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'Well, make out a check on the Im- 'What can we do?' he said. “We canperial Bank, and get ready to go; we not face our men again when pay-day need the money for pay-day next week; comes, if we have no money; it will be and - 0 Ivan - send Tokai for the —
a scandal.' stables foreman.'
And the situation was serious; we And in due time the starosta, or sta- were absolutely cut off from the world, bles foreman, appeared.
without apparently any possibility of What are your orders?' said the securing cash for at least a month. We starosta.
inquired here, there, and everywhere; 'I want the cashier to leave to-mor- we could not scrape together a thourow morning at four o'clock for Akmo- sand roubles from all sources. And linsk. Send the chestnut horses for- then the Kirghiz Kusain appeared and ward at once to the Noura River for a said, relay, and the bays to Badpak, and let 'Your honor needs money?' him start with the piebalds: he can hire I was provoked and answered hasthorses at Beresovski for the last stretch ily, ‘Of course I need money; every one to Akmolinsk,' said Fordham.
needs money; you need it too.' 'Your honor knows,' replied the “Ah, but your honor needs it worse starosta; 'but I have lived in this coun- than I do.' try many years and know the signs, ‘And if I do, can you supply it?' and if the cashier leaves to-morrow for ‘No, your honor, I am a poor man; Akmolinsk, he will not return for at but there are Kirghiz who are rich, least three weeks: the thaw is begin- very rich; who keep their money in ning and the rivers will soon be in flood; rouble bills, locked in their tin-bound he may reach Akmolinsk, but he will trunks; there is Adam Bai, brother of have time to drink much vodka before Djingir, whose herd of mares you saw he can return.'
when we crossed the Noura together ‘ 'But the money, the money!' said the other day: Djingir is rich, very rich, Fordham; 'we must have the money; but he has not much money; Adam he must go to Akmolinsk.'
Bai is rich too, and he keeps his riches Your honor knows about the mon- in money; perhaps he may lend you ey,' cooed the starosta, 'but I know some of it, but he will charge a great that if Ivan leaves for Akmolinsk to- deal. Oh, he is rich, he is very rich!' morrow, he will not return for many ‘Kusain, we will go and see him weeks.'
where is he now?! Fordham's face was troubled; we had 'He is now in his tents on the Ilinski of late frequently disappointed the River behind the Kisil Tav mountains, workmen through lack of cash, and we thirty miles from here.' dreaded to think of another payless 'We will leave to-morrow and go and pay-day. But the starosta was right,
see him.' and already, as we left the office, the *You cannot leave to-morrow to see air had a tender feeling. The next Adam Bai. Your honor is a great lord morning, there was no doubt; a warm and Adam Bai is a great lord; to-morwind was blowing, the ground was soft, row I will send two messengers on little rivulets were trickling down the horses, who will tell Adam Bai that gullies; the starosta was right, spring you are coming, and the next day you had come. But, in spite of spring, there can go yourself and Adam Bai will be was no joy in Fordham's face when we ready to receive you.' met.
So on the third day, arrayed in our most beautiful clothes, with our best Adam Bai came in with his sons and teams harnessed three horses abreast, his friends, his secretary and his bard, each with his attendant interpreter, Izat by name. We sat in a circle on the and with numerous mounted guides rugs, and the huge skin of koumiss was and escorts, we dashed off at full gallop brought in, which was ladled out to us through our little village, out on to the in painted wooden bowls. A colt was rolling steppes. Three days of spring led in and Adam Bai explained that he had worked a miracle. The air was was about to slaughter it for us; but to balmy and moist, and a mat of flowers his chagrin, we begged him to substichased the snow as it fled up the hills. tute a sheep. After the koumiss was Spring on the steppe is an ecstasy of finished, the samovar was brought in, nascent life; flowers, birds, animals, all and tea and sweets were served, with know that their day at last has come. rock-like cheese and bursaks, little pel
