Chapter IV

Rio Negro to Bahia Blanca


Rio Negro
Estancias attacked by the Indians
Salt-Lakes
Flamingoes
R. Negro to R. Colorado
Sacred Tree
Patagonian Hare
Indian Families
General Rosas
Proceed to Bahia Blanca
Sand Dunes
Negro Lieutenant
Bahia Blanca
Saline Incrustations
Punta Alta
Zorillo.


JULY 24th, 1833.—The Beagle sailed from Maldonado, and on August the 3rd she arrived off the mouth of the Rio Negro. This is the principal river on the whole line of coast between the Strait of Magellan and the Plata. It enters the sea about three hundred miles south of the estuary of the Plata. About fifty years ago, under the old Spanish government, a small colony was established here; and it is still the most southern position (lat. 41 degs.) on this eastern coast of America inhabited by civilized man.

The country near the mouth of the river is wretched in the extreme: on the south side a long line of perpendicular cliffs commences, which exposes a section of the geological nature of the country. The strata are of sandstone, and one layer was remarkable from being composed of a firmly-cemented conglomerate of pumice pebbles, which must have travelled more than four hundred miles, from the Andes. The surface is everywhere covered up by a thick bed of gravel, which extends far and wide over the open plain. Water is extremely scarce, and, where found, is almost invariably brackish. The vegetation is scanty; and although there are bushes of many kinds, all are armed with formidable thorns, which seem to warn the stranger not to enter on these inhospitable regions.

The settlement is situated eighteen miles up the river. The road follows the foot of the sloping cliff, which forms the northern boundary of the great valley, in which the Rio Negro flows. On the way we passed the ruins of some fine "estancias," which a few years since had been destroyed by the Indians. They withstood several attacks. A man present at one gave me a very lively description of what took place. The inhabitants had sufficient notice to drive all the cattle and horses into the "corral" [1] which surrounded the house, and likewise to mount some small cannon. The Indians were Araucanians from the south of Chile; several hundreds in number, and highly disciplined. They first appeared in two bodies on a neighbouring hill; having there dismounted, and taken off their fur mantles, they advanced naked to the charge. The only weapon of an Indian is a very long bamboo or chuzo, ornamented with ostrich feathers, and pointed by a sharp spearhead. My informer seemed to remember with the greatest horror the quivering of these chuzos as they approached near. When close, the cacique Pincheira hailed the besieged to give up their arms, or he would cut all their throats. As this would probably have been the result of their entrance under any circumstances, the answer was given by a volley of musketry. The Indians, with great steadiness, came to the very fence of the corral: but to their surprise they found the posts fastened together by iron nails instead of leather thongs, and, of course, in vain attempted to cut them with their knives. This saved the lives of the Christians: many of the wounded Indians were carried away by their companions, and at last, one of the under caciques being wounded, the bugle sounded a retreat. They retired to their horses, and seemed to hold a council of war. This was an awful pause for the Spaniards, as all their ammunition, with the exception of a few cartridges, was expended. In an instant the Indians mounted their horses, and galloped out of sight. Another attack was still more quickly repulsed. A cool Frenchman managed the gun; he stopped till the Indians approached close, and then raked their line with grape-shot: he thus laid thirty-nine of them on the ground; and, of course, such a blow immediately routed the whole party.

The town is indifferently called El Carmen or Patagones. It is built on the face of a cliff which fronts the river, and many of the houses are excavated even in the sandstone. The river is about two or three hundred yards wide, and is deep and rapid. The many islands, with their willow-trees, and the flat headlands, seen one behind the other on the northern boundary of the broad green valley, form, by the aid of a bright sun, a view almost picturesque. The number of inhabitants does not exceed a few hundreds. These Spanish colonies do not, like our British ones, carry within themselves the elements of growth. Many Indians of pure blood reside here: the tribe of the Cacique Lucanee constantly have their Toldos [2] on the outskirts of the town. The local government partly supplies them with provisions, by giving them all the old worn-out horses, and they earn a little by making horse-rugs and other articles of riding-gear. These Indians are considered civilized; but what their character may have gained by a lesser degree of ferocity, is almost counterbalanced by their entire immorality. Some of the younger men are, however, improving; they are willing to labour, and a short time since a party went on a sealing-voyage, and behaved very well. They were now enjoying the fruits of their labour, by being dressed in very gay, clean clothes, and by being very idle. The taste they showed in their dress was admirable; if you could have turned one of these young Indians into a statue of bronze, his drapery would have been perfectly graceful.

One day I rode to a large salt-lake, or Salina, which is distant fifteen miles from the town. During the winter it consists of a shallow lake of brine, which in summer is converted into a field of snow-white salt. The layer near the margin is from four to five inches thick, but towards the centre its thickness increases. This lake was two and a half miles long, and one broad. Others occur in the neighbourhood many times larger, and with a floor of salt, two and three feet in thickness, even when under water during the winter. One of these brilliantly white and level expanses in the midst of the brown and desolate plain, offers an extraordinary spectacle. A large quantity of salt is annually drawn from the salina: and great piles, some hundred tons in weight, were lying ready for exportation. The season for working the salinas forms the harvest of Patagones; for on it the prosperity of the place depends. Nearly the whole population encamps on the bank of the river, and the people are employed in drawing out the salt in bullock-waggons, This salt is crystallized in great cubes, and is remarkably pure: Mr. Trenham Reeks has kindly analyzed some for me, and he finds in it only 0.26 of gypsum and 0.22 of earthy matter. It is a singular fact, that it does not serve so well for preserving meat as sea-salt from the Cape de Verd islands; and a merchant at Buenos Ayres told me that he considered it as fifty per cent. less valuable. Hence the Cape de Verd salt is constantly imported, and is mixed with that from these salinas. The purity of the Patagonian salt, or absence from it of those other saline bodies found in all sea-water, is the only assignable cause for this inferiority: a conclusion which no one, I think, would have suspected, but which is supported by the fact lately ascertained, [3] that those salts answer best for preserving cheese which contain most of the deliquescent chlorides.

