Tent Life in Siberia
George Kennan

Part 7 out of 7

know that we were coming off to the bark that night, and would not
think of looking out for us; and so far as I could discover, there was
not a ray of hope for us in any direction.

How long we drifted out in black darkness, and in that tumbling,
threatening, foam-crested sea, I do not know. It seemed to me many
hours. I had a letter in my pocket which I had written the day before
to my mother, and which I had intended to send down to San Francisco
with the bark. In it I assured her that she need not feel any further
anxiety about my safety, because the Russian-American telegraph line
had been abandoned. I was to be landed by the _Onward_ at Okhotsk; I
was coming home by way of St. Petersburg over a good post-road; and
I should not be exposed to any more dangers. As I sat there in the
dismasted sloop, shivering with cold and drifting out to sea before a
howling arctic gale, I remembered this letter, and wondered what my
poor mother would think if she could read its contents and at the same
time see in a mental vision the situation of the writer.

So far as I can remember, there was very little talking among the men
during these long, dark hours of suspense. None of us, I think, had
any hope; it was hard to make one's voice heard above the roaring of
the wind; and we all sat or cowered in the bottom of the boat, waiting
for an end which could not be very far away. Now and then a heavy sea
would break over us, and we would all begin bailing again with our
hats; but aside from this there was nothing to be done. It did not
seem to me probable that the half-wrecked sloop would live more than
three or four hours. The gale was constantly rising, and every few
minutes we were lashed with stinging whips of icy spray, as a fierce
squall struck the water to windward, scooped off the crests of the
waves, and swept them horizontally in dense white clouds across the

It must have been about nine o'clock when somebody in the bow shouted
excitedly, "I see a light!"

"Where away?" I cried, half rising from the bottom of the boat in the

"Three or four points off the port bow," the voice replied.

"Are you sure?" I demanded.

"I'm not quite sure, but I saw the twinkle of something away over
on the Matuga Island side. It's gone now," the voice added, after a
moment's pause; "but I saw something."

We all looked eagerly and anxiously in the direction indicated; but
strain our vision as we might, we could not see the faintest gleam or
twinkle in the impenetrable darkness to leeward. If there was a light
visible, in that or in any other direction, it could only be the
anchor-light of the _Onward_, because both coasts of the gulf were
uninhabited; but it seemed to me probable that the man had been
deceived by a sparkle of phosphorescence or the gleam of a white

For fully five minutes no one spoke, but all stared into the thick
gloom ahead. Then, suddenly, the same voice cried aloud in a tone
of still greater excitement, assurance, and certainty, "There it is
again! I knew I saw it! It's a ship's light!"

In another moment I caught sight of it myself--a faint, distant,
intermittent twinkle on the horizon nearly dead ahead.

"It's the anchor-light of the _Onward_!" I shouted in fierce
excitement. "Spread the corner of the mainsail a little more if you
can, boys, so as to give her better steerage-way. We've got to make
that ship! Hold her steady on the light, Heck, even if you have to put
her in the trough of the sea. We might as well founder as drift past!"

The men forward caught up the loose edges of the mainsail and extended
it as widely as possible to the gale, clinging to the thwarts and the
stump of the mast to avoid being jerked overboard by the bellying
canvas. Heck brought the sloop's head around so that the light was
under our bow, and on we staggered through the dark, storm-lashed
turmoil of waters, shipping a sea now and then, but half sailing, half
drifting toward the anchored bark. The wind came in such fierce
gusts and squalls that one could hardly say from what quarter it was
blowing; but, as nearly as I could judge in the thick darkness, it had
shifted three or four points to the westward. If such were the case,
we had a fair chance of making the ship, which lay nearer the eastern
than the western coast of the gulf.

"Don't let her head fall off any, Heck," I cried. "Jam her over to the
eastward as much as you can, even if the sea comes into her. We can
keep her clear with our hats. If we drift past we're gone!"

As we approached the bark the light grew rapidly brighter: but I did
not realise how near we were until the lantern, which was hanging in
the ship's fore-rigging, swung for an instant behind the jib-stay, and
the vessel's illuminated cordage suddenly came out in delicate tracery
against the black sky, less than a hundred yards away.

"There she is!" shouted Sandford. "We're close on her!"

The bark was pitching furiously to her anchors, and as we drifted
rapidly down upon her we could hear the hoarse roar of the gale
through her rigging, and see a pale gleam of foam as the sea broke in
sheets of spray against her bluff bows.

"Shall I try to round to abreast of her?" cried Heck to me, "or shall
I go bang down on her?"

"Don't take any chances," I shouted. "Better strike her, and go to
pieces alongside, than miss her and drift past. Make ready now to hail
her--all together--one,--two,--three! Bark aho-o-y! Stand by to throw
us a line!"

But no sound came from the huge black shadow under the pitching
lantern save the deep bass roar of the storm through the cordage.

We gave one more fierce, inarticulate cry as the dark outline of the
bark rose on a sea high above our heads; and then, with a staggering
shock and a great crash, the boat struck the ship's bow.

What happened in the next minute I hardly know. I have a confused
recollection of being thrown violently across a thwart in a white
smother of foam; of struggling to my feet and clutching frantically at
a wet, black wall, and of hearing some one shout in a wild, despairing
voice: "Watch ahoy! We're sinking! For God's sake throw us a
line!"--but that is all.

The water-logged sloop seesawed up and down past the bark's side, one
moment rising on a huge comber until I could almost grasp the rail,
and the next sinking into a deep hollow between the surges, far below
the line of the copper sheathing. We tore the ends of our finger-nails
off against the ship's side in trying to stop the boat's drift, and
shouted despairingly again and again for help and a line; but our
voices were drowned in the roar of the gale, there was no response,
and the next sea carried us under the bark's counter. I made one last
clutch at the smooth, wet planks; and then, as we drifted astern past
the ship, I abandoned hope.

The sloop was sinking rapidly,--I was already standing up to my knees
in water,--and in thirty seconds more we should be out of sight of the
bark, in the dark, tumbling sea to leeward, with no more chance of
rescue than if we were drowning in mid-Atlantic. Suddenly a dark
figure in the boat beside me,--I learned afterward that it was
Bowsher,--tore off his coat and waistcoat and made a bold leap into
the sea to windward. He knew that it was certain death to drift out of
sight of the bark in that sinking sloop, and he hoped to be able to
swim alongside until he should be picked up. I myself had not thought
of this before, but I saw instantly that it offered a forlorn hope of
escape, and I was just poised in the act of following his example when
on the quarter-deck of the bark, already twenty feet away, a white
ghost-like figure appeared with uplifted arm, and a hoarse voice
shouted, "Stand by to catch a line!"

It was the _Onward's_ second mate. He had heard our cries in his
state-room as we drifted under the ship's counter, and had instantly
sprung from his berth and rushed on deck in his night-shirt.

By the dim light of the binnacle I could just see the coil of rope
unwind as it left his hand; but I could not see where it fell; I knew
that there would be no time for another throw; and it seemed to me
that my heart did not beat again until I heard from the bow of the
sloop a cheery shout of "All right! I've got the line! Slack off till
I make it fast!"

In thirty seconds more we were safe. The second mate roused the watch,
who had apparently taken refuge in the forecastle from the storm; the
sloop was hauled up under the bark's stern; a second line was thrown
to Bowsher, and one by one we were hoisted, in a sort of improvised
breeches-buoy, to the _Onward's_ quarterdeck. As I came aboard,
coatless, hatless, and shivering from cold and excitement, the captain
stared at me in amazement for a moment, and then exclaimed: "Good God!
Mr. Kennan, is that you? What possessed you to come off to the ship
such a night as this?"

