The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

382 Pages ·2017·2.63 MB ·English

The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

Also by John Vaillant


The Golden Spruce To the memory of


Joanna and Ellis Settle


viriditas In the taiga there are no witnesses.


V. K. A ,


RSENIEV


Dersu the Trapper1


no easy bargain


Would be made in that place by any man


Beowulf2 Contents


Cover


Other Books by This Author


Title Page


Dedication


Epigraphs


Maps


Prologue Part One | Markov


Part Two | Pochepnya


Part Three | Trush


Epilogue


Acknowledgments


A Note on Translation


Notes


Selected Bibliography


Permissions Acknowledgments


About the Author


Photo Inserts


Copyright The Russian Far East The Bikin River Valley Prologue


HANGING IN THE TREES, AS IF CAUGHT THERE, IS A SICKLE


OF A MOON. Its wan light scatters shadows on the snow below, only


obscuring further the forest that this man negotiates now as much by feel


as by sight. He is on foot and on his own save for a single dog, which runs


ahead, eager to be heading home at last. All around, the black trunks of


oak, pine, and poplar soar into the dark above the scrub and deadfall, and


their branches form a tattered canopy overhead. Slender birches, whiter


than the snow, seem to emit a light of their own, but it is like the coat of


an animal in winter: cold to the touch and for itself alone. All is quiet in


this dormant, frozen world. It is so cold that spit will freeze before it


lands; so cold that a tree, brittle as straw and unable to contain its


expanding sap, may spontaneously explode. As they progress, man and


dog alike leave behind a wake of heat, and the contrails of their breath


hang in pale clouds above their tracks. Their scent stays close in the


windless dark, but their footfalls carry and so, with every step, they


announce themselves to the night.


Despite the bitter cold, the man wears rubber boots better suited to the


rain; his clothes, too, are surprisingly light, considering that he has been


out all day, searching. His gun has grown heavy on his shoulder, as have


his rucksack and cartridge belt. But he knows this route like the back of


his hand, and he is almost within sight of his cabin. Now, at last, he can


allow himself the possibility of relief. Perhaps he imagines the lantern he


will light and the fire he will build; perhaps he imagines the burdens he


will soon lay down. The water in the kettle is certainly frozen, but the


stove is thinly walled and soon it will glow fiercely against the cold and


dark, just as his own body is doing now. Soon enough, there will be hot


tea and a cigarette, followed by rice, meat, and more cigarettes. Maybe a


shot or two of vodka, if there is any left. He savors this ritual and knows


it by rote. Then, as the familiar angles take shape across the clearing, the


dog collides with a scent as with a wall and stops short, growling. They


Also by John Vaillant


The Golden Spruce To the memory of


Joanna and Ellis Settle


viriditas In the taiga there are no witnesses.


V. K. A ,


RSENIEV


Dersu the Trapper1


no easy bargain


Would be made in that place by any man


Beowulf2 Contents


Cover


Other Books by This Author


Title Page


Dedication


Epigraphs


Maps


Prologue Part One | Markov


Part Two | Pochepnya


Part Three | Trush


Epilogue


Acknowledgments


A Note on Translation


Notes


Selected Bibliography


Permissions Acknowledgments


About the Author


Photo Inserts


Copyright The Russian Far East The Bikin River Valley Prologue


HANGING IN THE TREES, AS IF CAUGHT THERE, IS A SICKLE


OF A MOON. Its wan light scatters shadows on the snow below, only


obscuring further the forest that this man negotiates now as much by feel


as by sight. He is on foot and on his own save for a single dog, which runs


ahead, eager to be heading home at last. All around, the black trunks of


oak, pine, and poplar soar into the dark above the scrub and deadfall, and


their branches form a tattered canopy overhead. Slender birches, whiter


than the snow, seem to emit a light of their own, but it is like the coat of


an animal in winter: cold to the touch and for itself alone. All is quiet in


this dormant, frozen world. It is so cold that spit will freeze before it


lands; so cold that a tree, brittle as straw and unable to contain its


expanding sap, may spontaneously explode. As they progress, man and


dog alike leave behind a wake of heat, and the contrails of their breath


hang in pale clouds above their tracks. Their scent stays close in the


windless dark, but their footfalls carry and so, with every step, they


announce themselves to the night.


Despite the bitter cold, the man wears rubber boots better suited to the


rain; his clothes, too, are surprisingly light, considering that he has been


out all day, searching. His gun has grown heavy on his shoulder, as have


his rucksack and cartridge belt. But he knows this route like the back of


his hand, and he is almost within sight of his cabin. Now, at last, he can


allow himself the possibility of relief. Perhaps he imagines the lantern he


will light and the fire he will build; perhaps he imagines the burdens he


will soon lay down. The water in the kettle is certainly frozen, but the


stove is thinly walled and soon it will glow fiercely against the cold and


dark, just as his own body is doing now. Soon enough, there will be hot


tea and a cigarette, followed by rice, meat, and more cigarettes. Maybe a


shot or two of vodka, if there is any left. He savors this ritual and knows


it by rote. Then, as the familiar angles take shape across the clearing, the


dog collides with a scent as with a wall and stops short, growling. They


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