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bounded out from behind a little rise of ground three or four hundred yards away, and galloped across the steppe toward a deep, precipitous ravine, through which ran a branch of the Mukina River. The dogs, true to their wolfish instincts, started with fierce, excited howls in pursuit. I made a frantic grasp at my spiked stick as we rushed past, but failed to reach it, and away we went over the tundra toward the ravine, the sledge half the time on one runner, and rebounding from the hard "sastrugi," or snow-drifts, with a force which suggested speedy dislocation of one's joints. The Korak, with more discernment than I had given him credit for, had rolled off the sledge several seconds before, and a backward glance showed a miscellaneous bundle of legs and arms still revolving rapidly over the snow in my wake. I had no time, however, with ruin staring me in the face, to commiserate his misfortune. My energies were all devoted to checking the terrific speed with which we were approaching the ravine. Without the spiked stick I was perfectly helpless, and in a moment we were on the brink. I shut my eyes, clung tightly to the arch, and took the plunge. About half-way down, the descent became suddenly steeper, and the lead-dog swerved to one side, bringing the sledge around like the lash of a whip, overturning it, and shooting me with catapultic velocity through the air into a deep, soft drift of snow at the bottom. I must have fallen at least eighteen feet, for I buried myself entirely, with the exception of my lower extremities, which, projecting above the snow, kicked a faint signal for rescue. Encumbered with heavy furs, I extricated myself with difficulty; and as I at last emerged, I saw the round, leering face of my late driver grinning at me through the bushes on the edge of the bluff. "Ooma," he hailed. Well," replied the snowy figure standing waist-high in the drift. "Amerikanski nyett dobra kiour, eh?" (American no good driver). "Nyett sofsem dobra," was the melancholy reply, as I waded out. The sledge,


I found, had become entangled in the bushes near me, and the dogs were all howling in chorus, nearly wild with the restraint. I was so far satisfied with my experiment, that I did not desire to repeat it at present, and made no objections to the Korak's assuming again his old position. I was fully convinced by the logic of circumstances that the science of dog-driving demanded more careful and earnest consideration than I had yet given to it, and I resolved to study carefully its elementary principles as expounded by its Korak professors before attempting again to put my own ideas upon the subject into practice. As we came out of the ravine upon the open steppe, I saw the rest of our party a mile away, moving rapidly toward the Korak village of Kuil.

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Perhaps I ought to apologize for using the word village to designate the Korak settlement of Kuil. I have no reason for so doing except that as it resembles nothing else on earth, it must be a village, Webster and all other lexicographers to the contrary notwithstanding. At first sight the traveller imagines that he looks upon a collection of Titanic hour-glasses rudely constructed of wood, which at some remote period had been expanded laterally by vertical pressure, and reduced to a state of rickety dilapidation in the process. He examines them perhaps with the curiosity of an antiquarian, as relics of some past age and unknown people; but the idea of their present habitation by human beings hardly suggests itself to him. As we drove up with a chorus of barks and howls to these nondescript structures, the irrepressible Tom sprang from his sledge with a whoop, which was evidently a reminiscence of Donnybrook Fair, and demanded, "An' is this a house?" Upon being told that it was, he very naturally inquired of his native for the door, and was referred to a smooth, black, and very greasy pole, set at an angle from the ground to the upper edge of the rickety hour-glass, and affording apparently no hold for hand

or foot. Perplexed to know what connection there was between a pole and a door, Tom scratched his fur hood reflectively, and hesitated until his guide, with a dexterity only to be acquired by long and arduous practice, climbed the pole and grinned back at him from the summit with a few unintelligible words of gibberish, like "Itchagee khachetkin Akhmelnemelkhin," which evidently meant, "Come up." "Wot duz 'ee • say, zur," asked Tom. "He says,