"Well, Captain," I replied, trying to force a smile, "it didn't blow
in this way when we started; and we had an accident--carried our mast

"But," he remonstrated, "it has been blowing great guns ever since
dark. We've got two anchors down, and we've been dragging them both. I
finally had them buoyed, and told the mate that if they dragged again
we'd slip the cables and run out to sea. You might not have found us
here at all, and then where would you have been?"

"Probably at the bottom of the gulf," I replied. "I haven't expected
anything else for the last three hours."

The ill-fated sloop from which we made this narrow escape was so
crushed in her collision with the bark that the sea battered her to
pieces in the course of the night, and when I went on deck the next
morning, a few ribs and shattered planks, floating awash at the end of
the line astern, were all of her that remained.

[Illustration: War and Hunting Knives.
Snowbeaters used for beating snow from the clothing.]



When we reached Okhotsk, about the middle of September, I found a
letter from Major Abaza, brought by special courier from Yakutsk,
directing me to come to St. Petersburg by the first winter road. The
_Onward_ sailed for San Francisco at once, carrying back to home and
civilisation all of our employees except four, viz., Price, Schwartz,
Malchanski, and myself. Price intended to accompany me to St.
Petersburg, while Schwartz and Malchanski, who were Russians, decided
to go with us as far as Irkutsk, the east-Siberian capital.

Snow fell in sufficient quantities to make good sledging about the 8th
of October; but the rivers did not freeze over so that they could be
crossed until two weeks later. On the 21st of the month, Schwartz and
Malchanski started with three or four light dog-sledges to break a
road through the deep, freshly fallen snow, in the direction of the
Stanavoi Mountains, and on the 24th Price and I followed with the
heavier baggage and provisions. The whole population of the village
turned out to see us off. The long-haired priest, with his cassock
flapping about his legs in the keen wind of a wintry morning, stood
bareheaded in the street and gave us his farewell blessing; the
women, whose hearts we had made glad with American baking-powder and
telegraph teacups, waved bright-coloured handkerchiefs to us from
their open doors; cries of "Good-bye!" "God grant you a fortunate
journey!" came to us from the group of fur-clad men who surrounded our
sledges; and the air trembled with the incessant howls of a hundred
wolfish dogs, as they strained impatiently against their broad
sealskin collars.

"Ai! Maxim!" shouted the ispravnik to our leading driver, "are you all

"All ready," was the reply.

"Well, then, go, with God!" and, amid a chorus of good wishes and
good-byes from the crowd, the spiked sticks which held our sledges
were removed; the howls instantly ceased as the dogs sprang eagerly
into their collars, and the group of fur-clad men, the green, bulbous
church domes, and the grey, unpainted log houses of the dreariest
village in all Siberia vanished behind us forever in a cloud of
powdery snow.

The so-called "post-road" from Kamchatka to St. Petersburg, which
skirts the Okhotsk Sea for more than a thousand miles, passes through
the village of Okhotsk, and then, turning away from the coast, ascends
one of the small rivers that rise in the Stanavoi Mountains; crosses
that range at a height of four or five thousand feet; and finally
descends into the great valley of the Lena. It must not be supposed,
however, that this "post-road" resembles anything that we know by that
name. The word "road," in north-eastern Siberia, is only a verbal
symbol standing for an abstraction. The thing symbolised has no more
real, tangible existence than a meridian of longitude. It is simply
lineal extension in a certain direction. The country back of Okhotsk,
for a distance of six hundred miles, is an unbroken wilderness of
mountains and evergreen forests, sparsely inhabited by Wandering
Tunguses, with here and there a few hardy Yakut squirrel hunters.
Through this wilderness there is not even a trail, and the so-called
"road" is only a certain route which is taken by the government
postilion who carries the yearly mail to and from Kamchatka. The
traveller who starts from the Okhotsk Sea with the intention of going
across Asia by way of Yakutsk and Irkutsk must make up his mind to be
independent of roads;--at least for the first fifteen hundred miles.
The mountain passes, the great rivers, and the post-stations, will
determine his general course; but the wilderness through which he
must make his way has never been subdued by the axe and spade of
civilisation. It is now, as it always has been, a wild, primeval land
of snowy mountains, desolate steppes, and shaggy pine forests, through
which the great arctic rivers and their tributaries have marked out
the only lines of intercommunication.

The worst and most difficult part of the post-route between Okhotsk
and Yakutsk, viz., the mountainous part, is maintained by a half-wild
tribe of arctic nomads known to the Russians as Tunguses. Living
originally, as they did, in skin tents, moving constantly from place
to place, and earning a scanty subsistence by breeding reindeer, they
were easily persuaded by the Russian Government to encamp permanently
along the route, and furnish reindeer and sledges for the
transportation of couriers and the imperial mails, together with
such travellers as should be provided with government orders, or
"podorozhnayas." In return for this service they were exempted from
the annual tax levied by Russia upon her other Siberian subjects; were
supplied with a certain yearly allowance of tea and tobacco; and were
authorised to collect from the travellers whom they carried a fare to
be computed at the rate of about two and a half cents per mile for
every reindeer furnished. Between Okhotsk and Yakutsk, along the line
of this post-route, there are seven or eight Tunguse encampments,
which vary a little in location, from season to season, with the
shifting areas of available pasturage, but which are kept as nearly
as possible equidistant from one another in a direct line across the
Stanavoi range.

We hoped to make the first post-station on the third day after our
departure; but the soft freshly fallen snow so retarded our progress
that it was nearly dark on the fourth day before we caught sight of
the little group of Tunguse tents where we were to exchange our dogs
for reindeer. If there be, in "all the white world," as the Russians
say, anything more hopelessly dreary than one of the Tunguse mountain
settlements in winter, I have never seen it. Away up above the
forests, on some elevated plateau, or desolate, storm-swept height,
where nothing but berry bushes and arctic moss will grow, stand the
four or five small, grey reindeerskin tents which make up the nomad
encampment. There are no trees or shrubs around them to shut out a
part of the sky, limit the horizon, or afford the least semblance of
shelter to the lonely settlement, and there is no wall or palisade to
fence in and domesticate for finite purposes a little corner of the
infinite. The grey tents seem to stand alone in the great universe of
God, with never-ending space and unbounded desolation stretching away
from their very doors. Take your stand near such an encampment and
look at it more closely. The surface of the snowy plain around you,
as far as you can see, has been trampled and torn up by reindeer in
search of moss. Here and there between the tents stand the large
sledges upon which the Tunguses load their camp-equipage when they
move, and in front is a long, low wall, made of symmetrically piled
reindeer packs and saddles. A few driving deer wander around, with
their noses to the ground, looking for something that they never
seem to find; evil-looking ravens--the scavengers of Tunguse
encampments--flap heavily past with hoarse croaks to a patch of
blood-stained snow where a reindeer has recently been slaughtered;
and in the foreground, two or three grey, wolfish dogs with cruel,
light-coloured eyes, are gnawing at a half-stripped reindeer's head.
The thermometer stands at forty-five degrees below zero, Fahrenheit,
and the breasts of deer, ravens, and dogs are white with frost. The
thin smoke from the conical fur tents rises perpendicularly to a great
height in the clear, still air; the ghostly mountain peaks in
the distance look like white silhouettes on a background of dark
steel-blue; and the desolate snow-covered landscape is faintly tinged
with a yellow glare by the low-hanging wintry sun. Every detail of the
scene is strange, wild, arctic,--even to the fur-clad, frost-whitened
men who come riding up to the tents astride the shoulders of panting
reindeer and salute you with a drawling "Zdar-o-o-va!" as they put one
end of their balancing poles to the ground and spring from their flat,
stirrupless saddles. You can hardly realise that you are in the same
active, bustling, money-getting world in which you remember once to
have lived. The cold, still atmosphere, the white, barren mountains,
and the great lonely wilderness around you are all full of cheerless,
depressing suggestions, and have a strange unearthliness which you
cannot reconcile or connect with any part of your pre-Siberian life.

