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´╗┐Title: Beasts, Men and Gods
Author: Ossendowski, Ferdinand, 1876-1945
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Beasts, Men and Gods" ***

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BEASTS, MEN AND GODS

by Ferdinand Ossendowski



EXPLANATORY NOTE


When one of the leading publicists in America, Dr. Albert Shaw of
the Review of Reviews, after reading the manuscript of Part I of
this volume, characterized the author as "The Robinson Crusoe of the
Twentieth Century," he touched the feature of the narrative which is at
once most attractive and most dangerous; for the succession of trying
and thrilling experiences recorded seems in places too highly colored
to be real or, sometimes, even possible in this day and generation.
I desire, therefore, to assure the reader at the outset that Dr.
Ossendowski is a man of long and diverse experience as a scientist and
writer with a training for careful observation which should put
the stamp of accuracy and reliability on his chronicle. Only the
extraordinary events of these extraordinary times could have thrown one
with so many talents back into the surroundings of the "Cave Man" and
thus given to us this unusual account of personal adventure, of great
human mysteries and of the political and religious motives which are
energizing the "Heart of Asia."

My share in the work has been to induce Dr. Ossendowski to write his
story at this time and to assist him in rendering his experiences into
English.

LEWIS STANTON PALEN.



CONTENTS


PART I. DRAWING LOTS WITH DEATH


CHAPTER

I.      INTO THE FORESTS

II.     THE SECRET OF MY FELLOW TRAVELER

III.    THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE

IV.     A FISHERMAN

V.      A DANGEROUS NEIGHBOR

VI.     A RIVER IN TRAVAIL

VII.    THROUGH SOVIET SIBERIA

VIII.   THREE DAYS ON THE EDGE OF A PRECIPICE

IX.     TO THE SAYANS AND SAFETY

X.      THE BATTLE OF THE SEYBI

XI.     THE BARRIER OF RED PARTISANS

XII.    IN THE COUNTRY OF ETERNAL PEACE

XIII.   MYSTERIES, MIRACLES AND A NEW FIGHT

XIV.    THE RIVER OF THE DEVIL

XV.     THE MARCH OF GHOSTS

XVI.    IN MYSTERIOUS TIBET



PART II. THE LAND OF DEMONS


XVII.    MYSTERIOUS MONGOLIA

XVIII.   THE MYSTERIOUS LAMA AVENGER

XIX.     WILD CHAHARS

XX.      THE DEMON OF JAGISSTAI

XXI.     THE NEST OF DEATH

XXII.    AMONG THE MURDERERS

XXIII.   ON A VOLCANO

XXIV.    A BLOODY CHASTISEMENT

XXV.     HARASSING DAYS

XXVI.    THE BAND OF WHITE HUNGHUTZES

XXVII.   MYSTERY IN A SMALL TEMPLE

XXVIII.  THE BREATH OF DEATH



PART III. THE STRAINING HEART OF ASIA


XXIX.    ON THE ROAD OF GREAT CONQUERORS

XXX.     ARRESTED!

XXXI.    TRAVELING BY "URGA"

XXXII.   AN OLD FORTUNE TELLER

XXXIII.  "DEATH FROM THE WHITE MAN WILL STAND BEHIND YOU"

XXXIV.   THE HORROR OF WAR!

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

XXXVI.   A SON OF CRUSADERS AND PRIVATEERS

XXXVII.  THE CAMP OF MARTYRS

XXXVIII. BEFORE THE FACE OF BUDDHA

XXXIX.   "THE MAN WITH A HEAD LIKE A SADDLE"



PART IV. THE LIVING BUDDHA


XL.     IN THE BLISSFUL GARDEN OF A THOUSAND JOYS

XLI.    THE DUST OF CENTURIES

XLII.   THE BOOKS OF MIRACLES

XLIII.  THE BIRTH OF THE LIVING BUDDHA

XLIV.   A PAGE IN THE HISTORY OF THE PRESENT LIVING BUDDHA

XLV.    THE VISION OF THE LIVING BUDDHA OF MAY 17, 1921



PART V. MYSTERY OF MYSTERIES--THE KING OF THE WORLD


XLVI.   THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM

XLVII.  THE KING OF THE WORLD BEFORE THE FACE OF GOD

XLVIII. REALITY OR RELIGIOUS FANTASY?

XLIX.   THE PROPHECY OF THE KING OF THE WORLD IN 1890


There are times, men and events about which History alone can record the
final judgments; contemporaries and individual observers must only write
what they have seen and heard. The very truth demands it.

TITUS LIVIUS.



BEASTS, MEN AND GODS



Part I

DRAWING LOTS WITH DEATH


CHAPTER I

INTO THE FORESTS


In the beginning of the year 1920 I happened to be living in the
Siberian town of Krasnoyarsk, situated on the shores of the River
Yenisei, that noble stream which is cradled in the sun-bathed mountains
of Mongolia to pour its warming life into the Arctic Ocean and to whose
mouth Nansen has twice come to open the shortest road for commerce from
Europe to the heart of Asia. There in the depths of the still Siberian
winter I was suddenly caught up in the whirling storm of mad revolution
raging all over Russia, sowing in this peaceful and rich land vengeance,
hate, bloodshed and crimes that go unpunished by the law. No one could
tell the hour of his fate. The people lived from day to day and left
their homes not knowing whether they should return to them or whether
they should be dragged from the streets and thrown into the dungeons of
that travesty of courts, the Revolutionary Committee, more terrible
and more bloody than those of the Mediaeval Inquisition. We who were
strangers in this distraught land were not saved from its persecutions
and I personally lived through them.

One morning, when I had gone out to see a friend, I suddenly received
the news that twenty Red soldiers had surrounded my house to arrest me
and that I must escape. I quickly put on one of my friend's old hunting
suits, took some money and hurried away on foot along the back ways of
the town till I struck the open road, where I engaged a peasant, who in
four hours had driven me twenty miles from the town and set me down
in the midst of a deeply forested region. On the way I bought a rifle,
three hundred cartridges, an ax, a knife, a sheepskin overcoat, tea,
salt, dry bread and a kettle. I penetrated into the heart of the wood to
an abandoned half-burned hut. From this day I became a genuine trapper
but I never dreamed that I should follow this role as long as I did.
The next morning I went hunting and had the good fortune to kill two
heathcock. I found deer tracks in plenty and felt sure that I should not
want for food. However, my sojourn in this place was not for long. Five
days later when I returned from hunting I noticed smoke curling up out
of the chimney of my hut. I stealthily crept along closer to the cabin
and discovered two saddled horses with soldiers' rifles slung to the
saddles. Two disarmed men were not dangerous for me with a weapon, so I
quickly rushed across the open and entered the hut. From the bench
two soldiers started up in fright. They were Bolsheviki. On their big
Astrakhan caps I made out the red stars of Bolshevism and on their
blouses the dirty red bands. We greeted each other and sat down. The
soldiers had already prepared tea and so we drank this ever welcome
hot beverage and chatted, suspiciously eyeing one another the while.
To disarm this suspicion on their part, I told them that I was a hunter
from a distant place and was living there because I found it good
country for sables. They announced to me that they were soldiers of
a detachment sent from a town into the woods to pursue all suspicious
people.

"Do you understand, 'Comrade,'" said one of them to me, "we are looking
for counter-revolutionists to shoot them?"

I knew it without his explanations. All my forces were directed to
assuring them by my conduct that I was a simple peasant hunter and that
I had nothing in common with the counter-revolutionists. I was thinking
also all the time of where I should go after the departure of my
unwelcome guests. It grew dark. In the darkness their faces were even
less attractive. They took out bottles of vodka and drank and the
alcohol began to act very noticeably. They talked loudly and constantly
interrupted each other, boasting how many bourgeoisie they had killed
in Krasnoyarsk and how many Cossacks they had slid under the ice in the
river. Afterwards they began to quarrel but soon they were tired and
prepared to sleep. All of a sudden and without any warning the door of
the hut swung wide open and the steam of the heated room rolled out in
a great cloud, out of which seemed to rise like a genie, as the steam
settled, the figure of a tall, gaunt peasant impressively crowned with
the high Astrakhan cap and wrapped in the great sheepskin overcoat that
added to the massiveness of his figure. He stood with his rifle ready
to fire. Under his girdle lay the sharp ax without which the Siberian
peasant cannot exist. Eyes, quick and glimmering like those of a wild
beast, fixed themselves alternately on each of us. In a moment he took
off his cap, made the sign of the cross on his breast and asked of us:
"Who is the master here?"

I answered him.

"May I stop the night?"

"Yes," I replied, "places enough for all. Take a cup of tea. It is still
hot."

The stranger, running his eyes constantly over all of us and over
everything about the room, began to take off his skin coat after putting
his rifle in the corner. He was dressed in an old leather blouse with
trousers of the same material tucked in high felt boots. His face was
quite young, fine and tinged with something akin to mockery. His white,
sharp teeth glimmered as his eyes penetrated everything they rested
upon. I noticed the locks of grey in his shaggy head. Lines of
bitterness circled his mouth. They showed his life had been very stormy
and full of danger. He took a seat beside his rifle and laid his ax on
the floor below.

"What? Is it your wife?" asked one of the drunken soldiers, pointing to
the ax.

The tall peasant looked calmly at him from the quiet eyes under their
heavy brows and as calmly answered:

"One meets a different folk these days and with an ax it is much safer."

He began to drink tea very greedily, while his eyes looked at me many
times with sharp inquiry in them and ran often round the whole cabin in
search of the answer to his doubts. Very slowly and with a guarded drawl
he answered all the questions of the soldiers between gulps of the
hot tea, then he turned his glass upside down as evidence of having
finished, placed on the top of it the small lump of sugar left and
remarked to the soldiers:

"I am going out to look after my horse and will unsaddle your horses for
you also."

"All right," exclaimed the half-sleeping young soldier, "bring in our
rifles as well."

The soldiers were lying on the benches and thus left for us only the
floor. The stranger soon came back, brought the rifles and set them in
the dark corner. He dropped the saddle pads on the floor, sat down on
them and began to take off his boots. The soldiers and my guest soon
were snoring but I did not sleep for thinking of what next to do.
Finally as dawn was breaking, I dozed off only to awake in the
broad daylight and find my stranger gone. I went outside the hut and
discovered him saddling a fine bay stallion.

"Are you going away?" I asked.

"Yes, but I want to go together with these ---- comrades,'" he
whispered, "and afterwards I shall come back."

I did not ask him anything further and told him only that I would wait
for him. He took off the bags that had been hanging on his saddle, put
them away out of sight in the burned corner of the cabin, looked over
the stirrups and bridle and, as he finished saddling, smiled and said:

"I am ready. I'm going to awake my 'comrades.'" Half an hour after the
morning drink of tea, my three guests took their leave. I remained out
of doors and was engaged in splitting wood for my stove. Suddenly,
from a distance, rifle shots rang through the woods, first one, then
a second. Afterwards all was still. From the place near the shots a
frightened covey of blackcock broke and came over me. At the top of a
high pine a jay cried out. I listened for a long time to see if anyone
was approaching my hut but everything was still.

On the lower Yenisei it grows dark very early. I built a fire in my
stove and began to cook my soup, constantly listening for every noise
that came from beyond the cabin walls. Certainly I understood at all
times very clearly that death was ever beside me and might claim me
by means of either man, beast, cold, accident or disease. I knew that
nobody was near me to assist and that all my help was in the hands of
God, in the power of my hands and feet, in the accuracy of my aim and in
my presence of mind. However, I listened in vain. I did not notice the
return of my stranger. Like yesterday he appeared all at once on the
threshold. Through the steam I made out his laughing eyes and his fine
face. He stepped into the hut and dropped with a good deal of noise
three rifles into the corner.

"Two horses, two rifles, two saddles, two boxes of dry bread, half a
brick of tea, a small bag of salt, fifty cartridges, two overcoats, two
pairs of boots," laughingly he counted out. "In truth today I had a very
successful hunt."

In astonishment I looked at him.

"What are you surprised at?" he laughed. "Komu nujny eti tovarischi?
Who's got any use for these fellows? Let us have tea and go to sleep.
Tomorrow I will guide you to another safer place and then go on."


CHAPTER II

THE SECRET OF MY FELLOW TRAVELER


At the dawn of day we started forth, leaving my first place of refuge.
Into the bags we packed our personal estate and fastened them on one of
the saddles.

"We must go four or five hundred versts," very calmly announced my
fellow traveler, who called himself "Ivan," a name that meant nothing to
my mind or heart in this land where every second man bore the same.

"We shall travel then for a very long time," I remarked regretfully.

"Not more than one week, perhaps even less," he answered.

That night we spent in the woods under the wide spreading branches of
the fir trees. It was my first night in the forest under the open sky.
How many like this I was destined to spend in the year and a half of my
wanderings! During the day there was very sharp cold. Under the hoofs of
the horses the frozen snow crunched and the balls that formed and broke
from their hoofs rolled away over the crust with a sound like crackling
glass. The heathcock flew from the trees very idly, hares loped slowly
down the beds of summer streams. At night the wind began to sigh and
whistle as it bent the tops of the trees over our heads; while below it
was still and calm. We stopped in a deep ravine bordered by heavy trees,
where we found fallen firs, cut them into logs for the fire and, after
having boiled our tea, dined.

Ivan dragged in two tree trunks, squared them on one side with his ax,
laid one on the other with the squared faces together and then drove in
a big wedge at the butt ends which separated them three or four inches.
Then we placed live coals in this opening and watched the fire run
rapidly the whole length of the squared faces vis-a-vis.

"Now there will be a fire in the morning," he announced. "This is the
'naida' of the gold prospectors. We prospectors wandering in the woods
summer and winter always sleep beside this 'naida.' Fine! You shall see
for yourself," he continued.

He cut fir branches and made a sloping roof out of them, resting it on
two uprights toward the naida. Above our roof of boughs and our naida
spread the branches of protecting fir. More branches were brought and
spread on the snow under the roof, on these were placed the saddle
cloths and together they made a seat for Ivan to rest on and to take off
his outer garments down to his blouse. Soon I noticed his forehead was
wet with perspiration and that he was wiping it and his neck on his
sleeves.

"Now it is good and warm!" he exclaimed.

In a short time I was also forced to take off my overcoat and soon lay
down to sleep without any covering at all, while through the branches
of the fir trees and our roof glimmered the cold bright stars and
just beyond the naida raged a stinging cold, from which we were cosily
defended. After this night I was no longer frightened by the cold.
Frozen during the days on horseback, I was thoroughly warmed through
by the genial naida at night and rested from my heavy overcoat, sitting
only in my blouse under the roofs of pine and fir and sipping the ever
welcome tea.

During our daily treks Ivan related to me the stories of his wanderings
through the mountains and woods of Transbaikalia in the search for gold.
These stories were very lively, full of attractive adventure, danger and
struggle. Ivan was a type of these prospectors who have discovered in
Russia, and perhaps in other countries, the richest gold mines, while
they themselves remain beggars. He evaded telling me why he left
Transbaikalia to come to the Yenisei. I understood from his manner that
he wished to keep his own counsel and so did not press him. However, the
blanket of secrecy covering this part of his mysterious life was one day
quite fortuitously lifted a bit. We were already at the objective point
of our trip. The whole day we had traveled with difficulty through a
thick growth of willow, approaching the shore of the big right branch of
the Yenisei, the Mana. Everywhere we saw runways packed hard by the feet
of the hares living in this bush. These small white denizens of the wood
ran to and fro in front of us. Another time we saw the red tail of a fox
hiding behind a rock, watching us and the unsuspecting hares at the same
time.

Ivan had been silent for a long while. Then he spoke up and told me that
not far from there was a small branch of the Mana, at the mouth of which
was a hut.

"What do you say? Shall we push on there or spend the night by the
naida?"

I suggested going to the hut, because I wanted to wash and because it
would be agreeable to spend the night under a genuine roof again. Ivan
knitted his brows but acceded.

It was growing dark when we approached a hut surrounded by the dense
wood and wild raspberry bushes. It contained one small room with two
microscopic windows and a gigantic Russian stove. Against the building
were the remains of a shed and a cellar. We fired the stove and prepared
our modest dinner. Ivan drank from the bottle inherited from the
soldiers and in a short time was very eloquent, with brilliant eyes and
with hands that coursed frequently and rapidly through his long locks.
He began relating to me the story of one of his adventures, but suddenly
stopped and, with fear in his eyes, squinted into a dark corner.

"Is it a rat?" he asked.

"I did not see anything," I replied.

He again became silent and reflected with knitted brow. Often we were
silent through long hours and consequently I was not astonished. Ivan
leaned over near to me and began to whisper.

"I want to tell you an old story. I had a friend in Transbaikalia. He
was a banished convict. His name was Gavronsky. Through many woods
and over many mountains we traveled in search of gold and we had an
agreement to divide all we got into even shares. But Gavronsky suddenly
went out to the 'Taiga' on the Yenisei and disappeared. After five years
we heard that he had found a very rich gold mine and had become a rich
man; then later that he and his wife with him had been murdered. . . ."
Ivan was still for a moment and then continued:

"This is their old hut. Here he lived with his wife and somewhere on
this river he took out his gold. But he told nobody where. All the
peasants around here know that he had a lot of money in the bank
and that he had been selling gold to the Government. Here they were
murdered."

Ivan stepped to the stove, took out a flaming stick and, bending over,
lighted a spot on the floor.

"Do you see these spots on the floor and on the wall? It is their
blood, the blood of Gavronsky. They died but they did not disclose the
whereabouts of the gold. It was taken out of a deep hole which they had
drifted into the bank of the river and was hidden in the cellar under
the shed. But Gavronsky gave nothing away. . . . AND LORD HOW I TORTURED
THEM! I burned them with fire; I bent back their fingers; I gouged out
their eyes; but Gavronsky died in silence."

He thought for a moment, then quickly said to me:

"I have heard all this from the peasants." He threw the log into the
stove and flopped down on the bench. "It's time to sleep," he snapped
out, and was still.

I listened for a long time to his breathing and his whispering to
himself, as he turned from one side to the other and smoked his pipe.

In the morning we left this scene of so much suffering and crime and on
the seventh day of our journey we came to the dense cedar wood growing
on the foothills of a long chain of mountains.

"From here," Ivan explained to me, "it is eighty versts to the next
peasant settlement. The people come to these woods to gather cedar nuts
but only in the autumn. Before then you will not meet anyone. Also you
will find many birds and beasts and a plentiful supply of nuts, so that
it will be possible for you to live here. Do you see this river? When
you want to find the peasants, follow along this stream and it will
guide you to them."

Ivan helped me build my mud hut. But it was not the genuine mud hut. It
was one formed by the tearing out of the roots of a great cedar, that
had probably fallen in some wild storm, which made for me the deep hole
as the room for my house and flanked this on one side with a wall of
mud held fast among the upturned roots. Overhanging ones formed also
the framework into which we interlaced the poles and branches to make
a roof, finished off with stones for stability and snow for warmth.
The front of the hut was ever open but was constantly protected by the
guardian naida. In that snow-covered den I spent two months like summer
without seeing any other human being and without touch with the outer
world where such important events were transpiring. In that grave under
the roots of the fallen tree I lived before the face of nature with my
trials and my anxiety about my family as my constant companions, and in
the hard struggle for my life. Ivan went off the second day, leaving for
me a bag of dry bread and a little sugar. I never saw him again.


CHAPTER III

THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE


Then I was alone. Around me only the wood of eternally green cedars
covered with snow, the bare bushes, the frozen river and, as far as I
could see out through the branches and the trunks of the trees, only
the great ocean of cedars and snow. Siberian taiga! How long shall I be
forced to live here? Will the Bolsheviki find me here or not? Will my
friends know where I am? What is happening to my family? These questions
were constantly as burning fires in my brain. Soon I understood why Ivan
guided me so long. We passed many secluded places on the journey, far
away from all people, where Ivan could have safely left me but he always
said that he would take me to a place where it would be easier to live.
And it was so. The charm of my lone refuge was in the cedar wood and
in the mountains covered with these forests which stretched to every
horizon. The cedar is a splendid, powerful tree with wide-spreading
branches, an eternally green tent, attracting to its shelter every
living being. Among the cedars was always effervescent life. There the
squirrels were continually kicking up a row, jumping from tree to tree;
the nut-jobbers cried shrilly; a flock of bullfinches with carmine
breasts swept through the trees like a flame; or a small army of
goldfinches broke in and filled the amphitheatre of trees with their
whistling; a hare scooted from one tree trunk to another and behind him
stole up the hardly visible shadow of a white ermine, crawling on the
snow, and I watched for a long time the black spot which I knew to be
the tip of his tail; carefully treading the hard crusted snow approached
a noble deer; at last there visited me from the top of the mountain the
king of the Siberian forest, the brown bear. All this distracted me
and carried away the black thoughts from my brain, encouraging me to
persevere. It was good for me also, though difficult, to climb to the
top of my mountain, which reached up out of the forest and from which I
could look away to the range of red on the horizon. It was the red cliff
on the farther bank of the Yenisei. There lay the country, the towns,
the enemies and the friends; and there was even the point which I
located as the place of my family. It was the reason why Ivan had guided
me here. And as the days in this solitude slipped by I began to miss
sorely this companion who, though the murderer of Gavronsky, had taken
care of me like a father, always saddling my horse for me, cutting the
wood and doing everything to make me comfortable. He had spent many
winters alone with nothing except his thoughts, face to face with
nature--I should say, before the face of God. He had tried the horrors
of solitude and had acquired facility in bearing them. I thought
sometimes, if I had to meet my end in this place, that I would spend my
last strength to drag myself to the top of the mountain to die there,
looking away over the infinite sea of mountains and forest toward the
point where my loved ones were.

However, the same life gave me much matter for reflection and yet more
occupation for the physical side. It was a continuous struggle for
existence, hard and severe. The hardest work was the preparation of the
big logs for the naida. The fallen trunks of the trees were covered
with snow and frozen to the ground. I was forced to dig them out and
afterwards, with the help of a long stick as a lever, to move them from
their place. For facilitating this work I chose the mountain for my
supplies, where, although difficult to climb, it was easy to roll the
logs down. Soon I made a splendid discovery. I found near my den a great
quantity of larch, this beautiful yet sad forest giant, fallen during
a big storm. The trunks were covered with snow but remained attached to
their stumps, where they had broken off. When I cut into these stumps
with the ax, the head buried itself and could with difficulty be drawn
and, investigating the reason, I found them filled with pitch. Chips of
this wood needed only a spark to set them aflame and ever afterward I
always had a stock of them to light up quickly for warming my hands on
returning from the hunt or for boiling my tea.

The greater part of my days was occupied with the hunt. I came to
understand that I must distribute my work over every day, for it
distracted me from my sad and depressing thoughts. Generally, after
my morning tea, I went into the forest to seek heathcock or blackcock.
After killing one or two I began to prepare my dinner, which never had
an extensive menu. It was constantly game soup with a handful of dried
bread and afterwards endless cups of tea, this essential beverage of the
woods. Once, during my search for birds, I heard a rustle in the dense
shrubs and, carefully peering about, I discovered the points of a deer's
horns. I crawled along toward the spot but the watchful animal heard my
approach. With a great noise he rushed from the bush and I saw him very
clearly, after he had run about three hundred steps, stop on the slope
of the mountain. It was a splendid animal with dark grey coat, with
almost a black spine and as large as a small cow. I laid my rifle across
a branch and fired. The animal made a great leap, ran several steps and
fell. With all my strength I ran to him but he got up again and half
jumped, half dragged himself up the mountain. The second shot stopped
him. I had won a warm carpet for my den and a large stock of meat. The
horns I fastened up among the branches of my wall, where they made a
fine hat rack.

I cannot forget one very interesting but wild picture, which was staged
for me several kilometres from my den. There was a small swamp covered
with grass and cranberries scattered through it, where the blackcock
and sand partridges usually came to feed on the berries. I approached
noiselessly behind the bushes and saw a whole flock of blackcock
scratching in the snow and picking out the berries. While I was
surveying this scene, suddenly one of the blackcock jumped up and the
rest of the frightened flock immediately flew away. To my astonishment
the first bird began going straight up in a spiral flight and afterwards
dropped directly down dead. When I approached there sprang from the
body of the slain cock a rapacious ermine that hid under the trunk of a
fallen tree. The bird's neck was badly torn. I then understood that the
ermine had charged the cock, fastened itself on his neck and had been
carried by the bird into the air, as he sucked the blood from its
throat, and had been the cause of the heavy fall back to the earth.
Thanks to his aeronautic ability I saved one cartridge.

So I lived fighting for the morrow and more and more poisoned by hard
and bitter thoughts. The days and weeks passed and soon I felt the
breath of warmer winds. On the open places the snow began to thaw. In
spots the little rivulets of water appeared. Another day I saw a fly
or a spider awakened after the hard winter. The spring was coming. I
realized that in spring it was impossible to go out from the forest.
Every river overflowed its banks; the swamps became impassable; all the
runways of the animals turned into beds for streams of running water.
I understood that until summer I was condemned to a continuation of my
solitude. Spring very quickly came into her rights and soon my mountain
was free from snow and was covered only with stones, the trunks of birch
and aspen trees and the high cones of ant hills; the river in places
broke its covering of ice and was coursing full with foam and bubbles.


CHAPTER IV

A FISHERMAN


One day during the hunt, I approached the bank of the river and noticed
many very large fish with red backs, as though filled with blood. They
were swimming on the surface enjoying the rays of the sun. When the
river was entirely free from ice, these fish appeared in enormous
quantities. Soon I realized that they were working up-stream for the
spawning season in the smaller rivers. I thought to use a plundering
method of catching, forbidden by the law of all countries; but all the
lawyers and legislators should be lenient to one who lives in a den
under the roots of a fallen tree and dares to break their rational laws.

Gathering many thin birch and aspen trees I built in the bed of the
stream a weir which the fish could not pass and soon I found them
trying to jump over it. Near the bank I left a hole in my barrier about
eighteen inches below the surface and fastened on the up-stream side a
high basket plaited from soft willow twigs, into which the fish came as
they passed the hole. Then I stood cruelly by and hit them on the head
with a strong stick. All my catch were over thirty pounds, some more
than eighty. This variety of fish is called the taimen, is of the trout
family and is the best in the Yenisei.

After two weeks the fish had passed and my basket gave me no more
treasure, so I began anew the hunt.