The border of this lake is formed of mud: and in this numerous large crystals of gypsum, some of which are three inches long, lie embedded; whilst on the surface others of sulphate of soda lie scattered about. The Gauchos call the former the "Padre del sal," and the latter the "Madre;" they state that these progenitive salts always occur on the borders of the salinas, when the water begins to evaporate. The mud is black, and has a fetid odour. I could not at first imagine the cause of this, but I afterwards perceived that the froth which the wind drifted on shore was coloured green, as if by confervae; I attempted to carry home some of this green matter, but from an accident failed. Parts of the lake seen from a short distance appeared of a reddish colour, and this perhaps was owing to some infusorial animalcula. The mud in many places was thrown up by numbers of some kind of worm, or annelidous animal. How surprising it is that any creatures should be able to exist in brine, and that they should be crawling among crystals of sulphate of soda and lime! And what becomes of these worms when, during the long summer, the surface is hardened into a solid layer of salt? Flamingoes in considerable numbers inhabit this lake, and breed here, throughout Patagonia, in Northern Chile, and at the Galapagos Islands, I met with these birds wherever there were lakes of brine. I saw them here wading about in search of food—probably for the worms which burrow in the mud; and these latter probably feed on infusoria or confervae. Thus we have a little living world within itself adapted to these inland lakes of brine. A minute crustaceous animal (Cancer salinus) is said [4] to live in countless numbers in the brine-pans at Lymington: but only in those in which the fluid has attained, from evaporation, considerable strength—namely, about a quarter of a pound of salt to a pint of water. Well may we affirm that every part of the world is habitable! Whether lakes of brine, or those subterranean ones hidden beneath volcanic mountains—warm mineral springs—the wide expanse and depths of the ocean—the upper regions of the atmosphere, and even the surface of perpetual snow—all support organic beings.

To the northward of the Rio Negro, between it and the inhabited country near Buenos Ayres, the Spaniards have only one small settlement, recently established at Bahia Blanca. The distance in a straight line to Buenos Ayres is very nearly five hundred British miles. The wandering tribes of horse Indians, which have always occupied the greater part of this country, having of late much harassed the outlying estancias, the government at Buenos Ayres equipped some time since an army under the command of General Rosas for the purpose of exterminating them. The troops were now encamped on the banks of the Colorado; a river lying about eighty miles northward of the Rio Negro. When General Rosas left Buenos Ayres he struck in a direct line across the unexplored plains: and as the country was thus pretty well cleared of Indians, he left behind him, at wide intervals, a small party of soldiers with a troop of horses (a posta), so as to be enabled to keep up a communication with the capital. As the Beagle intended to call at Bahia Blanca, I determined to proceed there by land; and ultimately I extended my plan to travel the whole way by the postas to Buenos Ayres.

August 11th.—Mr. Harris, an Englishman residing at Patagones, a guide, and five Gauchos who were proceeding to the army on business, were my companions on the journey. The Colorado, as I have already said, is nearly eighty miles distant: and as we travelled slowly, we were two days and a half on the road. The whole line of country deserves scarcely a better name than that of a desert. Water is found only in two small wells; it is called fresh; but even at this time of the year, during the rainy season, it was quite brackish. In the summer this must be a distressing passage; for now it was sufficiently desolate. The valley of the Rio Negro, broad as it is, has merely been excavated out of the sandstone plain; for immediately above the bank on which the town stands, a level country commences, which is interrupted only by a few trifling valleys and depressions. Everywhere the landscape wears the same sterile aspect; a dry gravelly soil supports tufts of brown withered grass, and low scattered bushes, armed with thorns.

Shortly after passing the first spring we came in sight of a famous tree, which the Indians reverence as the altar of Walleechu. It is situated on a high part of the plain; and hence is a landmark visible at a great distance. As soon as a tribe of Indians come in sight of it, they offer their adorations by loud shouts. The tree itself is low, much branched, and thorny: just above the root it has a diameter of about three feet. It stands by itself without any neighbour, and was indeed the first tree we saw; afterwards we met with a few others of the same kind, but they were far from common. Being winter the tree had no leaves, but in their place numberless threads, by which the various offerings, such as cigars, bread, meat, pieces of cloth, etc., had been suspended. Poor Indians, not having anything better, only pull a thread out of their ponchos, and fasten it to the tree. Richer Indians are accustomed to pour spirits and mate into a certain hole, and likewise to smoke upwards, thinking thus to afford all possible gratification to Walleechu. To complete the scene, the tree was surrounded by the bleached bones of horses which had been slaughtered as sacrifices. All Indians of every age and sex make their offerings; they then think that their horses will not tire, and that they themselves shall be prosperous. The Gaucho who told me this, said that in the time of peace he had witnessed this scene, and that he and others used to wait till the Indians had passed by, for the sake of stealing from Walleechu the offerings.

The Gauchos think that the Indians consider the tree as the god itself, but it seems for more probable that they regard it as the altar. The only cause which I can imagine for this choice, is its being a landmark in a dangerous passage. The Sierra de la Ventana is visible at an immense distance; and a Gaucho told me that he was once riding with an Indian a few miles to the north of the Rio Colorado when the Indian commenced making the same loud noise which is usual at the first sight of the distant tree, putting his hand to his head, and then pointing in the direction of the Sierra. Upon being asked the reason of this, the Indian said in broken Spanish, "First see the Sierra." About two leagues beyond this curious tree we halted for the night: at this instant an unfortunate cow was spied by the lynx-eyed Gauchos, who set off in full chase, and in a few minutes dragged her in with their lazos, and slaughtered her. We here had the four necessaries of life "en el campo,"—pasture for the horses, water (only a muddy puddle), meat and firewood. The Gauchos were in high spirits at finding all these luxuries; and we soon set to work at the poor cow. This was the first night which I passed under the open sky, with the gear of the recado for my bed. There is high enjoyment in the independence of the Gaucho life—to be able at any moment to pull up your horse, and say, "Here we will pass the night." The death-like stillness of the plain, the dogs keeping watch, the gipsy-group of Gauchos making their beds round the fire, have left in my mind a strongly-marked picture of this first night, which will never be forgotten.

The next day the country continued similar to that above described. It is inhabited by few birds or animals of any kind. Occasionally a deer, or a Guanaco (wild Llama) may be seen; but the Agouti (Cavia Patagonica) is the commonest quadruped. This animal here represents our hares. It differs, however, from that genus in many essential respects; for instance, it has only three toes behind. It is also nearly twice the size, weighing from twenty to twenty-five pounds. The Agouti is a true friend of the desert; it is a common feature of the landscape to see two or three hopping quickly one after the other in a straight line across these wild plains. They are found as far north as the Sierra Tapalguen (lat. 37 degs. 30'), where the plain rather suddenly becomes greener and more humid; and their southern limit is between Port Desire and St. Julian, where there is no change in the nature of the country. It is a singular fact, that although the Agouti is not now found as far south as Port St. Julian, yet that Captain Wood, in his voyage in 1670, talks of them as being numerous there. What cause can have altered, in a wide, uninhabited, and rarely-visited country, the range of an animal like this? It appears also, from the number shot by Captain Wood in one day at Port Desire, that they must have been considerably more abundant there formerly than at present. Where the Bizcacha lives and makes its burrows, the Agouti uses them; but where, as at Bahia Blanca, the Bizcacha is not found, the Agouti burrows for itself. The same thing occurs with the little owl of the Pampas (Athene cunicularia), which has so often been described as standing like a sentinel at the mouth of the burrows; for in Banda Oriental, owing to the absence of the Bizcacha, it is obliged to hollow out its own habitation.