At the first Tunguse encampment we took a rest of twenty-four hours,
and then, exchanging our dogs for reindeer, we bade good-bye to our
Okhotsk drivers and, under the guidance of half a dozen bronze-faced
Tunguses in spotted reindeerskin coats, pushed westward, through
snow-choked mountain ravines, toward the river Aldan. Our progress,
for the first two weeks, was slow and fatiguing and attended with
difficulties and hardships of almost every possible kind. The Tunguse
encampments were sometimes three or four days' journey apart; the
cold, as we ascended the Stanavoi range, steadily increased in
intensity until it became so severe as to endanger life, and day
after day we plodded wearily on snowshoes ahead of our heavily
loaded sledges, breaking a road in three feet of soft snow for our
struggling, frost-whitened deer. We made, on an average, about thirty
miles a day; but our deer often came in at night completely exhausted,
and the sharp ivory goads of our Tunguse drivers were red with frozen
blood. Sometimes we bivouacked at night in a wild mountain gorge
and lighted up the snow-laden forest with the red glare of a mighty
camp-fire; sometimes we shovelled the drifted snow out of one of the
empty _yurts_, or earth-covered cabins, built by the government along
the route to shelter its postilions, and took refuge therein from
a howling blizzard. Hardened as we were by two previous winters of
arctic travel, and accustomed as we were to all the vicissitudes of
northern life, the crossing of the Stanavoi range tried our powers of
endurance to the uttermost. For four successive days, near the summit
of the pass on the western slope, mercury froze at noon. [Footnote:
We had only a mercurial thermometer, so that we did not know how much
below -39 deg. the temperature was.] The faintest breath of air seared the
face like a hot iron; beards became tangled masses of frosty wire;
eyelids grew heavy with long snowy fringes which half obscured the
sight; and only the most vigorous exercise would force the blood back
into the benumbed extremities from which it was constantly being
driven by the iron grasp of the cold. Schwartz, the oldest member of
our party, was brought into a Tunguse encampment one night in a state
of unconsciousness that would soon have ended in death, and even our
hardy native drivers came in with badly frozen hands and faces. The
temperature alone would have been sufficient evidence, if evidence
were needed, that we were entering the coldest region on the
globe--the Siberian province of Yakutsk. [Footnote: In some parts of
this province the freezing point of mercury, or about forty degrees
below zero Fahrenheit, is the average temperature of the three winter
months, and eighty-five degrees below zero have sometimes been

In a monotonous routine of walking on snowshoes, riding on
reindeer-sledges, camping in the open, or sleeping in smoky Tunguse
tents, day after day and week after week passed, until at last we
approached the valley of the Aldan--one of the eastern tributaries of
that great arctic river the Lena. Climbing the last outlying ridge of
the Stanavoi range, one dark, moonless evening in November, we found
ourselves at the head of a wild ravine leading downward into an
extensive open plain. Away below and in front, outlined against the
intense blackness of the hills beyond the valley, rose four or five
columns of luminous mist, like pillars of fire in the wilderness of
the Exodus.

"What are those?" I inquired of my Tunguse driver.

"Yakut," was the brief reply.

They were columns of smoke, sixty or seventy feet in height, over the
chimneys of Yakut farmhouses; and they stood so vertically in the
cold, motionless air of the arctic night that they were lighted up, to
their very summits, by the hearth-fires underneath. As I stood looking
at them, there came faintly to my ears the far-away lowing of cattle.
"Thank God!" I said to Malchanski, who at that moment rode up, "we are
getting, at last, where they live in houses and keep cows!" No one can
fully understand the pleasure that these columns of fire-lighted smoke
gave us until he has ridden on dog- or reindeer-sledges, or walked on
snowshoes, for twenty interminable days, through an arctic wilderness.
It seemed to me a year since our departure from Okhotsk; for weeks we
had not taken off our heavy armour of furs; mirrors, beds and clean
linen were traditions of the remote past; and American civilisation,
as we looked back at it across twenty-seven months of barbarism, faded
into the unreal imagery of a dream. But the pillars of fire-lighted
smoke and the lowing of domestic cattle were a promise of better

In less than two hours, we were sitting before the glowing fireplace
of a comfortable Yakut house, with a soft carpet under our feet;
real crockery cups of fragrant Kiakhta tea on a table beside us, and
pictures on the wall over our heads. The house, it is true, had slabs
of ice for windows; the carpet was made of deerskins; and the pictures
were only woodcuts from _Harper's Weekly_ and _Frank Leslie's_; but to
us, fresh from the smoky tents of the Tunguses, windows, carpets, and
pictures, of any kind, were things to be wondered at and admired.

Between the Yakut settlements on the Aldan and the town of Yakutsk,
there was a good post-road--really a road; so, harnessing shaggy white
Yakut ponies to our Okhotsk dog-sledges, we drove swiftly westward, to
the unfamiliar music of Russian sleigh-bells, changing horses at every
post-station and riding from fifteen to eighteen hours out of the

On the 16th of November, after twenty-three days of continuous travel,
we reached Yakutsk; and there, in the house of a wealthy Russian
merchant who threw his doors open to us with warm-hearted hospitality,
we washed from our bodies the smoke and grime of Tunguse tents and
_yurts_; put on clean, fresh clothes; ate a well cooked and daintily
served supper; drank five tumblers of fragrant overland tea; smoked
two Manila cheroots; and finally went to bed, excited but happy, in
beds that were provided with hair mattresses, fleecy Russian blankets,
and linen sheets. The sensation of lying without furs and between
sheets in a civilised bed was so novel and extraordinary that I lay
awake for an hour, trying experiments with that wonderful mattress and
luxuriously exploring, with bare feet, the smooth cool expanses of
linen sheeting.

[Illustration: Travelling Bag made of Reindeer skin]



We remained in Yakutsk only four days--just long enough to make the
necessary preparations for a continuous sleigh-ride of five thousand
one hundred and fourteen miles to the nearest railway in European
Russia. The Imperial Russian Post, by which we purposed to travel from
Yakutsk to Nizhni Novgorod, was, at that time, the longest and best
organised horse-express service in the world. It employed 3000 or 4000
drivers, with twice as many _telegas, tarantases_ and sleighs, and
kept in readiness for instant use more than 10,000 horses, distributed
among 350 post-stations, along a route that covered a distance as
great as that between New York City and the Sandwich Islands. If one
had the requisite physical endurance, and could travel night and
day without stop, it was possible, with a courier's "podorozhnaya"
(po-do-rozh'-na-yah), or road-ticket, to go from Yakutsk to Nizhni
Novgorod, a distance of 5114 miles, in twenty-five days, or only
eleven days more than the time occupied by a railway train in covering
about the same distance. Before the establishment of telegraphic
communication between China and Russia, imperial couriers, carrying
important despatches from Peking, often made the distance between
Irkutsk and St. Petersburg--3618 miles--in sixteen days, with two
hundred and twelve changes of horses and drivers. In order to
accomplish this feat they had to eat, drink, and sleep in their
sleighs and make an average speed-rate of ten miles an hour for nearly
four hundred consecutive hours. We did not expect, of course, to
travel with such rapidity as this; but we intended to ride night and
day, and hoped to reach St. Petersburg before the end of the year.
With the aid and advice of Baron Maidel, a Russian scientist who had
just come over the route that we purposed to follow, Price and I
bought a large open _pavoska_ or Siberian travelling sleigh, which
looked like a huge, burlap-covered baby-carriage on runners; had it
brought into the courtyard of our house, and proceeded to fit it up
for six weeks' occupancy as a bedchamber and sitting-room. First of
all, we repacked our luggage in soft, flat, leather pouches, and
stowed it away in the bottom of the deep and capacious vehicle as a
foundation for our bed. We then covered these flat pouches with a
two-foot layer of fragrant hay, to lessen the shock of jolting on a
rough road; spread over the hay a big wolfskin sleeping-sack, about
seven feet in length and wide enough to hold our two bodies; covered
that with two pairs of blankets; and finally lined the whole back part
of the sleigh with large, soft, swan's-down pillows. At the foot of
the sleeping-sack, under the driver's seat, we stowed away a bag of
dried rye-bread, another bag filled with cakes of frozen soup, two or
three pounds of tea, a conical loaf of white sugar, half a dozen dried
and smoked salmon, and a padded box containing teapot, tea-cannister,
sugar-jar, spoons, knives and forks, and two glass tumblers. Schwartz;
and Malchanski bought another _pavoska_ and fitted it up in similar
fashion, and on the 19th of November we obtained from the Bureau
of Posts two _podorozhnayas_, or, as Price called them, "ukases,"
directing every post-station master between Yakutsk and Irkutsk to
furnish us, "by order of his Imperial Majesty Alexander Nikolaivitch,
Autocrat of All the Russias," etc., etc., six horses and two drivers
to carry us on our way.

