Beasts, Men and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Beasts, Men and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:08 pm

Beasts, Men and Gods
by Ferdinand Ossendowski
Translated by Lewis Stanton Palen

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There are times, men and events about which History alone can record the final judgments; contemporaries and individual observers must only write what they have seen and heard. The very truth demands it.

-- TITUS LIVIUS.


CONTENTS

• EXPLANATORY NOTE
• BEASTS, MEN AND GODS
• Part I: DRAWING LOTS WITH DEATH
o CHAPTER I: INTO THE FORESTS
o CHAPTER II: THE SECRET OF MY FELLOW TRAVELER
o CHAPTER III: THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE
o CHAPTER IV: A FISHERMAN
o CHAPTER V: A DANGEROUS NEIGHBOR
o CHAPTER VI: A RIVER IN TRAVAIL
o CHAPTER VII: THROUGH SOVIET SIBERIA
o CHAPTER VIII: THREE DAYS ON THE EDGE OF A PRECIPICE
o CHAPTER IX: TO THE SAYANS AND SAFETY
o CHAPTER X: THE BATTLE ON THE SEYBI
o CHAPTER XI: THE BARRIER OF RED PARTISANS
o CHAPTER XII: IN THE COUNTRY OF ETERNAL PEACE
o CHAPTER XIII: MYSTERIES, MIRACLES AND A NEW FIGHT
o CHAPTER XIV: THE RIVER OF THE DEVIL
o CHAPTER XV: THE MARCH OF GHOSTS
o CHAPTER XVI: IN MYSTERIOUS TIBET
• Part II: THE LAND OF DEMONS
o CHAPTER XVII: MYSTERIOUS MONGOLIA
o CHAPTER XVIII: THE MYSTERIOUS LAMA AVENGER
o CHAPTER XIX: WILD CHAHARS
o CHAPTER XX: THE DEMON OF JAGISSTAI
o CHAPTER XXI: THE NEST OF DEATH
o CHAPTER XXII: AMONG THE MURDERERS
o CHAPTER XXIII: ON A VOLCANO
o CHAPTER XXIV: A BLOODY CHASTISEMENT
o CHAPTER XXV: HARASSING DAYS
o CHAPTER XXVI: THE BAND OF WHITE HUNGHUTZES
o CHAPTER XXVII: MYSTERY IN A SMALL TEMPLE
o CHAPTER XXVIII: THE BREATH OF DEATH
• Part III: THE STRAINING HEART OF ASIA
o CHAPTER XXIX: ON THE ROAD OF GREAT CONQUERORS
o CHAPTER XXX: ARRESTED!
o CHAPTER XXXI: TRAVELING BY “URGA”
o CHAPTER XXXII: AN OLD FORTUNE TELLER
o CHAPTER XXXIII: “DEATH FROM THE WHITE MAN WILL STAND BEHIND YOU”
o CHAPTER XXXIV: THE HORROR OF WAR!
o CHAPTER XXXV: IN THE CITY OF LIVING GODS, OF 30,000 BUDDHAS AND 60,000 MONKS
o CHAPTER XXXVI: A SON OF CRUSADERS AND PRIVATEERS
o CHAPTER XXXVII: THE CAMP OF MARTYRS
o CHAPTER XXXVIII: BEFORE THE FACE OF BUDDHA
o CHAPTER XXXIX: “THE MAN WITH A HEAD LIKE A SADDLE”
• Part IV: THE LIVING BUDDHA
o CHAPTER XL: IN THE BLISSFUL GARDEN OF A THOUSAND JOYS
o CHAPTER XLI: THE DUST OF CENTURIES
o CHAPTER XLII: THE BOOKS OF MIRACLES
o CHAPTER XLIII: THE BIRTH OF THE LIVING BUDDHA
o CHAPTER XLIV: A PAGE IN THE HISTORY OF THE PRESENT LIVING BUDDHA
o CHAPTER XLV: THE VISION OF THE LIVING BUDDHA OF MAY 17, 1921
• Part V: MYSTERY OF MYSTERIES—THE KING OF THE WORLD
o CHAPTER XLVI: THE SUBTERRANEAN KINGDOM
o CHAPTER XLVII: THE KING OF THE WORLD BEFORE THE FACE OF GOD
o CHAPTER XLVIII: REALITY OR RELIGIOUS FANTASY?
o CHAPTER XLIX: THE PROPHECY OF THE KING OF THE WORLD IN 1890
• GLOSSARY
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Re: Beasts, Men and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:10 pm

EXPLANATORY NOTE

When one of the leading publicists in America, Dr. Albert Shaw of the Review of Reviews, after reading the manuscript of Part I of this volume, characterized the author as “The Robinson Crusoe of the Twentieth Century,” he touched the feature of the narrative which is at once most attractive and most dangerous; for the succession of trying and thrilling experiences recorded seems in places too highly colored to be real or, sometimes, even possible in this day and generation. I desire, therefore, to assure the reader at the outset that Dr. Ossendowski is a man of long and diverse experience as a scientist and writer with a training for careful observation which should put the stamp of accuracy and reliability on his chronicle. Only the extraordinary events of these extraordinary times could have thrown one with so many talents back into the surroundings of the “Cave Man” and thus given to us this unusual account of personal adventure, of great human mysteries and of the political and religious motives which are energizing the “Heart of Asia.”

My share in the work has been to induce Dr. Ossendowski to write his story at this time and to assist him in rendering his experiences into English.

LEWIS STANTON PALEN.
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Re: Beasts, Men and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:12 pm

Part I: DRAWING LOTS WITH DEATH

CHAPTER I: INTO THE FORESTS


In the beginning of the year 1920 I happened to be living in the Siberian town of Krasnoyarsk, situated on the shores of the River Yenisei, that noble stream which is cradled in the sun-bathed mountains of Mongolia to pour its warming life into the Arctic Ocean and to whose mouth Nansen has twice come to open the shortest road for commerce from Europe to the heart of Asia. There in the depths of the still Siberian winter I was suddenly caught up in the whirling storm of mad revolution raging all over Russia, sowing in this peaceful and rich land vengeance, hate, bloodshed and crimes that go unpunished by the law. No one could tell the hour of his fate. The people lived from day to day and left their homes not knowing whether they should return to them or whether they should be dragged from the streets and thrown into the dungeons of that travesty of courts, the Revolutionary Committee, more terrible and more bloody than those of the Mediaeval Inquisition. We who were strangers in this distraught land were not saved from its persecutions and I personally lived through them.

