under the moral and legislative leadership of China, the country of loftiest and most ancient culture. Into this State must come the Chinese, Mongols, Tibetans, Afghans, the Mongol tribes of Turkestan, Tartars, Buriats, Kirghiz and Kalmucks. This State must be strong, physically and morally, and must erect a barrier against revolution and carefully preserve its own spirit, philosophy and individual policy. If humanity, mad and corrupted, continues to threaten the Divine Spirit in mankind, to spread blood and to obstruct moral development, the Asiatic State must terminate this movement decisively and establish a permanent, firm peace. This propaganda even during the War made splendid progress among the Turkomans, Kirghiz, Buriats and Mongols. . . . “Stop!” suddenly shouted the Baron.

The car pulled up with a jerk. The General jumped out and called me to follow. We started walking over the prairie and the Baron kept bending down all the time as though he were looking for something on the ground.

“Ah!” he murmured at last, “He has gone away. . . .”

I looked at him in amazement.

“A rich Mongol formerly had his yurta here. He was the outfitter for the Russian merchant, Noskoff. Noskoff was a ferocious man as shown by the name the Mongols gave him–‘Satan.’ He used to have his Mongol debtors beaten or imprisoned through the instrumentality of the Chinese authorities. He ruined this Mongol, who lost everything and escaped to a place thirty miles away; but Noskoff found him there, took all that he had left of cattle and horses and left the Mongol and his family to die of hunger. When I captured Urga, this Mongol appeared and brought with him thirty other Mongol families similarly ruined by Noskoff. They demanded his death. . . . So I hung ‘Satan’ . . .”

Anew the motor car was rushing along, sweeping a great circle on the prairie, and anew Baron Ungern with his sharp, nervous voice carried his thoughts round the whole circumference of Asian life.

“Russia turned traitor to France, England and America, signed the Brest-Litovsk Treaty and ushered in a reign of chaos. We then decided to mobilize Asia against Germany. Our envoys penetrated Mongolia, Tibet, Turkestan and China. At this time the Bolsheviki began to kill all the Russian officers and we were forced to open civil war against them, giving up our Pan-Asiatic plans; but we hope later to awake all Asia and with their help to bring peace and God back to earth. I want to feel that I have helped this idea by the liberation of Mongolia.”

He became silent and thought for a moment.

“But some of my associates in the movement do not like me because of my atrocities and severity,” he remarked in a sad voice. “They cannot understand as yet that we are not fighting a political party but a sect of murderers of all contemporary spiritual culture. Why do the Italians execute the ‘Black Hand’ gang? Why are the Americans electrocuting anarchistic bomb throwers? and I am not allowed to rid the world of those who would kill the soul of the people? I, a Teuton, descendant of crusaders and privateers, I recognize only death for murderers! . . . Return!” he commanded the chauffeur.

An hour and a half later we saw the electric lights of Urga.

CHAPTER XXXVII

THE CAMP OF MARTYRS

Near the entrance to the town, a motor car stood before a small house.

“What does that mean?” exclaimed the Baron. “Go over there!”

Our car drew up beside the other. The house door opened sharply, several officers rushed out and tried to hide.

“Stand!” commanded the General. “Go back inside.” They obeyed and he entered after them, leaning on his tashur. As the door remained open, I could see and hear everything.

“Woe to them!” whispered the chauffeur. “Our officers knew that the Baron had gone out of the town with me, which means always a long journey, and must have decided to have a good time. He will order them beaten to death with sticks.”

I could see the end of the table covered with bottles and tinned things. At the side two young women were seated, who sprang up at the appearance of the General. I could hear the hoarse voice of Baron Ungern pronouncing sharp, short, stern phrases.

“Your native land is perishing. . . . The shame of it is upon all you Russians . . . and you cannot understand it . . . nor feel it. . . . You need wine and women. . . . Scoundrels! Brutes! . . . One hundred fifty tashur for every man of you.”

The voice fell to a whisper.

“And you, Mesdames, do you not realize the ruin of your people? No? For you it is of no moment. And have you no feeling for your husbands at the front who may even now be killed? You are not women. . . . I honor woman, who feels more deeply and strongly than man; but you are not women! . . . Listen to me, Mesdames. Once more and I will hang you. . . .”

He came back to the car and himself sounded the horn several times. Immediately Mongol horsemen galloped up.

“Take these men to the Commandant. I will send my orders later.”

On the way to the Baron’s yurta we were silent. He was excited and breathed heavily, lighting cigarette after cigarette and throwing them aside after but a single puff or two.

“Take supper with me,” he proposed.

He also invited his Chief of Staff, a very retiring, oppressed but splendidly educated man. The servants spread a Chinese hot course for us followed by cold meat and fruit compote from California with the inevitable tea. We ate with chopsticks. The Baron was greatly distraught.

Very cautiously I began speaking of the offending officers and tried to justify their actions by the extremely trying circumstances under which they were living.

“They are rotten through and through, demoralized, sunk into the depths,” murmured the General.

The Chief of Staff helped me out and at last the Baron directed him to telephone the Commandant to release these gentlemen.

The following day I spent with my friends, walking a great deal about the streets and watching their busy life. The great energy of the Baron demanded constant nervous activity from himself and every one round him. He was everywhere, seeing everything but never, interfering with the work of his subordinate administrators. Every one was at work.