The next morning, as we approached the Rio Colorado, the appearance of the country changed; we soon came on a plain covered with turf, which, from its flowers, tall clover, and little owls, resembled the Pampas. We passed also a muddy swamp of considerable extent, which in summer dries, and becomes incrusted with various salts; and hence is called a salitral. It was covered by low succulent plants, of the same kind with those growing on the sea-shore. The Colorado, at the pass where we crossed it, is only about sixty yards wide; generally it must be nearly double that width. Its course is very tortuous, being marked by willow-trees and beds of reeds: in a direct line the distance to the mouth of the river is said to be nine leagues, but by water twenty-five. We were delayed crossing in the canoe by some immense troops of mares, which were swimming the river in order to follow a division of troops into the interior. A more ludicrous spectacle I never beheld than the hundreds and hundreds of heads, all directed one way, with pointed ears and distended snorting nostrils, appearing just above the water like a great shoal of some amphibious animal. Mare's flesh is the only food which the soldiers have when on an expedition. This gives them a great facility of movement; for the distance to which horses can be driven over these plains is quite surprising: I have been assured that an unloaded horse can travel a hundred miles a day for many days successively.

The encampment of General Rosas was close to the river. It consisted of a square formed by waggons, artillery, straw huts, etc. The soldiers were nearly all cavalry; and I should think such a villainous, banditti-like army was never before collected together. The greater number of men were of a mixed breed, between Negro, Indian, and Spaniard. I know not the reason, but men of such origin seldom have a good expression of countenance. I called on the Secretary to show my passport. He began to cross-question me in the most dignified and mysterious manner. By good luck I had a letter of recommendation from the government of Buenos Ayres [5] to the commandant of Patagones. This was taken to General Rosas, who sent me a very obliging message; and the Secretary returned all smiles and graciousness. We took up our residence in the rancho, or hovel, of a curious old Spaniard, who had served with Napoleon in the expedition against Russia.

We stayed two days at the Colorado; I had little to do, for the surrounding country was a swamp, which in summer (December), when the snow melts on the Cordillera, is over-flowed by the river. My chief amusement was watching the Indian families as they came to buy little articles at the rancho where we stayed. It was supposed that General Rosas had about six hundred Indian allies. The men were a tall, fine race, yet it was afterwards easy to see in the Fuegian savage the same countenance rendered hideous by cold, want of food, and less civilization. Some authors, in defining the primary races of mankind, have separated these Indians into two classes; but this is certainly incorrect. Among the young women or chinas, some deserve to be called even beautiful. Their hair was coarse, but bright and black; and they wore it in two plaits hanging down to the waist. They had a high colour, and eyes that glistened with brilliancy; their legs, feet, and arms were small and elegantly formed; their ankles, and sometimes their wrists, were ornamented by broad bracelets of blue beads. Nothing could be more interesting than some of the family groups. A mother with one or two daughters would often come to our rancho, mounted on the same horse. They ride like men, but with their knees tucked up much higher. This habit, perhaps, arises from their being accustomed, when travelling, to ride the loaded horses. The duty of the women is to load and unload the horses; to make the tents for the night; in short to be, like the wives of all savages, useful slaves. The men fight, hunt, take care of the horses, and make the riding gear. One of their chief indoor occupations is to knock two stones together till they become round, in order to make the bolas. With this important weapon the Indian catches his game, and also his horse, which roams free over the plain. In fighting, his first attempt is to throw down the horse of his adversary with the bolas, and when entangled by the fall to kill him with the chuzo. If the balls only catch the neck or body of an animal, they are often carried away and lost. As the making the stones round is the labour of two days, the manufacture of the balls is a very common employment. Several of the men and women had their faces painted red, but I never saw the horizontal bands which are so common among the Fuegians. Their chief pride consists in having everything made of silver; I have seen a cacique with his spurs, stirrups, handle of his knife, and bridle made of this metal: the head-stall and reins being of wire, were not thicker than whipcord; and to see a fiery steed wheeling about under the command of so light a chain, gave to the horsemanship a remarkable character of elegance.

General Rosas intimated a wish to see me; a circumstance which I was afterwards very glad of. He is a man of an extraordinary character, and has a most predominant influence in the country, which it seems he will use to its prosperity and advancement. [6] He is said to be the owner of seventy-four square leagues of land, and to have about three hundred thousand head of cattle. His estates are admirably managed, and are far more productive of corn than those of others. He first gained his celebrity by his laws for his own estancias, and by disciplining several hundred men, so as to resist with success the attacks of the Indians. There are many stories current about the rigid manner in which his laws were enforced. One of these was, that no man, on penalty of being put into the stocks, should carry his knife on a Sunday: this being the principal day for gambling and drinking, many quarrels arose, which from the general manner of fighting with the knife often proved fatal. One Sunday the Governor came in great form to pay the estancia a visit, and General Rosas, in his hurry, walked out to receive him with his knife, as usual, stuck in his belt. The steward touched his arm, and reminded him of the law; upon which turning to the Governor, he said he was extremely sorry, but that he must go into the stocks, and that till let out, he possessed no power even in his own house. After a little time the steward was persuaded to open the stocks, and to let him out, but no sooner was this done, than he turned to the steward and said, "You now have broken the laws, so you must take my place in the stocks." Such actions as these delighted the Gauchos, who all possess high notions of their own equality and dignity.

General Rosas is also a perfect horseman—an accomplishment of no small consequence In a country where an assembled army elected its general by the following trial: A troop of unbroken horses being driven into a corral, were let out through a gateway, above which was a cross-bar: it was agreed whoever should drop from the bar on one of these wild animals, as it rushed out, and should be able, without saddle or bridle, not only to ride it, but also to bring it back to the door of the corral, should be their general. The person who succeeded was accordingly elected; and doubtless made a fit general for such an army. This extraordinary feat has also been performed by Rosas.

By these means, and by conforming to the dress and habits of the Gauchos, he has obtained an unbounded popularity in the country, and in consequence a despotic power. I was assured by an English merchant, that a man who had murdered another, when arrested and questioned concerning his motive, answered, "He spoke disrespectfully of General Rosas, so I killed him." At the end of a week the murderer was at liberty. This doubtless was the act of the general's party, and not of the general himself.