CHAPTER V

A DANGEROUS NEIGHBOR


The hunt became more and more profitable and enjoyable, as spring
animated everything. In the morning at the break of day the forest was
full of voices, strange and undiscernible to the inhabitant of the town.
There the heathcock clucked and sang his song of love, as he sat on the
top branches of the cedar and admired the grey hen scratching in the
fallen leaves below. It was very easy to approach this full-feathered
Caruso and with a shot to bring him down from his more poetic to his
more utilitarian duties. His going out was an euthanasia, for he was in
love and heard nothing. Out in the clearing the blackcocks with their
wide-spread spotted tails were fighting, while the hens strutting
near, craning and chattering, probably some gossip about their fighting
swains, watched and were delighted with them. From the distance flowed
in a stern and deep roar, yet full of tenderness and love, the mating
call of the deer; while from the crags above came down the short and
broken voice of the mountain buck. Among the bushes frolicked the hares
and often near them a red fox lay flattened to the ground watching his
chance. I never heard any wolves and they are usually not found in the
Siberian regions covered with mountains and forest.

But there was another beast, who was my neighbor, and one of us had
to go away. One day, coming back from the hunt with a big heathcock, I
suddenly noticed among the trees a black, moving mass. I stopped and,
looking very attentively, saw a bear, digging away at an ant-hill.
Smelling me, he snorted violently, and very quickly shuffled away,
astonishing me with the speed of his clumsy gait. The following morning,
while still lying under my overcoat, I was attracted by a noise behind
my den. I peered out very carefully and discovered the bear. He stood on
his hind legs and was noisily sniffing, investigating the question as
to what living creature had adopted the custom of the bears of housing
during the winter under the trunks of fallen trees. I shouted and struck
my kettle with the ax. My early visitor made off with all his energy;
but his visit did not please me. It was very early in the spring that
this occurred and the bear should not yet have left his hibernating
place. He was the so-called "ant-eater," an abnormal type of bear
lacking in all the etiquette of the first families of the bear clan.

I knew that the "ant-eaters" were very irritable and audacious and
quickly I prepared myself for both the defence and the charge. My
preparations were short. I rubbed off the ends of five of my cartridges,
thus making dum-dums out of them, a sufficiently intelligible argument
for so unwelcome a guest. Putting on my coat I went to the place where
I had first met the bear and where there were many ant-hills. I made
a detour of the whole mountain, looked in all the ravines but nowhere
found my caller. Disappointed and tired, I was approaching my shelter
quite off my guard when I suddenly discovered the king of the forest
himself just coming out of my lowly dwelling and sniffing all around the
entrance to it. I shot. The bullet pierced his side. He roared with pain
and anger and stood up on his hind legs. As the second bullet broke
one of these, he squatted down but immediately, dragging the leg and
endeavoring to stand upright, moved to attack me. Only the third bullet
in his breast stopped him. He weighed about two hundred to two hundred
fifty pounds, as near as I could guess, and was very tasty. He appeared
at his best in cutlets but only a little less wonderful in the Hamburg
steaks which I rolled and roasted on hot stones, watching them swell out
into great balls that were as light as the finest souffle omelettes we
used to have at the "Medved" in Petrograd. On this welcome addition to
my larder I lived from then until the ground dried out and the stream
ran down enough so that I could travel down along the river to the
country whither Ivan had directed me.

Ever traveling with the greatest precautions I made the journey down
along the river on foot, carrying from my winter quarters all my
household furniture and goods, wrapped up in the deerskin bag which I
formed by tying the legs together in an awkward knot; and thus laden
fording the small streams and wading through the swamps that lay across
my path. After fifty odd miles of this I came to the country called
Sifkova, where I found the cabin of a peasant named Tropoff, located
closest to the forest that came to be my natural environment. With him I
lived for a time.

* * * * *

Now in these unimaginable surroundings of safety and peace, summing up
the total of my experience in the Siberian taiga, I make the following
deductions. In every healthy spiritual individual of our times,
occasions of necessity resurrect the traits of primitive man, hunter and
warrior, and help him in the struggle with nature. It is the prerogative
of the man with the trained mind and spirit over the untrained, who does
not possess sufficient science and will power to carry him through. But
the price that the cultured man must pay is that for him there exists
nothing more awful than absolute solitude and the knowledge of complete
isolation from human society and the life of moral and aesthetic
culture. One step, one moment of weakness and dark madness will seize
a man and carry him to inevitable destruction. I spent awful days of
struggle with the cold and hunger but I passed more terrible days in
the struggle of the will to kill weakening destructive thoughts. The
memories of these days freeze my heart and mind and even now, as I
revive them so clearly by writing of my experiences, they throw me
back into a state of fear and apprehension. Moreover, I am compelled
to observe that the people in highly civilized states give too little
regard to the training that is useful to man in primitive conditions, in
conditions incident to the struggle against nature for existence. It is
the single normal way to develop a new generation of strong, healthy,
iron men, with at the same time sensitive souls.

Nature destroys the weak but helps the strong, awakening in the soul
emotions which remain dormant under the urban conditions of modern life.


CHAPTER VI

A RIVER IN TRAVAIL


My presence in the Sifkova country was not for long but I used it in
full measure. First, I sent a man in whom I had confidence and whom I
considered trustworthy to my friends in the town that I had left and
received from them linen, boots, money and a small case of first aid
materials and essential medicines, and, what was most important, a
passport in another name, since I was dead for the Bolsheviki. Secondly,
in these more or less favorable conditions I reflected upon the plan for
my future actions. Soon in Sifkova the people heard that the Bolshevik
commissar would come for the requisition of cattle for the Red Army. It
was dangerous to remain longer. I waited only until the Yenisei should
lose its massive lock of ice, which kept it sealed long after the small
rivulets had opened and the trees had taken on their spring foliage.
For one thousand roubles I engaged a fisherman who agreed to take me
fifty-five miles up the river to an abandoned gold mine as soon as the
river, which had then only opened in places, should be entirely clear
of ice. At last one morning I heard a deafening roar like a tremendous
cannonade and ran out to find the river had lifted its great bulk of ice
and then given way to break it up. I rushed on down to the bank, where I
witnessed an awe-inspiring but magnificent scene. The river had brought
down the great volume of ice that had been dislodged in the south and
was carrying it northward under the thick layer which still covered
parts of the stream until finally its weight had broken the winter dam
to the north and released the whole grand mass in one last rush for the
Arctic. The Yenisei, "Father Yenisei," "Hero Yenisei," is one of the
longest rivers in Asia, deep and magnificent, especially through the
middle range of its course, where it is flanked and held in canyon-like
by great towering ranges. The huge stream had brought down whole miles
of ice fields, breaking them up on the rapids and on isolated rocks,
twisting them with angry swirls, throwing up sections of the black
winter roads, carrying down the tepees built for the use of passing
caravans which in the Winter always go from Minnusinsk to Krasnoyarsk on
the frozen river. From time to time the stream stopped in its flow, the
roar began and the great fields of ice were squeezed and piled upward,
sometimes as high as thirty feet, damming up the water behind, so that
it rapidly rose and ran out over the low places, casting on the shore
great masses of ice. Then the power of the reinforced waters conquered
the towering dam of ice and carried it downward with a sound like
breaking glass. At the bends in the river and round the great rocks
developed terrifying chaos. Huge blocks of ice jammed and jostled until
some were thrown clear into the air, crashing against others already
there, or were hurled against the curving cliffs and banks, tearing
out boulders, earth and trees high up the sides. All along the low
embankments this giant of nature flung upward with a suddenness that
leaves man but a pigmy in force a great wall of ice fifteen to twenty
feet high, which the peasants call "Zaberega" and through which they
cannot get to the river without cutting out a road. One incredible feat
I saw the giant perform, when a block many feet thick and many yards
square was hurled through the air and dropped to crush saplings and
little trees more than a half hundred feet from the bank.

Watching this glorious withdrawal of the ice, I was filled with terror
and revolt at seeing the awful spoils which the Yenisei bore away
in this annual retreat. These were the bodies of the executed
counter-revolutionaries--officers, soldiers and Cossacks of the former
army of the Superior Governor of all anti-Bolshevik Russia, Admiral
Kolchak. They were the results of the bloody work of the "Cheka" at
Minnusinsk. Hundreds of these bodies with heads and hands cut off, with
mutilated faces and bodies half burned, with broken skulls, floated and
mingled with the blocks of ice, looking for their graves; or, turning
in the furious whirlpools among the jagged blocks, they were ground and
torn to pieces into shapeless masses, which the river, nauseated with
its task, vomited out upon the islands and projecting sand bars. I
passed the whole length of the middle Yenisei and constantly came across
these putrifying and terrifying reminders of the work of the Bolsheviki.
In one place at a turn of the river I saw a great heap of horses, which
had been cast up by the ice and current, in number not less than three
hundred. A verst below there I was sickened beyond endurance by the
discovery of a grove of willows along the bank which had raked from the
polluted stream and held in their finger-like drooping branches human
bodies in all shapes and attitudes with a semblance of naturalness
which made an everlasting picture on my distraught mind. Of this pitiful
gruesome company I counted seventy.

At last the mountain of ice passed by, followed by the muddy freshets
that carried down the trunks of fallen trees, logs and bodies, bodies,
bodies. The fisherman and his son put me and my luggage into their
dugout made from an aspen tree and poled upstream along the bank.
Poling in a swift current is very hard work. At the sharp curves we were
compelled to row, struggling against the force of the stream and even in
places hugging the cliffs and making headway only by clutching the rocks
with our hands and dragging along slowly. Sometimes it took us a long
while to do five or six metres through these rapid holes. In two days we
reached the goal of our journey. I spent several days in this gold mine,
where the watchman and his family were living. As they were short of
food, they had nothing to spare for me and consequently my rifle again
served to nourish me, as well as contributing something to my hosts.
One day there appeared here a trained agriculturalist. I did not hide
because during my winter in the woods I had raised a heavy beard, so
that probably my own mother could not have recognized me. However, our
guest was very shrewd and at once deciphered me. I did not fear him
because I saw that he was not a Bolshevik and later had confirmation of
this. We found common acquaintances and a common viewpoint on current
events. He lived close to the gold mine in a small village where he
superintended public works. We determined to escape together from
Russia. For a long time I had puzzled over this matter and now my plan
was ready. Knowing the position in Siberia and its geography, I decided
that the best way to safety was through Urianhai, the northern part of
Mongolia on the head waters of the Yenisei, then through Mongolia and
out to the Far East and the Pacific. Before the overthrow of the Kolchak
Government I had received a commission to investigate Urianhai and
Western Mongolia and then, with great accuracy, I studied all the
maps and literature I could get on this question. To accomplish this
audacious plan I had the great incentive of my own safety.


CHAPTER VII

THROUGH SOVIET SIBERIA


After several days we started through the forest on the left bank of the
Yenisei toward the south, avoiding the villages as much as possible in
fear of leaving some trail by which we might be followed. Whenever we
did have to go into them, we had a good reception at the hands of the
peasants, who did not penetrate our disguise; and we saw that they hated
the Bolsheviki, who had destroyed many of their villages. In one place
we were told that a detachment of Red troops had been sent out from
Minnusinsk to chase the Whites. We were forced to work far back from
the shore of the Yenisei and to hide in the woods and mountains. Here we
remained nearly a fortnight, because all this time the Red soldiers were
traversing the country and capturing in the woods half-dressed unarmed
officers who were in hiding from the atrocious vengeance of the
Bolsheviki. Afterwards by accident we passed a meadow where we found the
bodies of twenty-eight officers hung to the trees, with their faces and
bodies mutilated. There we determined never to allow ourselves to come
alive into the hands of the Boisheviki. To prevent this we had our
weapons and a supply of cyanide of potassium.

Passing across one branch of the Yenisei, once we saw a narrow, miry
pass, the entrance to which was strewn with the bodies of men and
horses. A little farther along we found a broken sleigh with rifled
boxes and papers scattered about. Near them were also torn garments and
bodies. Who were these pitiful ones? What tragedy was staged in this
wild wood? We tried to guess this enigma and we began to investigate the
documents and papers. These were official papers addressed to the Staff
of General Pepelaieff. Probably one part of the Staff during the retreat
of Kolchak's army went through this wood, striving to hide from the
enemy approaching from all sides; but here they were caught by the Reds
and killed. Not far from here we found the body of a poor unfortunate
woman, whose condition proved clearly what had happened before relief
came through the beneficent bullet. The body lay beside a shelter of
branches, strewn with bottles and conserve tins, telling the tale of the
bantering feast that had preceded the destruction of this life.

The further we went to the south, the more pronouncedly hospitable the
people became toward us and the more hostile to the Bolsheviki. At last
we emerged from the forests and entered the spacious vastness of the
Minnusinsk steppes, crossed by the high red mountain range called
the "Kizill-Kaiya" and dotted here and there with salt lakes. It is a
country of tombs, thousands of large and small dolmens, the tombs of the
earliest proprietors of this land: pyramids of stone ten metres high,
the marks set by Jenghiz Khan along his road of conquest and afterwards
by the cripple Tamerlane-Temur. Thousands of these dolmens and stone
pyramids stretch in endless rows to the north. In these plains the
Tartars now live. They were robbed by the Bolsheviki and therefore hated
them ardently. We openly told them that we were escaping. They gave us
food for nothing and supplied us with guides, telling us with whom we
might stop and where to hide in case of danger.

After several days we looked down from the high bank of the Yenisei upon
the first steamer, the "Oriol," from Krasnoyarsk to Minnusinsk, laden
with Red soldiers. Soon we came to the mouth of the river Tuba, which
we were to follow straight east to the Sayan mountains, where Urianhai
begins. We thought the stage along the Tuba and its branch, the Amyl,
the most dangerous part of our course, because the valleys of these two
rivers had a dense population which had contributed large numbers
of soldiers to the celebrated Communist Partisans, Schetinkin and
Krafcheno.

A Tartar ferried us and our horses over to the right bank of the Yenisei
and afterwards sent us some Cossacks at daybreak who guided us to the
mouth of the Tuba, where we spent the whole day in rest, gratifying
ourselves with a feast of wild black currants and cherries.


CHAPTER VIII

THREE DAYS ON THE EDGE OF A PRECIPICE


Armed with our false passports, we moved along up the valley of the
Tuba. Every ten or fifteen versts we came across large villages of from
one to six hundred houses, where all administration was in the hands of
Soviets and where spies scrutinized all passers-by. We could not avoid
these villages for two reasons. First, our attempts to avoid them
when we were constantly meeting the peasants in the country would have
aroused suspicion and would have caused any Soviet to arrest us and
send us to the "Cheka" in Minnusinsk, where we should have sung our
last song. Secondly, in his documents my fellow traveler was granted
permission to use the government post relays for forwarding him on his
journey. Therefore, we were forced to visit the village Soviets and
change our horses. Our own mounts we had given to the Tartar and Cossack
who helped us at the mouth of the Tuba, and the Cossack brought us in
his wagon to the first village, where we received the post horses. All
except a small minority of the peasants were against the Bolsheviki and
voluntarily assisted us. I paid them for their help by treating their
sick and my fellow traveler gave them practical advice in the management
of their agriculture. Those who helped us chiefly were the old
dissenters and the Cossacks.

Sometimes we came across villages entirely Communistic but very soon we
learned to distinguish them. When we entered a village with our horse
bells tinkling and found the peasants who happened to be sitting in
front of their houses ready to get up with a frown and a grumble that
here were more new devils coming, we knew that this was a village
opposed to the Communists and that here we could stop in safety. But,
if the peasants approached and greeted us with pleasure, calling us
"Comrades," we knew at once that we were among the enemy and took great
precautions. Such villages were inhabited by people who were not the
Siberian liberty-loving peasants but by emigrants from the Ukraine,
idle and drunk, living in poor dirty huts, though their village
were surrounded with the black and fertile soil of the steppes. Very
dangerous and pleasant moments we spent in the large village of Karatuz.
It is rather a town. In the year 1912 two colleges were opened here and
the population reached 15,000 people. It is the capital of the South
Yenisei Cossacks. But by now it is very difficult to recognize this
town. The peasant emigrants and Red army murdered all the Cossack
population and destroyed and burned most of the houses; and it is at
present the center of Bolshevism and Communism in the eastern part of
the Minnusinsk district. In the building of the Soviet, where we came to
exchange our horses, there was being held a meeting of the "Cheka." We
were immediately surrounded and questioned about our documents. We were
not any too calm about the impression which might be made by our papers
and attempted to avoid this examination. My fellow traveler afterwards
often said to me:

"It is great good fortune that among the Bolsheviki the good-for-nothing
shoemaker of yesterday is the Governor of today and scientists sweep
the streets or clean the stables of the Red cavalry. I can talk with
the Bolsheviki because they do not know the difference between
'disinfection' and 'diphtheria,' 'anthracite' and 'appendicitis' and can
talk them round in all things, even up to persuading them not to put a
bullet into me."

And so we talked the members of the "Cheka" round to everything that we
wanted. We presented to them a bright scheme for the future development
of their district, when we would build the roads and bridges which would
allow them to export the wood from Urianhai, iron and gold from the
Sayan Mountains, cattle and furs from Mongolia. What a triumph of
creative work for the Soviet Government! Our ode occupied about an
hour and afterwards the members of the "Cheka," forgetting about our
documents, personally changed our horses, placed our luggage on the
wagon and wished us success. It was the last ordeal within the borders
of Russia.

When we had crossed the valley of the river Amyl, Happiness smiled on
us. Near the ferry we met a member of the militia from Karatuz. He had
on his wagon several rifles and automatic pistols, mostly Mausers,
for outfitting an expedition through Urianhai in quest of some Cossack
officers who had been greatly troubling the Bolsheviki. We stood upon
our guard. We could very easily have met this expedition and we were
not quite assured that the soldiers would be so appreciative of our
high-sounding phrases as were the members of the "Cheka." Carefully
questioning the militiaman, we ferreted out the route their expedition
was to take. In the next village we stayed in the same house with him. I
had to open my luggage and suddenly I noticed his admiring glance fixed
upon my bag.

"What pleases you so much?" I asked.

He whispered: "Trousers . . . Trousers."

I had received from my townsmen quite new trousers of black thick
cloth for riding. Those trousers attracted the rapt attention of the
militiaman.

"If you have no other trousers. . . ." I remarked, reflecting upon my
plan of attack against my new friend.

"No," he explained with sadness, "the Soviet does not furnish trousers.
They tell me they also go without trousers. And my trousers are
absolutely worn out. Look at them."

With these words he threw back the corner of his overcoat and I was
astonished how he could keep himself inside these trousers, for they
had such large holes that they were more of a net than trousers, a net
through which a small shark could have slipped.

"Sell me," he whispered, with a question in his voice.

"I cannot, for I need them myself," I answered decisively.

He reflected for a few minutes and afterward, approaching me, said: "Let
us go out doors and talk. Here it is inconvenient."

We went outside. "Now, what about it?" he began. "You are going into
Urianhai. There the Soviet bank-notes have no value and you will not
be able to buy anything, where there are plenty of sables, fox-skins,
ermine and gold dust to be purchased, which they very willingly exchange
for rifles and cartridges. You have each of you a rifle and I will
give you one more rifle with a hundred cartridges if you give me the
trousers."

"We do not need weapons. We are protected by our documents," I answered,
as though I did not understand.

"But no," he interrupted, "you can change that rifle there into furs and
gold. I shall give you that rifle outright."

"Ah, that's it, is it? But it's very little for those trousers. Nowhere
in Russia can you now find trousers. All Russia goes without trousers
and for your rifle I should receive a sable and what use to me is one
skin?"

Word by word I attained to my desire. The militia-man got my trousers
and I received a rifle with one hundred cartridges and two automatic
pistols with forty cartridges each. We were armed now so that we could
defend ourselves. Moreover, I persuaded the happy possessor of my
trousers to give us a permit to carry the weapons. Then the law and
force were both on our side.

In a distant village we bought three horses, two for riding and one for
packing, engaged a guide, purchased dried bread, meat, salt and butter
and, after resting twenty-four hours, began our trip up the Amyl toward
the Sayan Mountains on the border of Urianhai. There we hoped not to
meet Bolsheviki, either sly or silly. In three days from the mouth of
the Tuba we passed the last Russian village near the Mongolian-Urianhai
border, three days of constant contact with a lawless population, of
continuous danger and of the ever present possibility of fortuitous
death. Only iron will power, presence of mind and dogged tenacity
brought us through all the dangers and saved us from rolling back down
our precipice of adventure, at whose foot lay so many others who
had failed to make this same climb to freedom which we had just
accomplished. Perhaps they lacked the persistence or the presence of
mind, perhaps they had not the poetic ability to sing odes about "roads,
bridges and gold mines" or perhaps they simply had no spare trousers.


CHAPTER IX

TO THE SAYANS AND SAFETY


Dense virgin wood surrounded us. In the high, already yellow grass the
trail wound hardly noticeable in among bushes and trees just beginning
to drop their many colored leaves. It is the old, already forgotten Amyl
pass road. Twenty-five years ago it carried the provisions, machinery
and workers for the numerous, now abandoned, gold mines of the
Amyl valley. The road now wound along the wide and rapid Amyl, then
penetrated into the deep forest, guiding us round the swampy ground
filled with those dangerous Siberian quagmires, through the dense
bushes, across mountains and wide meadows. Our guide probably did not
surmise our real intention and sometimes, apprehensively looking down at
the ground, would say:

"Three riders on horses with shoes on have passed here. Perhaps they
were soldiers."

His anxiety was terminated when he discovered that the tracks led off to
one side and then returned to the trail.

"They did not proceed farther," he remarked, slyly smiling.

"That's too bad," we answered. "It would have been more lively to travel
in company."

But the peasant only stroked his beard and laughed. Evidently he was not
taken in by our statement.

We passed on the way a gold mine that had been formerly planned and
equipped on splendid lines but was now abandoned and the buildings all
destroyed. The Bolsheviki had taken away the machinery, supplies and
also some parts of the buildings. Nearby stood a dark and gloomy church
with windows broken, the crucifix torn off and the tower burned, a
pitifully typical emblem of the Russia of today. The starving family of
the watchman lived at the mine in continuing danger and privation. They
told us that in this forest region were wandering about a band of Reds
who were robbing anything that remained on the property of the gold
mine, were working the pay dirt in the richest part of the mine and,
with a little gold washed, were going to drink and gamble it away in
some distant villages where the peasants were making the forbidden vodka
out of berries and potatoes and selling it for its weight in gold. A
meeting with this band meant death. After three days we crossed the
northern ridge of the Sayan chain, passed the border river Algiak and,
after this day, were abroad in the territory of Urianhai.

This wonderful land, rich in most diverse forms of natural wealth, is
inhabited by a branch of the Mongols, which is now only sixty thousand
and which is gradually dying off, speaking a language quite different
from any of the other dialects of this folk and holding as their life
ideal the tenet of "Eternal Peace." Urianhai long ago became the scene
of administrative attempts by Russians, Mongols and Chinese, all of whom
claimed sovereignty over the region whose unfortunate inhabitants, the
Soyots, had to pay tribute to all three of these overlords. It was due
to this that the land was not an entirely safe refuge for us. We had
heard already from our militiaman about the expedition preparing to go
into Urianhai and from the peasants we learned that the villages along
the Little Yenisei and farther south had formed Red detachments, who
were robbing and killing everyone who fell into their hands. Recently
they had killed sixty-two officers attempting to pass Urianhai into
Mongolia; robbed and killed a caravan of Chinese merchants; and killed
some German war prisoners who escaped from the Soviet paradise. On the
fourth day we reached a swampy valley where, among open forests, stood a
single Russian house. Here we took leave of our guide, who hastened away
to get back before the snows should block his road over the Sayans. The
master of the establishment agreed to guide us to the Seybi River for
ten thousand roubles in Soviet notes. Our horses were tired and we were
forced to give them a rest, so we decided to spend twenty-four hours
here.

We were drinking tea when the daughter of our host cried:

"The Soyots are coming!" Into the room with their rifles and pointed
hats came suddenly four of them.

"Mende," they grunted to us and then, without ceremony, began examining
us critically. Not a button or a seam in our entire outfit escaped their
penetrating gaze. Afterwards one of them, who appeared to be the local
"Merin" or governor, began to investigate our political views. Listening
to our criticisms of the Bolsheviki, he was evidently pleased and began
talking freely.

"You are good people. You do not like Bolsheviki. We will help you."

I thanked him and presented him with the thick silk cord which I was
wearing as a girdle. Before night they left us saying that they would
return in the morning. It grew dark. We went to the meadow to look after
our exhausted horses grazing there and came back to the house. We were
gaily chatting with the hospitable host when suddenly we heard horses'
hoofs in the court and raucous voices, followed by the immediate entry
of five Red soldiers armed with rifles and swords. Something unpleasant
and cold rolled up into my throat and my heart hammered. We knew the
Reds as our enemies. These men had the red stars on their Astrakhan caps
and red triangles on their sleeves. They were members of the detachment
that was out to look for Cossack officers. Scowling at us they took
off their overcoats and sat down. We first opened the conversation,
explaining the purpose of our journey in exploring for bridges, roads
and gold mines. From them we then learned that their commander would
arrive in a little while with seven more men and that they would take
our host at once as a guide to the Seybi River, where they thought the
Cossack officers must be hidden. Immediately I remarked that our affairs
were moving fortunately and that we must travel along together. One of
the soldiers replied that that would depend upon the "Comrade-officer."

During our conversation the Soyot Governor entered. Very attentively he
studied again the new arrivals and then asked: "Why did you take from
the Soyots the good horses and leave bad ones?"

The soldiers laughed at him.

"Remember that you are in a foreign country!" answered the Soyot, with a
threat in his voice.

"God and the Devil!" cried one of the soldiers.

But the Soyot very calmly took a seat at the table and accepted the cup
of tea the hostess was preparing for him. The conversation ceased. The
Soyot finished the tea, smoked his long pipe and, standing up, said:

"If tomorrow morning the horses are not back at the owner's, we shall
come and take them." And with these words he turned and went out.

I noticed an expression of apprehension on the faces of the soldiers.
Shortly one was sent out as a messenger while the others sat silent with
bowed heads. Late in the night the officer arrived with his other seven
men. As he received the report about the Soyot, he knitted his brows and
said:

"It's a bad mess. We must travel through the swamp where a Soyot will be
behind every mound watching us."

He seemed really very anxious and his trouble fortunately prevented him
from paying much attention to us. I began to calm him and promised on
the morrow to arrange this matter with the Soyots. The officer was a
coarse brute and a silly man, desiring strongly to be promoted for the
capture of the Cossack officers, and feared that the Soyot could prevent
him from reaching the Seybi.

