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264 The Path along the Noto River The Pougou River. A Badger. Attacked by Hornets. A Medicinal Plant. The Raccoon Dog. Boar Hunting. The Forest at the Source of the Danantsa River. Apparitions. Forgotten Pass. Tudinza Mountain. Birds. We left the horrible place known as the Fudzin, where people are buried alive, on the morning of August 8th. We started out by backtracking toward the Syayenlaza Mountains from the Iolayza fanza, then headed due north along a small river called the Pougou. Translated into Russian this means “valley of roe deer.” An older Tazy gentleman volunteered to guide us a bit of the way. He walked with Dersu the whole time and spoke with him in a low voice. I discovered later that they were old acquaintances and that the Tazy was secretly leaving the Fudzin to resettle somewhere along the coast. When they parted ways, Dersu presented the Tazy that same bottle I had discarded on the Li-Fudzin as a sign of friendship. The satisfied smile with which the Tazy accepted the gift was something to be seen. The Pougou River valley is fairly wide, with mountain streams flowing into it from both sides. The valley’s slopes are gentle, with low ridges that jut into the valley and are covered by an open deciduous forest with shrubby undergrowth. This was indeed excellent roe deer habitat. After noon Dersu found a small trail that led through dense forest up to the pass. We saw multiple badger dens along the way. One was old, 26 The Path along the Noto River 265 but the others looked very fresh. Some of the dens were inhabited by red foxes—we could tell by their tracks in the sandy soil. The detachment lagged a bit behind as Dersu and I went on ahead, talking. Suddenly I saw something moving in the understory a good thirty paces off. It was a Eurasian badger, a close relative of the Japanese badger, and found all across the Kray. Its coat is dark brownish gray and black, and it has a whitish face with dark lateral stripes around the eyes. Badgers are solitary, omnivorous animals. The Chinese and the natives do not specifically hunt badgers, but will shoot them if the opportunity arises. Their pelts are covered with coarse hair used for gun cases or as trimming on bags. The badger I spotted was standing on its hind legs, trying to reach something, but what I could not say—I could not figure it out. It was so occupied by this activity that it did not notice us at all. We observed the beast for a good while before losing interest and started moving again. Startledbythesound,thebadgerboltedanddisappearedfromsight. As we approached the spot where it had been I looked around to figure out what it had been doing. Then I heard Dersu yelling—he was waving his arms and making it clear that I should back away. I felt a pain in my shoulder and instinctively clutched at it, and came away holding some kind of large insect, which proceeded to sting my hand. It was only then thatInoticedthelargehornetnestsuspendedfromanadjacentredelderberry bush. I sprinted away, swearing, with several hornets on my heels. “Wait, Captain!” said Dersu, taking an axe out of his pack. He found a thin tree, which he chopped down then stripped of its branches. He peeled some birch bark and attached this to the end of his pole. Once the hornets had calmed somewhat, he lit the birch bark aflame and held it under the nest.Itignited like paper. Dersu spoke to the burning hornets: “Sting our Captain, will you?” Once he was done with them, he ran into the forest, where he gathered an herb of some kind; crushing it with his axe blade, he applied it to where I had been stung. He covered this paste with some soft birch bark and tied it all in place with a rag. Within ten minutes the pain started to recede. I asked him to show me what this herb was. He went off again, and returned with a plant that turned out to be Manchurian clematis. 266 The 1906 Expedition Dersu said that this plant also helps with snake-bite inflammation, and dogs like to eat it as well. It causes excessive salivation, and when saliva is mixed with the juice of this plant and applied to an afflicted area it neutralizestheeffectofapoison.Wemovedonafterapplyingallthenecessary bandages, with our conversation now revolving around hornets and wasps. Dersu considered them...


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