In conversation he is enthusiastic, sensible, and very grave. His gravity is carried to a high pitch: I heard one of his mad buffoons (for he keeps two, like the barons of old) relate the following anecdote. "I wanted very much to hear a certain piece of music, so I went to the general two or three times to ask him; he said to me, 'Go about your business, for I am engaged.' I went a second time; he said, 'If you come again I will punish you.' A third time I asked, and he laughed. I rushed out of the tent, but it was too late—he ordered two soldiers to catch and stake me. I begged by all the saints in heaven he would let me off; but it would not do,—when the general laughs he spares neither mad man nor sound." The poor flighty gentleman looked quite dolorous, at the very recollection of the staking. This is a very severe punishment; four posts are driven into the ground, and the man is extended by his arms and legs horizontally, and there left to stretch for several hours. The idea is evidently taken from the usual method of drying hides. My interview passed away, without a smile, and I obtained a passport and order for the government post-horses, and this he gave me in the most obliging and ready manner.

In the morning we started for Bahia Blanca, which we reached in two days. Leaving the regular encampment, we passed by the toldos of the Indians. These are round like ovens, and covered with hides; by the mouth of each, a tapering chuzo was stuck in the ground. The toldos were divided into separate groups, which belong to the different caciques' tribes, and the groups were again divided into smaller ones, according to the relationship of the owners. For several miles we travelled along the valley of the Colorado. The alluvial plains on the side appeared fertile, and it is supposed that they are well adapted to the growth of corn. Turning northward from the river, we soon entered on a country, differing from the plains south of the river. The land still continued dry and sterile: but it supported many different kinds of plants, and the grass, though brown and withered, was more abundant, as the thorny bushes were less so. These latter in a short space entirely disappeared, and the plains were left without a thicket to cover their nakedness. This change in the vegetation marks the commencement of the grand calcareo argillaceous deposit, which forms the wide extent of the Pampas, and covers the granitic rocks of Banda Oriental. From the Strait of Magellan to the Colorado, a distance of about eight hundred miles, the face of the country is everywhere composed of shingle: the pebbles are chiefly of porphyry, and probably owe their origin to the rocks of the Cordillera. North of the Colorado this bed thins out, and the pebbles become exceedingly small, and here the characteristic vegetation of Patagonia ceases.

Having ridden about twenty-five miles, we came to a broad belt of sand-dunes, which stretches, as far as the eye can reach, to the east and west. The sand-hillocks resting on the clay, allow small pools of water to collect, and thus afford in this dry country an invaluable supply of fresh water. The great advantage arising from depressions and elevations of the soil, is not often brought home to the mind. The two miserable springs in the long passage between the Rio Negro and Colorado were caused by trifling inequalities in the plain, without them not a drop of water would have been found. The belt of sand-dunes is about eight miles wide; at some former period, it probably formed the margin of a grand estuary, where the Colorado now flows. In this district, where absolute proofs of the recent elevation of the land occur, such speculations can hardly be neglected by any one, although merely considering the physical geography of the country. Having crossed the sandy tract, we arrived in the evening at one of the post-houses; and, as the fresh horses were grazing at a distance we determined to pass the night there.

The house was situated at the base of a ridge between one and two hundred feet high—a most remarkable feature in this country. This posta was commanded by a negro lieutenant, born in Africa: to his credit be it said, there was not a ranche between the Colorado and Buenos Ayres in nearly such neat order as his. He had a little room for strangers, and a small corral for the horses, all made of sticks and reeds; he had also dug a ditch round his house as a defence in case of being attacked. This would, however, have been of little avail, if the Indians had come; but his chief comfort seemed to rest in the thought of selling his life dearly. A short time before, a body of Indians had travelled past in the night; if they had been aware of the posta, our black friend and his four soldiers would assuredly have been slaughtered. I did not anywhere meet a more civil and obliging man than this negro; it was therefore the more painful to see that he would not sit down and eat with us.

In the morning we sent for the horses very early, and started for another exhilarating gallop. We passed the Cabeza del Buey, an old name given to the head of a large marsh, which extends from Bahia Blanca. Here we changed horses, and passed through some leagues of swamps and saline marshes. Changing horses for the last time, we again began wading through the mud. My animal fell and I was well soused in black mire—a very disagreeable accident when one does not possess a change of clothes. Some miles from the fort we met a man, who told us that a great gun had been fired, which is a signal that Indians are near. We immediately left the road, and followed the edge of a marsh, which when chased offers the best mode of escape. We were glad to arrive within the walls, when we found all the alarm was about nothing, for the Indians turned out to be friendly ones, who wished to join General Rosas.

Bahia Blanca scarcely deserves the name of a village. A few houses and the barracks for the troops are enclosed by a deep ditch and fortified wall. The settlement is only of recent standing (since 1828); and its growth has been one of trouble. The government of Buenos Ayres unjustly occupied it by force, instead of following the wise example of the Spanish Viceroys, who purchased the land near the older settlement of the Rio Negro, from the Indians. Hence the need of the fortifications; hence the few houses and little cultivated land without the limits of the walls; even the cattle are not safe from the attacks of the Indians beyond the boundaries of the plain, on which the fortress stands.

The part of the harbour where the Beagle intended to anchor being distant twenty-five miles, I obtained from the Commandant a guide and horses, to take me to see whether she had arrived. Leaving the plain of green turf, which extended along the course of a little brook, we soon entered on a wide level waste consisting either of sand, saline marshes, or bare mud. Some parts were clothed by low thickets, and others with those succulent plants, which luxuriate only where salt abounds. Bad as the country was, ostriches, deer, agoutis, and armadilloes, were abundant. My guide told me, that two months before he had a most narrow escape of his life: he was out hunting with two other men, at no great distance from this part of the country, when they were suddenly met by a party of Indians, who giving chase, soon overtook and killed his two friends. His own horse's legs were also caught by the bolas, but he jumped off, and with his knife cut them free: while doing this he was obliged to dodge round his horse, and received two severe wounds from their chuzos. Springing on the saddle, he managed, by a most wonderful exertion, just to keep ahead of the long spears of his pursuers, who followed him to within sight of the fort. From that time there was an order that no one should stray far from the settlement. I did not know of this when I started, and was surprised to observe how earnestly my guide watched a deer, which appeared to have been frightened from a distant quarter.

We found the Beagle had not arrived, and consequently set out on our return, but the horses soon tiring, we were obliged to bivouac on the plain. In the morning we had caught an armadillo, which although a most excellent dish when roasted in its shell, did not make a very substantial breakfast and dinner for two hungry men. The ground at the place where we stopped for the night, was incrusted with a layer of sulphate of soda, and hence, of course, was without water. Yet many of the smaller rodents managed to exist even here, and the tucutuco was making its odd little grunt beneath my head, during half the night. Our horses were very poor ones, and in the morning they were soon exhausted from not having had anything to drink, so that we were obliged to walk. About noon the dogs killed a kid, which we roasted. I ate some of it, but it made me intolerably thirsty. This was the more distressing as the road, from some recent rain, was full of little puddles of clear water, yet not a drop was drinkable. I had scarcely been twenty hours without water, and only part of the time under a hot sun, yet the thirst rendered me very weak. How people survive two or three days under such circumstances, I cannot imagine: at the same time, I must confess that my guide did not suffer at all, and was astonished that one day's deprivation should be so troublesome to me.

