Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
After traveling on the sea for four days and four nights, they could finally spot signs of Severnaya Zemlya.
During that time on board, Steve and some of the men played cards. As for Li Du, he brought along some of his people to prepare the fish at night and dry it during the day.
The temperature in the Arctic Circle was extremely low. In the current season, the temperature stayed below zero degrees Celsius at night. They would hang up the fish and brush the water off it. When they were done, there would be a snow-white layer of ice on the surface of the fish.
When they got down from the ship, they threw the frozen fish into boxes in the car’s trunk. It sounded as though they were throwing bricks.
Steve picked up a frozen herring and smiled. “This thing is not only food, it can double as a weapon. If we had this previously, we would not have had to use a grenade. We could have used this to deal with the pirates!”
It was not a simple matter to get onto Severnaya Zemlya. The Vilkitsky Strait separated it from the mainland. There were no good ports on the archipelago. There were only two natural piers that could be used to dock ships after some cleaning up.
Li Du looked over and saw that Severnaya Zemlya remained isolated in the vast and cold ice sea. He could faintly see snowy caps on the land.
The archipelago was shaped in an intricate way. The four main islands looked like they had been carved from ancient glaciers. There were swamps and hills on the islands, and some hills in the north were snowy all year round.
Fortunately, there were some greens on the southernmost Bolshevik Island. Some scarce, cold-tolerant perennial plants such as chickweed and rockfoil grew there. If not for those patches of green, the entire island would have looked quite desolate.
However, there were definitely some people on the island. As the Ice Sea Narwhal neared the pier, they spotted a few small boats made of wood.
The boats floated slowly on the clear and deep sea, tied to the pier by cables. There were also some neat-looking houses by the coast. Although they were made out of wood, they did not look like roughly constructed huts.
Sophie took out her camera and sighed softly. “This is such a beautiful place. It’s a heaven for photography enthusiasts.”
Severnaya Zemlya might be deserted, but the scenery there was unbeatable. The island was either green or snow white or grayish-yellow, just like a glazed ice sculpture.
However, there were few people who would be willing to live there. Even though the scenery was beautiful, people would get sick of it after some time. Humans still needed change and a lively place to be happy.
The cargo ship carefully leaned on the dock. As the dock was too narrow, the crew of the ship could only lay down a narrow iron plank as a passage to the land.
Steve went for a look and shook his head. “Nope, it’s not wide enough for a car. How can we get down?”
Driver threw away his cigarette and squatted for a look. He said, “Move, let me do it.”
Driver got into the car and adjusted the direction of the SUV on the ship. Then he drove the car out slowly.
Only half of the tires on both sides were in contact with the iron plank. The rest of the tire was in the air. Li Du looked out and saw that the current was strong below. His heart nearly stopped as he realized what a dangerous feat Driver attempted to pull off.
Driver, however, drove the car down steadily. One car after another – all without any mishaps.
The crew on board could not stop themselves from applauding. “Bravo, bravo! What an expert!”
Most of the cargo on the ship was supplies. They had to stock up on those, including food, vegetables and fruits, clothes, tents, and other things, such as drugs, oxygen tanks, and various kinds of fuel.
As they moved all their supplies onto land in multiple trips, the pier was soon piled like a small market.
There were some small wooden houses on land and a few families lived there. Steve went over to discuss the possibility of renting six of the houses, which was quickly settled, and brought their supplies in.
They had arrived at the pier at noon but by the time they had organized their supplies, the sun had already set.
When the weather was good, the Arctic Circle had the most beautiful nights in the world. There, the stars were brighter. The colors of the stars in the night sky were vibrant, appearing red, orange, green, blue, and purple. There were thousands of them, too many to count.
Li Du looked up and truly felt close to the stars that filled the sky above. It was as though the stars were all hanging over his head.
“Our hands can reach the stars, stunning the people above,” he quoted to Sophie. “Look, our idioms and culture are so meaningful. We can find a representation of them anywhere in the world.”
Sophie adjusted the settings on her camera and smiled. “That’s why I’m so in love with the Tang poems and Song idioms.”
There were quite a few houses on the shore, more than 20 on the pier and even more inland. There were some small, sparsely populated villages on the island. Although there were few people, they clung to this harsh and beautiful area.
Ice Sea Narwhal had brought them some necessities: salt, vinegar, tea, sugar, spatulas, scoops, bowls, clothes, bedding, glassware, oil, and more. They had everything in every variety.
In the night, there was a bonfire on the edge of the pier. People from the village kept approaching, having come over to do business with the crew of the Narwhal. Living there, they could only rely on foreign vessels to supplement their living necessities.
Just like the work Li Du had done for some time in the past, the transactions there were all based on barter. They exchanged items for other items that they would need.
The items that the ship had brought from outside were all very cheap. However, it was inconvenient for the people on the island to get out, and hence, the merchandise was considered valuable, and its price rose when it was on the island.
The items that the villagers used to trade were mainly wild resources, such as sealskin, bird eggs, abalone, dried shrimp, fish fillets, hides, antlers, etc. In addition, there were also some more precious items, such as silver and golden sand.
The captain and the crew inspected the items brought over by the villagers. They would accept the things as long as they were in decent condition. Then, they let the villagers take their pick of the supplies the ship had brought in.
There were few conflicts, as the locals were very obliging. If the captain and the crew shook their head to reject their offer, the villagers would put down what they had chosen and go for another item.
Someone had set his eyes on a cotton coat, but he only brought over some dried shrimp. Hence, the captain shook his head. However, the man was attached to the coat and kept holding onto it.
Li Du said, “No need to be so stubborn, right? Look at his clothes, they are so tattered. Just help that man out.”
The captain said helplessly, “We’ve never thought about making a fortune in such transactions. We can only make a small amount of money to pay for the oil. We are selling some items at cost. I know that he is very poor, but we can’t sell at a loss. You know, sir, we are not philanthropists.”
Li Du was ready to fork out his own money but Steve stopped him and shook his head. “It’s not the right time.”
There had been no context to Steve’s words, and Li Du did not understand what he was trying to say. However, since Steve stopped him, he figured there must be some meaning to that and decided to keep observing the situation.
The transaction finally drew to an end, and the villagers left the pier. There were still quite a few items that nobody had bought.
Steve let the captain set the price and bought the leftover items.
Li Du asked, “What’s the meaning of this?”
Steve smiled, “It’s more meaningful to help people when they are desperate, rather than just give them what they feel like having. Buddy, we will be staying for some time on the island. When the villagers happen to need something we have, we can help them out. Then we can gain more by earning their trust and affection.”