One morning, when I had gone out to see a friend, I suddenly received the news that twenty Red soldiers had surrounded my house to arrest me and that I must escape. I quickly put on one of my friend’s old hunting suits, took some money and hurried away on foot along the back ways of the town till I struck the open road, where I engaged a peasant, who in four hours had driven me twenty miles from the town and set me down in the midst of a deeply forested region. On the way I bought a rifle, three hundred cartridges, an ax, a knife, a sheepskin overcoat, tea, salt, dry bread and a kettle. I penetrated into the heart of the wood to an abandoned half-burned hut. From this day I became a genuine trapper but I never dreamed that I should follow this role as long as I did. The next morning I went hunting and had the good fortune to kill two heathcock. I found deer tracks in plenty and felt sure that I should not want for food. However, my sojourn in this place was not for long. Five days later when I returned from hunting I noticed smoke curling up out of the chimney of my hut. I stealthily crept along closer to the cabin and discovered two saddled horses with soldiers’ rifles slung to the saddles. Two disarmed men were not dangerous for me with a weapon, so I quickly rushed across the open and entered the hut. From the bench two soldiers started up in fright. They were Bolsheviki. On their big Astrakhan caps I made out the red stars of Bolshevism and on their blouses the dirty red bands. We greeted each other and sat down. The soldiers had already prepared tea and so we drank this ever welcome hot beverage and chatted, suspiciously eyeing one another the while. To disarm this suspicion on their part, I told them that I was a hunter from a distant place and was living there because I found it good country for sables. They announced to me that they were soldiers of a detachment sent from a town into the woods to pursue all suspicious people.

“Do you understand, ‘Comrade,’” said one of them to me, “we are looking for counter-revolutionists to shoot them?”

I knew it without his explanations. All my forces were directed to assuring them by my conduct that I was a simple peasant hunter and that I had nothing in common with the counter-revolutionists. I was thinking also all the time of where I should go after the departure of my unwelcome guests. It grew dark. In the darkness their faces were even less attractive. They took out bottles of vodka and drank and the alcohol began to act very noticeably. They talked loudly and constantly interrupted each other, boasting how many bourgeoisie they had killed in Krasnoyarsk and how many Cossacks they had slid under the ice in the river. Afterwards they began to quarrel but soon they were tired and prepared to sleep. All of a sudden and without any warning the door of the hut swung wide open and the steam of the heated room rolled out in a great cloud, out of which seemed to rise like a genie, as the steam settled, the figure of a tall, gaunt peasant impressively crowned with the high Astrakhan cap and wrapped in the great sheepskin overcoat that added to the massiveness of his figure. He stood with his rifle ready to fire. Under his girdle lay the sharp ax without which the Siberian peasant cannot exist. Eyes, quick and glimmering like those of a wild beast, fixed themselves alternately on each of us. In a moment he took off his cap, made the sign of the cross on his breast and asked of us: “Who is the master here?”

I answered him.

“May I stop the night?”

“Yes,” I replied, “places enough for all. Take a cup of tea. It is still hot.”

The stranger, running his eyes constantly over all of us and over everything about the room, began to take off his skin coat after putting his rifle in the corner. He was dressed in an old leather blouse with trousers of the same material tucked in high felt boots. His face was quite young, fine and tinged with something akin to mockery. His white, sharp teeth glimmered as his eyes penetrated everything they rested upon. I noticed the locks of grey in his shaggy head. Lines of bitterness circled his mouth. They showed his life had been very stormy and full of danger. He took a seat beside his rifle and laid his ax on the floor below.

“What? Is it your wife?” asked one of the drunken soldiers, pointing to the ax.

The tall peasant looked calmly at him from the quiet eyes under their heavy brows and as calmly answered:

“One meets a different folk these days and with an ax it is much safer.”

He began to drink tea very greedily, while his eyes looked at me many times with sharp inquiry in them and ran often round the whole cabin in search of the answer to his doubts. Very slowly and with a guarded drawl he answered all the questions of the soldiers between gulps of the hot tea, then he turned his glass upside down as evidence of having finished, placed on the top of it the small lump of sugar left and remarked to the soldiers:

“I am going out to look after my horse and will unsaddle your horses for you also.”

“All right,” exclaimed the half-sleeping young soldier, “bring in our rifles as well.”

The soldiers were lying on the benches and thus left for us only the floor. The stranger soon came back, brought the rifles and set them in the dark corner. He dropped the saddle pads on the floor, sat down on them and began to take off his boots. The soldiers and my guest soon were snoring but I did not sleep for thinking of what next to do. Finally as dawn was breaking, I dozed off only to awake in the broad daylight and find my stranger gone. I went outside the hut and discovered him saddling a fine bay stallion.

“Are you going away?” I asked.

“Yes, but I want to go together with these —— comrades,’” he whispered, “and afterwards I shall come back.”

I did not ask him anything further and told him only that I would wait for him. He took off the bags that had been hanging on his saddle, put them away out of sight in the burned corner of the cabin, looked over the stirrups and bridle and, as he finished saddling, smiled and said:

“I am ready. I’m going to awake my ‘comrades.’” Half an hour after the morning drink of tea, my three guests took their leave. I remained out of doors and was engaged in splitting wood for my stove. Suddenly, from a distance, rifle shots rang through the woods, first one, then a second. Afterwards all was still. From the place near the shots a frightened covey of blackcock broke and came over me. At the top of a high pine a jay cried out. I listened for a long time to see if anyone was approaching my hut but everything was still.

