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Full text of "Ice-pack and tundra; an account of the search for the Jeannette and a sledge journey through Siberia"

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ICE-PACK AND TUNDEA. 



LONDON: 

PBINTED BY GILBERT AND BIVINGTON, LIMITED, 

ST. JOHN'S SQUARE. 



Ice-Pack and Tundra 



AN ACCOUNT OF 



THE SEAECH FOR THE JEANNETTE 
AND A SLEDGE JOURNEY THROUGH SIBERIA 



BY 



WILLIAM H. GILDER 



CORRESPONDENT OP "THE KEW YORK HERALD" WITH THE RODGERS SEARCH 

expedition: author or "schwatka's search ' 



WITH MAPS AND ILLUSTRATIONS 



£onfcon 

SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE, & RIVINGTON 

CROWN BUILDINGS, 188, FLEET STREET 

1883 

[All rights reserved.'] 



7 W> 

l?*79 
&56 






CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

PAGE 

At Sea 1 



CHAPTER II. 
Off Kamtchatka 13 

CHAPTER III. 
Petropaulovski 23 

CHAPTER IV. 
St. Michael's 45 

CHAPTER V. 
Ik St. Lawrence Bay 60 

CHAPTER VI. 
Wrangel Island 67 

CHAPTER VII. 
Round the Island 83 

CHAPTER VIII. 
In the Ice Fields 95 

CHAPTER IX. 

Eeteetlan 102 

v 



vi CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER X. 

PAGE 

LOSS OF THE RODGERS 115 

CHAPTER XL 
Prospects of Relief — 129 

CHAPTER XII. 
The Fate of Putnam 137 

CHAPTER XIII. 
Across Siberia 148 

CHAPTER XIV. 
On the Road 161 

CHAPTER XV. 
Middle Kolymsk 172 

CHAPTER XVL 
Approaching the Lena , 186 

CHAPTER XVII. 
The Diary of De Long 198 

CHAPTER XVIII. 
How the Bodies were Found 217 

CHAPTER XIX. 
The Voyage of the Jeannette 227 

CHAPTER XX. 
The Retreat 240 



CONTENTS. vii 

CHAPTER XXI. 

PAGE 

Bennett Island 259 

CHAPTER XXII. 

NlNDEEMANN AND NOKOS 275 

CHAPTER XXIII. 
Among the Yakouts 299 

CHAPTER XXIV. 
Caught by the Floods 319 

CHAPTER XXV. 
End of the Journey 331 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 



PAGE 

The Jeannette Search Parties in Yakoutsk. .Frontispiece 
From a photograph. 

St. Michael's 43 

From an Esquimaux drawing. 

Hunting Scene 53 

From an Esquimaux drawing. 

The Trapper 57 

From an Esquimaux drawing. 

Parrot-bill Gulls 59 

From an Esquimaux drawing. 

Tchouktchi Youth 63 

From a pencil sketch by the author. 

Tchouktchi Girl 70 

From a pencil sketch by the author. 

Herald Island 74 

From a sketch by the author. 

Placing Records on Herald Island 77 

From a sketch by the author. 

Camp at Eeteetlan 102 

From a sketch by the author. 

The Burning of the Rodgers 121 

From a sketch by Ensign Hunt. 

" One-eyed Riely" 12G 

From a sketch by the author. 

Tchouktchi Children 155 

From a pencil sketch by the author. 

Siberian Landscape 173 

From a photograph. 

ix 



X LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 

PAGE 

Cossack Fort 177 

From a sketch by a political exile. 

Yakout Fishermen 178 

From a pencil sketch by the author. 

Interior of a Starosta's House 182 

From a sketch by the author. 

Interior of Povarnniar 188 

From a sketch by the author. 

Keindeer 190 

From a sketch by the author. 

Nicholai Chagra's House 192 

From a sketch by the author. 

NlCHOLAI Chagra ' 193 

From a pencil sketch by the author. 

Werchojansk 195 

From a photograph. 

The Place Where the Bodies were Found 199 

From a pencil sketch. 

Finding De Long 201 

From a pencil sketch. 

Monument Hill 217 

From a pencil sketch. 

Diagrams of Tomb 221 

From drawings by Bartlett. 

Position of the Bodies 224 

From a sketch by Bartlett. 

The Jeannette Survivors in Yakoutsk 225 

From a photograph. 

Diagram of Position of the Jeannette 228 

From a sketch by Captain De Long. 

Arrangement of Camp 234 

From a sketch by Captain De Long. 

Diagram of Shore Line 266 

From a sketch by Captain De Long. 

NlNDERMANN AND NOROS 276 

From a photograph. 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS, xi 

PAGE 

Tcnguses 289 

From a photograph. 

Kusmah 295 

From a pencil sketch by the author. 

Yakoutsk 297 

From a photograph. 

Yakout Horse 302 

From a sketch by the author. 

Group of Boriaks 304 

From a photograph. 

Road Pass 305 

Reduced facsimile. 

Order for Horses 306 

Reduced facsimile. 

Bridge of Exiles 309 

From a photograph. 

Lagoon Camp on the Aldan 317 

From a sketch by the author. 

View on the Upper Lena 320 

From a photograph. 

Xishni Novgorod 329 

From a photograph. 

Tomsk 335 

From a photograph. 

Gold Mines of Witem 339 

From a photograph. 

General Anoutchine 341 

From a photograph. 

Lake Baikal 343 

From a photograph. 

Mayor of Tomsk 344 

From a photograph. 



LIST OF MAPS. 



Cruise of the Rodgers in Search of the Jeannette 
in the Summer of 1881 To face page 1 

Wrangel Island Page 65 

General Map of Northern Siberia and Europe, Show- 
ing the Author's Route Across the Continent. 

At end of the volume 
xii 




CRUISE OF THE RODGERS IN SEARCH OE THE JEANNETTE 
IN THE SUMMER OF 1881. 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 



CHAPTER I. 



AT SEA. 



On Board IT. S. S. Rodgers, 

June 27th, 188L 

After numerous delays from various unexpected 
causes, the United States Jeannette Relief Expedition 
at last finds itself upon the broad Pacific Ocean, about 
1,000 miles from San Francisco, and were it not for a half 
gale that is blowing most of the time, and kicking up a 
very rough sea, its individual members would have time 
for serious reflection. But for some reason or other the 
Rodgers, though a staunch and seaworthy craft, has a 
habit of pitching and rolling most mercilessly, and the 
component parts of the relief expedition are anxiously 
awaiting a change of weather to bathe their aching limbs 
and bruised bodies. As I write, the sun is shining, but 
the sea is running very high, and now and then an unu- 
sually big wave sweeps the main deck, and would carry 
away the deck - load of lumber were it not securely 
lashed, or, perhaps, rising aloft, douses the officer on 
the quarter-deck in an ocean of spray. 

This sea, however, is moderate in comparison with 
what we encountered almost immediately after leaving 



n? 



2 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

the headlands at the entrance of the Golden Gate. The 
very first night out found us tempest-tossed on the heav- 
ing breast of the so-called Pacific Ocean. More than one 
of those accustomed to life upon the billowy deep were 
seeking the retirement of their state-rooms, not to sleep, 
but to hide their feelings from public gaze. No one need 
expect sympathy in sea-sickness. It seems to be the 
usual thing for the strong to laugh at the weaker stom- 
achs. No tender hand is there to smooth the aching 
brow, or to bathe the throbbing temples of the sick one, 
and yet, perhaps, no sickness is more agonizing to the 
sufferer. My room-mate, a handsome young Cuban, who 
though aware of the fact that he is sick almost all the time 
he is at sea, has pluckily chosen the profession of a sur- 
geon in the navy, was most terribly handled by the re- 
lentless sea. But there was no sympathy for him in the 
ward-room. All the encouragement he would get would 
be the cheery laugh and raillery of his comrades as they 
called upon him to " brace up " and " have some style " ; 
and when three days had passed, during which he was 
unable even to think of food, they came to him with 
rusty hard bread, and advised him to eat it with plenty 
of mucilage to make it stick. Despite his agony he 
smiled good-naturedly, and expressed his disgust at his 
weakness. Said he, " Just look at me, a big strong man, 
and yet so weak that I can't walk or eat. It is simply 
disgusting. And yet I tell you I feel so utterly nerveless 
that if I were to fall overboard, I don' t believe I would 
try to swim." 

But where is Dominick all this time ? Dominick 
Boocker is the steward, who came way from Louisville, 
Ky., to gain the glory of being the first colored man at 
the north pole. He is a faithful fellow, but, oh ! so slow. 



AT SEA. 3 

Perfectly satisfied with his prospective distinction, he 
acts as though that were all he had to do in this world. 
At Mare Island and in San Francisco he was supremely 
happy. A cabin full of "gemmen" to wait upon, an 
Italian cook to prepare the meals that he ordered, and 
all dependent upon him — what else was there in life to be 
desired ? But launched upon the heaving breast of the 
broad ocean in one of her angriest moods, and called 
upon to cast up his accounts, a change came over him. 
From the grinning good nature that had previously dis- 
tinguished him, he became thoughtful and morose ; and 
finally a look of such utterly helpless misery settled upon 
his face, that it was absolutely touching. The first-class 
Italian cook, imported from New York at the expense of 
the officers' mess,- had also succumbed to the weather, 
and the ship's cook, with the assistance of the black- 
smith, had to do all the work for both ends of the vessel. 
There was not much that could be done, though, for the 
vessel rolled and pitched so that it was next to impossible 
to cook any thing. Perhaps a little coffee, that generally 
came to grief somewhere between the galley and the 
ward-room, or a boiled potato and some hard bread, com- 
prised the meal which had to be eaten while grasping 
some convenient projection along the wall of the cabin, 
or with one leg wound around the leg of the table and 
the other braced against a handy bulkhead. In the 
meantime nearly all the crockery was broken, and the 
mess kit was in a very dilapidated condition when viewed 
after the storm subsided. The night of Sunday, the 19th, 
and the three following days, were most delightful. The 
sea was perfectly smooth and the wind so light that 
steam was ordered, and we moved by the propeller until 
Thursday morning, when the wind freshened sufficiently 



4 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

to dispense with, steam. Since then a strong wind has 
prevailed which necessitated shortening sail. 

We have been somewhat disappointed in the sailing 
qualities of the vessel, or rather in the speed she has been 
able to develop. But she is deeply laden, carrying about 
one hundred tons more than was anticipated, and is 
heavily sparred. This causes her to roll considerably, 
and assists in deadening her headway. Dragging her 
screw propeller through the water also has a tendency to 
check her speed, and the sheathing to protect her from 
the ice has a similar effect. Upon the whole, however, 
her officers are thoroughly satisfied with her, and consider 
her one of the finest vessels, if not indeed the best, that 
ever entered the Arctic. She showed more speed under 
steam than was expected, having reached five and a half 
knots, without any assistance from the sails, on Wednes- 
day the 22d. This was a knot better than had been 
anticipated ; and the chief engineer has since said that he 
hopes to improve upon that record before reaching Petro- 
paulovski. 

We have a splendid crew of men, selected chiefly from 
volunteers from the regular navy. Young men accus- 
tomed to discipline, well trained in their duties, and full 
of animal spirits. It is a pleasure to see them at work 
about the ship, singing the tarry songs of the briny deep 
as they heave upon the ropes. Their songs are of various 
kinds, but may be divided into the two general classes of 
working and loafing choruses. There are those in quick 
measure, when they haul rapidly hand over hand, in 
time to the music, and others with a long, dismal, mo- 
notonous solo, with a chorus at rare intervals of "Haul, 
boys, haul away," when they put the strain on the ropes. 
This is the loafing song. 



AT SEA. 5 

Some of the men are so full of life that it is impossible 
to restrain them. They despise the ratlings, but go aloft, 
hand over hand, by any convenient rope. The other 
night, while taking in sail during a squall, one of the 
men had occasion to go from the upper top-sail to the 
lower yard, and, instead of going by the ratlings, let him- 
self down by a rope, and after completing his task wou]d 
not even return in the regular way, but went up, hand 
over hand, by the same rope. The rolling of the vessel 
swung him clear out over the angry waves, but he paid 
no attention to the apparent peril of his position. [Not 
so, however, the officer of the deck. It was too good an 
opportunity to do some swearing, and he cursed the dar- 
ing fellow's recklessness roundly. The men do not ap- 
pear to do such things in a spirit of bravado, but sim- 
ply with implicit reliance upon their powers. It is the 
unanimous opinion that there never was a finer crew as- 
sembled upon any vessel. Strong, young, skilful, good- 
natured and under thorough discipline, they possess all 
the qualities to make for themselves a noble record when 
their skill and daring are called upon in the approaching 
conflict with the ice floes and storms of the polar sea. 
Several of them have seen service in the north before this 
trip. Payer considers enlisted men with Arctic experience 
rather a detriment than an advantage to the force of an 
Arctic cruiser, as they are apt to consider such experience 
as an offset to the skill, judgment and intelligence of their 
officers. With us, however, are several officers who have 
had more or less experience in that country, so that the 
men cannot and do not claim any superiority on that 
score. It is a pleasure to see the alacrity with which the 
orders of the officers are obeyed, and it is also gratifying 
to see the judgment and skill displayed by these youthful 



6 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

officers, as has already been evinced more than once dur- 
ing the exceedingly severe weather already experienced. 

It had been remarked in San Francisco before we left 
that if there was any weakness in the equipment of the 
Rodger s, it was the extreme youthfulness of her officers. 
But it has already been demonstrated that the careful 
training of intelligent minds in a course such as is pursued 
at the United States Naval Academy develops competent 
officers more rapidly than the mere school of experience 
can possibly accomplish. With such a vessel as the 
Rodgers, officered and manned as she is, it is not surpris- 
ing that friends at home expect great results from this 
voyage. This feeling was liberally displayed in the escort 
tendered us on the day of our departure from San Fran- 
cisco, the 16th of June. Many ladies and gentlemen went 
down the bay on our vessel, and a large steamboat and 
several tugs accompanied us as far as it was safe or con- 
venient for the ladies, who attended in great numbers. 
As we passed the forts in the harbor, the army tug came 
out to meet us, and steamed for some time alongside, the 
fine military band of the Fourth Artillery playing several 
appropriate and inspiriting selections. On one tug that 
kept close beside the Rodger s in her progress down the 
bay, were Paymaster A. S. Kenney, purchasing officer of 
the expedition, and Pay-Director Caspar Schenck, of San 
Francisco, with numerous invited guests, who drank to 
our safe and successful return, waving their glasses and 
the festive demijohn toward us in the most tantalizing 
manner, considering that they were enjoying a privilege 
denied to us, though such deprivation is a self-imposed 
obligation, to be broken only on high days and holidays, 
or the finding of any of the Jeannetttf s party. Several 
of the yachts of the San Francisco squadron joined the 



AT SEA. 7 

escort, and, in the stiff breeze that conies in through the 
Golden Gate every afternoon, sailed merrily around us, 
the ladies waving their handkerchiefs and the gentlemen 
their hats, and shouting words of encouragement when- 
ever they came near us. It was a scene of intense excite- 
ment, and it is perhaps unnecessary to say that not a 
man or officer on board our vessel but felt his bosom 
swell with pride and satisfaction at the genuine hearti- 
ness of the God speed tendered us. There was manifest 
in every individual on board the Rodger s the conscious- 
ness that he had started upon a perilous expedition with 
a humane object in view — a rescue ; and his determination 
to do something worthy of the cause was strengthened by 
the very evident appreciation of friends and strangers. 

Finally the hour arrived when the guests on board the 
Bodgers must leave, for there was already quite a heavy 
sea, and delay would make the disembarking more and 
more difficult of accomplishment. The little revenue 
cutter, General Irwin, drew alongside, and though both 
vessels kept bobbing up and down on the waves, the 
large party of ladies and gentlemen was safely trans- 
ferred, and crowded the upper deck of the cutter, much 
to the dismay of their friends upon the Bodgers. Again 
and again cheers and the last parting words were ex- 
changed, and hearts were close to the mouths of many 
on board both vessels. The last good-bye came from the 
signal station on Telegraph Hill, where in the dim dis- 
tance we could see the Stars and Stripes dipping from the 
flag-staff. This signal was answered, and we steamed 
slowly and silently past the headlands of the Golden 
Gate, and were out upon the boundless deep. The pilot 
left us at half past seven that evening, and carried back 
a few hastily written words of parting to distant friends ; 



8 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

and as the white-haired old mariner stepped over the rail 
into his tiny boat, that was to take him to his pretty- 
craft close by, his eyes were dimmed by emotion we 
scarcely expected in one whose interest in us we had 
believed to be only mercenary. 

Soon an ugly swell made the Rodger s roll heavily, and 
the wind springing up, we began to miss one and another 
of the ship' s company who had retired to the privacy of 
their state-rooms or the friendly support of the hand 
rail. Mark Twain has said that nothing makes a man 
so conceited as to have his stomach behave itself when 
others are experiencing the pangs of sea-sickness. I re- 
membered this, and tried to appear modest ; in fact I was 
not certain how long I might enjoy immunity from this 
dread ill, as the sea was getting rougher continually. 
But though during this and the succeeding two days I 
experienced the worst weather I ever encountered, I had 
no cause to complain of that useful member of my physi- 
cal economy. I tried to pity my poor room-mate, and 
offered my services to do anything for him, but he was 
beyond the reach of human aid for relief, and just then I 
caught sight of Dominick, and if there ever was a picture 
of repentance he was the model. 

" What river is this % " said he, after we had been out 
of sight of land about three days. 

" This is the ocean, Dominick." 

"Well, wharsdeland?" 

"It will be many days before you see land again, old 
fellow." 

There was no reply to this. Poor old Dominick retired 
to the forecastle, and was not seen for several days, when, 
during a storm which kept the vessel wet from stem to 
stern by the seas she constantly shipped and leaked 



AT SEA. 9 

through the seams above the water-line, one of the offi- 
cers asked a sailor if he knew what had become of 
Dominick. 

" I guess he's drowned, sir," was the reply. "I saw a 
box washed out from under a bunk in the forecastle this 
morning and Dominick came floating out behind it, and 
he looked as if he were dead then, or wished he was." 

But a few days of pleasant weather brought all the sick 
ones to their feet, and Dominick was again on duty. He 
never was a racehorse, and the rough handling he had 
encountered while at sea had not increased his activity. 
There was an uncertainty in his every motion that was 
particularly annoying. It was not surprising perhaps 
that he should be confused with half a dozen officers call- 
ing him in different directions at the same time, and upon 
entirely different errands ; but such is the daily experi- 
ence of a ward-room steward, and it requires a habitude 
that he had not acquired to get along under such circum- 
stances. Among the officers is a jovial youth from South 
Carolina, who takes especial delight in confusing poor 
Dominick. He keeps calling him constantly, and insists 
that he shall "come a running," something he probably 
never did in his life. A few days ago he rebuked him in 
sailor terms for his lack of energy, and Dominick apolo- 
gized by saying he did not feel well, and, when he was 
sick that way, he was " dull and stupid." " Well," said 
Stoney, "if that's the case, I guess you've been at the 
point of death ever since I knew you." I have an im- 
pression that Dominick would give at least a month' s pay 
if he had never seen this " river." 

Our young South Carolinian has taken a most decided 
fancy to the colored steward, and his affection is recipro- 
cated. The one is reminded of home by having a genu- 



10 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 

ine Southern darkey to bull-doze with good-natured rail- 
lery, and the other is similarly reminded of home in being 
bull-dozed. 

" Dominick, you've got to come and live with me after 
this cruise," said the ensign, the other morning. " You'll 
never have to do another stroke of work as long as you 
live. All you'll have to do will be to hold my children 
on your knee, and lie to them about this trip." 

" Have you got any children, sir ? You look like you 
was too young a man," said Dominick. 

"No, not yet," was the reply; "but if some one re- 
mains of the same opinion when I return as when I left, 
I hope to have one of these days." 

There are no married men among the officers. All are 
young, hopeful, and ambitious. Most, and perhaps all, 
have some one at home for whose sake they hope to win 
a name, and the thought that fervent prayers are daily 
offered for the absent, and that loving eyes are eagerly 
looking for news of them, nerves every arm, and will 
inspire men with greater courage in the hour of danger. 
The lonely night watch gives plenty of time for such 
reflections, unless foul weather occupies the entire atten- 
tion of the officer of the deck. 

The routine on board the Rodger s is conducted with 
all the regularity of a man-of-war, and cheerfulness pre- 
dominates under the most trying circumstances. The 
evenings in the cabin are passed pleasantly in games of 
cards, chess, back gammon, and the like, and in reading 
works of scientific interest or lighter literature. Dumb 
bells and Indian clubs engage attention on the quarter- 
deck during pleasant weather, and the men forward take 
turns in pummelling each other with a set of boxing- 
gloves. 



AT SEA. 11 

A pair of black pigs enjoy the freedom of the deck be- 
low the top-gallant forecastle, and are named respectively 
Michael Angelo and Raphael. Three kittens and a puppy, 
of parentage so involved as to puzzle a committee from 
any kennel club in the country, are the pets of the sailors, 
and sustain names that would make them proud if they 
only understood their significance. The kittens are 
Phryne, Aphrodite and Proserpine ; while the dog re- 
sponds to the name of Billee Stuart. It is becoming a 
sad reflection that either Michael Angelo or Raphael will 
have to die to provide us with a fitting thanksgiving din- 
ner. The ship is so well provisioned that one might 
imagine there would be no necessity for such a sacrifice, 
but nothing can withstand the keen edge of a salt air 
appetite. Where are now those dainty palates that re- 
fused the delicacies of the San Francisco restaurants, the 
Occidental Hotel, the California House, Marchand's, and 
the " Poodle Dog"? Where are those appetites that 
had to be stimulated with a cock-tail before breakfast 
and absinthe before dinner ? I wouldn' t even trust Billee 
Stuart to run at large were other food lacking. Unless 
we should have the misfortune to lose our vessel it will 
be a long time before we are reduced to any strait for 
food. Beside the regular navy rations for two years and 
a half, we have on board about two years' full rations of 
specially selected food, purchased with the Congressional 
appropriation. In other words, there is food for four or 
five years at least upon the Bodgers. This is perhaps 
much more than we will require for our own use, but not 
too much should we have to reprovision the Jeannette 
and the missing whalers. We may not meet any of them, 
but that is the object of our expedition, and it is proper 
to be prepared for such an event. All of the food on 



12 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

board is of superior quality, except perhaps the canned 
meats, which had to be purchased very hurriedly to re- 
place the provisions of that class prepared at the Bre- 
voort House in New York, and supposed to be of the very 
best put up, but which spoiled in transit from that city 
to San Francisco on the overland freight trains. It was a 
great disappointment to lose these goods, for their excel- 
lence seemed to be admitted wherever known. The Naval 
Board in Washington, to whom specimens had been sent, 
approved of the purchase after testing them in their fam- 
ilies. The fame of the chef of the Brevoort House is 
world-wide, and to dine in the arctic upon such soups and 
meats would simply be taking all the romance of arctic 
life out of the trip. There you expect walrus meat and 
blubber, and to get turtle soup and tete de veau en tortue 
instead, is altogether wrong, for it admits of no excuse for 
dirty hands and blue shirts. It is fortunate, though, that 
the condition of these meats was developed before they 
reached the hold of the vessel, so that they could be re- 
placed with others, though not of so good quality as these 
were supposed to be. It has been already discovered that 
some of the canned meats bought in California are some- 
what tainted, but the probability is that most of them 
will be found in good condition when required for use. 

