- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
266

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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THROUGH SIBERIA
266
the whole drive we did not go through a single wood.
Now and then there was a village ; but they lay far apart,
and the peasants must often have to drive a great dis
tance to the fields where they work. Sometimes we
passed herds of perhaps several hundred cows, belonging
to these villages.
So we went forward ceaselessly, stage after stage
over these endless tracts, and on the box in front of us
we had driver after driver, a new one for every stage ;
but they all behaved and drove their horses in the same
way.
They are a race by themselves, these Siberian drivers.
Their ambition is to get on fast and to show that they
can drive their animals, and the activity they display
is unremitting. Now they lash them with the knout ;
or perhaps I should say they do so without stopping.
Now they give long melancholy howls, full of all the
misery of life, but suddenly change to short, lively
exclamations and cries of " Hoi, hoi ! " Then come
long speeches to the horses, which they always address
as their nearest relations and call by all sorts of pet
names, both proper and improper—my dear daughter,
my brother, my little birch, my sweetheart, my mis
tress. And then they abuse them and inform them
that their mother was no better than she ought to
have been, and worse things than that.
Meanwhile the spare, active horses pull for all they
are worth over the heavy, soft roads, where the wheels
sink in deep and where the mud spurts incessantly and
splashes us pitilessly all over. The middle horse,
as I said, is generally supposed to trot, while the two
side horses go at a gallop ; but a fresh word of com
mand puts them all into a gallop, and then they dash
wildly through all the filth, while we are sent bounding
into the air.

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