As we came near to Adam Bai's en- lets of bread fried in tallow, the only campment, an escort of horsemen rode food these people eat which is not out to meet us and led us to the tent either meat or milk. which had been prepared for us. It The evening wore away in unceasing was a beautiful yurta or circular tent, chatter, and I frequently asked Kusain about twenty-five feet in diameter, whether the propitious moment for a with an outside covering of snowy business talk had arrived, and the anwhite felt supported on a light wooden swer was always 'No.' Finally, when trellis with dome-shaped roof. As there our enfeebled western natures could are no poles inside, the whole floor absorb no more sour milk, several huge space is clear. The floor was covered platters of boiled sheep were brought with gorgeous rugs and the walls were in; a young Kirghiz brought round to hung with silk mats. We took off our each person a copper kettle and bowl shoes and entered. The tunduk or cover and poured water over our hands, and was partly thrown back, and the set- the real business of the day began. I ting sun filled the tent with red light. never felt my inferiority so keenly beAround our tent were those of Adam fore. Full to the high-water mark with Bai and his followers. They were arriv- tea and sour milk and sour cheese, I ing from all sides, driving in the herds dipped my hand in my dish and made before them: great herds of camels and bold passes at the hateful meat; but sheep and goats and some cattle, which all my ruses were detected and Adam sorted themselves without confusion, Bai reproved my restraint, and, pickthe sheep lying down by themselves, ing out with his fingers the eye of the the camels by themselves, the goats by sheep, which was lying lustreless in themselves, and the cattle by them the sodden mass, he thrust it into my selves. Nature is so harmonious when mouth - a compliment of peculiar she is undisturbed. They lay together meaning. Never have I felt so helpand waited patiently for the rest which less! The power of swallowing seemed comes with darkness. The old men lost to me forever. It seemed to be were gathered by the doors of their hours that I turned that horrible eye tents. Rachel was drawing water from round in my mouth. Somehow the the well; so they had been doing for merciful end came at last, and Adam forty centuries and more. The cradle Bai seized a huge lump of tallow and of our race had been rocked under crammed it into the eager mouth of these stars; here had our childhood Kusain. What a delicious morsel to been spent.
chew during the silent night!
Next morning we prepared to go, and passed on. But one fine day the word I was growing alarmed lest the over- reached us that to-morrow Adam Bai whelming hospitality of our host should would come, and we killed the sheep thwart the business on which we came and prepared to receive the wily finanand which was so urgent; but at the cier. And the next morning he came last moment Kusain and the secretary with a rush; with a cloud of outriders, had some conversation, and it was ex- tearing at full gallop through the street,
, plained to me that Adam Bai, consid- the drivers shouting and lashing their ering the watchful care which we had horses. In a disreputable-looking caralways taken of the poor unfortunate riage, with impossible harness, Adam Kirghiz who were compelled to work Bai was sitting like a Chinese idol with for money, would lend us the sum of his poet by his side. And after he had twenty thousand roubles, provided we divested himself of numerous fur coats, would repay him twenty-two thousand we escorted him to his seat of honor, in roubles within one month. Visions of which he sat and grunted loudly, for it the successful trades which Jacob had was a chair and he detested chairs, for made on these very hills Aitted before they made his fat old body ache. But our minds, and, bowing with profound we felt a malicious delight in making respect to such historic precedents re- him sit on our chairs, as the stork felt enacted for our benefit, we invited this when he fed the fox from a long-necked successful son of the desert to visit us bottle in return for the hospitality of at our office one week from that day the fox, which had fed him soup from a and bring with him his treasure. But shallow platter. there was not one word from Adam Bai Tea was brought in and conversahimself. He sat stolid and unmoved. tion went on for an hour or more; and in Not tall, but very fat, as all rich Kir- the first pause, I said to Kusain, 'Ask ghiz must be, a mass of wadded and him if he has brought the money.' embroidered clothes, squatted cross- 'Hush,' said Kusain, 'he might hear legged on the floor, his small well-kept you.' hands folded in front of him, his face Then the poet sang: without the shadow of any expression. ‘Life is like a road; if you lose your way, And he said 'Kosh' (good-bye), and we It is not your enemies who will show you the said 'Kosh,' and so we rolled away in path, our carriages, determined to take at But your friends. least a correspondence-school course of
“The true friend is like the oaken stick upon desert training, before again attempt
which you lean and rest, ing to enter the paths of high finance. But the false friend is like the reed upon which
you lean and it breaks and the splinters
pierce your hand.' II