In the evening I was invited by the Chief of Staff to his quarters, where I met many intelligent officers. I related again the story of my trip and we were all chatting along animatedly when suddenly Colonel Sepailoff entered, singing to himself. All the others at once became silent and one by one under various pretexts they slipped out. He handed our host some papers and, turning to us, said:

“I shall send you for supper a splendid fish pie and some hot tomato soup.”

As he left, my host clasped his head in desperation and said:

“With such scum of the earth are we now forced after this revolution to work!”

A few minutes later a soldier from Sepailoff brought us a tureen full of soup and the fish pie. As the soldier bent over the table to set the dishes down, the Chief motioned me with his eyes and slipped to me the words: “Notice his face.”

When the man went out, my host sat attentively listening until the sounds of the man’s steps ceased.

“He is Sepailoff’s executioner who hangs and strangles the unfortunate condemned ones.”

Then, to my amazement, he began to pour out the soup on the ground beside the brazier and, going out of the yurta, threw the pie over the fence.

“It is Sepailoff’s feast and, though it may be very tasty, it may also be poison. In Sepailoff’s house it is dangerous to eat or drink anything.”

Distinctly oppressed by these doings, I returned to my house. My host was not yet asleep and met me with a frightened look. My friends were also there.

“God be thanked!” they all exclaimed. “Has nothing happened to you?”

“What is the matter?” I asked.

“You see,” began the host, “after your departure a soldier came from Sepailoff and took your luggage, saying that you had sent him for it; but we knew what it meant–that they would first search it and afterwards. . . .”

I at once understood the danger. Sepailoff could place anything he wanted in my luggage and afterwards accuse me. My old friend, the agronome, and I started at once for Sepailoff’s, where I left him at the door while I went in and was met by the same soldier who had brought the supper to us. Sepailoff received me immediately. In answer to my protest he said that it was a mistake and, asking me to wait for a moment, went out. I waited five, ten, fifteen minutes but nobody came. I knocked on the door but no one answered me. Then I decided to go to Baron Ungern and started for the exit. The door was locked. Then I tried the other door and found that also locked. I had been trapped! I wanted at once to whistle to my friend but just then noticed a telephone on the wall and called up Baron Ungern. In a few minutes he appeared together with Sepailoff.

“What is this?” he asked Sepailoff in a severe, threatening voice; and, without waiting for an answer, struck him a blow with his tashur that sent him to the floor.

We went out and the General ordered my luggage produced. Then he brought me to his own yurta.

“Live here, now,” he said. “I am very glad of this accident,” he remarked with a smile, “for now I can say all that I want to.”

This drew from me the question:

“May I describe all that I have heard and seen here?”

He thought a moment before replying: “Give me your notebook.”

I handed him the album with my sketches of the trip and he wrote therein: “After my death, Baron Ungern.”

“But I am older than you and I shall die before you,” I remarked.

He shut his eyes, bowed his head and whispered:

“Oh, no! One hundred thirty days yet and it is finished; then . . . Nirvana! How wearied I am with sorrow, woe and hate!”

We were silent for a long time. I felt that I had now a mortal enemy in Colonel Sepailoff and that I should get out of Urga at the earliest possible moment. It was two o’clock at night. Suddenly Baron Ungern stood up.

“Let us go to the great, good Buddha,” he said with a countenance held in deep thought and with eyes aflame, his whole face contracted by a mournful, bitter smile. He ordered the car brought.

Thus lived this camp of martyrs, refugees pursued by events to their tryst with Death, driven on by the hate and contempt of this offspring of Teutons and privateers! And he, martyring them, knew neither day nor night of peace. Fired by impelling, poisonous thoughts, he tormented himself with the pains of a Titan, knowing that every day in this shortening chain of one hundred thirty links brought him nearer to the precipice called “Death.”

CHAPTER XXXVIII

BEFORE THE FACE OF BUDDHA

As we came to the monastery we left the automobile and dipped into the labyrinth of narrow alleyways until at last we were before the greatest temple of Urga with the Tibetan walls and windows and its pretentious Chinese roof. A single lantern burned at the entrance. The heavy gate with the bronze and iron trimmings was shut. When the General struck the big brass gong hanging by the gate, frightened monks began running up from all directions and, seeing the “General Baron,” fell to the earth in fear of raising their heads.

“Get up,” said the Baron, “and let us into the Temple!”

The inside was like that of all Lama temples, the same multi- colored flags with the prayers, symbolic signs and the images of holy saints; the big bands of silk cloth hanging from the ceiling; the images of the gods and goddesses. On both sides of the approach to the altar were the low red benches for the Lamas and choir. On the altar small lamps threw their rays on the gold and silver vessels and candlesticks. Behind it hung a heavy yellow silk curtain with Tibetan inscriptions. The Lamas drew the curtain aside. Out of the dim light from the flickering lamps gradually appeared the great gilded statue of Buddha seated in the Golden Lotus. The face of the god was indifferent and calm with only a soft gleam of light animating it. On either side he was guarded by many thousands of lesser Buddhas brought by the faithful as offerings in prayer. The Baron struck the gong to attract Great Buddha’s attention to his prayer and threw a handful of coins into the large bronze bowl. And then this scion of crusaders who had read all the philosophers of the West, closed his eyes, placed his hands together before his face and prayed. I noticed a black rosary on his left wrist. He prayed about ten minutes. Afterwards he led me to the other end of the monastery and, during our passage, said to me:

“I do not like this temple. It is new, erected by the Lamas when the Living Buddha became blind. I do not find on the face of the golden Buddha either tears, hopes, distress or thanks of the people. They have not yet had time to leave these traces on the face of the god. We shall go now to the old Shrine of Prophecies.”

