- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
138

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
above the river on the east side. Our men had ordered
bread here on the way down.
As we approached the houses up a long slope from
the river, one of the doors suddenly opened and out
came a tiny little man with a long, curly brown beard and
a strangely gentle face. He was a perfect brownie,
with a queer elf-like smile. It was a sight to see the
little chap stand there on the doorstep talking to the
big, powerful Vostrotin, who was anything but elf-like.
We were asked into the house, which was neat,
bright and cheerful, with whitewashed walls, upon which
liung a colour-print of Peter the Great, pictures of saints
and photographs of Russian priests, together with
coloured pictures of Parisian ladies in extremely décolleté
dresses, whose swelling corsages threatened to burst
the last restraining stitch.
The wife was a nice-looking woman of a little over
forty, while the manikin, who was her husband, was
only about fifty. They had many children, from a
married son of twenty-two to a little child in arms, and
doubtless another one expected before very long.
The husband was born here and had never been so
far as Turukhansk. The wife was also born in the
neighbourhood, about forty miles away.
In the house alongside lived an elderly man and his
family ; but they had typhus. One was already dead,
and most of those in the house were ill. The man him
self was poorly, had high fever and was terribly hoarse ;
but that did not prevent him from coming out to speak
to us, and he had an animated talk with Vostrotin
about his affairs and about his taxes, which were far
too high.
This was the house where the crew had ordered
bread. They came and fetched it, but we did not like
the idea of that bread with all the typhus in the house,
138

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