A Ride to Khiva: Travels and Adventures in Central Asia
In the winter of 1875, a young British officer set out across Central Asia on a strictly unofficial mission to investigate the latest secret Russian moves in the Great Game. His goal was the mysterious caravan city of Khiva, closed to all European travellers by the Russians following their seizure of it two years earlier. His aim was to discover whether, as many British strategists feared, this remote and dangerous oasis was about to be used as a springboard for an invasion of India. Unknown to his superiors, who would have forbidden the venture, Captain Frederick Gustavus Burnaby rode for over a thousand miles across steppe and desert, struggling through blizzards and snowdrifts, to reach forbidden Khiva. Ordered home by an alarmed government, Burnaby immediately sat down and wrote this best-selling account of his adventures, which was to become a Great Game classic, the first of two he was to publish.
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Page 41 - How the wind cuts! does it not?" he continued, as the breeze, whistling against our bodies, made itself felt in spite of all the precautions we had taken. The vehicle now brought was broader and more commodious than the previous one, which, somewhat in the shape of a coffin, seemed especially designed so as to torture the occupants, particularly if, like my companion and self, they should happen to be endowed by nature with that curse during a sleigh journey — however desirable appendages they...
Page 39 - no cold could get through anyhow," he first put on three pairs of the thickest stockings drawn up high above the knee ; over them a pair of fur-lined low shoes, which in turn were inserted into leather goloshes ; and finally his limbs were encased in a pair of enormous cloth boots, reaching up to the thigh. A heavy flannel undershirt, and a shirt covered by a thick wadded waistcoat, together with a coat of the same kind, encased his body, which finally was enveloped...
Page 40 - I think you will do," said my friend, scanning me well over ; but you will find your feet get very cold for all that. It takes a day or so to get used to this sleigh travelling, and though I am only going a little beyond Samara I shall be uncommonly glad when my journey is over." He was buckling on his revolver ; and as we were informed that there were a great many wolves in the neighbourhood, I tried to do the same. This was an impossibility, the man who made the belt had never foreseen the gigantic...