In every part of the world except Siberia it is customary to start on
a long journey in the morning. In Siberia, however, the proper time is
late in the evening, when all your friends can conveniently assemble
to "provozhat," or, in colloquial English, give you a send-off.
Judging from our experience in Yakutsk, the Siberian custom has the
support of sound reason, inasmuch as the amount of drinking involved
in the riotous ceremony of "provozhanie" unfits a man for any place
except bed, and any occupation more strenuous than slumber. A man
could never see his friend off in the morning and then go back to his
business. He would see double, if not quadruple, and would hardly be
able to speak his native language without a foreign accent. When
the horses came from the post-station for us, at ten o'clock on the
evening of November 20th, we had had one dinner and two or three
incidental lunches; had "sampled" every kind of beverage that our host
had in the house, from vodka and cherry cordial to "John Collins" and
champagne; had sung all the songs we knew, from "John Brown's Body"
in English to "Nastoichka travnaya" in Russian; and Schwartz and
Malchanski were ready, apparently, to make a night of it, send the
horses back to the station, and have another _provozhanie_ the next
day. Price and I, however, insisted that the Czar's ukase to the
station-masters was good only for that evening; that if we didn't
take the horses immediately we should have to pay demurrage; that the
curfew bell had rung; that the town gates would close at ten thirty
sharp; and that if we didn't get under way at once, we should probably
be arrested for riotous disturbance of the peace!

We put on our _kukhlankas_ and fur hoods at last; shook hands once
more all around; and finally got out into the street;--Malchanski
dragging Schwartz off to his sleigh singing the chorus of a Russian
drinking song that ended in "Ras-to-chee'-tel-no! Vos-khe-tee'-tel-no!
Oo-dee-vee'-tel-no!" We then drank a farewell stirrup cup, which our
bareheaded host brought out to us after we had taken our seats, and
were just about to start, when Baron Maidel shouted to me, with an
air of serious concern, "Have you got a club--for the drivers and

"No," I replied, "I don't need a club; I can talk to them in the most
persuasive Russian you ever heard."

"Akh! Neilza!" ("Impossible") he exclaimed. "It is impossible to go
so! You must have a club! Wait a minute!" and he rushed back into
the house to get me a bludgeon from his private armory. My driver,
meanwhile, who evidently disapproved, on personal grounds, of this
suggestion, laid his whip across his horses' backs with a cry of "Noo,
rebatta!" ("Now then, boys") and we dashed away from the house, just
as the Baron reappeared on the steps brandishing a formidable cudgel
and shouting: "Pastoy! Neilza!" ("Stop, it's impossible.") "You can't
go without a club!" When we turned a neighbouring corner and lost
sight of the house, our host was waving a bottle in one hand and a
lighted candle in the other; Baron Maidel was still gesticulating on
the steps, shouting: "Neilza! Hold on! Club! For your drivers! It's
impossible to go so!" and the little group of "provozhatters" on the
sidewalk were laughing, cheering, and shouting "Good-bye! Good luck!
With God!"

We dashed away at a gallop through the snow-drifted streets, past
earth-banked _yurts_ whose windows of ice were irradiated with a warm
glow by the open fires within; past columns of luminous smoke rising
from the wide chimneys of Yakut houses; past a red stuccoed church
upon whose green, balloon-shaped domes golden stars glittered in the
frosty moonlight; past a lonely graveyard on the outskirts of the
city; and finally down a gentle decline to the snow-covered river,
which had a width of nearly four miles and which stretched away to the
westward like a frozen lake surrounded by dark wooded hills. Up this
great river--the Lena--we were to travel on the ice for a distance of
nearly a thousand miles, following a sinuous, never-ending line of
small evergreen trees, which had been cut in the neighbouring forests
and set up at short intervals in the snow, to guide the drivers in
storms and to mark out a line of safety around air-holes and between
areas of thin ice or stretches of open water. I fell asleep, shortly
after leaving Yakutsk, but was awakened, two or three hours later,
at the first post-station, by the voice of our driver shouting: "Ai!
Boys! Out with the horses--lively!" Two of us then had to alight from
our sleighs, go into the post-station, show our _podorozhnayas_ to the
station-master, and superintend the harnessing of two fresh teams.
Getting back into my fur bag, I lay awake for the next three hours,
listening to the jangle of a big bell on the wooden arch over the
thill-horse's back, and watching, through frosty eyelashes, the dark
outlines of the high wooded shores as they seemed to drift swiftly
past us to the eastward.

The severest hardship of post travel in eastern Siberia in winter is
not the cold, but the breaking up of all one's habits of sleep. In the
first stages of our journey, when the nights were clear and the river
ice was smooth and safe, we made the distances between stations in
from two to three hours; and at the end of every such period we were
awakened, and had to get out of our warm fur bags into a temperature
that was almost always below zero and sometimes forty or fifty degrees
below. When we got back into our vehicles and resumed our journey,
we were usually cold, and just as we would get warm enough to go to
sleep, we would reach another station and again have to turn out.
Sleeping in short snatches, between shivers, to the accompaniment of
a jangling dinner-bell and a driver's shouts, and getting out into
an arctic temperature every two or three hours, night and day, for a
whole week, reduces one to a very fagged and jaded condition. At the
end of the first four days, it seemed to me that I should certainly
have to stop somewhere for an unbroken night's rest; but man is an
animal that gets accustomed to things, and in the course of a week I
became so used to the wild cries of the driver and the jangle of the
thill-horse's bell that they no longer disturbed me, and I gradually
acquired the habit of sleeping, in brief cat-naps, at all hours of the
day and night. As we ascended the river, the moon rose later and
later and the nights were often so dark that our drivers had great
difficulty in following the line of evergreen trees that marked the
road. Finally, about five hundred miles from Yakutsk, a particularly
reckless or self-confident driver got off the road, went ahead at a
venture instead of stopping to look for the evergreen trees, and just
after midnight drove us into an air-hole, about a quarter of a mile
from shore, where the water was thirty feet deep. Price and I were
fast asleep, and were awakened by the crashing of ice, the snorting of
the terrified horses, and the rush of water into the sleigh. I cannot
remember how we got out of our fur bags and gained the solid ice. I
was so bewildered by sleep and so completely taken by surprise that I
must have acted upon blind impulse, without any clear consciousness of
what I was doing. From subsequent examination of the air-hole and the
sleigh, I concluded that we must have jumped from the widely extended
outriggers, which were intended to guard against an accidental
capsize, which had a span of ten or twelve feet, and which rested
on the broken ice around the margin of the hole in such a way as to
prevent the sleigh from becoming completely submerged. But be that as
it may, we all got out on the solid ice in some way, and the first
thing I remember is standing on the edge of the hole, staring at the
swimming, snorting horses, the outlines of whose heads and necks
I could just make out, and wondering whether this were not a
particularly vivid and terrifying nightmare. For an instant, I could
not be absolutely sure that I was awake. In a moment, the other
sleigh, which was only a short distance behind, loomed up through the
darkness and its driver shouted to our man, "What's the matter?"