I have several times alluded to the surface of the ground being incrusted with salt. This phenomenon is quite different from that of the salinas, and more extraordinary. In many parts of South America, wherever the climate is moderately dry, these incrustations occur; but I have nowhere seen them so abundant as near Bahia Blanca. The salt here, and in other parts of Patagonia, consists chiefly of sulphate of soda with some common salt. As long as the ground remains moist in the salitrales (as the Spaniards improperly call them, mistaking this substance for saltpeter), nothing is to be seen but an extensive plain composed of a black, muddy soil, supporting scattered tufts of succulent plants. On returning through one of these tracts, after a week's hot weather, one is surprised to see square miles of the plain white, as if from a slight fall of snow, here and there heaped up by the wind into little drifts. This latter appearance is chiefly caused by the salts being drawn up, during the slow evaporation of the moisture, round blades of dead grass, stumps of wood, and pieces of broken earth, instead of being crystallized at the bottoms of the puddles of water. The salitrales occur either on level tracts elevated only a few feet above the level of the sea, or on alluvial land bordering rivers. M. Parchappe [7] found that the saline incrustation on the plain, at the distance of some miles from the sea, consisted chiefly of sulphate of soda, with only seven per cent. of common salt; whilst nearer to the coast, the common salt increased to 37 parts in a hundred. This circumstance would tempt one to believe that the sulphate of soda is generated in the soil, from the muriate, left on the surface during the slow and recent elevation of this dry country. The whole phenomenon is well worthy the attention of naturalists. Have the succulent, salt-loving plants, which are well known to contain much soda, the power of decomposing the muriate? Does the black fetid mud, abounding with organic matter, yield the sulphur and ultimately the sulphuric acid?

Two days afterwards I again rode to the harbour: when not far from our destination, my companion, the same man as before, spied three people hunting on horseback. He immediately dismounted, and watching them intently, said, "They don't ride like Christians, and nobody can leave the fort." The three hunters joined company, and likewise dismounted from their horses. At last one mounted again and rode over the hill out of sight. My companion said, "We must now get on our horses: load your pistol;" and he looked to his own sword. I asked, "Are they Indians?"—"Quien sabe? (who knows?) if there are no more than three, it does not signify." It then struck me, that the one man had gone over the hill to fetch the rest of his tribe. I suggested this; but all the answer I could extort was, "Quien sabe?" His head and eye never for a minute ceased scanning slowly the distant horizon. I thought his uncommon coolness too good a joke, and asked him why he did not return home. I was startled when he answered, "We are returning, but in a line so as to pass near a swamp, into which we can gallop the horses as far as they can go, and then trust to our own legs; so that there is no danger." I did not feel quite so confident of this, and wanted to increase our pace. He said, "No, not until they do." When any little inequality concealed us, we galloped; but when in sight, continued walking. At last we reached a valley, and turning to the left, galloped quickly to the foot of a hill; he gave me his horse to hold, made the dogs lie down, and then crawled on his hands and knees to reconnoitre. He remained in this position for some time, and at last, bursting out in laughter, exclaimed, "Mugeres!" (women!). He knew them to be the wife and sister-in-law of the major's son, hunting for ostrich's eggs. I have described this man's conduct, because he acted under the full impression that they were Indians. As soon, however, as the absurd mistake was found out, he gave me a hundred reasons why they could not have been Indians; but all these were forgotten at the time. We then rode on in peace and quietness to a low point called Punta Alta, whence we could see nearly the whole of the great harbour of Bahia Blanca.

The wide expanse of water is choked up by numerous great mud-banks, which the inhabitants call Cangrejales, or crabberies, from the number of small crabs. The mud is so soft that it is impossible to walk over them, even for the shortest distance. Many of the banks have their surfaces covered with long rushes, the tops of which alone are visible at high water. On one occasion, when in a boat, we were so entangled by these shallows that we could hardly find our way. Nothing was visible but the flat beds of mud; the day was not very clear, and there was much refraction, or as the sailors expressed it, "things loomed high." The only object within our view which was not level was the horizon; rushes looked like bushes unsupported in the air, and water like mud-banks, and mud-banks like water.

We passed the night in Punta Alta, and I employed myself in searching for fossil bones; this point being a perfect catacomb for monsters of extinct races. The evening was perfectly calm and clear; the extreme monotony of the view gave it an interest even in the midst of mud-banks and gulls sand-hillocks and solitary vultures. In riding back in the morning we came across a very fresh track of a Puma, but did not succeed in finding it. We saw also a couple of Zorillos, or skunks,—odious animals, which are far from uncommon. In general appearance, the Zorillo resembles a polecat, but it is rather larger, and much thicker in proportion. Conscious of its power, it roams by day about the open plain, and fears neither dog nor man. If a dog is urged to the attack, its courage is instantly checked by a few drops of the fetid oil, which brings on violent sickness and running at the nose. Whatever is once polluted by it, is for ever useless. Azara says the smell can be perceived at a league distant; more than once, when entering the harbour of Monte Video, the wind being off shore, we have perceived the odour on board the Beagle. Certain it is, that every animal most willingly makes room for the Zorillo.


[1] The corral is an enclosure made of tall and strong stakes. Every estancia, or farming estate, has one attached to it.

[2] The hovels of the Indians are thus called.

[3] Report of the Agricult. Chem. Assoc. in the Agricult. Gazette, 1845, p. 93.

[4] Linnaean Trans., vol. xi. p. 205. It is remarkable how all the circumstances connected with the salt-lakes in Siberia and Patagonia are similar. Siberia, like Patagonia, appears to have been recently elevated above the waters of the sea. In both countries the salt-lakes occupy shallow depressions in the plains; in both the mud on the borders is black and fetid; beneath the crust of common salt, sulphate of soda or of magnesium occurs, imperfectly crystallized; and in both, the muddy sand is mixed with lentils of gypsum. The Siberian salt-lakes are inhabited by small crustaceous animals; and flamingoes (Edin. New Philos. Jour., Jan 1830) likewise frequent them. As these circumstances, apparently so trifling, occur in two distant continents, we may feel sure that they are the necessary results of a common cause—See Pallas's Travels, 1793 to 1794, pp. 129 - 134.

[5] I am bound to express in the strongest terms, my obligation to the government of Buenos Ayres for the obliging manner in which passports to all parts of the country were given me, as naturalist of the Beagle.

