- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
118

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
photographs during the day and playing cards in
the evening; while Loris-Melikov and Lied hung over
their chess-board from morning to night, except when
Lied had to superintend the discharging and loading of
cargo. Only Christensen and the keeper of the animals
had to go ashore sometimes to cut grass for the camels.
There was plenty of it to be had on the low green shore
that ran out to the west of us.
There were several on board who had had the idea
of carrying on a profitable bartering trade with the
natives, with special hopes of acquiring valuable furs ;
and they had left home provided with objects for barter.
Our worthy Danish steward had spent 24 kroner on
glass beads and necklaces and other finery, which he
thought would prove irresistible to these people. But
they were greatly disappointed. Whatever furs there
may have been had been sold long ago to the Siberian
traders. Nor must it be supposed that these natives
are so childlike as to allow themselves to be tåken in
by a few glass beads. They know just as much about
money and money’s worth as any of us ; nor are their
prices for skins so very much lower than those charged
at home. Poor steward, he was inconsolable over the
capital he had invested in such a bad speculation ; for
these things he had brought were now worth nothing, and
he said he might just as well throw them into the sea.
One of the attractions Lied had offered us, in inviting
us to come on this trip, was the hope of being able to
treat us to a steak of mammoth beef at the mouth of the
Yenisei ; as the year before a frozen mammoth had been
found in the tundra near Golchikha. For my part,
though it might be quite amusing to eat a steak of such
a strange animal, which moreover had lain frozen in the
ground for so many thousand years, I did not feel greatly
tempted ; I could not help thinking of ptomaine poisoning
118

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