"Oootonoole!" ("We got drowned") was the reply. "Get out your ropes,
quick, while I run to the shore for some driftwood. The horses
will freeze and sink in a few minutes. Akh! My God! My God! What a
punishment!" and, tearing off his outer fur coat, he started at a run
for the shore. I did not know what he expected to do with driftwood,
but he seemed to have a clear vital idea of some sort, so Price and
I rushed away after him. "We must get a tree, or a small log," he
explained breathlessly as we overtook him, "so I can crawl out on it
and cut the horses loose. But God knows," he added, "whether they'll
hold out till we get back. The water is killing cold." After a few
minutes on the snowy beach, we found a long, slender tree-trunk that
our driver said would do, and began to drag it across the ice. Our
breath, by this time, was coming in short, panting gasps, and when
Schwartz, Malchanski, and the other driver, who ran to our assistance,
took hold of the heavy log, we were on the verge of physical collapse.
When we got back to the air-hole, the horses were still swimming
feebly, but they were fast becoming chilled and exhausted, and it
seemed doubtful whether we should save them. We pushed the log out
over the broken edge of the ice, and five of us held it while our
driver, with a knife between his teeth and a rope about his shoulders,
crawled out on it, cut loose one of the outside horses and fastened
the line around its neck. He then crept back, and we all hauled on the
line until we dragged the poor beast out by the head. It was very much
exhausted and badly scraped by the sharp edge of the ice, but it had
strength enough to scramble to its feet. We then cut loose and hauled
out in the same way the outside horse on the other side. This one was
nearly dead and made no attempt to get up until it had been cruelly
flogged, but it struggled to its feet at last. Cutting loose the
thill-horse was more difficult, as its body was completely submerged
and it was hard to get at the rawhide fastening that held the collar,
the wooden arch, and the thills together, but our plucky driver
succeeded at last, and we dragged the half-frozen animal out. Rescue
came for him, however, too late. He could not rise to his feet and
died, a few moments afterward, from exhaustion and cold. Fastening
ropes to the half-submerged sleigh and harnessing to it the horses of
the other team, we finally pulled that up on the ice. Leaving it there
for the present, we made traverses back and forth across the river
until we found the line of evergreen trees, and then started for the
nearest post-station--Price and I riding with Malchanski and Schwartz
while our driver followed with the two rescued horses. When we reached
the post-station, which was about seven miles away, it was between
three and four o'clock in the morning; and, after rousing the
station-master and sending a driver with a team of fresh horses after
the abandoned sleigh, we drank two or three tumblerfuls of hot tea,
brought in blankets and pillows from the sleigh of Schwartz and
Malchanski, and went to bed on the floor. As a result of this
misadventure, our homeward progress was stopped, and we had to stay at
the village of Krestofskaya two days, while we repaired damages. Our
sleigh, when it came in that morning, was a mass of ice; our fur bag,
blankets, pillows, and spare clothing were water-soaked and frozen
solid; and the contents of our leather pouches were almost ruined.
By distributing our things among half a dozen houses we succeeded in
getting them thawed out and dried in time to make another start at the
end of the second day; but after that time I did not allow myself to
fall asleep at night. We had escaped once, but we might not be so
fortunate again, and I decided to watch the line of evergreen bushes
myself. When we lost the road in the darkness afterward, as we
frequently did, I made the driver stop and searched the river myself
on foot until I found it. The danger that I feared was not so much
getting drowned as getting wet. In temperatures that were almost
continuously below zero, and often twenty or thirty degrees below, a
man in water-soaked clothing would freeze to death in a very short
time, and there were so many air-holes and areas of thin ice that
watchfulness was a matter of vital necessity.

Day after day and night after night we rode swiftly westward, up a
river that was always more than a mile in width and often two or
three; past straggling villages of unpainted log houses clinging
to the steep sides of the mountainous shores; through splendid
precipitous gorges, like those above the Iron Gate of the Danube;
along stretches of flat pasture land where shaggy, white Yakut
ponies were pawing up the snow to get at the withered grass; through
good-sized towns like Kirinsk and Vitimsk, where we began to see
signs of occidental civilisation; and finally, past a stern-wheel,
Ohio-River steamboat, of primitive type, tied up and frozen in near
the head of navigation at Verkholensk. "Just look at that steamer!"
cried Price, with an unwonted glow of enthusiasm in his boyish face.
"Doesn't that look like home?" At Verkholensk we abandoned the Lena,
which we had followed up almost to its source, and, leaving the ice
for the first time in two weeks, we started across country in a line
nearly parallel with the western coast of Lake Baikal. We had been
forty-one days on the road from Okhotsk; had covered a distance of
about 2300 miles, and were within a day's ride of Irkutsk.

One bright sunshiny morning in early December, from the crest of
a high hill on the Verkholensk road, we got our first view of the
east-Siberian capital--a long compact mass of wooden houses with
painted window-shutters; white-walled buildings with roofs of metallic
green; and picturesque Russo-Byzantine churches whose snowy towers
were crowned with inverted balloons of gold or covered with domes of
ultramarine blue spangled with golden stars. Long lines of loaded
sledges from the Mongolian frontier could be seen entering the city
from the south; the streets were full of people; flags were flying
here and there over the roofs of government buildings; and from the
barracks down the river came faintly the music of a regimental band.
Our driver stopped his horses, took off his hat, and turning to us,
with the air of one who owns what he points out, said, proudly,
"Irkutsk!" If he expected us to be impressed--as he evidently did--he
was not disappointed; because Irkutsk, at that time and from that
point of view, was a very striking and beautiful city. We, moreover,
had just come from the desolate moss tundras and wild, lonely forests
of arctic Asia and were in a state of mind to be impressed by anything
that had architectural beauty, or indicated culture, luxury, and
wealth. We had seen nothing that even remotely suggested a city in two
years and a half; and we felt almost as if we were Gothic barbarians
gazing at Rome. It did not even strike us as particularly funny when
our Buriat driver informed us seriously that Irkutsk was so great a
place that its houses had to be numbered in order to enable their
owners to find them! To us, fresh from Gizhiga, Penzhina, and Okhotsk,
a city with numbered houses was really too remarkable and impressive
a thing to be treated with levity, and we therefore received the
information with proper awe and in silence. We could share the native
feeling, even if numbered houses had once been known to us.

Twenty minutes later, we dashed into the city at a gallop, as if we
were imperial couriers with war news; rushed at break-neck speed past
markets, bazaars, telegraph poles, street lamps, big shops with gilded
sign-boards, polished droshkies drawn by high-stepping Orloff horses,
officers in uniform, grey-coated policemen with sabres, and pretty
women hooded in white Caucasian _bashliks_; and finally drew up with a
flourish in front of a comfortable-looking stuccoed hotel--the first
one we had seen in more than twenty-nine months.



