- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
217

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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VERKHNE-IMBÅTSKOYE TO SUMAROKOVA
217
advantages. In the district to the south the sale of
liquor is permitted, for which reason the price is lower
there, and it certainly cannot be shown that the natives
suffer more from it ; it is not made so much of there
nor do they have to part with so much of their belongings
to get it.
To put a stop to the traffic is not so easy, without
very strict regulations. One of the traders wc talked
to on the way, told us frankly that he had given the
natives liquor when they came to the village to trade.
" For," said he, " if I had not done that, one of the
other traders would have given it them, and he would
have tåken away my customers, and had a call on their
skins for the winter." And then nearly all these natives
were already in his debt, he said, and so he would have
lost the payment of the old debts besides. No, there
was nothing for it but to keep them warm with vodka.
For that matter, they did not get so very much of it.
He told us that when they came to the trading station
they generally had a round of vodka as a welcome, and
then, when the business was finished, there was another
round ; and on these two rounds they often got more
or less drunk, most of them. That was where the
pleasure came in, and some of them, men and women,
became almost insensible. He himself had often pro
posed to give them butter instead ; but although they
are fond of butter, and will even buy a supply of it for
the winter, vodka is what they want above all, there
was nothing else for it.
In these relations between the trader and the natives,
who are given credit and are always in debt, there
is a great resemblance with the state of things which
formerly prevailed in the north of Norway, when all
the fishermen were in debt to the trader, and it was
the same in Iceland. Of course, it is a good thing for

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