restricted access 33 An Encounter with the Khunkhuz
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334 An Encounter with the Khunkhuz Footprints. The Khunkhuz. Dersu Investigates. An Exchange of Fire. Chzhan Bao. The Dungou River. Khuntami Mountain. The Mulumbe River. Lake Blagodati. The Kaymbe River. A Mycological Fanza. “Stone Leather.” The Way to the Sankhobe River. N. A. Palchevsky and A. I. Merzlyakov Depart. Dersu came upon some human footprints on the trail that afternoon, and he began to pay close attention to them. In one place he picked up a papirosa butt and elsewhere a section of blue daba. In his opinion, there were two people: not Manza workers but likely do-nothings instead. No working man would discard new daba simply because it was stained; even an old rag was worn until it completely disintegrated. And workers smokedpipes—papirosasweretooexpensiveforthem.Hecontinuedhis investigation and found a place where these two men had taken a break (and one of them had changed his shoes). There was an abandoned rifle sleeve there that indicated they were armed. The farther we went, the more diverse our discoveries became. Suddenly Dersu stopped. “Two more people walked,” he said. “Now became four. My think this bad people.” We had a discussion and decided to abandon the trail and continue through the forest. We ascended the first hill we came upon and had a look around. We could see Plastun Bay some 4 kilometers ahead, and a tall mountain range to our left, beyond which likely flowed the Sin33 An Encounter with the Khunkhuz 335 antsa River. Behind us was Dolgoye Lake, and to the right a chain of eroded hills and beyond them the sea. I did not see anything suspicious so wanted to return to the trail, but the Gold advised that we descend to a small creek and follow that to the Tkhetibe River. After an hour’s journey we reached the edge of the forest. There, Dersu told us wait for his return and went to have a look around. The Tkhetibe is a small mountain river that flows through a broad, swampy valley overgrown with willow, alder, and Japanese white birch. Dusk was approaching, and with it the swamp assumed a brownishyellow hue, suddenly seeming lifeless and deserted. The mountains became gloomy as the dark-blue haze of evening fog descended on them. And as it grew darker, the glow from the still-burning forest fire flared brighter in the sky. One hour passed, then another, but Dersu had still not returned. I started to worry. Suddenly and from far off we could hear some shouting, followed by four shots. Then another shout and one more shot. I wanted to rush over there, but realized that Dersu and I would lose track of each other if we did so. The Gold returned about twenty minutes later and was extremely agitated. He quickly told us as best he could what had happened. He had reached Plastun Bay while tracking those four people and saw a tent there with about twenty armed Chinese men inside. AfterconfirmingthattheywereKhunkhuz,hecrawledbackthrough the bushes but was detected by a dog that started barking. Three of the Khun­khuz grabbed their guns and went after him. As he fled, Dersu lost some time negotiating a quicksand bog. The Khunkhuzyelledathimtostop,thenstartedshooting.Hemadeitoutto dry land, dropped to one knee to steady his aim, then fired at one of the bandits.Dersuwatchedhimfallandtheothertworushtothewounded’s aid, and then continued his escape. In order to confuse the pursuing Khunkhuz, Dersu purposefully ran away from our current location, and then doubled back in a roundabout way. “Khunkhuz make hole in shirt,” said Dersu, showing us the bullet hole in his jacket. “Our must leave soon.” He finished his story and put on his backpack. 336 The 1906 Expedition We moved on quietly, trying not to make any noise. The Gold led us along the rocks of a dry creek bed and avoided the trails. We reached the IodzykheRiverataboutnineo’clockintheeveningbutdidnotapproach the fanzas there.1 Instead, we spent the night under the open sky. It was very cold that night; the dampness seeped in regardless of how warmly I wrapped myself up. No one could sleep. We all waited impatiently for dawn, but the time passed very slowly. We continued on our way the moment it started to get light. We wanted to meet up with G. I. Granatman and A. I. Merzlyakov as soon as possible. Dersu thought we should continue avoiding the trail and bushwhack instead. This was what we did. When we crossed the river we came out at a...


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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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