The good Germans in Sarepta received the Tartars with great joy. One gray-headed man of eighty-three came to meet them, leaning upon his staff. He said he had been praying that he might see a Christian Tartar before he died. He heard these Tartars sing hymns to the praise of Jesus, and he felt his prayers were answered. Two days afterwards he died. Like old Simeon, he might have said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”
The Christians went to live in a small island in the river Volga. When the river was frozen, the Germans went over the ice to visit them. Sodnom gave them tea mixed with fat in a large wooden bowl; and to please him, the kind Germans drank some, though they did not like it. Many Tartars assembled in Sodnom’s tent, and seated on the ground smoking their pipes, talked together about heavenly things; and before they parted, they put away their pipes, and folding their hands, sang hymns in their own language. The Germans, in taking leave, divided a large loaf among the company; for bread is considered quite a dainty by the Tartars.
The change that had taken place in these Tartars filled the Germans with joy; and more missionaries would have gone to teach the heathen Kalmucks, had not the Emperor of Russia forbidden them.
This city is on the Caspian Sea. It is very unpleasant, on account of the heat and the gnats.
Not only Tartars dwell there, but many people of all nations, Russians, Hindoos, and Armenians. The chief trade of Astracan is in the fish of the sea, and in the salt on the shores.
BOKHARA (IN TARTARY).
This is a kingdom in the midst of Tartary. It lies at the south of the Caspian Sea. It is not like the rest of Tartary, for it is a sweet green spot. Travellers have said that it is the most beautiful spot in the world, but that is not true. The reason that travellers have said so, is that, after passing through a great desert, they have been charmed at seeing again running streams, and shady groves.
But though Bokhara is a beautiful place, it is a wicked place.
The king is one of the greatest tyrants in the world. He is called the Amir.
The city where he dwells is called Bokhara (which is also the name of the whole country). His palace is on a high mound, in the midst of splendid mosques, and mansions. Amongst these grand buildings is the prison, a place of horrible cruelty. There the prisoners lie in the dark, and the damp. One use of the prison is to keep water cool for the king in summer; it feels therefore just like a cellar.
But the worst dungeon, is filled with stinging insects, called “ticks,” reared on purpose to torment prisoners. In order to keep the ticks alive when no prisoners are there, raw meat is thrown into the place. There is also a deep pit into which men are let down with ropes; as once the holy Jeremiah was in Jerusalem.