We had the pleasure of exchanging signals with an 
English bark, apparently bound for San Francisco, last 
Thursday morning. The weather was thick and a high 
sea running, so that there was no effort made to visit, or 
"gam," as it is familiarly called. 

Sunday, the 26th instant, the wind was very fresh and 
squally. The waves were running high, but we carried 
sail until the lee rail was under water, and though butting 
into a heavy swell we made nine knots an hour. Quite 
satisfactory speed under the circumstances. 



CHAPTER II. 



OFF KAMTCHATKA. 



Petropaulovski, Kamtchatka, 

July 23d, 1881. 

The Rodgers reached this port on the afternoon of the 
19th instant in one of the heavy fogs that distinguish this 
portion of the world. The evening before onr arrival we 
were only about sixty miles from the shore, and, as 
the weather was very thick, Lieutenant Berry deemed it 
advisable to heave-to until daylight, as this is a disagree- 
able coast to approach in unpropitious weather. Shortly 
after three o'clock in the morning we started again slowly 
toward the land, the commanding officer constantly on 
deck to personally guide and direct the movements of his 
vessel, as is his custom when danger threatens. About 
half-past eight, though the land was about forty miles 
distant, and still concealed by the fog, we could dis- 
tinctly smell the grass and moss of the Kamtchadal 
mountains. We at last " picked up" the land, as the 
sailors term it, about half -past ten o'clock, and after 
taking the bearings of several headlands, established our 
position as about twenty miles south of the entrance of 
Avatcha Bay. We therefore steamed up the coast against 
a head wind, catching occasional glimpses of the land, 
and toward evening could make out the little light-house 
on one of the bluffs, and had no further difficulty in mak- 
ing our way into the snug little harbor of Petropaulov- 

13 



14 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

ski, the closer landmarks being easily recognized as we 
passed. When nearer the town we could see by the 
aid of onr glasses that there were two large steamers in 
ahead of us, and a small boat brought Mr. Green, first 
officer of the Alaska Commercial Company's steamer 
Alexander to us, under whose guidance we secured a fine 
anchorage outside the sand spit, and about half a mile 
from the town. He told us that we were expected, and 
that the other steamer was the Russian steam corvette, 
the StrelocTc, Commander De Livron, which had come to 
anchor that morning. The Alexander had arrived the 
previous day from Behring Island, and was discharging 
her cargo preparatory to continuing her trading voyage, 
or rather her sealing operations on the Commander 
Islands. 

Soon a cutter from the Russian man-of-war brought 
one of her officers, with the compliments of his command- 
ing officer, saying that he would take an early oppor- 
tunity to call, and that he would gladly furnish us any 
assistance in his power to further the object of our expe- 
dition. About the same time another boat arrived with 
Captain Sandman, of the Alexander, together with Cap- 
tian Hunter and Mr. Mulawansky, residents of the village, 
who also tendered their services to the extent of their 
ability. Captains Sandman and Hunter, though person- 
ally strangers, were familiar to most of us through the 
books of Kennan and Bush, of the Russo- American Tele- 
graph Company, who had met them here while engaged 
in their Arctic work in the interest of that enterprise. 
Captain Sandman was the commander of the brig Olga 
that brought the American party from San Francisco, 
and Captain Hunter, then as now, a resident of this place, 
had materially aided them with wise counsel derived 



OFF KAMTCHATKA. 15 

from his experience in the country. After a short but 
pleasant visit our guests departed, promising to devote 
themselves to the task of securing for us such articles of 
Arctic outfit as could be procured here, and which had 
been the object of our visit to this town of one yearly mail. 
The following morning, with our newly- found friend, 
Captain Hunter, as interpreter, Lieutenant Berry and 
your correspondent paid a visit to Commander De Liv- 
ron, of the Strelock, and learned from him that he had 
been directed by his government to aid us to the extent 
of his ability, and to make a summer cruise in Behring 
Sea and the Arctic in aid of the search for the Jeannette. 
He further said that he would like to know our route 
from here, and the points where we would stop in pros- 
ecuting our search, so that he could go to other localities, 
thereby making the search as extended as possible. He 
also told Lieutenant Berry that there was a deposit of 
500 tons of coal in Plover Bay, placed there by the Rus- 
sian government, and that he was at liberty to use as 
much of it as he desired. He begged Lieutenant Berry 
to command his services at any time, and subsequently 
furnished him with his intended route after leaving this 
port to Cape Serdze Kamen, from which place he would 
bring whatever mail matter we had, and transmit a 
despatch from the nearest point of telegraphic communi- 
cation in Asia, where he expected to arrive in the latter 
part of September. The following day the officers of the 
Rodger s were entertained at breakfast by the officers of 
the Streloclc, and during our entire stay here they have 
extended the most cordial hospitality toward us. The 
StrelocJc is a steamer of about 1,400 tons, manned by 
twenty officers and one hundred and fifty men. She has 
a battery of heavy breech-loading guns, and can make 



16 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

twelve knots under full steam. Captain De Livron is 
expecting the arrival here, within a week, of the Russian 
Admiral of the Pacific fleet, with three other vessels of 
war of the Imperial Russian Navy. This will be a mat- 
ter of unusual importance in the history of this very 
quiet, and, to all appearances, unimportant post. This 
morning the Kamtcliatlca, a steamer of 1,400 tons, bur- 
then, belonging to Mr. A. E. Philippeus, a Russian mer- 
chant, arrived here, and is about to proceed on a trading 
tour to the mouth of the Kamtchatka River and the 
various ports in the Ochotsk Sea. Captain Hunter, who 
is the local agent and representative of the owners, will 
accompany the vessel upon this trip. 

Through the active interest of Messrs. Hunter and 
Mulawansky and the co-operation of the Ispravnik, or 
chief magistrate, Mr. Sarabrenekoff, we have succeeded 
in securing forty-seven fine dogs from the people of this 
neighborhood, but were unable to procure as much dried 
salmon for dog food as we require. It is too early in the 
season to find dried fish, though fresh salmon are taken 
daily in immense quantities. We have obtained a large 
amount of reindeer skin clothing, which will be invalua- 
ble during our sledging operations in the Arctic. The 
clothing obtained is far superior in quality of workman- 
ship and dressing to that of the Esquimaux, and is 
much more ornamental. There seems also to be a differ- 
ence in the quality of the fur to that of the American 
reindeer, the clothing made from which has to be re- 
newed each year, while this, though having been used a 
long time, is apparently as good as the day it was made. 
I have noticed a striking difference in the management of 
the dogs. These are much more kindly treated than are 
those of the Esquimaux, and are carefully trained as 



OFF KAMTCHATKA. 17 

draught animals. They are driven by the voice instead 
of a whip, and, instead of being harnessed each with a 
separate trace, are all attached in pairs to a long line with 
one leader, who minds the word of command, and turns 
to the right or left as the driver desires. The Siberian 
dogs are trained to make rapid journeys, and will readily 
accomplish eighty or a hundred miles a day for four or 
five days in succession if regularly fed and watered. I 
am inclined to believe, however, that they will not equal 
the Esquimaux dogs in pulling heavy loads over rough 
ice or land. A load that they can draw easily they will 
take with great rapidity, but as soon as it drags heavily 
they all stop. This is, in a great measure, the result of 
their training, as the driver, when he gives the command 
to halt, plunges a strong staff into the snow, so as to im- 
pede the progress of the sled as much as possible as a 
further indication of his desire to stop, so that when the 
dogs feel this heavy drag they stop and lie down. We 
will probably, however, have an opportunity this fall and 
winter for practice in the sort of work to be done in the 
spring. The female dogs are never used in harness in 
this country, and the males selected for the teams are all 
emasculated before their training commences. They are 
evidently of the same species as the Esquimaux dog, and 
bear a strong resemblance to them in size, color, and 
shape. The mode of driving is much the same noisy 
process on both continents, though the words of com- 
mand are different. When the Kamtchadal wishes his 
dog to turn to the right he says "Kah-kah" or " Sun- 
dah," to the left " Houch " or "Ho-gee, Ho-gee," and it 
sounds much like the grunting of a pig. When he desires 
them to start he either whistles or says "Heigh-Heigh," 
and to stop " Nah-n-a-h." 



18 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

The sledges of the Kamtchadal are very different in con- 
struction from the Esquimaux sledges, which are heavier 
and better adapted for carrying weight than for rapid 
transit. Nothing could better combine lightness with 
strength than the sleds of the people of Petropaulovski ; 
and they have one style upon which the occupant (for it 
can carry but one person) sits astraddle, which very well 
corresponds with the sulky of civilized race-courses. It 
has broad but thin wooden runners, turned up in front, 
with a frame-work upon which perches a basket-like shell, 
and its various parts are held together with thongs of 
seal or bear-skin. A team of six dogs will take one per- 
son in a sled like this eight or ten miles an hour over a 
good road, and their estimate of the power of their dogs 
is 600 pounds for a team of nine good animals. An 
Esquimaux team of equal numbers will carry a load of 
1,800 or 2,000 pounds fifteen or twenty miles a day for 
weeks and even for months. 

We found no reindeer meat at Petropaulovski, but have 
taken on board six cattle, which, with a deck-load of lum- 
ber and cord- wood and our forty-seven dogs, makes it 
quite lively for one who has to go from one end of the 
vessel to the other. This is the second night since the 
embarkation of our dogs, and the whole interval has been 
filled with one prolonged howl that makes the nights 
especially something to be remembered to the end of one's 
existence. We expect to leave for St. Michael's in Alaska 
to-morrow morning, there to take on board two hundred 
tons of coal, which has already been shipped for our use 
by the Alaska Commercial Company's steamer St. Paul; 
but where it is to be put is a question that would puzzle 
the most experienced stevedore that ever stowed a cargo. 
About one hundred tons can be used to replenish the 



OFF KAMTCHATKA. 19 

coal-bunkers in the hold, and the remainder must go on 
deck — but where ? The cows are forward of the foremast, 
and the lumber and the dogs fill the intervening space 
from the foremast to the quarter-deck, while the rigging 
is all hung with salmon, which is drying for dog-food. 
Fortunately we need not anticipate much heavy weather 
inside of Behring Sea or the Arctic Ocean ; and it will be 
only a short time comparatively before we will be com- 
pelled to seek winter quarters either upon Wrangel Land 
or the adjacent Siberian coast. Some such weather as we 
had upon our trip from San Francisco would make sad 
havoc with our deck-load. 

The Fourth of July was a stormy day, and the vessel 
rolled and pitched considerably ; the spirit of the occa- 
sion was manifested in the band of young and patriotic 
officers. "We could not kill a fatted calf, for we had none 
to kill, but the fatted pig, Michael Angelo, furnished the 
ship's company with a pleasant repast of fresh meat that 
would have made him feel that he had not died in vain, 
had he known how he was appreciated after death. One 
of the officers opened a box that had been sent to him for 
the occasion by some lady friends, in which each officer 
was remembered by the bestowal of some toy or gift ; and 
the merriment that followed the discovery of a baby rat- 
tle, a top or whip, was unbounded. The box itself was 
an especial source of amusement, in view of a label which 
suggested the nursery quite as thoroughly as did the 
toys which it contained. Dominick, the colored steward, 
though scarcely able to keep his feet under him, arose to 
the occasion, and produced a meal which would have done 
credit to a first-class restaurant on a firm foundation. 
After the cloth had been removed, Dr. Jones, the senior 
surgeon, read an appropriate address expressing his 



20 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 

views of those who go down to the sea in ships, Arctic 
research, and the dnty of patriotism. The Italian cook 
was induced to make some chocolate, which, being nei- 
ther tea nor coffee, was appreciated as a pleasant change 
of diet. I overheard the conversation that led to the 
chocolate, and recorded it as a curiosity of international 
communication. Said the caterer of the mess: "You 
know chocolate V 9 

" Oh, yes ; me know him well." 

" How long it take to make it ? " 

" About so long, I guess " — (measuring off about eigh- 
teen inches of air between his two hands). 

"No, I mean how long time?" 

" Oh, yes," with a smile beaming with intelligence and 
evident delight at having caught the meaning exactly. 
" How long time ? About two weeks, I guess." 

"Confound it!" said the now exasperated caterer, 
"Haven't you any brains? I want to know if we can 
have chocolate for breakfast." 

" Oh, yes, me make him quick now." 

So we had our chocolate, and enjoyed it all the more 
when it was told how much patience and tact our caterer 
had exhibited in securing it. 

The night of July 4th we had a succession of squalls, 
and one which passed a little to leeward of the ship that 
the officer of the deck said would have wrecked us if it 
had hit us fairly. He said he saw it coming, and that it 
flattened the waves down in its course so that it seemed 
to cut a furrow right through the sea, and that a cold 
gray light attended it that made everything look pale and 
sepulchral like the green light in the death scenes of 
some emotional plays. He had never felt so insignificant 
as when he saw that pass, and knew how utterly power- 



OFF KAMTCEATKA. 21 

less lie was to do anything in case the vessel had stood in 
its path. It did not, and therefore we live to tell the tale. 

On the 9th of July we sighted Oonalaska's high moun- 
tains, and the next day passed within fifty miles of Um- 
nak, and saw the peak of its snow-crested volcano, 5,000 feet 
high, burst through a cloud and tinged with the glory of 
the setting sun. It was a gorgeous spectacle, and one that 
will live long in the memory of all who saw it. It was a 
most perfect representation of Fusiyama, the sacred moun- 
tain of Japan, so familiar by its reproduction in all Jap- 
anese works of art. Near it we saw the smoke arising 
from one of the burning volcanoes of the Four Mountains. 
The following day, the 11th instant, we passed into Beh- 
ring Sea through the so-called " 172d pass," upon the 172d 
meridian, between Amoughta and Seguam islands, and 
found a smooth sea almost immediately. It was a pleas- 
ure to sail upon such water after so rough a passage, and 
we scarcely minded the fog that hung about us all the 
time. Indeed, we had but five days' fair weather since we 
left San Francisco. 

Thursday, the 14th of July, we crossed the 180th meri- 
dian, and were in east longitude. Here is where the mari- 
ner takes up one day when sailing toward the west, or 
drops one if going east. As we return in a few days and 
re-cross the same meridian, we would have to make two 
changes in our calendar, but Lieutenant Berry concluded 
that we might as well retain our old reckoning. The only 
difference it made is that we found the religious people of 
Petropaulovski holding service on Saturday instead of 
Sunday, and we are constantly in doubt as to whether 
to-day is really to-day or to-morrow. And yet this con- 
stantly dropping and taking up a day every time we 
cross the 180th meridian, would make it exciting for us 



22 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

in case of wintering on Wrangel Land, as that meridian 
passes directly through the island ; so that we would be 
constantly crossing and re-crossing it, involving ourselves 
and our journals in the most inextricable confusion. We 
could not go hunting and reach the hunting-grounds until 
the next day, no matter how short the time occupied in 
the journey, and, in returning, would always arrive the 
day before we started. No well-balanced mind could 
exist under such circumstances. 

I am not at all sorry to have finished this letter, for while 
writing here in the ward -room of the Rodger s I have been 
a perfect martyr to those interminable pests of the Arctic 
— the mosquitoes. One would scarcely expect to meet 
them here, but here they are in such numbers as to make 
life a burden to the sojourners in these latitudes. 



CHAPTER III. 



PETKOPAULOVSKI. 



U. S. S. Rodgers, Behrlng Sea. 

July 28th, 1881. 

Were it not that during the Crimean war the allied 
enemies of Russia saw fit to attempt the capture of the 
place, and thus gave it dignity that it would have been 
difficult otherwise to acquire, one would believe Petro- 
paulovski to be of little importance in the world. But 
when in August, 1854, the combined fleets of England and 
France, consisting of six frigates, assembled before the 
town and landed a large force in its rear, they found it 
fortified and defended by a small but determined band 
of Russians and Cossacks, who, aided by topographical 
advantages and palpable errors on the part of their adver- 
saries, defeated them most ignominious] y with the loss 
of most of the English and French officers, and about one 
hundred and twenty men. On a hillside near the earth- 
work, where the engagement took place, is a cemetery 
about twenty feet square, within which are two mounds 
surmounted by wooden crosses, bearing inscriptions in 
the Russian language, which cover the remains of those 
who fell on both sides during the fight. The cemetery is 
surrounded by a neat paling fence, painted white, and is 
not lacking in picturesque effect, at the foot of the high, 
rugged hill, and flanked by the grass-grown ruins of the 
fort, and the powder magazine. 
23 



24 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

Petropaulovski is correctly pronounced with the accent 
on "paul," and gently sliding over the remaining sylla- 
bles. It is situated in a valley between high hills, with 
wooded slopes on the sides least exposed to the prevailing 
winds. Its houses are small, and chiefly made of roughly 
hewn logs, the poorer ones thatched with straw. Many 
of the government buildings, the warehouses of the Rus- 
sian Fur Company, and the dwellings of the principal 
citizens, are of boards imported from foreign ports, and 
neatly painted. There is but one street that could properly 
be so called, and that is but about thirty feet wide. The 
houses are apparently not arranged with any reference to 
the so-called street, but are erected wherever the conven- 
ience or whim of the builder suggested. There are two 
church buildings, the old and the new. The former a 
dilapidated but picturesque edifice of hewn logs, with 
many angles and projections, and surmounted by a green 
cupola, of curious design, somewhat oriental in its archi- 
tecture. The new church is of boards, painted white, 
with a flight of broad, new stairs leading up to the front 
door. It is situated in a miniature park, through which 
trickles a mountain rivulet, whose banks are studded with 
tombstones, amid which, gloomy and peculiar, stands the 
black iron pillar commemorating the death of the Rus- 
sian explorer, Vitus Behring, whose tomb is upon the 
island, about two hundred and fifty miles away, where 
his vessel was wrecked in the year 1741, and he sub- 
sequently died. In the same graveyard, on the oppo- 
site side of the church, is a tombstone of black marble 
inscribed in Russian characters, showing that it was 
erected to the memory of the officers and crew of a small 
Russian trading vessel, wrecked some time ago upon one 
of the Kurile islands, all on board perishing. The tomb- 



PETROPA ULOVSKL 25 

stone was sent out from Russia to be erected at the place 
of the disaster ; but as it would probably never be seen 
there, it was thought better to give it the wide publicity 
of the grave-yard in Petropaulovski, which has about four 
hundred inhabitants, and one overland mail each year. 

The new church was built and is kept in repair by the 
Russian Fur Company, which is really but another name 
for the Alaska Commercial Company, enabling them to 
enjoy the same privileges of the seal fisheries on Behring 
and Copper islands, under the Russian jurisdiction, as are 
accorded to them by the United States government upon 
the Aleutian islands. This church is occupied for services 
in summer only ; and the smaller and more easily warmed 
old church accommodates the few who desire the com- 
forts of religion in the long winter, when the building is 
entirely covered with snow, and is entered through a long 
passage way excavated through the drift. The services 
are conducted by a priest and two deacons, all of whom 
are occasionally to be seen about town, always dressed in 
long silken gowns which reach to their heels, and are 
belted at the waist with a band of the same material. A 
tall black felt hat is worn over long hair, and flowing 
beards adorn their faces. The priest wears around his 
neck a long golden chain, to which is attached a large 
golden crucifix, presented to the wearer by the late Em- 
peror of Russia. Not very long ago the resident Arch- 
bishop of the Greek Church on the Pacific coast of the 
United States paid a visit to Petropaulovski, and, as 
Captain Hunter told me, had much difficulty in securing 
recognition from the inhabitants, because he did not wear 
long hair and beard, and discarded his churchly raiment 
when not engaged in conducting services. 

There is only one store in town, but as there is no money 



2G ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

among the inhabitants, except the government officials, 
military and clerical, and the foreign residents, one store 
is at least sufficient. General sympathy would naturally 
be with the storekeeper, and the wonder be how he 
makes a living. But Mr. Mulawansky, the storekeeper, 
a native of Russian Poland, who speaks English and 
French with equal fluency as his native tongue, is an 
enterprising fur trader, and during the winter months 
makes several extended sledge journeys into the interior, 
thereby accumulating a large stock of the most valuable 
skins to be obtained ; as through long experience he has 
become one of the most expert judges of furs in the land. 
He sends all his trade to London for a market, and can 
never be prevailed to sell a single skin to a visitor. 

" Why wouldn't you sell me that sea-otter skin for one 
hundred dollars ? You say it will bring you only that in 
London, and by selling it now you would not have to 
wait so long for your money," said Lieutenant Berry. 

" Because," said Mulawansky, " I want to retain your 
friendship. I would gladly do anything I can to aid you 
or to accommodate you in any way, and am always happy 
to entertain you to the extent of my ability. If, how- 
ever, I were to sell you that skin, even for what it cost 
me, or a little more, when you took it to a furrier at 
home to be dressed and made up he would naturally ask 
where you got it and what you paid for it. He would 
then, inspired perhaps by jealousy, assert that it was not 
worth so much, and you would therefore think Mulawan- 
sky had cheated you. Then I would lose your friendship. ' ' 

This seemed reasonable enough and an unanswerable 
argument, and the subject was not continued, especially 
as the Lieutenant was not anxious to become a purchaser, 
but asked merely for information. 



