The bottom was not regular like that of the Atlantic, but broken into inequalities that gave an uneasy motion to the telyaga. To travel in Siberia one must have a padaroshnia, or road pass, from the government authorities, stating the number of horses to which he is entitled.
I asked an explanation of the mystery, but was told it was a Russian peculiarity that no American could understand. The horses came very promptly, one troika to Schmidt's lodgings and the other to mine. The servants packed my baggage into the little telyaga that was to carry me to the first station.
One of his companions fell dead in General Mouravieff's parlor while giving his account of the exploration. We determined to be comfortable on the way to Irkutsk. We put our baggage in a telyaga with Maack's servant and took the tarantass to ourselves. The road was the same I traveled from Verkne Udinsk to Kiachta, crossing the Selenga at Selenginsk.
As we touched the shore one man went to the station to bring horses and a vehicle. Borasdine and I scrambled over the rocks to the road fifteen feet above the water, and by the time the crew brought up our baggage the conveyance arrived. It was what the Russians call a telyaga, drawn by three horses. This carriage is of Quaker simplicity.
The snow lay in little patches here and there on the swells least exposed to the sun, but it did not cover a twentieth part of the ground. In several hollows the mud had frozen and presented a rough surface to our wheels. Our telyaga had no springs, and when we went at a rapid trot over the worst places the bones of my spinal column seemed engaged in a struggle for independence.
It is no easy work to ferry across it, and the boats generally descend a mile or two while paddling over. A few years ago a resident of Krasnoyarsk made a remarkable voyage on this river. He had been attending a wedding several miles away on the other bank, and started to return late at night so as to reach the ferry about daybreak. His equipage was a wooden telyaga drawn by two powerful horses.
The telyaga filled with water, but had sufficient buoyancy not to sink. The cold bath waked and sobered the involuntary voyager when about half way over the river. He had the good sense, aided by fright, to remain perfectly still, and was landed in safety.
There was but one troika to spare and only one telyaga. We required two vehicles for ourselves and baggage, but the smotretal could not accommodate us. We ordered the samovar, and debated over our tea. I urged my friend to try the effect of my special passport, which had always been successful in Paul's hands.
I presume this is a partial consolation for the kicks and blows occasionally showered upon himself. Humanity in authority is pretty certain to give others the treatment itself has received. Only great natures will deal charity and kindness when remembering oppression and cruelty. I was not consulted when our telyaga was built, else it would have been wider and longer.
When he buys there is a scarcity and the price is high, but when he has finished his journey and wishes to sell, it is astonishing how the market is glutted. At Stratensk I endeavored to purchase a tarantass, but only one could be had. This was too rheumatic for the journey, and very groggy in the springs, so at the advice of Lovett I adhered to the telyaga.