This was a small building, blackened with age and resembling a tower with a plain round roof. The doors stood open. At both sides of the door were prayer wheels ready to be spun; over it a slab of copper with the signs of the zodiac. Inside two monks, who were intoning the sacred sutras, did not lift their eyes as we entered. The General approached them and said:

“Cast the dice for the number of my days!”

The priests brought two bowls with many dice therein and rolled them out on their low table. The Baron looked and reckoned with them the sum before he spoke:

“One hundred thirty! Again one hundred thirty!”

Approaching the altar carrying an ancient stone statue of Buddha brought all the way from India, he again prayed. As day dawned, we wandered out through the monastery, visited all the temples and shrines, the museum of the medical school, the astrological tower and then the court where the Bandi and young Lamas have their daily morning wrestling exercises. In other places the Lamas were practising with the bow and arrow. Some of the higher Lamas feasted us with hot mutton, tea and wild onions. After we returned to the yurta I tried to sleep but in vain. Too many different questions were troubling me. “Where am I? In what epoch am I living?” I knew not but I dimly felt the unseen touch of some great idea, some enormous plan, some indescribable human woe.

After our noon meal the General said he wanted to introduce me to the Living Buddha. It is so difficult to secure audience with the Living Buddha that I was very glad to have this opportunity offered me. Our auto soon drew up at the gate of the red and white striped wall surrounding the palace of the god. Two hundred Lamas in yellow and red robes rushed to greet the arriving “Chiang Chun,” General, with the low-toned, respectful whisper “Khan! God of War!” As a regiment of formal ushers they led us to a spacious great hall softened by its semi-darkness. Heavy carved doors opened to the interior parts of the palace. In the depths of the hall stood a dais with the throne covered with yellow silk cushions. The back of the throne was red inside a gold framing; at either side stood yellow silk screens set in highly ornamented frames of black Chinese wood; while against the walls at either side of the throne stood glass cases filled with varied objects from China, Japan, India and Russia. I noticed also among them a pair of exquisite Marquis and Marquises in the fine porcelain of Sevres. Before the throne stood a long, low table at which eight noble Mongols were seated, their chairman, a highly esteemed old man with a clever, energetic face and with large penetrating eyes. His appearance reminded me of the authentic wooden images of the Buddhist holymen with eyes of precious stones which I saw at the Tokyo Imperial Museum in the department devoted to Buddhism, where the Japanese show the ancient statues of Amida, Daunichi-Buddha, the Goddess Kwannon and the jolly old Hotei.

This man was the Hutuktu Jahantsi, Chairman of the Mongolian Council of Ministers, and honored and revered far beyond the bournes of Mongolia. The others were the Ministers–Khans and the Highest Princes of Khalkha. Jahantsi Hutuktu invited Baron Ungern to the place at his side, while they brought in a European chair for me. Baron Ungern announced to the Council of Ministers through an interpreter that he would leave Mongolia in a few days and urged them to protect the freedom won for the lands inhabited by the successors of Jenghiz Khan, whose soul still lives and calls upon the Mongols to become anew a powerful people and reunite again into one great Mid-Asiatic State all the Asian kingdoms he had ruled.

The General rose and all the others followed him. He took leave of each one separately and sternly. Only before Jahantsi Lama he bent low while the Hutuktu placed his hands on the Baron’s head and blessed him. From the Council Chamber we passed at once to the Russian style house which is the personal dwelling of the Living Buddha. The house was wholly surrounded by a crowd of red and yellow Lamas; servants, councilors of Bogdo, officials, fortune tellers, doctors and favorites. From the front entrance stretched a long red rope whose outer end was thrown over the wall beside the gate. Crowds of pilgrims crawling up on their knees touch this end of the rope outside the gate and hand the monk a silken hatyk or a bit of silver. This touching of the rope whose inner end is in the hand of the Bogdo establishes direct communication with the holy, incarnated Living God. A current of blessing is supposed to flow through this cable of camel’s wool and horse hair. Any Mongol who has touched the mystic rope receives and wears about his neck a red band as the sign of his accomplished pilgrimage.

I had heard very much about the Bogdo Khan before this opportunity to see him. I had heard of his love of alcohol, which had brought on blindness, about his leaning toward exterior western culture and about his wife drinking deep with him and receiving in his name numerous delegations and envoys.

In the room which the Bogdo used as his private study, where two Lama secretaries watched day and night over the chest that contained his great seals, there was the severest simplicity. On a low, plain, Chinese lacquered table lay his writing implements, a case of seals given by the Chinese Government and by the Dalai Lama and wrapped in a cloth of yellow silk. Nearby was a low easy chair, a bronze brazier with an iron stovepipe leading up from it; on the walls were the signs of the swastika, Tibetan and Mongolian inscriptions; behind the easy chair a small altar with a golden statue of Buddha before which two tallow lamps were burning; the floor was covered with a thick yellow carpet.

When we entered, only the two Lama secretaries were there, for the Living Buddha was in the small private shrine in an adjoining chamber, where no one is allowed to enter save the Bogdo Khan himself and one Lama, Kanpo-Gelong, who cares for the temple arrangements and assists the Living Buddha during his prayers of solitude. The secretary told us that the Bogdo had been greatly excited this morning. At noon he had entered his shrine. For a long time the voice of the head of the Yellow Faith was heard in earnest prayer and after his another unknown voice came clearly forth. In the shrine had taken place a conversation between the Buddha on earth and the Buddha of heaven–thus the Lamas phrased it to us.

