7 Parting Ways with Dersu
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61 Parting Ways with Dersu The Path to Dmitrovka. Dersu Takes Care of the Boat. The Gold’s Camp Past the Village. Dersu’s Plans. The Goodbye. Return to Vladivostok. There was a cold snap the next morning. All the surrounding water had frozen, and there was frazil ice in the river.1 It took us a whole day just to negotiate the channels of the Lefu River as we frequently hit dead ends and had to backtrack. After about 2 kilometers following one channel, we turned up a neighboring one, which was narrow and winding. There was a solitary, conical, oak-covered hill where this waterway rejoined the main channel, and we spent the night there at its base. This was our last camp; from there it was an easy march to Chernigovka, where the remainder of the riflemen and our horses were waiting. As we were leaving camp, Dersu asked Olentyev to help him pull the boat out of the water. He carefully cleaned off the sand and wiped it down with grasses, then flipped the boat over and propped it up. I already knew that he was doing this for whatever stranger might need it in the future. We said our goodbyes to the Lefu that morning, and by afternoon we had reached Dmitrovka, a village on the eastern side of the Ussuri Railway. As we crossed the tracks, Dersu stopped and touched the rail with his hands, looked in both directions, and said: 1. Frazil ice is akin to clumps of slush. 7 62 The 1902 Expedition “Hm! My heard about this. People all around talk about it. Now have understand.” We stayed in guest rooms in the village, but the Gold did not want to enter the hut and, as per usual, slept outside under the open sky. In the evening I missed his company, so went to look for him. Although the night was dark, I could make things out thanks to the fallen snow. There were stoves burning in all of the huts. The whole village smoldered; whitish smoke streamed out of chimneys and unhurriedly made its way up into the sky. Light poured out of windows to illuminate the snowdrifts outside. On the other side of the village I could see a fire by the stream. I guessed this was Dersu’s camp and headed for it. The Gold was sitting by the fire, lost in thought. “Let’s go to the hut and drink some tea,” I said to him. He did not answer and, a moment later, asked his own question: “Where go tomorrow?” I told him that we’d go to Chernigovka and, from there, to Vladivostok .Iinvitedhimtocomewithme.Ipromisedthatwe’dheadouttothe forest again soon; I offered to pay him . . . We both sat quietly in thought. I am not sure what he was thinking about, but I could feel sadness creeping into my heart. I began to tell him about the conveniences of city life. Dersu listened quietly. Finally, he sighed and said: “No thank you, captain. My cannot go Vladivostok. What my work there? No go hunt, also no chase sable. My soon die if live in city.” “It’s true,” I thought, “someone accustomed only to the forest can’t makeitinthecity.WouldIbedoinghimadisservicebytakinghimaway from everything he’s ever known?” Dersu was quiet. It seemed that he was trying to figure out what to do next. Then, as though reading my thoughts, he said: “Tomorrow I go straight,” and pointed to the east. “Go four suns; find Daubikhe, then go Ulakhe, then Fudzin, Dzubgyn, and sea.2 My heard on the ocean side a lot all sort of thing: sable, deer also.” We sat by the fire and talked for some time. The night was quiet and cold. Occasionally, the passing breeze rustled the few oak leaves that still clung to the branches. Everyone in the village had gone to sleep 2. Dzubgyn is Gold for Sikhote-Alin. Parting Ways with Dersu 63 hours ago; only the hut I was sharing with the riflemen still had light in the window. Orion in the sky told me it was midnight. Finally I stood, said goodbye to the Gold, and returned to my hut and got ready for bed. I was overcome with sadness. During this short span of time I had become attached to Dersu, and was sorry to part ways with him. I fell asleep thinking about this. My first thought in the morning, when I woke, was that Dersu was...


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Subject Headings

  • Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China) -- Description and travel.
  • Natural history -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
  • Dersu Uzala.
  • Arsenʹev, V. K. (Vladimir Klavdievich), 1872-1930 -- Travel -- Ussuri River Valley (Russia and China).
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