At daybreak we started together with the Red detachment. When we had
made about fifteen kilometers, we discovered behind the bushes two
riders. They were Soyots. On their backs were their flint rifles.

"Wait for me!" I said to the officer. "I shall go for a parley with
them."

I went forward with all the speed of my horse. One of the horsemen was
the Soyot Governor, who said to me:

"Remain behind the detachment and help us."

"All right," I answered, "but let us talk a little, in order that they
may think we are parleying."

After a moment I shook the hand of the Soyot and returned to the
soldiers.

"All right," I exclaimed, "we can continue our journey. No hindrance
will come from the Soyots."

We moved forward and, when we were crossing a large meadow, we espied at
a long distance two Soyots riding at full gallop right up the side of a
mountain. Step by step I accomplished the necessary manoeuvre to bring
me and my fellow traveler somewhat behind the detachment. Behind
our backs remained only one soldier, very brutish in appearance and
apparently very hostile to us. I had time to whisper to my companion
only one word: "Mauser," and saw that he very carefully unbuttoned the
saddle bag and drew out a little the handle of his pistol.

Soon I understood why these soldiers, excellent woodsmen as they were,
would not attempt to go to the Seybi without a guide. All the country
between the Algiak and the Seybi is formed by high and narrow mountain
ridges separated by deep swampy valleys. It is a cursed and dangerous
place. At first our horses mired to the knees, lunging about and
catching their feet in the roots of bushes in the quagmires, then
falling and pinning us under their sides, breaking parts of their
saddles and bridles. Then we would go in up to the riders' knees. My
horse went down once with his whole breast and head under the red fluid
mud and we just saved it and no more. Afterwards the officer's horse
fell with him so that he bruised his head on a stone. My companion
injured one knee against a tree. Some of the men also fell and were
injured. The horses breathed heavily. Somewhere dimly and gloomily
a crow cawed. Later the road became worse still. The trail followed
through the same miry swamp but everywhere the road was blocked with
fallen tree trunks. The horses, jumping over the trunks, would land in
an unexpectedly deep hole and flounder. We and all the soldiers were
covered with blood and mud and were in great fear of exhausting our
mounts. For a long distance we had to get down and lead them. At last we
entered a broad meadow covered with bushes and bordered with rocks. Not
only horses but riders also began to sink to their middle in a quagmire
with apparently no bottom. The whole surface of the meadow was but a
thin layer of turf, covering a lake with black putrefying water. When
we finally learned to open our column and proceed at big intervals, we
found we could keep on this surface that undulated like rubber ice and
swayed the bushes up and down. In places the earth buckled up and broke.

Suddenly, three shots sounded. They were hardly more than the report of
a Flobert rifle; but they were genuine shots, because the officer and
two soldiers fell to the ground. The other soldiers grabbed their rifles
and, with fear, looked about for the enemy. Four more were soon unseated
and suddenly I noticed our rearguard brute raise his rifle and aim
right at me. However, my Mauser outstrode his rifle and I was allowed to
continue my story.

"Begin!" I cried to my friend and we took part in the shooting. Soon the
meadow began to swarm with Soyots, stripping the fallen, dividing the
spoils and recapturing their horses. In some forms of warfare it is
never safe to leave any of the enemy to renew hostilities later with
overwhelming forces.

After an hour of very difficult road we began to ascend the mountain and
soon arrived on a high plateau covered with trees.

"After all, Soyots are not a too peaceful people," I remarked,
approaching the Governor.

He looked at me very sharply and replied:

"It was not Soyots who did the killing."

He was right. It was the Abakan Tartars in Soyot clothes who killed the
Bolsheviki. These Tartars were running their herds of cattle and horses
down out of Russia through Urianhai to Mongolia. They had as their
guide and negotiator a Kalmuck Lamaite. The following morning we were
approaching a small settlement of Russian colonists and noticed some
horsemen looking out from the woods. One of our young and brave Tartars
galloped off at full speed toward these men in the wood but soon wheeled
and returned with a reassuring smile.

"All right," he exclaimed, laughing, "keep right on."

We continued our travel on a good broad road along a high wooden fence
surrounding a meadow filled with a fine herd of wapiti or izubr, which
the Russian colonists breed for the horns that are so valuable in the
velvet for sale to Tibetan and Chinese medicine dealers. These horns,
when boiled and dried, are called panti and are sold to the Chinese at
very high prices.

We were received with great fear by the settlers.

"Thank God!" exclaimed the hostess, "we thought . . ." and she broke off,
looking at her husband.


CHAPTER X

THE BATTLE ON THE SEYBI


Constant dangers develop one's watchfulness and keenness of perception.
We did not take off our clothes nor unsaddle our horses, tired as
we were. I put my Mauser inside my coat and began to look about and
scrutinize the people. The first thing I discovered was the butt end of
a rifle under the pile of pillows always found on the peasants' large
beds. Later I noticed the employees of our host constantly coming into
the room for orders from him. They did not look like simple peasants,
although they had long beards and were dressed very dirtily. They
examined me with very attentive eyes and did not leave me and my friend
alone with the host. We could not, however, make out anything. But then
the Soyot Governor came in and, noticing our strained relations, began
explaining in the Soyot language to the host all about us.

"I beg your pardon," the colonist said, "but you know yourself that now
for one honest man we have ten thousand murderers and robbers."

With this we began chatting more freely. It appeared that our host knew
that a band of Bolsheviki would attack him in the search for the band of
Cossack officers who were living in his house on and off. He had heard
also about the "total loss" of one detachment. However, it did not
entirely calm the old man to have our news, for he had heard of the
large detachment of Reds that was coming from the border of the Usinsky
District in pursuit of the Tartars who were escaping with their cattle
south to Mongolia.

"From one minute to another we are awaiting them with fear," said
our host to me. "My Soyot has come in and announced that the Reds are
already crossing the Seybi and the Tartars are prepared for the fight."

We immediately went out to look over our saddles and packs and then took
the horses and hid them in the bushes not far off. We made ready our
rifles and pistols and took posts in the enclosure to wait for our
common enemy. An hour of trying impatience passed, when one of the
workmen came running in from the wood and whispered:

"They are crossing our swamp. . . . The fight is on."

In fact, like an answer to his words, came through the woods the sound
of a single rifle-shot, followed closely by the increasing rat-tat-tat
of the mingled guns. Nearer to the house the sounds gradually came. Soon
we heard the beating of the horses' hoofs and the brutish cries of the
soldiers. In a moment three of them burst into the house, from off
the road where they were being raked now by the Tartars from both
directions, cursing violently. One of them shot at our host. He stumbled
along and fell on his knee, as his hand reached out toward the rifle
under his pillows.

"Who are YOU?" brutally blurted out one of the soldiers, turning to us
and raising his rifle. We answered with Mausers and successfully, for
only one soldier in the rear by the door escaped, and that merely to
fall into the hands of a workman in the courtyard who strangled him.
The fight had begun. The soldiers called on their comrades for help.
The Reds were strung along in the ditch at the side of the road, three
hundred paces from the house, returning the fire of the surrounding
Tartars. Several soldiers ran to the house to help their comrades but
this time we heard the regular volley of the workmen of our host. They
fired as though in a manoeuvre calmly and accurately. Five Red soldiers
lay on the road, while the rest now kept to their ditch. Before long we
discovered that they began crouching and crawling out toward the end of
the ditch nearest the wood where they had left their horses. The sounds
of shots became more and more distant and soon we saw fifty or sixty
Tartars pursuing the Reds across the meadow.

Two days we rested here on the Seybi. The workmen of our host, eight in
number, turned out to be officers hiding from the Bolsheviks. They asked
permission to go on with us, to which we agreed.

When my friend and I continued our trip we had a guard of eight armed
officers and three horses with packs. We crossed a beautiful valley
between the Rivers Seybi and Ut. Everywhere we saw splendid grazing
lands with numerous herds upon them, but in two or three houses along
the road we did not find anyone living. All had hidden away in fear
after hearing the sounds of the fight with the Reds. The following day
we went up over the high chain of mountains called Daban and, traversing
a great area of burned timber where our trail lay among the fallen
trees, we began to descend into a valley hidden from us by the
intervening foothills. There behind these hills flowed the Little
Yenisei, the last large river before reaching Mongolia proper. About ten
kilometers from the river we spied a column of smoke rising up out of
the wood. Two of the officers slipped away to make an investigation.
For a long time they did not return and we, fearful lest something had
happened, moved off carefully in the direction of the smoke, all ready
for a fight if necessary. We finally came near enough to hear the voices
of many people and among them the loud laugh of one of our scouts.
In the middle of a meadow we made out a large tent with two tepees of
branches and around these a crowd of fifty or sixty men. When we broke
out of the forest all of them rushed forward with a joyful welcome
for us. It appeared that it was a large camp of Russian officers and
soldiers who, after their escape from Siberia, had lived in the houses
of the Russian colonists and rich peasants in Urianhai.

"What are you doing here?" we asked with surprise.

"Oh, ho, you know nothing at all about what has been going on?" replied
a fairly old man who called himself Colonel Ostrovsky. "In Urianhai an
order has been issued from the Military Commissioner to mobilize all
men over twenty-eight years of age and everywhere toward the town of
Belotzarsk are moving detachments of these Partisans. They are robbing
the colonists and peasants and killing everyone that falls into their
hands. We are hiding here from them."

The whole camp counted only sixteen rifles and three bombs, belonging
to a Tartar who was traveling with his Kalmuck guide to his herds in
Western Mongolia. We explained the aim of our journey and our intention
to pass through Mongolia to the nearest port on the Pacific.
The officers asked me to bring them out with us. I agreed. Our
reconnaissance proved to us that there were no Partisans near the house
of the peasant who was to ferry us over the Little Yenisei. We moved off
at once in order to pass as quickly as possible this dangerous zone of
the Yenisei and to sink ourselves into the forest beyond. It snowed but
immediately thawed. Before evening a cold north wind sprang up, bringing
with it a small blizzard. Late in the night our party reached the river.
Our colonist welcomed us and offered at once to ferry us over and swim
the horses, although there was ice still floating which had come down
from the head-waters of the stream. During this conversation there was
present one of the peasant's workmen, red-haired and squint-eyed. He
kept moving around all the time and suddenly disappeared. Our host
noticed it and, with fear in his voice, said:

"He has run to the village and will guide the Partisans here. We must
cross immediately."

Then began the most terrible night of my whole journey. We proposed
to the colonist that he take only our food and ammunition in the boat,
while we would swim our horses across, in order to save the time of
the many trips. The width of the Yenisei in this place is about three
hundred metres. The stream is very rapid and the shore breaks away
abruptly to the full depth of the stream. The night was absolutely dark
with not a star in the sky. The wind in whistling swirls drove the snow
and sleet sharply against our faces. Before us flowed the stream of
black, rapid water, carrying down thin, jagged blocks of ice, twisting
and grinding in the whirls and eddies. For a long time my horse refused
to take the plunge down the steep bank, snorted and braced himself. With
all my strength I lashed him with my whip across his neck until, with a
pitiful groan, he threw himself into the cold stream. We both went all
the way under and I hardly kept my seat in the saddle. Soon I was some
metres from the shore with my horse stretching his head and neck far
forward in his efforts and snorting and blowing incessantly. I felt the
every motion of his feet churning the water and the quivering of his
whole body under me in this trial. At last we reached the middle of the
river, where the current became exceedingly rapid and began to carry us
down with it. Out of the ominous darkness I heard the shoutings of my
companions and the dull cries of fear and suffering from the horses. I
was chest deep in the icy water. Sometimes the floating blocks struck
me; sometimes the waves broke up over my head and face. I had no time to
look about or to feel the cold. The animal wish to live took possession
of me; I became filled with the thought that, if my horse's strength
failed in his struggle with the stream, I must perish. All my attention
was turned to his efforts and to his quivering fear. Suddenly he groaned
loudly and I noticed he was sinking. The water evidently was over his
nostrils, because the intervals of his frightened snorts through the
nostrils became longer. A big block of ice struck his head and turned
him so that he was swimming right downstream. With difficulty I reined
him around toward the shore but felt now that his force was gone. His
head several times disappeared under the swirling surface. I had no
choice. I slipped from the saddle and, holding this by my left hand,
swam with my right beside my mount, encouraging him with my shouts. For
a time he floated with lips apart and his teeth set firm. In his widely
opened eyes was indescribable fear. As soon as I was out of the saddle,
he had at once risen in the water and swam more calmly and rapidly.
At last under the hoofs of my exhausted animal I heard the stones.
One after another my companions came up on the shore. The well-trained
horses had brought all their burdens over. Much farther down our
colonist landed with the supplies. Without a moment's loss we packed
our things on the horses and continued our journey. The wind was growing
stronger and colder. At the dawn of day the cold was intense. Our soaked
clothes froze and became hard as leather; our teeth chattered; and in
our eyes showed the red fires of fever: but we traveled on to put as
much space as we could between ourselves and the Partisans. Passing
about fifteen kilometres through the forest we emerged into an open
valley, from which we could see the opposite bank of the Yenisei. It was
about eight o'clock. Along the road on the other shore wound the black
serpent-like line of riders and wagons which we made out to be a column
of Red soldiers with their transport. We dismounted and hid in the
bushes in order to avoid attracting their attention.

All the day with the thermometer at zero and below we continued our
journey, only at night reaching the mountains covered with larch
forests, where we made big fires, dried our clothes and warmed ourselves
thoroughly. The hungry horses did not leave the fires but stood right
behind us with drooped heads and slept. Very early in the morning
several Soyots came to our camp.

"Ulan? (Red?)" asked one of them.

"No! No!" exclaimed all our company.

"Tzagan? (White?)" followed the new question.

"Yes, yes," said the Tartar, "all are Whites."

"Mende! Mende!" they grunted and, after starting their cups of tea,
began to relate very interesting and important news. It appeared that
the Red Partisans, moving from the mountains Tannu Ola, occupied with
their outposts all the border of Mongolia to stop and seize the peasants
and Soyots driving out their cattle. To pass the Tannu Ola now would be
impossible. I saw only one way--to turn sharp to the southeast, pass
the swampy valley of the Buret Hei and reach the south shore of Lake
Kosogol, which is already in the territory of Mongolia proper. It was
very unpleasant news. To the first Mongol post in Samgaltai was not more
than sixty miles from our camp, while to Kosogol by the shortest line
not less than two hundred seventy-five. The horses my friend and I were
riding, after having traveled more than six hundred miles over hard
roads and without proper food or rest, could scarcely make such an
additional distance. But, reflecting upon the situation and studying my
new fellow travelers, I determined not to attempt to pass the Tannu Ola.
They were nervous, morally weary men, badly dressed and armed and most
of them were without weapons. I knew that during a fight there is no
danger so great as that of disarmed men. They are easily caught
by panic, lose their heads and infect all the others. Therefore, I
consulted with my friends and decided to go to Kosogol. Our company
agreed to follow us. After luncheon, consisting of soup with big
lumps of meat, dry bread and tea, we moved out. About two o'clock the
mountains began to rise up before us. They were the northeast outspurs
of the Tannu Ola, behind which lay the Valley of Buret Hei.


CHAPTER XI

THE BARRIER OF RED PARTISANS


In a valley between two sharp ridges we discovered a herd of yaks and
cattle being rapidly driven off to the north by ten mounted Soyots.
Approaching us warily they finally revealed that Noyon (Prince) of Todji
had ordered them to drive the herds along the Buret Hei into Mongolia,
apprehending the pillaging of the Red Partisans. They proceeded but
were informed by some Soyot hunters that this part of the Tannu Ola was
occupied by the Partisans from the village of Vladimirovka. Consequently
they were forced to return. We inquired from them the whereabouts of
these outposts and how many Partisans were holding the mountain pass
over into Mongolia. We sent out the Tartar and the Kalmuck for a
reconnaissance while all of us prepared for the further advance by
wrapping the feet of our horses in our shirts and by muzzling their
noses with straps and bits of rope so that they could not neigh. It
was dark when our investigators returned and reported to us that about
thirty Partisans had a camp some ten kilometers from us, occupying the
yurtas of the Soyots. At the pass were two outposts, one of two soldiers
and the other of three. From the outposts to the camp was a little over
a mile. Our trail lay between the two outposts. From the top of the
mountain one could plainly see the two posts and could shoot them all.
When we had come near to the top of this mountain, I left our party and,
taking with me my friend, the Tartar, the Kalmuck and two of the young
officers, advanced. From the mountain I saw about five hundred yards
ahead two fires. At each of the fires sat a soldier with his rifle and
the others slept. I did not want to fight with the Partisans but we
had to do away with these outposts and that without firing or we never
should get through the pass. I did not believe the Partisans could
afterwards track us because the whole trail was thickly marked with the
spoors of horses and cattle.

"I shall take for my share these two," whispered my friend, pointing to
the left outpost.

The rest of us were to take care of the second post. I crept along
through the bushes behind my friend in order to help him in case of
need; but I am bound to admit that I was not at all worried about him.
He was about seven feet tall and so strong that, when a horse used to
refuse sometimes to take the bit, he would wrap his arm around its neck,
kick its forefeet out from under it and throw it so that he could easily
bridle it on the ground. When only a hundred paces remained, I stood
behind the bushes and watched. I could see very distinctly the fire and
the dozing sentinel. He sat with his rifle on his knees. His companion,
asleep beside him, did not move. Their white felt boots were plainly
visible to me. For a long time I did not remark my friend. At the fire
all was quiet. Suddenly from the other outpost floated over a few dim
shouts and all was still. Our sentinel slowly raised his head. But just
at this moment the huge body of my friend rose up and blanketed the fire
from me and in a twinkling the feet of the sentinel flashed through the
air, as my companion had seized him by the throat and swung him
clear into the bushes, where both figures disappeared. In a second he
re-appeared, flourished the rifle of the Partisan over his head and I
heard the dull blow which was followed by an absolute calm. He came back
toward me and, confusedly smiling, said:

"It is done. God and the Devil! When I was a boy, my mother wanted to
make a priest out of me. When I grew up, I became a trained agronome in
order . . . to strangle the people and smash their skulls. Revolution is
a very stupid thing!"

And with anger and disgust he spit and began to smoke his pipe.

At the other outpost also all was finished. During this night we reached
the top of the Tannu Ola and descended again into a valley covered
with dense bushes and twined with a whole network of small rivers and
streams. It was the headwaters of the Buret Hei. About one o'clock we
stopped and began to feed our horses, as the grass just there was
very good. Here we thought ourselves in safety. We saw many calming
indications. On the mountains were seen the grazing herds of reindeers
and yaks and approaching Soyots confirmed our supposition. Here behind
the Tannu Ola the Soyots had not seen the Red soldiers. We presented to
these Soyots a brick of tea and saw them depart happy and sure that we
were "Tzagan," a "good people."

While our horses rested and grazed on the well-preserved grass, we sat
by the fire and deliberated upon our further progress. There developed
a sharp controversy between two sections of our company, one led by a
Colonel who with four officers were so impressed by the absence of Reds
south of the Tannu Ola that they determined to work westward to Kobdo
and then on to the camp on the Emil River where the Chinese authorities
had interned six thousand of the forces of General Bakitch, which had
come over into Mongolian territory. My friend and I with sixteen of the
officers chose to carry through our old plan to strike for the shores
of Lake Kosogol and thence out to the Far East. As neither side could
persuade the other to abandon its ideas, our company was divided and the
next day at noon we took leave of one another. It turned out that our
own wing of eighteen had many fights and difficulties on the way, which
cost us the lives of six of our comrades, but that the remainder of us
came through to the goal of our journey so closely knit by the ties of
devotion which fighting and struggling for our very lives entailed
that we have ever preserved for one another the warmest feelings of
friendship. The other group under Colonel Jukoff perished. He met a big
detachment of Red cavalry and was defeated by them in two fights. Only
two officers escaped. They related to me this sad news and the details
of the fights when we met four months later in Urga.

Our band of eighteen riders with five packhorses moved up the valley
of the Buret Hei. We floundered in the swamps, passed innumerable miry
streams, were frozen by the cold winds and were soaked through by the
snow and sleet; but we persisted indefatigably toward the south end of
Kosogol. As a guide our Tartar led us confidently over these trails well
marked by the feet of many cattle being run out of Urianhai to Mongolia.


CHAPTER XII

IN THE COUNTRY OF ETERNAL PEACE


The inhabitants of Urianhai, the Soyots, are proud of being the genuine
Buddhists and of retaining the pure doctrine of holy Rama and the deep
wisdom of Sakkia-Mouni. They are the eternal enemies of war and of the
shedding of blood. Away back in the thirteenth century they preferred to
move out from their native land and take refuge in the north rather than
fight or become a part of the empire of the bloody conqueror Jenghiz
Khan, who wanted to add to his forces these wonderful horsemen and
skilled archers. Three times in their history they have thus trekked
northward to avoid struggle and now no one can say that on the hands
of the Soyots there has ever been seen human blood. With their love of
peace they struggled against the evils of war. Even the severe Chinese
administrators could not apply here in this country of peace the
full measure of their implacable laws. In the same manner the Soyots
conducted themselves when the Russian people, mad with blood and crime,
brought this infection into their land. They avoided persistently
meetings and encounters with the Red troops and Partisans, trekking off
with their families and cattle southward into the distant principalities
of Kemchik and Soldjak. The eastern branch of this stream of emigration
passed through the valley of the Buret Hei, where we constantly
outstrode groups of them with their cattle and herds.

We traveled quickly along the winding trail of the Buret Hei and in
two days began to make the elevations of the mountain pass between the
valleys of the Buret Hei and Kharga. The trail was not only very
steep but was also littered with fallen larch trees and frequently
intercepted, incredible as it may seem, with swampy places where the
horses mired badly. Then again we picked our dangerous road over cobbles
and small stones that rolled away under our horses' feet and bumped off
over the precipice nearby. Our horses fatigued easily in passing this
moraine that had been strewn by ancient glaciers along the mountain
sides. Sometimes the trail led right along the edge of the precipices
where the horses started great slides of stones and sand. I remember
one whole mountain covered with these moving sands. We had to leave our
saddles and, taking the bridles in our hands, to trot for a mile or more
over these sliding beds, sometimes sinking in up to our knees and
going down the mountain side with them toward the precipices below. One
imprudent move at times would have sent us over the brink. This destiny
met one of our horses. Belly down in the moving trap, he could not work
free to change his direction and so slipped on down with a mass of it
until he rolled over the precipice and was lost to us forever. We heard
only the crackling of breaking trees along his road to death. Then with
great difficulty we worked down to salvage the saddle and bags. Further
along we had to abandon one of our pack horses which had come all the
way from the northern border of Urianhai with us. We first unburdened
it but this did not help; no more did our shouting and threats. He only
stood with his head down and looked so exhausted that we realized he
had reached the further bourne of his land of toil. Some Soyots with us
examined him, felt of his muscles on the fore and hind legs, took his
head in their hands and moved it from side to side, examined his head
carefully after that and then said:

"That horse will not go further. His brain is dried out." So we had to
leave him.

That evening we came to a beautiful change in scene when we topped a
rise and found ourselves on a broad plateau covered with larch. On it we
discovered the yurtas of some Soyot hunters, covered with bark instead
of the usual felt. Out of these ten men with rifles rushed toward us as
we approached. They informed us that the Prince of Soldjak did not
allow anyone to pass this way, as he feared the coming of murderers and
robbers into his dominions.

"Go back to the place from which you came," they advised us with fear in
their eyes.

I did not answer but I stopped the beginnings of a quarrel between an
old Soyot and one of my officers. I pointed to the small stream in the
valley ahead of us and asked him its name.

"Oyna," replied the Soyot. "It is the border of the principality and the
passage of it is forbidden."

"All right," I said, "but you will allow us to warm and rest ourselves a
little."

"Yes, yes!" exclaimed the hospitable Soyots, and led us into their
tepees.

On our way there I took the opportunity to hand to the old Soyot a
cigarette and to another a box of matches. We were all walking along
together save one Soyot who limped slowly in the rear and was holding
his hand up over his nose.

"Is he ill?" I asked.

"Yes," sadly answered the old Soyot. "That is my son. He has been losing
blood from the nose for two days and is now quite weak."

I stopped and called the young man to me.

"Unbutton your outer coat," I ordered, "bare your neck and chest and
turn your face up as far as you can." I pressed the jugular vein on both
sides of his head for some minutes and said to him:

"The blood will not flow from your nose any more. Go into your tepee and
lie down for some time."

The "mysterious" action of my fingers created on the Soyots a strong
impression. The old Soyot with fear and reverence whispered:

"Ta Lama, Ta Lama! (Great Doctor)."

In the yurta we were given tea while the old Soyot sat thinking deeply
about something. Afterwards he took counsel with his companions and
finally announced:

"The wife of our Prince is sick in her eyes and I think the Prince will
be very glad if I lead the 'Ta Lama' to him. He will not punish me,
for he ordered that no 'bad people' should be allowed to pass; but that
should not stop the 'good people' from coming to us.

"Do as you think best," I replied rather indifferently. "As a matter of
fact, I know how to treat eye diseases but I would go back if you say
so."

"No, no!" the old man exclaimed with fear. "I shall guide you myself."

Sitting by the fire, he lighted his pipe with a flint, wiped
the mouthpiece on his sleeve and offered it to me in true native
hospitality. I was "comme il faut" and smoked. Afterwards he offered his
pipe to each one of our company and received from each a cigarette, a
little tobacco or some matches. It was the seal on our friendship. Soon
in our yurta many persons piled up around us, men, women, children and
dogs. It was impossible to move. From among them emerged a Lama with
shaved face and close cropped hair, dressed in the flowing red garment
of his caste. His clothes and his expression were very different from
the common mass of dirty Soyots with their queues and felt caps finished
off with squirrel tails on the top. The Lama was very kindly disposed
towards us but looked ever greedily at our gold rings and watches. I
decided to exploit this avidity of the Servant of Buddha. Supplying
him with tea and dried bread, I made known to him that I was in need of
horses.

"I have a horse. Will you buy it from me?" he asked. "But I do not
accept Russian bank notes. Let us exchange something."