PETROPA ULO VSKL 27 

Previous to settling in Petropaulovski, Mr. Mulawansky 
had led a very adventurous life among the Indians of the 
Pacific coast in British Columbia and Alaska, and many 
are the hair-breadth escapes that he has encountered 
among his warlike and treacherous customers. Several 
times he has been shot at, and he now bears two ugly 
gun-shot wounds, obtained at the hands of the Indians 
while living among them, one upon his left fore-arm and 
another upon his left leg. Resolution and courage, 
backed by a thorough knowledge of the ways of the 
savages, and the best means of conciliating them when 
necessary, have carried him through many adventures 
which he would not readily encounter again, since he has 
become accustomed to the comforts of a peaceful life with 
a wife and children growing up around him. He has 
amassed a large fortune in his business, and is liberal in 
his dealings with others. Indeed, without the assistance 
of such people as Mulawansky and Captain Hunter, the 
poorer citizens would find it hard to pull through the long 
winters when food is scarce, for, like most uncivilized 
people, the Kamtchadals are improvident, and make no 
provision for the season when game and fish are scarce. 

The morning after our arrival, Lieutenant Berry and I, 
accompanied by Captain Hunter, called upon Mr. Sara- 
brenekoff, the Ispravnik, or Military Governor, who lives 
in a centrally-located house, one story high, of white 
painted boards and the customary red roof, put up at the 
expense of the government for the use of its representa- 
tives. It is quite a comfortable residence for that coun- 
try, and is heated, as are all the larger houses, by an oven 
or "Peachka," as it is called, made of bricks, and con- 
taining arched flues to allow the heat to circulate through- 
out the structure. A wood fire is built within, and when 



28 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

the smoke has escaped through the chimney it is closed, 
and small apertures about three inches in diameter are 
opened into each room adjoining the peachka, through 
which the heat pours into the room. The bricks have by 
this time become thoroughly heated, and retain their 
caloric a long time, thus with very little fuel keeping the 
building at a pleasant temperature throughout the day. 
As the climate, even in the severest weather, is not colder 
than about twenty degrees below zero, unusual means 
would not be necessary for securing heat were it not that 
wood is scarce, and has to be brought from across Avatcha 
Bay, a distance of about twelve miles. We entered the 
Ispravnik' s house by a vestibule, where we hung up our 
hats, and, without the formality of knocking, walked 
into the parlor, a pleasant room with painted floor and 
modern furniture, plain but comfortable. The governor's 
wife, a comely little woman, shortly afterward joined 
us, and, when shaking hands, expressed, I presume, her 
pleasure at meeting us, but this impression was derived 
rather from her smile than from what she said, of which 
I did not understand a word. She, however, passed 
around some "papyrosa," that is, Russian cigarettes, 
and, lighting one, seated herself for a comfortable smoke. 
Presently her husband entered, clad in a green, double- 
breasted military coat trimmed with red cord, with gilt 
shoulder-knots upon his shoulders and two rows of white- 
metal buttons down his breast. He evidently meant to 
be pleasant, though dignified and formal ; but conversation 
was neither general nor brilliant. He, however, informed 
us that an earthquake had shaken the town about an 
hour before we called ; but it must have been slight, as we 
had not noticed it upon the water. After a brief call, 
during which he renewed his assurances of assistance, we 



PETROPA ULOVSKL 29 

bade the Ispravnik and his pretty wife good day, and went 
to Captain Hunter's residence near by, where we had been 
invited to dine. We had a pleasant and bountiful meal, 
with fresh beef and vegetables grown in our host' s own 
garden, and plenty of rich milk, which was especially 
gratifying. 

We called later upon Mr. Mulawansky, where, as every- 
where else in the town, we were regaled with tea made 
from a " Samowar," which is pronounced Samovar, the 
last syllable accented. Whenever you see the letter " w " 
in Russian you must call it "v." For instance, I found 
difficulty in explaining to some Russian officers, most of 
whom spoke at least a little English, and some quite well, 
what I meant by Wrangel Land until I pointed out the 
place on the map, when they exclaimed as with one voice, 
" Yrangel Island, yes." Why tea from a samowar should 
taste better than when made any other way I am at a loss 
to explain, and yet its universal use in Russia, a nation 
of tea- drinkers, would seem to confirm such an impres- 
sion. The samowar is only a vessel wherein to boil the 
water of which the tea is made. It is an urn, usually of 
brass lined with white metal, and with a hollow cylinder 
passing vertically through the centre. Into this cylinder 
is put a quantity of burning charcoal, the space surround- 
ing it being filled with water which is heated thereby. 
In order to create more draft for the burning charcoal, a 
chimney, which is also of brass, is put on over the cyl- 
inder, and after the gases have entirely escaped, the 
chimney is removed, and in its place is put a circular 
cover so made as to admit of a small China tea-pot rest- 
ing upon it, in case it be desirable to keep it warm. Into 
the tea-pot is put the requisite amount of tea, and when 
the water is boiling hot a small quantity is drawn off 



30 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

upon the leaves in the pot, thus in a few minutes pro- 
ducing a strong essence of tea. I was cautioned against 
filling the tea-pot more than half full of water, as by so 
doing a large part of the aroma would be lost. It was 
also enjoined that the shorter the time required for steep- 
ing the leaves the more fragrant would be the tea. When 
the essence of tea is ready a small portion is placed into 
glass tumblers, and diluted, according to the taste of each 
guest, with water from the samowar. Great stress was 
laid upon the advantage of using tumblers instead of tea- 
cups, as it was thus easier for the lady of the house to 
gauge the exact amount of tea essence required for each 
person. If the tea in the tea-pot is to be kept warm for 
others, or to replenish the glasses of the guests, it is al- 
lowed to rest upon the circular holder over the cylinder 
of the samowar, but the choicest beverage is that served 
without submitting the tea-pot to other heat than is 
derived from the hot water. It may have been an over- 
wrought imagination that inspired the thought, but it 
seemed to me that I never drank such delicious tea as 
was everywhere tendered me from the samowars of the 
hospitable people of Petropaulovski. Before the Rodger s 
left, my newly acquired friend, Mr. Mulawansky, pre- 
sented me with one of the magic urns, and I hope to put 
it to good use when we reach our winter quarters on 
Wrangel Land. 

This curious little town presents one strange feature 
in being a community of between four and five hundred 
people who can get along pleasantly without lawyers and 
without courts of justice. I was told by an old resident, 
who is quite familiar with life in more civilized portions 
of the globe, that during the past eighteen years not a 
single crime has been developed in this neighborhood 



PETE OP A UL VSKL 31 

that required magisterial interference. There are no 
police there except the few Cossacks, who are distin- 
guished from the civilians by red cording around the 
edge of their caps. On landing at the beach, where a 
miniature plank dock leads from the deck of a sunken 
hulk that serves as a wharf to the shore, I had noticed a 
small box, large enough to hold a man erect, built against 
the wall of a warehouse, locked and bearing the seal of 
the imperial government. I wondered at the time for 
what purpose it was intended, but did not find out until 
two or three nights afterward, when, returning from an 
entertainment in town, I was startled by a salute in a 
deep bass voice which seemed in the darkness to have 
come out of the bowels of the earth, but which to my 
relief I found emerged through the tawny beard of a 
Cossack who stood within the sentry box guarding the 
town against surprise by another invasion of hostile 
fleets. The structure had looked to me like a sentry 
box, but I could not realize the necessity for sentinels 
here upon the outskirts of civilization. 

I said I was returning to the ship from an entertain- 
ment, and I will endeavor to describe the fete, as not 
without interest in showing how the people amuse them- 
selves in such a place as Petropaulovski. There are a few 
people residing here who are not natives, but have ac- 
quired education and cultivation in the customs of polite 
society in other parts of the world. They have been 
drawn here chiefly by the attraction of profitable busi- 
ness in the fur trade, and some have taken root by marry- 
ing into the native or the Russian element. Among these 
are, beside Captain Hunter and Mr. Mulawansky, Captain 
Lugebil, agent of the Alaska Commercial Company ; Mr. 
SaDdylane and Dr. Federer, the schoolmaster ; for in rear 



32 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

of the new church edifice is a small school-house, built 
and maintained by the Russo-American Fur Company. 
Captain Sandman, of the steamer Alexander, was also 
temporarily residing in town, with his wife and family, 
and his bluff, hearty good nature proved an attractive 
feature of every entertainment. The people assemble in 
the early evening at the house to which they are invited, 
and with the giddy excitement of four large steamers in 
the harbor, there was a social gathering every night while 
we were in port. The officers of all the other vessels 
were nearly all Russians, and perfectly at home in society 
where I could only show my civilization by smiling and 
accepting every thing that was offered in the way of eat- 
ing and drinking. I won a high place in the esteem of 
my hostess on several occasions by the hearty manner 
with which I devoured raw herring and pickled salmon. 
Nothing inspires your Russian entertainer with greater 
respect than the exhibition of unusual powers of diges- 
tion and perfect readiness to partake of raw fish, radishes, 
milk, pickled salmon, tea, brown bread and caviar, at a 
moment's notice. I did not know half the time what I 
was asked to eat, but I did not intend to show my igno- 
rance by inquiring, or any lack of interest by declining. 
Most of the fare was indeed delicious, and especially so 
to one just from the monotonous diet of canned meats and 
vegetables on ship-board. In nearly every house, too, I 
found some one who spoke English, and could always ex- 
press my ideas when necessary. Lieutenant Berry and I 
attended a reception and ball at Captain Lugebil' s resi- 
dence on Friday night. The captain is a Russian by birth, 
but became a citizen of the United States by the transfer 
of Alaska. He was in the employ of the Alaska Commer- 
cial Company for a long time, and went to Petropaulovski 



PETROPA ULO VSKL 33 

to represent the company's interests there. As he felt 
that he could not be a good citizen without adopting some 
line of politics, he has taken sides with the Democrats, 
and, together with Captain Hunter, a former resident of 
Baltimore, who is also a Democrat, mourns the defeat of 
General Hancock at the last election. Captain Hunter 
has not visited his native land for twenty-three years. 
He speaks the Russian language fluently, is married to a 
Russian lady, and has an interesting family of children, 
none of whom speak English. Upon his parlor walls, as 
well as in Captain Lugebil's house, hangs a photographic 
likeness of the late President Andrew Johnson, who prob- 
ably never knew that even in a little Kamtchadal town, 
upon the borders of the Arctic world, were those who 
recognized and admired his genius. Captain Lugebil's 
house, which was erected by the company he represents, 
is the most civilized and pretentious dwelling in town, 
even more so than the new one of the Ispravnik, which that 
functionary will occupy when his deputy comes out next 
spring ; for arrangements have already been made for en- 
hancing the importance of the place by increasing the 
government detail there, and making it also a military 
post. This will be a good thing for the town by bringing 
more government money into circulation. 

As we passed through the churchyard on the evening 
of Captain Lugebil' s reception, our ears were greeted by 
the cheerful strains of music and the tripping of merry 
feet to the accompaniment of the " Babies on the Block," 
played with great spirit upon a large parlor organ by our 
gray-haired host, who exerted himself to the utmost to 
promote the cheerfulness of his guests. When he wearied 
of playing, for no matter how devoted he might be he 
was only mortal, there needed to be no cessation of danc- 
3 



34 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

ing, for the accompaniment was immediately taken np by 
a hand-organ, vigorously ground by a volunteer from 
among the guests, which merely substituted " What Kind 
of Slippers do the Angels Wear % " and, with organized 
relays of grinders, could keep it up indefinitely. The 
social spirit of the worthy old captain could not be re- 
strained even when relieved from the responsibility of 
acting as orchestra, but, rushing to the crank of the hand- 
organ, he stirred the dancers up to a livelier measure, and 
encouraged them to greater enthusiasm by himself danc- 
ing up and down with extraordinary vigor as he indus- 
triously plied the handle of the groaning instrument. 
Among the guests were several of the officers of the Rus- 
sian man-of-war, who were ubiquitous and exceedingly 
friendly. They were in uniform ; and it is needless to 
say were very popular, especially among the ladies. The 
female society, without which all balls are "flat, stale, 
and unprofitable," consisted of Mrs. Lugebil, her three 
handsome daughters — who have experienced the refining 
influences of San Francisco society ; Mrs. Captain Sand- 
man, who has enjoyed the same privilege ; Mrs. Mula- 
wansky, Mrs. Sarabrenekoff, and several young ladies 
whose cards I have mislaid, and whose names I am sure 
could never be recorded with the limited supply of con- 
sonants in the English alphabet. They were all good 
natured and anxious to entertain, but, in the absence of 
a general means of communication, conversation at times 
flagged. But then there was the never-failing source of 
amusement — dancing ; and some one always on the floor, 
or ready to accept an invitation. I should not omit to 
mention that the table that supported the hand-organ 
was spread, and often replenished during the evening, 
with cold meats, raw and pickled herring and salmon. 



PETR OP A UL VSEL 35 

beets, cheese, black and white bread, fresh butter, caviar, 
and other delicacies. There was also a liberal supply of 
light California wines, whiskey, bottled Milwaukee beer, 
and home-made small beer — somewhat tart and spicy, 
and very agreeable to the taste. Cigars and Russian 
cigarettes of fine Turkish tobacco abounded, and ladies 
and gentlemen all smoked with the most comfortable 
freedom. Captain Lugebil, who speaks English perfectly, 
insisted upon our regaling ourselves at pleasure, and him- 
self set the example. The Russians are among the friend- 
liest of people. If ever one raised his eyes to glance 
about the room, glasses must be clinked all around ; and 
on meeting and parting you are expected to shake hands 
with every one present, even though it be a dozen times 
a day. Lieutenant Berry and I had to depart early, but 
the festivities were kept up until about two o'clock in 
the morning. 

The next evening a ball was given on shore by some of 
the officers of the Strelock, with, whom we have established 
the most friendly relations, and several of the officers of the 
Rodger s accepted the cordial general invitation extended 
to us, and indulged in a merry-making such as they never 
before witnessed. A number of the young ladies of Petro- 
paulovski society lent the charm of their presence to the 
occasion, and the countenance of many of the older dames 
was not wanting. Unfortunately, my duties required my 
attention on board the vessel, where I was engaged in 
writing at half -past three o' clock, when the revellers re- 
turned. It was unnecessary for me to ask if they had en- 
joyed themselves. That fact was sufficiently apparent in 
the moistened locks and wilted collars of the dancers. The 
fun had been fast and furious, and though many of the 
figures of the dance were new and most difficult of exe- 



36 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

cution, they had not faltered in the attempt. Indeed 
during the latter part of the evening nothing but " ground 
and lofty tumbling" would answer, and even the staid and 
dignified members of the search expedition did not hesi- 
tate to follow the example of a pious-looking lieutenant of 
the Russian frigate, who exhausted his English in ex- 
claiming, "God save the Queen," turned two somersaults 
in the middle of the floor, and drank to " Russia and 
America " amid loud shouts of applause and the clinking 
of many glasses. 

Although we arrived at Petropaulovski in a drizzling 
rain, which continued for a day or two afterward, such 
is not the usual climate of the harbor. Indeed Captain 
Hunter told me that this was the first rain they had been 
blest with for more than a month, and prayers had been 
offered up in the church for rain. The last two days of 
our stay were delightful, or would have been were it not 
for the heat and the mosquitoes. We had the pleasure 
of seeing the volcanoes that surround the bay in all 
their grandeur. Through a gap in the hills to the north 
of the town rose the snow-clad peaks of Korianski, Avat- 
cha, and Koselska, the first named eleven thousand live 
hundred feet high, the second over nine thousand, and 
most always in action, while the last has attained the 
no mean altitude of five thousand three hundred feet. 
About thirty miles to the southward stands Wiluchinski, 
its crest over seven thousand feet above the level of the 
sea. It not only serves to add interest to the landscape, 
but is said to be a most perfect barometer, and as such is 
constantly watched by the residents of Petropaulovski. 
When its' entire outline is clearly cut against the sky, it 
is an indication that the following day will bring fair 
weather, and the approach of storms or foggy weather is 



PETROPA ULO VSKL 37 

foretold by clouds that hide the peak merely, or conceal 
the entire mountain from view. These peaks are never 
devoid of snow, although the soil in the valleys is suscep- 
tible of a high state of cultivation, and is very fertile. 
The people, however, have no ambition to become farmers, 
even though the prospect of good crops is so flattering. 
Their chief dependence for food is upon fish, which 
abound in the waters of the harbor and the bay. During 
the season, a net cast anywhere near the town, and at any 
time of the day, can be hauled in full of salmon, tom-cod, 
smelt, bass, and herring. Large quantities of salmon are 
dried during the summer months for food for the people 
and their dogs, and when thus prepared are called "yu- 
kal." A fish and a half of the average size are counted 
as a day's ration for each dog when working. Before 
being hung up to dry they are cleaned and salted, but 
later in the season vast quantities are buried in the ground 
and covered over without cleaning, to be used when the 
prepared food is exhausted. It thus becomes tainted, but, 
as with the Esquimaux, the bad smell and taste is not ob- 
jectionable to a hungry Kamtchadal stomach. Along the 
shores of the harbor, as well as upon the neighboring 
bay, could be seen numbers of picturesque drying-sheds, 
thatched with straw, the sides open to the wind, and sun- 
burnt men, women, and children salting and hanging the 
fish beneath the shelter. Often considerable annoyance 
is occasioned by the onslaughts of blue-bottle flies, which 
deposit their larvae in the fish, and after that they soon 
become food for worms. 

The pasturage for cows, horses, and sheep is found 
upon the neighboring hillsides and in the streets of the 
village, and consequently an ordinance of the town pro- 
hibits dogs to run at large on pain of death, as they worry 



38 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

the cattle and kill the sheep. They are therefore kept 
chained up in the vicinity of the town, but far enough 
away to prevent their constant howling disturbing the 
repose of their owners at night. Horned cattle and horses 
were seen everywhere about the village ; but some time 
before our advent a dog got loose and drove a flock of 
sheep belonging to Mr. Mulawansky to the mountains, 
where, by this time, he says, they have become wild, and 
can only be captured by shooting them. 

Bears are numerous in the neighboring mountains, and 
have been known to approach the village during the win- 
ter and destroy the cattle in the very streets. The skin 
of the bear has an excellent quality of fur during the 
winter. It is of a light brown color, and available for 
making rugs, but has no commercial value. It is a sin- 
gular phenomenon that, together with all the wild ani- 
mals of the Arctic regions, the dogs, horses, and cows of 
this country have, during the winter, a heavy coating of 
woolly fur under the hair that covers their bodies, as an 
additional protection against the rigors of the climate. 

Since reaching the northern waters, Drs. Jones and 
Castillo have been very active in securing " specimens," 
for scientific analysis and classification, from sea and 
land. The drag net is nearly always astern, and the 
dredge was used in Petropaulovski harbor with " valua- 
ble results," as they informed me; but my unpractised 
eye could only discover a quantity of black mud with a 
squirming mass of hideous insects. Several birds were 
secured and suffered martyrdom in the cause of science at 
the hands of the medical men, who preserved the skins 
and bones for " setting up," as they say when they mean 
stuffing. One or two of these birds were probably rare, 
and undoubtedly beautiful. Day after day, Dr. Jones, 



PETR OP A UL VSKL . 39 

Mr. de Tracie, the ship's carpenter, with Mr. Bulger, 
chief engineer of the Alexander, who is well acquainted 
with the country, trudged over the neighboring hills in 
search of something to kill and skin, and were sometimes 
rewarded with ''valuable specimens." Dr. Castillo, my 
room mate, is an inveterate " bug hunter," and has lost all 
consideration for insects of every kind except as entomo- 
logical specimens. His most familiar attitude is with one 
eye screwed up and the other gazing through the tube of 
a microscope in search of " animal life," as he says, in 
the phosphorescent sea water. In this way he has un- 
consciously contracted a very extraordinary expression — 
similar to that of a person addicted to the use of a sin- 
gle eye glass. In making inquiry concerning the sanitary 
statistics of Petropaulovski, Dr. Jones found that the 
prevailing ailments were of a scrofulous nature, resulting 
from disease said to have been introduced by the sailors 
of La Perouse's vessel when he visited this coast in the lat- 
ter part of the eighteenth century. There are also several 
cases of leprosy in town, probably from the same cause. 
The government caused to be erected some time ago a 
hospital for the treatment of the diseases peculiar to the 
locality, and sent a physician, who is a political exile, to 
take charge of it. But the hospital is at present empty, 
and the surgeon has gone upon a trip to the lower part of 
the peninsula of Kamtchatka. This is not owing to any 
diminution of the disease, but rather to the laxity with 
which government affairs are administered at such great 
distances from the throne. 

The second day after our arrival Lieutenant Berry sent 
two boats across Avatcha Bay in charge of Mr. Putnam, 
the senior watch officer, to bring back some dogs and dried 
fish from a settlement about twelve miles distant, and 



40 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

Chief Engineer Zane and Dr. Castillo went along to obtain 
an idea of roughing it in the northern "bush." They 
were accompanied by the native to whom most of the 
dogs belonged, who is said to be a fine hunter and one of 
the richest and most enterprising citizens of the country. 
When they were about to start, Mr. Mulawansky sent 
them a mosquito net, which had naturally been omitted 
from the outfit of the boats, and as they would have to 
camp out over night he knew they would find it useful. 
It was fortunate for them that he had been so thoughtful, 
otherwise they would have been severely tormented, and, 
as it was, were not altogether exempt from the attacks of 
the little pests. Even Dr. Castillo lost his patience, and 
slaughtered " interesting specimens" without mercy. A 
few of the natives from the village near by gathered around 
them and performed many friendly offices, such as bring- 
ing wood and water for the camp, and giving the strangers 
plenty of nice fresh milk. In return, our people shared 
their food with the simple-hearted Kamtchadals, and es- 
tablished relations of friendship with them. They were 
not sorry, however, to return to the ship, and bade adieu 
to their new friends and the mosquitoes without a tear. 
They brought twenty-one dogs back with them, and it 
appears to be a very fine collection, perhaps not the best, 
but good, serviceable young dogs. Altogether we secured 
forty-seven full-grown dogs and several puppies, which 
will be available for the teams next spring. The price of 
a dog was established at fifteen roubles, that is, seven 
dollars and a half, but we bought two fine animals the 
night before we left Petropaulovski for twenty roubles 
(five dollars apiece). Lieutenant Berry, Dr. Castillo and 
I went to the nearest beach with the man who offered 
them for sale, to see how they would work in harness. It 



PETROPA ULOVSKI. 41 

was amusing to see the almost frantic anxiety of the ani- 
mals to be harnessed when they saw the sled brought out, 
and heard the rattle of the harness-chains. Fletcher, the 
owner, drove them without much trouble, and they 
dragged him with great speed over the rank grass and 
weeds. Then he invited Lieutenant Berry to get on and 
ride, but, before he got fairly into the seat, the dogs broke 
away from Fletcher, and dashed at full speed down the 
sand spit. I expected they would keep on without stop- 
ping until they got to the town or maybe the next village; 
but before long some misunderstanding arose between 
two of the dogs, and they stopped to fight it out, when 
Fletcher caught them again and brought them back. It 
was amusing to hear this man Fletcher talk. He is an 
Englishman, born in London, where his father at one time 
kept an ale house ; but he has lived in Kamtchatka so long 
that he speaks his native tongue very imperfectly, and 
with the broken accent peculiar to the coasfc where he 
now lives. His father, now very old and feeble, also lives 
in Petropaulovski. 