On the lower Yenisei it grows dark very early. I built a fire in my stove and began to cook my soup, constantly listening for every noise that came from beyond the cabin walls. Certainly I understood at all times very clearly that death was ever beside me and might claim me by means of either man, beast, cold, accident or disease. I knew that nobody was near me to assist and that all my help was in the hands of God, in the power of my hands and feet, in the accuracy of my aim and in my presence of mind. However, I listened in vain. I did not notice the return of my stranger. Like yesterday he appeared all at once on the threshold. Through the steam I made out his laughing eyes and his fine face. He stepped into the hut and dropped with a good deal of noise three rifles into the corner.

“Two horses, two rifles, two saddles, two boxes of dry bread, half a brick of tea, a small bag of salt, fifty cartridges, two overcoats, two pairs of boots,” laughingly he counted out. “In truth today I had a very successful hunt.”

In astonishment I looked at him.

“What are you surprised at?” he laughed. “Komu nujny eti tovarischi? Who’s got any use for these fellows? Let us have tea and go to sleep. Tomorrow I will guide you to another safer place and then go on.”
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Re: Beasts, Men and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:12 pm

CHAPTER II: THE SECRET OF MY FELLOW TRAVELER

At the dawn of day we started forth, leaving my first place of refuge. Into the bags we packed our personal estate and fastened them on one of the saddles.

“We must go four or five hundred versts,” very calmly announced my fellow traveler, who called himself “Ivan,” a name that meant nothing to my mind or heart in this land where every second man bore the same.

“We shall travel then for a very long time,” I remarked regretfully.

“Not more than one week, perhaps even less,” he answered.

That night we spent in the woods under the wide spreading branches of the fir trees. It was my first night in the forest under the open sky. How many like this I was destined to spend in the year and a half of my wanderings! During the day there was very sharp cold. Under the hoofs of the horses the frozen snow crunched and the balls that formed and broke from their hoofs rolled away over the crust with a sound like crackling glass. The heathcock flew from the trees very idly, hares loped slowly down the beds of summer streams. At night the wind began to sigh and whistle as it bent the tops of the trees over our heads; while below it was still and calm. We stopped in a deep ravine bordered by heavy trees, where we found fallen firs, cut them into logs for the fire and, after having boiled our tea, dined.

Ivan dragged in two tree trunks, squared them on one side with his ax, laid one on the other with the squared faces together and then drove in a big wedge at the butt ends which separated them three or four inches. Then we placed live coals in this opening and watched the fire run rapidly the whole length of the squared faces vis-a-vis.

“Now there will be a fire in the morning,” he announced. “This is the ‘naida’ of the gold prospectors. We prospectors wandering in the woods summer and winter always sleep beside this ‘naida.’ Fine! You shall see for yourself,” he continued.

He cut fir branches and made a sloping roof out of them, resting it on two uprights toward the naida. Above our roof of boughs and our naida spread the branches of protecting fir. More branches were brought and spread on the snow under the roof, on these were placed the saddle cloths and together they made a seat for Ivan to rest on and to take off his outer garments down to his blouse. Soon I noticed his forehead was wet with perspiration and that he was wiping it and his neck on his sleeves.

“Now it is good and warm!” he exclaimed.

In a short time I was also forced to take off my overcoat and soon lay down to sleep without any covering at all, while through the branches of the fir trees and our roof glimmered the cold bright stars and just beyond the naida raged a stinging cold, from which we were cosily defended. After this night I was no longer frightened by the cold. Frozen during the days on horseback, I was thoroughly warmed through by the genial naida at night and rested from my heavy overcoat, sitting only in my blouse under the roofs of pine and fir and sipping the ever welcome tea.

During our daily treks Ivan related to me the stories of his wanderings through the mountains and woods of Transbaikalia in the search for gold. These stories were very lively, full of attractive adventure, danger and struggle. Ivan was a type of these prospectors who have discovered in Russia, and perhaps in other countries, the richest gold mines, while they themselves remain beggars. He evaded telling me why he left Transbaikalia to come to the Yenisei. I understood from his manner that he wished to keep his own counsel and so did not press him. However, the blanket of secrecy covering this part of his mysterious life was one day quite fortuitously lifted a bit. We were already at the objective point of our trip. The whole day we had traveled with difficulty through a thick growth of willow, approaching the shore of the big right branch of the Yenisei, the Mana. Everywhere we saw runways packed hard by the feet of the hares living in this bush. These small white denizens of the wood ran to and fro in front of us. Another time we saw the red tail of a fox hiding behind a rock, watching us and the unsuspecting hares at the same time.

Ivan had been silent for a long while. Then he spoke up and told me that not far from there was a small branch of the Mana, at the mouth of which was a hut.

“What do you say? Shall we push on there or spend the night by the naida?”

I suggested going to the hut, because I wanted to wash and because it would be agreeable to spend the night under a genuine roof again. Ivan knitted his brows but acceded.

It was growing dark when we approached a hut surrounded by the dense wood and wild raspberry bushes. It contained one small room with two microscopic windows and a gigantic Russian stove. Against the building were the remains of a shed and a cellar. We fired the stove and prepared our modest dinner. Ivan drank from the bottle inherited from the soldiers and in a short time was very eloquent, with brilliant eyes and with hands that coursed frequently and rapidly through his long locks. He began relating to me the story of one of his adventures, but suddenly stopped and, with fear in his eyes, squinted into a dark corner.

“Is it a rat?” he asked.

“I did not see anything,” I replied.

He again became silent and reflected with knitted brow. Often we were silent through long hours and consequently I was not astonished. Ivan leaned over near to me and began to whisper.

“I want to tell you an old story. I had a friend in Transbaikalia. He was a banished convict. His name was Gavronsky. Through many woods and over many mountains we traveled in search of gold and we had an agreement to divide all we got into even shares. But Gavronsky suddenly went out to the ‘Taiga’ on the Yenisei and disappeared. After five years we heard that he had found a very rich gold mine and had become a rich man; then later that he and his wife with him had been murdered. . . .” Ivan was still for a moment and then continued:

“This is their old hut. Here he lived with his wife and somewhere on this river he took out his gold. But he told nobody where. All the peasants around here know that he had a lot of money in the bank and that he had been selling gold to the Government. Here they were murdered.”

