Journey by Trans-Caspian Railway.
Arrival in London.
Arrangement of collection of antiques.
Return to Indian duties.
520 DEPARTURE FROM KHOTAN [Chap. XV
appliqué female heads in a style unmistakably betraying classical influence. The small figurine of a Sitar player (S. 007) and the fragment of a grotesque animal (S. 006) serve to indicate the curious similarity in favourite subjects which seem to connect the Afrasiyab terra-cottas with those of Yôtkan. The numerous terra-cotta grotesques seen by me in the Samarkand Museum illustrate this, as well as certain characteristic differences in treatment.
A day's stay at Merw allowed me to touch ground full of memories of ancient -Iran. Though the chance of seeing the remains of old Môurwa, the capital of classical Margiana, brought to light from below the alluvium of the oasis, seems scanty indeed, I felt grateful for standing on the soil of a region to which my interest has been attached ever since the cornmencement of my Orientalist studies. Then past the ruins of Göktepe, an historical site of more recent memories, the railway carried me to Krasnowodsk. From there I crossed the Caspian to Baku, and, finally, after long days in the train, I arrived in London on July 2, 1901.
There I was able to deposit the antiques unearthed from the desert sands in the British Museum as a safe temporary resting-place. It was a relief to find that the long and partly difficult transit of close on six thousand miles had caused but slight damage even to those most fragile of objects the reliefs of friable stucco, and that the eight hundred odd negatives on glass plates brought back as the photographic results of my journey were safe. But I soon realized that the successful completion of my exploratory labours, which had been rewarded by results far beyond long-cherished hopes, was also the commencement of a period of toil, the more trying because the physical conditions under which it had to be done were so different from those I had gone through.
On the proposal of the Indian Government His Majesty's Secretary of State for India had sanctioned for me a six weeks' period of deputation in London, in order to enable me to make a preliminary arrangement and inventory of my archaeological finds. The authorities of the British Museum, acting on the request submitted for me by Professor E. J. Rapson, agreed to afford accommodation to the collection, pending arrangements for its final distribution between their own museum and the museums of Calcutta and Lahore—a measure decided upon while I was still engaged in my explorations. They also liberally accorded to me all needful assistance towards the cleaning and preservation of the more delicate objects, such as manuscripts, painted tablets, &c. Owing to the great extent of the collections I had succeeded in bringing back the task of arranging and cataloguing proved a very exacting one, and the period of
deputation sanctioned for it wholly insufficient. In consideration of these facts the Secretary
of State was pleased to extend the latter by another period of six weeks. I had every reason to feel grateful for this concession. Yet it was only at the cost of the greatest exertions and through the devoted help of my friend Mr. Fred. H. Andrews, which I was fortunate enough to secure at this juncture, that I succeeded in accomplishing the most urgent portions of that heavy task and the preparation of my Preliminary Report during the allotted period.
The necessity under which I then was of returning to India for educational duties wholly unconnected with my scientific labours seemed seriously to threaten my hopes of being allowed fully to record and investigate the discoveries which had rewarded my Turkestan explorations. But after long and busy weeks, spent mainly in the basement rooms of the British Museum, where I felt as if immured for the sake of science, I had to welcome even this change as a temporary respite. How much easier would it have been for me, then and since, to face such separation from my true aims of life, could I have felt but assured of the leisure needed for the accomplishment of the work now concluded—and of freedom for fresh explorations !