"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.
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: