- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
173

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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DUDINKA TO THE KUREIKA
173
reasons for regarding this language as a branch of the
Indo-Chinese linguistic stem and as nearly related to
Tibetan. This would give us a wide extension to the
south for these people, and would also help to explain
the fact that the Chinese historians first mention them
as white and un-Turkish in appearance.
They are too tempting, these dark riddles of the
remote antiquity, the migrations and the origin of
peoples, especially here in this immense country. We
cannot solve them, our knowledge is far too deficient.
—But here comes our smiling Alexei to announce that
dinner is on the table—an announcement that is always
just as welcome as the dinner-bell on the biggest ocean
liner. To-day it is a fine grilled sturgeon, a dish at
which Alexei is a master.
At five in the afternoon we anchored at the mouth
of the River Kureika, where there was an oil depot
from which the Omul had to replenish her supply.
When we went ashore, the first sight that met our
eyes was a tame wild goose, which stood calmly on one
leg looking at us, and then waddled up to the house.
It had been brought to the people here this summer
by natives who had caught it as a gosling. It now made
long excursions, flying right across the Yenisei to the
west bank, but always came back to the house. It was
so tame that I afterwards saw the woman carry it in,
petting it and stroking it, which it seemed to like.
While Vostrotin went to the house to have a chat
with the people and discuss their affairs, Loris-Melikov
and I went into the forest.
It was wonderful to be in the woods again. There
was rich soil, firm and dry to walk on, with bilberry
and marsh whortleberry bushes, as far as I could make
out, but no berries to be seen ; they had all been killed
by frost in the spring, we were told. It was flat inland,

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