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(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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nearer at hand. There is a luxuriant vegetation ;
cork-trees also occur and other valuable kinds, and
wild vines are found in the forests, but the wild grapes
are said to be small and sour. The land here is supposed
to be cultivated in a way, and wc see corn-fields here and
there ; but still the cultivated patches lic far apart,
and very much more might be done. But this is prob
ably due to the primitive system of agriculture, which
causes the greater part of the land to lie fallow. There
are immense tracts of undeveloped land, mostly prairie,
with scattered trees. To a great extent this land is
owned by the Cossacks who live in the villages, and, as
far as I can understand, they cannot be particularly
industrious agriculturists. They prefer to lease their
land to Koreans, who are active and pay their rent,
while they themselves are fond of passing their time
in the taverns.
Wc often saw small mud huts in the fields. They lay
far apart, and must have been the dwellings of the
Koreans. They build their huts in the middle of the
fields in which they work. They are frugal and indus
trious, and besides farming they carry on market
gardening. They are therefore growing richer, while
the Cossacks who do nothing are becoming steadily
poorer. There are great stretches of prairie between
the villages, or the places where wc see scattered settle
ments. This prairie has coarse, dry grass, which looks
worthless. For this reason it is burnt, as I have said,
in the autumn or spring. Wc now see smoke on every
side ; grass and forest are being burnt indiscriminately.
The air is entirely filled with it, and the hills are shrouded
in a thick grey mist. The sun is red as blood and partly
hidden by the smoke, though it is still high in the
heavens. It is a fantastic scene with the rapidly in
creasing twilight and the red, smoke-filled sky.

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