There is very little circulating medium in this country. 
The standard of exchange is the " rouble" and the " cop- 
pick," valued in round numbers at fifty cents and half a 
cent respectively. Fletcher says that times are hard now ; 
he don't make any money though he works hard. He 
says he used to make sometimes two hundred roubles a 
day. I think, however, he was exaggerating the truth 
somewhat in order to impress us with the value of his 
acquaintance, for I don't believe he would make as much 
as that now in ten years. Fresh salmon sell for two cop- 
picks (one cent) each, and herring for one coppick. There 
is not a very lively fortune in that market I am sure. 

At Petropaulovski we secured about twenty-five "Ku- 



42 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

klankers," which are coats of reindeer skin with a 
hood to cover the head, the whole garment being al- 
most identical with the "Koolitar" of the Esquimaux, 
but of finer workmanship, and altogether more ornamen- 
tal. They cost from sixteen to forty roubles each, but 
will prove an inestimable blessing during the approaching 
winter. We also obtained a quantity of fur boots, stock- 
ings, and gloves, which, with what we may find among 
the natives further north, will comprise a complete outfit 
for the entire crew. In compliance with written instruc- 
tions from their principals, the Alaska Commercial Com- 
pany, Captain Lugebil and Captain Sandman refused any 
remuneration for what they supplied our vessel, hay for 
the cattle, and several cords of woods for kindling pur- 
poses, and offered anything in their stores. 

We got under way at five o'clock of the afternoon of 
the 24th instant, and steamed out into the bay, the ves- 
sels in the harbor dipping their flags as a parting salute, 
and Wiluchinski smiling his assurance of fair weather. 
Notwithstanding his promise, however, we found the 
usual fog awaiting us at the entrance of the bay ; but as we 
had our bearings and knew our course it made little 
difference other than depriving us of a fine view of the 
mountains we had anticipated enjoying as we steamed up 
the coast. One circumstance annoyed rather than sur- 
prised us ever since leaving San Francisco, and that is the 
remarkable prevalence of head winds. From San Francisco 
to Petropaulovski we had north-west winds most all the 
time, and from Petropaulovski to St. Michael nothing 
but north-easterly winds. But then I suppose it was 
about time it should change. 




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CHAPTEK IV. 

ST. MICHAEL'S. 

U. S. S. Modgers, St. Michael's, Alaska Ter., 

August 10th, 1881. 

It was blowing a gale from nearly the direction of onr 
course, and we were anxiously looking for land when we 
sighted Stnart Island, in Norton Sound, on the afternoon 
of August 3d. We would have seen the island sooner 
had it not been for the mist that hung over the horizon 
to windward, and made the navigation of poorly sur- 
veyed waters, in search of an unfrequented harbor, a dan- 
gerous task. The sea was running very high when we 
came to anchor, at dark, under the shelter of Stuart 
Island, to wait for daylight to aid us. About five o'clock 
the following morning we got under way, and steamed 
slowly on our course in a dismal rain and fog. The lead 
was kept going constantly, the quartermaster calling in 
a dreary, monotonous voice the depth of water found at 
each cast of the lead. Again we were compelled to drop 
anchor on account of shallow water and the concealment 
of the few known landmarks under the mist. About 
eleven o'clock the fog lifted a little, and we could see the 
little settlement of St. Michael's, about seven miles dis- 
tant, and shortly afterward dropped anchor beyond the 
point of land that forms a shelter for the harbor, a few 
antiquated iron guns bellowing forth a salute. Soon a 

45 



46 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

boat was descried putting off from the beach near the 
fort ; and in a little while Mr. Lorenz, agent of the Alaska 
Commercial Company, and Sergeant Leavitt, United 
States signal observer, came on board to welcome ns 
and receive the mail matter we had brought for them 
from San Francisco. 

They informed us that the revenue cutter Thomas 
Corwin had been here twice, and had left for the Arctic on 
the 9th of July, since which time they had not heard from 
her. They also gave the very welcome intelligence that 
last winter had been unprecedentedly mild, and the pres- 
ent was an unusually open season. The whaling fleet 
had been exceedingly successful, and already several 
vessels had returned to the United States with full 
cargoes. The Corwin, before her first visit here, had 
landed a sledge party on the Siberian coast, about Plover 
Bay, they believed, to investigate the rumor that came 
through the natives there that the wreck of a vessel had 
drifted ashore on the northern coast, about the vicinity of 
Koliutchin Bay. In the mean time they had spent five 
days at St. Lawrence Island collecting further informa- 
tion and relics concerning the fatal famine on that island 
during the winter of 1879-80. A large number of skele- 
tons were taken on board the Corwin, to be deposited in 
the Smithsonian Institute. This was the occasion of 
quite an interesting scene on board that' vessel. Mr. 
Nelson, the previous signal observer at St. Michael's, had 
obtained permission to accompany the Corwin in her 
present cruise, and had taken with him, as an interpreter, 
a native of the tribe of Esquimaux whose village is within 
a quarter of a mile of Fort St. Michael's. The Esqui- 
maux are a very superstitious people, as your corre- 
spondent has had occasion to observe in other parts of 



ST. MICHAEL'S. 47 

the Arctic world, and nothing, in their belief, will pro- 
duce such universal misery as to disturb the mortal 
remains of any of their nation who have died. When, 
therefore, this poor savage saw the scientists of the 
Cor win coming on board the vessel with their arms filled 
with the bones of the victims of the famine on St. Law- 
rence Island, he was beside himself with horror, and en- 
deavored to kill himself by plunging a knife into his 
heart. Fortunately his hand was arrested by some by- 
standers before he had inflicted mortal injury upon him- 
self. This, however, did not prevent a second attempt at 
suicide, which he made by jumping into the sea. Again 
he was rescued, and, for the time being, his mind averted 
from felo de se, but it is highly probable that he will 
make another and more successful effort when he returns 
to his former home. Upon returning to the Siberian coast 
to pick up their sledging party, the Corwin learned that 
they had visited the scene of the wreck, and from a care- 
ful inspection it was believed to have belonged to the lost 
whaler Vigilant. Among the debris were portions of a 
forecastle, and several articles within it marked with a 
letter "V." My informants believed there was nothing 
found to indicate the escape of the crew, and the suppo- 
sition was that the ship had been crushed in the ice, and 
all on board had perished. 

The finding of these relics seems to indicate that the 
natives of the northern coast of Siberia are observant, 
and that the wind or currents have, at times at least, a 
tendency to make that coast a depository of wrecks in 
that portion of the Polar Sea ; in which event news would 
soon be obtained of disaster to the expeditionary vessel 
Jeannette. Should, therefore, nothing be heard of her 
through the sea-coast Tchouktchis, there remains a grati- 



48 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

f ying presumption of her safety and probable harborage 
upon Wrangel Land. 

Mr. Lorenz told us that two hundred tons of coal had 
come for us by the St. Paul, and was now on the beach 
near his warehouses ; but as we could not get within about 
three-quarters of a mile of the wharf, and the coal had to 
be towed out in a lighter that could carry but about ten 
tons, we had little prospect of getting away within a week 
or ten days. This delay was exceedingly galling after 
hearing of the open season further north, but every one set 
to work with the determination of hastening our depart- 
ure as much as possible. All hands were called at four 
o'clock in the morning, and work continued daily until 
about eight o'clock. In the meantime, Mr. Lorenz set 
about the task of supplying the deficiency in fur clothing. 
Mr. Grenfield, the agent of the Western Fur Trading 
Company, also furnished what clothing he could spare, 
and to-morrow when we leave this place we will be pretty 
well supplied with the necessary Arctic outfit. 

I went ashore with Mr. Lorenz in his boat with a crew 
of natives, and had a very pleasant visit ; while Mr. Stoney 
and Mr. Hunt, in two of the ship's boats, spent several 
hours in sounding the harbor for a closer anchorage to 
the settlement. They succeeded in finding a channel and 
anchorage in three and a quarter fathoms of water, about 
a quarter of a mile nearer the coal deposit ; but as the har- 
bor is open to the north-east, a heavy blow from that 
direction would produce a sea that would compel us to 
get up steam and move out to deeper water. In fact, 
yesterday afternoon we were treated to a storm from 
that quarter, which at low tide bumped us against the 
soft muddy bottom, and fires were quickly made under 
the boilers j but before steam could be made the sea 



ST. MICHAEL'S. . 49 

abated, and by the time of high water we were again 
floating comfortably, though very close to the bottom. 
Lieutenant Berry, however, ordered the fires under the 
boilers to be banked during the remainder of our stay here, 
so that we can run from danger at a moment' s warning. 

It was indeed a surprise as well as a pleasure to find 
the residence of Mr. Lorenz, within the enclosure, not only 
comfortable but elegant, and to see everywhere evidences 
of the refining influences of female society. Seated in a 
handsomely furnished parlor, I found Mrs. Lorenz, a 
young and pretty woman, who has dared the severity of 
the north, and has passed a winter in a higher latitude 
than any other woman from the temperate zone. She is 
a native of the State of Maine, and came here with her 
husband last year. Her husband is a Russian, from 
Odessa, who has been the agent of the Alaska Com- 
mercial Company here for the past eight years. Last 
year he took a holiday, and went to the United States, 
where he visited a friend in Maine. There it was that he 
lost his heart and found a partner for life. His wife is a 
cultivated and intelligent lady, and a small, but well se- 
lected library gave token of refined taste in literature. 
One would naturally be surprised, here, beyond the limit 
of civilization, to find a house with walls covered with 
Morris paper, and carpet and chairs in keeping with that 
style of decoration, so that I scarcely felt at ease there 
in my coarse sailor garb. The welcome I received was 
cordial, notwithstanding ; and it was not difficult to under- 
stand that visitors from lower latitudes, brimful of later 
news, would be welcome guests. I cannot say that it was 
disagreeable to me, either, to have conversation invaded 
by the merry tones of two canary birds, who poured forth 

their welcome from their gilded cages with a heartiness 
4 



50 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

that was not in the least forced. Pots of flowers in bloom 
filled the windows of the dwelling, and among them were 
roses and camellias, together with other plants, that 
brought me nearer home than I had felt myself to be 
since leaving San Francisco. 

The fort of St. Michael's, as it is called, is an enclosure 
of dwellings and warehouses, the interstices filled with a 
high wooden fence that was originally erected as a pro- 
tection against the assaults of hostile Indians. The fence 
of the present day is, however, maintained rather as a 
shelter against the winds than to guard against sav- 
ages. The neighboring tribes are mild and peaceful, 
unless under the influence of liquor, which they still 
procure at exorbitant prices in exchange for furs and 
whalebone from whaling vessels and traders in violation 
of the existing laws, which are so strict that the agents of 
the American trading companies cannot even bring any 
kinds of liquors, wines or beer here for their own use. 
Mr. Lorenz says that, while he cannot land beer for his 
table or cartridges for breech-loading guns for his own 
use, he can buy liquor or cartridges from the natives 
at any time. He would have to pay heavy prices, how- 
ever. I asked him how this illegal traffic could be carried 
on while a government vessel, sent here to prevent it, 
was constantly cruising in Behring Sea and adjacent wa- 
ters. He replied, that it appeared to him as if the cruisers 
were maintained as much for the purpose of collecting 
scientific specimens for the Smithsonian Institute as for 
anything else. He also says that the quality of liquor 
brought by the whalers and traders was the cheapest and 
vilest stuff that can be procured ; and that in order to 
make it strong enough to gratify the savage palate, after 
it has been watered sufficiently to gratify the cupidity of 



ST. MICHAEL'S. 51 

the poachers, it is doctored with cayenne pepper, tobacco 
juice, and other powerful ingredients, until the wonder is 
that those who drink it are not killed at once. Its ulti- 
mate effect can easily be predicted. 

Several of the buildings within the enclosure are quite 
old, having been erected by the Russians when the post 
was first established, nearly half a century ago. They 
were all built of drift-wood logs, roughly tongued and 
grooved into each other, and calked on the outside and 
inside. The result is an exceedingly strong and comfort- 
able structure, impervious to the wind. Loose dirt is piled 
up around the outside of each building to the height of 
about three feet, and boarded over to protect it from the 
rains. This keeps the wind from entering beneath the 
flooring, and adds greatly to the comfort of the occu- 
pants. Wood alone is used for fuel, and an abundant 
supply for that purpose is found upon the neighboring 
coast, constantly drifted down from the interior of Alaska 
by the currents of the great rivers emptying into Beh- 
ring Sea. Outside of the enclosure is a neat little church 
of the Greek faith, also of logs, and surmounted by a red 
painted cupola and wooden cross. Behind the kitchen is 
a small kitchen-garden, where is raised, without much 
trouble, a goodly supply of radishes, lettuce and turnips, 
the excellent quality of which I can heartily affirm. This 
is the last place in the direction of our wanderings where 
the comforts of a Russian bath can be secured, and 
through the courtesy of the kind-hearted agent all of 
the ship's company who desired it were enabled to enjoy 
the blessed privilege. He gave me a receipt, however, for 
a Russian bath which may prove a real blessing in the far 
north. It is as follows : Take a quantity of stones, and 
erect an oven-like structure, within which make a fire of 



52 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

drift-wood. When thoroughly heated put up a tent over 
the stones, and close all apertures as much as possible. 
Go inside, remove your clothing, and throw water upon 
the stones until steam is generated, which will soon fill 
the tent like a laundry on Monday morning. Continue 
this application until perspiration is induced to the nec- 
essary degree, and finish the process with a sponge and 
tub of water, followed by brisk friction with coarse towels. 
The result will be a blissful feeling, that must be experi- 
enced to be appreciated. This bath is practicable in any 
climate. 

Adjoining Mr.Lorenz's residence is the dwelling occupied 
by Mr. Leavitt, the signal officer, and Mr. Newman, Mr. 
Lorenz's assistant. Their quarters are both commodious 
and comfortable. The life of a signal observer in these 
latitudes is necessarily exceedingly monotonous, but Mr. 
Leavitt has set himself the entertaining and exciting task 
of acquiring the Russian language, under the guidance of 
Mr. Lorenz. The difficulties to be surmounted in this 
undertaking will perhaps furnish him with all the mental 
occupation he desires, and may in a measure compensate 
him for his isolation from the usual comforts of ordinary 
civilization. The rules of the service require him to record 
synchronous observations with all the other signal posts, 
and thus he is compelled to investigate the state of the wind 
and weather at 1:20 a.m. ; an exhilarating duty in an Arctic 
winter, but one he will scarcely be envied. His prede- 
cessor was an indefatigable naturalist, and sent to the 
Smithsonian Institute not only hundreds, but thousands of 
specimens of the flora and fauna of this interesting locality. 

The only other white men at the post are a tall white- 
haired and white mustached Eussian workman, and a 
gray -haired individual, who resides in the Esquimaux 



ST. MICHAEL'S. 55 

village near by, and is the Arctic representative of the 
"squaw man" of the American frontier. Both have 
native wives, and a colony of half-breed children to in- 
herit their poverty. 

I noticed that the natives were apparently both of Es- 
quimaux and Indian extraction. I was greatly pleased 
to see such perfect similarity of features and general 
appearance between the natives of this section and the 
Esquimaux of the Eastern coast of America. I had 
been told that these people were all Indians, and spoke 
an entirely different language from the Cumberland 
Inlet and central tribes, and that even the people from 
a few miles further north could not talk with them. I 
had also heard entirely different names for familiar 
objects in nature, such as the seal, whale, walrus, rein- 
deer, etc., and the examples given as the names used by 
the natives of this coast. My surprise and pleasure may 
be imagined, then, when, after being with these people for 
several days and only communicating with them through 
an interpreter, I asked one of the men if he understood 
the Inuit language, and saw his look of surprise, and heard 
his quick reply " Armelar " (yes). We then opened quite 
a lively conversation, and found less difficulty in under- 
standing and being understood than with many of those 
whom I met in Hudson Bay and the vicinity of King 
William's Land. Some words were identical in both 
sections, and the similarity of all was quite sufficient 
to be readily understood. Since then I have talked with 
many of them who had never heard white men speak 
their language, and I was not surprised when one of the 
interpreters told me one of them had just asked him if I 
was a Kavearamute, that is, an Esquimaux of one of the 
more northerly tribes. 



56 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

Those of the people who lived near the post I found to 
have acquired many habits of civilization, living in rudely 
made houses rather than in tents, and cooking food after 
our own fashion. Indeed, the cook of Mr. Lorenz, the 
agent of the company, was an Esquimaux named Joe, 
who not only was an excellent chef, but quite an artist 
with the pencil. At my request he made a few sketches 
of native life, which he was particularly anxious should 
be given to the world ; and I insert them here. 

Several of the officers accompanied Mr. Lorenz to the 
"Kashine" in the Esquimaux village to see a native 
dance, which was procured by the inducement of a sack 
of flour. The ■" Kashine" is a sort of town-hall for the 
use of the male members of the tribe. It is built almost 
entirely underground, and with a roof covered deeply 
with earth. It is lighted through a skylight in the roof, 
and entered by a passage-way and an opening which can 
only be passed by crawling on hands and knees. It is 
constructed of logs of drift-wood, and the dirt roof sup- 
ported by ingenious interweaving and without columns. 
Mr. Lorenz told me of one he had seen similarly con- 
structed, fifty feet square, and the roof sustained without 
the support of columns. In the centre of the room is a 
deep pit, where in winter a fire is built to heat the build- 
ing, after which it is closed, and the heat retained for an 
entire day. In this building the men live most all the 
time. Here they sleep and eat, and they seldom rest in 
the bosom of their families. They have little of the home 
feeling or parental attachment, and until lately used to 
get rid of surplus babies by wrapping them up and leav- 
ing them on the moors while still living, to become food 
for foxes and wolves. 

When we entered the " Kashine" we saw a few of the 



ST. MICHAEL'S. 



57 



men sitting stretched asleep upon a shelf, about eighteen 
inches wide and four feet high, which extends all around 
the room against the wall. One young man prepared 
himself for the dance, by stripping off all his clothing ex- 
cept his trousers and putting on a pair of reindeer mit- 
tens. Three old men perched upon the shelf, and armed 




THE TRAPPER. 

From an Esquimaux drawing. 

with drums made of thin skin stretched over hoops, 
and beaten with a stick, kept up a rhythmic measure, 
at the same time singing a dismal chant in unison 
and without words. The nearly naked youth leaped 
across the pit in the middle of the room, and com- 
menced a series of gyrations in time to the music, 



58 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

straining his muscles to their fullest tension, and throwing 
himself into attitudes of the chase and battle. Mean- 
while he kept shouting as if wrought to the highest pitch 
of excitement ; but soon paused, as the exertion was too 
great to be continued for any length of time. When 
rested he recommenced, and was shortly joined by 
several children and another young man. The children 
were in full evening costume, that is, had on nothing but 
their mittens. The dance had more of the character of 
Indian performances than any I had ever previously seen 
among the Esquimaux. The entertainment was resumed 
after intervals of rest, and lasted about half an hour, 
when the reward of meal was brought in and portioned 
out to the participants. None of the women joined in 
the dance or mingled their voices with the orchestra, but 
several were interested spectators, a sort of Esquimaux 
wall-flower at the ball. 

The men are good watermen, and use a skin kyack 
similar to that of the eastern Esquimaux, but broader 
and deeper, though not so long. Some are made with two 
and even three holes for rowers, who use a single-bladed 
paddle with great dexterity. They are said to be good 
sea-boats, and able to ride out a very strong gale with- 
out danger to the occupant. 

Several of the officers went upon a hunting excursion 
while here, and shot a large number of ducks, snipe, and 
partridges. Dr. Castillo added largely to his ornithologi- 
cal collection, and Dr. Jones succeeded in securing some 
fine photographic views of people and places. 

The Rodger s received her last load of coal this after- 
noon, and will sail to-night or early to-morrow morning. 
The entire amount of coal here was not taken aboard, be- 
cause, in order to receive it, it would be necessary to 



ST. MICHAEL'S. 



59 



throw overboard the cattle, the dogs, or the deck-load of 
lumber ; but as none of them could well be spared the 
coaling was stopped when the bunkers and deck were 
filled to their utmost capacity. 

Messrs. Lorenz and Leavitt, as well as Mr. Neuman and 
Mr. Grenfield, have done everything possible to make 
our visit an agreeable one, and to provide for our future 
comfort. Our return will be looked forward to as a 
source of pleasure, not only to these good people but to 
ourselves as well. 




PAKUOT-BILL GULLS. 

From an Esquimaux drawing. 



CHAPTER Y. 



IN ST. LAWRENCE BAT. 



On Board U. S. S. fiodgers, 

St. Lawrence Bay, Siberia, 

August 18th, 1881. 

The sail from Plover Bay to this anchorage was about 
the pleasant est and the briefest trip the Rodger s has yet 
made. It was blowing hard when we weighed anchor 
yesterday morning, bnt we felt there was no time to be 
lost if we meant to accomplish anything in the Arctic this 
season. Already we had been delayed most annoyingly, 
and, though the weather bid fair to be boisterous, Captain 
Berry determined to start. As soon as we reached the 
open sea, after leaving Plover Bay, we noticed the fog 
was rising, and soon the mists rolled away from the moun- 
tains along the coast line and revealed a most gloriously 
picturesque country. The snn now broke through the 
clouds, and our good ship bowled along nearly ten knots 
an hour. It was really exhilarating after the tedious 
monotony of fog and rain with head- winds, which had 
been our portion for so many weary days. All the 
officers were on deck most of the day, and a bracing 
air, with a temperature of 42°, made ns pity the poor 
fellows at home who were at the same time trying to cool 
their fevered pulses at Long Branch and Coney Island. 
Before midnight we were so near the entrance of St. Law- 
rence Bay that Captain Berry thought it advisable to heave- 
to and wait for daylight to enter the harbor. 