Ivan stepped to the stove, took out a flaming stick and, bending over, lighted a spot on the floor.

“Do you see these spots on the floor and on the wall? It is their blood, the blood of Gavronsky. They died but they did not disclose the whereabouts of the gold. It was taken out of a deep hole which they had drifted into the bank of the river and was hidden in the cellar under the shed. But Gavronsky gave nothing away. . . . AND LORD HOW I TORTURED THEM! I burned them with fire; I bent back their fingers; I gouged out their eyes; but Gavronsky died in silence.”

He thought for a moment, then quickly said to me:

“I have heard all this from the peasants.” He threw the log into the stove and flopped down on the bench. “It’s time to sleep,” he snapped out, and was still.

I listened for a long time to his breathing and his whispering to himself, as he turned from one side to the other and smoked his pipe.

In the morning we left this scene of so much suffering and crime and on the seventh day of our journey we came to the dense cedar wood growing on the foothills of a long chain of mountains.

“From here,” Ivan explained to me, “it is eighty versts to the next peasant settlement. The people come to these woods to gather cedar nuts but only in the autumn. Before then you will not meet anyone. Also you will find many birds and beasts and a plentiful supply of nuts, so that it will be possible for you to live here. Do you see this river? When you want to find the peasants, follow along this stream and it will guide you to them.”

Ivan helped me build my mud hut. But it was not the genuine mud hut. It was one formed by the tearing out of the roots of a great cedar, that had probably fallen in some wild storm, which made for me the deep hole as the room for my house and flanked this on one side with a wall of mud held fast among the upturned roots. Overhanging ones formed also the framework into which we interlaced the poles and branches to make a roof, finished off with stones for stability and snow for warmth. The front of the hut was ever open but was constantly protected by the guardian naida. In that snow-covered den I spent two months like summer without seeing any other human being and without touch with the outer world where such important events were transpiring. In that grave under the roots of the fallen tree I lived before the face of nature with my trials and my anxiety about my family as my constant companions, and in the hard struggle for my life. Ivan went off the second day, leaving for me a bag of dry bread and a little sugar. I never saw him again.
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Re: Beasts, Men and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:12 pm

CHAPTER III: THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE

Then I was alone. Around me only the wood of eternally green cedars covered with snow, the bare bushes, the frozen river and, as far as I could see out through the branches and the trunks of the trees, only the great ocean of cedars and snow. Siberian taiga! How long shall I be forced to live here? Will the Bolsheviki find me here or not? Will my friends know where I am? What is happening to my family? These questions were constantly as burning fires in my brain. Soon I understood why Ivan guided me so long. We passed many secluded places on the journey, far away from all people, where Ivan could have safely left me but he always said that he would take me to a place where it would be easier to live. And it was so. The charm of my lone refuge was in the cedar wood and in the mountains covered with these forests which stretched to every horizon. The cedar is a splendid, powerful tree with wide-spreading branches, an eternally green tent, attracting to its shelter every living being. Among the cedars was always effervescent life. There the squirrels were continually kicking up a row, jumping from tree to tree; the nut-jobbers cried shrilly; a flock of bullfinches with carmine breasts swept through the trees like a flame; or a small army of goldfinches broke in and filled the amphitheatre of trees with their whistling; a hare scooted from one tree trunk to another and behind him stole up the hardly visible shadow of a white ermine, crawling on the snow, and I watched for a long time the black spot which I knew to be the tip of his tail; carefully treading the hard crusted snow approached a noble deer; at last there visited me from the top of the mountain the king of the Siberian forest, the brown bear. All this distracted me and carried away the black thoughts from my brain, encouraging me to persevere. It was good for me also, though difficult, to climb to the top of my mountain, which reached up out of the forest and from which I could look away to the range of red on the horizon. It was the red cliff on the farther bank of the Yenisei. There lay the country, the towns, the enemies and the friends; and there was even the point which I located as the place of my family. It was the reason why Ivan had guided me here. And as the days in this solitude slipped by I began to miss sorely this companion who, though the murderer of Gavronsky, had taken care of me like a father, always saddling my horse for me, cutting the wood and doing everything to make me comfortable. He had spent many winters alone with nothing except his thoughts, face to face with nature—I should say, before the face of God. He had tried the horrors of solitude and had acquired facility in bearing them. I thought sometimes, if I had to meet my end in this place, that I would spend my last strength to drag myself to the top of the mountain to die there, looking away over the infinite sea of mountains and forest toward the point where my loved ones were.

However, the same life gave me much matter for reflection and yet more occupation for the physical side. It was a continuous struggle for existence, hard and severe. The hardest work was the preparation of the big logs for the naida. The fallen trunks of the trees were covered with snow and frozen to the ground. I was forced to dig them out and afterwards, with the help of a long stick as a lever, to move them from their place. For facilitating this work I chose the mountain for my supplies, where, although difficult to climb, it was easy to roll the logs down. Soon I made a splendid discovery. I found near my den a great quantity of larch, this beautiful yet sad forest giant, fallen during a big storm. The trunks were covered with snow but remained attached to their stumps, where they had broken off. When I cut into these stumps with the ax, the head buried itself and could with difficulty be drawn and, investigating the reason, I found them filled with pitch. Chips of this wood needed only a spark to set them aflame and ever afterward I always had a stock of them to light up quickly for warming my hands on returning from the hunt or for boiling my tea.