[6] This prophecy has turned out entirely and miserably wrong. 1845.

[7] Voyage dans l'Amerique Merid. par M. A. d'Orbigny. Part. Hist. tom. i. p. 664.

27. Несколько слов о странностях, необъяснимых и необъяснённых

Перевал Дятлова. Смерть, идущая по следу... 27. Несколько слов о странностях, необъяснимых и необъяснённых

В истории последнего похода Игоря Дятлова имеется ещё один в высшей степени интересный с точки зрения версии "контролируемой поставки" момент, который, однако, до сих пор не вызывал интереса "профессиональных исследователей" этой трагедии. Их невнимание к данному эпизоду лишний раз с очевидностью доказывает непонимание этими самыми "исследователями" того, как работала советская система сохранения гостайны: наивные мальчиши-кибальчиши видят воистину фантастические происки "злобного КГБ" в мацерации стоп Рустема Слободина и постановке палатки на склоне Холат-Сяхыл, но при этом неспособны оценить события и свидетельства по-настоящему подозрительные. О чём идёт речь? Для начала цитата из походного дневника группы, сугубо для того, чтобы, не обременять читателя авторской речью: "24 января. На вокзале встретили ужас как гостеприимно: не впустили в помещение, и милиционер навострил уши; в городе все спокойно, преступлений и нарушений никаких, как при коммунизме; и тут Ю.Криво затянул песню, его в один момент схватили и увели. Отмечая для памяти гр-на Кривонищенко, сержант дал разъяснение, что п.3 правил внутр. распорядка на вокзалах запрещает нарушать спокойствие пассажиров. Это, пожалуй, первый вокзал, где запрещены песни и где мы сидели без них." А вот рассказы о том же самом инциденте в дневниках участников похода. Зинаида Колмогорова: "25.01.59 г. (...) Да мы уже 2 раза были замечены милицией. Один раз в отделение милиции забрали Юрку Крив., он хотел собрать деньги на конфеты. Было смешно. (...)". А вот запись Людмилы Дубининой: "24 января. (...) Произошёл один небольшой казус - Юрку К. забрали в милицию, обвиняя его в обмане.

19. Итоги «Шпалерки»

Записки «вредителя». Часть II. Тюрьма. 19. Итоги «Шпалерки»

В январе 1931 года в тюрьме на Шпалерной чувствовалось явное волнение администрации, точно готовился смотр. Камеры разгружались. Арестантов часто вызывали днем «с вещами» по двадцать — тридцать человек сразу со всего коридора. Видимо, их переводили в другие тюрьмы. В общих камерах стало свободнее: на двадцать два места оставалось человек шестьдесят — семьдесят, вместо бывших ста десяти — ста двадцати. Камеру № 19 освободили совсем и объявили «камерой для распределения»: в нее помещали вновь прибывших и до перевода в общие камеры водили их в баню. Заключенным, не получающим передачи, выдали казенное белье. Отвратительные, набитые соломенной трухой тюфяки заменили новыми, со свежей соломой. Все это волновало заключенных, и шли толки, что какая-то иностранная делегация будет осматривать нашу тюрьму. Эта догадка перешла в убеждение, когда появился маляр, из заключенных же, и замазал штукатуркой все щели в стенах, замуровав там тысячи клопов. 24 января, когда, казалось, все было закончено, тюрьму обошел уполномоченный ГПУ, «сам» Медведь, с целой свитой приближенных. В тюрьме, несмотря на изоляцию, слухи распространяются чрезвычайно быстро, и в тот же день уже говорили, что Медведь остался недоволен, нашел камеры слишком переполненными, тюрьму для показа неподготовленной и приказал завтра же тюрьму «очистить», то есть перевести нас в другую. Тревога была общей, Как ни плохо было на Шпалерке, попадать в другую тюрьму не хотелось, так как другие были несравненно хуже. В то, что это может означать общее изменение режима, никто не верил.

Chapter XVIII

The voyage of the Beagle. Chapter XVIII. Tahiti and New Zealand

Pass through the Low Archipelago Tahiti Aspect Vegetation on the Mountains View of Eimeo Excursion into the Interior Profound Ravines Succession of Waterfalls Number of wild useful Plants Temperance of the Inhabitants Their moral state Parliament convened New Zealand Bay of Islands Hippahs Excursion to Waimate Missionary Establishment English Weeds now run wild Waiomio Funeral of a New Zealand Woman Sail for Australia OCTOBER 20th.—The survey of the Galapagos Archipelago being concluded, we steered towards Tahiti and commenced our long passage of 3200 miles. In the course of a few days we sailed out of the gloomy and clouded ocean-district which extends during the winter far from the coast of South America. We then enjoyed bright and clear weather, while running pleasantly along at the rate of 150 or 160 miles a day before the steady trade-wind. The temperature in this more central part of the Pacific is higher than near the American shore. The thermometer in the poop cabin, by night and day, ranged between 80 and 83 degs., which feels very pleasant; but with one degree or two higher, the heat becomes oppressive. We passed through the Low or Dangerous Archipelago, and saw several of those most curious rings of coral land, just rising above the water's edge, which have been called Lagoon Islands.

Глава 5

Сквозь ад русской революции. Воспоминания гардемарина. 1914–1919. Глава 5

Наступил безрадостный 1916 год, и внешний вид улиц Петрограда отражал общие настроения. Ввели нормирование продовольствия, женщины в невообразимых одеждах часами стояли в длинных очередях за хлебом. Эти толпы людей неопрятного вида производили удручающее впечатление. В ряде районов страны имелись хлебные запасы, но в условиях расстройства железнодорожного сообщения густонаселенные центры страдали от нехватки еды. Люди выглядели озлобленными и угрюмыми. Они набивались в трамваи плотной массой, толкались и были готовы вцепиться друг другу в горло по малейшему поводу. Все лучшие лошади и автомобили были реквизированы армией, оставшиеся клячи и старые колымаги придавали городу неприглядный вид. Не украшали его и резервисты второй и третьей очереди, занимавшиеся строевой подготовкой на улицах: пожилым мужчинам, часто с брюшком, явно недоставало лихой военной выправки; в свободное время эти солдаты в своей мешковатой форме выглядели особенно нелепо и неловко поеживались под пристальными взглядами патрулей военной полиции. Мировая война продолжалась уже третий год, и Россия, подобно всем другим странам, переживала состояние усталости. Не произошло никаких существенных сдвигов, мир был так же далек, как и прежде. Когда пришли вести о впечатляющих успехах русских войск на Турецком фронте и блестящем наступлении генерала Брусилова против австрийцев, временно вернулись надежды на лучшее. Однако ожидание победы постепенно сошло на нет, общественное внимание вновь переключилось на правительство, которое, казалось, стремилось парализовать действия армии. Ни одно правительство не может провести страну через войну, не подвергаясь критике.