'Come up.'' "An' if I might be permitted to say, zur, how the divil am I to get up." "Can't you climb," suggested Ford, helplessly. "CLIMB is it!" exclaimed Tom, with inexpressible disdain. "Do ye think, zur, I'd demane meself with climin' a greased pole to get into a nigger's house?" "You can't get in any other way," argued Ford; "they go in through the top, don't you see." Tom saw, and grumbling out his dissatisfaction, set about the ascent. With asthmatic breath and dirty hands he gained the summit, only in time to see his guide disappear through a round hole out of which the smoke was pouring in dense black clouds. Turning to us with a comical air of astonishment, he ejaculated breathlessly, "Be the holy powers of Moses, if the dirty spalpeen hain't gone down the chimney!" "Well, what of it?" shouted Ford, “go on." Tom glanced dubiously at the hole, and then at his comrades below, and, put upon his mettle by their bantering laughter, he stepped cautiously to the edge of the hole, looked in, and listened. Out of the blackness of darkness below came the "Ah-há-yah, Ahhá-yah" of a Korak mother soothing her fretful child. Tom was evidently intimidated by the mysterious, unearthly sounds and thick darkness below him, and thought that the heathen rites of sacrifice had already commenced, and that preparations were going on for his immediate immolation as soon as he descended. Returning to the upper edge of the "yourt," with a vigorous sneeze, which was partly the result of his emotions and partly the effect of the smoke, he turned to us, and exclaimed,

"Bad luck to the Koriaks! wud they make a mon a chimney-sweep, and then burrn him for a sacrifice?" The uproarious laughter with which Tom's comrades met his serious remark seemed partially to reassure him, but he persisted in refusing to descend, and I was compelled to set him the example myself. I slid down the oily pole into the interior, when, upon opening my tearful eyes to ascertain my whereabouts, I was saluted with a chorus of drawling “zda-ro-ō-ō-va's" from half a dozen skinny, greasy old women, who sat cross-legged on a raised platform around the fire, sewing fur-clothes. The interior of a Korak "yourt" presents a strange and not very inviting appearance to one who has never become accustomed from long habit to its dirt, smoke, and frigid atmosphere. It received its only light, and that of a cheerless, gloomy character, through the round hole about twenty feet above the floor, which serves as window, door, and chimney, and which is reached by a round log, standing perpendicularly in the centre. The beams, rafters, and logs which compose the yourt are all of a glossy blackness, from the smoke in which they are almost constantly enveloped. A wooden platform, raised about a foot from the earth, extends out from the walls on three sides to a width of six feet, leaving an open spot, eight or ten feet in diameter, in the centre for the fire, and a huge copper kettle of melting snow. On the platform are pitched square skin tents called "pologs," which serve as sleeping apartments for the inmates and as refuges from the smoke, which is sometimes almost unendurable. These pologs are warmed and lighted by a burning wick of dried moss, floating in a pan of seal's fat. A little circle of stones on the ground, in the centre of the yourt, forms the fireplace, over which is usually simmering a kettle of fish or reindeer-meat, which with "youkala," seal's blubber, and rancid oil, forms the Korak bill of fare. Every thing which one sees or touches bears the distinguishing marks of Korak origin-grease and dirt,

The yourt of our old Korak friend "Cheekhin," where our party stopped to drink tea, presented upon our arrival an unusually repulsive appearance. On one side of the fire lay a huge frozen seal in process of thawing out, while shree or four women, with arms bare and bloodied to the shoulder, were engaged in cutting up a second. Beside the platform reposed a dog with a litter of young puppies, whose squealing and whining mingled melodiously with the yells of two frantic babies and the horrible guttural lullaby of some old hag in one of the "pologs." While deliberating whether to remain or not, Ford came sliding down the pole like a falling star, striking upon the head an unwary Korak who stood underneath, and doubling him up like an interrogation-point. This American way of entering Korak houses evidently failed to meet the unqualified approval of the sufferer, who stood rubbing his shaved head ruefully, and ever and anon glancing at Ford, as if the latter were a species of aerolite which had never before come under his observation. After some discussion, we concluded to accept temporarily Korak hospitality, unpromising as the interior and domestic arrangements of the yourt were. According to the Tapleyan philosophy, which we professed, the worse the circumstances the more the credit in being "jolly."