The greater part of my days was occupied with the hunt. I came to understand that I must distribute my work over every day, for it distracted me from my sad and depressing thoughts. Generally, after my morning tea, I went into the forest to seek heathcock or blackcock. After killing one or two I began to prepare my dinner, which never had an extensive menu. It was constantly game soup with a handful of dried bread and afterwards endless cups of tea, this essential beverage of the woods. Once, during my search for birds, I heard a rustle in the dense shrubs and, carefully peering about, I discovered the points of a deer’s horns. I crawled along toward the spot but the watchful animal heard my approach. With a great noise he rushed from the bush and I saw him very clearly, after he had run about three hundred steps, stop on the slope of the mountain. It was a splendid animal with dark grey coat, with almost a black spine and as large as a small cow. I laid my rifle across a branch and fired. The animal made a great leap, ran several steps and fell. With all my strength I ran to him but he got up again and half jumped, half dragged himself up the mountain. The second shot stopped him. I had won a warm carpet for my den and a large stock of meat. The horns I fastened up among the branches of my wall, where they made a fine hat rack.

I cannot forget one very interesting but wild picture, which was staged for me several kilometres from my den. There was a small swamp covered with grass and cranberries scattered through it, where the blackcock and sand partridges usually came to feed on the berries. I approached noiselessly behind the bushes and saw a whole flock of blackcock scratching in the snow and picking out the berries. While I was surveying this scene, suddenly one of the blackcock jumped up and the rest of the frightened flock immediately flew away. To my astonishment the first bird began going straight up in a spiral flight and afterwards dropped directly down dead. When I approached there sprang from the body of the slain cock a rapacious ermine that hid under the trunk of a fallen tree. The bird’s neck was badly torn. I then understood that the ermine had charged the cock, fastened itself on his neck and had been carried by the bird into the air, as he sucked the blood from its throat, and had been the cause of the heavy fall back to the earth. Thanks to his aeronautic ability I saved one cartridge.

So I lived fighting for the morrow and more and more poisoned by hard and bitter thoughts. The days and weeks passed and soon I felt the breath of warmer winds. On the open places the snow began to thaw. In spots the little rivulets of water appeared. Another day I saw a fly or a spider awakened after the hard winter. The spring was coming. I realized that in spring it was impossible to go out from the forest. Every river overflowed its banks; the swamps became impassable; all the runways of the animals turned into beds for streams of running water. I understood that until summer I was condemned to a continuation of my solitude. Spring very quickly came into her rights and soon my mountain was free from snow and was covered only with stones, the trunks of birch and aspen trees and the high cones of ant hills; the river in places broke its covering of ice and was coursing full with foam and bubbles.
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Re: Beasts, Men and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:13 pm

CHAPTER IV: A FISHERMAN

One day during the hunt, I approached the bank of the river and noticed many very large fish with red backs, as though filled with blood. They were swimming on the surface enjoying the rays of the sun. When the river was entirely free from ice, these fish appeared in enormous quantities. Soon I realized that they were working up-stream for the spawning season in the smaller rivers. I thought to use a plundering method of catching, forbidden by the law of all countries; but all the lawyers and legislators should be lenient to one who lives in a den under the roots of a fallen tree and dares to break their rational laws.

Gathering many thin birch and aspen trees I built in the bed of the stream a weir which the fish could not pass and soon I found them trying to jump over it. Near the bank I left a hole in my barrier about eighteen inches below the surface and fastened on the up-stream side a high basket plaited from soft willow twigs, into which the fish came as they passed the hole. Then I stood cruelly by and hit them on the head with a strong stick. All my catch were over thirty pounds, some more than eighty. This variety of fish is called the taimen, is of the trout family and is the best in the Yenisei.

After two weeks the fish had passed and my basket gave me no more treasure, so I began anew the hunt.
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Re: Beasts, Men and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:13 pm

CHAPTER V: A DANGEROUS NEIGHBOR

The hunt became more and more profitable and enjoyable, as spring animated everything. In the morning at the break of day the forest was full of voices, strange and undiscernible to the inhabitant of the town. There the heathcock clucked and sang his song of love, as he sat on the top branches of the cedar and admired the grey hen scratching in the fallen leaves below. It was very easy to approach this full-feathered Caruso and with a shot to bring him down from his more poetic to his more utilitarian duties. His going out was an euthanasia, for he was in love and heard nothing. Out in the clearing the blackcocks with their wide-spread spotted tails were fighting, while the hens strutting near, craning and chattering, probably some gossip about their fighting swains, watched and were delighted with them. From the distance flowed in a stern and deep roar, yet full of tenderness and love, the mating call of the deer; while from the crags above came down the short and broken voice of the mountain buck. Among the bushes frolicked the hares and often near them a red fox lay flattened to the ground watching his chance. I never heard any wolves and they are usually not found in the Siberian regions covered with mountains and forest.

But there was another beast, who was my neighbor, and one of us had to go away. One day, coming back from the hunt with a big heathcock, I suddenly noticed among the trees a black, moving mass. I stopped and, looking very attentively, saw a bear, digging away at an ant-hill. Smelling me, he snorted violently, and very quickly shuffled away, astonishing me with the speed of his clumsy gait. The following morning, while still lying under my overcoat, I was attracted by a noise behind my den. I peered out very carefully and discovered the bear. He stood on his hind legs and was noisily sniffing, investigating the question as to what living creature had adopted the custom of the bears of housing during the winter under the trunks of fallen trees. I shouted and struck my kettle with the ax. My early visitor made off with all his energy; but his visit did not please me. It was very early in the spring that this occurred and the bear should not yet have left his hibernating place. He was the so-called “ant-eater,” an abnormal type of bear lacking in all the etiquette of the first families of the bear clan.

I knew that the “ant-eaters” were very irritable and audacious and quickly I prepared myself for both the defence and the charge. My preparations were short. I rubbed off the ends of five of my cartridges, thus making dum-dums out of them, a sufficiently intelligible argument for so unwelcome a guest. Putting on my coat I went to the place where I had first met the bear and where there were many ant-hills. I made a detour of the whole mountain, looked in all the ravines but nowhere found my caller. Disappointed and tired, I was approaching my shelter quite off my guard when I suddenly discovered the king of the forest himself just coming out of my lowly dwelling and sniffing all around the entrance to it. I shot. The bullet pierced his side. He roared with pain and anger and stood up on his hind legs. As the second bullet broke one of these, he squatted down but immediately, dragging the leg and endeavoring to stand upright, moved to attack me. Only the third bullet in his breast stopped him. He weighed about two hundred to two hundred fifty pounds, as near as I could guess, and was very tasty. He appeared at his best in cutlets but only a little less wonderful in the Hamburg steaks which I rolled and roasted on hot stones, watching them swell out into great balls that were as light as the finest souffle omelettes we used to have at the “Medved” in Petrograd. On this welcome addition to my larder I lived from then until the ground dried out and the stream ran down enough so that I could travel down along the river to the country whither Ivan had directed me.