“Let us wait a little,” the Baron proposed. “Perhaps he will soon come out.”

As we waited the General began telling me about Jahantsi Lama, saying that, when Jahantsi is calm, he is an ordinary man but, when he is disturbed and thinks very deeply, a nimbus appears about his head.

After half an hour the Lama secretaries suddenly showed signs of deep fear and began listening closely by the entrance to the shrine. Shortly they fell on their faces on the ground. The door slowly opened and there entered the Emperor of Mongolia, the Living Buddha, His Holiness Bogdo Djebtsung Damba Hutuktu, Khan of Outer Mongolia. He was a stout old man with a heavy shaven face resembling those of the Cardinals of Rome. He was dressed in the yellow silken Mongolian coat with a black binding. The eyes of the blind man stood widely open. Fear and amazement were pictured in them. He lowered himself heavily into the easy chair and whispered: “Write!”

A secretary immediately took paper and a Chinese pen as the Bogdo began to dictate his vision, very complicated and far from clear. He finished with the following words:

“This I, Bogdo Hutuktu Khan, saw, speaking with the great wise Buddha, surrounded by the good and evil spirits. Wise Lamas, Hutuktus, Kanpos, Marambas and Holy Gheghens, give the answer to my vision!”

As he finished, he wiped the perspiration from his head and asked who were present.

“Khan Chiang Chin Baron Ungern and a stranger,” one of the secretaries answered on his knees.

The General presented me to the Bogdo, who bowed his head as a sign of greeting. They began speaking together in low tones. Through the open door I saw a part of the shrine. I made out a big table with a heap of books on it, some open and others lying on the floor below; a brazier with the red charcoal in it; a basket containing the shoulder blades and entrails of sheep for telling fortunes. Soon the Baron rose and bowed before the Bogdo. The Tibetan placed his hands on the Baron’s head and whispered a prayer. Then he took from his own neck a heavy ikon and hung it around that of the Baron.

“You will not die but you will be incarnated in the highest form of being. Remember that, Incarnated God of War, Khan of grateful Mongolia!” I understood that the Living Buddha blessed the “Bloody General” before death.

During the next two days I had the opportunity to visit the Living Buddha three times together with a friend of the Bogdo, the Buriat Prince Djam Bolon. I shall describe these visits in Part IV.

Baron Ungern organized the trip for me and my party to the shore of the Pacific. We were to go on camels to northern Manchuria, because there it was easy to avoid cavilling with the Chinese authorities so badly oriented in the international relationship with Poland. Having sent a letter from Uliassutai to the French Legation at Peking and bearing with me a letter from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, expressing thanks for the saving of Uliassutai from a pogrom, I intended to make for the nearest station on the Chinese Eastern Railway and from there proceed to Peking. The Danish merchant E. V. Olufsen was to have traveled out with me and also a learned Lama Turgut, who was headed for China.

Never shall I forget the night of May 19th to 20th of 1921! After dinner Baron Ungern proposed that we go to the yurta of Djam Bolon, whose acquaintance I had made on the first day after my arrival in Urga. His yurta was placed on a raised wooden platform in a compound located behind the Russian settlement. Two Buriat officers met us and took us in. Djam Bolon was a man of middle age, tall and thin with an unusually long face. Before the Great War he had been a simple shepherd but had fought together with Baron Ungern on the German front and afterwards against the Bolsheviki. He was a Grand Duke of the Buriats, the successor of former Buriat kings who had been dethroned by the Russian Government after their attempt to establish the Independence of the Buriat people. The servants brought us dishes with nuts, raisins, dates and cheese and served us tea.

“This is the last night, Djam Bolon!” said Baron Ungern. “You promised me . . .”

“I remember,” answered the Buriat, “all is ready.”

For a long time I listened to their reminiscences about former battles and friends who had been lost. The clock pointed to midnight when Djam Bolon got up and went out of the yurta.

“I want to have my fortune told once more,” said Baron Ungern, as though he were justifying himself. “For the good of our cause it is too early for me to die. . . .”

Djam Bolon came back with a little woman of middle years, who squatted down eastern style before the brazier, bowed low and began to stare at Baron Ungern. Her face was whiter, narrower and thinner than that of a Mongol woman. Her eyes were black and sharp. Her dress resembled that of a gypsy woman. Afterwards I learned that she was a famous fortune teller and prophet among the Buriats, the daughter of a gypsy woman and a Buriat. She drew a small bag very slowly from her girdle, took from it some small bird bones and a handful of dry grass. She began whispering at intervals unintelligible words, as she threw occasional handfuls of the grass into the fire, which gradually filled the tent with a soft fragrance. I felt a distinct palpitation of my heart and a swimming in my head. After the fortune teller had burned all her grass, she placed the bird bones on the charcoal and turned them over again and again with a small pair of bronze pincers. As the bones blackened, she began to examine them and then suddenly her face took on an expression of fear and pain. She nervously tore off the kerchief which bound her head and, contracted with convulsions, began snapping out short, sharp phrases.

“I see . . . I see the God of War. . . . His life runs out . . . horribly. . . . After it a shadow . . . black like the night. . . . Shadow. . . . One hundred thirty steps remain. . . . Beyond darkness. . . . Nothing . . . I see nothing. . . . The God of War has disappeared. . . .”