Chapter XXI

The voyage of the Beagle. Chapter XXI. Mauritius to England

Mauritius, beautiful appearance of Great crateriform ring of Mountains Hindoos St. Helena History of the changes in the Vegetation Cause of the extinction of Land-shells Ascension Variation in the imported Rats Volcanic Bombs Beds of Infusoria Bahia Brazil Splendour of Tropical Scenery Pernambuco Singular Reef Slavery Return to England Retrospect on our Voyage APRIL 29th.—In the morning we passed round the northern end of Mauritius, or the Isle of France. From this point of view the aspect of the island equalled the expectations raised by the many well-known descriptions of its beautiful scenery. The sloping plain of the Pamplemousses, interspersed with houses, and coloured by the large fields of sugar-cane of a bright green, composed the foreground. The brilliancy of the green was the more remarkable because it is a colour which generally is conspicuous only from a very short distance. Towards the centre of the island groups of wooded mountains rose out of this highly cultivated plain; their summits, as so commonly happens with ancient volcanic rocks, being jagged into the sharpest points. Masses of white clouds were collected around these pinnacles, as if for the sake of pleasing the stranger's eye. The whole island, with its sloping border and central mountains, was adorned with an air of perfect elegance: the scenery, if I may use such an expression, appeared to the sight harmonious. I spent the greater part of the next day in walking about the town and visiting different people.

Апокалипсис нашего времени

Розанов, В.В. 1917-1918

№ 1 К читателю Мною с 15 ноября будут печататься двухнедельные или ежемесячные выпуски под общим заголовком: "Апокалипсис нашего времени". Заглавие, не требующее объяснении, ввиду событий, носящих не мнимо апокалипсический характер, но действительно апокалипсический характер. Нет сомнения, что глубокий фундамент всего теперь происходящего заключается в том, что в европейском (всем, — и в том числе русском) человечестве образовались колоссальные пустоты от былого христианства; и в эти пустóты проваливается все: троны, классы, сословия, труд, богатства. Всё потрясено, все потрясены. Все гибнут, всё гибнет. Но все это проваливается в пустоту души, которая лишилась древнего содержания. Выпуски будут выходить маленькими книжками. Склад в книжном магазине М. С. Елова, Сергиев Посад, Московск. губ. Рассыпанное царство Филарет Святитель Московский был последний (не единственный ли?) великий иерарх Церкви Русской... "Был крестный ход в Москве. И вот все прошли, — архиереи, митрофорные иереи, купцы, народ; пронесли иконы, пронесли кресты, пронесли хоругви. Все кончилось, почти... И вот поодаль от последнего народа шел он. Это был Филарет". Так рассказывал мне один старый человек. И прибавил, указывая от полу — на крошечный рост Филарета: — "И я всех забыл, все забыл: и как вижу сейчас — только его одного". Как и я "все забыл" в Московском университете. Но помню его глубокомысленную подпись под своим портретом в актовой зале. Слова, выговоры его были разительны. Советы мудры (императору, властям).

8. Пятилетка в «Севгосрыбтресте»

Записки «вредителя». Часть I. Время террора. 8. Пятилетка в «Севгосрыбтресте»

Наше предприятие в отношении пятилетки не отличалось от других и испытывало на себе всю тяжесть этого эксперимента. До объявления пятилетки мы, как и другие предприятия, стремились возможно шире развить дело, получить максимум кредитов, увеличить объем производства, ускорить постройку новых заводов, судов и т. д. Центр же урезывал наши аппетиты. Теперь из центра шли категорические предписания «развертываться» с быстротой, которая не соответствовала ни наличию материалов, ни рабочей силе. Так, в начале 1928 года мы после двух лет просьб, докладов, обсуждений добились разрешения на покупку за границей десяти траулеров, однако лицензия была аннулирована прежде, чем наш представитель, выехавший в Германию, успел заказать их, и мы сомневались в том, что нам удастся в течение пяти лет заменить наши семнадцать устарелых траулеров. Во второй половине того же года, после объявления пятилетки, нам было предписано исходить из расчета постройки 70 новых траулеров, на предстоящие пять лет довести улов, насколько помню, до 175 тысяч тонн в год, то есть превратиться в огромное предприятие. Наша траловая база, построенная в 1926–1927 годах, при крайнем напряжении могла пропустить не более трети этого количества; пристань же едва справлялась с наличным количеством траулеров.

11. Будни следствия

Записки «вредителя». Часть II. Тюрьма. 11. Будни следствия

Постепенно следователь стал вызывать меня на допросы раз в неделю или раз в десять дней, держал четыре-пять часов, каждый раз уговаривал меня сознаться и грозил расстрелом, но делал это все более вяло. Видимо, ничего нового он придумать не мог, а принимать более энергичный нажим почему-то не входило в его планы. Для меня не было сомнения, что эти допросы нужны следователю не для дела, а чтобы отбыть положенное число часов на службе, «за работой». Он, видимо, скучал и несколько оживлялся только при угрозах расстрелом. Иногда он предлагал мне изложить какую-нибудь «техническую деталь», как он выражался, то есть дать расчет улова рыбного траулера за год, соображения относительно рыбных отходов, возможности производства из них рыбной муки и т. д. Сам он в это время лениво просматривал газету. Я говорил, намеренно усложняя деталями, нисколько не заботясь о точности, уверенный, что он не понимает и половины моих слов, что следить за ходом моего изложения вопроса он не в состоянии, и что это вообще никакого значения ни для кого не имеет. Отдельные его реплики убеждали меня в этом вполне. Иногда я видел, как он дремлет, прикрывшись от меня газетой. Я пробовал умолкать — он просыпался. — Ну-с, продолжайте. Мне приходилось возобновлять бесцельное словоизвержение. Наблюдая его, я стал постепенно практиковаться в том, чтобы вносить изменения в направление этих допросов. Например, говоря о рыбных отходах, я начинал рассказывать, какие рыбы водятся в Баренцевом море, стремясь поразить его воображение какими-нибудь необыкновенными особенностями.