Ever traveling with the greatest precautions I made the journey down along the river on foot, carrying from my winter quarters all my household furniture and goods, wrapped up in the deerskin bag which I formed by tying the legs together in an awkward knot; and thus laden fording the small streams and wading through the swamps that lay across my path. After fifty odd miles of this I came to the country called Sifkova, where I found the cabin of a peasant named Tropoff, located closest to the forest that came to be my natural environment. With him I lived for a time.

Now in these unimaginable surroundings of safety and peace, summing up the total of my experience in the Siberian taiga, I make the following deductions. In every healthy spiritual individual of our times, occasions of necessity resurrect the traits of primitive man, hunter and warrior, and help him in the struggle with nature. It is the prerogative of the man with the trained mind and spirit over the untrained, who does not possess sufficient science and will power to carry him through. But the price that the cultured man must pay is that for him there exists nothing more awful than absolute solitude and the knowledge of complete isolation from human society and the life of moral and aesthetic culture. One step, one moment of weakness and dark madness will seize a man and carry him to inevitable destruction. I spent awful days of struggle with the cold and hunger but I passed more terrible days in the struggle of the will to kill weakening destructive thoughts. The memories of these days freeze my heart and mind and even now, as I revive them so clearly by writing of my experiences, they throw me back into a state of fear and apprehension. Moreover, I am compelled to observe that the people in highly civilized states give too little regard to the training that is useful to man in primitive conditions, in conditions incident to the struggle against nature for existence. It is the single normal way to develop a new generation of strong, healthy, iron men, with at the same time sensitive souls.

Nature destroys the weak but helps the strong, awakening in the soul emotions which remain dormant under the urban conditions of modern life.
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Re: Beasts, Men and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:13 pm

CHAPTER VI: A RIVER IN TRAVAIL

My presence in the Sifkova country was not for long but I used it in full measure. First, I sent a man in whom I had confidence and whom I considered trustworthy to my friends in the town that I had left and received from them linen, boots, money and a small case of first aid materials and essential medicines, and, what was most important, a passport in another name, since I was dead for the Bolsheviki. Secondly, in these more or less favorable conditions I reflected upon the plan for my future actions. Soon in Sifkova the people heard that the Bolshevik commissar would come for the requisition of cattle for the Red Army. It was dangerous to remain longer. I waited only until the Yenisei should lose its massive lock of ice, which kept it sealed long after the small rivulets had opened and the trees had taken on their spring foliage. For one thousand roubles I engaged a fisherman who agreed to take me fifty-five miles up the river to an abandoned gold mine as soon as the river, which had then only opened in places, should be entirely clear of ice. At last one morning I heard a deafening roar like a tremendous cannonade and ran out to find the river had lifted its great bulk of ice and then given way to break it up. I rushed on down to the bank, where I witnessed an awe-inspiring but magnificent scene. The river had brought down the great volume of ice that had been dislodged in the south and was carrying it northward under the thick layer which still covered parts of the stream until finally its weight had broken the winter dam to the north and released the whole grand mass in one last rush for the Arctic. The Yenisei, “Father Yenisei,” “Hero Yenisei,” is one of the longest rivers in Asia, deep and magnificent, especially through the middle range of its course, where it is flanked and held in canyon-like by great towering ranges. The huge stream had brought down whole miles of ice fields, breaking them up on the rapids and on isolated rocks, twisting them with angry swirls, throwing up sections of the black winter roads, carrying down the tepees built for the use of passing caravans which in the Winter always go from Minnusinsk to Krasnoyarsk on the frozen river. From time to time the stream stopped in its flow, the roar began and the great fields of ice were squeezed and piled upward, sometimes as high as thirty feet, damming up the water behind, so that it rapidly rose and ran out over the low places, casting on the shore great masses of ice. Then the power of the reinforced waters conquered the towering dam of ice and carried it downward with a sound like breaking glass. At the bends in the river and round the great rocks developed terrifying chaos. Huge blocks of ice jammed and jostled until some were thrown clear into the air, crashing against others already there, or were hurled against the curving cliffs and banks, tearing out boulders, earth and trees high up the sides. All along the low embankments this giant of nature flung upward with a suddenness that leaves man but a pigmy in force a great wall of ice fifteen to twenty feet high, which the peasants call “Zaberega” and through which they cannot get to the river without cutting out a road. One incredible feat I saw the giant perform, when a block many feet thick and many yards square was hurled through the air and dropped to crush saplings and little trees more than a half hundred feet from the bank.

Watching this glorious withdrawal of the ice, I was filled with terror and revolt at seeing the awful spoils which the Yenisei bore away in this annual retreat. These were the bodies of the executed counter-revolutionaries—officers, soldiers and Cossacks of the former army of the Superior Governor of all anti-Bolshevik Russia, Admiral Kolchak. They were the results of the bloody work of the “Cheka” at Minnusinsk. Hundreds of these bodies with heads and hands cut off, with mutilated faces and bodies half burned, with broken skulls, floated and mingled with the blocks of ice, looking for their graves; or, turning in the furious whirlpools among the jagged blocks, they were ground and torn to pieces into shapeless masses, which the river, nauseated with its task, vomited out upon the islands and projecting sand bars. I passed the whole length of the middle Yenisei and constantly came across these putrifying and terrifying reminders of the work of the Bolsheviki. In one place at a turn of the river I saw a great heap of horses, which had been cast up by the ice and current, in number not less than three hundred. A verst below there I was sickened beyond endurance by the discovery of a grove of willows along the bank which had raked from the polluted stream and held in their finger-like drooping branches human bodies in all shapes and attitudes with a semblance of naturalness which made an everlasting picture on my distraught mind. Of this pitiful gruesome company I counted seventy.

