- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
134

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
before reaching Yeniseisk is not altogether cheerful, for
there is not much room to move about in.
On the evening of the first day the engineer seemed
pretty festive. As a rule he was a quiet, inoffensive
sort of fellow, but no doubt the vodka had flowed rather
freely on board.
Then the engine refused to work the propeller, for
some unknown reason. They told us next day that the
injection pump was drawing water as well as petroleum ;
but we came to the conclusion that the trouble was not
so much water in the engine as brandy in the engineer.
Whatever it was, or was not, we were obliged to anchor
between Pimen’s Grave and Selo Tolstyi Nos (i.e., thick
nose village).
It was a fine night. When I came on deck, about
midnight, the sunset glow lay deep red, like a slow,
smouldering fire, over the surface of the river on the
north, with dark shreds of smoke-like cloud in front of
it. Venus shone just above, and over Venus and the
sunset gleamed an arch of northern lights. It was an
extraordinarily beautiful sight. High up the sky was
deep blue and starry, beside us the surface of the water
reflected the sky, and beyond it lay the low bank and
the endless tundra.
There is a strange story about this Pimen’s Grave,
which lies inland to the north of us. He is said to have
been an exile in Catherine’s time. He had to live here,
but wanted to be hanged instead, and asked a gendarme
to hang him ; but the gendarme would not, and told
him to wait. Meanwhile, Pimen dug his grave and
made everything ready, and now he insisted on being
hanged. The gendarme again asked him to wait, as
they could now see the boat coming from the south, and
he might as well be patient till it arrived ; but Pimen
had no more time, and so he was hanged. When the
134

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