Baron Ungern dropped his head. The woman fell over on her back with her arms stretched out. She had fainted, but it seemed to me that I noticed once a bright pupil of one of her eyes showing from under the closed lashes. Two Buriats carried out the lifeless form, after which a long silence reigned in the yurta of the Buriat Prince. Baron Ungern finally got up and began to walk around the brazier, whispering to himself. Afterwards he stopped and began speaking rapidly:

“I shall die! I shall die! . . . but no matter, no matter. . . . The cause has been launched and will not die. . . . I know the roads this cause will travel. The tribes of Jenghiz Khan’s successors are awakened. Nobody shall extinguish the fire in the heart of the Mongols! In Asia there will be a great State from the Pacific and Indian Oceans to the shore of the Volga. The wise religion of Buddha shall run to the north and the west. It will be the victory of the spirit. A conqueror and leader will appear stronger and more stalwart than Jenghiz Khan and Ugadai. He will be more clever and more merciful than Sultan Baber and he will keep power in his hands until the happy day when, from his subterranean capital, shall emerge the King of the World. Why, why shall I not be in the first ranks of the warriors of Buddhism? Why has Karma decided so? But so it must be! And Russia must first wash herself from the insult of revolution, purifying herself with blood and death; and all people accepting Communism must perish with their families in order that all their offspring may be rooted out!”

The Baron raised his hand above his head and shook it, as though he were giving his orders and bequests to some invisible person.

Day was dawning.

“My time has come!” said the General. “In a little while I shall leave Urga.”

He quickly and firmly shook hands with us and said:

“Good-bye for all time! I shall die a horrible death but the world has never seen such a terror and such a sea of blood as it shall now see. . . .”

The door of the yurta slammed shut and he was gone. I never saw him again.

“I must go also, for I am likewise leaving Urga today.”

“I know it,” answered the Prince, “the Baron has left you with me for some purpose. I will give you a fourth companion, the Mongol Minister of War. You will accompany him to your yurta. It is necessary for you. . . .”

Djam Bolon pronounced this last with an accent on every word. I did not question him about it, as I was accustomed to the mystery of this country of the mysteries of good and evil spirits.

CHAPTER XXXIX

“THE MAN WITH A HEAD LIKE A SADDLE”

After drinking tea at Djam Bolon’s yurta I rode back to my quarters and packed my few belongings. The Lama Turgut was already there.

“The Minister of War will travel with us,” he whispered. “It is necessary.”

“All right,” I answered, and rode off to Olufsen to summon him. But Olufsen unexpectedly announced that he was forced to spend some few days more in Urga–a fatal decision for him, for a month later he was reported killed by Sepailoff who remained as Commandant of the city after Baron Ungern’s departure. The War Minister, a stout, young Mongol, joined our caravan. When we had gone about six miles from the city, we saw an automobile coming up behind us. The Lama shrunk up inside his coat and looked at me with fear. I felt the now familiar atmosphere of danger and so opened my holster and threw over the safety catch of my revolver. Soon the motor stopped alongside our caravan. In it sat Sepailoff with a smiling face and beside him his two executioners, Chestiakoff and Jdanoff. Sepailoff greeted us very warmly and asked:

“You are changing your horses in Khazahuduk? Does the road cross that pass ahead? I don’t know the way and must overtake an envoy who went there.”

The Minister of War answered that we would be in Khazahuduk that evening and gave Sepailoff directions as to the road. The motor rushed away and, when it had topped the pass, he ordered one of the Mongols to gallop forward to see whether it had not stopped somewhere near the other side. The Mongol whipped his steed and sped away. We followed slowly.

“What is the matter?” I asked. “Please explain!”

The Minister told me that Djam Bolon yesterday received information that Sepailoff planned to overtake me on the way and kill me. Sepailoff suspected that I had stirred up the Baron against him. Djam Bolon reported the matter to the Baron, who organized this column for my safety. The returning Mongol reported that the motor car had gone on out of sight.

“Now,” said the Minister, “we shall take quite another route so that the Colonel will wait in vain for us at Khazahuduk.”

We turned north at Undur Dobo and at night were in the camp of a local prince. Here we took leave of our Minister, received splendid fresh horses and quickly continued our trip to the east, leaving behind us “the man with the head like a saddle” against whom I had been warned by the old fortune teller in the vicinity of Van Kure.

After twelve days without further adventures we reached the first railway station on the Chinese Eastern Railway, from where I traveled in unbelievable luxury to Peking.

* * * * * *

Surrounded by the comforts and conveniences of the splendid hotel at Peking, while shedding all the attributes of traveler, hunter and warrior, I could not, however, throw off the spell of those nine days spent in Urga, where I had daily met Baron Ungern, “Incarnated God of War.” The newspapers carrying accounts of the bloody march of the Baron through Transbaikalia brought the pictures ever fresh to my mind. Even now, although more than seven months have elapsed, I cannot forget those nights of madness, inspiration and hate.

The predictions are fulfilled. Approximately one hundred thirty days afterwards Baron Ungern was captured by the Bolsheviki through the treachery of his officers and, it is reported, was executed at the end of September.

Baron R. F. Ungern von Sternberg. . . . Like a bloody storm of avenging Karma he spread over Central Asia. What did he leave behind him? The severe order to his soldiers closing with the words of the Revelations of St. John:

“Let no one check the revenge against the corrupter and slayer of the soul of the Russian people. Revolution must be eradicated from the World. Against it the Revelations of St. John have warned us thus: ‘And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations, even the unclean things of her fornication, and upon her forehead a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF THE HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.'”