At last the mountain of ice passed by, followed by the muddy freshets that carried down the trunks of fallen trees, logs and bodies, bodies, bodies. The fisherman and his son put me and my luggage into their dugout made from an aspen tree and poled upstream along the bank. Poling in a swift current is very hard work. At the sharp curves we were compelled to row, struggling against the force of the stream and even in places hugging the cliffs and making headway only by clutching the rocks with our hands and dragging along slowly. Sometimes it took us a long while to do five or six metres through these rapid holes. In two days we reached the goal of our journey. I spent several days in this gold mine, where the watchman and his family were living. As they were short of food, they had nothing to spare for me and consequently my rifle again served to nourish me, as well as contributing something to my hosts. One day there appeared here a trained agriculturalist. I did not hide because during my winter in the woods I had raised a heavy beard, so that probably my own mother could not have recognized me. However, our guest was very shrewd and at once deciphered me. I did not fear him because I saw that he was not a Bolshevik and later had confirmation of this. We found common acquaintances and a common viewpoint on current events. He lived close to the gold mine in a small village where he superintended public works. We determined to escape together from Russia. For a long time I had puzzled over this matter and now my plan was ready. Knowing the position in Siberia and its geography, I decided that the best way to safety was through Urianhai, the northern part of Mongolia on the head waters of the Yenisei, then through Mongolia and out to the Far East and the Pacific. Before the overthrow of the Kolchak Government I had received a commission to investigate Urianhai and Western Mongolia and then, with great accuracy, I studied all the maps and literature I could get on this question. To accomplish this audacious plan I had the great incentive of my own safety.
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Re: Beasts, Men and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:14 pm

CHAPTER VII: THROUGH SOVIET SIBERIA

After several days we started through the forest on the left bank of the Yenisei toward the south, avoiding the villages as much as possible in fear of leaving some trail by which we might be followed. Whenever we did have to go into them, we had a good reception at the hands of the peasants, who did not penetrate our disguise; and we saw that they hated the Bolsheviki, who had destroyed many of their villages. In one place we were told that a detachment of Red troops had been sent out from Minnusinsk to chase the Whites. We were forced to work far back from the shore of the Yenisei and to hide in the woods and mountains. Here we remained nearly a fortnight, because all this time the Red soldiers were traversing the country and capturing in the woods half-dressed unarmed officers who were in hiding from the atrocious vengeance of the Bolsheviki. Afterwards by accident we passed a meadow where we found the bodies of twenty-eight officers hung to the trees, with their faces and bodies mutilated. There we determined never to allow ourselves to come alive into the hands of the Boisheviki. To prevent this we had our weapons and a supply of cyanide of potassium.

Passing across one branch of the Yenisei, once we saw a narrow, miry pass, the entrance to which was strewn with the bodies of men and horses. A little farther along we found a broken sleigh with rifled boxes and papers scattered about. Near them were also torn garments and bodies. Who were these pitiful ones? What tragedy was staged in this wild wood? We tried to guess this enigma and we began to investigate the documents and papers. These were official papers addressed to the Staff of General Pepelaieff. Probably one part of the Staff during the retreat of Kolchak’s army went through this wood, striving to hide from the enemy approaching from all sides; but here they were caught by the Reds and killed. Not far from here we found the body of a poor unfortunate woman, whose condition proved clearly what had happened before relief came through the beneficent bullet. The body lay beside a shelter of branches, strewn with bottles and conserve tins, telling the tale of the bantering feast that had preceded the destruction of this life.

The further we went to the south, the more pronouncedly hospitable the people became toward us and the more hostile to the Bolsheviki. At last we emerged from the forests and entered the spacious vastness of the Minnusinsk steppes, crossed by the high red mountain range called the “Kizill-Kaiya” and dotted here and there with salt lakes. It is a country of tombs, thousands of large and small dolmens, the tombs of the earliest proprietors of this land: pyramids of stone ten metres high, the marks set by Jenghiz Khan along his road of conquest and afterwards by the cripple Tamerlane-Temur. Thousands of these dolmens and stone pyramids stretch in endless rows to the north. In these plains the Tartars now live. They were robbed by the Bolsheviki and therefore hated them ardently. We openly told them that we were escaping. They gave us food for nothing and supplied us with guides, telling us with whom we might stop and where to hide in case of danger.

After several days we looked down from the high bank of the Yenisei upon the first steamer, the “Oriol,” from Krasnoyarsk to Minnusinsk, laden with Red soldiers. Soon we came to the mouth of the river Tuba, which we were to follow straight east to the Sayan mountains, where Urianhai begins. We thought the stage along the Tuba and its branch, the Amyl, the most dangerous part of our course, because the valleys of these two rivers had a dense population which had contributed large numbers of soldiers to the celebrated Communist Partisans, Schetinkin and Krafcheno.

A Tartar ferried us and our horses over to the right bank of the Yenisei and afterwards sent us some Cossacks at daybreak who guided us to the mouth of the Tuba, where we spent the whole day in rest, gratifying ourselves with a feast of wild black currants and cherries.
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Re: Beasts, Men and Gods, by Ferdinand Ossendowski

Postby admin » Thu Jul 16, 2020 11:14 pm

CHAPTER VIII: THREE DAYS ON THE EDGE OF A PRECIPICE

Armed with our false passports, we moved along up the valley of the Tuba. Every ten or fifteen versts we came across large villages of from one to six hundred houses, where all administration was in the hands of Soviets and where spies scrutinized all passers-by. We could not avoid these villages for two reasons. First, our attempts to avoid them when we were constantly meeting the peasants in the country would have aroused suspicion and would have caused any Soviet to arrest us and send us to the “Cheka” in Minnusinsk, where we should have sung our last song. Secondly, in his documents my fellow traveler was granted permission to use the government post relays for forwarding him on his journey. Therefore, we were forced to visit the village Soviets and change our horses. Our own mounts we had given to the Tartar and Cossack who helped us at the mouth of the Tuba, and the Cossack brought us in his wagon to the first village, where we received the post horses. All except a small minority of the peasants were against the Bolsheviki and voluntarily assisted us. I paid them for their help by treating their sick and my fellow traveler gave them practical advice in the management of their agriculture. Those who helped us chiefly were the old dissenters and the Cossacks.

