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unexpected firmness of the refusal, and forgetful of the injustice of his cause, took the law into his own hands, and literally horsewhipped the Prince. Obdorsk complained of his conduct to the head of the police, but in vain. He could obtain no redress against the director's colleague and personal friend. It happened, however, that not long afterwards, the Governor of Tobolsk, wishing to inspect this distant region, arrived at Obdorsk during the time of the fair. Such an event was, of course, a most memorable one, as the oldest inhabitant had no recollection of ever naving seen so great a personage in their remote town, even Berezov being only thus honoured at very long intervals ; although, in the strict discharge of his duty, the Governor-General should annually visit every town in the province. This tour of inspection, however, is usually assigned to an inferior official, who is not very likely to report the misdoings of his colleagues.
On the Governor's arrival at Obdorsk, the Prince, mindful of the injury he had received from the physician, brought a complaint before the great functionary ; but being unacquainted with the Russian language, he was obliged to employ an interpreter, and could find no one to
fulfil this office but a person attached to the Governor's suite, who had been recommended for the post by the director of police.
The interpreter knew all the circumstances connected with the case, but had an interest in screening from the Governor the malpractices of the officials, and so made it a point of misrepresenting the Prince's statement, telling just the reverse of what he communicated to him in his own language.
The injured Ostiak, though he could not speak Russian, was keen enough to detect this cheat, and made an effort, by a few Russian words, and by supplying the rest with gesticulation, to plead his own cause. By this means the Governor was enabled at last to suspect something of the truth, and in an authoritative tone, called the interpreter to account. But the latter, nothing daunted, nor in the least losing his presence of mind, said that what the Prince so warmly insisted upon was, that physicians were not at all wanted by his tribe; and that, instead of curing the people, they only dosed them with bitter drugs. He begged, therefore, that his Excellency would represent to the Emperor that he was wasting money in sending
them to Obdorsk, as they were really only a source of annoyance.
In his reply, the Governor endeavoured to convince the Ostiak, how much the Emperor loved his people, and that money was no consideration to him when expended for their good; and further, that though physicians did administer bitter drugs and draughts, they were a very valuable and indispensable body of men.
The Prince listened to the Governor's answer with great attention, and it did not escape his penetration, that he was still misunderstood; so, to cut short all further explanation, he threw off his state dress, and pointing to his scarred shoulders, showed how shamefully he had been treated. Being a humane and just man, the Governor cast a severe look at the interpreter, and again demanded an explanation; but the interpreter, though unprepared for this disclosure, retained his presence of mind, and said with great unconcern, that the real reason, why his Highness complained so bitterly of the physician was, that he had had blisters applied to his shoulders while suffering from sore eyes, and was thus covered with scars. On this the Governor could not help smiling, and good
humouredly tapping the Prince on his shoulders, recommended him to dismiss his anger, as the physician had only acted for his good.
The Prince was now quite in despair, seeing that his case was, after all, not comprehended. Meanwhile, the director of the police and other officials, hearing what was going on, began to press into the audience room, and prevented the Governor, by their representations, from arriving at the truth. Thus the injured Prince was from lack of language to make his case understood, obliged to give up all hope of obtaining redress.
To the credit of the Ostiaks and the Samoiedes it must be said, that they are eminently distinguished for integrity and truthfulness. They are never detected in lying or prevarication, even though they might often become gainers by resorting to artifice. They faithfully fulfil their engagements and are punctual in paying their debts-characteristics which redound the more to their honour, as from their nomade life in such vast wildernesses, they could easily baffle the coercive power of the law.
They observe the same integrity and good faith in paying the public taxes. These are collected by a Government functionary who, on
arriving at the Obdorsk fair, sends a despatch to the chiefs, or elders of the different tribes, requiring them to pay the annual yasak, at the same time ordering the police of the locality to permit no sales until the tax has been duly paid. In obedience to this order, the Ostiaks and the Samoiedes of the different tribes are enjoined by their chiefs to bring in their quota of the impost. This is immediately done, and the prohibition against sales is then rescinded, and the market for barter opened to all comers.
It often happens that there is a decrease in the receipts of the tax, but this is owing solely to the bad success of the tribes in hunting, and never to any breach of good faith. These poor savages scrupulously discharge what they consider to be a sacred obligation, and do not understand either evasion or fraud.