For a long time I bargained with him and at last for my gold wedding
ring, a raincoat and a leather saddle bag I received a fine Soyot
horse--to replace one of the pack animals we had lost--and a young goat.
We spent the night here and were feasted with fat mutton. In the morning
we moved off under the guidance of the old Soyot along the trail that
followed the valley of the Oyna, free from both mountains and swamps.
But we knew that the mounts of my friend and myself, together with three
others, were too worn down to make Kosogol and determined to try to buy
others in Soldjak. Soon we began to meet little groups of Soyot yurtas
with their cattle and horses round about. Finally we approached the
shifting capital of the Prince. Our guide rode on ahead for the parley
with him after assuring us that the Prince would be glad to welcome the
Ta Lama, though at the time I remarked great anxiety and fear in his
features as he spoke. Before long we emerged on to a large plain well
covered with small bushes. Down by the shore of the river we made out
big yurtas with yellow and blue flags floating over them and easily
guessed that this was the seat of government. Soon our guide returned
to us. His face was wreathed with smiles. He flourished his hands and
cried:

"Noyon (the Prince) asks you to come! He is very glad!"

From a warrior I was forced to change myself into a diplomat. As we
approached the yurta of the Prince, we were met by two officials,
wearing the peaked Mongol caps with peacock feathers rampants behind.
With low obeisances they begged the foreign "Noyon" to enter the yurta.
My friend the Tartar and I entered. In the rich yurta draped with
expensive silk we discovered a feeble, wizen-faced little old man with
shaven face and cropped hair, wearing also a high pointed beaver cap
with red silk apex topped off with a dark red button with the long
peacock feathers streaming out behind. On his nose were big Chinese
spectacles. He was sitting on a low divan, nervously clicking the beads
of his rosary. This was Ta Lama, Prince of Soldjak and High Priest of
the Buddhist Temple. He welcomed us very cordially and invited us to
sit down before the fire burning in the copper brazier. His surprisingly
beautiful Princess served us with tea and Chinese confections and
cakes. We smoked our pipes, though the Prince as a Lama did not indulge,
fulfilling, however, his duty as a host by raising to his lips the pipes
we offered him and handing us in return the green nephrite bottle of
snuff. Thus with the etiquette accomplished we awaited the words of the
Prince. He inquired whether our travels had been felicitous and what
were our further plans. I talked with him quite frankly and requested
his hospitality for the rest of our company and for the horses. He
agreed immediately and ordered four yurtas set up for us.

"I hear that the foreign Noyon," the Prince said, "is a good doctor."

"Yes, I know some diseases and have with me some medicines," I answered,
"but I am not a doctor. I am a scientist in other branches."

But the Prince did not understand this. In his simple directness a man
who knows how to treat disease is a doctor.

"My wife has had constant trouble for two months with her eyes," he
announced. "Help her."

I asked the Princess to show me her eyes and I found the typical
conjunctivitis from the continual smoke of the yurta and the general
uncleanliness. The Tartar brought me my medicine case. I washed her eyes
with boric acid and dropped a little cocaine and a feeble solution of
sulphurate of zinc into them.

"I beg you to cure me," pleaded the Princess. "Do not go away until
you have cured me. We shall give you sheep, milk and flour for all
your company. I weep now very often because I had very nice eyes and my
husband used to tell me they shone like the stars and now they are red.
I cannot bear it, I cannot!"

She very capriciously stamped her foot and, coquettishly smiling at me,
asked:

"Do you want to cure me? Yes?"

The character and manners of lovely woman are the same everywhere: on
bright Broadway, along the stately Thames, on the vivacious boulevards
of gay Paris and in the silk-draped yurta of the Soyot Princess behind
the larch covered Tannu Ola.

"I shall certainly try," assuringly answered the new oculist.

We spent here ten days, surrounded by the kindness and friendship of the
whole family of the Prince. The eyes of the Princess, which eight years
ago had seduced the already old Prince Lama, were now recovered. She was
beside herself with joy and seldom left her looking-glass.

The Prince gave me five fairly good horses, ten sheep and a bag of
flour, which was immediately transformed into dry bread. My friend
presented him with a Romanoff five-hundred-rouble note with a picture
of Peter the Great upon it, while I gave to him a small nugget of gold
which I had picked up in the bed of a stream. The Prince ordered one of
the Soyots to guide us to the Kosogol. The whole family of the Prince
conducted us to the monastery ten kilometres from the "capital." We did
not visit the monastery but we stopped at the "Dugun," a Chinese trading
establishment. The Chinese merchants looked at us in a very hostile
manner though they simultaneously offered us all sorts of goods,
thinking especially to catch us with their round bottles (lanhon) of
maygolo or sweet brandy made from aniseed. As we had neither lump silver
nor Chinese dollars, we could only look with longing at these attractive
bottles, till the Prince came to the rescue and ordered the Chinese to
put five of them in our saddle bags.


CHAPTER XIII

MYSTERIES, MIRACLES AND A NEW FIGHT


In the evening of the same day we arrived at the Sacred Lake of Teri
Noor, a sheet of water eight kilometres across, muddy and yellow, with
low unattractive shores studded with large holes. In the middle of the
lake lay what was left of a disappearing island. On this were a few
trees and some old ruins. Our guide explained to us that two centuries
ago the lake did not exist and that a very strong Chinese fortress
stood here on the plain. A Chinese chief in command of the fortress gave
offence to an old Lama who cursed the place and prophesied that it would
all be destroyed. The very next day the water began rushing up from the
ground, destroyed the fortress and engulfed all the Chinese soldiers.
Even to this day when storms rage over the lake the waters cast up on
the shores the bones of men and horses who perished in it. This Teri
Noor increases its size every year, approaching nearer and nearer to the
mountains. Skirting the eastern shore of the lake, we began to climb a
snow-capped ridge. The road was easy at first but the guide warned us
that the most difficult bit was there ahead. We reached this point two
days later and found there a steep mountain side thickly set with forest
and covered with snow. Beyond it lay the lines of eternal snow--ridges
studded with dark rocks set in great banks of the white mantle that
gleamed bright under the clear sunshine. These were the eastern and
highest branches of the Tannu Ola system. We spent the night beneath
this wood and began the passage of it in the morning. At noon the guide
began leading us by zigzags in and out but everywhere our trail was
blocked by deep ravines, great jams of fallen trees and walls of rock
caught in their mad tobogganings from the mountain top. We struggled for
several hours, wore out our horses and, all of a sudden, turned up at
the place where we had made our last halt. It was very evident our Soyot
had lost his way; and on his face I noticed marked fear.

"The old devils of the cursed forest will not allow us to pass," he
whispered with trembling lips. "It is a very ominous sign. We must
return to Kharga to the Noyon."

But I threatened him and he took the lead again evidently without hope
or effort to find the way. Fortunately, one of our party, an Urianhai
hunter, noticed the blazes on the trees, the signs of the road which our
guide had lost. Following these, we made our way through the wood, came
into and crossed a belt of burned larch timber and beyond this dipped
again into a small live forest bordering the bottom of the mountains
crowned with the eternal snows. It grew dark so that we had to camp for
the night. The wind rose high and carried in its grasp a great white
sheet of snow that shut us off from the horizon on every side and buried
our camp deep in its folds. Our horses stood round like white ghosts,
refusing to eat or to leave the circle round our fire. The wind combed
their manes and tails. Through the niches in the mountains it roared and
whistled. From somewhere in the distance came the low rumble of a pack
of wolves, punctuated at intervals by the sharp individual barking that
a favorable gust of wind threw up into high staccato.

As we lay by the fire, the Soyot came over to me and said: "Noyon, come
with me to the obo. I want to show you something."

We went there and began to ascend the mountain. At the bottom of a very
steep slope was laid up a large pile of stones and tree trunks, making
a cone of some three metres in height. These obo are the Lamaite sacred
signs set up at dangerous places, the altars to the bad demons, rulers
of these places. Passing Soyots and Mongols pay tribute to the spirits
by hanging on the branches of the trees in the obo hatyk, long streamers
of blue silk, shreds torn from the lining of their coats or simply tufts
of hair cut from their horses' manes; or by placing on the stones lumps
of meat or cups of tea and salt.

"Look at it," said the Soyot. "The hatyks are torn off. The demons are
angry, they will not allow us to pass, Noyon. . . ."

He caught my hand and with supplicating voice whispered: "Let us go
back, Noyon; let us! The demons do not wish us to pass their mountains.
For twenty years no one has dared to pass these mountains and all bold
men who have tried have perished here. The demons fell upon them with
snowstorm and cold. Look! It is beginning already. . . . Go back to our
Noyon, wait for the warmer days and then. . . ."

I did not listen further to the Soyot but turned back to the fire, which
I could hardly see through the blinding snow. Fearing our guide might
run away, I ordered a sentry to be stationed for the night to watch him.
Later in the night I was awakened by the sentry, who said to me: "Maybe
I am mistaken, but I think I heard a rifle."

What could I say to it? Maybe some stragglers like ourselves were giving
a sign of their whereabouts to their lost companions, or perhaps the
sentry had mistaken for a rifle shot the sound of some falling rock
or frozen ice and snow. Soon I fell asleep again and suddenly saw in a
dream a very clear vision. Out on the plain, blanketed deep with snow,
was moving a line of riders. They were our pack horses, our Kalmuck and
the funny pied horse with the Roman nose. I saw us descending from this
snowy plateau into a fold in the mountains. Here some larch trees
were growing, close to which gurgled a small, open brook. Afterwards I
noticed a fire burning among the trees and then woke up.

It grew light. I shook up the others and asked them to prepare quickly
so as not to lose time in getting under way. The storm was raging. The
snow blinded us and blotted out all traces of the road. The cold also
became more intense. At last we were in the saddles. The Soyot went
ahead trying to make out the trail. As we worked higher the guide less
seldom lost the way. Frequently we fell into deep holes covered with
snow; we scrambled up over slippery rocks. At last the Soyot swung his
horse round and, coming up to me, announced very positively: "I do not
want to die with you and I will not go further."

My first motion was the swing of my whip back over my head. I was so
close to the "Promised Land" of Mongolia that this Soyot, standing in
the way of fulfilment of my wishes, seemed to me my worst enemy. But I
lowered my flourishing hand. Into my head flashed a quite wild thought.

"Listen," I said. "If you move your horses, you will receive a bullet in
the back and you will perish not at the top of the mountain but at the
bottom. And now I will tell you what will happen to us. When we shall
have reached these rocks above, the wind will have ceased and the
snowstorm will have subsided. The sun will shine as we cross the snowy
plain above and afterwards we shall descend into a small valley where
there are larches growing and a stream of open running water. There we
shall light our fires and spend the night."

The Soyot began to tremble with fright.

"Noyon has already passed these mountains of Darkhat Ola?" he asked in
amazement.

"No," I answered, "but last night I had a vision and I know that we
shall fortunately win over this ridge."

"I will guide you!" exclaimed the Soyot, and, whipping his horse, led
the way up the steep slope to the top of the ridge of eternal snows.

As we were passing along the narrow edge of a precipice, the Soyot
stopped and attentively examined the trail.

"Today many shod horses have passed here!" he cried through the roar
of the storm. "Yonder on the snow the lash of a whip has been dragged.
These are not Soyots."

The solution of this enigma appeared instantly. A volley rang out. One
of my companions cried out, as he caught hold of his right shoulder; one
pack horse fell dead with a bullet behind his ear. We quickly tumbled
out of our saddles, lay down behind the rocks and began to study the
situation. We were separated from a parallel spur of the mountain by a
small valley about one thousand paces across. There we made out about
thirty riders already dismounted and firing at us. I had never allowed
any fighting to be done until the initiative had been taken by the
other side. Our enemy fell upon us unawares and I ordered my company to
answer.

"Aim at the horses!" cried Colonel Ostrovsky. Then he ordered the Tartar
and Soyot to throw our own animals. We killed six of theirs and probably
wounded others, as they got out of control. Also our rifles took toll
of any bold man who showed his head from behind his rock. We heard the
angry shouting and maledictions of Red soldiers who shot up our position
more and more animatedly.

Suddenly I saw our Soyot kick up three of the horses and spring into the
saddle of one with the others in leash behind. Behind him sprang up the
Tartar and the Kalmuck. I had already drawn my rifle on the Soyot but,
as soon as I saw the Tartar and Kalmuck on their lovely horses behind
him, I dropped my gun and knew all was well. The Reds let off a volley
at the trio but they made good their escape behind the rocks and
disappeared. The firing continued more and more lively and I did not
know what to do. From our side we shot rarely, saving our cartridges.
Watching carefully the enemy, I noticed two black points on the snow
high above the Reds. They slowly approached our antagonists and finally
were hidden from view behind some sharp hillocks. When they emerged from
these, they were right on the edge of some overhanging rocks at the foot
of which the Reds lay concealed from us. By this time I had no doubt
that these were the heads of two men. Suddenly these men rose up and
I watched them flourish and throw something that was followed by two
deafening roars which re-echoed across the mountain valley. Immediately
a third explosion was followed by wild shouts and disorderly firing
among the Reds. Some of the horses rolled down the slope into the snow
below and the soldiers, chased by our shots, made off as fast as they
could down into the valley out of which we had come.

Afterward the Tartar told me the Soyot had proposed to guide them around
behind the Reds to fall upon their rear with the bombs. When I had bound
up the wounded shoulder of the officer and we had taken the pack off the
killed animal, we continued our journey. Our position was complicated.
We had no doubt that the Red detachment came up from Mongolia.
Therefore, were there Red troops in Mongolia? What was their strength?
Where might we meet them? Consequently, Mongolia was no more the
Promised Land? Very sad thoughts took possession of us.

But Nature pleased us. The wind gradually fell. The storm ceased. The
sun more and more frequently broke through the scudding clouds. We were
traveling upon a high, snow-covered plateau, where in one place the wind
blew it clean and in another piled it high with drifts which caught our
horses and held them so that they could hardly extricate themselves at
times. We had to dismount and wade through the white piles up to our
waists and often a man or horse was down and had to be helped to his
feet. At last the descent began and at sunset we stopped in the small
larch grove, spent the night at the fire among the trees and drank the
tea boiled in the water carried from the open mountain brook. In various
places we came across the tracks of our recent antagonists.

Everything, even Nature herself and the angry demons of Darkhat Ola, had
helped us: but we were not gay, because again before us lay the dread
uncertainty that threatened us with new and possibly destructive
dangers.


CHAPTER XIV

THE RIVER OF THE DEVIL


Ulan Taiga with Darkhat Ola lay behind us. We went forward very rapidly
because the Mongol plains began here, free from the impediments of
mountains. Everywhere splendid grazing lands stretched away. In places
there were groves of larch. We crossed some very rapid streams but they
were not deep and they had hard beds. After two days of travel over
the Darkhat plain we began meeting Soyots driving their cattle rapidly
toward the northwest into Orgarkha Ola. They communicated to us very
unpleasant news.

The Bolsheviki from the Irkutsk district had crossed the Mongolian
border, captured the Russian colony at Khathyl on the southern shore
of Lake Kosogol and turned, off south toward Muren Kure, a Russian
settlement beside a big Lamaite monastery sixty miles south of Kosogol.
The Mongols told us there were no Russian troops between Khathyl and
Muren Kure, so we decided to pass between these two points to reach Van
Kure farther to the east. We took leave of our Soyot guide and, after
having sent three scouts in advance, moved forward. From the mountains
around the Kosogol we admired the splendid view of this broad Alpine
lake. It was set like a sapphire in the old gold of the surrounding
hills, chased with lovely bits of rich dark forestry. At night we
approached Khathyl with great precaution and stopped on the shore of the
river that flows from Kosogol, the Yaga or Egingol. We found a Mongol
who agreed to transport us to the other bank of the frozen stream and to
lead us by a safe road between Khathyl and Muren Kure. Everywhere along
the shore of the river were found large obo and small shrines to the
demons of the stream.

"Why are there so many obo?" we asked the Mongol.

"It is the River of the Devil, dangerous and crafty," replied the
Mongol. "Two days ago a train of carts went through the ice and three of
them with five soldiers were lost."

We started to cross. The surface of the river resembled a thick piece
of looking-glass, being clear and without snow. Our horses walked very
carefully but some fell and floundered before they could regain their
feet. We were leading them by the bridle. With bowed heads and trembling
all over they kept their frightened eyes ever on the ice at their feet.
I looked down and understood their fear. Through the cover of one foot
of transparent ice one could clearly see the bottom of the river. Under
the lighting of the moon all the stones, the holes and even some of the
grasses were distinctly visible, even though the depth was ten metres
and more. The Yaga rushed under the ice with a furious speed, swirling
and marking its course with long bands of foam and bubbles. Suddenly I
jumped and stopped as though fastened to the spot. Along the surface of
the river ran the boom of a cannon, followed by a second and a third.

"Quicker, quicker!" cried our Mongol, waving us forward with his hand.

Another cannon boom and a crack ran right close to us. The horses
swung back on their haunches in protest, reared and fell, many of them
striking their heads severely on the ice. In a second it opened up two
feet wide, so that I could follow its jagged course along the surface.
Immediately up out of the opening the water spread over the ice with a
rush.

"Hurry, hurry!" shouted the guide.

With great difficulty we forced our horses to jump over this cleavage
and to continue on further. They trembled and disobeyed and only the
strong lash forced them to forget this panic of fear and go on.

When we were safe on the farther bank and well into the woods, our
Mongol guide recounted to us how the river at times opens in this
mysterious way and leaves great areas of clear water. All the men and
animals on the river at such times must perish. The furious current of
cold water will always carry them down under the ice. At other times a
crack has been known to pass right under a horse and, where he fell in
with his front feet in the attempt to get back to the other side, the
crack has closed up and ground his legs or feet right off.

The valley of Kosogol is the crater of an extinct volcano. Its outlines
may be followed from the high west shore of the lake. However, the
Plutonic force still acts and, asserting the glory of the Devil, forces
the Mongols to build obo and offer sacrifices at his shrines. We spent
all the night and all the next day hurrying away eastward to avoid a
meeting with the Reds and seeking good pasturage for our horses. At
about nine o'clock in the evening a fire shone out of the distance. My
friend and I made toward it with the feeling that it was surely a Mongol
yurta beside which we could camp in safety. We traveled over a mile
before making out distinctly the lines of a group of yurtas. But nobody
came out to meet us and, what astonished us more, we were not surrounded
by the angry black Mongolian dogs with fiery eyes. Still, from the
distance we had seen the fire and so there must be someone there. We
dismounted from our horses and approached on foot. From out of the yurta
rushed two Russian soldiers, one of whom shot at me with his pistol but
missed me and wounded my horse in the back through the saddle. I brought
him to earth with my Mauser and the other was killed by the butt end of
my friend's rifle. We examined the bodies and found in their pockets
the papers of soldiers of the Second Squadron of the Communist Interior
Defence. Here we spent the night. The owners of the yurtas had evidently
run away, for the Red soldiers had collected and packed in sacks the
property of the Mongols. Probably they were just planning to leave, as
they were fully dressed. We acquired two horses, which we found in the
bushes, two rifles and two automatic pistols with cartridges. In the
saddle bags we also found tea, tobacco, matches and cartridges--all of
these valuable supplies to help us keep further hold on our lives.

Two days later we were approaching the shore of the River Uri when
we met two Russian riders, who were the Cossacks of a certain Ataman
Sutunin, acting against the Bolsheviki in the valley of the River
Selenga. They were riding to carry a message from Sutunin to
Kaigorodoff, chief of the Anti-Bolsheviki in the Altai region. They
informed us that along the whole Russian-Mongolian border the Bolshevik
troops were scattered; also that Communist agitators had penetrated to
Kiakhta, Ulankom and Kobdo and had persuaded the Chinese authorities
to surrender to the Soviet authorities all the refugees from Russia.
We knew that in the neighborhood of Urga and Van Kure engagements were
taking place between the Chinese troops and the detachments of the
Anti-Bolshevik Russian General Baron Ungern Sternberg and Colonel
Kazagrandi, who were fighting for the independence of Outer Mongolia.
Baron Ungern had now been twice defeated, so that the Chinese were
carrying on high-handed in Urga, suspecting all foreigners of having
relations with the Russian General.

We realized that the whole situation was sharply reversed. The route to
the Pacific was closed. Reflecting very carefully over the problem,
I decided that we had but one possible exit left. We must avoid all
Mongolian cities with Chinese administration, cross Mongolia from north
to south, traverse the desert in the southern part of the Principality
of Jassaktu Khan, enter the Gobi in the western part of Inner Mongolia,
strike as rapidly as possible through sixty miles of Chinese territory
in the Province of Kansu and penetrate into Tibet. Here I hoped to
search out one of the English Consuls and with his help to reach some
English port in India. I understood thoroughly all the difficulties
incident to such an enterprise but I had no other choice. It only
remained to make this last foolish attempt or to perish without doubt
at the hands of the Boisheviki or languish in a Chinese prison. When I
announced my plan to my companions, without in any way hiding from them
all its dangers and quixotism, all of them answered very quickly and
shortly: "Lead us! We will follow."

One circumstance was distinctly in our favor. We did not fear hunger,
for we had some supplies of tea, tobacco and matches and a surplus of
horses, saddles, rifles, overcoats and boots, which were an excellent
currency for exchange. So then we began to initiate the plan of the new
expedition. We should start to the south, leaving the town of Uliassutai
on our right and taking the direction of Zaganluk, then pass through the
waste lands of the district of Balir of Jassaktu Khan, cross the Naron
Khuhu Gobi and strike for the mountains of Boro. Here we should be able
to take a long rest to recuperate the strength of our horses and of
ourselves. The second section of our journey would be the passage
through the western part of Inner Mongolia, through the Little Gobi,
through the lands of the Torguts, over the Khara Mountains, across
Kansu, where our road must be chosen to the west of the Chinese town of
Suchow. From there we should have to enter the Dominion of Kuku Nor and
then work on southward to the head waters of the Yangtze River. Beyond
this I had but a hazy notion, which however I was able to verify from a
map of Asia in the possession of one of the officers, to the effect that
the mountain chains to the west of the sources of the Yangtze separated
that river system from the basin of the Brahmaputra in Tibet Proper,
where I expected to be able to find English assistance.


CHAPTER XV

THE MARCH OF GHOSTS


In no other way can I describe the journey from the River Ero to the
border of Tibet. About eleven hundred miles through the snowy steppes,
over mountains and across deserts we traveled in forty-eight days.
We hid from the people as we journeyed, made short stops in the most
desolate places, fed for whole weeks on nothing but raw, frozen meat in
order to avoid attracting attention by the smoke of fires. Whenever we
needed to purchase a sheep or a steer for our supply department, we sent
out only two unarmed men who represented to the natives that they were
the workmen of some Russian colonists. We even feared to shoot, although
we met a great herd of antelopes numbering as many as five thousand
head. Behind Balir in the lands of the Lama Jassaktu Khan, who had
inherited his throne as a result of the poisoning of his brother at Urga
by order of the Living Buddha, we met wandering Russian Tartars who had
driven their herds all the way from Altai and Abakan. They welcomed us
very cordially, gave us oxen and thirty-six bricks of tea. Also they
saved us from inevitable destruction, for they told us that at this
season it was utterly impossible for horses to make the trip across the
Gobi, where there was no grass at all. We must buy camels by exchanging
for them our horses and some other of our bartering supplies. One of the
Tartars the next day brought to their camp a rich Mongol with whom he
drove the bargain for this trade. He gave us nineteen camels and took
all our horses, one rifle, one pistol and the best Cossack saddle. He
advised us by all means to visit the sacred Monastery of Narabanchi, the
last Lamaite monastery on the road from Mongolia to Tibet. He told us
that the Holy Hutuktu, "the Incarnate Buddha," would be greatly offended
if we did not visit the monastery and his famous "Shrine of Blessings,"
where all travelers going to Tibet always offered prayers. Our Kalmuck
Lamaite supported the Mongol in this. I decided to go there with the
Kalmuck. The Tartars gave me some big silk hatyk as presents and loaned
us four splendid horses. Although the monastery was fifty-five miles
distant, by nine o'clock in the evening I entered the yurta of this holy
Hutuktu.

He was a middle-aged, clean shaven, spare little man, laboring under the
name of Jelyb Djamsrap Hutuktu. He received us very cordially and was
greatly pleased with the presentation of the hatyk and with my
knowledge of the Mongol etiquette in which my Tartar had been long and
persistently instructing me. He listened to me most attentively and gave
valuable advice about the road, presenting me then with a ring which has
since opened for me the doors of all Lamaite monasteries. The name of
this Hutuktu is highly esteemed not only in all Mongolia but in Tibet
and in the Lamaite world of China. We spent the night in his splendid
yurta and on the following morning visited the shrines where they were
conducting very solemn services with the music of gongs, tom-toms and
whistling. The Lamas with their deep voices were intoning the prayers
while the lesser priests answered with their antiphonies. The sacred
phrase: "Om! Mani padme Hung!" was endlessly repeated.

The Hutuktu wished us success, presented us with a large yellow hatyk
and accompanied us to the monastery gate. When we were in our saddles he
said:

"Remember that you are always welcome guests here. Life is very
complicated and anything may happen. Perhaps you will be forced in
future to re-visit distant Mongolia and then do not miss Narabanchi
Kure."

That night we returned to the Tartars and the next day continued our
journey. As I was very tired, the slow, easy motion of the camel was
welcome and restful to me. All the day I dozed off at intervals to
sleep. It turned out to be very disastrous for me; for, when my camel
was going up the steep bank of a river, in one of my naps I fell off
and hit my head on a stone, lost consciousness and woke up to find
my overcoat covered with blood. My friends surrounded me with their
frightened faces. They bandaged my head and we started off again. I only
learned long afterwards from a doctor who examined me that I had cracked
my skull as the price of my siesta.

We crossed the eastern ranges of the Altai and the Karlik Tag, which are
the most oriental sentinels the great Tian Shan system throws out into
the regions of the Gobi; and then traversed from the north to the south
the entire width of the Khuhu Gobi. Intense cold ruled all this time and
fortunately the frozen sands gave us better speed. Before passing the
Khara range, we exchanged our rocking-chair steeds for horses, a deal in
which the Torguts skinned us badly like the true "old clothes men" they
are.

Skirting around these mountains we entered Kansu. It was a dangerous
move, for the Chinese were arresting all refugees and I feared for my
Russian fellow-travelers. During the days we hid in the ravines, the
forests and bushes, making forced marches at night. Four days we thus
used in this passage of Kansu. The few Chinese peasants we did encounter
were peaceful appearing and most hospitable. A marked sympathetic
interest surrounded the Kalmuck, who could speak a bit of Chinese,
and my box of medicines. Everywhere we found many ill people, chiefly
afflicted with eye troubles, rheumatism and skin diseases.

