- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
193

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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TROITSKIY MONASTIR, AND TO THE SOUTH
the oars, and another aft with the steering oar. As
they passed us, the rower stopped and they all stared
at us, except the one who was reading ; he only raised
his head, turned and gave a glance in our direction, and
then settled himself again and went on reading. What
kind of exciting reading it was wc could not make out.
They were political exiles, the others said, probably on
their way to the nearest village. How they recognized
them as political exiles I do not know ; unless, perhaps,
it was because one of them at any rate could read, and
because they all seemed so deeply interested in what he
was reading.
At 9 p.m. it was quite dark, and wc anchored for the
night. There was a stiff breeze which tore at the
rigging. Inshore of us, on the edge of the forest at
the top of the bank, the reflection of a fire shone among
the tree-trunks out into the black night. It must have
been telegraph workmen who had a tent there with a fire
in front of it.
What a strange incomprehensible attraction there
is in a light like this in the forest. I sat on deck looking
at it, while the wind increased and lashed the water
against the side of the little craft, and she pitched more
and more on this mighty river, which winds away to
the north through the endless flat forest country. This
monotonous, confined life on board, with so little space,
no doubt makes one impatient, for I actually find myself
wishing I could see what the faces are like that are
staring into the fire over there, and how those men live
—longing to sit beside a fire like that beneath the mur
muring forest, while the flames of big logs throw dancing
shadows over the tree-trunks, and the daylight dies
away in a narrow streak under the roof of trees far in
the west, and the night falls thicker and thicker. Ah,
that forest ; and here it is vaster and more infinite than
N 193

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