- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
405

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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FROM THE BURÉYA TO TRANSBAIKALIA
405
Wc were now to go up the Séya in the steamboat
until wc reached the main line again, but wc had to
take in birch-wood before wc could get away. There
must be a great traffic here ; during the short time wc
lay waiting, no fewer than three large steamboats went
by, two downstream and one upstream, towing a big
lighter. They steamed past, these boats, with rows of
bright lights and lanterns and skylights reflected in the
water, and it was a fantastic sight in these surround
ings where, after the great uninhabited expanses, wc
seemed suddenly to have come into the thick of active
life. The captain said there were 300 steamboats
running here on the Amiir and its tributaries.
Wc have an uncommonly entertaining doctor with
us for this part of the journey—Gusakovski, doctor to
the railway. He tells me all kinds of things about the
life here, but, as I have said, I do not understand a word
of Russian, and he has not many words of any other
language, so our conversation is carried on in an extra
ordinary fashion. On introducing me to the old captain,
he said : " Altus mare lupirs " ; he was right, our
skipper was indeed an " old sea-wolf " of a Finn,
who had been going up and down the Amiir here for
seventeen years, ever since he brought out the first
boats from Finland. But now he was tired of these
fresh-water voyages between the " sand-dunes," he said,
and was longing for the salt sea again ; and he would
soon give this up and go home to Finland.
The river was well marked out, with red lights along
the western bank and white ones on the eastern at night,
and I was told there were also good marks for the day
time. But this was quite necessary ; for there was
no mistake about its being a winding course, with bends
and turns and sand-banks everywhere ; the river wound
in a succession of S’s among these banks and when we

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