As we were approaching Nan Shan, the northeast branch of the Altyn Tag
(which is in turn the east branch of the Pamir and Karakhorum system),
we overhauled a large caravan of Chinese merchants going to Tibet
and joined them. For three days we were winding through the endless
ravine-like valleys of these mountains and ascending the high passes.
But we noticed that the Chinese knew how to pick the easiest routes
for caravans over all these difficult places. In a state of
semi-consciousness I made this whole journey toward the large group of
swampy lakes, feeding the Koko Nor and a whole network of large rivers.
From fatigue and constant nervous strain, probably helped by the blow
on my head, I began suffering from sharp attacks of chills and fever,
burning up at times and then chattering so with my teeth that I
frightened my horse who several times threw me from the saddle. I raved,
cried out at times and even wept. I called my family and instructed them
how they must come to me. I remember as though through a dream how I was
taken from the horse by my companions, laid on the ground, supplied with
Chinese brandy and, when I recovered a little, how they said to me:

"The Chinese merchants are heading for the west and we must travel
south."

"No! To the north," I replied very sharply.

"But no, to the south," my companions assured me.

"God and the Devil!" I angrily ejaculated, "we have just swum the Little
Yenisei and Algyak is to the north!"

"We are in Tibet," remonstrated my companions. "We must reach the
Brahmaputra."

Brahmaputra. . . . Brahmaputra. . . . This word revolved in my fiery
brain, made a terrible noise and commotion. Suddenly I remembered
everything and opened my eyes. I hardly moved my lips and soon I
again lost consciousness. My companions brought me to the monastery of
Sharkhe, where the Lama doctor quickly brought me round with a solution
of fatil or Chinese ginseng. In discussing our plans he expressed grave
doubt as to whether we would get through Tibet but he did not wish to
explain to me the reason for his doubts.


CHAPTER XVI

IN MYSTERIOUS TIBET


A fairly broad road led out from Sharkhe through the mountains and on
the fifth day of our two weeks' march to the south from the monastery
we emerged into the great bowl of the mountains in whose center lay the
large lake of Koko Nor. If Finland deserves the ordinary title of the
"Land of Ten Thousand Lakes," the dominion of Koko Nor may certainly
with justice be called the "Country of a Million Lakes." We skirted
this lake on the west between it and Doulan Kitt, zigzagging between the
numerous swamps, lakes and small rivers, deep and miry. The water was
not here covered with ice and only on the tops of the mountains did we
feel the cold winds sharply. We rarely met the natives of the country
and only with greatest difficulty did our Kalmuck learn the course of
the road from the occasional shepherds we passed. From the eastern shore
of the Lake of Tassoun we worked round to a monastery on the further
side, where we stopped for a short rest. Besides ourselves there was
also another group of guests in the holy place. These were Tibetans.
Their behavior was very impertinent and they refused to speak with us.
They were all armed, chiefly with the Russian military rifles and were
draped with crossed bandoliers of cartridges with two or three pistols
stowed beneath belts with more cartridges sticking out. They examined
us very sharply and we readily realized that they were estimating our
martial strength. After they had left on that same day I ordered our
Kalmuck to inquire from the High Priest of the temple exactly who they
were. For a long time the monk gave evasive answers but when I showed
him the ring of Hutuktu Narabanchi and presented him with a large yellow
hatyk, he became more communicative.

"Those are bad people," he explained. "Have a care of them."

However, he was not willing to give their names, explaining his refusal
by citing the Law of Buddhist lands against pronouncing the name of
one's father, teacher or chief. Afterwards I found out that in North
Tibet there exists the same custom as in North China. Here and there
bands of hunghutze wander about. They appear at the headquarters of the
leading trading firms and at the monasteries, claim tribute and after
their collections become the protectors of the district. Probably this
Tibetan monastery had in this band just such protectors.

When we continued our trip, we frequently noticed single horsemen far
away or on the horizon, apparently studying our movements with care. All
our attempts to approach them and enter into conversation with them were
entirely unsuccessful. On their speedy little horses they disappeared
like shadows. As we reached the steep and difficult Pass on the Hamshan
and were preparing to spend the night there, suddenly far up on a ridge
above us appeared about forty horsemen with entirely white mounts and
without formal introduction or warning spattered us with a hail of
bullets. Two of our officers fell with a cry. One had been instantly
killed while the other lived some few minutes. I did not allow my men
to shoot but instead I raised a white flag and started forward with
the Kalmuck for a parley. At first they fired two shots at us but then
ceased firing and sent down a group of riders from the ridge toward
us. We began the parley. The Tibetans explained that Hamshan is a holy
mountain and that here one must not spend the night, advising us to
proceed farther where we could consider ourselves in safety. They
inquired from us whence we came and whither we were going, stated in
answer to our information about the purpose of our journey that they
knew the Bolsheviki and considered them the liberators of the people of
Asia from the yoke of the white race. I certainly did not want to begin
a political quarrel with them and so turned back to our companions.
Riding down the slope toward our camp, I waited momentarily for a shot
in the back but the Tibetan hunghutze did not shoot.

We moved forward, leaving among the stones the bodies of two of our
companions as sad tribute to the difficulties and dangers of our
journey. We rode all night, with our exhausted horses constantly
stopping and some lying down under us, but we forced them ever onward.
At last, when the sun was at its zenith, we finally halted. Without
unsaddling our horses, we gave them an opportunity to lie down for a
little rest. Before us lay a broad, swampy plain, where was evidently
the sources of the river Ma-chu. Not far beyond lay the Lake of Aroung
Nor. We made our fire of cattle dung and began boiling water for our
tea. Again without any warning the bullets came raining in from all
sides. Immediately we took cover behind convenient rocks and waited
developments. The firing became faster and closer, the raiders appeared
on the whole circle round us and the bullets came ever in increasing
numbers. We had fallen into a trap and had no hope but to perish. We
realized this clearly. I tried anew to begin the parley; but when I
stood up with my white flag, the answer was only a thicker rain of
bullets and unfortunately one of these, ricocheting off a rock, struck
me in the left leg and lodged there. At the same moment another one of
our company was killed. We had no other choice and were forced to begin
fighting. The struggle continued for about two hours. Besides myself
three others received slight wounds. We resisted as long as we could.
The hunghutze approached and our situation became desperate.

"There's no choice," said one of my associates, a very expert Colonel.
"We must mount and ride for it . . . anywhere."

"Anywhere. . . ." It was a terrible word! We consulted for but an
instant. It was apparent that with this band of cut-throats behind us
the farther we went into Tibet, the less chance we had of saving our
lives.

We decided to return to Mongolia. But how? That we did not know. And
thus we began our retreat. Firing all the time, we trotted our horses
as fast as we could toward the north. One after another three of my
companions fell. There lay my Tartar with a bullet through his neck.
After him two young and fine stalwart officers were carried from their
saddles with cries of death, while their scared horses broke out across
the plain in wild fear, perfect pictures of our distraught selves. This
emboldened the Tibetans, who became more and more audacious. A bullet
struck the buckle on the ankle strap of my right foot and carried it,
with a piece of leather and cloth, into my leg just above the ankle.
My old and much tried friend, the agronome, cried out as he grasped his
shoulder and then I saw him wiping and bandaging as best as he could his
bleeding forehead. A second afterward our Kalmuck was hit twice right
through the palm of the same hand, so that it was entirely shattered.
Just at this moment fifteen of the hunghutze rushed against us in a
charge.

"Shoot at them with volley fire!" commanded our Colonel.

Six robber bodies lay on the turf, while two others of the gang were
unhorsed and ran scampering as fast as they could after their retreating
fellows. Several minutes later the fire of our antagonists ceased and
they raised a white flag. Two riders came forward toward us. In the
parley it developed that their chief had been wounded through the chest
and they came to ask us to "render first aid." At once I saw a ray
of hope. I took my box of medicines and my groaning, cursing, wounded
Kalmuck to interpret for me.

"Give that devil some cyanide of potassium," urged my companions.

But I devised another scheme.

We were led to the wounded chief. There he lay on the saddle cloths
among the rocks, represented to us to be a Tibetan but I at once
recognized him from his cast of countenance to be a Sart or Turcoman,
probably from the southern part of Turkestan. He looked at me with
a begging and frightened gaze. Examining him, I found the bullet had
passed through his chest from left to right, that he had lost much blood
and was very weak. Conscientiously I did all that I could for him. In
the first place I tried on my own tongue all the medicines to be used on
him, even the iodoform, in order to demonstrate that there was no
poison among them. I cauterized the wound with iodine, sprinkled it with
iodoform and applied the bandages. I ordered that the wounded man be not
touched nor moved and that he be left right where he lay. Then I taught
a Tibetan how the dressing must be changed and left with him medicated
cotton, bandages and a little iodoform. To the patient, in whom the
fever was already developing, I gave a big dose of aspirin and left
several tablets of quinine with them. Afterwards, addressing myself to
the bystanders through my Kalmuck, I said very solemnly:

"The wound is very dangerous but I gave to your Chief very strong
medicine and hope that he will recover. One condition, however,
is necessary: the bad demons which have rushed to his side for his
unwarranted attack upon us innocent travelers will instantly kill him,
if another shot is let off against us. You must not even keep a single
cartridge in your rifles."

With these words I ordered the Kalmuck to empty his rifle and I, at
the same time, took all the cartridges out of my Mauser. The Tibetans
instantly and very servilely followed my example.

"Remember that I told you: 'Eleven days and eleven nights do not move
from this place and do not charge your rifles.' Otherwise the demon of
death will snatch off your Chief and will pursue you!"--and with these
words I solemnly drew forth and raised above their heads the ring of
Hutuktu Narabanchi.

I returned to my companions and calmed them. I told them we were safe
against further attack from the robbers and that we must only guess the
way to reach Mongolia. Our horses were so exhausted and thin that on
their bones we could have hung our overcoats. We spent two days here,
during which time I frequently visited my patient. It also gave us
opportunity to bandage our own fortunately light wounds and to secure
a little rest; though unfortunately I had nothing but a jackknife
with which to dig the bullet out of my left calf and the shoemaker's
accessories from my right ankle. Inquiring from the brigands about the
caravan roads, we soon made our way out to one of the main routes and
had the good fortune to meet there the caravan of the young Mongol
Prince Pounzig, who was on a holy mission carrying a message from
the Living Buddha in Urga to the Dalai Lama in Lhasa. He helped us to
purchase horses, camels and food.

With all our arms and supplies spent in barter during the journey for
the purchase of transport and food, we returned stripped and broken to
the Narabanchi Monastery, where we were welcomed by the Hutuktu.

"I knew you would come back," said he. "The divinations revealed it all
to me."

With six of our little band left behind us in Tibet to pay the eternal
toll of our dash for the south we returned but twelve to the Monastery
and waited there two weeks to re-adjust ourselves and learn how events
would again set us afloat on this turbulent sea to steer for any port
that Destiny might indicate. The officers enlisted in the detachment
which was then being formed in Mongolia to fight against the destroyers
of their native land, the Bolsheviki. My original companion and I
prepared to continue our journey over Mongolian plains with whatever
further adventures and dangers might come in the struggle to escape to a
place of safety.

And now, with the scenes of that trying march so vividly recalled, I
would dedicate these chapters to my gigantic, old and ruggedly tried
friend, the agronome, to my Russian fellow-travelers, and especially, to
the sacred memory of those of our companions whose bodies lie cradled
in the sleep among the mountains of Tibet--Colonel Ostrovsky, Captains
Zuboff and Turoff, Lieutenant Pisarjevsky, Cossack Vernigora and
Tartar Mahomed Spirin. Also here I express my deep thanks for help and
friendship to the Prince of Soldjak, Hereditary Noyon Ta Lama and to
the Kampo Gelong of Narabanchi Monastery, the honorable Jelyb Djamsrap
Hutuktu.



Part II

THE LAND OF DEMONS


CHAPTER XVII

MYSTERIOUS MONGOLIA


In the heart of Asia lies the enormous, mysterious and rich country of
Mongolia. From somewhere on the snowy slopes of the Tian Shan and from
the hot sands of Western Zungaria to the timbered ridges of the Sayan
and to the Great Wall of China it stretches over a huge portion of
Central Asia. The cradle of peoples, histories and legends; the native
land of bloody conquerors, who have left here their capitals covered
by the sand of the Gobi, their mysterious rings and their ancient nomad
laws; the states of monks and evil devils, the country of wandering
tribes administered by the descendants of Jenghiz Khan and Kublai
Khan--Khans and Princes of the Junior lines: that is Mongolia.

Mysterious country of the cults of Rama, Sakkia-Mouni, Djonkapa and
Paspa, cults guarded by the very person of the living Buddha--Buddha
incarnated in the third dignitary of the Lamaite religion--Bogdo Gheghen
in Ta Kure or Urga; the land of mysterious doctors, prophets, sorcerers,
fortune-tellers and witches; the land of the sign of the swastika; the
land which has not forgotten the thoughts of the long deceased great
potentates of Asia and of half of Europe: that is Mongolia.

The land of nude mountains, of plains burned by the sun and killed by
the cold, of ill cattle and ill people; the nest of pests, anthrax
and smallpox; the land of boiling hot springs and of mountain passes
inhabited by demons; of sacred lakes swarming with fish; of wolves, rare
species of deer and mountain goats, marmots in millions, wild horses,
wild donkeys and wild camels that have never known the bridle, ferocious
dogs and rapacious birds of prey which devour the dead bodies cast out
on the plains by the people: that is Mongolia.

The land whose disappearing primitive people gaze upon the bones of
their forefathers whitening in the sands and dust of their plains; where
are dying out the people who formerly conquered China, Siam, Northern
India and Russia and broke their chests against the iron lances of
the Polish knights, defending then all the Christian world against the
invasion of wild and wandering Asia: that is Mongolia.

The land swelling with natural riches, producing nothing, in need of
everything, destitute and suffering from the world's cataclysm: that is
Mongolia.

In this land, by order of Fate, after my unsuccessful attempt to reach
the Indian Ocean through Tibet, I spent half a year in the struggle to
live and to escape. My old and faithful friend and I were compelled,
willy-nilly, to participate in the exceedingly important and dangerous
events transpiring in Mongolia in the year of grace 1921. Thanks to
this, I came to know the calm, good and honest Mongolian people; I
read their souls, saw their sufferings and hopes; I witnessed the whole
horror of their oppression and fear before the face of Mystery, there
where Mystery pervades all life. I watched the rivers during the severe
cold break with a rumbling roar their chains of ice; saw lakes cast up
on their shores the bones of human beings; heard unknown wild voices
in the mountain ravines; made out the fires over miry swamps of the
will-o'-the-wisps; witnessed burning lakes; gazed upward to mountains
whose peaks could not be scaled; came across great balls of writhing
snakes in the ditches in winter; met with streams which are eternally
frozen, rocks like petrified caravans of camels, horsemen and carts; and
over all saw the barren mountains whose folds looked like the mantle of
Satan, which the glow of the evening sun drenched with blood.

"Look up there!" cried an old shepherd, pointing to the slope of the
cursed Zagastai. "That is no mountain. It is HE who lies in his red
mantle and awaits the day when he will rise again to begin the fight
with the good spirits."

And as he spoke I recalled the mystic picture of the noted painter
Vroubel. The same nude mountains with the violet and purple robes of
Satan, whose face is half covered by an approaching grey cloud. Mongolia
is a terrible land of mystery and demons. Therefore it is no wonder that
here every violation of the ancient order of life of the wandering nomad
tribes is transformed into streams of red blood and horror, ministering
to the demonic pleasure of Satan couched on the bare mountains and robed
in the grey cloak of dejection and sadness, or in the purple mantle of
war and vengeance.

After returning from the district of Koko Nor to Mongolia and resting a
few days at the Narabanchi Monastery, we went to live in Uliassutai, the
capital of Western Outer Mongolia. It is the last purely Mongolian town
to the west. In Mongolia there are but three purely Mongolian towns,
Urga, Uliassutai and Ulankom. The fourth town, Kobdo, has an essentially
Chinese character, being the center of Chinese administration in this
district inhabited by the wandering tribes only nominally recognizing
the influence of either Peking or Urga. In Uliassutai and Ulankom,
besides the unlawful Chinese commissioners and troops, there were
stationed Mongolian governors or "Saits," appointed by the decree of the
Living Buddha.

When we arrived in that town, we were at once in the sea of political
passions. The Mongols were protesting in great agitation against the
Chinese policy in their country; the Chinese raged and demanded from the
Mongolians the payment of taxes for the full period since the autonomy
of Mongolia had been forcibly extracted from Peking; Russian colonists
who had years before settled near the town and in the vicinity of the
great monasteries or among the wandering tribes had separated into
factions and were fighting against one another; from Urga came the
news of the struggle for the maintenance of the independence of Outer
Mongolia, led by the Russian General, Baron Ungern von Sternberg;
Russian officers and refugees congregated in detachments, against which
the Chinese authorities protested but which the Mongols welcomed; the
Bolsheviki, worried by the formation of White detachments in Mongolia,
sent their troops to the borders of Mongolia; from Irkutsk and Chita
to Uliassutai and Urga envoys were running from the Bolsheviki to the
Chinese commissioners with various proposals of all kinds; the Chinese
authorities in Mongolia were gradually entering into secret relations
with the Bolsheviki and in Kiakhta and Ulankom delivered to them the
Russian refugees, thus violating recognized international law; in
Urga the Bolsheviki set up a Russian communistic municipality; Russian
Consuls were inactive; Red troops in the region of Kosogol and the
valley of the Selenga had encounters with Anti-Bolshevik officers; the
Chinese authorities established garrisons in the Mongolian towns
and sent punitive expeditions into the country; and, to complete the
confusion, the Chinese troops carried out house-to-house searches,
during which they plundered and stole.

Into what an atmosphere we had fallen after our hard and dangerous trip
along the Yenisei, through Urianhai, Mongolia, the lands of the Turguts,
Kansu and Koko Nor!

"Do you know," said my old friend to me, "I prefer strangling Partisans
and fighting with the hunghutze to listening to news and more anxious
news!"

He was right; for the worst of it was that in this bustle and whirl of
facts, rumours and gossip the Reds could approach troubled Uliassutai
and take everyone with their bare hands. We should very willingly have
left this town of uncertainties but we had no place to go. In the north
were the hostile Partisans and Red troops; to the south we had already
lost our companions and not a little of our own blood; to the west raged
the Chinese administrators and detachments; and to the east a war had
broken out, the news of which, in spite of the attempts of the Chinese
authorities at secrecy, had filtered through and had testified to
the seriousness of the situation in this part of Outer Mongolia.
Consequently we had no choice but to remain in Uliassutai. Here also
were living several Polish soldiers who had escaped from the prison
camps in Russia, two Polish families and two American firms, all in
the same plight as ourselves. We joined together and made our own
intelligence department, very carefully watching the evolution of
events. We succeeded in forming good connections with the Chinese
commissioner and with the Mongolian Sait, which greatly helped us in our
orientation.

What was behind all these events in Mongolia? The very clever Mongol
Sait of Uliassutai gave me the following explanation.

"According to the agreements between Mongolia, China and Russia of
October 21, 1912, of October 23, 1913, and of June 7, 1915, Outer
Mongolia was accorded independence and the Moral Head of our 'Yellow
Faith,' His Holiness the Living Buddha, became the Suzerain of the
Mongolian people of Khalkha or Outer Mongolia with the title of 'Bogdo
Djebtsung Damba Hutuktu Khan.' While Russia was still strong and
carefully watched her policy in Asia, the Government of Peking kept the
treaty; but, when, at the beginning of the war with Germany, Russia was
compelled to withdraw her troops from Siberia, Peking began to claim the
return of its lost rights in Mongolia. It was because of this that the
first two treaties of 1912 and 1913 were supplemented by the convention
of 1915. However, in 1916, when all the forces of Russia were
pre-occupied in the unsuccessful war and afterwards when the first
Russian revolution broke out in February, 1917, overthrowing the
Romanoff Dynasty, the Chinese Government openly retook Mongolia. They
changed all the Mongolian ministers and Saits, replacing them with
individuals friendly to China; arrested many Mongolian autonomists and
sent them to prison in Peking; set up their administration in Urga and
other Mongol towns; actually removed His Holiness Bogdo Khan from the
affairs of administration; made him only a machine for signing Chinese
decrees; and at last introduced into Mongolia their troops. From that
moment there developed an energetic flow of Chinese merchants and
coolies into Mongolia. The Chinese began to demand the payment of taxes
and dues from 1912. The Mongolian population were rapidly stripped of
their wealth and now in the vicinities of our towns and monasteries you
can see whole settlements of beggar Mongols living in dugouts. All our
Mongol arsenals and treasuries were requisitioned. All monasteries
were forced to pay taxes; all Mongols working for the liberty of their
country were persecuted; through bribery with Chinese silver, orders and
titles the Chinese secured a following among the poorer Mongol Princes.
It is easy to understand how the governing class, His Holiness, Khans,
Princes, and high Lamas, as well as the ruined and oppressed people,
remembering that the Mongol rulers had once held Peking and China in
their hands and under their reign had given her the first place in
Asia, were definitely hostile to the Chinese administrators acting thus.
Insurrection was, however, impossible. We had no arms. All our leaders
were under surveillance and every movement by them toward an armed
resistance would have ended in the same prison at Peking where eighty
of our Nobles, Princes and Lamas died from hunger and torture after a
previous struggle for the liberty of Mongolia. Some abnormally strong
shock was necessary to drive the people into action. This was given by
the Chinese administrators, General Cheng Yi and General Chu Chi-hsiang.
They announced that His Holiness Bogdo Khan was under arrest in his
own palace, and they recalled to his attention the former decree of
the Peking Government--held by the Mongols to be unwarranted and
illegal--that His Holiness was the last Living Buddha. This was enough.
Immediately secret relations were made between the people and their
Living God, and plans were at once elaborated for the liberation of His
Holiness and for the struggle for liberty and freedom of our people. We
were helped by the great Prince of the Buriats, Djam Bolon, who began
parleys with General Ungern, then engaged in fighting the Bolsheviki
in Transbaikalia, and invited him to enter Mongolia and help in the war
against the Chinese. Then our struggle for liberty began."

Thus the Sait of Uliassutai explained the situation to me. Afterwards
I heard that Baron Ungern, who had agreed to fight for the liberty
of Mongolia, directed that the mobilization of the Mongolians in the
northern districts be forwarded at once and promised to enter Mongolia
with his own small detachment, moving along the River Kerulen.
Afterwards he took up relations with the other Russian detachment of
Colonel Kazagrandi and, together with the mobilized Mongolian riders,
began the attack on Urga. Twice he was defeated but on the third of
February, 1921, he succeeded in capturing the town and replaced the
Living Buddha on the throne of the Khans.

At the end of March, however, these events were still unknown in
Uliassutai. We knew neither of the fall of Urga nor of the destruction
of the Chinese army of nearly 15,000 in the battles of Maimachen on the
shore of the Tola and on the roads between Urga and Ude. The Chinese
carefully concealed the truth by preventing anybody from passing
westward from Urga. However, rumours existed and troubled all. The
atmosphere became more and more tense, while the relations between the
Chinese on the one side and the Mongolians and Russians on the other
became more and more strained. At this time the Chinese Commissioner
in Uliassutai was Wang Tsao-tsun and his advisor, Fu Hsiang, both very
young and inexperienced men. The Chinese authorities had dismissed the
Uliassutai Sait, the prominent Mongolian patriot, Prince Chultun
Beyle, and had appointed a Lama Prince friendly to China, the former
Vice-Minister of War in Urga. Oppression increased. The searching of
Russian officers' and colonists' houses and quarters commenced, open
relations with the Bolsheviki followed and arrest and beatings became
common. The Russian officers formed a secret detachment of sixty men
so that they could defend themselves. However, in this detachment
disagreements soon sprang up between Lieutenant-Colonel M. M. Michailoff
and some of his officers. It was evident that in the decisive moment the
detachment must separate into factions.

We foreigners in council decided to make a thorough reconnaissance in
order to know whether there was danger of Red troops arriving. My old
companion and I agreed to do this scouting. Prince Chultun Beyle gave
us a very good guide--an old Mongol named Tzeren, who spoke and read
Russian perfectly. He was a very interesting personage, holding the
position of interpreter with the Mongolian authorities and sometimes
with the Chinese Commissioner. Shortly before he had been sent as
a special envoy to Peking with very important despatches and this
incomparable horseman had made the journey between Uliassutai and
Peking, that is 1,800 miles, in nine days, incredible as it may seem. He
prepared himself for the journey by binding all his abdomen and chest,
legs, arms and neck with strong cotton bandages to protect himself from
the wracks and strains of such a period in the saddle. In his cap he
bore three eagle feathers as a token that he had received orders to fly
like a bird. Armed with a special document called a tzara, which gave
him the right to receive at all post stations the best horses, one
to ride and one fully saddled to lead as a change, together with two
oulatchen or guards to accompany him and bring back the horses from the
next station or ourton, he made the distance of from fifteen to thirty
miles between stations at full gallop, stopping only long enough to have
the horses and guards changed before he was off again. Ahead of him rode
one oulatchen with the best horses to enable him to announce and prepare
in advance the complement of steeds at the next station. Each oulatchen
had three horses in all, so that he could swing from one that had given
out and release him to graze until his return to pick him up and lead or
ride him back home. At every third ourton, without leaving his saddle,
he received a cup of hot green tea with salt and continued his race
southward. After seventeen or eighteen hours of such riding he stopped
at the ourton for the night or what was left of it, devoured a leg of
boiled mutton and slept. Thus he ate once a day and five times a day had
tea; and so he traveled for nine days!

With this servant we moved out one cold winter morning in the direction
of Kobdo, just over three hundred miles, because from there we had
received the disquieting rumours that the Red troops had entered
Ulankom and that the Chinese authorities had handed over to them all the
Europeans in the town. We crossed the River Dzaphin on the ice. It is a
terrible stream. Its bed is full of quicksands, which in summer suck
in numbers of camels, horses and men. We entered a long, winding valley
among the mountains covered with deep snow and here and there with
groves of the black wood of the larch. About halfway to Kobdo we came
across the yurta of a shepherd on the shore of the small Lake of Baga
Nor, where evening and a strong wind whirling gusts of snow in our faces
easily persuaded us to stop. By the yurta stood a splendid bay horse
with a saddle richly ornamerited with silver and coral. As we turned
in from the road, two Mongols left the yurta very hastily; one of them
jumped into the saddle and quickly disappeared in the plain behind the
snowy hillocks. We clearly made out the flashing folds of his yellow
robe under the great outer coat and saw his large knife sheathed in a
green leather scabbard and handled with horn and ivory. The other man
was the host of the yurta, the shepherd of a local prince, Novontziran.
He gave signs of great pleasure at seeing us and receiving us in his
yurta.