At Irkutsk, we plunged suddenly from a semi-barbaric environment into
an environment of high civilisation and culture; and our attempts to
adjust ourselves to the new and unfamiliar conditions were attended,
at first, with not a little embarrassment and discomfort. As we were
among the first Americans who had been seen in that Far Eastern
capital, and were officers, moreover, of a company with which the
Russian Government itself had been in partnership, we were not only
treated with distinguished consideration, but were welcomed everywhere
with warm-hearted kindness and hospitality; and we found it necessary
at once to exchange calls with high officials; accept invitations to
dinner; share the box of the Governor-General's chief of staff at the
theatre, and go to the weekly ball of the "noble-born" in the hall
of the "Blagorodnaya Sobrania," (Assembly of Nobles). The first
difficulty that we encountered, of course, was the lack of suitable
clothing. After two and a half years of campaigning in an arctic
wilderness, we had no raiment left that was fit to wear in such a city
as Irkutsk, and--worse than that--we had little money with which to
purchase a new supply. The two hundred and fifty dollars with which
we left Okhotsk had gradually dribbled away in the defrayment of
necessary expenses along the road, and we had barely enough left to
pay for a week's stay at the hotel. In this emergency we fell back
upon our telegraph-company uniforms. They had been soaked in the Lena,
frozen into masses of ice, and stretched all out of shape in the
process of wringing and drying at Krestofskaya; but we got an Irkutsk
tailor to press them and polish up the tarnished gilt buttons, and
after spending most of the money we had left in the purchase of new
fur overcoats to replace the dirty, travel-worn _kukhlankas_ in which
we had arrived, we got ourselves up in presentable form to call on the

The severest ordeal through which we had to pass, however, was the
dance at the hall of the Blagorodnaya Sobrania to which we were
escorted by General Kukel (koo'-kel), the Governor-General's chief of
staff. The spacious and brilliantly lighted apartment, draped with
flags and decorated with evergreens; the polished dancing-floor;
the crash and blare of the music furnished by a military band; the
beautiful women in rich evening toilettes; and the throng of handsome
young officers in showy and diversified uniforms, simply overwhelmed
us with feelings of mingled excitement and embarrassment. I felt,
myself, like a uniformed Eskimo at a Charity Ball, and should have
been glad to skulk in a corner behind the band! All I wanted was an
opportunity to watch, unobserved, the brilliant picture of colour and
motion, and to feel the thrill of the music as the band swept, with
wonderful dash, swing, and precision, through the measures of a
spirited Polish mazurka. General Kukel, however, had other views
for us, and not only took us about the hall, introducing us to more
beautiful women than we had seen, we thought, in the whole course of
our previous existence, but said to every lady, as he presented us:
"Mr. Kennan and Mr. Price, you know, speak Russian perfectly." Price,
with discretion beyond his years, promptly disclaimed the imputed
accomplishment; but I was rash enough to admit that I did have some
knowledge of the language in question, and was forthwith drawn into a
stream of rapid Russian talk by a young woman with sympathetic face
and sparkling eyes, who encouraged me to describe dog-sledge travel
in north-eastern Asia and the vicissitudes of tent life with the
Wandering Koraks. On this conversational ground I felt perfectly at
home; and I was succeeding, as I thought, admirably, when the girl
suddenly blushed, looked a trifle shocked, and then bit her lip in
a manifest effort to restrain a smile of amusement not warranted by
anything in the life that I was trying to describe. She was soon
afterward carried away by a young Cossack officer who asked her to
dance, and I was promptly engaged in conversation by another lady, who
also wanted "to hear an American talk Russian." My self-confidence had
been a little shaken by the blush and the amused smile of my previous
auditor, but I rallied my intellectual forces, took a firm grip of my
Russian vocabulary, and, as Price would say, "sailed in." But I soon
struck another snag. This young woman, too, began to show symptoms
of shock, which, in her case, took the form of amazement. I was
absolutely sure that there was nothing in the subject-matter of my
remarks to bring a blush to the cheek of innocence, or give a shock to
the virgin mind of feminine youth, and yet it was perfectly evident
that there was something wrong. As soon as I could make my escape,
I went to General Kukel and said: "Will you please tell me, Your
Excellency, what's the matter with my Russian?"

"What makes you think there's anything the matter with it?" he replied
evasively, but with a twinkle of amusement in his eyes.

"It doesn't seem to go very well," I said, "in conversation with
women. They appear to understand it all right, but it gives them a
shock. Is my pronunciation so horribly bad?"

"You speak Russian," he said, "with quite extraordinary fluency,
and with a-a-really interesting and engaging accent; but--excuse
me please--shall I be entirely frank? You see you have learned the
language, under many disadvantages, among the Koraks, Cossacks, and
Chukchis of Kamchatka and the Okhotsk Sea coast, and--quite innocently
and naturally of course--you have picked up a few words and
expressions that are not--well, not--"

"Not used in polite society," I suggested.

"Hardly so much as that," he replied deprecatingly. "They're a little
queer, that 's all--quaint--bizarre--but it's nothing! nothing at all!
All you need is a little study of good models--books, you know--and a
few months of city life."

"That settles it!" I said. "I talk no more Russian to ladies in

When, upon my arrival in St. Petersburg, I had an opportunity to study
the language in books, and to hear it spoken by educated people, I
found that the Russian I had picked up by Kamchatkan camp-fires and
in Cossack _izbas_ on the coast of the Okhotsk Sea resembled, in many
respects, the English that a Russian would acquire in a Colorado
mining camp, or among the cowboys in Montana. It was fluent, but, as
General Kukel said, "quaint--bizarre," and, at times, exceedingly

I was not the only person in Irkutsk, however, whose vocabulary was
peculiar and whose diction was "quaint" and "bizarre." A day or two
after the ball of the Blagorodnaya Sobrania we received a call from a
young Russian telegraph operator who had heard of our arrival and who
wished to pay his respects to us as brother telegraphers from America.
I greeted him cordially in Russian; but he began, at once, to speak
English, and said that he would prefer to speak that language, for
the sake of practice. His pronunciation, although queer, was fairly
intelligible, and I had little difficulty in understanding him; but
his talk had a strange, mediaeval flavour, due, apparently, to the use
of obsolete idioms and words. In the course of half an hour, I
became satisfied that he was talking the English of the fifteenth
century--the English of Shakespeare, Beaumont, and Fletcher--but how
he had learned such English, in the nineteenth century and in the
capital of eastern Siberia, I could not imagine. I finally asked him
how he had managed to get such command of the language in a city
where, so far as I knew, there was no English teacher. He replied that
the Russian Government required of its telegraph operators a knowledge
of Russian and French, and then added two hundred and fifty rubles
a year to their salaries for every additional language that they
learned. He wanted the two hundred and fifty rubles, so he began the
study of English with a small English-French dictionary and an old
copy of Shakespeare. He got some help in acquiring the pronunciation
from educated Polish exiles, and from foreigners whom he occasionally
met, but, in the main, he had learned the language alone, and by
committing to memory dialogues from Shakespeare's plays. I described
to him my recent experience with Russian, and told him that his method
was, unquestionably, better than mine. He had learned English from the
greatest master of the language that ever lived; while I had picked
up my Russian from Cossack dog-drivers and illiterate Kamchadals. He
could talk to young women in the eloquent and impassioned words of
Romeo, while my language was fit for backwoodsmen only.

At the end of our first week in Irkutsk, we were ready to resume our
journey; but we had no money with which to pay our hotel bill, still
less our travelling expenses. I had telegraphed to Major Abaza
repeatedly for funds, but had received no reply, and I was finally
compelled to go, in humiliation of spirit, to Governor General
Shelashnikoff, and borrow five hundred rubles.

On the 13th of December, we were again posting furiously along the
Great Siberian Road, past caravans, of tea from Hankow; detachments
of Cossacks convoying gold from the placers of the Lena; parties of
hard-labour convicts on their way to the mines of the trans-Baikal;
and hundreds of sleighs loaded with the products or manufactures of
Russia, Siberia, and the Far East.

