- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
317

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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IRKUTSK TO VLADIVOSTOK
317
travelled on in our carriage, delivering their reports
of the work on sections of the line, while Wourtzel
dictated telegrams and letters. At Chitå we were joined
by two engineers who were in charge of the western
section of the Amiir line, and as usual there was also
a secretary with a typewriter. The work done was
discussed, plans for future work were made, budgets
were drawn up and new proposals written out. Of
course I could not make out a word of all this Russian ;
the only things I caught were the amounts, and I never
heard less sums mentioned than so many million roubles
as being still required. Where wc in Norway should
round off our figures into so many thousands, here they
round them off into millions. And the secretary had
his work to do ; the typewriter clicked day and night.
Then, as fast as the things were written, they went
into an envelope and off by post to Petersburg.
When Wourtzel was not at work on his budgets
and plans, he was sitting at the window, studying
the road-bed and the gradients and curves and
supporting walls. No error, however small, escaped
his practised eye and was not instantly called attention
to. But now he was free in this respect, as we had
entered on the Eastern Chinese system, where the work
is not under his direction. There is not, however,
another man in the whole world who has the direct
control of anything approaching the immense extent
of railway construction that is in his charge. He once
told me how many thousand kilometres it was, but my
memory fails me and I will not venture to repeat the
figure ; it was a large one, in any case, as it is bound to
be, seeing that it includes all the railways that are
being made throughout the Russian Empire.

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