60 



IN ST. LAWRENCE BAY. 61 

We had expected to meet Captain De Livron and the 
Kussian frigate Strelock at Plover Bay, but found that 
he had waited there for us several days, and left a note 
with one of the natives, saying he would await us at St. 
Lawrence Bay, if he did not find us there already ; our 
unfortunate delay at St. Michael's, caused by the diffi- 
culty experienced in taking on board the necessary coal, 
having led him to believe we had omitted Plover Bay 
from our schedule. Captain De Livron came on board 
soon after our arrival, and gave us some news of so sen- 
sational a nature that, meagre as it is, and coming in so 
roundabout a way, I repeat it with great regret. It is 
a fair sample of the tales which reach the ordinary 
traveller in the Arctic ice-fields. 

Day before yesterday the schooner JR. B. Handy came 
into St. Lawrence Bay, having on board the master of the 
whaler Daniel Webster, which had been wrecked this 
season on the coast near Point Barrow. From him and 
others Captain De Livron had learned that a wreck was 
found by native Tchouktchis, a short distance west of 
Cape Serdze Kamen. The vessel was water-logged, and 
nearly filled with ice. In the forecastle were the bodies 
of four of the crew who had perished, and a figure-head 
of reindeer antlers was recognized as that of the lost 
whaler Vigilant The Esquimaux at Point Barrow had 
given information that this spring they had seen four 
white men travelling along the northern coast of America, 
in the direction of the Mackenzie River, and that they had 
found some huts of snow where they had been living 
during the winter. At these places they had also found 
several dead bodies, and had seen sledge tracks, with the 
tracks of dogs and men travelling along. Capt. De 



62 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

Livron added that lie had been informed that the impres- 
sion prevailed that these poor stragglers were from the 
Jeannette. In the absence of the information npon which 
this impression is based it is impossible to form a conclu- 
sive opinion in the matter, bnt it would seem almost in- 
credible that members of the Jeannette expedition would 
be travelling toward the Mackenzie Elver instead of to- 
ward Behring Strait, where they would be sure to find 
friendly Esquimaux, and meet the whaling fleet as soon 
as the season opened ; while in the other direction they 
were going into the country of notoriously warlike and 
vicious natives, and under the most favorable circumstan- 
ces would encounter untold of hardships in an over- 
land journey to where they could obtain relief, with the 
chances very great against their reaching any settlement 
whatever. It would appear much more probable that this 
party was composed of sailors from one or the other of 
the missing whalers, who might be ignorant of the route 
they were travelling over. Captain Berry will make 
every effort possible to investigate this affair, and I 
trust that I will yet be able to send some authentic infor- 
mation before the summer is ended. 

Captain De Livron and the subordinate officers of his 
vessel have been unremitting in their attention to us, and 
have offered assistance in any possible way, even to the 
extent of towing the Rodger s to Cape Serdze Kamen, for 
the purpose of saving the consumption of our coal; 
so if the sea be smooth to-morrow when we sail we will 
be attached to the Strelock by an eight-inch hawser, 
otherwise that vessel will bear us company on the 
journey. 

The Krauss brothers, the two German scientists who 
came to Siberia this summer for the purpose of making 



IN ST. LAWRENCE BAY. 



G3 



observations in the natural history of this coast, are living 
in a tent on the northern shore of St. Lawrence Bay, and 
will go upon the StrelocTc to-morrow as far as East Cape, 
where they will await the return of the StrelocTc from the 
Arctic Ocean, and go with her to Plover Bay, where they 
will be left to spend the winter months in the pursuit of 
their studies. 

The passage of the Rodger s from St. Michael's to 
Plover Bay was made in rain and fog, and against head 




/-« 



te^ : ' _j$i 



C&zr 



TCHOUKTCHI YOUTH. 



winds ; but on the afternoon of the 14th instant the look- 
out on the top-gallant forecastle heard breakers on the 
port bow, and the ship was immediately put about. Just 
then the fog lifted, and showed the bold, rocky coast of 
Siberia near Cape Tchaplin. Shortly afterward Dominick, 
the colored steward, came on deck, and seeing the vessel 
headed away from the precipitous cliffs that were so close 
to the stern, was somewhat confused, and expressed his 
surprise in the inquiry : " Tell me how we came through 



64 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

that place, Mr. Waring?" But Mr. Waring couldn't 
tell. Though but about forty-five miles from Plover Bay 
we did not reach it until the afternoon of the 16th, owing 
to fogs and head- winds. We found the chart very inac- 
curate, and the soundings particularly erroneous, proba- 
bly indicating a very uneven bottom. We had hopes to 
find here a native Tchouktchi known as " John Cornelius" 
who was represented as a thorough pilot for Behring 
Strait, a good dog-driver and interpreter, who speaks 
English remarkably well. He had already gone to the 
Arctic Ocean with Captain Owen. 

While in Plover Bay I had the pleasure of seeing the 
Tchoucktchis for the first time, and noticed a striking 
dissimilarity between them and the American Esquimaux. 
They are of lighter complexion and much fatter than the 
Esquimaux, and speak the most astonishing lingo I ever 
heard. The Pay Yeoman of the Rodger s had wintered 
at this place, and knew these people very well. I asked 
him to inquire if there were any reindeer in the vicinity, 
and he immediately addressed a native with extraordi- 
nary gesticulation as follows : ' ' Reindeer here, man-come" 
to which came the reply, " No, tah pah ; " and I was told 
by the interpreter that it meant the reindeer were a long 
way off. This is a fair specimen of the jargon used as 
means of communicating with the white visitors. I found 
that some of them knew a little of the Esquimaux lan- 
guage, but not sufficient to aid me in understanding them 
with facility. 

To-morrow morning at six o'clock we expect to get 
away to the Arctic Ocean, to investigate the sensational 
rumors heard here. 



CHAPTER VI. 



WKANGEL ISLAND. 



On Board U. S. S. Bodgers, Wrangel Island, 

Sept. 2nd, 1881. 

It is a great pleasure to be able to date a letter from 
this mysterious and heretofore unknown land. We 
dropped anchor within half a mile of the shore at 10 
o'clock on the night of August 25th, after having landed 
on Herald Island the previous day. Three separate ex- 
peditions have examined the coast line and interior of 
this island for indications of the previous visit of the 
Jeannette, and many specimens of the flora and fauna 
have been collected. Magnetic observations have been 
continued throughout the sixteen days of our stay, and 
the coast line and harbor accurately surveyed. Observa- 
tions have been made of the winds, currents, and tides, 
and the movements of the ice carefully noted, and so 
much of our work has been successfully accomplished. 
Were Wrangel Island a continent, as many have sup- 
posed, and our object a survey of the country, or a north- 
ern sledge journey, we could not desire a better base of 
operations. We are, fortunately, ensconced in a secure 
harbor, the only one on the island ; but the knowledge of 
its existence may prove a great blessing to some whaler 
that has been caught in the pack and carried toward 
these forbidding shores. 

No traces of the Jeannette were found, though the en- 

67 



es ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

tire coast has been skirted by our boats, and no evidence 
of former inhabitants or previous visits of human beings 
were found anywhere, except the record left by Captain 
Hooper about two weeks before. The only animals exist- 
ing upon the island are a few foxes and field mice, if we 
except the occasional visits of Polar bears, three of which 
were killed by our people during our sojourn here. No 
indications that reindeer or musk-oxen have ever been 
upon the island were found, and the probability is that 
they never were here. We have, therefore, failed to con- 
firm the statement of Captain Dallman, who claims to 
have landed upon Wrangel Land where he found vegeta- 
tion plentiful, and saw the tracks of reindeer and musk- 
oxen. The probability is that he landed somewhere else, 
or mistook the footprints of wild fowl and Polar bear for 
the tracks of the animals he named. When we parted 
with the StrelocTc in St. Lawrence Bay we had expected 
to meet again at Cape Serdze Kamen, and to transfer our 
latest mail to the care of Captain De Livron, but we failed 
to see his vessel again, except for a while the following 
morning, near Cape East, where it had gone for the pur- 
pose of landing the Drs. Krauss with their boat and boat- 
men. Our stay in St. Lawrence Bay had been but a short 
one, reaching anchorage on the morning of the 18th of 
August, and sailing the evening of the 19th. It had been 
very foggy all day during the 19th, lifting occasionally 
but settling again, and very unpropitious for departure. 
Everything was ready on board the Rodger s to move out 
at short notice, and the fires were banked all day long. 
The Drs. Krauss came over and spent the evening with us 
until half -past 8 o'clock, when Captain De Livron sent 
word that if the weather continued as at present, the fog 
then lifting, he would be ready to sail in an hour and a 



WRANGEL ISLAND.. 69 

half. In less than an hour the Rodgers was under way, 
and steamed out of the harbor into the billowy sea of 
Behring's Strait. An hour later the StrelocJc got under 
way and soon overtook and passed us, going under half 
steam about eight knots an hour, while we were under 
full steam and making little over four knots. 

The 20th was very stormy and blowing very hard from 
the northwest, so that we could scarely make any head- 
way against it. We could see the Strelock working in 
shore, but finally lost sight of her while beating to 
windward, and saw her no more. The following morning 
was clear and pleasant when we passed the Arctic Circle, 
and soon came in sight of Cape Serdze Kamen ; which we 
could readily recognize from the picture in Captain Hoop- 
er 1 s report of his cruise in the Corwin during the summer 
of 1880. In the early morning, while near the land, a 
skin boat filled with Tchouktchis came along-side for the 
purpose of trading. They had nothing that we wanted, 
and could give us no valuable information, because we 
had no interpreter except two Tchouktchi dog drivers 
whom we brought with us from St. Lawrence Bay, and 
though they could talk fluently enough with the stran- 
gers, we could not understand them. Presently we 
picked up another boat-load of natives, among whom 
was one who could talk sufficiently to impart vague 
information concerning sleds and dogs and two white 
men on the shore not far away, and a steamer that had 
been there, but now was " powk," which means " gone," 
but not indicating whether steaming away or destroyed. 
This, of course, demanded investigation, and they took 
us to a place which seemed to be Koliutchin Island and 
bay, where there is a large Tchouktchi settlement. Lieu- 
tenant Waring, Ensign Hunt, Doctor Jones, and your 



70 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



correspondent went ashore and found a large number 
of dogs which were pointed out and said to belong to 
" steamer with two masts." Finally, they brought out 
a piece of board on which were carved the names of Lieu- 
tenants Herring and Keynolds, and Coxswain Gissler, of 




TCHOUKTCHI WOMAN SEWING. 



the Corwin ; and then it was clear enough that that ves- 
sel had been there earlier in the season and landed her 
dogs, so as no£ to be inconvenienced by having them on 
her deck while cruising during the summer, but holding 
them where they could be reached without much trouble 
should it be decided to spend the winter in the Arctic 
Ocean. 



WR ANGEL ISLAND, 71 

The beach was a difficult one to land upon, owing to 
heavy surf, but there seemed to be a fair harbor between 
the island and the mainland, should we be compelled to 
winter upon that coast ; and the discovery of this fact was 
considered a sufficient recompense for the delay caused 
by the necessity of following up information so vague and 
so incomprehensible as is that which can be gained from 
these people without an interpreter. Dr. Jones gathered 
some specimens of the flora near the beach, and we had an 
opportunity for the first time to see the Tchouktchis in 
their native abodes. 

The village consisted of seven large circular dome-like 
tents of about twenty feet in diameter, made of seal skins 
sewed together and supported by an intricate arrange- 
ment of poles of drift-wood. On the side opposite the 
entrance were arranged three or four sleeping apartments, 
shut off from the main tent and each other by curtains of 
reindeer skins. These were the separate tenements of as 
many families, the savage semblance of flats and an apart- 
ment house. The skin drapery of several of these rooms 
was raised, and upon the beds, which were also of rein- 
deer skins and covered the entire floor of each, sat women 
engaged in household duties, or attending to the wants of 
a colony of dirty half-nude children. The savage odor of 
dirt and blubber seemed to bear me back to Hudson Bay 
and the tents of the Esquimaux ; but I found no similarity 
in the dialect, so that I was unable to converse with these 
people except in the unsatisfactory medium of sign lan- 
guage and the few English words they had acquired by 
association with the whalers. Almost the entire popula- 
lation of the village followed us to the boat, and the ma- 
jority attempted to get into the boat with us, so that our 
efforts to be rid of them may have appeared rude, while 



72 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

necessary, as we intended to sail away without delay. 
Our guests were appeased with a few gifts, and dropped 
astern as we headed our course toward Herald Island. 

I noticed that the custom of tattooing prevailed among 
the Tchoukchi women as with the Esquimaux ; with the 
difference that with these people the girls were tattooed, 
while among the Esquimaux this mark was an indication 
that the young wife had reached that age when she must 
depart from the parental roof and join her husband's fort- 
unes. Another distinction was apparent in the diversity 
of pattern ; the style of adornment for the cheeks seeming 
a matter of individual taste. The decoration of the chin 
was, however, in every instance I noticed, identical with 
that of the Esquimaux females of every tribe. 

To one accustomed to the accurate surveys of southern 
coasts, the irreconcilability of Arctic shores to the chart 
lines is somewhat bewildering, and a discrepancy of from 
forty to sixty miles in the location of Koliutchin Island 
by the various charts made it rather doubtful that we had 
reached that point. Knowing the name to be the native 
one for the position, I appealed to our guide and asked 
him if it was Koliutchin Island. At first he seemed to be 
in doubt, but, after consultation with his friends ashore, 
he came to me and pointing at the island pronounced the 
name. I was then satisfied that he was correct, but his 
mere assent to my question, I felt, amounted to nothing ; 
he would undoubtedly have said " yes" had I asked him 
if it were Staten Island. His volunteered information 
was much more satisfactory ; but, like all these good- 
natured savages, he seemed willing to agree to anything 
suggested to him. We had a fair wind that night and 
next day. Sounding with the deep-sea lead was contin- 
ued at intervals of an hour, finding the depths of water to 



WR ANGEL ISLAND. 73 

correspond generally with those given on the charts. 
Drift-wood was seen occasionally, moving usually with 
the current in a northerly and westerly direction. 

On the 22d the commanding officers and crew were as- 
signed to each boat, and all preparations made so that in 
case of necessity for abandoning the ship it could be ef- 
fected with as little delay and confusion as possible. It was 
very foggy all next day until about seven o'clock, when we 
were called on deck to get our first view of Wrangel Land ; 
but when we saw it, it looked so much like a fog bank that 
considerable discussion was provoked as to whether it was 
the much-desired land or not, but such it proved, and a 
rapid falling of the temperature of the water, a difference 
of seven degrees being recorded within three hours, indi- 
cated the vicinity of ice. A little later it was visible from 
the masthead to the northward and westward, and soon 
after could be seen from the deck. The wind was direct- 
ly from the ice and damp, so that it felt very cold to those 
from the temperate latitudes, though the thermometer 
registered 37° F. Still later what appeared, through the 
many telescopes directed toward it, to be a dismantled 
vessel, housed over and covered with snow, was seen, and 
the steamer was headed toward it, to investigate it. 
Shortly after entering the ice we could see this object 
more distinctly, and found it to be merely a large cake of 
ice covered with mud, but the illusion was well preserved 
until quite near it. All the ice we encountered was ap- 
parently old and rotten, though it had evidently been 
very heavy. Our vessel was then put upon her course, 
but being still in the ice, and darkness having settled upon 
the sea, we lay-to, in order to avoid as much as possible 
coming in contact with the many heavy masses. Even 
in spite of such precautions we received several hearty 



74 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 



thumps that shook the heavy timbers of the Rodger s, but 
did her no injury. 

Early the next morning the weather was clear and cold, 
with Herald Island and Wrangel Island both in plain 
view. At noon we reached Herald Island, and found it 
clear of ice, and attempted to pass to the westward of it. 
We found, however, the sea breaking over a dangerous 
reef that extended about two miles from the island in a 
southwesterly direction by compass. We therefore lay-to 




IIEKALD ISLAND. 



about three miles south of the western extremity of the 
island, and sent a whale-boat ashore to search for any 
evidence of the Jeannette, and to leave a record of our 
visit. There was a heavy sea running at the time, but the 
landing was effected near the western end, where a small 
extent of beach was partially protected by the reef, over 
which the sea was breaking furiously. The boat was in 
charge of Acting-Lieutenant Waring, and was accom- 



WRANGEL ISLAND, 75 

panied by Ensigns Hunt and Stoney, Surgeons Jones and 
Castillo, and your correspondent. A large plank was 
erected near the summit of the western ridge, inscribed 
with the name of the vessel and the date. While this 
duty was being performed some of the party scaled the 
ridge and walked along to the centre and highest point of 
the island, while others were shooting specimens of water- 
fowl or gathering mosses and flowers for classification by 
the scientists. The island was found to be a narrow ridge 
between ^ve and six miles long, and not over a quarter of 
a mile wide at the base. The crest of the western half of 
the island was so narrow that one could straddle it, while 
the eastern portion was lower and more rounded at the 
top. The portion visited by our party was composed of a 
slaty shale, with occasional croppings of granite in the 
hill sides. The ascent was precipitous and very difficult, 
owing to the nature of the soil, and could only be effected 
by crawling on hands and knees and catching hold of 
projections of the shale, which were loose, and threatened 
an avalanche that would carry the venturesome climber to 
the bottom at any moment. The island is not more than 
about six hundred feet high at the highest point, but 
from it, the atmosphere being perfectly clear, we could 
see a long distance. Wrangel Island was in plain view, 
but no land could be seen to the northward of it as far 
as the eye could reach. 

Difficult and dangerous as was the ascent, still more 
critical was the descent, until when near the bottom, where 
the small, loose particles of shale were piled up a great 
height. Down this some of the party came with a run 
which carried them far out upon the beach before the 
gathered momentum was exhausted, while others de- 
scended more safely but not more gracefully by sitting 



76 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

down and sliding to the bottom with a velocity not to be 
exceeded by the runners. Upon the beach was found 
large quantities of drift-wood, and a brisk fire was started 
there by some of the crew. Over the breakers hovered a 
large flock of gulls, some of which were secured, together 
with a few ducks, dorekies, and snipe. After completing 
our task we returned to our boat, which had been hauled 
up on the shore, and as the wind had turned and rolled 
the surf on the beach we had no difficulty in launch- 
ing the boat, which was half filled with water in the 
effort ; the sea was very rough by this time, and nearly 
every wave poured a portion of its water into our little 
craft, which was only kept afloat by constant bailing. 
Our ship steamed toward us, and picked up the thor- 
oughly drenched party about a mile and a half from the 
shore, much to their gratification. We found it would be 
almost impossible to land on the eastern end of the island 
at this time, and the vessel steamed along the coast, keep- 
ing a sharp lookout for cairns. None were to be seen 
with the glasses, although we subsequently learned, from 
a record left on Wrangel Island by the Corwin, that a 
party from that vessel had landed and deposited a record 
there previous to our visit. 

After passing the eastern end of the island the Rodger s 
was headed toward Cape Hawaii on Wrangel Island, and 
at ten o'clock the next morning that point was in plain 
view, with ice packed along the eastern shore and extend- 
ing to the northward as far as we could see. We kept on 
to the south and west, and headed up to the ice pack, 
which we entered at half -past four o'clock, and steamed 
slowly toward the land, which was distant about twelve 
miles. As we drew closer and closer to the land the excite- 
ment on board the Rodgers increased, and when open 



WBANGEL ISLAND. 



77 



leads were found, as at several times was the case, long 
stretches of clear water were encountered, and we moved 
forward at full speed, the keenest pleasure was manifest 
in every member of the expedition. Several times, how- 
ever, the mighty strength of our vessel was felt to be of 
advantage, as we had to force our way through heavy 
loose ice that frequently cut us off from the open water. 
Near the land the water was clear of pack ice, with noth- 
ing but large loose cakes which could easily be avoided, 




I'LACINU RECORDS ON 11EKALD ISLAND. 



and at ten o'clock we dropped anchor in seven fathoms of 
water within between a half and three quarters of a mile of 
the shore. Two boats were lowered at once, and several of 
the officers landed on a low gravelly beach and gave 
three hearty cheers, which were responded to by those on 
board. Two sky-rockets were sent aloft, and when the 



78 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

party returned one of the officers opened his heart and 
cut a Christmas cake in honor of the event. 

When about to send up the sky-rockets Lieutenant 
Waring called for " Liverpool" and "Cockney," our two 
Tchouktchi assistants, and asked them if they knew what 
they were. 

" Yes, mesabe," was the reply, and the match was ap- 
plied as they stood by and closely watched the effect. 
They were very much amused when they saw the prelimi- 
nary fizzing of the fuse ; but when the rush and whirring 
of fire shot out toward the deck, and the little harmless 
missile went roaring into the firmament in a streak of 
flame, their terror and amazement were most amusing to 
behold. With one impulse they grabbed their hair, as if 
to hold it on their heads, and made a most surprising 
backward leap, then stood panting and breathless, gazing 
at the many-colored stars that dropped leisurely down- 
ward after the rocket exploded in the heavens. It was 
quite evident that they knew nothing of " Fourth of 
July." 

At half past six o'clock the following morning a boat 
was sent in to examine a lagoon or bay which had been 
reported by the landing party as existing between the 
shore where they had stood and a higher coast line be- 
yond ; and a fine harbor was thus discovered behind a long, 
low sand spit, with water enough to allow a vessel as large 
and heavily loaded as the Rodger s to swing with the tide 
and ride safely, with firm holding bottom. Upon the re- 
turn of the boat we steamed into our harbor, and at once 
commenced preparations for exploring the land for traces 
of the Jeannette or the missing whalers. 

Three parties were organized, one under Captain Berry, 
to proceed overland to the northern coast, or some moun- 



WRANOEL ISLAND. 79 

tain from which a general view of the land and water 
might be obtained ; another, nnder Acting-Lientenant 
Waring, to skirt the eastern coast in a whale-boat ; while 
Ensign Hunt was sent to the westward to examine the 
coast in that direction. The last parties were provided 
with fifteen days' provisions, and instructed to encircle 
the island if possible ; for we felt pretty certain of its 
insular character since making our observations from 
Herald Island. 

Their instructions included general orders concerning 
a close look out for cairns, and observations of currents 
and tides, as well as the collection of all scientific data 
possible. Captain Berry's party included Dr. Jones, the 
chief surgeon, and four men. These were Frank Melms, 
who had considerable experience in Arctic land journeys, 
having been a member of Lieutenant Schwatka' s expedi- 
tion to King William's Land in 1878, '79, '80 ; Oluff Peter- 
sen and Thomas Loudon, both old man-of-war' s men, trans- 
ferred from the Pensacola three days before we left San 
Francisco. Dominick, the colored steward, also went 
along, under the impression that he was going to the 
North Pole, and inspired with a laudable idea of discover- 
ing what kind of a pole it is that he has heard so much 
about. The vessel was left in charge of Master Charles 
F. Putnam, who was also intrusted with the magnetic ob- 
servations, assisted by Ensign George M. Stoney, to whom 
was assigned the task of surveying the harbor and adja- 
cent coast lines. These officers were especially fitted for 
their duties by similar work performed by them while 
connected with the United States Coast Survey, which 
they merely quitted to join this expedition. 