It is a human document, a document of Russian and, perhaps, of world tragedy.

But there remained another and more important trace. In the Mongol yurtas and at the fires of Buriat, Mongol, Djungar, Kirkhiz, Kalmuck and Tibetan shepherds still speak the legend born of this son of crusaders and privateers:

“From the north a white warrior came and called on the Mongols to break their chains of slavery, which fell upon our freed soil. This white warrior was the Incarnated Jenghiz Khan and he predicted the coming of the greatest of all Mongols who will spread the fair faith of Buddha and the glory and power of the offspring of Jenghiz, Ugadai and Kublai Khan. So it shall be!”

Asia is awakened and her sons utter bold words.

It were well for the peace of the world if they go forth as disciples of the wise creators, Ugadai and Sultan Baber, rather than under the spell of the “bad demons” of the destructive Tamerlane.

Part IV

THE LIVING BUDDHA

CHAPTER XL

IN THE BLISSFUL GARDEN OF A THOUSAND JOYS

In Mongolia, the country of miracles and mysteries, lives the custodian of all the mysterious and unknown, the Living Buddha, His Holiness Djebtsung Damba Hutuktu Khan or Bogdo Gheghen, Pontiff of Ta Kure. He is the incarnation of the never-dying Buddha, the representative of the unbroken, mysteriously continued line of spiritual emperors ruling since 1670, concealing in themselves the ever refining spirit of Buddha Amitabha joined with Chan-ra-zi or the “Compassionate Spirit of the Mountains.” In him is everything, even the Sun Myth and the fascination of the mysterious peaks of the Himalayas, tales of the Indian pagoda, the stern majesty of the Mongolian Conquerors–Emperors of All Asia–and the ancient, hazy legends of the Chinese sages; immersion in the thoughts of the Brahmans; the severities of life of the monks of the “Virtuous Order”; the vengeance of the eternally wandering warriors, the Olets, with their Khans, Batur Hun Taigi and Gushi; the proud bequests of Jenghiz and Kublai Khan; the clerical reactionary psychology of the Lamas; the mystery of Tibetan kings beginning from Srong-Tsang Gampo; and the mercilessness of the Yellow Sect of Paspa. All the hazy history of Asia, of Mongolia, Pamir, Himalayas, Mesopotamia, Persia and China, surrounds the Living God of Urga. It is little wonder that his name is honored along the Volga, in Siberia, Arabia, between the Tigris and Euphrates, in Indo-China and on the shores of the Arctic Ocean.

During my stay in Urga I visited the abode of the Living Buddha several times, spoke with him and observed his life. His favorite learned Marambas gave me long accounts of him. I saw him reading horoscopes, I heard his predictions, I looked over his archives of ancient books and the manuscripts containing the lives and predictions of all the Bogdo Khans. The Lamas were very frank and open with me, because the letter of the Hutuktu of Narabanchi won for me their confidence.

The personality of the Living Buddha is double, just as everything in Lamaism is double. Clever, penetrating, energetic, he at the same time indulges in the drunkenness which has brought on blindness. When he became blind, the Lamas were thrown into a state of desperation. Some of them maintained that Bogdo Khan must be poisoned and another Incarnate Buddha set in his place; while the others pointed out the great merits of the Pontiff in the eyes of Mongolians and the followers of the Yellow Faith. They finally decided to propitiate the gods by building a great temple with a gigantic statue of Buddha. However, this did not help the Bogdo’s sight but the whole incident gave him the opportunity of hurrying on to their higher life those among the Lamas who had shown too much radicalism in their proposed method of solving his problem.

He never ceases to ponder upon the cause of the church and of Mongolia and at the same time likes to indulge himself with useless trifles. He amuses himself with artillery. A retired Russian officer presented him with two old guns, for which the donor received the title of Tumbaiir Hun, that is, “Prince Dear-to-my- Heart.” On holidays these cannon were fired to the great amusement of the blind man. Motorcars, gramophones, telephones, crystals, porcelains, pictures, perfumes, musical instruments, rare animals and birds; elephants, Himalayan bears, monkeys, Indian snakes and parrots–all these were in the palace of “the god” but all were soon cast aside and forgotten.

To Urga come pilgrims and presents from all the Lamaite and Buddhist world. Once the treasurer of the palace, the Honorable Balma Dorji, took me into the great hall where the presents were kept. It was a most unique museum of precious articles. Here were gathered together rare objects unknown to the museums of Europe. The treasurer, as he opened a case with a silver lock, said to me:

“These are pure gold nuggets from Bei Kem; here are black sables from Kemchick; these the miraculous deer horns; this a box sent by the Orochons and filled with precious ginseng roots and fragrant musk; this a bit of amber from the coast of the ‘frozen sea’ and it weighs 124 lans (about ten pounds); these are precious stones from India, fragrant zebet and carved ivory from China.”

