- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
166

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
bears ; three or four of these had been seen not far
away a few days before we came. Wolves were not
numerous here.
As we were going, the girl from the Angarå asked
for some medicine, as she had felt poorly for some
time. Loris-Melikov gave her some antipyrin and
other things. It cannot be said that they are well off
for doctors here. There was supposed to be a surgeon
in the district ; but apart from him there is only one
doctor for the whole of this Turukhansk district of a
million and a half square versts (about four times the size
of Norway). He lives in Turukhansk, and has three sur
geons and one midwife in the whole district. It is obvious
that they do not go very far. They cannot even manage
to vaccinate a reasonable proportion of the natives.
When, therefore, there was an epidemic of smallpox
here a few years ago, its ravages were frightful, and the
doctors were powerless. With contributions from the
Siberian members of the Duma the Red Cross Society
sent out an expedition from Krasnoyarsk, but too late
in the spring, when the snow had alreadybegun to melt.
They got past Turukhansk, but could not penetrate
any farther into the tundra on account of the state of
the ground. They went far enough to find tents where
all was still ; the occupants lay dead within, five or
six of them, and outside lay the dead reindeer, those
that had not been able to break loose and escape. In
some tents they found people still alive, but in a terrible
state, without fire and nearly starved to death, covered
with sores that were not yet healed. How many such
tragedies the great tundra conceals !
We have now left Samoyedes and Yuraks behind
and are in the land of the Yenisei-Ostiaks and Tunguses.
There were a couple of Yenisei-Ostiaks here. One of
them was sitting by the fire in a birch-bark tent near
166

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