The whole of Friday and the following day, until half 
past three o'clock, were consumed in fitting out the expe- 



80 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

ditions, and all was bustle and excitement on board the 
Rodger s. Three cheers were given by those remaining 
on board as each boat left the ship's side and started 
npon their separate routes, to experience unknown hard- 
ships and perils in their several undertakings. 

After the expeditions departed there were mustered 
nineteen souls on board, including the two Tchouktchis 
and a Kamtchadal from Petropaulovski, who has become 
quite attached to the service, and wants to go to the 
United States when the Rodger s returns home. The next 
day was Sunday, the 28th of August, and one of the 
most delightful days ever experienced in this land of 
storms. The sun shone brightly, and no wind disturbed 
the surface of the water. Advantage was taken of the 
weather to erect a tent on the adjacent beach for an ob- 
servatory, and the magnetic dip was ascertained by Put- 
nam, while Stoney established a base line of three miles 
for his survey of the coast. This is not all that was 
accomplished, for in the mean time the latitude and lon- 
gitude of the harbor were determined, a photograph was 
made of the ship in her present position, and Hodgson, 
the Pay Yeoman, went up the ice pack in a three-holed 
skin canoe, assisted by " Liverpool" and "Cockney," 
and killed ten walruses. He started to tow four of them 
to the ship, but they proved too heavy, and one after 
another was dropped, until only one remained. In the 
mean time a thick fog settled upon the water, and, fear 
ing the walrus hunters might get lost, Mr. Tracey, the 
carpenter, was sent out with a crew in the dingey to 
look for them, while the fog-horn was kept sounding 
at intervals of five minutes until half -past ten o'clock, 
when they all returned, the walrus in tow making a heavy 
pull for them. A line was made fast to the animal's 



WRANGEL ISLAND, 81 

head, and it taxed the muscle of every one on board, offi- 
cers and men, to hoist it over the bulwarks, even with the 
assistance of ropes and pulleys. It was a medium-sized 
cow- walrus, and weighed about twelve hundred pounds. 
It was a valuable acquisition as dog food, and ' ' Liver- 
pool" and " Cockney" skinned and cut it up with evi- 
dent delight, occasionally regaling themselves with choice 
morsels of what to them was the daintiest of food, the 
raw and bloody meat. The civilized diet of the forecastle 
had begun to lose its attraction, and their stomachs 
craved the gorging of meat which this walrus made possi- 
ble, and their spirits were as cheerful with the prospect 
as their bodies were bloody with the work. The next day 
two more walruses were killed and brought aboard, and 
we had a supply of meat for our fifty dogs to last for 
some time. Our fine weather was about exhausted by 
this time, and the third day after the excursionists left a 
storm set in from the north, and we had an opportunity 
of noting its effect upon the ice. The pack which had 
been to the eastward off Cape Hawaii was seen to be in 
motion, and though the wind was blowing off shore, in a 
few hours the open water that had confronted us was filled 
with a seething mass of loose ice, huge hummocks rubbing 
and grinding together with an ominous sound. The sea 
beat heavily on the outside of the sand spit, behind which 
we were securely sheltered, and we had reason for con- 
gratulation that so much of our work had been done in 
the bright days after entering harbor. 

During our entire stay, which lasted for nineteen days, 
we had no other such opportunity. It was surprising to 
see the ice moving constantly to the westward along the 
shore, when the natural supposition would be that the 
wind would blow it off. Sometimes when we went to bed 
6 



82 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

we would see pack ice filling the sea as far as the eye 
could reach, and the next morning when we went on deck 
would behold a vast expanse of open water, with merely 
here and there a cake of large ice floating on the surface ; 
and quite as often did we find the solid pack on awaken- 
ing where the night before scarcely any was to be seen. 
These rapid changes are most confusing to the mariner, 
and have given rise to the theory often mentioned by the 
whalers who frequent these waters, that the ice sinks and 
rises in obedience to as yet some unknown law of nature. 
As the result of their observations the officers remain- 
ing with the ship found the magnetic dip to be 79° 15', and 
the variation 19° 49'. The directive force of the magnet 
was found to be very weak and at times erratic. 



CHAPTER VII. 

ROUND THE ISLAND. 

On Board IT. S. S. Bodgers, Wrangel Island, 

Sept. 12th, 1881. 

Very little could be done in the matter of observations 
for the next few days, but in the meantime we had the 
excitement of a bear chase to relieve the monotony. 
About six o'clock on Saturday, the 3d of September, we 
were about to sit down to dinner when two white objects 
were seen on the main-land near the shore, which the 
glass showed to be a she-bear and her cub. In a short 
time the dingey was lowered, and two of the officers 
jumped in, armed with rifles, and were rowed ashore 
against a strong gale, so that in the interval the bears had 
gained the advantage of forcing a stern chase upon the 
hunters. When the boat struck the beach all jumped 
ashore and started in pursuit, headed by Mr. Tracey, the 
carpenter, who, though drenched to the skin in effecting a 
landing, abated not his energy in the chase. After going 
several miles with little prospect of coming up with the 
game, all returned to the ship except the carpenter, who 
pointed ahead and shouting " Excelsior !" kept up the 
pursuit. Success attended his efforts, as he deserved, and 
he returned at ten o'clock at night after travelling about 
ten miles and killing both bears. 

At eleven o' clock the same night a voice from the sand- 
spit hailed the ship, and was recognized through the howl- 

83 



84 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

ing of the gale as that of Captain Berry, who had just re- 
turned from his inland journey. He was accompanied by 
one of the men, and said the rest of the party were follow- 
ing more slowly, their feet having suffered from the rough 
ground over which the journey had to be made, and ren- 
dered them unable to keep up. He had come on ahead to 
send a boat to the head of the bay in which the harbor was 
situated, and thus save them about four miles of hard 
walking. The boat started immediately in charge of 
Hodgson, the pay yeoman, who is an old sailor and well 
versed in the management of boats in the Arctic waters. 
In spite of their efforts it was found impossible to make 
much headway against the sea and wind, and they pulled 
to the beach about a mile from the vessel and started to 
find the wayfarers, who needed their assistance so much. 
The search was all the more difficult as a severe snow- 
storm united with the gale to baffle them ; but they re- 
turned at three o'clock in the morning with Dominick and 
Petersen, whom they had found asleep on the main-land 
about five miles from the ship. It was a wild night and 
well for the worn-out travellers that they were found so 
soon, or the storm would probably have caused them 
much suffering before morning. Dominick, the colored 
steward, was quite exhausted when brought on board, 
and in answer to where he had been found said, in a 
dazed way, that he and his companion had lost the sea- 
coast and lay down in the " woods" to sleep. The boat 
party had seen nothing of Dr. Jones, and much anxiety 
was felt for him on board ; the boat was therefore sent 
immediately back, and Mr. Stoney took charge of her. 
After much hard work he succeeded in reaching the head 
of the bay, where he landed and searched the shores of 
the main-land for several miles in each direction, though 



ROUND THE ISLAND, 85 

without success. About ten o'clock in the morning a 
voice was heard from the shore of the main-land, and 
another boat was lowered at once to go to the relief of 
the wanderers. The surgeon was found, and said he had 
not suffered materially from the storm, as Frank Melms 
had stayed by him and arranged a shelter when he found 
he could not reach the vessel that night. He said he had 
profited much by the kind attention of Melms, who was 
not in the least exhausted, and could easily have reached 
the ship the night before, but would not leave him while 
he was able to benefit him by his previous Arctic experi- 
ence. Morrison and Cahill, two of the machinists, were 
immediately sent up the beach to recall Stoney's party, 
who got back to the ship about two o'clock in the after- 
noon, after a laborious night' s work, hungry and tired. 

Captain Berry had reached a point near the northwest- 
ern coast, where, from a mountain 2,500 feet high by 
barometric measurement, he was enabled to see open 
water entirely around the island, except between west 
and south-southwest, where his view was obstructed by a 
high range of mountains, which, however, appeared to 
terminate the land in that direction. He then imagined 
that Waring had passed the northern side, as the distance 
was comparatively short and he had started with a fine 
breeze aiding him, and was now on his way back to the 
ship by way of the western coast. Not wishing to delay 
the vessel, as he felt he might do if he delayed his return 
for further profitless research, he started on his homeward 
trip at once. The interior was found to be entirely devoid 
of animal life, and of other plants than those growing 
near the coast. Two ridges of mountains followed the 
trend of the northern and southern shores, between which 
a rolling country existed traversed by small streams evi- 



86 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

dently fed by the melting snow from the mountains. 
Minerals and specimens of the flora were gathered, and to 
this interesting collection was added a fine mammoth 
tusk, found the first day's march from the ship. A num- 
ber of other mammoth tusks were found in various stages 
of preservation by various members of the expedition and 
those remaining at the harbor. As the Captain and Lou- 
don approached the head of the bay on the night of his 
return, Loudon saw a bear close by over the crest of a 
hillock, and, dropping his bundle, poured volley after 
volley into the carcasses of the animals the carpenter had 
killed but a short time previously, before discovering that 
they were already dead. The Captain checked him in his 
career before he had quite ruined the skins so highly 
prized by the owner. 

Acting Lieutenant H. S. Waring was accompanied on 
his expedition by Doctor J. D. Castillo, and his crew con- 
sisted of Fr. Bruch, coxswain ; Frank Berk, Wm. Grace, 
Julius Huebner, and Owen McCarthy. Of these, Huebner 
had considerable experience in boating in the ice of the 
Arctic seas upon several whaling voyages, and his knowl- 
edge thus acquired proved useful to the commander of 
the expedition. Amid the cheers of those remaining, 
Waring started off toward the east full of hope, and with 
a breeze that sent him swiftly along under reefed main- 
sail. That night he reached Cape Hawaii, when the wind 
died out, and he encamped on the shore ; where all enjoyed 
a good night's rest, and the novelty of the experience of 
tenting on Wrangel Land with the thermometer at 25° 
Fahr. After rounding the cape on the following morning 
he pulled to a small island near the mouth of a creek, 
where were the skeletons of a whale and a walrus. His 
attention was attracted by some pieces of wood sticking 



BOUND THE ISLAND. 87 

up in the sand, evidently by intention, and he then noticed 
footprints leading up to the cliff near by. Following 
them he came upon a flagstaff, from which dropped what 
appeared to be a United States flag, and attached to the 
staff was a bottle containing a copy of the New York Her- 
ald of March 22d, 1881, and documents of which the fol- 
lowing are copies : 

Copy. 

U. S. Revenue Marese, 

U. S. Steamer Corwin, 
Wrangel Land, August 12th, 1881. 

The United States steamer Corwin, Captain C. L. Cooper com- 
manding, visited this land in search of tidings from the United 
States Exploring steamer Jeannette. A cask of provisions will be 
found on the second cliff to the northward. All well on board. 

(No signature). 

U. S. Revenue Marine, 
Revenue Cutter Corwin, 

August 12th f 1881. 

Landed here this date having previously landed at Herald 
Island. A " cairn," with information inclosed, may be found on 
the northeast summit of the island. 

The finder is requested to send the contents of this bottle to the 
New York Herald. J. C. 



He left copies there in place of the originals, which 
were brought away and have been transmitted to the Sec- 
retary of the Navy with Captain Berry's report. At three 
o'clock that afternoon he rounded a point marked by a 
perpendicular column of rock about fifty yards from the 
point and about one hundred feet high. Here heavy pack 
ice was encountered, extending as far to the eastward as 



88 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

lie could see. Near the shore it was somewhat broken 
and permitted his advance through a narrow channel, 
where only short paddles could be used. At a quarter 
past six o'clock the ice drew so close that he was com- 
pelled to haul up on the beach when an opportunity 
afforded, and encamped for the night. The next day the 
ice still held him, and, accompanied by Dr. Castillo, he 
walked to the top of a hill toward the north of his camp, 
and, after a most tedious and trying struggle, reached the 
summit, from which his eyes were rewarded by observing 
the trend of the coast toward the west. This he found to 
be the extreme northeast cape, and no land could be seen 
to the northward. Toward the west the land was low near 
the water and ran out in long, low points, forming deep 
bays which held the ice packed in dense masses to the 
shore. The following morning the weather was clear and 
Herald Island appeared in plain view from the beach, 
bearing northeast by east (magnetic). By nine o'clock 
the ice opened sufficiently to allow him to move slowly by 
the aid of paddles, and after six hours' hard work he suc- 
ceeded in rounding the cape and making about five miles 
to the westward. At five o' clock another effort was made 
to proceed, but, after laboring an hour and a half and nar- 
rowly escaping being crashed by two large masses by 
backing out from between them just as they came to- 
gether with a force that no boat could have withstood, a 
narrow lead let them in to the beach. Within five min- 
utes after they landed not a vestige could be seen of the 
opening by which they had so narrowly escaped. Noth- 
ing but a grinding and crunching sea of ice met the view. 
The day closed with a thick fog and a light wind from the 
northward, which had brought the pack down upon the 
shore. The next day opened thick, with a strong north- 



ROUND THE ISLAND. 89 

erly wind and flurries of snow. The ice continued densely- 
packed against the shore, giving a dubious chance of mov- 
ing unless the wind changed. A reconnoisance was made 
along the beach to the northward and westward, and 
found the condition of the ice the same as at the camp. 
September 1st was a gloomy day, and no movement of the 
ice occurred to indicate their liberation. The ice seemed 
to be a fixture ; the necessity of abandoning the boat and 
making their way back across the land the only prospect. 
A not very cheerful one it must be admitted. Waring 
now determined to wait another day, with the hope of a 
favorable change, and early in the morning sent a party 
to the extremity of the point to the westward, a distance 
of about fifteen miles, from where they could see the land 
trending to the south and west. The next day was spent 
in preparing to abandon the boat, which was conse- 
quently hauled up on the beach above high-water mark, 
turned bottom side up, and everything made snug about 
her, with true sailorly instinct and many deep regrets for 
the misfortune that left this the only course to pursue. 
The boat mast was erected on a neighboring hill, and a 
record deposited indicating the route taken by the retreat- 
ing crew. A dismal snow-storm was falling when, at five 
o'clock on the morning of the 3rd instant, they started 
upon their journey. It was intensely cold and the wind 
blowing in squalls, while the ice was jammed as far as 
they could see. Their course was directed toward the 
eastern coast, where they could find shelter behind the 
hills and drift wood from which to make a fire and cook 
some food on reaching camp at night. The travelling with 
heavy loads upon their backs was intensely disagreeable, 
while to add to their discomfort the snow changed to rain, 
which drenched their clothes and increased the weight of 



90 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

their burdens. Lieutenant Waring feared to allow the 
men to sleep in their wet clothing, and forced the march, 
only resting for a few hours when the night became too 
dark to see their way. The route lay over a series of hills 
that were very fatiguing to men unaccustomed to land 
journeys, but the prospect of reaching the ship the fol- 
lowing day kept them up. As soon as it was sufficiently 
light to see they started again, with sore and stiffened 
limbs and feet torn by the sharp stones that covered the 
ground. At seven A. M. they reached the beach, where a 
rousing fire was started and a hot breakfast prepared, 
which put new life into the weary travellers ; and through 
the snow and rain they plodded until reaching the head 
of the bay, where they were overjoyed to find a boat, 
which had gone there to bring in the skins of Mr. Tracey's 
bears from the adjacent coast, and about four miles of 
walking, which to many had now become most painful, 
was saved them. An hour later we welcomed them aboard 
the ship, and they soon forgot their pains while enjoying 
a hot dinner in comfortable quarters and in relating their 
adventures to interested auditors. 

Almost at the same time that Waring started toward 
the east with a fair wind Ensign H. J. Hunt pulled away 
upon his course to the westward. He was accompanied by 
Passed Assistant Engineer A. Y. Zane, and his crew con- 
sisted of Arthur Lloyd, coxswain ; Jacob Johansen, Frank 
McShane, Joseph Quirk, and Edward O'Leary. It was 
hard pulling against the wind that sped his brother offi- 
cer upon his course, and at nine o'clock, when he en- 
camped for the night, he was not more than about nine 
miles from the harbor. The oars were brought in requisi- 
tion the following day, and progress was not very rapid. 
During the day they saw what looked like a cairn upon 



ROUND THE ISLAND. 91 

the beach, and Hunt landed to examine it. His praise- 
worthy curiosity came near bringing him into trouble, 
however, for he found himself, before he was aware of it, 
within about six feet of a huge polar bear taking a post- 
prandial siesta. As the ponderous brute raised his head 
and turned toward the intruder they gazed at each other 
in a dazed sort of a way for a few minutes, when our 
active young ensign cut short the interview by facing 
about and starting for the boat at a speed he never before 
knew himself to possess, shouting loudly for his rifle. In 
the meantime the bear arose in a dignified and leisurely 
manner, and slowly walked toward the sea, when Hunt 
sent a bullet through him that caused him to turn again 
for the beach, another shot brought him to the ground, 
and a third so disabled him that Johansen ran up and 
gave him the coup de grace with the muzzle of his rifle at 
the animal' s port ear. Hunt then had time to look over 
the race-course where he had made such good time in 
going for his rifle, and says that his steps were about 
seven feet long at the least, and the gravel was scattered 
in every direction. The monster was skinned, and the 
tenderloin, liver, heart, and glands removed to the boat 
to reinforce their larder. The liver they pronounced 
exceedingly palatable ; it formed their chief diet for 
about ten days, and, notwithstanding that it has invari- 
ably been spoken of as poisonous, none of the party 
have as yet experienced any but pleasurable emotions 
from partaking of it. 

The third day out they rounded the southwest point of 
the island, and their course lay somewhat east of north. 
The wind was strong, and earned away their main boom. 
Plenty of ice was encountered the next day, and though 
working hard they only succeeded in making about four 



92 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

miles upon their course by paddling and hauling. Next 
day they could only proceed by towing along shore and 
cutting a way through the ice, and were finally compelled 
to tie up in lee of a large piece of ice, and bail out. They 
had finally, however, accomplished about four miles after 
a hard day' s work. Day after day this labor was repeated 
until they reached the northern point of the island, where 
they encountered a succession of sand-spits running 
toward the north and east beyond the main-land, with 
miles of open water between, which proved to be only 
shallow lagoons, where they constantly grounded, and ex- 
tricated themselves with difficulty. In some instances the 
spits extended between twenty and twenty-five miles from 
the land, and the ice was so closely packed that at last 
they could not force their way through it, and were com- 
pelled to turn back, much to their chagrin. On the 5th 
instant they reached the most northerly point of Wran- 
gel Island, and could distinctly see the Northeast Cape 
bearing to the southward and westward of their position ; 
but the same heavy pack that brought Waring' s party to 
grief baffled the most strenuous efforts put forth by this 
energetic young officer to encompass the island. Often 
while working through the ice he found himself com- 
pelled to follow leads that carried him far out from the 
land, and closing behind him, left no prospect of relief. 
Sometimes midnight found his men still at their oars or 
wading through lagoons, sounding in that way for a chan- 
nel to reach the land or cross the water in the direction 
of their course. The run home, when reluctantly en- 
forced, was made in five days, during which he had an 
opportunity to verify and correct, when necessary, the 
establishment of his positions on the outward course. 
The 10th of September, the day assigned for reporting 



ROUND THE ISLAND. 93 

back, had passed, and the day of grace was drawing to a 
close, when a little whale-boat was seen beating in from 
the sonth and west, and we soon were cheering the re- 
turned explorers as they drew alongside. The resnlt of 
their labor was perfectly satisfactory, as they had reached 
positions within easy view of each other's furthest points ; 
and though no traces were found that we could identify as 
of the Jeannette or the lost whalers, an accurate survey 
had been made of this land, and its character ascertained. 
The necessary scientific data had been collected, and a 
harbor found for the benefit of ice-belayed mariners that 
may prove of inestimable value to them. 

Though no large game was found upon the island, we 
found plenty of water fowl, which found their way to our 
board, among them the most delicious plover to be met 
with anywhere. They were so handy, too, that we kept 
them perfectly fresh all the time by only shooting them 
as needed. The assistant who recorded Mr. Putnam's 
magnetic observations took his gun ashore with him, and 
as some oscillations of the suspended magnet gave a rest 
of five or six minutes, he employed the interval by going 
out to the beach and shooting the plover for next day's 
dinner. So with the ducks. They were young, tender, 
and of fine flavor. JN"o game laws stay the hand of the 
ambitious hunter on Wrangel Land. He can shoot to his 
heart's content. 

Along the sand-spit, near the Rodgers* harbor, as well 
as the entire coast of Wrangel Island, is strewn with drift 
wood, among which may often be found utensils of wood 
made by the natives of the Siberian or American coasts, 
and some are of very ancient date, as is attested by their 
venerable appearance. A number of specimens were 
gathered by members of the expedition as relics. Among 



94 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

them can be recognized portions of vessels and articles of 
civilized manufacture, but whether keeping the sad tale 
of wrecks and human suffering, or merely washed from 
the deck of some passing whaler, it would be difficult to 
tell. Of this nature was a portion of a large spar similar 
in circumference to the topsail yard of the Rodger s, which 
lay upon the shore not far from our harbor. There was 
no mark upon it to reveal its former ownership, and it 
still lies there the silent custodian of its history. 



CHAPTEE VIII. 

IN THE ICE FIELDS. 

On Boakd U. S. S. Rodger s, 
Sept. 25t7i, 1881. 

Since speaking the whaler Coral near Herald Island 
on the 14th instant, we have been chiefly occupied in 
cruising around the ice pack to the north-east and north- 
west of Herald and Wrangel Islands. On our way north- 
ward the day after leaving our mail with Captain Coon 
we again passed his vessel, and saw seven other whalers 
cruising within an area of about ten miles. We also 
had the privilege of seeing three of the CoraVs boats pur- 
sue and capture a whale, and afterward our course took 
us within hailing distance of the ship, when, in response 
to an inquiry if he could spare us a whale-boat to replace 
the one abandoned on Wrangel Island, Captain Coon 
expressed his regret that he was unable so to do, as one 
of his boats had just been " stove" by the whale then 
in tow. He wished us good luck in our work, and, 
filling away, we were soon beyond reach of communica- 
tion. 