He showed the exhibits and talked of them for a long time and evidently enjoyed the telling. And really it was wonderful! Before my eyes lay the bundles of rare furs; white beaver, black sables, white, blue and black fox and black panthers; small beautifully carved tortoise shell boxes containing hatyks ten or fifteen yards long, woven from Indian silk as fine as the webs of the spider; small bags made of golden thread filled with pearls, the presents of Indian Rajahs; precious rings with sapphires and rubies from China and India; big pieces of jade, rough diamonds; ivory tusks ornamented with gold, pearls and precious stones; bright clothes sewn with gold and silver thread; walrus tusks carved in bas-relief by the primitive artists on the shores of the Behring Sea; and much more that one cannot recall or recount. In a separate room stood the cases with the statues of Buddha, made of gold, silver, bronze, ivory, coral, mother of pearl and from a rare colored and fragrant species of wood.

“You know when conquerors come into a country where the gods are honored, they break the images and throw them down. So it was more than three hundred years ago when the Kalmucks went into Tibet and the same was repeated in Peking when the European troops looted the place in 1900. But do you know why this is done? Take one of the statues and examine it.”

I picked up one nearest the edge, a wooden Buddha, and began examining it. Inside something was loose and rattled.

“Do you hear it?” the Lama asked. “These are precious stones and bits of gold, the entrails of the god. This is the reason why the conquerors at once break up the statues of the gods. Many famous precious stones have appeared from the interior of the statues of the gods in India, Babylon and China.”

Some rooms were devoted to the library, where manuscripts and volumes of different epochs in different languages and with many diverse themes fill the shelves. Some of them are mouldering or pulverizing away and the Lamas cover these now with a solution which partially solidifies like a jelly to protect what remains from the ravages of the air. There also we saw tablets of clay with the cuneiform inscriptions, evidently from Babylonia; Chinese, Indian and Tibetan books shelved beside those of Mongolia; tomes of the ancient pure Buddhism; books of the “Red Caps” or corrupt Buddhism; books of the “Yellow” or Lamaite Buddhism; books of traditions, legends and parables. Groups of Lamas were perusing, studying and copying these books, preserving and spreading the ancient wisdom for their successors.

One department is devoted to the mysterious books on magic, the historical lives and works of all the thirty-one Living Buddhas, with the bulls of the Dalai Lama, of the Pontiff from Tashi Lumpo, of the Hutuktu of Utai in China, of the Pandita Gheghen of Dolo Nor in Inner Mongolia and of the Hundred Chinese Wise Men. Only the Bogdo Hutuktu and Maramba Ta-Rimpo-Cha can enter this room of mysterious lore. The keys to it rest with the seals of the Living Buddha and the ruby ring of Jenghiz Khan ornamented with the sign of the swastika in the chest in the private study of the Bogdo.

The person of His Holiness is surrounded by five thousand Lamas. They are divided into many ranks from simple servants to the “Councillors of God,” of which latter the Government consists. Among these Councillors are all the four Khans of Mongolia and the five highest Princes.

Of all the Lamas there are three classes of peculiar interest, about which the Living Buddha himself told me when I visited him with Djam Bolon.

“The God” sorrowfully mourned over the demoralized and sumptuous life led by the Lamas which decreased rapidly the number of fortune tellers and clairvoyants among their ranks, saying of it:

“If the Jahantsi and Narabanchi monasteries had not preserved their strict regime and rules, Ta Kure would have been left without prophets and fortune tellers. Barun Abaga Nar, Dorchiul-Jurdok and the other holy Lamas who had the power of seeing that which is hidden from the sight of the common people have gone with the blessing of the gods.”

This class of Lamas is a very important one, because every important personage visiting the monasteries at Urga is shown to the Lama Tzuren or fortune teller without the knowledge of the visitor for the study of his destiny and fate, which are then communicated to the Bogdo Hutuktu, so that with these facts in his possession the Bogdo knows in what way to treat his guest and what policy to follow toward him. The Tzurens are mostly old men, skinny, exhausted and severe ascetics. But I have met some who were young, almost boys. They were the Hubilgan, “incarnate gods,” the future Hutuktus and Gheghens of the various Mongolian monasteries.

The second class is the doctors or “Ta Lama.” They observe the actions of plants and certain products from animals upon people, preserve Tibetan medicines and cures, and study anatomy very carefully but without making use of vivisection and the scalpel. They are skilful bone setters, masseurs and great connoisseurs of hypnotism and animal magnetism.

The third class is the highest rank of doctors, consisting chiefly of Tibetans and Kalmucks–poisoners. They may be said to be “doctors of political medicine.” They live by themselves, apart from any associates, and are the great silent weapon in the hands of the Living Buddha. I was informed that a large portion of them are dumb. I saw one such doctor,–the very person who poisoned the Chinese physician sent by the Chinese Emperor from Peking to “liquidate” the Living Buddha,–a small white old fellow with a deeply wrinkled face, a curl of white hairs on his chin and with vivacious eyes that were ever shifting inquiringly about him. Whenever he comes to a monastery, the local “god” ceases to eat and drink in fear of the activities of this Mongolian Locusta. But even this cannot save the condemned, for a poisoned cap or shirt or boots, or a rosary, a bridle, books or religious articles soaked in a poisonous solution will surely accomplish the object of the Bogdo-Khan.

The deepest esteem and religious faithfulness surround the blind Pontiff. Before him all fall on their faces. Khans and Hutuktus approach him on their knees. Everything about him is dark, full of Oriental antiquity. The drunken blind man, listening to the banal arias of the gramophone or shaking his servants with an electric current from his dynamo, the ferocious old fellow poisoning his political enemies, the Lama keeping his people in darkness and deceiving them with his prophecies and fortune telling,–he is, however, not an entirely ordinary man.

