- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
189

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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TROITSKIY MONASTIR, AND TO THE SOUTH
189
to find how well the political exiles were treated. This
man, for instance, was spoken to and treated by the
others exactly like an ordinary person ; even the pristav
himself, who was walking with us, talked to him. This
did not strike me as very strange, but I saw too little of
the political exiles in Siberia to form any decided opinion
as to the manner in which they are generally treated.
There were said to be some Yenisei-Ostiaks in tents
down on the shore. This was what interested me
most and I hurried to get down there. On the edge
of the river-bank wc passed three or four huts, or half
caves, dug out in the sandy slope. They were tempo
rarily inhabited by convicts, who had been pardoned
this year and assigned to this commune, where they
obtained the rights of peasants, but were not allowed
to go outside the district of Turukhansk. They
had come from penal servitude, and were no doubt
desperate criminals. One of them was at home. The
pristav went in and told him to come out, so that I
might photograph him at the door of his cave. There
was not much room inside. I saw some carpenter’s
tools, so the man was probably a carpenter. He was
a cunning, swarthy fellow, who looked capable of any
thing. It seems to be a doubtful advantage for a place
to have its population increased in this way ; especially
if it happens often, as they say it does in Siberia.
In the Ostiak tents, which lay just below these huts,
none of the men were at home. They were out fishing
for herring. There were only two old women and
some youngsters, who came out to talk to us. They
were thinly clad ; their ragged skirts fluttered in the
strong wind, showing their bare legs above the knee,
and they found it cold standing there with the blast
going through them, while I photographed them. Inside
the tent they sat cross-legged, broiling fish on skewers

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