That same night we reached the ice and lay-to for day- 
light. But with the sun came a thick fog and snow- 
storm, during which we ran into a pocket in the ice pack, 
and had an opportunity of seeing of what stuff this pack 
consists. It was indeed a very different looking mass 

from that which surrounded Wrangel Island, where it was 

93 



96 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

old, dirty, and rotten, while in the north it was in high 
cakes of solid, clear ice and beantiful in its mantle of 
newly fallen snow. Here were but few small pieces 
through which a strong vessel might force its way. It was 
not difficult to see that it did not require many of these 
large fields to combine and hold a vessel powerless until 
a few degrees lower temperature locked it still faster in 
the pack. We then turned about and threaded our way 
into the open water, which we reached toward evening, 
and "hove-to" until morning. 

The next day we again reached the ice about noon, and 
entered a lead through which we made our way slowly 
until we brought up about six o' clock against an impene- 
trable mass, and Captain Berry descended from the 
" crow's-nest " at the mast-head, where he always takes 
his station while working through the ice. His hair and 
beard were covered with frost, and the entire rigging was 
enveloped in the same feathery material ; making it at once 
a thing of beauty to the beholder, but a subject of misery 
to the poor sailors, who had to handle these ice-clad 
ropes. Scarcely a breath of wind could be felt, and a 
temperature of seven degrees below the freezing point 
was quite favorable under the circumstances for the for- 
mation of new ice. Fortunately the sky was overcast, 
and the temperature fell only one degree lower during the 
night, or our chances of escape when further progress was 
found to be barred would have been materially lessened. 
During the night we tied up to a large piece of field ice, 
about the size of City Hall Park in New York, in a po- 
lynia, or open water hole, to which we had succeeded in 
making our way before it got too dark to continue our 
contest with the ice. By midnight, however, the open 
space was entirely filled by the pressure of the ice from 



IN THE ICE FIELDS. 97 

the southward, and when we started at half past two the 
following morning our exit was only effected by putting 
the bow of the ship between two large cakes of ice and 
starting the engine forward at its full power. After con- 
tinuing this sort of goose step for about an hour we suc- 
ceeded in forcing the cakes sufficiently apart to allow the 
vessel to squeeze herself between them, and a little while 
later she was fortunate enough to reach a lead that 
brought her without further difficulty to the open sea. 
The work of forcing the cakes apart was materially in- 
creased by the new ice that had formed during the night 
to about an inch in thickness and cemented the large 
cakes together. During our progress through the leads 
after entering the pack on the afternoon of the 17th, new 
ice of but about a quarter of an inch in thickness was con- 
stantly met with, and had rather a suggestive appearance, 
though opposing no impediment to our advance. It only 
needed a strong southerly wind during that night to have 
closed the fifteen miles of ice through which we had 
passed, so that our escape before the winter set in would 
have been at least improbable. This would have been a 
matter of serious annoyance, as it would have effectually 
tied our hands against a further prosecution of the 
search for the Jeannette until released, which would not 
be before next summer, if released at all. 

During the 18th and 19th we steamed along the south- 
ern edge of the pack, and examined all openings for a 
lead that would let us advance further toward the north, 
but met the heavy pack ice again, extending far toward 
the south in about 171° 30' west longitude. Up the west- 
ern edge of this pack we steamed until we were headed 
off by the solid ice, and at ten o'clock on the morning of 
the 19th reached our highest latitude, 73° 44' north, which 

7 



98 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

is, so far as known, the highest yet attained in this sea, 
though not a very great advance toward the pole. 

The weather has not been sufficiently clear while in the 
highest latitudes to see land if at a great distance, and so 
far we have been unable to confirm the reports of land 
seen to the northward of Wrangel Island. We have 
steamed right over the so-called "Blevin Mountains" of 
Wrangel Land, and where " extensive land with high 
peaks" is marked on the charts, without impediment. 
We left the northern coast of Wrangel Island, and sailed 
in a northwesterly direction to 73° 28' north latitude, 
and 179° 52' east longitude, and found the water deepen- 
ing as we advanced. At this point we found ourselves in 
a large pocket in the ice, and steamed for ten miles 
through newly -formed mushy ice, which was made in 
spite of a heavy sea that kept it in constant motion. On 
the edges of the ice pack the ice was crunching and 
grinding, and the sound emitted could be heard at a 
great distance. The temperature of the air here was 23° 
Fahr., and we invariably found it several degrees colder 
at the bottom of these deep pockets than in the open 
sea. Large numbers of walruses were seen in the water, 
and sunning themselves on the edges of the larger floe 
pieces. 

Observations with the deep-sea lead, which have been 
made hourly since we entered this sea, seem to indicate 
receding from, rather than approach to, land as we go 
north, as the water continually deepens as we advance, 
until, at our highest point, 73° 44' north latitude, 171° 48' 
west longitude, we found eighty-two fathoms. The char- 
acter of the bottom was very irregular, sometimes hard, 
at others black sand, and in many places blue mud, which 
it was at the deepest sounding. 



IN THE ICE FIELDS. 99 

After cruising along the pack so far without discover- 
ing any traces of sledge parties from the Jeannette, and 
our further progress being cut off, we steamed toward 
Herald Island to anchor there for the purpose of making 
observations upon the current reported to flow in a north- 
westerly direction. Just after the ship's course was 
changed so as to head out of the pocket through which 
we had been advancing toward the north, a large polar 
bear was seen swimming toward the ship, and the bul- 
warks of the vessel at once bristled with riflemen armed to 
resist an attack. The carpenter, already distinguished as 
having slain two polar bears in single combat, opened fire 
and missed, but followed up his first bullet with two 
others which struck the advancing enemy in the head, 
and caused him to beat a hasty retreat. Then commenced 
a running fire from the quarter deck, but though badly 
wounded in four different places the bear kept on swim- 
ming rapidly for the ice, when turning his devoted head 
around to take another look at the ship, a bullet went 
crashing into his brain, and he ceased to move. The ship 
steamed closely alongside, and a rope was fastened to his 
hind leg, and when hoisted on board he was weighed and 
turned the beam at eleven hundred pounds. 

The weather grew thicker as night approached, and a 
strong wind prevailed while we held our course toward 
Herald Island. During the night we passed in view of 
the lights of some of the whalers, who were still holding 
their position near where we had left them when going 
toward the north. As the fog continued we dropped 
anchor in fifteen fathoms of water at half -past two o'clock 
on the afternoon of the 20th. During the following twen- 
ty-four hours the observations of the current were con- 
tinued, which indicate a tidal current setting toward the 



100 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

northwest as the water is deepening, and toward the 
southeast when shoaling, while at high and low water 
there was no current perceptible. The measurements 
were made at the surface, and at a depth of ten fathoms. 

Toward the night of the 21st the fog cleared somewhat 
and we got under way, steaming toward the southward 
and westward, and early next morning found ourselves near 
Captain Hooper' s cairn on Wrangel Island. The weather 
gradually became clearer and we headed for the north 
side of the island, where we were fortunate in finding the 
ice loose enough to admit our approach close to the land, 
and Mr. Waring went ashore with a boat and succeeded 
in recovering the whale-boat and all the articles aban- 
doned on his return to the ship, after being headed off by 
the ice on his previous attempt to circumnavigate the 
island. We then took our course in a northerly direction 
and found considerable open water, with the ice pack 
toward the west. 

The reports of lands seen at a distance in these waters 
should be made with great circumspection, where clouds 
and fog banks are constantly appearing on the horizon 
and are so very deceiving. One clear-headed seaman, 
who has been cruising in these waters for many years in 
command of a whaler, has grown quite sceptical concern- 
ing such reports, and in a recent conversation expressed 
his doubts of the existence of land north of Point Barrow, 
as reported by the master of another whaling bark in the 
year 1875. "It was probably a fog bank," said the vet- 
eran whaler, " reported by the man in the crow's-nest." 

" On the contrary," was the reply, " all hands on board 
at the time saw it." 

" In that case I am sure it was a fog bank, or it would 
not have been seen from the deck. High land might have 



IN THE ICE FIELDS. 101 

been seen from the mast-head a great way off and not 
from the deck." 

"Did you know that there is a dangerous reef ex- 
tending about two miles southwest of Herald Island % " 
the same skipper was asked. 

" Oh, yes," he replied ; " we all know it" (referring to 
the whaling captains) ; " and there is a bad shoal recently 
formed near Point Barrow, where there is only from one 
to two fathoms of water, and would bring a ship up." 

"Well, why don't you report such things," he was 
asked, " so that they can be put on the charts \ " 

"Because no notice would be taken of it if we did. 
They would merely say ' that's only another old whaler's 
yarn.' We all know these things, and that's enough for 
us. If others want to know anything about it let them 
come and find out for themselves. That's our idea of the 
matter, though we are always ready to give the result of 
our experience to any who desire it." 

And there is a good deal of truth in what the old sailor 
said. 





CAMP AT EETEETLAN. 



CHAPTER IX 



EETEETLAN. 



Camp "Hunt," Eeteetlan, N. S., 

November 15, 1881. 

On the 8th of October a small party was landed from 
the Rodger s on the island of Eeteetlan, about twenty-five 
miles west of Cape Serdze Kamen, on the Siberian coast, 
the purpose of which was to form a base of supplies for 
sledge journeys during the winter and spring following, 
and to serve as a haven for any survivors of the Jeannette 
or missing whalers who might have reached the Siberian 
coast during the preceding summer or fall. A severe 
gale, that prevailed for several days previous to the 

103 



EETEETLAN. 103 

arrival of the Rodger s at this point, had caused a surf 
upon the sandy shore of the main-land that prevented the 
landing of the party and stores there, but Captain Berry 
decided to place them upon the island, where a good beach 
and lee-shore made the landing feasible. A great many 
advantages that the main-land presented had therefore to 
be abandoned, such as the constant presence and assist- 
ance of the Tchouktchis and a plentiful supply of fresh 
water, of which the island is almost entirely devoid. 
Thereby we were subjected to the crowding of our quar- 
ters throughout the entire day by such visitors as came 
in boats or sledges, and had no other place in which to 
assemble than the little house, that was small enough 
even for those for whom it was intended. During the 
three days required to land the stores the carpenter had 
erected a house 12 by 16 feet, with a sloping roof, from 8 
to 10 feet high. The walls were double — that is, were 
boarded on the inside as well as the outside, with the in- 
tention of filling in with grass, but there was none on the 
island, and sufiicient could not be secured on the main- 
land, while there were white men to look at and furnish 
the day's amusement for the lazy Tchouktchis. The roof 
was single, and the cracks and joints were covered with 
battens to keep out the rain, but failed to accomplish so 
desirable a purpose. An old piece of canvas that was 
thrown over the roof and battened down was an improve- 
ment, but then it began to get cold and turf was piled on 
the roof to keep out the frost. Instead of frost, however, 
the weather grew milder and the rain fell almost con- 
stantly, so instead of pure rain water we had mud until 
the snow fell, when we were again comfortable. 

The shdre party comprised Master Charles F. Putnam, 
Surgeon \L D. Jones, the writer, and three sailors — 



104 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

Frank Melms, Oluf Petersen, and Constantine Tataren- 
off — the Kamtchadal dog-driver from Petropaulovski, 
whose name had been condensed into " Peter" by his 
mess-mates on board the ship, and indeed few knew he 
had any other name. On one side of the little room, which 
constituted the house, were erected three bunks for the 
men, and on the other side two beds accommodated the 
commander and surgeon, while I constructed an annex 
of pemmican boxes and bread cans with a roof and floor 
of boards, obtained by breaking up boxes containing 
canned goods. " Peter," who could not read English, 
selected a nice board from a pemmican box for the 
door-sill, but it needed not the legend "For Dogs 
Only" to convince me that my apartment was scarcely 
better than a kennel. The roof leaked, of course, but a 
judicious arrangement of India rubber coats made sleep 
possible. The wind whistled through the interstices 
between the boxes, but chinking, and a lining of rein- 
deer skins, ultimately secured the next thing to perfect 
bliss. The lining of reindeer skins was not an original 
idea, but borrowed from the natives, whose winter homes 
are thus contrived. They are not nomadic like the Es- 
quimaux, who are obliged to move from the haunts of 
the reindeer to the sea shore, where they find the walrus 
and the seal ; but have their homes and villages where 
they dwell throughout the year. The Tchouktchis are 
divided into two classes, the reindeer tribes, or "Chow- 
choos," and the walrus hunters, or " Iowans." " Tchoukt- 
chis," or " Chookchees," is a name they do not under- 
stand or recognize, but seems to be the name given by the 
Russians indiscriminately to both classes, and I presume is i 
a corruption of "Chow-choo," derived from the fact that 
the reindeer people who live inland were the first whom 



EETEETLAN. 105 

the Russians encountered when they entered the country. 
The inland and shore people are in constant communication, 
and exchange the reindeer skins and meat for seal and 
walrus blubber and skins, thus rendering the constant 
change of habitation customary with the Esquimaux un- 
necessary. Their houses are large, dome-like tents of 
walrus skins, in summer, and reindeer skins in winter, 
sewn together, and drawn tightly over a wooden frame- 
work. They vary in size from about twelve to forty feet 
in diameter, and are usually about twelve feet high in the 
centre. This tent is called a Yaranger or Tdrat, and 
forms a shelter from the wind and rain. Within it is 
erected the sleeping room or Yoronger, which is square 
or oblong in shape, and made of reindeer skins sewn to- 
gether, and held up by a framework of wood. This is 
perfectly impervious to the wind, and entirely devoid of 
ventilation. An open lamp containing seal oil with moss 
for wick burns there throughout the day, and produces 
a temperature reeking with foul odors, and varying from 
eighty to one hundred and ten degrees, even in the coldest 
weather. Within this apartment the men wear nothing 
but their trousers, and the women nothing at all save a 
narrow breech-cloth of seal skin, which makes them appear 
as if about to engage in the ballet of the " Black Crook," 
were it not that they are usually ill-shapen, and always 
filthy with dirt. It would be impossible, with decency, to 
describe their habits, or explain how their very efforts 
toward cleanliness make them all the more disgusting. 
It requires considerable habitude or terrible experience in 
the open air to find any degree of comfort in such abodes. 
The Augean stables, or the stump-tail cow sheds, appear 
like paradise in comparison. And yet these people are 
often intelligent in appearance, and many of them possess 



106 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

a quiet dignity of bearing that would become a Sena- 
tor. 

They are generally honest, and their vices, such as they 
have, are derived from intercourse with the white race. 
As is usual with savages, the women are the slaves of 
their husbands, and have all the heavy and disagreeable 
work to perform ; the hunting and general out-door exer- 
cise being the manly portion. With all their varied duties 
of a more robust character they find time to sew, and 
many of them evince wonderful skill with the needle and 
great taste in ornamentation. The reindeer skins, which 
are the usual material of their clothing in winter and sum- 
mer, are of a better quality than those of the wild rein- 
deer, which furnish the clothing of the Esquimaux. The 
flesh side of the skin is scraped in the usual manner, and 
is afterward stained with a red clay, found near Serdze 
Kamen, which gives their clothing a more pleasing ap- 
pearance and preserves their cleanliness for a longer 
period. The costume of the men consists of a shirt of 
soft reindeer skin, that from the fawn or doe preferred, 
and is worn with the fur inside. In cold weather a coat 
of heavier skin is worn over this. Both are made to reach 
nearly to the knee, and are the same length in front and 
behind. They are made quite full and the sleeves large, 
except near the wrist. This arrangement of the sleeve 
allows the hand and arm to be withdrawn inside the cloth- 
ing with great facility and rapidity, and there are times 
when speed is felt to be a matter of great concern. Thus, 
in cold weather they warm their hands and perform other 
little offices of personal comfort quite common with un- 
cleanly people, as well as with monkeys. A belt of seal- 
skin or cloth, and as ornamental as the taste or means of 
the owner will admit, is worn to keep the wind from in- 



EETEETLAN. 107 

trading beneath their clothing ; a precaution never used 
by the Esquimaux except in the coldest weather, and then 
only when the wind is blowing. Their coats are without 
hoods, but are cut low and have a piece of long-haired fur 
around the throat, usually of fox, wolf or dog skin. The 
skirts and wrists are also trimmed with the same fur. A 
close-fitting cap is worn when out of doors, tied under the 
chin, and this also is trimmed with heavy fur during the 
winter. I have seen many such caps with fur from six to 
eight inches long surrounding the face, and when of white 
wolf or dog skin it gives the wearers a peculiar and saint- 
like appearance, scarcely consistent with their savage 
nature. When travelling in the coldest weather a large 
coat is sometimes worn over all, and this generally has 
a hood attached, which also is trimmed with heavy fur 
to shield the face from the wind, and to protect this 
from the wet snow a thin over-coat is worn, made of 
reindeer skin without the hair, and tanned as soft as 
chamois. Often, and preferably, their rain-coat is of 
calico or white cotton stuff, procured from the traders, 
and the more brilliant the better. We had one piece of 
six-penny calico, with red and yellow peacocks, whose 
spread tails presented every known color and tint. It 
was not stinted as to size either, for the diameter of the 
tail was only limited by the width of the cloth. This was 
the favorite pattern with the natives, and when one could 
get a coat with two peacock tails on the back and two on 
the breast his happiness was supreme. 

Indeed, I found one of these coats at Mshne Kolymsk, 
more than 2,000 versts from our house on Eeteetlan, and 
could not fail to recognize it. It adorned the person of a 
reindeer chief, and I knew he gave the Iowan from whom 
he obtained it a most fabulous price. In the spring, when 



108 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

they hunt the seal that sleep upon the ice, the Iowans 
prefer an outside coat of white cloth, and in summer they 
wear a waterproof coat made of the thin membrane from 
the intestines of the seal. These are often ornamented 
with little tufts of feathers, and are quite pretty as well 
as useful in protecting their reindeer clothing from the 
rain or surf. The trousers of the men are made to fit 
tight to the leg and extend to the ankle, where there is a 
drawing string to close them tightly over the stockings. 
The inside trousers are of fawn skin and the outside pair 
are made of skin from the leg of the reindeer, except in 
the coldest weather, when sometimes the heavier skin is 
worn while travelling. They are very short in the waist, 
and though there is a drawing-string there also it is a con- 
tinual mystery as well as a run of good luck that they 
are kept up at all. In summer, and when there is open 
water, they wear boots of seal skin, which vary in length 
from half way up the calf of the leg to the crotch. In 
winter the boots are of reindeer legs and shod with the 
large seal skin until the coldest weather, when soles of 
bear or reindeer skin, with the fur on, are substituted. 
These boots are generally short, reaching far enough to 
be held tightly by the drawing-string at the bottom of 
the trousers' leg. Sometimes, however, they are long 
enough to tie just below the knee. In winter also a scarf 
or comforter is worn made of squirrels' tails, and requir- 
ing, I should imagine, the sacrifice of about Ove or six 
hundred animals for each comforter. The dress is, how- 
ever, picturesque and comfortable, and much more agree- 
able to wear and to look at than that of the Esquimaux. 
The dress of the women is very different from that of 
the men. The coat and trousers are in one piece. The 
trousers are very wide and the sleeves almost as wide, while 



EETEETLAK 109 

at the same time long enough to reach beyond the hand 
and greatly interfere with perfect freedom in the use of 
the hands. Consequently, whenever at work anywhere 
else than at home they drop the dress from off the 
shoulders and arms, and thus gain the desired freedom 
for the hands. In cold weather, when travelling, they 
wear an outside coat with a hood, a very cumbersome 
and ungainly but comfortable article of dress. Their 
boots are like the men's longer ones, and meet the 
trousers at the knee, with long stockings of reindeer skin 
inside. Some of the women take great pains with their 
boots and decorate them with intricate needle-work. It 
is the only ornamented part of their costume. Beads 
they are very fond of, but only wear them strung around 
the neck and under one arm. I have seen some belles 
with strings of beads around their necks that must have 
been a load to carry, and though constantly in the way as 
they bend to their work, they rather enjoy the discom- 
fort, as one of the concessions due to the mandates of 
fashion. The beads are also sometimes entwined with 
their hair and draped around their shoulders in a still 
more tantalizing manner, for when caught by any object 
it not only arrests their movement but pulls their hair 
besides. Many of the men wear beads for earrings, and 
such as indulge in this fashion have ears that clearly 
betoken its inconvenience. The lobe of the ear is sliced 
in numerous places, and the later holes have to seek a 
place for themselves higher and higher, and yet they 
cling to these long strings of beads as if they really im- 
proved their personal appearance. Some of the men also 
wear bracelets and armlets of seal skin, and in fact so do 
some of the younger women, and some have in addition a 
band of the same material around the neck and dangling 



110 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

down the breast, while some have this band extended 
around the body; with the women this necklace is of 
use, as to it is attached a small bag of seal skin about the 
size of a quarter of a dollar. Nearly all the men smoke 
and a few chew tobacco ; while, on the contrary, few of 
the women smoke but all chew, and this little bag is used 
to carry the daily chew in when not in the mouth, for 
economy demands that a chew of tobacco shall do its full 
duty. It is only discarded when a hydraulic press would 
fail to extract from it anything like tobacco juice. The 
same system of economy induces the men to mix finely 
chopped shavings of wood or bark with their smoking 
tobacco, and their pipes are the smallest known. Even 
then they fill the bowl with reindeer hair before putting 
in the tobacco, and when lighted they continue to inhale 
the smoke without breathing until the tobacco is ex- 
hausted. In the mean time the face and neck swell, the 
veins are distended, the eyes shed tears, and when human 
nature can stand it no longer they burst into a violent fit 
of coughing and spitting, which lasts for several minutes. 
It is of no use speaking to a man from the moment 
the light is applied to the tobacco until the coughing 
spell is over. While he is enjoying his pipe he can 
attend to nothing else. If you were to tell him that a 
mine beneath his feet was about to explode it would make 
no difference to him — present comfort cannot be sacrificed 
to secure future bliss. I saw one Tchouktchi who used 
snuff. But this blase man of the world had lived near 
the Eussian settlement at Mshne Kolymsk, and indulged 
in other vices, such as the use of a fork in eating walrus 
meat and a spoon made of the horn of the mountain 
sheep to eat blubber and chopped grass. He was alto- 
gether too refined for the society in which he lived. 