"Who was the rider on the bay horse?" we asked.

He dropped his eyes and was silent.

"Tell us," we insisted. "If you do not wish to speak his name, it means
that you are dealing with a bad character."

"No! No!" he remonstrated, flourishing his hands. "He is a good, great
man; but the law does not permit me to speak his name."

We at once understood that the man was either the chief of the shepherd
or some high Lama. Consequently we did not further insist and began
making our sleeping arrangements. Our host set three legs of mutton to
boil for us, skillfully cutting out the bones with his heavy knife. We
chatted and learned that no one had seen Red troops around this region
but in Kobdo and in Ulankom the Chinese soldiers were oppressing the
population, and were beating to death with the bamboo Mongol men who
were defending their women against the ravages of these Chinese troops.
Some of the Mongols had retreated to the mountains to join detachments
under the command of Kaigordoff, an Altai Tartar officer who was
supplying them with weapons.


CHAPTER XVIII

THE MYSTERIOUS LAMA AVENGER


We rested soundly in the yurta after the two days of travel which had
brought us one hundred seventy miles through the snow and sharp cold.
Round the evening meal of juicy mutton we were talking freely and
carelessly when suddenly we heard a low, hoarse voice:

"Sayn--Good evening!"

We turned around from the brazier to the door and saw a medium height,
very heavy set Mongol in deerskin overcoat and cap with side flaps and
the long, wide tying strings of the same material. Under his girdle
lay the same large knife in the green sheath which we had seen on the
departing horseman.

"Amoursayn," we answered.

He quickly untied his girdle and laid aside his overcoat. He stood
before us in a wonderful gown of silk, yellow as beaten gold and girt
with a brilliant blue sash. His cleanly shaven face, short hair, red
coral rosary on the left hand and his yellow garment proved clearly that
before us stood some high Lama Priest,--with a big Colt under his blue
sash!

I turned to my host and Tzeren and read in their faces fear and
veneration. The stranger came over to the brazier and sat down.

"Let's speak Russian," he said and took a bit of meat.

The conversation began. The stranger began to find fault with the
Government of the Living Buddha in Urga.

"There they liberate Mongolia, capture Urga, defeat the Chinese army and
here in the west they give us no news of it. We are without action here
while the Chinese kill our people and steal from them. I think that
Bogdo Khan might send us envoys. How is it the Chinese can send their
envoys from Urga and Kiakhta to Kobdo, asking for assistance, and the
Mongol Government cannot do it? Why?"

"Will the Chinese send help to Urga?" I asked.

Our guest laughed hoarsely and said: "I caught all the envoys, took away
their letters and then sent them back . . . into the ground."

He laughed again and glanced around peculiarly with his blazing eyes.
Only then did I notice that his cheekbones and eyes had lines strange to
the Mongols of Central Asia. He looked more like a Tartar or a Kirghiz.
We were silent and smoked our pipes.

"How soon will the detachment of Chahars leave Uliassutai?" he asked.

We answered that we had not heard about them. Our guest explained
that from Inner Mongolia the Chinese authorities had sent out a strong
detachment, mobilized from among the most warlike tribe of Chahars,
which wander about the region just outside the Great Wall. Its chief was
a notorious hunghutze leader promoted by the Chinese Government to the
rank of captain on promising that he would bring under subjugation to
the Chinese authorities all the tribes of the districts of Kobdo and
Urianhai. When he learned whither we were going and for what purpose,
he said he could give us the most accurate news and relieve us from the
necessity of going farther.

"Besides that, it is very dangerous," he said, "because Kobdo will be
massacred and burned. I know this positively."

When he heard of our unsuccessful attempt to pass through Tibet, he
became attentive and very sympathetic in his bearing toward us and, with
evident feeling of regret, expressed himself strongly:

"Only I could have helped you in this enterprise, but not the Narabanchi
Hutuktu. With my laissez-passer you could have gone anywhere in Tibet. I
am Tushegoun Lama."

Tushegoun Lama! How many extraordinary tales I had heard about him.
He is a Russian Kalmuck, who because of his propaganda work for the
independence of the Kalmuck people made the acquaintance of many Russian
prisons under the Czar and, for the same cause, added to his list under
the Bolsheviki. He escaped to Mongolia and at once attained to great
influence among the Mongols. It was no wonder, for he was a close friend
and pupil of the Dalai Lama in Potala (Lhasa), was the most learned
among the Lamites, a famous thaumaturgist and doctor. He occupied an
almost independent position in his relationship with the Living Buddha
and achieved to the leadership of all the old wandering tribes of
Western Mongolia and Zungaria, even extending his political domination
over the Mongolian tribes of Turkestan. His influence was irresistible,
based as it was on his great control of mysterious science, as he
expressed it; but I was also told that it has its foundation largely
in the panicky fear which he could produce in the Mongols. Everyone who
disobeyed his orders perished. Such an one never knew the day or the
hour when, in his yurta or beside his galloping horse on the plains, the
strange and powerful friend of the Dalai Lama would appear. The stroke
of a knife, a bullet or strong fingers strangling the neck like a vise
accomplished the justice of the plans of this miracle worker.

Without the walls of the yurta the wind whistled and roared and drove
the frozen snow sharply against the stretched felt. Through the roar of
the wind came the sound of many voices in mingled shouting, wailing
and laughter. I felt that in such surroundings it were not difficult to
dumbfound a wandering nomad with miracles, because Nature herself had
prepared the setting for it. This thought had scarcely time to flash
through my mind before Tushegoun Lama suddenly raised his head, looked
sharply at me and said:

"There is very much unknown in Nature and the skill of using the unknown
produces the miracle; but the power is given to few. I want to prove it
to you and you may tell me afterwards whether you have seen it before or
not."

He stood up, pushed back the sleeves of his yellow garment, seized his
knife and strode across to the shepherd.

"Michik, stand up!" he ordered.

When the shepherd had risen, the Lama quickly unbuttoned his coat
and bared the man's chest. I could not yet understand what was his
intention, when suddenly the Tushegoun with all his force struck his
knife into the chest of the shepherd. The Mongol fell all covered with
blood, a splash of which I noticed on the yellow silk of the Lama's
coat.

"What have you done?" I exclaimed.

"Sh! Be still," he whispered turning to me his now quite blanched face.

With a few strokes of the knife he opened the chest of the Mongol and
I saw the man's lungs softly breathing and the distinct palpitations of
the heart. The Lama touched these organs with his fingers but no more
blood appeared to flow and the face of the shepherd was quite calm.
He was lying with his eyes closed and appeared to be in deep and quiet
sleep. As the Lama began to open his abdomen, I shut my eyes in fear and
horror; and, when I opened them a little while later, I was still more
dumbfounded at seeing the shepherd with his coat still open and his
breast normal, quietly sleeping on his side and Tushegoun Lama sitting
peacefully by the brazier, smoking his pipe and looking into the fire in
deep thought.

"It is wonderful!" I confessed. "I have never seen anything like it!"

"About what are you speaking?" asked the Kalmuck.

"About your demonstration or 'miracle,' as you call it," I answered.

"I never said anything like that," refuted the Kalmuck, with coldness in
his voice.

"Did you see it?" I asked of my companion.

"What?" he queried in a dozing voice.

I realized that I had become the victim of the hypnotic power of
Tushegoun Lama; but I preferred this to seeing an innocent Mongolian
die, for I had not believed that Tushegoun Lama, after slashing open the
bodies of his victims, could repair them again so readily.

The following day we took leave of our hosts. We decided to return,
inasmuch as our mission was accomplished; and Tushegoun Lama explained
to us that he would "move through space." He wandered over all Mongolia,
lived both in the single, simple yurta of the shepherd and hunter and in
the splendid tents of the princes and tribal chiefs, surrounded by deep
veneration and panic-fear, enticing and cementing to him rich and poor
alike with his miracles and prophecies. When bidding us adieu, the
Kalmuck sorcerer slyly smiled and said:

"Do not give any information about me to the Chinese authorities."

Afterwards he added: "What happened to you yesterday evening was
a futile demonstration. You Europeans will not recognize that we
dark-minded nomads possess the powers of mysterious science. If you
could only see the miracles and power of the Most Holy Tashi Lama, when
at his command the lamps and candles before the ancient statue of Buddha
light themselves and when the ikons of the gods begin to speak and
prophesy! But there exists a more powerful and more holy man. . ."

"Is it the King of the World in Agharti?" I interrupted.

He stared and glanced at me in amazement.

"Have you heard about him?" he asked, as his brows knit in thought.

After a few seconds he raised his narrow eyes and said: "Only one man
knows his holy name; only one man now living was ever in Agharti. That
is I. This is the reason why the Most Holy Dalai Lama has honored me and
why the Living Buddha in Urga fears me. But in vain, for I shall never
sit on the Holy Throne of the highest priest in Lhasa nor reach that
which has come down from Jenghiz Khan to the Head of our yellow Faith. I
am no monk. I am a warrior and avenger."

He jumped smartly into the saddle, whipped his horse and whirled away,
flinging out as he left the common Mongolian phrase of adieu: "Sayn!
Sayn-bayna!"

On the way back Tzeren related to us the hundreds of legends surrounding
Tushegoun Lama. One tale especially remained in my mind. It was in 1911
or 1912 when the Mongols by armed force tried to attain their liberty in
a struggle with the Chinese. The general Chinese headquarters in Western
Mongolia was Kobdo, where they had about ten thousand soldiers under the
command of their best officers. The command to capture Kobdo was sent
to Hun Baldon, a simple shepherd who had distinguished himself in fights
with the Chinese and received from the Living Buddha the title of Prince
of Hun. Ferocious, absolutely without fear and possessing gigantic
strength, Baldon had several times led to the attack his poorly armed
Mongols but each time had been forced to retreat after losing many of
his men under the machine-gun fire. Unexpectedly Tushegoun Lama arrived.
He collected all the soldiers and then said to them:

"You must not fear death and must not retreat. You are fighting and
dying for Mongolia, for which the gods have appointed a great destiny.
See what the fate of Mongolia will be!"

He made a great sweeping gesture with his hand and all the soldiers saw
the country round about set with rich yurtas and pastures covered
with great herds of horses and cattle. On the plains appeared numerous
horsemen on richly saddled steeds. The women were gowned in the finest
of silk with massive silver rings in their ears and precious ornaments
in their elaborate head dresses. Chinese merchants led an endless
caravan of merchandise up to distinguished looking Mongol Saits,
surrounded by the gaily dressed tzirik or soldiers and proudly
negotiating with the merchants for their wares.

Shortly the vision disappeared and Tushegoun began to speak.

"Do not fear death! It is a release from our labor on earth and the path
to the state of constant blessings. Look to the East! Do you see your
brothers and friends who have fallen in battle?"

"We see, we see!" the Mongol warriors exclaimed in astonishment, as they
all looked upon a great group of dwellings which might have been yurtas
or the arches of temples flushed with a warm and kindly light. Red and
yellow silk were interwoven in bright bands that covered the walls and
floor, everywhere the gilding on pillars and walls gleamed brightly;
on the great red altar burned the thin sacrificial candles in gold
candelabra, beside the massive silver vessels filled with milk and nuts;
on soft pillows about the floor sat the Mongols who had fallen in the
previous attack on Kobdo. Before them stood low, lacquered tables laden
with many dishes of steaming, succulent flesh of the lamb and the kid,
with high jugs of wine and tea, with plates of borsuk, a kind of sweet,
rich cakes, with aromatic zatouran covered with sheep's fat, with bricks
of dried cheese, with dates, raisins and nuts. These fallen soldiers
smoked golden pipes and chatted gaily.

This vision in turn also disappeared and before the gazing Mongols stood
only the mysterious Kalmuck with his hand upraised.

"To battle and return not without victory! I am with you in the fight."

The attack began. The Mongols fought furiously, perished by the hundreds
but not before they had rushed into the heart of Kobdo. Then was
re-enacted the long forgotten picture of Tartar hordes destroying
European towns. Hun Baldon ordered carried over him a triangle of lances
with brilliant red streamers, a sign that he gave up the town to the
soldiers for three days. Murder and pillage began. All the Chinese met
their death there. The town was burned and the walls of the fortress
destroyed. Afterwards Hun Baldon came to Uliassutai and also destroyed
the Chinese fortress there. The ruins of it still stand with the broken
embattlements and towers, the useless gates and the remnants of the
burned official quarters and soldiers' barracks.


CHAPTER XIX

WILD CHAHARS


After our return to Uliassutai we heard that disquieting news had been
received by the Mongol Sait from Muren Kure. The letter stated that Red
Troops were pressing Colonel Kazagrandi very hard in the region of Lake
Kosogol. The Sait feared the advance of the Red troops southward to
Uliassutai. Both the American firms liquidated their affairs and all
our friends were prepared for a quick exit, though they hesitated at
the thought of leaving the town, as they were afraid of meeting the
detachment of Chahars sent from the east. We decided to await the
arrival of this detachment, as their coming could change the whole
course of events. In a few days they came, two hundred warlike Chahar
brigands under the command of a former Chinese hunghutze. He was a tall,
skinny man with hands that reached almost to his knees, a face blackened
by wind and sun and mutilated with two long scars down over his forehead
and cheek, the making of one of which had also closed one of his
hawklike eyes, topped off with a shaggy coonskin cap--such was the
commander of the detachment of Chahars. A personage very dark and stern,
with whom a night meeting on a lonely street could not be considered a
pleasure by any bent of the imagination.

The detachment made camp within the destroyed fortress, near to the
single Chinese building that had not been razed and which was now
serving as headquarters for the Chinese Commissioner. On the very day of
their arrival the Chahars pillaged a Chinese dugun or trading house not
half a mile from the fortress and also offended the wife of the Chinese
Commissioner by calling her a "traitor." The Chahars, like the Mongols,
were quite right in their stand, because the Chinese Commissioner Wang
Tsao-tsun had on his arrival in Uliassutai followed the Chinese custom
of demanding a Mongolian wife. The servile new Sait had given orders
that a beautiful and suitable Mongolian girl be found for him. One was
so run down and placed in his yamen, together with her big wrestling
Mongol brother who was to be a guard for the Commissioner but who
developed into the nurse for the little white Pekingese pug which the
official presented to his new wife.

Burglaries, squabbles and drunken orgies of the Chahars followed, so
that Wang Tsoa-tsun exerted all his efforts to hurry the detachment
westward to Kobdo and farther into Urianhai.

One cold morning the inhabitants of Uliassutai rose to witness a very
stern picture. Along the main street of the town the detachment was
passing. They were riding on small, shaggy ponies, three abreast; were
dressed in warm blue coats with sheepskin overcoats outside and crowned
with the regulation coonskin caps; armed from head to foot. They rode
with wild shouts and cheers, very greedily eyeing the Chinese shops and
the houses of the Russian colonists. At their head rode the one-eyed
hunghutze chief with three horsemen behind him in white overcoats,
who carried waving banners and blew what may have been meant for music
through great conch shells. One of the Chahars could not resist and so
jumped out of his saddle and made for a Chinese shop along the street.
Immediately the anxious cries of the Chinese merchants came from the
shop. The hunghutze swung round, noticed the horse at the door of the
shop and realized what was happening. Immediately he reined his horse
and made for the spot. With his raucous voice he called the Chahar out.
As he came, he struck him full in the face with his whip and with all
his strength. Blood flowed from the slashed cheek. But the Chahar was in
the saddle in a second without a murmur and galloped to his place in
the file. During this exit of the Chahars all the people were hidden
in their houses, anxiously peeping through cracks and corners of the
windows. But the Chahars passed peacefully out and only when they met a
caravan carrying Chinese wine about six miles from town did their
native tendency display itself again in pillaging and emptying several
containers. Somewhere in the vicinity of Hargana they were ambushed by
Tushegoun Lama and so treated that never again will the plains of Chahar
welcome the return of these warrior sons who were sent out to conquer
the Soyot descendants of the ancient Tuba.

The day the column left Uliassutai a heavy snow fell, so that the road
became impassable. The horses first were up to their knees, tired out
and stopped. Some Mongol horsemen reached Uliassutai the following day
after great hardship and exertion, having made only twenty-five miles in
forty-eight hours. Caravans were compelled to stop along the routes. The
Mongols would not consent even to attempt journeys with oxen and yaks
which made but ten or twelve miles a day. Only camels could be used but
there were too few and their drivers did not feel that they could make
the first railway station of Kuku-Hoto, which was about fourteen hundred
miles away. We were forced again to wait: for which? Death or salvation?
Only our own energy and force could save us. Consequently my friend
and I started out, supplied with a tent, stove and food, for a new
reconnaissance along the shore of Lake Kosogol, whence the Mongol Sait
expected the new invasion of Red troops.


CHAPTER XX

THE DEMON OF JAGISSTAI


Our small group consisting of four mounted and one pack camel moved
northward along the valley of the River Boyagol in the direction of the
Tarbagatai Mountains. The road was rocky and covered deep with snow. Our
camels walked very carefully, sniffing out the way as our guide shouted
the "Ok! Ok!" of the camel drivers to urge them on. We left behind us
the fortress and Chinese dugun, swung round the shoulder of a ridge
and, after fording several times an open stream, began the ascent of the
mountain. The scramble was hard and dangerous. Our camels picked their
way most cautiously, moving their ears constantly, as is their habit in
such stress. The trail zigzagged into mountain ravines, passed over the
tops of ridges, slipped back down again into shallower valleys but ever
made higher and higher altitudes. At one place under the grey clouds
that tipped the ridges we saw away up on the wide expanse of snow some
black spots.

"Those are the obo, the sacred signs and altars for the bad demons
watching this pass," explained the guide. "This pass is called
Jagisstai. Many very old tales about it have been kept alive, ancient as
these mountains themselves."

We encouraged him to tell us some of them.

The Mongol, rocking on his camel and looking carefully all around him,
began his tale.

"It was long ago, very long ago. . . . The grandson of the great Jenghiz
Khan sat on the throne of China and ruled all Asia. The Chinese killed
their Khan and wanted to exterminate all his family but a holy old Lama
slipped the wife and little son out of the palace and carried them off
on swift camels beyond the Great Wall, where they sank into our native
plains. The Chinese made a long search for the trails of our refugees
and at last found where they had gone. They despatched a strong
detachment on fleet horses to capture them. Sometimes the Chinese nearly
came up with the fleeing heir of our Khan but the Lama called down from
Heaven a deep snow, through which the camels could pass while the horses
were inextricably held. This Lama was from a distant monastery. We shall
pass this hospice of Jahantsi Kure. In order to reach it one must cross
over the Jagisstai. And it was just here the old Lama suddenly became
ill, rocked in his saddle and fell dead. Ta Sin Lo, the widow of the
Great Khan, burst into tears; but, seeing the Chinese riders galloping
there below across the valley, pressed on toward the pass. The camels
were tired, stopping every moment, nor did the woman know how to
stimulate and drive them on. The Chinese riders came nearer and nearer.
Already she heard their shouts of joy, as they felt within their grasp
the prize of the mandarins for the murder of the heir of the Great
Khan. The heads of the mother and the son would be brought to Peking and
exposed on the Ch'ien Men for the mockery and insults of the people. The
frightened mother lifted her little son toward heaven and exclaimed:

"'Earth and Gods of Mongolia, behold the offspring of the man who has
glorified the name of the Mongols from one end of the world to the
other! Allow not this very flesh of Jenghiz Khan to perish!'

"At this moment she noticed a white mouse sitting on a rock nearby. It
jumped to her knees and said:

"'I am sent to help you. Go on calmly and do not fear. The pursuers of
you and your son, to whom is destined a life of glory, have come to the
last bourne of their lives.'

"Ta Sin Lo did not see how one small mouse could hold in check three
hundred men. The mouse jumped back to the ground and again spoke:

"'I am the demon of Tarbagatai, Jagasstai. I am mighty and beloved of
the Gods but, because you doubted the powers of the miracle-speaking
mouse, from this day the Jagasstai will be dangerous for the good and
bad alike.'

"The Khan's widow and son were saved but Jagasstai has ever remained
merciless. During the journey over this pass one must always be on one's
guard. The demon of the mountain is ever ready to lead the traveler to
destruction."

All the tops of the ridges of the Tarbagatai are thickly dotted with the
obo of rocks and branches. In one place there was even erected a tower
of stones as an altar to propitiate the Gods for the doubts of Ta Sin
Lo. Evidently the demon expected us. When we began our ascent of the
main ridge, he blew into our faces with a sharp, cold wind, whistled and
roared and afterwards began casting over us whole blocks of snow torn
off the drifts above. We could not distinguish anything around us,
scarcely seeing the camel immediately in front. Suddenly I felt a
shock and looked about me. Nothing unusual was visible. I was seated
comfortably between two leather saddle bags filled with meat and bread
but . . . I could not see the head of my camel. He had disappeared. It
seemed that he had slipped and fallen to the bottom of a shallow ravine,
while the bags which were slung across his back without straps had
caught on a rock and stopped with myself there in the snow. This time
the demon of Jagasstai only played a joke but one that did not satisfy
him. He began to show more and more anger. With furious gusts of wind he
almost dragged us and our bags from the camels and nearly knocked over
our humped steeds, blinded us with frozen snow and prevented us from
breathing. Through long hours we dragged slowly on in the deep snow,
often falling over the edge of the rocks. At last we entered a small
valley where the wind whistled and roared with a thousand voices. It
had grown dark. The Mongol wandered around searching for the trail and
finally came back to us, flourishing his arms and saying:

"We have lost the road. We must spend the night here. It is very bad
because we shall have no wood for our stove and the cold will grow
worse."

With great difficulties and with frozen hands we managed to set up our
tent in the wind, placing in it the now useless stove. We covered the
tent with snow, dug deep, long ditches in the drifts and forced our
camels to lie down in them by shouting the "Dzuk! Dzuk!" command to
kneel. Then we brought our packs into the tent.

My companion rebelled against the thought of spending a cold night with
a stove hard by.

"I am going out to look for firewood," said he very decisively; and at
that took up the ax and started. He returned after an hour with a big
section of a telegraph pole.

"You, Jenghiz Khans," said he, rubbing his frozen hands, "take your
axes and go up there to the left on the mountain and you will find the
telegraph poles that have been cut down. I made acquaintance with the
old Jagasstai and he showed me the poles."

Just a little way from us the line of the Russian telegraphs passed,
that which had connected Irkutsk with Uliassutai before the days of the
Bolsheviki and which the Chinese had commanded the Mongols to cut
down and take the wire. These poles are now the salvation of travelers
crossing the pass. Thus we spent the night in a warm tent, supped
well from hot meat soup with vermicelli, all in the very center of the
dominion of the angered Jagasstai. Early the next morning we found
the road not more than two or three hundred paces from our tent and
continued our hard trip over the ridge of Tarbagatai. At the head of
the Adair River valley we noticed a flock of the Mongolian crows with
carmine beaks circling among the rocks. We approached the place and
discovered the recently fallen bodies of a horse and rider. What had
happened to them was difficult to guess. They lay close together; the
bridle was wound around the right wrist of the man; no trace of knife or
bullet was found. It was impossible to make out the features of the man.
His overcoat was Mongolian but his trousers and under jacket were not of
the Mongolian pattern. We asked ourselves what had happened to him.

Our Mongol bowed his head in anxiety and said in hushed but assured
tones: "It is the vengeance of Jagasstai. The rider did not make
sacrifice at the southern obo and the demon has strangled him and his
horse."

At last Tarbagatai was behind us. Before us lay the valley of the Adair.
It was a narrow zigzagging plain following along the river bed between
close mountain ranges and covered with a rich grass. It was cut into two
parts by the road along which the prostrate telegraph poles now lay, as
the stumps of varying heights and long stretches of wire completed
the debris. This destruction of the telegraph line between Irkutsk and
Uliassutai was necessary and incident to the aggressive Chinese policy
in Mongolia.

Soon we began to meet large herds of sheep, which were digging through
the snow to the dry but very nutritious grass. In some places yaks and
oxen were seen on the high slopes of the mountains. Only once, however,
did we see a shepherd, for all of them, spying us first, had made off
to the mountains or hidden in the ravines. We did not even discover any
yurtas along the way. The Mongols had also concealed all their movable
homes in the folds of the mountains out of sight and away from the reach
of the strong winds. Nomads are very skilful in choosing the places
for their winter dwellings. I had often in winter visited the Mongolian
yurtas set in such sheltered places that, as I came off the windy
plains, I felt as though I were in a conservatory. Once we came up to
a big herd of sheep. But as we approached most of the herd gradually
withdrew, leaving one part that remained unmoved as the other worked
off across the plains. From this section soon about thirty of forty head
emerged and went scrambling and leaping right up the mountain side. I
took up my glasses and began to observe them. The part of the herd that
remained behind were common sheep; the large section that had drawn off
over the plain were Mongolian antelopes (gazella gutturosa); while
the few that had taken to the mountain were the big horned sheep (ovis
argali). All this company had been grazing together with the domestic
sheep on the plains of the Adair, which attracted them with its good
grass and clear water. In many places the river was not frozen and in
some places I saw great clouds of steam over the surface of the open
water. In the meantime some of the antelopes and the mountain sheep
began looking at us.

"Now they will soon begin to cross our trail," laughed the Mongol; "very
funny beasts. Sometimes the antelopes course for miles in their endeavor
to outrun and cross in front of our horses and then, when they have done
so, go loping quietly off."

I had already seen this strategy of the antelopes and I decided to make
use of it for the purpose of the hunt. We organized our chase in the
following manner. We let one Mongol with the pack camel proceed as
we had been traveling and the other three of us spread out like a fan
headed toward the herd on the right of our true course. The herd stopped
and looked about puzzled, for their etiquette required that they should
cross the path of all four of these riders at once. Confusion began.
They counted about three thousand heads. All this army began to run
from one side to another but without forming any distinct groups. Whole
squadrons of them ran before us and then, noticing another rider, came
coursing back and made anew the same manoeuvre. One group of about fifty
head rushed in two rows toward my point. When they were about a hundred
and fifty paces away I shouted and fired. They stopped at once and began
to whirl round in one spot, running into one another and even jumping
over one another. Their panic cost them dear, for I had time to shoot
four times to bring down two beautiful heads. My friend was even more
fortunate than I, for he shot only once into the herd as it rushed past
him in parallel lines and dropped two with the same bullet.

