- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
37

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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VISITS FROM SAMOYEDES
37
They also had a small ringed seal, phoca hispida,
with them in the boat ; it had just been shot. They
had several guns and a Norwegian walrus-harpoon.
As they lay alongside a floe in front of the ship, a
ringed seal came up ; one of them fired at it with small
shot, but it sank before he could reach it with the boat ;
he then threw the harpoon after it into the water, but
did not get it. When the Samoyedes saw that the seal
was hit, they all gave a yell and made a fearful noise all
the time this was going on ; this gave me no very great
idea of them as hunters, especially when I thought of
the Eskimo and how quietly they set to work.
They had a small boat in tow, which might have
been 12 feet long and was used, no doubt, for seal
hunting, when they wanted to steal upon the animals ;
the big boat was for travelling and its length might
have been 20 feet or more.
While wc lay by a floe in the ship’s boat, trying to
talk to them and looking at their gear, they suddenly
began to shout and yell to each other ; the cause of
their excitement was the mate, who was sculling the
dinghy up to us ; they pointed at him, roaring and
shrieking with laughter. I believe that sight made
more impression on them than anything else they had
seen ; a man propelling a boat simply by twisting one
oar astern was something quite new and unknown
to them ; and when he made the boat go so fast as
to raise foam round the bow, their joy reached its
climax.
While they still lay alongside us, there was a cry
that another boat was approaching, and soon it came
up. In the stem sat the chief, an elderly man, with a
few bristles on his chin, and a child of three or four
who was no doubt the young prince, and whom his
father exhibited with pride, making him nod to us.

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