I ask Kusain, 'Is Adam Bai the The days passed and pay-day was oak or the reed? Has he brought the drawing near. The memory of the hor- money?' rible meal'we had made haunted us, and And Kusain replies again, ‘Hush, he still more, the dread lest Adam Bai might hear you!' should fail us. As the workmen passed After the poet has finished, dinner is us they would ask, “Will the money served, and several sheep rapidly discome?' and we set our teeth and re- appear; but the only expression which plied, 'The money will come'; and with Adam Bai's face betrays is anger with Glory be to God' on their lips they his hateful chair. He is fed by his at
tendants and consumes many dried arms of the chair. Two of his men cherries, the stones of which he emits rush at him, one from each side; they
, with great force and explosive sounds, plunge their hands into the recesses of and those which do not fall on our plates his clothing, and grope and pull; and
; fall on the table-cloth around us. And now one pulls out a bundle of notes the day wears on and we are growing and now another, and Adam Bai lies convinced that the chances of money grunting, and as each bundle of notes are vanishing, when the secretary be- is dragged from its hiding-place, he gins to talk Russian and Adam Bai emits a groan of despair; and the last sinks lower and lower in his chair. And bundle is a particularly big bundle, we send for the notary, and the local and his groan is the most pitiful of all, policeman, and the judge; and the Rus- and he sinks down in utter collapse. sian manager, and the attorney, and So much money on the table fasciall the other officers of the works ar- nates the spectators who stand speechrive, and Baijan the stove-tender, and less with awe. The policeman takes all our servants, and the room is filled charge of the situation and assigns to suffocation. It is the most solemn the different bundles to different perand important transaction which has sons to count. The abacus is brought ever taken place at the works. Ink is in and the little balls begin to click. brought, and green sand and long pens Adam Bai begins to stir in his chair; and sealing-wax and seals, and every- his attendants begin to search for their body begins to write, and nearly every- coats and caps. body to sign, while the policeman Nineteen thousand nine hundred threads the papers on red tape and and ninety-seven roubles,' said the poseals them. Only Adam Bai is motion- liceman to me. less; he is almost lying in his chair now. Everybody was putting on his coat.
I say to Kusain: 'Everything is 'Kusain,” I said, 'there is a shortage nearly ready now; ask where the mon- of three roubles.' ey is.
Kusain apparently did not hear and ‘Hush,' says Kusain, ‘you must sign began a search for my hat. .
“Kusain,' I said, 'tell the secretary ‘But I won't hush; tell Adam Bai to we are three roubles short.' make his servants bring the money.' “Tut, tut!' said the secretary. 'I
But nobody seems to care about the must help Adam Bai; the business is money except myself, so interested are concluded; he wants to go.' they all in the legal formalities; and the ‘Kusain,' I shouted, ‘tell the secrenotary ties up his bag, and the police- tary to tell Adam Bai that he has given man buckles on his sword, and the us three roubles too little.' whole ceremony seems to be over. The secretary turned to Adam Bai,
But I begin to lose my patience, and who sat up in his chair and motioned I tell Kusain that something else must for his boots. Nobody was paying any happen pretty soon, and Kusain whis- attention to me. pers to the secretary and the secretary Three roubles,' I shouted. Three whispers into the wadded clothes, and roubles short!' the wadded clothes grunt. And then a 'Impossible,' said Adam Bai; and he most extraordinary scene begins. The seemed to have waked up; 'it must be
‘ old man is lying in the chair swaddled under the blotter, or it may have fallen in countless layers of wadded cotton under the table.' coats, his fat arms dangling over the 'No,' said I, “it is not under the blot
ter nor under the table; it is short, and sleeve), 'is it not strange, I have found I must have it to make our bargain a three-rouble bill up my sleeve; pergood.'
haps this is the one which was lost; I At this, the secretary began to look wonder how it got up my sleeve.' under papers, and Adam Bai assumed O Adam Bai! Well art thou named great interest in all the out-of-the-way Adam. Thou hast carried down to this corners where a stray three-rouble bill generation the glorious tradition of might lie, and they all looked at me in original sin untarnished. Go in peace. an injured way with their mild inno- Jacob's secrets are safe in thy hands. cent eyes, till I felt ashamed of my in- And a deep silence fell on the room, sistence. But I waited while they hunt- and Adam Bai gathered up his clothes ed and every one hunted, until we were and left. And during the years which stopped by a cry from Adam Bai. 'See followed, he never forgave me our three here,' he said (he was looking into his roubles.
BY WILFRID WILSON GIBSON
ONCE in my garret, — you being far away,
Though now beyond earth’s farthest hills you fare,