In a few moments "Cheekhin" sct before us, on the head of an old barrel which he had obtained from some whaler, a tempting lunch of pine-seeds and raw fish, which were the nearest approximation he could make to what he considered the etherial and spiritual food of the "Amerikanse." He offered, incidentally, to concoct for us a blubberstew with train-oil accompaniments, but thinking that we had not yet learned to appreciate this native delicacy, he made the offer with a diffidence which did credit both to his head and heart. I would not have any one suppose for a moment that there is any thing in the nature of blubber-stew and train-oil which should cause the educated stom

ach to feel uneasiness, but such Sybaritic luxuries, if frequently indulged in, are apt to unfit a man for the hardships incident to the lot of an explorer, and to make him discontented with the plainer fare of his every-day life. Highly, therefore, as I appreciated our copper-colored host's motives, I felt constrained, on behalf of the party, to "decline with thanks."

With rare thoughtfulness, and with a ready appreciation of American wants which was as gratifying as it was surprising in a barbarian, Checkhin brought a newspaper, that great exponent of civilization, to fill up the pauses in his rude repast; and we had the satisfaction, as we munched our pine-seeds, of reading news, only a year old, from the great outside world. The paper was a torn copy of the London Illustrated News, which had found its way, in some inexplicable manner, from the vast commercial centre of the world to this remote and lonely Korak yourt in the barrenness of a Siberian steppe. It acquired, from its long travel and the strangeness of its situation, an interest to which it had intrinsically no claim; but never before was news so entertaining; never before were editorials characterized by so much pungency and good sense. Even the "Court Circular," that dreary record of aristocratic gossip, when read by the dim light of Korak barbarism, suggested new theories of social life and progress, and awakened new and strange thoughts as to the unequal distribution of the wealth, power, and glory of the world, and the potentiality of circumstances in their development. Read, as I did, in the "Court Circular," that "Her Majesty the Queen on Sunday attended divine service in the Royal Chapel," and then raise your eyes through the dark, smoky atmosphere of the yourt to the gaunt, furclad form of poor Cheekhin, hanging a wreath of dried grass around the neck of a dead dog, sacrificed to the Spirit of Evil. Does not the comparison startle you with "thoughts which lie too deep for words?" It is this, in part,

which gives to a newspaper in a distant uncivilized land such a strange, absorbing interest. The circumstances which it chronicles and the very atmosphere of busy, active, money-getting life which seems to still hang round its pages, are so utterly out of harmony with one's surroundings, and so incompatible with the wild, lonely isolation of barbarism, that they seem like the records of another world and of a strange people.

After reading the News even to the last advertisement, and doing ample justice to the feast of "Cheekhin," the modern Lucullus, we bade all the old women "Ta-húm," and achieved the ascent of the chimney. If the tears which were rolling down Ford's cheeks could be taken as circumstantial evidence, his parting with those old women must have been a heart-rending one. He claimed that they were the effect of smoke!

The brilliant mirage of the morning was the herald of a storm, whose near approach became sufficiently evident as we emerged into the open air. A heavy black cloud hung low over the Gulf, and the snow, impelled by the freshening gusts of wind, drifted in long misty lines across the steppe. Anxious to reach our destination before night-fall, and not anticipating any difficulty in doing so, I gave the order for a start, regardless of the half-muttered remonstrances of the Koraks, who were inclined to protest against setting out in a north-cast "pourga." The "pourga" is, so far as I know, a distinctively Siberian storm, and is one of the greatest obstacles to winter-travel over the vast wastes of snow, called "tundras," which compose the greater part of that desolate, deserted land. Like the "Norther" of southern latitudes, it comes on frequently almost without warning, and is, of course, of all degrees of severity and fury, continuing sometimes unabated for more than a week. It is not necessarily attended with clouds, or with a fall of snow from above, but is especially distinguished by the immense quantities of snow

which the wind tears up from the boundless steppes and carries in dense, suffocating clouds through the air, sometimes hiding every thing from view at a distance of ten feet. To the unaccustomed eye it would seem almost impossible that a human being should survive one of the worst of these storms, when the atmosphere is literally packed with the driving particles of snow, and when five seconds' exposure of the face will plaster up eyes and nostrils so that one can neither see nor breathe, while the roaring wind makes it nearly impossible to stand on one's feet. Travel is of course out of the question, and the unfortunate individual who is overtaken by one of these storms on a steppe has only to cower behind his sledge in his heaviest furs, without shelter and without fire, and wait perhaps many long, dreary days and nights for the wind to subside. If before that time his dog, food, and provisions fail, God help him! for his own efforts will avail him little the pitiless wind drowns his cries, and, exhausted with cold and fatigue, he sinks benumbed into the snow, which covers him with a white shroud and marks by a little mound the place of his last rest.

