518 DEPARTURE FROM KHOTAN [Chap. XV
politely insisted on attributing all the sympathy and support I had enjoyed from him and his Ambans to the benediction of my patron saint, the great ` rang-sêng'. While still engaged in the ` demobilization ' of my camp and other practical labours, I also succeeded in obtaining, with Mr. Macartney's kind help, a preliminary analysis of the Chinese documents brought to light at the sites of Dandan-Uiliq, Niya, and Endere, from Sun Ssû-yeh, the learned Chinese Munshi of the Agency. The close accord between the chronological results derived from these records and my own archaeological conclusions as to the ruined sites from which I had unearthed them, was an assurance greatly appreciated by me at the time.
After a fortnight of busy work my preparations for the rest of the journey were completed, and all my antiques safely packed in twelve large boxes. They were duly presented at the Russian Consulate for customs examination—a most gently conducted one—and then received their seals with the Imperial eagle, which in spite of a succession of Continental customs barriers, I succeeded in keeping intact until I could unpack their contents in the British Museum.
Owing to Mr. Macartney's unwearying help and hospitality my stay at Kashgar, full as it was of manifold labours, is still remembered by me with pleasure as the first and practically only rest after my desert wanderings. On the morning of the day when it came to an end I saw Sub-Surveyor (now Surveyor) Ram Singh, the faithful companion of my travels, set out for the return journey to India. He had rendered excellent services in accurately surveying the whole of the ground covered by my journeys, and had in addition to his proper duties been always eager to make himself useful in connexion with my archaeological work. He had cheerfully borne the fatigues inseparable from rapid travelling over difficult ground, and often under very trying climatic conditions, and had also at all times readily helped me in the management of my camp. I had indeed reason to feel grateful to the Survey of India Department for having provided me with so willing and well-trained an assistant. Nor should I omit here to mention Wan Jasvant Singh, the wiry hill Rajpût, who had looked after the Surveyor's bodily comforts with exemplary care and devotion, and who now left with him. Cheerful and contented, however long the march or bleak our camping-ground, Jasvant Singh had proved an ideal follower.
On May 29, 1901, exactly a year after leaving Srinagar, I started from Kâshgar for Osh, the nearest Russian town in Farghana. The feeders of the Kizil-su, which the route repeatedly crosses before reaching Irkesh-tam, the Russian frontier post', were, owing to the exceptional rain of the previous weeks and the rapid melting of the snows, all in flood. The passage of my loads of antiques across the swollen streams was thus a daily anxiety, but was effected without loss. The usual route over the Terek Pass was closed by the depth and softness of the snow ; so I had to take the circuitous route over the Alai. Though the snow still lay deep on the Taun-murun and Taldik Passes they were crossed without mishap. By keeping in the saddle or on foot from early morning until nightfall I managed to cover the route from Kâshgar to Osh, reckoned at eighteen marches, within ten days.
At Osh, where I arrived on June 7, I was very kindly received by Colonel Zaytseff, the Chief of the District, and an officer of distinguished attainments. Two days later, at Andijan, I reached the terminus of the Trans-Caspian Railway, which was now to carry me and my antiques in comfort and -safety towards Europe. This journey, hurried though it had to be under the circumstances—the year allowed for my deputation had already expired when I left Kâshgar—enabled me to obtain interesting glimpses of a part of Central Asia which, from its historical associations and its ancient culture, has always had a particular fascination for me.
1 See, for this locality and its historical interest, above, p. 55.