For the first thousand miles, our progress was retarded and our rest
greatly broken--particularly at night--by tea caravans. With the
establishment of the winter road, in November, hundreds of low,
one-horse sledges, loaded with hide-bound boxes of tea that had come
across the desert of Gobi from Peking, left Irkutsk, every day, for
Nizhni Novgorod. They moved in solid caravans, a quarter of a mile to
a mile in length, and in every such caravan there were from fifty to
two hundred sledges. As the tea-horses went at a slow, plodding
walk, their drivers were required, by law, to turn out for private
travellers and give the latter the road; but they seldom did anything
of the kind. There were only twelve or fifteen of them to a caravan
of a hundred sledges; and as they usually curled up on their loads at
night and went fast asleep, it was practically impossible to arouse
them and get the caravan out of the middle of the road. In order to
pass, therefore, we ourselves had to turn out and drive three quarters
of a mile, or possibly a mile, through the deep soft snow on one side
of the beaten track. This so exasperated our driver that he would
give every horse and every sleeping teamster in the whole caravan
a slashing cut with his long rawhide whip, shouting, in almost
untranslatable Russian, "Wake up!" (Whack.) "Get a move on you!"
(Whack.) "What are you doing in the middle of the road there?"
(Whack.) "Akh! You ungodly Tartar pagans!" (Whack.) "GO TO SLEEP IN
THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, WILL YOU?" (Whack, whack.) Meanwhile, the
strongly braced outrigger of our _pavoska_, on the caravan side, would
strike every one of the tea-sledges, as we passed, and the long series
of violent shocks, combined with the rolling and pitching of our
vehicle, as it wallowed through the deep snow, would be enough to
awaken a man from anything except the last sleep of death. Usually, we
were aroused by our driver's preliminary shouts when we first came in
sight of a caravan; but sometimes we were in such a stupor of sleep
that we did not awake until the outrigger collided with the first load
of tea and brought us suddenly to consciousness with a half-dazed
impression that we had been struck by lightning, or hit by a falling
tree. If we had had to undergo this experience only once or twice
in the course of the night, it would not have been so bad; but we
sometimes passed half a dozen caravans between sunset and dawn; threw
every one of them into disorder and confusion with outrigger and whip;
and left behind us a wake of Russian and Tartar profanity almost
fiery enough to be luminous in the dark. Shortly after leaving Tomsk,
however, we passed the vanguard of these tea caravans and saw them no

The road in western Siberia was hard and smooth, and the horses were
so good that we made very rapid progress with comparatively little
discomfort. We stopped only twice a day for meals, and every night
found us 175 or 200 miles nearer our destination than we had been the
night before. We succeeded in getting across the Urals before the end
of the year, and on the 7th of January, after twenty-five days of
almost incessant night-and-day travel, we drew up before a hotel in
the city of Nizhni Novgorod, which, at that time, was the eastern
terminus of the Russian railway system. We sold our sleigh, fur bag,
pillows, tea-equipment, and the provisions we had left, for what
they would bring--a beggarly sum; took a train the same day for St.
Petersburg; and reached the Russian capital on the 9th of January,
eleven weeks from the Okhotsk Sea by way of Yakutsk, Irkutsk, Tomsk,
Tiumen, Ekaterineburg, and Nizhni Novgorod. In the eleven weeks we
had changed dogs, reindeer, or horses more than two hundred and sixty
times and had made a distance of five thousand seven hundred and
fourteen miles, nearly all of it in a single sleigh.

[Illustration: Wooden Cup]



Abaza, Major S., appointed superintendent of Siberian division;
forms plan of operations;
starts northward from Petropavlovsk;
scares up a bear;
falls ill at Lesnoi;
leaves Gizhiga for Okhotsk;
orders from;
returns to Gizhiga;
makes trip to Anadyrsk;
sails for Okhotsk;
visits Yakutsk;
comes to Yamsk;
returns to Yakutsk;
starts for St. Petersburg;
letter from.
Agaricus muscarius, Korak intoxicant.
Air-hole, driving into
Aklan, river
Aldan, river
Amur, river
Anadyr, river;
work on.
Anadyr River party;
finding of;
experience of;
orders concerning.
Anadyrsk, village;
arrival at;
priest's house in;
history and description of;
climate of;
ball at;
character of inhabitants;
famine at.
Anadyrsk sickness
Animals, of Kamchatka
Anossof, Russian commissioner
Arnold, member of Anadyr River party
Astronomical lectures
Atlantic cable, failure of first;
final success of.
Aurora borealis;
remarkable display of.
Aurora of the sea
Avacha, bay
Avacha, river
Avacha, village
Avacha, volcano


"Baideras," Korak skin boats
"Balagans," fish storehouses
Ball, at Anadyrsk;
at Irkutsk.
"Ballalaikas," Siberian guitars
"Barabans," Korak drums
Baths, "black," Kamchatkan steam baths
Bear hunts
Bering, monument to, in Petropavlovsk
Bickmore, A.S., reference to Korak marriage ceremony
Bivouacs, Kamchatkan
Bollman, merchant in Petropavlovsk
Bordman, W.H.
Bowsher, member of Sandford's party
Bragan, Nicolai, guide
Bragans, Kamchatkan traders
British Columbia
British Government, concessions from
Bulkley, Colonel Charles S.
Bush, Richard J., becomes member of Siberian party;
sails for Amur River;
meeting with, at Gizhiga;
put in command of Northern District;
bad news from;
night meeting with;
experience in summer of 1866


Cable, Atlantic, failure of first;
final success of
Camp, a winter
Canoe travel
Canticle, a driver's
Christmas, in a storm;
in Anadyrsk
Christmas carols
Church, Greek, architecture and color;
_Clara Bell_, bark
Cold, Asiatic pole of;
phenomena of;
on Myan River;
lowest temperature observed;
in Stanavoi mountains
Collins, P. McD., suggests overland telegraph to Europe
Congress, of U. S., promises assistance
Cossack waltz
Crimean war, connection of Petropavlovsk with
Crinoline, Korak comment on


Dall, W. H.
Dances, Siberian
Distance, Korak ideas of
Divide, Kamchatkan, crossing of
Dix, Major General, worshipped as a saint
Dodd, James, engaged as member of party in Petropavlovsk;
goes to Tigil;
left in Gizhiga
Dogs, ancestry:
driving of;
first experiment in driving;
howling of, in chorus;
cutting of feet by ice
"Dole," arctic desert
Dranka, village
of Kamchadals;
of Wandering Koraks;
of Zamutkis and Tunguses
Drunkenness, from poisonous toadstool


English, Shakespearian, in Irkutsk
Equipment, in San Francisco;
in Petropavlovsk;
in Lesnoi;
in Gizhiga;
in Anadyrsk;
in Yakutsk
Escape, narrowest
Eskimo-like natives
Ethnology, of Siberian natives
Evil spirits, propitiation of
Exploration, plans for


Fashion-plate, Korak comment on
Field glass, Chukchi experiments with
Fish savings banks
Flowers, in Gizhiga;
in Petropavlovsk;
in Kamchatka
Fluger, German merchant in Petropavlovsk
Fly agaric, as intoxicant
Food, of Kamchadals
Fort St. Michael
_Frank Leslie's_, fashion-plate from;
pictures from
Frazer River
bulbs eaten
Fronefield, American in Petropavlovsk
Frost, George A.
Fruits, of Kamchatka
Fur trade, of Kamchatka


Gale, in North Pacific
Genal, valley
Genal, village
Gizhiga, village;
arrival at;
first days in;
departure from;
return to, from Anadyrsk;
spring in;
climate of;
dancing parties in
_Golden Gate_, bark, wreck of
Goldsmith, Oliver, reference to Korak intoxicant
Grouse "teteer"


