514 DEPARTURE FROM KHOTAN [Chap. XV
Ya-mên, and on the following morning he turned up in due course with one of the promised blocks from his own house. The news of his arrest had, of course, long before spread through the town, and hence it was difficult for him to gain access to the homes of his former associates, where more of these materials may have been retained.
Whether it was from a right perception that his rôle was now completely played out, or because he felt that his ignominious collapse in the course of the inquiry had rendered him ridiculous before his old friends, Islam Akhttn looked far more cowed in the end, though free, than when first brought up as a prisoner. I had told him before in jest that I thought him far too clever a man to be allowed to remain in Khotan among such ignorant people. A curious incident showed that the remark had not passed unappreciated. Shortly before my departure Islam Akhûn presented himself with a petition, evidently meant to be serious, praying that I would take him along to Europe. It was not clear in what capacity he expected me to utilize his services. But there could be no doubt that the strange request was prompted by the hope of finding in distant Wilayat' a wider sphere for his forging abilities! So I need not regret, perhaps, having shown myself obdurate.
SECTION II.—LAST DAYS IN THE KHOTAN OASIS
On April 28 I left Khotan town, after having on the preceding day paid my farewell visit to the Ya-mên. It meant good-bye to Pan Darin, who had proved in every way a true friend, and to whose help I owed so much in the course of my explorations. He was unmistakably a man of the old school, not over fond of Western notions and influences. Yet from my first visit I felt assured that he understood my scientific aims and was ready to further them. Tang-sêng himself, to whom I had so often referred in our interviews as my patron, and who evidently still lives as a glorified Arhat or Bodhisattva in the memory of Chinese Buddhists, could not have favoured my tasks at ancient Kustana more than by placing this learned and kind old administrator in charge for the time being!
I did not wish to leave the oasis without a farewell visit to the site of the ancient capital, Yôtkan. The march being a short one, I had ample time to collect there samples of soil from the different strata which contain the ancient remains and from the deposit of riverine loess that has buried them. I was also able to acquire that day an additional number of ancient coins, seals, terra-cottas, &c,, the owners of which had not come forward on the former occasions. From Yôtkan I proceeded on April 29 to the canton and town of Kara-kash, by the route which the inset map of the oasis indicates. I had not found a previous opportunity to visit this important and flourishing centre of the western portion of the oasis, and had now an additional reason to look it up before my departure. Islam Beg, my faithful Darôgha of the days of Karanghu-tagh and Dandan-Uiliq, had since been appointed one of the Begs of Kara-kash. Rightly or wrongly he attributed his good fortune to my recommendation with the Amban. So he was anxious to show me Kara-kash, both as his native place and the present sphere of his official functions, while I could use the occasion to secure interesting details about local administration, taxes, &c., from a first-hand authority.
While en route I enjoyed the rare chance of seeing in perfect clearness the great snowy range to the south which we had surveyed six months before. This distant view, which seemed to extend to the big glacier-crowned main peaks on the watershed towards the Upper Kara-kash nearly a hundred miles away, was ascribed to recent snowfall in the mountains and the rain that had cleared away all haze. It was facilitated by the large stretch of open sandy