Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To N. A. Leikin.

GORBITSA, June 20, 1890.

Greetings, dear Nikolay Alexandrovitch!

I wrote you this as I approached Gorbitsa, one of the Cossack settlements on the banks of the Shilka, a tributary of the Amur. This is where I have got to. I am sailing down the Amur.

I sent you a letter from Irkutsk. Did you get it? Since then more than a week has passed, in the course of which I have crossed Lake Baikal and driven through Transbaikalia. Lake Baikal is wonderful, and the Siberians may well call it a sea instead of a lake. The water is extraordinarily transparent, so that one can see through it as through air; the colour is a soft turquoise very agreeable to the eye. The banks are mountainous, and covered with forests; it is all impenetrable wildness without a break anywhere.

There are great numbers of bears, wild goats, and wild creatures of all sorts, who spend their time living in the Taiga and eating one another. I spent two days and nights on the shore of Lake Baikal.

It was still and hot when I was sailing.

Transbaikalia is splendid. It is a mixture of Switzerland, the Don, and Finland.

I have driven with horses more than four thousand versts. My journey was entirely successful. I was in good health all the time, and lost nothing of my luggage but a penknife. I can wish no one a better journey. The journey is absolutely free from danger, and all the tales of escaped convicts, of night attacks, and so on are nothing but legends, traditions of the remote past. A revolver is an entirely superfluous article. Now I am sitting in a first-class cabin, and feel as though I were in Europe. I feel in the mood one is in after passing an examination. A whistle! — that’s Gorbitsa.

* * * * *

The banks of the Shilka are picturesque like stage scenes but, alas! there is something oppressive in this complete absence of human beings. It is like a cage without a bird.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06