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355 The Winter Expedition Setting Off. Poison. An Antidote. The Duntsa River. Birds and Animals Clean Up Fish Carcasses in the River. A Cursed Place. Indications of Bad Weather. The Blizzard. Patience Pass. We did not set off on the 16th as planned. We were delayed by our Chinese escorts, who did not show up until about noon. Then the Tazy took us from one fanza to the next, where the inhabitants of each one asked us to come in, even if only for a minute. Everywhere we went Dersu was greeted boisterously. The women and children waved at him, and he responded in kind. This was how it went, from one fanza to the next, resulting in constant delays. We finally reached the last Tazy dwelling, and frankly I was quite happy there were none past it. From there the trail crossed the river and stretched along the left bank for about 2.5 kilometers. Then it began to climb to a pass. The lower reaches of the Duntsa River flow north–south until the confluence with the Sitsa, at which point it becomes the Sankhobe River and curves around a low mountain spur with a gradual slope on the Sankhobe side and a steep slope on the Duntsa side. Our route took us right across this spur. Twilight was approaching, so we set up camp as soon as we descended to the river. I felt ill that day and had severe abdominal pain. One of our Chinese guides offered me some medicine, a brothy mixture of ginseng, opium, antlers in velvet, and bear bones. I figured that the opium would ease my 35 356 The 1906 Expedition pain, so I agreed to drink a few drops of it. However, the guide was insistentthatIingestawholespoonful ,sayingthatthebrothonlycontaineda trace amount of opium; mostly it was all the other stuff. Perhaps he measured the dosage based on his own requirements—he was accustomed to opium—but for me even this small dose turned out to be very large. True, the pain in my stomach abated not long after I took the medicine , but a kind of lassitude spread throughout my entire body at the same time. I lay by the fire and fell into a deep sleep, almost like I had fainted. I woke a half hour later and tried to get up but found I could not; then I tried to move but found I also could not. Finally I tried simply to cry out but could not even do that. I was not in good shape. I had lost the use of all senses and was unable to see, hear, or feel anything. With intense effort I raised my hand to touch my face, and what I felt there frightened me. It was as though the hand was not mine, and what I touched was certainly not my face, but some mask instead. Terrorgrippedme.AfteradreadfulstruggletomoveIlurchedtomy feet before immediately falling back to the ground, where I began vomiting . Luckily for me, Dersu was still awake. He brought me some water, of which I took a few sips and began to feel better. My head was spinning so much that I could not focus my vision on anything in particular. I realized that I had been poisoned, so I suffered through the night drinking largequantitiesofwaterfollowedbyrepeatedboutsofinducedvomiting. At dawn, Dersu rushed into the forest and came back with an herb that he told me to chew, then swallow the juice. I slowly started to recover. The dizziness and headache disappeared, but I remained incredibly weak and terribly thirsty. The plant Dersu brought me turned out to be Solomon’s seal, which the natives also use to treat dysentery. The Duntsa River flows through a typical valley; it is in places wide andelsewherenarrowssomuchthatonlytheriverhasroomtopass.1The widest parts of the valley are where tributaries flow into it. Of these, the Fata is the largest, a river that flows from the north parallel to the coast. 1. Arsenyev calls this the Sankhobe River, but he is actually describing the Duntsa (later Tunsha, now Zabolochenaya). The Winter Expedition 357 The forest along the Duntsa River is equal in quality to the forest along the Sitsa. The mountains on its left bank are covered by deciduous forest, and the hills on its right bank are covered by conifers. The trail followed the river’s left bank, approaching the water quite closely in some places while wandering up to several hundred meters away in others. At one point the river flowed flush...


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