One day we sat in the room of the Bogdo and Prince Djam Bolon translated to him my story of the Great War. The old fellow was listening very carefully but suddenly opened his eyes widely and began to give attention to some sounds coming in from outside the room. His face became reverent, supplicant and frightened.

“The Gods call me,” he whispered and slowly moved into his private shrine, where he prayed loudly about two hours, kneeling immobile as a statue. His prayer consists of conversation with the invisible gods, to whose questions he himself gave the answers. He came out of the shrine pale and exhausted but pleased and happy. It was his personal prayer. During the regular temple service he did not participate in the prayers, for then he is “God.” Sitting on his throne, he is carried and placed on the altar and there prayed to by the Lamas and the people. He only receives the prayers, hopes, tears, woe and desperation of the people, immobilely gazing into space with his sharp and bright but blind eyes. At various times in the service the Lamas robe him in different vestments, combinations of yellow and red, and change his caps. The service always finishes at the solemn moment when the Living Buddha with the tiara on his head pronounces the pontifical blessing upon the congregation, turning his face to all four cardinal points of the compass and finally stretching out his hands toward the northwest, that is, to Europe, whither in the belief of the Yellow Faith must travel the teachings of the wise Buddha.

After earnest prayers or long temple services the Pontiff seems very deeply shaken and often calls his secretaries and dictates his visions and prophecies, always very complicated and unaccompanied by his deductions.

Sometimes with the words “Their souls are communicating,” he puts on his white robes and goes to pray in his shrine. Then all the gates of the palace are shut and all the Lamas are sunk in solemn, mystic fear; all are praying, telling their rosaries and whispering the orison: “Om! Mani padme Hung!” or turning the prayer wheels with their prayers or exorcisings; the fortune tellers read their horoscopes; the clairvoyants write out their visions; while Marambas search the ancient books for explanations of the words of the Living Buddha.

CHAPTER XLI

THE DUST OF CENTURIES

Have you ever seen the dusty cobwebs and the mould in the cellars of some ancient castle in Italy, France or England? This is the dust of centuries. Perhaps it touched the faces, helmets and swords of a Roman Augustus, St. Louis, the Inquisitor, Galileo or King Richard. Your heart is involuntarily contracted and you feel a respect for these witnesses of elapsed ages. This same impression came to me in Ta Kure, perhaps more deep, more realistic. Here life flows on almost as it flowed eight centuries ago; here man lives only in the past; and the contemporary only complicates and prevents the normal life.

“Today is a great day,” the Living Buddha once said to me, “the day of the victory of Buddhism over all other religions. It was a long time ago–on this day Kublai Khan called to him the Lamas of all religions and ordered them to state to him how and what they believed. They praised their Gods and their Hutuktus. Discussions and quarrels began. Only one Lama remained silent. At last he mockingly smiled and said:

“‘Great Emperor! Order each to prove the power of his Gods by the performance of a miracle and afterwards judge and choose.’

“Kublai Khan so ordered all the Lamas to show him a miracle but all were silent, confused and powerless before him.

“‘Now,’ said the Emperor, addressing the Lama who had tendered this suggestion, ‘now you must prove the power of your Gods!’

“The Lama looked long and silently at the Emperor, turned and gazed at the whole assembly and then quietly stretched out his hand toward them. At this instant the golden goblet of the Emperor raised itself from the table and tipped before the lips of the Khan without a visible hand supporting it. The Emperor felt the delight of a fragrant wine. All were struck with astonishment and the Emperor spoke:

“‘I elect to pray to your Gods and to them all people subject to me must pray. What is your faith? Who are you and from where do you come?’

“‘My faith is the teaching of the wise Buddha. I am Pandita Lama, Turjo Gamba, from the distant and glorious monastery of Sakkia in Tibet, where dwells incarnate in a human body the Spirit of Buddha, his Wisdom and his Power. Remember, Emperor, that the peoples who hold our faith shall possess all the Western Universe and during eight hundred and eleven years shall spread their faith throughout the whole world.’

“Thus it happened on this same day many centuries ago! Lama Turjo Gamba did not return to Tibet but lived here in Ta Kure, where there was then only a small temple. From here he traveled to the Emperor at Karakorum and afterwards with him to the capital of China to fortify him in the Faith, to predict the fate of state affairs and to enlighten him according to the will of God.”

The Living Buddha was silent for a time, whispered a prayer and then continued:

“Urga, the ancient nest of Buddhism. . . . With Jenghiz Khan on his European conquest went out the Olets or Kalmucks. They remained there almost four hundred years, living on the plains of Russia. Then they returned to Mongolia because the Yellow Lamas called them to light against the Kings of Tibet, Lamas of the ‘red caps,’ who were oppressing the people. The Kalmucks helped the Yellow Faith but they realized that Lhasa was too distant from the whole world and could not spread our Faith throughout the earth. Consequently the Kalmuck Gushi Khan brought up from Tibet a holy Lama, Undur Gheghen, who had visited the ‘King of the World.’ From that day the Bogdo Gheghen has continuously lived in Urga, a protector of the freedom of Mongolia and of the Chinese Emperors of Mongolian origin. Undur Gheghen was the first Living Buddha in the land of the Mongols. He left to us, his successors, the ring of Jenghiz Khan, which was sent by Kublai Khan to Dalai Lama in return for the miracle shown by the Lama Turjo Gamba; also the top of the skull of a black, mysterious miracle worker from India, using which as a bowl, Strongtsan, King of Tibet, drank during the temple