We had proceeded only about ten versts from Kuil, when darkness and the tempest came on together. The black cloud which had brooded for an hour over the Gulf, extended rapidly westward, and smothered in a dark mantle of vapor the last gleams of the Arctic twilight: the wind, shrieking out the wild cries which it had learned from the Northern bergs and ice-fields, descended upon the steppe in whirling pillars of snow which stalked, like misty phantoms, through the darkness before the denser body of the coming storm. There was only time to shout out an order to keep together before the gale bust upon us, and all sounds were lost in the roaring of the wind and the suffocating clouds of snow. The very dogs which drew our sledges were out of sight, and upon stopping a moment afterward to be sure that we were all together, only four sledges out of thir

teen made their appearance. Five minutes-ten-elapsed, and there were still no signs of our missing comrades. We shouted, fired pistols, and sent men out into the driving tempest on each side as far as they dared go, but we might as well have attempted in the "Cave of the Winds" to drown, by a shout, the thunderings of Niagara as to make our feeble voices heard above the deep diapason of the winds. Man's efforts and even man's existence seemed to sink into insignificance before the majesty of aroused Nature. Shrinking with averted and covered faces behind our sledges, striving with gasping breath to get one inhalation of air unmixed with snow, we waited, in the almost vain hope that the missing sledges would come up. Suddenly a half-smothered and despairing cry came out of the darkness by our side, and as we shouted in reply, the dark, indistinct outlines of three more sledges passed before us. This increased our number to seven, and as it seemed useless to wait longer for the others, who were evidently lost, we reluctantly moved on, lashing our sledges together with thongs of sealskin to prevent a second separation. Owing to the darkness our pocket compasses were useless, but even could we have determined our true course, the knowledge would have availed us little, since the wind made it impossible to travel in any direction except before it. About five hours after dark we passed scattering clumps of bushes, which indicated our approach to a river, and soon the darkness ahead seemed to grow thicker and denser, and a belt of timber loomed up through the drifting snow only a few yards distant. It was this of which we were in search. No one knew where we were, geographically, but it mattered little, now that we had found trees to break the force of the deadly, chilling wind, and to afford a respite to the choked lungs from the driving atmosphere of snow. Selecting a spot sheltered by the trees and a high bank, we dug a deep cellar in the snow, "warming" our benumbed limbs by the violent exercise, spread alder branches

and twigs of the trailing pine over the bottom, built a fire in the leeward corner, and "went into camp." As the ruddy blaze flashed fitfully over the snow-encrusted faces which crowded about the camp-fire, we looked eagerly around to see how many were missing. Bowsher Yount, Newton O'Brien, and Heck were gone, and a sober expression fell for a moment upon every face as we thought of our absent comrades out or the barren steppe, fighting for life in the darkness against cold, furious wind and blinding snow.

As soon as we had warmed our stiff, numb fingers into an aching protest against resuscitation, we entered upon preparations for the evening meal. Lewis unpacked the tea-kettles from the nearest sledge, Savenski was despatched in search of ice for water, while Tom, with adroit diplomacy, made the pretence of getting out the bread-bag a cover for the gratification of his own private appetite. The wind still moaned desolately through the treetops, and the snow sifted down in fine particles over the dark fur-clad forms grouped around the fire; but under the softening influences of the fire-light and of an unlimited quantity of tea, which was speedily forthcoming, the sober faces gradually relaxed into more cheerful expressions, and the buoyant spirits of health reasserted themselves in a series of lively sallies, quaint remarks, and hearty laughter, which drowned even the melancholy complaining of the wind-swept trees. "You talk about the hardships of an explorer," mumbled Ford, between the bites of a cake of hard bread. "I suppose you'll be calling this a hardship next." A mass of snow, which at this moment fell from the overhanging branches into Ford's neck, seemed rather to ruffle the complacency with which he was disposed to contemplate our adventure, and to give some color to the adverse opinion that this was a hardship; but with a shivering shrug he continued, "If we hadn't any thing to eat, I should consider it a hardship; but as it is, it's only an experience." "An' d'ycz mind,"

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