restricted access 27 An Accursed Place
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275 An Accursed Place The Vangou River. A Scary Shot. Dersu Is Wounded. Mineral Licks. The Abandoned Drift Fence. Meeting Up With Granatman and Merzlyakov. The Dinzakhe River. Birds. The Ginseng Hunter. Dersu woke me at dawn on August 12th. The Cossacks were still asleep. We took the hypsometer and headed back up the Sikhote-Alin; I was interestedinmeasuringthealtitudeontheothersideofthesaddle.Asfar as I could tell, here the Sikhote-Alin mountain range stretched toward the southwest with gentle slopes facing inland (the Danantsa) and steep slopes facing the sea (the Tadusha). On one side was nothing more than mossand conifers,whiletheothersidehad mixed deciduousforests that were full of life. We dropped back into the Vangou River drainage after completing our task. The detachment was ready to move on by the time we returned to the fanza. The riflemen and Cossacks had eaten, had warmed the tea, and were awaiting our return. After eating a little, I ordered the horses saddled and headed up the trail with Dersu. We took a break after about 5 kilometers. When I got up to continue on, Dersu sat on the river bank to change his footwear. I did not notice he had stopped and kept moving. The trail arced widely here, about 120 degrees, and after walking for a bit I looked back and saw him sitting on the bank. He waved me on so as not to wait. I encountered some wild boar as soon as I stepped back into the forest from the river, but I did not have time to shoot. I took note of the 27 276 The 1906 Expedition direction they fled and bushwhacked to cut them off. I met up with them again after a few minutes—I could see something flashing among the brush. I followed the movement with my rifle, waiting for the dark spot to stop and when it did I fired. The sounds that followed, of a human crying out then moaning in pain, filled me with unbridled horror. I had just shot someone. I ran to that fateful spot and what I saw stunned me like an axe handle to the head: on the ground lay Dersu. “Dersu! Dersu!” I screamed in a voice unfamiliar to me, and rushed to him. He put weight on his arm to prop himself up on his elbow, and wascoveringhiseyeswithhisrighthand.Igrippedhisarmand,fearfully and hurriedly, asked where the bullet had hit. “Back hurt.” He answered. I hastily began to remove his outer layers, ripping his jacket and undershirt in the process. Finally I got them off and exhaled in relief. The bullet had not punctured his skin; he only had a bruise there the size of a 5-kopek coin.1 I realized then that I was shaking as though with fever. I told Dersu about the nature of his injury, which relaxed him. He saw my distress and began to calm me down. “Do not worry, Captain! Not your fault. My was behind you—how you know I get ahead?” I helped him get upright and seated. I asked how it was possible for him to have gotten between me and the wild boar. It turned out that he had seen the boar at the same moment I did. His instincts as a hunter were instantly triggered, and he leaped up in pursuit. Given that the trail I was on curved as much as it did, and that the boar had gone straight, it did not take Dersu long to overtake me by following them. The color of Dersu’s jacket was surprisingly similar to the color of wild boar fur, and he had been hunched over as he moved through the dense understory. I shot, confusing him for an animal. He had been knocked off his feet when the bullet tore through his jacket and hit him in the back; but amazingly it left only a bruise. The pack train caught up with us about ten minutes later. I rummaged through our supplies for an iodine solution, which I smeared on Dersu’s injury. I then redistributed the load from one of the horses to 1. A 5-kopek coin in 1906 was 15 mm in diameter. An Accursed Place 277 all the others, and we helped Dersu mount the bare horse to leave that accursed place behind. We came upon another hunting fanza that afternoon, located where the Vangou River takes on three tributaries. Dersu had a headache and his back throbbed with pain, so we decided to...


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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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