- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
215

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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VERKHNE-IMBÅTSKOYE TO SUMAROKOVA
215
room for a moment, his wife followed him. When he
and the wife came back, he told us she had scolded him
for sitting here and talking so openly to strangers ; but
what he had said was true, all the same.
He made out that the Yenisei-Ostiaks were not mixed
with Russian blood, as it hardly ever happened that
Russians married them ; and the Ostiak women would not
have illicit intercourse with Russians, he said ; that he
knew from his own experience when he was young. He was
by no means disliked by the girls in those days, and he
had made proposals to an Ostiak girl ; but she wouldn’t,
for she was afraid he would give her a child, she said.
His wife sat at the table listening to all this, but it did
not seem to interest her at all—and, of course, it was a
long time ago.
But meanwhile it was getting late, and we had to see
about going aboard again. We expressed our cordial
thanks to our amiable and communicative host and his
wife, said "do svidanye" ("au revoir"), and he on his
side protested once more to Vostrotin his unspeakable
annoyance at being in such a condition when receiving
so honourable a visit ; if he had only known beforehand,
he would certainly have arranged to be sober. These
were the last words we heard from him, and it was in
vain that Vostrotin told him he had been pleasantness
itself. As we went down to the boat everything was
quiet, both in the village and on board the boats ; they
were sleeping off their liquor, both Russians and
Yenisei-Ostiaks.
There is something unspeakably tragic in a destiny
like that of the Yenisei-Ostiaks ; formerly, as it seems,
the dominant people over a great extent of this country
to the south—on the northern side, and no doubt also
for a long way to the south, of the Altai mountains.
Now all that is left of them is this small, poor, rapidly

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