_Hallie Jackson_, brig
Hamilton, captain of whaling bark _Sea Breeze_
Harchina, village
Harder, member of Anadyr River party
_Harper's Weekly_, pictures from
Heck, member of Sandford's party
_Herald, N.Y._, correspondent of
Horseback travel
Horse-express, Siberian
Houses, Kamchadal
Hunter, American in Petropavlovsk


_Illustrated London News_, as wall paper
Imperator and operator
Indian type, of Siberian native
Intoxicant, Korak
Irkutsk, city
"Ispravnik," local governor of Petropavlovsk;
of Gizhiga;
of Okhotsk


"Jerusalem," village


Kamchadals, character;
sable trapping;
summer settlements;
Kamchatka, animals;
first impressions;
first view of coast;
Kamchatka River;
raft, life on;
valley of
Kamchatkan Divide, crossing of
Kamchatkan lily
Kamchatkan mountains
Kazarefski, village
"Kazarm," a Russian barrack
"Kedrovnik," see "Pine"
Kennicott, leader of Alaskan exploring party
Kirinsk, town on Lena River
Kluchei, village
Kluchefskoi volcano
Knox, Colonel T. W., correspondent of _N.Y. Herald_
Kolyma, mosquitoes in
Korak, village
Koraks, Settled, appearance;
experiments with American food;
in Kamenoi;
stupidity and ugliness;
Koraks, Wandering, arrival at first encampment;
comment on dress of American woman;
geographical range;
marriage ceremony;
monotonous life;
old and sick killed;
relation to Chukchis;
relieve starving Anadyrsk people;
social organisation;
Koratskoi, volcano
Krestofskaya, village
Kristi, village
Kuil, village of Settled Koraks
Kukel, General
"Kukhlanka" fur overshirt


Labrador tea
Land, longing for
Language, "American";
Russian difficulty of learning;
grammar of;
experience with, in Irkutsk
La Perouse, monument to, in Petropavlovsk
Lecky, W.H., reference to religion of terror
Lectures, astronomical
Leet, American brought by bark _Onward_;
suicide of
Lesnoi, village
Letovies, summer settlements
Lewis, Richard, telegraph operator brought by bark _Onward_
Lily, Kamchatkan
"Lodkas," Siberian skiffs


Macrae, leader of Anadyr River party
Macrae and Arnold, go with Chukchis;
no news from;
arrive in Anadyrsk;
experience with Chukchis;
first winter's work
Mahood, Captain James A.
Mahood and Bush
Maidel, Baron
Malqua, village
"Manyalla," Korak bread
Marriage ceremonies, Russian
Matches, Koraks see for first time
Matuga, island
Maximof, Kamchatkan driver
Mikina, village
Milkova, village
Mongolian type of natives
"Moroshkas," berries
Moss steppe
Mountains, Kamchatkan
"Muk-a-moor," Korak intoxicant
Music, American, in Kamchatka;
of Kamchadals;
of Greek Church;
on corvette _Varag_
Myan, river


Nalgim, mountain
"Nart," Siberian dog-sledge
_New York Herald_, correspondent of
Nights, in summer
Nikolaievsk, town
Nizhni Novgorod
Northern District, famine in;
work in
Norton, forearm of pole-cutting party
Norton, sound


"Oerstel," a spiked stick
Okhotsk Sea;
coast of;
temperatures of;
phosphorescence of
Okuta, village
_Olga_, brig, passage engaged on;
inspection of;
sails from San Francisco;
life on;
sails for Amur River
_Onward_, bark
Operator and imperator


_Palmetto_, bark
Paren, river
"Pavoskas," travelling sleighs or sledges
Penzhina, river
Penzhina, village
Penzhinsk Gulf
Phillippeus, trip down the Anadyr;
boat of
Phosphorescence, of the sea
Pierce, American in Petropavlovsk
Pine, trailing or "Kedrovnik"
Plans, at Gizhiga
"Podorozhnaya," order for post-horses
"Pologs," skin bedrooms
Pope, leader of Alaskan party
Porte Crayon, sketches of, in Kamchatka
Post-road to Irkutsk
Povorotnoi, cape
Price, telegraph operator, brought by _Onward_
"Pripaika," ice-foot
Propashchina, River of the Lost
"Protoks," arms of stream
"Purgas," blizzards
Pushchin, village


Raft, Kamchatkan
Raft travel
Raselskoi, volcano
Reception, Kamchatkan
of Koraks;
of Tunguses;
about sale of;
Reindeer Koraks, see "Koraks,
Reindeer-sledge travel
Religion, of Kamchadals;
of Wandering Koraks
Reveries, seasick
River of the Lost
Robinson, member of Anadyr
River party
Roses, wild
Route of line
Routes from Kluchei
Russell and Co.
Russian-American Telegraph Co.
organisation of
failure of
Russian Government
Russian language


Sables, trapping;
trade in skins
_Saghalin_, Russian supply steamer
St. Petersburg
Sale, a bargain
Salmon, catching and curing;
failure of;
dependence of Siberians upon
Samanka Mountains
Samanka River
Sandford, Lieut., foreman of
pole-cutting party
"Sastrugi," permanent drifts
of snow
Scammon, Captain, commander
of Company's fleet
Scenery of Kamchatka
Scenery, Siberian, in winter
_Sea Breeze_, whaling bark
Sea life
"Selanka," Kamchatkan soup
Send-off, a Siberian
"Shchi," cabbage soup
Shelashnikoff, Governor-General
Sherom, village
Shestakova, village
Sidanka, village
Smith, member of Anadyr River
Sparrow song
Spring, in Gizhiga
Squirrel skins
Stanavoi Mountains
"Starosta," head man of village
Steeplechase, to Sidanka
Stock, of Western Union Extension
Storm in Northern Pacific;
on the Viliga River;
on the Malkachan steppe;
in Gizhiginsk Gulf
Stovepipe, search for;
finding of
"Struganini," frozen fish
Sugar, used instead of money
Sulkavoi, captain of port of Petropavlovsk
Sutton, captain of bark _Clara Bell_
Suveilich, volcano


"Taiyon," Korak chief
"Tarantas," Siberian travelling carriage
Tea, used instead of money
"Tea caravans,"
Telega, four-wheeled Siberian wagon
Tents, of Koraks, life in
"Teteer," Russian grouse
Tide, a race with
Tigil, village
Time, expedients to pass away
Tobacco, used instead of money
Tobezin, captain of steamer, _Saghalin_
Topolofka, river
"Topor," Russian axe
"Torbasses," fur boots
Trances, in Anadyrsk sickness
Trailing-pine. See "Pine"
Transportation, means of, in Kamchatka
Tundras, mossy plains
Turkish type of natives


Ural Mountains
Usinova, brook


_Varag_, Russian corvette
Verkholensk, town on Lena River
Viliga, stormy gorge of;
Villages, Kamchatkan, descriptions
Villuchinski, volcano
Vitimsk, town on Lena River
Volcanoes of Kamchatka
Vorrebeoffs, Kamchatkan traders,


Wages, paid Yakut laborers
Wedding, in Petropavlovsk;
in Korak tent
Western Union Extension Co.
Western Union Telegraph Co.
Wheeler, sent to Yamsk
Whymper, book of
Wild-rose petals, as food
Women, American, Korak comment on dress of
Work accomplished up to March 1886
Writing, Korak and Chukchi, ignorance of


winter temperatures
Yamsk, village;
trip to, in March
"Yassak," a tax on furs
Yolofka, pass
Yolofka, river, canoe travel on
Yolofka, village
"Yukola," dried fish
"Yurts," Asiatic habitations;
of settled Koraks,


"Zimovie," winter settlement
Zinovief, Gregorie, Cossack guide


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