- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
27

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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VISITS FROM SAMOYEDES
27
like monkeys than anything else. There were six of
them in the boat, but it was not so easy to say which
sex they belonged to.
Vostrotin shouted a greeting in Russian, but they
only bowed in oriental fashion and waved their hands
in return. Vostrotin called again. The old man who
was steering and was evidently their chief, came forward
to the middle thwart, bowed, but then stayed with his
head bent and stared at us uncomprehendingly. They
did not understand a word ; they stopped rowing and
hesitated, not knowing what to do.
Then wc nodded in a friendly way and made signs
to them to approach ; and they rowred slowly and
cautiously up to the gangway ladder, while Vostrotin
continued speaking to them.
It then appeared that there was one who knew a
little Russian. He came from the Pustozersk district
and must have been a Syryenian. The Syryenians
are the bloodsuckers of the Samoyedes, said Vostrotin.
The rest were Samoyedes from the Obdorsk district.
The Syryenian explained that he was the old man’s
partner in fishing and hunting. He probably had some
reindeer besides, and certainly carried on trade. He
looked a crafty fellow, and was altogether different
from the others. He told us, seemingly with a certain
pride, that the scar on the right side of his lower lip
was the result of a cut in a fight with knives. Vostrotin
told me that the Syryenians were great fighters and fond
of vodka, while the Samoyedes were peaceful, though
they don’t mmd getting drunk either, when they have
a chance.
The oldest of them, who still sat in the boat at the
steering-oar, had a little grizzly beard and did not look
like a pure Samoyede. But some of the younger ones
had a very genuine appearance, especially one young man

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