Sometimes we came across villages entirely Communistic but very soon we learned to distinguish them. When we entered a village with our horse bells tinkling and found the peasants who happened to be sitting in front of their houses ready to get up with a frown and a grumble that here were more new devils coming, we knew that this was a village opposed to the Communists and that here we could stop in safety. But, if the peasants approached and greeted us with pleasure, calling us “Comrades,” we knew at once that we were among the enemy and took great precautions. Such villages were inhabited by people who were not the Siberian liberty-loving peasants but by emigrants from the Ukraine, idle and drunk, living in poor dirty huts, though their village were surrounded with the black and fertile soil of the steppes. Very dangerous and pleasant moments we spent in the large village of Karatuz. It is rather a town. In the year 1912 two colleges were opened here and the population reached 15,000 people. It is the capital of the South Yenisei Cossacks. But by now it is very difficult to recognize this town. The peasant emigrants and Red army murdered all the Cossack population and destroyed and burned most of the houses; and it is at present the center of Bolshevism and Communism in the eastern part of the Minnusinsk district. In the building of the Soviet, where we came to exchange our horses, there was being held a meeting of the “Cheka.” We were immediately surrounded and questioned about our documents. We were not any too calm about the impression which might be made by our papers and attempted to avoid this examination. My fellow traveler afterwards often said to me:

“It is great good fortune that among the Bolsheviki the good-for-nothing shoemaker of yesterday is the Governor of today and scientists sweep the streets or clean the stables of the Red cavalry. I can talk with the Bolsheviki because they do not know the difference between ‘disinfection’ and ‘diphtheria,’ ‘anthracite’ and ‘appendicitis’ and can talk them round in all things, even up to persuading them not to put a bullet into me.”

And so we talked the members of the “Cheka” round to everything that we wanted. We presented to them a bright scheme for the future development of their district, when we would build the roads and bridges which would allow them to export the wood from Urianhai, iron and gold from the Sayan Mountains, cattle and furs from Mongolia. What a triumph of creative work for the Soviet Government! Our ode occupied about an hour and afterwards the members of the “Cheka,” forgetting about our documents, personally changed our horses, placed our luggage on the wagon and wished us success. It was the last ordeal within the borders of Russia.

When we had crossed the valley of the river Amyl, Happiness smiled on us. Near the ferry we met a member of the militia from Karatuz. He had on his wagon several rifles and automatic pistols, mostly Mausers, for outfitting an expedition through Urianhai in quest of some Cossack officers who had been greatly troubling the Bolsheviki. We stood upon our guard. We could very easily have met this expedition and we were not quite assured that the soldiers would be so appreciative of our high-sounding phrases as were the members of the “Cheka.” Carefully questioning the militiaman, we ferreted out the route their expedition was to take. In the next village we stayed in the same house with him. I had to open my luggage and suddenly I noticed his admiring glance fixed upon my bag.

“What pleases you so much?” I asked.

He whispered: “Trousers . . . Trousers.”

I had received from my townsmen quite new trousers of black thick cloth for riding. Those trousers attracted the rapt attention of the militiaman.

“If you have no other trousers. . . .” I remarked, reflecting upon my plan of attack against my new friend.

“No,” he explained with sadness, “the Soviet does not furnish trousers. They tell me they also go without trousers. And my trousers are absolutely worn out. Look at them.”

With these words he threw back the corner of his overcoat and I was astonished how he could keep himself inside these trousers, for they had such large holes that they were more of a net than trousers, a net through which a small shark could have slipped.

“Sell me,” he whispered, with a question in his voice.

“I cannot, for I need them myself,” I answered decisively.

He reflected for a few minutes and afterward, approaching me, said: “Let us go out doors and talk. Here it is inconvenient.”

We went outside. “Now, what about it?” he began. “You are going into Urianhai. There the Soviet bank-notes have no value and you will not be able to buy anything, where there are plenty of sables, fox-skins, ermine and gold dust to be purchased, which they very willingly exchange for rifles and cartridges. You have each of you a rifle and I will give you one more rifle with a hundred cartridges if you give me the trousers.”

“We do not need weapons. We are protected by our documents,” I answered, as though I did not understand.

“But no,” he interrupted, “you can change that rifle there into furs and gold. I shall give you that rifle outright.”

“Ah, that’s it, is it? But it’s very little for those trousers. Nowhere in Russia can you now find trousers. All Russia goes without trousers and for your rifle I should receive a sable and what use to me is one skin?”

Word by word I attained to my desire. The militia-man got my trousers and I received a rifle with one hundred cartridges and two automatic pistols with forty cartridges each. We were armed now so that we could defend ourselves. Moreover, I persuaded the happy possessor of my trousers to give us a permit to carry the weapons. Then the law and force were both on our side.

In a distant village we bought three horses, two for riding and one for packing, engaged a guide, purchased dried bread, meat, salt and butter and, after resting twenty-four hours, began our trip up the Amyl toward the Sayan Mountains on the border of Urianhai. There we hoped not to meet Bolsheviki, either sly or silly. In three days from the mouth of the Tuba we passed the last Russian village near the Mongolian-Urianhai border, three days of constant contact with a lawless population, of continuous danger and of the ever present possibility of fortuitous death. Only iron will power, presence of mind and dogged tenacity brought us through all the dangers and saved us from rolling back down our precipice of adventure, at whose foot lay so many others who had failed to make this same climb to freedom which we had just accomplished. Perhaps they lacked the persistence or the presence of mind, perhaps they had not the poetic ability to sing odes about “roads, bridges and gold mines” or perhaps they simply had no spare trousers.
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