In our journey eastwards we saw nothing but the earth and sky, having sometimes the sea of Tanais within sight on our right hand, and sometimes we saw the sepulchres in which the Comanians used to bury their dead, at the distance of a league or two from the line of our journey. So long as we travelled in the desert, matters were tolerably well with us, but I cannot sufficiently express the irksome and tedious plagues and troubles we had to encounter in the dwellings of the Tartars; for our guide insisted upon us making presents to every one of the Tartar captains, which we were utterly unable to afford, and we were eight persons in all, continually using our provisions, as the three Tartars who accompanied us insisted that we should feed them; and the flesh which had been given us was by no means sufficient, and we could not get any to buy. While we sat under the shadow of our carts to shelter us from the extreme heat of the sun, they would intrude into our company, and even tread upon us, that they might see what we had; and when they had to ease nature, would hardly withdraw a few yards distance, shamelessly talking to us the whole lime. What distressed me most of all, was when I wished to address them upon religious subjects, my foolish interpreter used to say, “You shall not make me a preacher, and I neither will nor can rehearse these words.” Nay, after I began to acquire some little knowledge of their language, I found, when I spoke one thing, he would say quite differently, whatever chanced to come uppermost in his senseless mind. Thus, seeing the danger I might incur in speaking by so faithless an interpreter, I resolved rather to be silent.
We thus journeyed on from station to station, till at length a few days before the festival of Mary Magdalen, 22d July, we arrived on the banks of the mighty river Tanais or Don, which divides Europe from Asia. At this place Baatu and Sartach had established a station of Russians on the eastern bank of the river, on purpose to transport merchants and messengers across. They ferried us over in the first place, and then our carts; and their boats were so small that they were obliged to use two boats tied together for one cart, putting a wheel into each. In this place our guides acted most foolishly; for believing that the Russians would provide us with horses and oxen, they sent back those we had from the western side of the river, to their masters. But when relays were demanded from the Russians, they alleged that they had a privilege from Baatu, exempting them from all services except those belonging to the ferry, and for which they were even accustomed to receive considerable rewards from such merchants as passed that way. We were, therefore, constrained to remain three days in this place. The first day they gave us a large fresh fish. The second day the magistrate of the village gathered from every house for us, and presented us with rye-bread and some flesh. And the third day they gave us dried fish, of which they have great abundance.