Meanwhile the argali had gone farther up the mountainside and taken
stand there in a row like so many soldiers, turning to gaze at us. Even
at this distance I could clearly distinguish their muscular bodies
with their majestic heads and stalwart horns. Picking up our prey, we
overtook the Mongol who had gone on ahead and continued our way. In many
places we came across the carcasses of sheep with necks torn and the
flesh of the sides eaten off.

"It is the work of wolves," said the Mongol. "They are always hereabout
in large numbers."

We came across several more herds of antelope, which ran along quietly
enough until they had made a comfortable distance ahead of us and then
with tremendous leaps and bounds crossed our bows like the proverbial
chicken on the road. Then, after a couple of hundred paces at this
speed, they stopped and began to graze quite calmly. Once I turned my
camel back and the whole herd immediately took up the challenge again,
coursed along parallel with me until they had made sufficient distance
for their ideas of safety and then once more rushed across the road
ahead of me as though it were paved with red hot stones, only to assume
their previous calmness and graze back on the same side of the trail
from which our column had first started them. On another occasion I did
this three times with a particular herd and laughed long and heartily at
their stupid customs.

We passed a very unpleasant night in this valley. We stopped on the
shore of the frozen stream in a spot where we found shelter from the
wind under the lee of a high shore. In our stove we did have a fire and
in our kettle boiling water. Also our tent was warm and cozy. We were
quietly resting with pleasant thoughts of supper to soothe us, when
suddenly a howling and laughter as though from some inferno burst upon
us from just outside the tent, while from the other side of the valley
came the long and doleful howls in answer.

"Wolves," calmly explained the Mongol, who took my revolver and went out
of the tent. He did not return for some time but at last we heard a shot
and shortly after he entered.

"I scared them a little," said he. "They had congregated on the shore of
the Adair around the body of a camel."

"And they have not touched our camels?" we asked.

"We shall make a bonfire behind our tent; then they will not bother us."

After our supper we turned in but I lay awake for a long time listening
to the crackle of the wood in the fire, the deep sighing breaths of the
camels and the distant howling of the packs of wolves; but finally, even
with all these noises, fell asleep. How long I had been asleep I did not
know when suddenly I was awakened by a strong blow in the side. I was
lying at the very edge of the tent and someone from outside had, without
the least ceremony, pushed strongly against me. I thought it was one of
the camels chewing the felt of the tent. I took my Mauser and struck the
wall. A sharp scream was followed by the sound of quick running over the
pebbles. In the morning we discovered the tracks of wolves approaching
our tent from the side opposite to the fire and followed them to where
they had begun to dig under the tent wall; but evidently one of the
would-be robbers was forced to retreat with a bruise on his head from
the handle of the Mauser.

Wolves and eagles are the servants of Jagasstai, the Mongol very
seriously instructed us. However, this does not prevent the Mongols from
hunting them. Once in the camp of Prince Baysei I witnessed such a hunt.
The Mongol horsemen on the best of his steeds overtook the wolves on the
open plain and killed them with heavy bamboo sticks or tashur. A Russian
veterinary surgeon taught the Mongols to poison wolves with strychnine
but the Mongols soon abandoned this method because of its danger to
the dogs, the faithful friends and allies of the nomad. They do not,
however, touch the eagles and hawks but even feed them. When the Mongols
are slaughtering animals they often cast bits of meat up into the air
for the hawks and eagles to catch in flight, just as we throw a bit of
meat to a dog. Eagles and hawks fight and drive away the magpies and
crows, which are very dangerous for cattle and horses, because they
scratch and peck at the smallest wound or abrasion on the backs of the
animals until they make them into uncurable areas which they continue to
harass.


CHAPTER XXI

THE NEST OF DEATH


Our camels were trudging to a slow but steady measure on toward the
north. We were making twenty-five to thirty miles a day as we approached
a small monastery that lay to the left of our route. It was in the
form of a square of large buildings surrounded by a high fence of
thick poles. Each side had an opening in the middle leading to the four
entrances of the temple in the center of the square. The temple was
built with the red lacquered columns and the Chinese style roofs and
dominated the surrounding low dwellings of the Lamas. On the opposite
side of the road lay what appeared to be a Chinese fortress but which
was in reality a trading compound or dugun, which the Chinese always
build in the form of a fortress with double walls a few feet apart,
within which they place their houses and shops and usually have twenty
or thirty traders fully armed for any emergency. In case of need these
duguns can be used as blockhouses and are capable of withstanding long
sieges. Between the dugun and the monastery and nearer to the road I
made out the camp of some nomads. Their horses and cattle were nowhere
to be seen. Evidently the Mongols had stopped here for some time and
had left their cattle in the mountains. Over several yurtas waved
multi-colored triangular flags, a sign of the presence of disease. Near
some yurtas high poles were stuck into the ground with Mongol caps at
their tops, which indicated that the host of the yurta had died. The
packs of dogs wandering over the plain showed that the dead bodies lay
somewhere near, either in the ravines or along the banks of the river.

As we approached the camp, we heard from a distance the frantic beating
of drums, the mournful sounds of the flute and shrill, mad shouting.
Our Mongol went forward to investigate for us and reported that several
Mongolian families had come here to the monastery to seek aid from the
Hutuktu Jahansti who was famed for his miracles of healing. The people
were stricken with leprosy and black smallpox and had come from long
distances only to find that the Hutuktu was not at the monastery but had
gone to the Living Buddha in Urga. Consequently they had been forced to
invite the witch doctors. The people were dying one after another. Just
the day before they had cast on the plain the twenty-seventh man.

Meanwhile, as we talked, the witch doctor came out of one of the yurtas.
He was an old man with a cataract on one eye and with a face deeply
scarred by smallpox. He was dressed in tatters with various colored bits
of cloth hanging down from his waist. He carried a drum and a flute. We
could see froth on his blue lips and madness in his eyes. Suddenly he
began to whirl round and dance with a thousand prancings of his long
legs and writhings of his arms and shoulders, still beating the drum and
playing the flute or crying and raging at intervals, ever accelerating
his movements until at last with pallid face and bloodshot eyes he fell
on the snow, where he continued to writhe and give out his incoherent
cries. In this manner the doctor treated his patients, frightening with
his madness the bad devils that carry disease. Another witch doctor gave
his patients dirty, muddy water, which I learned was the water from the
bath of the very person of the Living Buddha who had washed in it his
"divine" body born from the sacred flower of the lotus.

"Om! Om!" both witches continuously screamed.

While the doctors fought with the devils, the ill people were left to
themselves. They lay in high fever under the heaps of sheepskins and
overcoats, were delirious, raved and threw themselves about. By the
braziers squatted adults and children who were still well, indifferently
chatting, drinking tea and smoking. In all the yurtas I saw the
diseased and the dead and such misery and physical horrors as cannot be
described.

And I thought: "Oh, Great Jenghiz Khan! Why did you with your keen
understanding of the whole situation of Asia and Europe, you who devoted
all your life to the glory of the name of the Mongols, why did you not
give to your own people, who preserve their old morality, honesty and
peaceful customs, the enlightenment that would have saved them from such
death? Your bones in the mausoleum at Karakorum being destroyed by
the centuries that pass over them must cry out against the rapid
disappearance of your formerly great people, who were feared by half the
civilized world!"

Such thoughts filled my brain when I saw this camp of the dead tomorrow
and when I heard the groans, shoutings and raving of dying men,
women and children. Somewhere in the distance the dogs were howling
mournfully, and monotonously the drum of the tired witch rolled.

"Forward!" I could not witness longer this dark horror, which I had
no means or force to eradicate. We quickly passed on from the ominous
place. Nor could we shake the thought that some horrible invisible
spirit was following us from this scene of terror. "The devils of
disease?" "The pictures of horror and misery?" "The souls of men
who have been sacrificed on the altar of darkness of Mongolia?" An
inexplicable fear penetrated into our consciousness from whose grasp
we could not release ourselves. Only when we had turned from the road,
passed over a timbered ridge into a bowl in the mountains from which we
could see neither Jahantsi Kure, the dugun nor the squirming grave of
dying Mongols could we breathe freely again.

Presently we discovered a large lake. It was Tisingol. Near the shore
stood a large Russian house, the telegraph station between Kosogol and
Uliassutai.


CHAPTER XXII

AMONG THE MURDERERS


As we approached the telegraph station, we were met by a blonde young
man who was in charge of the office, Kanine by name. With some little
confusion he offered us a place in his house for the night. When we
entered the room, a tall, lanky man rose from the table and indecisively
walked toward us, looking very attentively at us the while.

"Guests . . ." explained Kanine. "They are going to Khathyl. Private
persons, strangers, foreigners . . ."

"A-h," drawled the stranger in a quiet, comprehending tone.

While we were untying our girdles and with difficulty getting out of our
great Mongolian coats, the tall man was animatedly whispering something
to our host. As we approached the table to sit down and rest, I
overheard him say: "We are forced to postpone it," and saw Kanine simply
nod in answer.

Several other people were seated at the table, among them the assistant
of Kanine, a tall blonde man with a white face, who talked like a
Gatling gun about everything imaginable. He was half crazy and his
semi-madness expressed itself when any loud talking, shouting or sudden
sharp report led him to repeat the words of the one to whom he was
talking at the time or to relate in a mechanical, hurried manner stories
of what was happening around him just at this particular juncture. The
wife of Kanine, a pale, young, exhausted-looking woman with frightened
eyes and a face distorted by fear, was also there and near her a young
girl of fifteen with cropped hair and dressed like a man, as well as
the two small sons of Kanine. We made acquaintance with all of them.
The tall stranger called himself Gorokoff, a Russian colonist from
Samgaltai, and presented the short-haired girl as his sister. Kanine's
wife looked at us with plainly discernible fear and said nothing,
evidently displeased over our being there. However, we had no choice and
consequently began drinking tea and eating our bread and cold meat.

Kanine told us that ever since the telegraph line had been destroyed all
his family and relatives had felt very keenly the poverty and hardship
that naturally followed. The Bolsheviki did not send him any salary from
Irkutsk, so that he was compelled to shift for himself as best he
could. They cut and cured hay for sale to the Russian colonists,
handled private messages and merchandise from Khathyl to Uliassutai and
Samgaltai, bought and sold cattle, hunted and in this manner managed to
exist. Gorokoff announced that his commercial affairs compelled him
to go to Khathyl and that he and his sister would be glad to join
our caravan. He had a most unprepossessing, angry-looking face with
colorless eyes that always avoided those of the person with whom he was
speaking. During the conversation we asked Kanine if there were Russian
colonists near by, to which he answered with knitted brow and a look of
disgust on his face:

"There is one rich old man, Bobroff, who lives a verst away from our
station; but I would not advise you to visit him. He is a miserly,
inhospitable old fellow who does not like guests."

During these words of her husband Madame Kanine dropped her eyes and
contracted her shoulders in something resembling a shudder. Gorokoff and
his sister smoked along indifferently. I very clearly remarked all this
as well as the hostile tone of Kanine, the confusion of his wife and
the artificial indifference of Gorokoff; and I determined to see the
old colonist given such a bad name by Kanine. In Uliassutai I knew
two Bobroffs. I said to Kanine that I had been asked to hand a letter
personally to Bobroff and, after finishing my tea, put on my overcoat
and went out.

The house of Bobroff stood in a deep sink in the mountains, surrounded
by a high fence over which the low roofs of the houses could be seen. A
light shone through the window. I knocked at the gate. A furious barking
of dogs answered me and through the cracks of the fence I made out four
huge black Mongol dogs, showing their teeth and growling as they rushed
toward the gate. Inside the court someone opened the door and called
out: "Who is there?"

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

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

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

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

"Gorokoff?" I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"It is an old score," growled Gorokoff.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER XXIII

ON A VOLCANO


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Come in," said Gay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER XXIV

A BLOODY CHASTISEMENT


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

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

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

"Enter, please," he said hospitably.

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

"Don't trouble yourself. The Bobroffs are killed and their house
burned."

I could not keep back a cry of horror.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"'I want to tell you about everything,' she said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER XXV

HARASSING DAYS


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER XXVI

THE BAND OF WHITE HUNGHUTZES


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

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

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

"What?" he exclaimed with fear and confusion, "the Reds?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Who is he? High Prince and warrior or shepherd and brute?"

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

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

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


CHAPTER XXVII

MYSTERY IN A SMALL TEMPLE


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Fortune is always with you and with your family. God's goodness will
not forsake you."

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER XXVIII

THE BREATH OF DEATH


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Part III

THE STRAINING HEART OF ASIA


CHAPTER XXIX

ON THE ROAD OF GREAT CONQUERORS


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"And what happened to Damcharen?" I inquired.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"This is the answer," I thought.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER XXX

ARRESTED!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I freed you and myself from humiliation," I explained.

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

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

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

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

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


CHAPTER XXXI

TRAVELING BY "URGA"


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

"Noyon has the right of 'urga.' Horses will be brought very soon."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bogdo clapped his hands and one of the secretaries took from a red
kerchief a big silver key with which he unlocked the chest with the
seals. The Living Buddha slipped his hand into the chest and drew forth
a small box of carved ivory, from which he took out and showed to me a
large gold ring set with a magnificent ruby carved with the sign of the
swastika.

"This ring was always worn on the right hand of the Khans Jenghiz and
Kublai," said the Bogdo.

When the secretary had closed the chest, the Bogdo ordered him to
summon his favorite Maramba, whom he directed to read some pages from an
ancient book lying on the table. The Lama began to read monotonously.

"When Gushi Khan, the Chief of all the Olets or Kalmucks, finished the
war with the 'Red Caps' in Tibet, he carried out with him the miraculous
'black stone' sent to the Dalai Lama by the 'King of the World.' Gushi
Khan wanted to create in Western Mongolia the capital of the Yellow
Faith; but the Olets at that time were at war with the Manchu Emperors
for the throne of China and suffered one defeat after another. The last
Khan of the Olets, Amursana, ran away into Russia but before his escape
sent to Urga the sacred 'black stone.' While it remained in Urga so that
the Living Buddha could bless the people with it, disease and misfortune
never touched the Mongolians and their cattle. About one hundred years
ago, however, some one stole the sacred stone and since then Buddhists
have vainly sought it throughout the whole world. With its disappearance
the Mongol people began gradually to die."

"Enough!" ordered Bogdo Gheghen. "Our neighbors hold us in contempt.
They forget that we were their sovereigns but we preserve our holy
traditions and we know that the day of triumph of the Mongolian tribes
and the Yellow Faith will come. We have the Protectors of the Faith, the
Buriats. They are the truest guardians of the bequests of Jenghiz Khan."

So spoke the Living Buddha and so have spoken the ancient books!


CHAPTER XLII

THE BOOKS OF MIRACLES


Prince Djam Bolon asked a Maramba to show us the library of the Living
Buddha. It is a big room occupied by scores of writers who prepare the
works dealing with the miracles of all the Living Buddhas, beginning
with Undur Gheghen and ending with those of the Gheghens and Hutuktus of
the different Mongol monasteries. These books are afterwards distributed
through all the Lama Monasteries, temples and schools of Bandi. A
Maramba read two selections:

". . . The beatific Bogdo Gheghen breathed on a mirror. Immediately
as through a haze there appeared the picture of a valley in which many
thousands of thousands of warriors fought one against another. . . ."

"The wise and favored-of-the-gods Living Buddha burned incense in a
brazier and prayed to the Gods to reveal the lot of the Princes. In the
blue smoke all saw a dark prison and the pallid, tortured bodies of the
dead Princes. . . ."

A special book, already done into thousands of copies, dwelt upon the
miracles of the present Living Buddha. Prince Djam Bolon described to me
some of the contents of this volume.

"There exists an ancient wooden Buddha with open eyes. He was brought
here from India and Bogdo Gheghen placed him on the altar and began to
pray. When he returned from the shrine, he ordered the statue of Buddha
brought out. All were struck with amazement, for the eyes of the God
were shut and tears were falling from them; from the wooden body green
sprouts appeared; and the Bogdo said:

"'Woe and joy are awaiting me. I shall become blind but Mongolia will be
free.'

"The prophecy is fulfilled. At another time, on a day when the Living
Buddha was very much excited, he ordered a basin of water brought and
set before the altar. He called the Lamas and began to pray. Suddenly
the altar candles and lamps lighted themselves and the water in the
basin became iridescent."

Afterwards the Prince described to me how the Bogdo Khan tells fortunes
with fresh blood, upon whose surface appear words and pictures; with the
entrails of sheep and goats, according to whose distribution the Bogdo
reads the fate of the Princes and knows their thoughts; with stones and
bones from which the Living Buddha with great accuracy reads the lot of
all men; and by the stars, in accordance with whose positions the Bogdo
prepares amulets against bullets and disease.

"The former Bogdo Khans told fortunes only by the use of the 'black
stone,'" said the Maramba. "On the surface of the stone appeared Tibetan
inscriptions which the Bogdo read and thus learned the lot of whole
nations."

When the Maramba spoke of the black stone with the Tibetan legends
appearing on it, I at once recalled that it was possible. In
southeastern Urianhai, in Ulan Taiga, I came across a place where black
slate was decomposing. All the pieces of this slate were covered with a
special white lichen, which formed very complicated designs, reminding
me of a Venetian lace pattern or whole pages of mysterious runes. When
the slate was wet, these designs disappeared; and then, as they were
dried, the patterns came out again.

Nobody has the right or dares to ask the Living Buddha to tell his
fortune. He predicts only when he feels the inspiration or when a
special delegate comes to him bearing a request for it from the Dalai
Lama or the Tashi Lama. When the Russian Czar, Alexander I, fell under
the influence of Baroness Kzudener and of her extreme mysticism,
he despatched a special envoy to the Living Buddha to ask about his
destiny. The then Bogdo Khan, quite a young man, told his fortune
according to the "black stone" and predicted that the White Czar would
finish his life in very painful wanderings unknown to all and everywhere
pursued. In Russia today there exists a popular belief that Alexander
I spent the last days of his life as a wanderer throughout Russia and
Siberia under the pseudonym of Feodor Kusmitch, helping and consoling
prisoners, beggars and other suffering people, often pursued and
imprisoned by the police and finally dying at Tomsk in Siberia, where
even until now they have preserved the house where he spent his
last days and have kept his grave sacred, a place of pilgrimages and
miracles. The former dynasty of Romanoff was deeply interested in the
biography of Feodor Kusmitch and this interest fixed the opinion that
Kusmitch was really the Czar Alexander I, who had voluntarily taken upon
himself this severe penance.


CHAPTER XLIII

THE BIRTH OF THE LIVING BUDDHA


The Living Buddha does not die. His soul sometimes passes into that of
a child born on the day of his death and sometimes transfers itself to
another being during the life of the Buddha. This new mortal dwelling
of the sacred spirit of the Buddha almost always appears in the yurta
of some poor Tibetan or Mongol family. There is a reason of policy for
this. If the Buddha appears in the family of a rich prince, it could
result in the elevation of a family that would not yield obedience to
the clergy (and such has happened in the past), while on the other
hand any poor, unknown family that becomes the heritor of the throne
of Jenghiz Khan acquires riches and is readily submissive to the Lamas.
Only three or four Living Buddhas were of purely Mongolian origin; the
remainder were Tibetans.

One of the Councillors of the Living Buddha, Lama-Khan Jassaktu, told me
the following:

"In the monasteries at Lhasa and Tashi Lumpo they are kept constantly
informed through letters from Urga about the health of the Living
Buddha. When his human body becomes old and the Spirit of Buddha strives
to extricate itself, special solemn services begin in the Tibetan
temples together with the telling of fortunes by astrology. These rites
indicate the specially pious Lamas who must discover where the Spirit
of the Buddha will be re-incarnated. For this purpose they travel
throughout the whole land and observe. Often God himself gives them
signs and indications. Sometimes the white wolf appears near the yurta
of a poor shepherd or a lamb with two heads is born or a meteor falls
from the sky. Some Lamas take fish from the sacred lake Tangri Nor and
read on the scales thereof the name of the new Bogdo Khan; others pick
out stones whose cracks indicate to them where they must search and
whom they must find; while others secrete themselves in narrow mountain
ravines to listen to the voices of the spirits of the mountains,
pronouncing the name of the new choice of the Gods. When he is found,
all the possible information about his family is secretly collected and
presented to the Most Learned Tashi Lama, having the name of Erdeni,
"The Great Gem of Learning," who, according to the runes of Rama,
verifies the selection. If he is in agreement with it, he sends a secret
letter to the Dalai Lama, who holds a special sacrifice in the Temple of
the 'Spirit of the Mountains' and confirms the election by putting his
great seal on this letter of the Tashi Lama.

"If the old Living Buddha be still alive, the name of his successor is
kept a deep secret; if the Spirit of Buddha has already gone out from
the body of Bogdo Khan, a special legation appears from Tibet with the
new Living Buddha. The same process accompanies the election of the
Gheghen and Hutuktus in all the Lamaite monasteries in Mongolia; but
confirmation of the election resides with the Living Buddha and is only
announced to Lhasa after the event."


CHAPTER XLIV

A PAGE IN THE HISTORY OF THE PRESENT LIVING BUDDHA


The present Bogdo Khan of Outer Mongolia is a Tibetan. He sprang from a
poor family living in the neighborhood of Sakkia Kure in western Tibet.
From earliest youth he had a stormy, quite unaesthetic nature. He was
fired with the idea of the independence and glorification of Mongolia
and the successors of Jenghiz Khan. This gave him at once a great
influence among the Lamas, Princes and Khans of Mongolia and also with
the Russian Government which always tried to attract him to their side.
He did not fear to arraign himself against the Manchu dynasty in China
and always had the help of Russia, Tibet, the Buriats and Kirghiz,
furnishing him with money, weapons, warriors and diplomatic aid. The
Chinese Emperors avoided open war with the Living God, because it might
arouse the protests of the Chinese Buddhists. At one time they sent to
the Bogdo Khan a skilful doctor-poisoner. The Living Buddha, however, at
once understood the meaning of this medical attention and, knowing the
power of Asiatic poisons, decided to make a journey through the Mongol
monasteries and through Tibet. As his substitute he left a Hubilgan who
made friends with the Chinese doctor and inquired from him the purposes
and details of his arrival. Very soon the Chinese died from some unknown
cause and the Living Buddha returned to his comfortable capital.

On another occasion danger threatened the Living God. It was when Lhasa
decided that the Bogdo Khan was carrying out a policy too independent of
Tibet. The Dalai Lama began negotiations with several Khans and Princes
with the Sain Noion Khan and Jassaktu Khan leading the movement and
persuaded them to accelerate the immigration of the Spirit of Buddha
into another human form. They came to Urga where the Bogdo Khan met
them with honors and rejoicings. A great feast was made for them and the
conspirators already felt themselves the accomplishers of the orders
of the Dalai Lama. However, at the end of the feast, they had different
feelings and died with them during the night. The Living Buddha ordered
their bodies sent with full honors to their families.

The Bogdo Khan knows every thought, every movement of the Princes and
Khans, the slightest conspiracy against himself, and the offender is
usually kindly invited to Urga, from where he does not return alive.

The Chinese Government decided to terminate the line of the Living
Buddhas. Ceasing to fight with the Pontiff of Urga, the Government
contrived the following scheme for accomplishing its ends.

Peking invited the Pandita Gheghen from Dolo Nor and the head of the
Chinese Lamaites, the Hutuktu of Utai, both of whom do not recognize the
supremacy of the Living Buddha, to come to the capital. They decided,
after consulting the old Buddhistic books, that the present Bogdo Khan
was to be the last Living Buddha, because that part of the Spirit of
Buddha which dwells in the Bogdo Khans can abide only thirty-one times
in the human body. Bogdo Khan is the thirty-first Incarnated Buddha from
the time of Undur Gheghen and with him, therefore, the dynasty of
the Urga Pontiffs must cease. However, on hearing this the Bogdo Khan
himself did some research work and found in the old Tibetan manuscripts
that one of the Tibetan Pontiffs was married and his son was a natural
Incarnated Buddha. So the Bogdo Khan married and now has a son, a
very capable and energetic young man, and thus the religious throne of
Jenghiz Khan will not be left empty. The dynasty of the Chinese emperors
disappeared from the stage of political events but the Living Buddha
continues to be a center for the Pan-Asiatic idea.

The new Chinese Government in 1920 held the Living Buddha under arrest
in his palace but at the beginning of 1921 Baron Ungern crossed the
sacred Bogdo-Ol and approached the palace from the rear. Tibetan riders
shot the Chinese sentries with bow and arrow and afterwards the Mongols
penetrated into the palace and stole their "God," who immediately
stirred up all Mongolia and awakened the hopes of the Asiatic peoples
and tribes.

In the great palace of the Bogdo a Lama showed me a special casket
covered with a precious carpet, wherein they keep the bulls of the Dalai
and Tashi Lamas, the decrees of the Russian and Chinese Emperors and the
Treaties between Mongolia, Russia, China and Tibet. In this same casket
is the copper plate bearing the mysterious sign of the "King of the
World" and the chronicle of the last vision of the Living Buddha.


CHAPTER XLV

THE VISION OF THE LIVING BUDDHA OF MAY 17, 1921


"I prayed and saw that which is hidden from the eyes of the people. A
vast plain was spread before me surrounded by distant mountains. An old
Lama carried a basket filled with heavy stones. He hardly moved. From
the north a rider appeared in white robes and mounted on a white horse.
He approached the Lama and said to him:

"'Give me your basket. I shall help you to carry them to the Kure.'

"The Lama handed his heavy burden up to him but the rider could not
raise it to his saddle so that the old Lama had to place it back on his
shoulder and continue on his way, bent under its heavy weight. Then from
the north came another rider in black robes and on a black horse, who
also approached the Lama and said:

"'Stupid! Why do you carry these stones when they are everywhere about
the ground?'

"With these words he pushed the Lama over with the breast of his horse
and scattered the stones about the ground. When the stones touched the
earth, they became diamonds. All three rushed to raise them but not
one of them could break them loose from the ground. Then the old Lama
exclaimed:

"'Oh Gods! All my life I have carried this heavy burden and now, when
there was left so little to go, I have lost it. Help me, great, good
Gods!'

"Suddenly a tottering old man appeared. He collected all the diamonds
into the basket without trouble, cleaned the dust from them, raised the
burden to his shoulder and started out, speaking with the Lama:

"'Rest a while, I have just carried my burden to the goal and I am glad
to help you with yours.'

"They went on and were soon out of sight, while the riders began to
fight. They fought one whole day and then the whole night and, when the
sun rose over the plain, neither was there, either alive or dead, and no
trace of either remained. This I saw, Bogdo Hutuktu Khan, speaking with
the Great and Wise Buddha, surrounded by the good and bad demons! Wise
Lamas, Hutuktus, Kampos, Marambas and Holy Gheghens, give the answer to
my vision!"

This was written in my presence on May 17th, 1921, from the words of the
Living Buddha just as he came out of his private shrine to his study.
I do not know what the Hutuktu and Gheghens, the fortune tellers,
sorcerers and clairvoyants replied to him; but does not the answer seem
clear, if one realizes the present situation in Asia?

Awakened Asia is full of enigmas but it is also full of answers to
the questions set by the destiny of humankind. This great continent of
mysterious Pontiffs, Living Gods, Mahatmas and readers of the terrible
book of Karma is awakening and the ocean of hundreds of millions of
human lives is lashed with monstrous waves.



Part V

MYSTERY OF MYSTERIES--THE KING OF THE WORLD


CHAPTER XLVI

THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM


"Stop!" whispered my old Mongol guide, as we were one day crossing the
plain near Tzagan Luk. "Stop!"

He slipped from his camel which lay down without his bidding. The Mongol
raised his hands in prayer before his face and began to repeat the
sacred phrase: "Om! Mani padme Hung!" The other Mongols immediately
stopped their camels and began to pray.

"What has happened?" I thought, as I gazed round over the tender green
grass, up to the cloudless sky and out toward the dreamy soft rays of
the evening sun.

The Mongols prayed for some time, whispered among themselves and, after
tightening up the packs on the camels, moved on.

"Did you see," asked the Mongol, "how our camels moved their ears in
fear? How the herd of horses on the plain stood fixed in attention and
how the herds of sheep and cattle lay crouched close to the ground? Did
you notice that the birds did not fly, the marmots did not run and the
dogs did not bark? The air trembled softly and bore from afar the music
of a song which penetrated to the hearts of men, animals and birds
alike. Earth and sky ceased breathing. The wind did not blow and the sun
did not move. At such a moment the wolf that is stealing up on the sheep
arrests his stealthy crawl; the frightened herd of antelopes suddenly
checks its wild course; the knife of the shepherd cutting the sheep's
throat falls from his hand; the rapacious ermine ceases to stalk the
unsuspecting salga. All living beings in fear are involuntarily thrown
into prayer and waiting for their fate. So it was just now. Thus it has
always been whenever the King of the World in his subterranean palace
prays and searches out the destiny of all peoples on the earth."

In this wise the old Mongol, a simple, coarse shepherd and hunter, spoke
to me.

Mongolia with her nude and terrible mountains, her limitless plains,
covered with the widely strewn bones of the forefathers, gave birth
to Mystery. Her people, frightened by the stormy passions of Nature or
lulled by her deathlike peace, feel her mystery. Her "Red" and "Yellow
Lamas" preserve and poetize her mystery. The Pontiffs of Lhasa and Urga
know and possess her mystery.

On my journey into Central Asia I came to know for the first time about
"the Mystery of Mysteries," which I can call by no other name. At the
outset I did not pay much attention to it and did not attach to it such
importance as I afterwards realized belonged to it, when I had analyzed
and connoted many sporadic, hazy and often controversial bits of
evidence.

The old people on the shore of the River Amyl related to me an ancient
legend to the effect that a certain Mongolian tribe in their escape from
the demands of Jenghiz Khan hid themselves in a subterranean country.
Afterwards a Soyot from near the Lake of Nogan Kul showed me the smoking
gate that serves as the entrance to the "Kingdom of Agharti." Through
this gate a hunter formerly entered into the Kingdom and, after his
return, began to relate what he had seen there. The Lamas cut out
his tongue in order to prevent him from telling about the Mystery of
Mysteries. When he arrived at old age, he came back to the entrance of
this cave and disappeared into the subterranean kingdom, the memory of
which had ornamented and lightened his nomad heart.

I received more realistic information about this from Hutuktu Jelyb
Djamsrap in Narabanchi Kure. He told me the story of the semi-realistic
arrival of the powerful King of the World from the subterranean kingdom,
of his appearance, of his miracles and of his prophecies; and only then
did I begin to understand that in that legend, hypnosis or mass vision,
whichever it may be, is hidden not only mystery but a realistic and
powerful force capable of influencing the course of the political life
of Asia. From that moment I began making some investigations.

The favorite Gelong Lama of Prince Chultun Beyli and the Prince himself
gave me an account of the subterranean kingdom.

"Everything in the world," said the Gelong, "is constantly in a state of
change and transition--peoples science, religions, laws and customs. How
many great empires and brilliant cultures have perished! And that alone
which remains unchanged is Evil, the tool of Bad Spirits. More than
sixty thousand years ago a Holyman disappeared with a whole tribe of
people under the ground and never appeared again on the surface of the
earth. Many people, however, have since visited this kingdom, Sakkia
Mouni, Undur Gheghen, Paspa, Khan Baber and others. No one knows where
this place is. One says Afghanistan, others India. All the people there
are protected against Evil and crimes do not exist within its bournes.
Science has there developed calmly and nothing is threatened with
destruction. The subterranean people have reached the highest knowledge.
Now it is a large kingdom, millions of men with the King of the World
as their ruler. He knows all the forces of the world and reads all the
souls of humankind and the great book of their destiny. Invisibly he
rules eight hundred million men on the surface of the earth and they
will accomplish his every order."

Prince Chultun Beyli added: "This kingdom is Agharti. It extends
throughout all the subterranean passages of the whole world. I heard a
learned Lama of China relating to Bogdo Khan that all the subterranean
caves of America are inhabited by the ancient people who have
disappeared underground. Traces of them are still found on the surface
of the land. These subterranean peoples and spaces are governed by
rulers owing allegiance to the King of the World. In it there is not
much of the wonderful. You know that in the two greatest oceans of the
east and the west there were formerly two continents. They disappeared
under the water but their people went into the subterranean kingdom. In
underground caves there exists a peculiar light which affords growth to
the grains and vegetables and long life without disease to the people.
There are many different peoples and many different tribes. An old
Buddhist Brahman in Nepal was carrying out the will of the Gods in
making a visit to the ancient kingdom of Jenghiz,--Siam,--where he met a
fisherman who ordered him to take a place in his boat and sail with him
upon the sea. On the third day they reached an island where he met a
people having two tongues which could speak separately in different
languages. They showed to him peculiar, unfamiliar animals, tortoises
with sixteen feet and one eye, huge snakes with a very tasty flesh and
birds with teeth which caught fish for their masters in the sea. These
people told him that they had come up out of the subterranean kingdom
and described to him certain parts of the underground country."

The Lama Turgut traveling with me from Urga to Peking gave me further
details.

"The capital of Agharti is surrounded with towns of high priests and
scientists. It reminds one of Lhasa where the palace of the Dalai
Lama, the Potala, is the top of a mountain covered with monasteries and
temples. The throne of the King of the World is surrounded by millions
of incarnated Gods. They are the Holy Panditas. The palace itself is
encircled by the palaces of the Goro, who possess all the visible and
invisible forces of the earth, of inferno and of the sky and who can do
everything for the life and death of man. If our mad humankind should
begin a war against them, they would be able to explode the whole
surface of our planet and transform it into deserts. They can dry up
the seas, transform lands into oceans and scatter the mountains into the
sands of the deserts. By his order trees, grasses and bushes can be made
to grow; old and feeble men can become young and stalwart; and the dead
can be resurrected. In cars strange and unknown to us they rush through
the narrow cleavages inside our planet. Some Indian Brahmans and Tibetan
Dalai Lamas during their laborious struggles to the peaks of mountains
which no other human feet had trod have found there inscriptions carved
on the rocks, footprints in the snow and the tracks of wheels. The
blissful Sakkia Mouni found on one mountain top tablets of stone
carrying words which he only understood in his old age and afterwards
penetrated into the Kingdom of Agharti, from which he brought back
crumbs of the sacred learning preserved in his memory. There in palaces
of wonderful crystal live the invisible rulers of all pious people, the
King of the World or Brahytma, who can speak with God as I speak with
you, and his two assistants, Mahytma, knowing the purposes of future
events, and Mahynga, ruling the causes of these events."

"The Holy Panditas study the world and all its forces. Sometimes the
most learned among them collect together and send envoys to that place
where the human eyes have never penetrated. This is described by
the Tashi Lama living eight hundred and fifty years ago. The highest
Panditas place their hands on their eyes and at the base of the brain of
younger ones and force them into a deep sleep, wash their bodies with an
infusion of grass and make them immune to pain and harder than stones,
wrap them in magic cloths, bind them and then pray to the Great God. The
petrified youths lie with eyes and ears open and alert, seeing, hearing
and remembering everything. Afterwards a Goro approaches and fastens a
long, steady gaze upon them. Very slowly the bodies lift themselves from
the earth and disappear. The Goro sits and stares with fixed eyes to the
place whither he has sent them. Invisible threads join them to his will.
Some of them course among the stars, observe their events, their unknown
peoples, their life and their laws. They listen to their talk, read
their books, understand their fortunes and woes, their holiness and
sins, their piety and evil. Some are mingled with flame and see the
creature of fire, quick and ferocious, eternally fighting, melting and
hammering metals in the depths of planets, boiling the water for geysers
and springs, melting the rocks and pushing out molten streams over the
surface of the earth through the holes in the mountains. Others rush
together with the ever elusive, infinitesimally small, transparent
creatures of the air and penetrate into the mysteries of their existence
and into the purposes of their life. Others slip into the depths of the
seas and observe the kingdom of the wise creatures of the water, who
transport and spread genial warmth all over the earth, ruling the winds,
waves and storms. . . . In Erdeni Dzu formerly lived Pandita Hutuktu,
who had come from Agharti. As he was dying, he told about the time when
he lived according to the will of the Goro on a red star in the east,
floated in the ice-covered ocean and flew among the stormy fires in the
depths of the earth."

These are the tales which I heard in the Mongolian yurtas of Princes and
in the Lamaite monasteries. These stories were all related in a solemn
tone which forbade challenge and doubt.

Mystery. . . .


CHAPTER XLVII

THE KING OF THE WORLD BEFORE THE FACE OF GOD


During my stay in Urga I tried to find an explanation of this legend
about the King of the World. Of course, the Living Buddha could tell
me most of all and so I endeavored to get the story from him. In a
conversation with him I mentioned the name of the King of the World.
The old Pontiff sharply turned his head toward me and fixed upon me his
immobile, blind eyes. Unwillingly I became silent. Our silence was a
long one and after it the Pontiff continued the conversation in such
a way that I understood he did not wish to accept the suggestion of my
reference. On the faces of the others present I noticed expressions of
astonishment and fear produced by my words, and especially was this
true of the custodian of the library of the Bogdo Khan. One can readily
understand that all this only made me the more anxious to press the
pursuit.

As I was leaving the study of the Bogdo Hutuktu, I met the librarian
who had stepped out ahead of me and asked him if he would show me the
library of the Living Buddha and used a very simple, sly trick with him.

"Do you know, my dear Lama," I said, "once I rode in the plain at the
hour when the King of the World spoke with God and I felt the impressive
majesty of this moment."

To my astonishment the old Lama very quietly answered me: "It is not
right that the Buddhist and our Yellow Faith should conceal it. The
acknowledgment of the existence of the most holy and most powerful man,
of the blissful kingdom, of the great temple of sacred science is such
a consolation to our sinful hearts and our corrupt lives that to
conceal it from humankind is a sin. . . . Well, listen," he continued,
"throughout the whole year the King of the World guides the work of the
Panditas and Goros of Agharti. Only at times he goes to the temple cave
where the embalmed body of his predecessor lies in a black stone coffin.
This cave is always dark, but when the King of the World enters it
the walls are striped with fire and from the lid of the coffin appear
tongues of flame. The eldest Goro stands before him with covered head
and face and with hands folded across his chest. This Goro never removes
the covering from his face, for his head is a nude skull with living
eyes and a tongue that speaks. He is in communion with the souls of all
who have gone before.

"The King of the World prays for a long time and afterwards approaches
the coffin and stretches out his hand. The flames thereon burn brighter;
the stripes of fire on the walls disappear and revive, interlace and
form mysterious signs from the alphabet vatannan. From the coffin
transparent bands of scarcely noticeable light begin to flow forth.
These are the thoughts of his predecessor. Soon the King of the World
stands surrounded by an auriole of this light and fiery letters write
and write upon the walls the wishes and orders of God. At this moment
the King of the World is in contact with the thoughts of all the men who
influence the lot and life of all humankind: with Kings, Czars, Khans,
warlike leaders, High Priests, scientists and other strong men. He
realizes all their thoughts and plans. If these be pleasing before God,
the King of the World will invisibly help them; if they are unpleasant
in the sight of God, the King will bring them to destruction. This power
is given to Agharti by the mysterious science of 'Om,' with which we
begin all our prayers. 'Om' is the name of an ancient Holyman, the first
Goro, who lived three hundred thirty thousand years ago. He was the
first man to know God and who taught humankind to believe, hope and
struggle with Evil. Then God gave him power over all forces ruling the
visible world.

"After his conversation with his predecessor the King of the World
assembles the 'Great Council of God,' judges the actions and thoughts
of great men, helps them or destroys them. Mahytma and Mahynga find the
place for these actions and thoughts in the causes ruling the world.
Afterwards the King of the World enters the great temple and prays in
solitude. Fire appears on the altar, gradually spreading to all the
altars near, and through the burning flame gradually appears the face of
God. The King of the World reverently announces to God the decisions and
awards of the 'Council of God' and receives in turn the Divine orders of
the Almighty. As he comes forth from the temple, the King of the World
radiates with Divine Light."


CHAPTER XLVIII

REALITY OR RELIGIOUS FANTASY?


"Has anybody seen the King of the World?" I asked.

"Oh, yes!" answered the Lama. "During the solemn holidays of the ancient
Buddhism in Siam and India the King of the World appeared five times.
He rode in a splendid car drawn by white elephants and ornamented with
gold, precious stones and finest fabrics; he was robed in a white mantle
and red tiara with strings of diamonds masking his face. He blessed the
people with a golden apple with the figure of a Lamb above it. The
blind received their sight, the dumb spoke, the deaf heard, the crippled
freely moved and the dead arose, wherever the eyes of the King of the
World rested. He also appeared five hundred and forty years ago in
Erdeni Dzu, he was in the ancient Sakkai Monastery and in the Narabanchi
Kure.

"One of our Living Buddhas and one of the Tashi Lamas received a message
from him, written with unknown signs on golden tablets. No one could
read these signs. The Tashi Lama entered the temple, placed the golden
tablet on his head and began to pray. With this the thoughts of the
King of the World penetrated his brain and, without having read the
enigmatical signs, he understood and accomplished the message of the
King."

"How many persons have ever been to Agharti?" I questioned him.

"Very many," answered the Lama, "but all these people have kept secret
that which they saw there. When the Olets destroyed Lhasa, one of their
detachments in the southwestern mountains penetrated to the outskirts
of Agharti. Here they learned some of the lesser mysterious sciences
and brought them to the surface of our earth. This is why the Olets
and Kalmucks are artful sorcerers and prophets. Also from the eastern
country some tribes of black people penetrated to Agharti and lived
there many centuries. Afterwards they were thrust out from the kingdom
and returned to the earth, bringing with them the mystery of predictions
according to cards, grasses and the lines of the palm. They are the
Gypsies. . . . Somewhere in the north of Asia a tribe exists which is
now dying and which came from the cave of Agharti, skilled in calling
back the spirits of the dead as they float through the air."

The Lama was silent and afterwards, as though answering my thoughts,
continued.

"In Agharti the learned Panditas write on tablets of stone all the
science of our planet and of the other worlds. The Chinese learned
Buddhists know this. Their science is the highest and purest. Every
century one hundred sages of China collect in a secret place on
the shores of the sea, where from its depths come out one hundred
eternally-living tortoises. On their shells the Chinese write all the
developments of the divine science of the century."

As I write I am involuntarily reminded of a tale of an old Chinese bonze
in the Temple of Heaven at Peking. He told me that tortoises live more
than three thousand years without food and air and that this is the
reason why all the columns of the blue Temple of Heaven were set on live
tortoises to preserve the wood from decay.

"Several times the Pontiffs of Lhasa and Urga have sent envoys to the
King of the World," said the Lama librarian, "but they could not find
him. Only a certain Tibetan leader after a battle with the Olets found
the cave with the inscription: 'This is the gate to Agharti.' From the
cave a fine appearing man came forth, presented him with a gold tablet
bearing the mysterious signs and said:

"'The King of the World will appear before all people when the time
shall have arrived for him to lead all the good people of the world
against all the bad; but this time has not yet come. The most evil among
mankind have not yet been born.

"Chiang Chun Baron Ungern sent the young Prince Pounzig to seek out the
King of the World but he returned with a letter from the Dalai Lama from
Lhasa. When the Baron sent him a second time, he did not come back."


CHAPTER XLIX

THE PROPHECY OF THE KING OF THE WORLD IN 1890


The Hutuktu of Narabanchi related the following to me, when I visited
him in his monastery in the beginning of 1921:

"When the King of the World appeared before the Lamas, favored of God,
in this monastery thirty years ago he made a prophecy for the coming
half century. It was as follows:

"'More and more the people will forget their souls and care about their
bodies. The greatest sin and corruption will reign on the earth. People
will become as ferocious animals, thirsting for the blood and death
of their brothers. The 'Crescent' will grow dim and its followers will
descend into beggary and ceaseless war. Its conquerors will be stricken
by the sun but will not progress upward and twice they will be visited
with the heaviest misfortune, which will end in insult before the eye of
the other peoples. The crowns of kings, great and small, will fall . . .
one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. . . . There will be
a terrible battle among all the peoples. The seas will become red . . .
the earth and the bottom of the seas will be strewn with bones . . .
kingdoms will be scattered . . . whole peoples will die . . . hunger,
disease, crimes unknown to the law, never before seen in the world. The
enemies of God and of the Divine Spirit in man will come. Those who take
the hand of another shall also perish. The forgotten and pursued shall
rise and hold the attention of the whole world. There will be fogs
and storms. Bare mountains shall suddenly be covered with forests.
Earthquakes will come. . . . Millions will change the fetters of slavery
and humiliation for hunger, disease and death. The ancient roads will
be covered with crowds wandering from one place to another. The greatest
and most beautiful cities shall perish in fire . . . one, two, three.
. . . Father shall rise against son, brother against brother and mother
against daughter. . . . Vice, crime and the destruction of body and soul
shall follow. . . . Families shall be scattered. . . . Truth and love
shall disappear. . . . From ten thousand men one shall remain; he shall
be nude and mad and without force and the knowledge to build him a house
and find his food. . . . He will howl as the raging wolf, devour dead
bodies, bite his own flesh and challenge God to fight. . . . All the
earth will be emptied. God will turn away from it and over it there will
be only night and death. Then I shall send a people, now unknown, which
shall tear out the weeds of madness and vice with a strong hand and will
lead those who still remain faithful to the spirit of man in the fight
against Evil. They will found a new life on the earth purified by the
death of nations. In the fiftieth year only three great kingdoms will
appear, which will exist happily seventy-one years. Afterwards there
will be eighteen years of war and destruction. Then the peoples of
Agharti will come up from their subterranean caverns to the surface of
the earth.'"

* * * * *

Afterwards, as I traveled farther through Eastern Mongolia and to
Peking, I often thought:

"And what if . . . ? What if whole peoples of different colors, faiths
and tribes should begin their migration toward the West?"

And now, as I write these final lines, my eyes involuntarily turn to
this limitless Heart of Asia over which the trails of my wanderings
twine. Through whirling snow and driving clouds of sand of the Gobi they
travel back to the face of the Narabanchi Hutuktu as, with quiet voice
and a slender hand pointing to the horizon, he opened to me the doors of
his innermost thoughts:

"Near Karakorum and on the shores of Ubsa Nor I see the huge,
multi-colored camps, the herds of horses and cattle and the blue yurtas
of the leaders. Above them I see the old banners of Jenghiz Khan, of
the Kings of Tibet, Siam, Afghanistan and of Indian Princes; the sacred
signs of all the Lamaite Pontiffs; the coats of arms of the Khans of the
Olets; and the simple signs of the north Mongolian tribes. I do not hear
the noise of the animated crowd. The singers do not sing the mournful
songs of mountain, plain and desert. The young riders are not delighting
themselves with the races on their fleet steeds. . . . There are
innumerable crowds of old men, women and children and beyond in the
north and west, as far as the eye can reach, the sky is red as a flame,
there is the roar and crackling of fire and the ferocious sound of
battle. Who is leading these warriors who there beneath the reddened sky
are shedding their own and others' blood? Who is leading these crowds
of unarmed old men and women? I see severe order, deep religious
understanding of purposes, patience and tenacity . . . a new great
migration of peoples, the last march of the Mongols. . . ."

Karma may have opened a new page of history!

And what if the King of the World be with them?

But this greatest Mystery of Mysteries keeps its own deep silence.


GLOSSARY


Agronome.--Russian for trained agriculturalist.

Amour sayn.--Good-bye.

Ataman.--Headman or chief of the Cossacks.

Bandi.--Pupil or student of theological school in the Buddhist faith.

Buriat.--The most civilized Mongol tribe, living in the valley of the
Selenga in Transbaikalia.

Chahars.--A warlike Mongolian tribe living along the Great Wall of China
in Inner Mongolia.

Chaidje.--A high Lamaite priest, but not an incarnate god.

Cheka.--The Bolshevik Counter-Revolutionary Committee, the most
relentless establishment of the Bolsheviki, organized for the
persecution of the enemies of the Communistic government in Russia.

Chiang Chun.--Chinese for "General"--Chief of all Chinese troops in
Mongolia.

Dalai Lama.--The first and highest Pontiff of the Lamaite or "Yellow
Faith," living at Lhasa in Tibet.

Djungar.--A West Mongolian tribe.

Dugun.--Chinese commercial and military post.

Dzuk.--Lie down!

Fang-tzu.--Chinese for "house."

Fatil.--A very rare and precious root much prized in Chinese and Tibetan
medicines.

Felcher.--Assistant of a doctor (surgeon).

Gelong.--Lamaite priest having the right to offer sacrifices to God.

Getul.--The third rank in the Lamaite monks.

Goro.--The high priest of the King of the World.

Hatyk.--An oblong piece of blue (or yellow) silk cloth, presented to
honored guests, chiefs, Lamas and gods. Also a kind of coin, worth from
25 to 50 cents.

Hong.--A Chinese mercantile establishment.

Hun.--The lowest rank of princes.

Hunghutze.--Chinese brigand.

Hushun.--A fenced enclosure, containing the houses, paddocks, stores,
stables, etc., of Russian Cossacks in Mongolia.

Hutuktu.--The highest rank of Lamaite monks; the form of any incarnated
god; holy.

Imouran.--A small rodent like a gopher.

Izubr.--The American elk.

Kabarga.--The musk antelope.

Kalmuck.--A Mongolian tribe, which migrated from Mongolia under Jenghiz
Khan (where they were known as the Olets or Eleuths), and now live in
the Urals and on the shores of the Volga in Russia.

Kanpo.--The abbot of a Lamaite monastery, a monk; also the first rank of
"white" clergy (not monks).

Kanpo-Gelong.--The highest rank of Gelongs (q.v.); an honorary title.

Karma.--The Buddhist materialization of the idea of Fate, a parallel
with the Greek and Roman Nemesis (Justice).

Khan.--A king.

Khayrus.--A kind of trout.

Khirghiz.--The great Mongol nation living between the river Irtish in
western Siberia, Lake Balhash and the Volga in Russia.

Kuropatka.--A partridge.

Lama.--The common name for a Lamaite priest.

Lan.--A weight of silver or gold equivalent to about one-eleventh of a
Russian pound, or 9/110ths of a pound avoirdupois.

Lanhon.--A round bottle of clay.

Maramba.--A doctor of theology.

Merin.--The civil chief of police in every district of the Soyot country
in Urianhai.

"Om! Mani padme Hung!".--"Om" has two meanings. It is the name of the
first Goro and also means: "Hail!" In this connection: "Hail! Great Lama
in the Lotus Flower!"

Mende.--Soyot greeting--"Good Day."

Nagan-hushun.--A Chinese vegetable garden or enclosure in Mongolia.

Naida.--A form of fire used by Siberian woodsmen.

Noyon.--A Prince or Khan. In polite address: "Chief," "Excellency."

Obo.--The sacred and propitiatory signs in all the dangerous places in
Urianhai and Mongolia.

Olets.--Vid: Kalmuck.

Om.--The name of the first Goro (q.v.) and also of the mysterious, magic
science of the Subterranean State. It means, also: "Hail!"

Orochons.--A Mongolian tribe, living near the shores of the Amur River
in Siberia.

Oulatchen.--The guard for the post horses; official guide.

Ourton.--A post station, where the travelers change horses and
oulatchens.

Pandita.--The high rank of Buddhist monks.

Panti.--Deer horns in the velvet, highly prized as a Tibetan and Chinese
medicine.

Pogrom.--A wholesale slaughter of unarmed people; a massacre.

Paspa.--The founder of the Yellow Sect, predominating now in the Lamaite
faith.

Sait.--A Mongolian governor.

Salga.--A sand partridge.

Sayn.--"Good day!" "Good morning!" "Good evening!" All right; good.

Taiga.--A Siberian word for forest.

Taimen.--A species of big trout, reaching 120 pounds.

Ta Lama.--Literally: "the great priest," but it means now "a doctor of
medicine."

Tashur.--A strong bamboo stick.

Turpan.--The red wild goose or Lama-goose.

Tzagan.--White.

Tzara.--A document, giving the right to receive horses and oulatchens at
the post stations.

Tsirik.--Mongolian soldiers mobilized by levy.

Tzuren.--A doctor-poisoner.

Ulan.--Red.

Urga.--The name of the capital of Mongolia; (2) a kind of Mongolian
lasso.

Vatannen.--The language of the Subterranean State of the King of the
World.

Wapiti.--The American elk.

Yurta.--The common Mongolian tent or house, made of felt.

Zahachine.--A West Mongolian wandering tribe.

Zaberega.--The ice-mountains formed along the shores of a river in
spring.

Zikkurat.--A high tower of Babylonish style.





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