- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
28

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
28
with a pleasing, almost handsome face. He might have
been about twenty-five, and we were told that it was
he who had built their boat. Then there was another
who had evidently had smallpox. His whole face was
red and scarred, and he looked ugly, and not very
intelligent either.
We invited them on board and they came clambering
up the ladder, really not unlike monkeys. They
cautiously pattered about and stared at all the won
derful things on the big steamer. She must have been
the biggest ship they had ever seen. All the costly
iron that was everywhere about had to be carefully
felt. The iron stays that held the big funnel had to
be examined, and the rigging, which was also iron, and
the masts and the hatches down into the ship. They
looked down into the black depths of the engine-room
and heard all the strange noises that came from the
stokers below, who were singing and clattering with
their shovels. It must have seemed like a mysterious
underworld.
Meanwhile Lied’s business instinct was aroused ;
he began bartering with them and bought two knives
with brass-mounted sheaths and belts, and brass chains.
He showed them what he offered in exchange, and in
particular a pocket electric lamp, which of course made
a great impression. One of them could not resist that.
He must have created a sensation when he got home
to the camp with that piece of magic ; but what sort
of faces would they put on when the magic did not
work any longer and there was no more light ?
Then they came into the saloon and had a look
round, and there they were given a performance of the
gramophone, but it did not impress them very much.
They had heard a better one in Obdorsk, they said, it
made still more noise !

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