- Project Runeberg -  Through Siberia - the land of the future /
412

(1914) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen Translator: Arthur G. Chater - Tema: Russia
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Full resolution (JPEG) - On this page / på denna sida - XVIII. From the Buréya to Transbaikalia

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THROUGH SIBERIA
warm, and so it can be managed, even though the soil
in many places here is perpetually frozen, as soon as
one digs a little way into it. But the summer appears
to be rather short for corn. At a station farther on
and rather higher, they had made a trial this year with
oats, but they did not ripen ; they said though, that,
they had been sowed too late. However that may be,
these plains are much exposed, winter comes early and
goes late, so that it allows little time for the corn.
A strange country ! A very cultivated and winning
engineer gets in here and converses with interest on
every kind of subject. He is quite a young man, but
his hair is perfectly grey. The doctor tells me that in
1905, during the revolution, he practically had the
rope round his neck and was going to be hanged in
Tashkend. He was living in a little town there which
had declaréd itself a republic, and he was suspected of
being one of the leaders. He was condemned to death
by court-martial. He escaped that fate by the aid of
acquaintances, but what he had then gone through had
made him grey before his time. He is now an engineer
on the line here, and a very capable man.
We stop at a large station. On the platform a
starchy prison inspector is strutting up and down in a
smart uniform and shiny long boots, a regular swell,
engaged in animated conversation. Three days ago
he escaped as if by a miracle from a railway accident
that happened a little farther on, when the train fell
over a bridge.
It is a monotonous, dreary country we are going
through, with the endless thin forest of birch and larch
covering the plains, and the trees grow smaller as wc
go on. The melancholy of it !—and now it is sinking
into the long, cold, snowless winter. But even this
dreary scene must have its beauty—when spring comes
412

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