11. Финал поисковой операции: обнаружение тел Людмилы Дубининой, Семёна Золотарёва, Александра Колеватова и Николая Тибо-Бриньоля

Перевал Дятлова. Смерть, идущая по следу... 11. Финал поисковой операции: обнаружение тел Людмилы Дубининой, Семёна Золотарёва, Александра Колеватова и Николая Тибо-Бриньоля

Весь апрель 1959 г. поисковая группа в районе Холат-Сяхыл продолжала проверять лавинными зондами постепенно уменьшавшийся снежный покров как в лесах долины Лозьвы, так и по берегам её притоков. Вдоль самой Лозьвы поисковики обследовали более 1 км. Поиск оказался безрезультатен. Напрашивался вроде бы единственный в этой ситуации вывод - ненайденные покуда члены туристической группы покинули район Холат-Сяхыл и в течение того времени, пока могли сохранять активность, ушли на несколько километров. Подобное предположение косвенно подтверждалось тем соображением, что без вести отсутствующие туристы должны были быть одеты гораздо лучше тех, кого уже удалось отыскать (на эту мысль наводил примерный подсчёт гардероба группы и его распределение между участниками похода, ведь вся одежда погибших и вещи, найденные в палатке, были в точности описаны и учтены !). Однако о том, в каком направлении могли уйти отсутствующие, никто из поисковиков ничего сказать не мог. Логичным представлялось их движение оставшихся к лабазу, однако лабаз-то остался нетронут! Трудно сказать, в каком направлении стала бы развиваться поисковая операция дальше, если бы в начале мая не начались странные находки. В районе кедра, подле которого в своё время были найдены погибшие Кривонищенко и Дорошенко, из-под тающего снега стали выступать обломанные еловые ветки, до того скрытые от глаз поисковиков. Ветки эти располагались не хаотично, а словно образовывали своеобразную тропу в юго-западном направлении. Выглядело это так, словно в том направлении протащили волоком несколько молодых ёлочек, срубленных у кедра.

26. Поход глазами туристов. Коммуникативные отношения в группе Игоря Дятлова на основании анализа походных фотоснимков. Доказательство наличия у членов группы большего числа фотоаппаратов, нежели зафиксировано материалами уголовного дела

Перевал Дятлова. Смерть, идущая по следу... 26. Поход глазами туристов. Коммуникативные отношения в группе Игоря Дятлова на основании анализа походных фотоснимков. Доказательство наличия у членов группы большего числа фотоаппаратов, нежели зафиксировано м

Уже после завершения публикации первого варианта этого очерка в январе 2011 г. Алексей Владмирович Коськин, екатеринбургский исследователь трагедии группы Дятлова, разместил в открытом доступе фотографии, сделанные участниками похода. Речь идёт о фотоплёнках найденных в фотоаппаратах Кривонищенко, Дятлова, Золотарёва и Слободина, а также отдельных плёнках, обнаруженных среди вещей погибших туристов в палатке. Всё это фотонаследство после закрытия уголовного дела очутилось на руках следователя Иванова и уже после смерти последнего было передано его вдовой "Фонду памяти группы Дятлова". Алексей Владимирович Коськин сделал огромное дело, предоставив нам удивительную возможность взглянуть на поход группы Игоря Дятлова глазами его непосредственных участников. Вот ссылка на страницу "fotki.yandex.ru", которая принадлежит Коськину (точный адрес: http://fotki.yandex.ru/users/aleksej-koskin/album/159799/). Любой желающий может пройти туда и рассмотреть фотографии - они того стоят. Представленный материал необыкновенно познавателен не только с точки зрения обывательского любопытства, он также весьма информативен с точки зрения криминалистического исследования, поскольку несёт в себе большой объём невербальной информации, проливающей свет как на истинные условия, в которых проходил поход, так и отношения внутри группы. О чём идёт речь? Криминальными психологами давно замечено, что большой объём значимой для следствия информации может быть получен невербально, т.е. без словесного контакта с источником информации. Человек подчас очень многое сообщает о себе, своём настроении и самочувствии языком поз, телодвижений, моторикой неконтролируемых движений и т.п.

25. Этап

Записки «вредителя». Часть II. Тюрьма. 25. Этап

27 апреля по суете в коридорах тюрьмы мы поняли, что нас отправляют на этап. Что ждало нас в Соловках, никто не знал. Мне приходилось и на воле, и в тюрьме встречаться с людьми, побывавшими там, но никто из них никогда не говорил о лагере. Только раз, оставшись один на один, я спросил такого: «Очень тяжко в концлагере?» Тот утвердительно кивнул головой и заговорил о другом. Видимо, рассказывать об этом было бы слишком рискованно. Слухи же, доходившие до граждан и до нас в тюрьме, были очень страшны. По этим слухам, смертность в лагерях была громадна, беспричинные расстрелы — обычное явление; работу давали непосильную, били, держали в холодных казармах, кормили отвратительно, паразитов была масса и эпидемия сыпного тифа не прекращалась. Все это было так безнадежно, что большинство старалось не думать о том, что там ждет. Все равно ничего не поделаешь, а все же мы покинем ненавистную тюрьму, нас поведут по городу, из окна вагона увидим лес, море, вольных людей. С самого утра началась суетня. Нас погнали вниз, выстроили в коридоре. Все были с вещами, строй получался неровный, строили нас и перестраивали, проверяли по спискам, которые у ГПУ всегда в беспорядке. Тюремная администрация сдавала нас конвою, который должен был сопровождать нас до концлагеря и там сдать лагерному начальству. Самая сдача происходила у стола, куда нас вызывали по одному, спрашивали имя, по какой статье и на сколько лет сослан. Проверенный «в натуре» передавался конвою вместе с конвертом, в котором находилось «личное дело». При проверке происходило немало недоразумений: то была неверно записана фамилия, то имя, то срок...

15. В.К. Толстой

Записки «вредителя». Часть I. Время террора. 15. В.К. Толстой

Останавливался я в Москве всегда у В. К. Толстого, с которым мы вместе выросли и дружили с детства. Работали мы в одной специальности, которой я увлекся еще в юношеские годы, и это сближало нас еще больше. Несмотря на громкую фамилию, Толстой не был ни графом, ни даже дворянином, потому что отец его был воспитанником «Воспитательного дома». ГПУ и Крыленко совершали сознательный подлог, когда, объявляя о расстреле В. К. Толстого, причисляли его к дворянам. Метрика отца была в бумагах расстрелянного, но прокурор республики не затруднял себя элементарной добросовестностью. Я хорошо знал всю их семью. Отец В. К. Толстого был врачом и не имел других средств к существованию, кроме тех, которые ему давала его скромная служба. В семье росло пятеро ребят, воспитание которых поглощало все средства, зарабатываемые отцом. В доме никогда не было даже сколько-нибудь приличной обстановки, ничего, кроме кроватей и необходимых столов и венских стульев. В. К. Толстой, еще студентом, начал работать по ихтиологии; после же окончания университета (петербургского), эта работа стала специальностью, и он сразу выдвинулся, как серьезный исследователь и научный работник. Даже в ранних, небольших статьях он выделялся самостоятельностью мысли и далеким от трафарета методом. После революции он с таким же увлечением и любовью отдался практической работе широкого масштаба и восемь лет был директором государственной рыбной промышленности Азовско-Черноморского и Северного районов.