- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
236

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
a good host he certainly was. Inside the trader’s
shop I found a drunken Tungus, who was distinguished
by his yellower skin from the natives we had met
hitherto. His face was tattooed. A crescent-shaped
figure extended from the outer corners of the eyes
downward over each cheek. This seems to be a common
form among the Tunguses ; Middendorff gives illustra
tions of several similar tattooings. It was strange,
by the way, that we had come across no Tunguses on
the whole trip, although there are plenty of them in
these parts ; but the explanation is that the Tunguses
are comparatively well-to-do, and have reindeer to look
after ; they therefore keep more in the forests and do
not fish much in the rivers like the poorer Yenisei-Ostiaks,
who have only their dogs, wives and children, and a few
belongings which they take about with them.
But we had to see about getting aboard again.
Meanwhile a trader had found Loris-Melikov down
on the beach and asked him why we had been buying
from that miserable fellow, the other trader, who had
nothing, except what he had stolen from him. He was
the biggest man in the place, he said, and we ought
to have come to him. This was the same man who
talked about the exiles at Sumarokova and said they
had fleeced his son at cards. Vostrotin afterwards
told us that he had lately established himself there,
and that he was a conservative, while the other man
was a liberal. Before we left he came rowing out to the
Omul to make us a present of a dried fish.
WThile waiting for our crew, who had also gone ashore
to send telegrams, we could sit on deck watching the
scene on the beach, where by degrees a number of men,
women, and children had collected to look at us and our
boat, which of course was something of an event in their
not too varied life. They were attractive, honest types,
236

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