EETEETLAN. \\\ 

The house at Eeteetlan was built upon the only beach 
the island presented, and upon the only spot on that 
beach which the natives said was not washed by the 
waves during a violent gale. But before the sea was 
frozen we saw many anxious hours when the water came 
to the very foundation and threatened to undermine us. 
We built a breakwater of stones about two feet from the 
house and felt easier after that, though it was broken by 
the waves in several places and the intervening space be- 
tween it and the house was often filled with water that 
dashed over it. It was not until the sea was finally frozen 
between the island and the main-land, and the waves thus 
stilled, that we felt perfectly secure. That was a happy 
night. Storm after storm had annoyed us, and twice we 
had stood watch by turns at night ; not that danger 
threatened our lives, but our comfort. We needed the 
house to protect us and our stores during the winter, and 
it is hard to turn out in an Arctic storm to save your 
property. A storm was raging that night when the sea 
was sealed, and we had been watching the action of the 
waves as they washed the pudge of soft ice in from the 
sea toward the land. For several days the shore of the 
main-land had been girt with ice, and we could see natives 
walking upon it with snow shoes. The ice extended from 
the land in a point toward a point of the island nearest 
the land. At last the pudge reached this point, and as- 
sisted by a snow-storm that was raging at the time, in a 
few hours closed in the little bays on either side of the 
point. We were seated in the house at the time and were 
made aware of the closing of the sea by the sudden cessa- 
tion of the noise of the waves upon the beach, and going 
out doors were gratified to find our expectations realized. 
Xo more night watches. Our house was safe until spring 



112 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

at any rate. The very next day four natives came over 
to us on snow-shoes, and the day following many came 
on snow-shoes and sledges. Communication with the 
main-land, which had been closed for about two weeks, 
was again opened, and the natives at least were happy if 
we were not. But we were glad to see them, and always 
found it pleasant to have a few around for the sake of 
companionship. We were only annoyed when the house 
was filled so that it would be impossible to move without 
wedging your way through them. And this was the 
usual state of affairs whenever they could reach us. They 
were good-natured, though ; and when Frank wanted room 
to cook dinner we would simply invite them to go home 
and call again when they had leisure. This he called 
" firing them out ;" and when they went it was often only 
to the outside of the building to flatten their noses against 
the window and cut off all the daylight, those who had 
not eligible places at the window being contented with 
the report from those there of the progress of events in- 
side. This was our daily life at Eeteetlan. 

They would bring us walrus tusks and skins to trade, 
and could not understand why we did not want the things 
that were so much sought for by the vessels of commerce 
that came to East Cape and the adjacent coast. Some 
would bring reindeer meat, which was always acceptable; 
some would fetch water from the main-land, or, later in 
the season, ice ; and some brought nothing but eyes to 
gaze all day in admiration or astonishment upon the 
white strangers with hair on their faces. All this we had 
to endure day after day during day-time, and our only 
real enjoyment was during the evening, after dinner, when 
the table was cleared and our commander would string 
his guitar and sing sweet little Spanish love songs or some 



EETEETLAN. 113 

familiar air, when we could join in the chorus. In a small 
party like ours strict man-of-war discipline was not neces- 
sary, and our amusements were often intended for the 
entertainment or instruction of the men rather than for 
our own edification. " Peter," our Kamtchadal dog- 
driver, was taken in hand by Putnam, and got as far 
in the rudiments of an English education as D-O-Gr, 
dog, and C-A-T, cat, while the Doctor and I played 
" Pinafore" with the other two men. Or perhaps be- 
sique or chess engaged the attention of some during 
the evening. Sometimes all games and pursuits were 
abandoned and a general discussion substituted upon 
subjects of interest to us, or matters we knew noth- 
ing about. Our life here, though monotonous, has not 
been as disagreeable as might be supposed. To be sure 
there were disagreeable features connected with it, but 
we knew we did not come here entirely for pleasure. Oc- 
casionally, as a great favor, some native was allowed to 
remain with us over night, and such indulgences were 
highly appreciated. They knew there was a cup of tea 
about half -past nine or ten, with a biscuit and bit of 
cheese, or some sardines, or perhaps a piece of the Doc- 
tor's elegant Christmas cake. These little frivolities of 
the white strangers were highly esteemed by their savage 
guests, and the habits of the foreigners often imitated. 
Thee ame of Christian cultivation, however, was only 
reached by one old reindeer chief, who after dinner leaned 
back in his chair and demanded the Doctor's napkin, the 
napkin that was to last the rest of the voyage. This old 
chief sang for us that evening, accompanying himself 
upon Putnam's guitar. It was a monotonous melody, 
and the words, which were the same throughout and oft 
repeated, were " I— payk— e— com— up," but I never 
8 



114 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

could find out what they meant, or if they meant any- 
thing at all. 

After the snow fell and the ice bridge was formed, the 
natives came to us on sledges, and I had an opportunity 
of examining some vehicles that are a marvel of lightness 
and strength. Only one or two persons ride on a sled at 
a time, and the dogs always go at full speed. These little 
sledges would bound over the rough ice between our camp 
and the shore, and I at firsfc would expect to see them 
dashed to pieces at any moment, but they seemed to be 
made of whale-bone. During the daytime our house is 
often surrounded with sledges of various sizes, and it 
looks as if there was a fair in progress. I have counted 
as many as twenty sleds at one time, with from three to 
fourteen dogs each at the house ; and all the people who 
came with them, besides those who came on foot, feel 
that they have a claim to enter our only apartment and 
be entertained for the day. They would come sometimes 
long before daylight and before we were awake, and wait 
outside in the cold perhaps for hours before admitted. 
They are a patient race of beggars, and if they do not 
get everything they see it is not because they neglected 
to ask for it. 



CHAPTER X. 



LOSS OF THE RODGERS. 



Camp "Hunt," Eeteetlan, N. S., 

December 31, 1881. 

Durixg the latter part of the month of November I paid 
a visit to a neighboring tribe of reindeer Tchouktchis to 
get a supply of meat for our table. Their camp was only 
about forty miles distant, but the days were very short 
and the dogs very lazy, so we had to sleep on the snow 
one night. The next day there was a violent gale accom- 
panied by snow right in our faces, but my guide con- 
ducted the sleds with unerring skill across that waste of 
snow, without a single landmark that I could distinguish, 
right to the tents of the Tchouktchis we were seeking. 
When we first saw the tents, though on a level plain, 
they were not 150 yards distant, so violent was the 
storm. I found their tents exactly like those of the 
Iowans; but it was here that I slept in one of these 
houses for the first time, and I felt as if I would cer- 
tainly be suffocated by the heat and foul air. The 
only way I could secure enough comfort to sleep at all 
was by putting my head outside the front curtain of rein- 
deer skin. My body was sufficiently warm inside the 
yoronger without any other covering. Thus it was we all 
slept, our heads in one tent and our bodies in another. 
This method is subject to one objection, as I have fre- 
quently found. This outside tent, or yardnger, is the 

115 



116 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

shelter for all the dogs, and it is no rare thing to be 
awakened during the night by a sense of nnusual cold 
and find some affectionate dog licking your face or poking 
his cold nose along your breast in his effort to gain admis- 
sion to the interior apartment. I procured a fine young 
reindeer and returned to the coast to find the gale of the 
previous day had broken out the ice between our island 
home and the main-land. I met Putnam at Tay-up-kine, 
the native village on the shore nearest our house. He 
was having his dogs harnessed for a trip to Wankaramen, 
about 150 miles northwest, to deposit provisions to be 
used by our sledging parties in the spring. He had 
crossed the open water to the shore-ice the day before in 
native canoes, and brought his sleds and eighteen dogs 
with him. Petersen accompanied him on this trip, which 
occupied ten days. I waited to see them off and then 
went to the edge of the shore-ice to embark for the 
island, but the young ice and pudge were so thick that 
the heavily laden skin-boat could make no progress. An 
hour and a half s hard work had not advanced us more 
than three times the boat' s length from the shore-ice, and 
we had to return, which took us two hours more. The 
next day we made another attempt, but could only get- 
about 150 yards from the shore-ice by using the skin-boat 
as a bridge from one cake to another, and hauling it over 
to be again launched upon the pudge. So strong was this 
young ice that the boat would not sink into it until nearly 
the whole load was in. Then it did not break, but just gave 
way like thick mush. Again we were compelled to return, 
and I made up my mind to await the freezing over of the 
channel, which I thought would not be long, as the wind 
was on shore, and kept driving the cakes and pudge 
upon the point where the bridge was first formed. The 






LOSS OF THE RODGERS. 117 

next day it was snowing so that we conld not see the 
island, but it looked as if the ice continued to the point ; 
so several of the natives started, with snow-shoes upon 
their feet and snow-canes in their hands, to try the pas- 
sage. These snow-canes were a great novelty to me, 
and are worthy of a description for the ingenuity of 
their construction. They are made of wood, and a little 
longer than an ordinary walking-stick. They are gen- 
erally pointed with a ferule of walrus ivory, and about 
two inches from the point is a hoop about six or eight 
inches in diameter fastened to the cane by radii of seal- 
skin thongs. This hoop and net work of seal-skin thongs 
present a broad surface to the snow, and will sustain 
considerable weight upon soft snow or pudge. The 
natives always wear their snow-shoes and carry their 
snow-canes when hunting seal along the edge of the ice 
or placing their seal nets in the water. It is astonishing 
what treacherous places they can walk upon when thus 
equipped. I have seen them walking in the most 
unconcerned manner upon thin pudge ice which was 
rolling in long continuous swells from the waves, which 
had not yet ceased their motion beneath. Here I may 
state, that I have travelled over ice that had frozen solid, 
and still preserved this undulating surface, though all 
motion had ceased for weeks. It must have been a sud- 
den lowering of the temperature that fixed the ice 
before the water had recovered its level surface. About 
three quarters of an hour after the advance guard had 
started it was announced to me that they had reached 
the island, and that the crossing was all right. So a 
number of natives were going over, and would take me on 
a sledge, as I was not accustomed to travelling in snow- 
shoes. Three sledges started, and about twenty natives 



118 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

followed on foot. The sled I rode upon broke through, 
as soon as it struck the pudge, and I was waist deep in 
water and slush in a moment, but by lying down and 
changing my position by rolling around I kept from 
sinking until they pushed the sledge back that had pre- 
ceded me, and by holding on to it and paddling with 
my feet I managed to reach a cake of ice where most of 
the natives stood. They then put me on another sled, 
and one man followed pushing, when the dogs were 
floundering and could not pull me up on to the next cake. 
In this way, by pulling and pushing from one cake to an- 
other, we managed to reach the island in about an hour 
and a half of as disagreeable travelling as I ever experi- 
enced. The natives, on their snow-shoes, could stand 
with impunity where I sank with the sledge. 

Putnam returned a week afterwards, and had some 
disagreeable experience in a gale of wind and snow while 
crossing Peelkan Bay, which is called Koliutchin Bay 
on the charts. He was obliged to spend the night on the 
ice in that gale, or poorga, by which name such storms 
are known and dreaded in Siberia. It is impossible for 
animals to proceed in the face of such storms, and there is 
nothing to be done but wait until they subside sufficiently 
to admit of advancing. Upon broad plains, such as the 
tundras, or marshes, there is as much danger sometimes 
in halting as in going ahead, for in a very short time the 
snow will envelope the whole party and bury them be- 
neath it. Such storms have at times overtaken the post 
chaises en route from one station to another, and after 
such storms it has been the custom to send out gangs of 
laborers with some one who is well acquainted with the 
surface of the country. He may, perhaps, point to a hil- 
lock, and say, "I never saw that before," and the labor- 



LOSS OF THE RODGERS. 119 

ers are set to work throwing aside the snow, and often 
have they exhumed a stage coach with its horses and 
occupants, perhaps all dead or nearly so. As a general 
rule, however, the natives and residents near the tundras 
know pretty well the indications of the approach of a 
poorga and will not venture to cross until the weather 
is settled. In other places, where coast lines or wood 
country present landmarks that can be depended upon, 
they do not feel the need of so much caution, as the worst 
to be dreaded is, perhaps, the horrible discomforts of such 
a storm. During the poorga on Peelkan Bay, Putnam 
froze his wrist, and Petersen the tips of all his fingers. 
They were but slight frost bites, and, though very sore 
for awhile, are not to be regarded in this climate. Peter- 
sen said he didn't mind freezing the tips of his fingers 
particularly, except that it prevented him from playing 
the piano. I think Putnam rather enjoyed it, as it gave 
the Doctor something to do. 

Within a few days after his return from this trip Put- 
nam started for St. Lawrence Bay to visit the vessel, and 
make arrangements for the spring sledge journey to 
Kishne Kolymsk to ascertain if the Jeannette had been 
heard of anywhere along the coast. When he reached 
the village of Chayootoe, two days' journey from the win- 
ter harbor of the Rodger s, he was startled by the infor- 
mation received from natives, recently from St. Lawrence 
Bay, that the ship had been destroyed by fire, and only a 
small amount of provisions saved. They said that no 
lives had been lost, and that the officers and men were 
living with the natives in their huts and eating rotten 
walrus meat. There seemed no doubt of the fact, though 
the natives could only give the date by the weather, but 
by this means we fixed the fire on December 1st, and it 



120 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

actually occurred only the day before. As he felt certain 
of the accuracy of his information, Putnam returned at 
once to our house for provisions to carry to our ship- 
wrecked comrades, and on the 27th of December started 
again for St. Lawrencce Bay, with four large sledges 
beside his own, and as much bread, coffee, sugar, pemmi- 
can and canned meat as they could carry. He also took 
some reading matter, and about a hundred pounds of 
tobacco and cigarettes, which was about half of what we 
had. On the 3d of January Captain Berry arrived at 
Eeteetlan, and confirmed the sad news of the loss of his 
vessel with nearly all her stores, and ordered me to pro- 
ceed at once to Mshne Kolymsk, and from there to the 
nearest telegraph station in Siberia, to forward to the 
Secretary of the Navy a despatch announcing the loss of 
the vessel, and then to proceed to Washington, through 
Siberia and Europe, with his full written report of the 
disaster. It was a long journey, and one fraught with 
discomfort if not with danger, but under the circumstan- 
ces the only thing to be done. 

It was nearly nine o'clock on the morning of November 
30th when smoke was seen issuing from the fore-hold of 
the Rodger 's, then in winter harbor in St. Lawrence Bay, 
and all the terrors of a fire on shipboard confronted the 
crew of that doomed vessel. Every man on board took 
his post with alacrity, but without confusion, and awaited 
the commands of his superior officer. The hatches were 
battened down, and streams of water were poured into the 
hold from the deck force-pump, manned by the crew, and 
from the steam-pump, worked by the donkey-boiler, 
under which fires were continually kept up to heat the 
ship. When the fore-hold was partially opened to admit 



LOSS OF THE RODGERS. 123 

the streams of water so much smoke escaped that the 
men at the nozzles had to be constantly relieved, and the 
fireman was driven from his post in the donkey-boiler 
room. The door of the donkey-boiler room was then 
closed and a hole made in the deck above the room, and 
thus the fires were kept up. It was some time before the 
main boilers could be used, for the connections had been 
broken to prevent the pipes freezing, but as soon as they 
were made fires were started, and by the time there was 
sufficient steam to be of use the donkey -boiler room had 
to be abandoned on account of the smoke, and the fires 
were hauled from under that boiler. In the meantime 
the Babcock fire extinguishers were discharged through 
auger holes made through the deck, but did not seem to 
affect the fire. The head-light oil and powder were then 
taken on deck, where they could be thrown overboard or 
placed in the boats as might become necessary, and the 
vessel brought stern to the wind to keep the fire from 
spreading aft. Now the smoke began to enter the coal- 
bunkers and main fire-room, and efforts were made to get 
out provisions and skin clothing, which were in the after 
part of the ship, but already so much smoke and car- 
bonic-acid gas had collected in the store-rooms that it 
was impossible for the men to work there. There seemed 
but one resort now, and that was to cut the steam -pipe 
and fill the hold with steam. This seemed for a time to 
subdue the fire, and the hopes of those on board were 
raised with the prospect ; but the hose melted and the 
smoke became so dense in the main boiler-room that it 
was impossible for the firemen to remain longer at their 
posts. All efforts now had to be directed toward saving 
the crew, for it was apparent that the ship was lost be- 
yond hope. Such sails as were still bent were spread, 



124 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

and an effort made to run the vessel ashore, for the bay 
was filled with young ice and pudge, through which it 
was impossible to force a boat, even its own length, from 
the ship, and yet not sufficiently strong to bear the weight 
of a man. It seemed as if fate was against the ill-starred 
vessel, for the wind, which had been blowing strong dur- 
ing the morning, when it increased the danger, now that 
a strong breeze was desirable to force the ship through the 
ice, died out completely and the vessel scarcely moved 
through the water. What motion she had was directed 
by the tide and ice, for she would not mind her helm, and 
drifted into the channel between Lutke Island and a low 
spit running out from the main-land, where she grounded 
in shallow water, and again hopes were entertained that 
something might yet be saved. These hopes, however, 
were of short duration, for the smoke rendered it impos- 
sible to reach the valve that closed the out- board delivery 
from the engine and by which means the hold could be 
filled with water, and thus the fires extinguished while 
the vessel would be held firmly aground. But, with three 
or four heavy bumps, she passed on over the bar into the 
deep water of the outer harbor. While passing the low 
spit which juts out from the main-land, an attempt was 
made to get a line on shore by means of a light skin canoe, 
and after one or two failures, which occasioned the most 
anxious delays, a small line was landed and thus a stouter 
cable hauled on shore and made fast to a piece of drift- 
wood which was frozen into the beach. By this line it 
was attempted to warp the ^.ve boats ashore, but they 
made slow progress, and it became necessary to abandon 
the two rear boats, and their crews were put into the others 
after the line had been cut clear from the vessel. They 
were subsequently hauled ashore by the line and all con- 



LOSS OF THE RODGERS. 125 

nection with the doomed vessel was severed. It was not 
midnight when the last boat left the side of the ship, and 
though but about five hundred yards from the beach it 
was two o'clock of December 1st before they reached the 
shore. Before that, however, they saw the flames break 
out through the fore hatch, and envelope the entire ship, 
and as if the deserted vessel was making one last despair- 
ing appeal for assistance, a sky-rocket went whizzing into 
the firmament from amidst the flames, and two rifles, or 
shot guns, which it had been impossible to save from the 
steerage, discharged their volleys over the grave of the 
Rodger s. Presently the wind changed its direction to the 
southeast and drove the vessel back directly for the beach, 
to the most intense gratification of the ship- wrecked crew; 
but, to their utter chagrin, her course was again changed 
by the ice and she passed into the channel well up into 
the harbor, where she was last seen on the morning of 
December 2d, still burning, and where she subsequently 
sank. All were too much fatigued to attempt the con- 
struction of a shelter, but slept in the open air. The fol- 
lowing morning, the wind having shifted during the night 
to the northward, the ice was seen to have left the shore, 
and the boats were launched and headed for the native 
village of Nunamo, near the cape of that name, but the 
ice again closing in, they were forced to return and again 
haul the boats ashore. Another night was passed here in 
a violent snow-storm, with no other shelter than could be 
provided by the boats with their sails and canvas. It 
happened that two native Tchouktchis were on board the 
vessel at the time of the disaster and landed with the 
crew. As soon as they reached the land they set out for 
their homes, and, on the morning of December 2d, re- 
turned to the ship- wrecked party with other natives and 



126 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



all the sleds of the village. A most cordial invitation was 
extended to Captain Berry to bring his people to their 
village, and live with them nntil relief should arrive from 
the United States. No offer of assistance could have been 
more well meant or timely, and Captain Berry very grate- 
fully accepted the hospitality of these generous savages, 
leaving Ensign H. J. Hunt with a party in charge of the 
boats and stores until a few days later, when sufficient 
open water appeared to permit their removal also to the 

village. Other villages soon re- 
quested permission to be of as- 
sistance, and asked for their 
quota of men to take care of, 
and soon the crew were scattered 
throughout all the villages that 
surround the bay. Both the dogs 
on board the Rodgers perished 
with the vessel, one of them a 
queer little animal nick-named 
" One-eyed Riley," who had 
been a great pet with the sailors. 
The grief of the natives when 
they saw the ship burning, and 
knew the condition of the ice, was 
no doubt genuine. The old chief of the village which was 
the first to offer shelter to the people of the Rodgers wrung 
his hands and cried, ' ' Ship cook ' em, no good. Too many 
men cook 'em, no go shore." Almost all the men near 
East Cape speak a little English, and some quite well. 
One man whom I met on board the steam whale-ship 
Belvidere, a Tchouktchi from Plover Bay, talks English 
as well as if he had been born in the United States and 
lived there all his life. He had been for fourteen years 




" ONE-EYED FwILEY. 



LOSS OF THE RODGERS. 127 

before the mast on American ships, and thus had visited 
nearly every known land. I have no doubt he has the 
reputation at home of being a big liar, because he tells 
the truth about the white men's country and about 
animals that look like little men and have feet like hands 
and long tails. The natives who visit us at our house on 
Eeteetlan are never tired of listening to anecdotes about 
monkeys and parrots, the birds that talk, and I had to 
translate the parrot language into Tchouktchi for their 
benefit. This gave more force to the anecdotes, though 
it made it all the more difficult for the narrator, with only 
a limited knowledge of the language at his command. 

An incident transpired about this time at St. Lawrence 
Bay that tends to show that in some instances the bread 
that is cast upon the waters will return even before the 
many days are up. Shortly after the ship entered the 
harbor, an old Tchouktchi, named Owingeleen, was out 
in his canoe hunting walrus when he was caught by a gale 
and detained on Lutke Island for a week. There were with 
him at the time a number of men, women and children, 
and they could neither reach the land nor the ship. 
They had no food, and Captain Berry, when he noticed 
their desperate condition and saw them running up and 
down the beach looking for the disgusting little kelp-fish 
to stay their hungry stomachs, felt a sympathy for them, 
and slacked a boat ashore to the edge of the surf, where 
he threw overboard a keg containing bread, molasses, and 
canned meat, which washed ashore and was picked up by 
the natives. Two days afterward the storm abated some- 
what, and the old man came aboard to return thanks for 
the timely gift, and when the bay froze over he would 
bring some reindeer meat. The incident was forgotten 
until after the ship was burnt, when the old man made his 



128 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

appearance with reindeer meat and tallow, and said the 
white men had been good to him. ' ' Now cook ' em ship, ' ■ 
he wanted to do something, and took two men to his own 
house, while recommending the others to the kind offices 
of his people. 



CHAPTER XL 



PROSPECTS OF RELIEF. 



Camp Hunt, Eeteetlan, N. S., 
Jan. 1st, 1882. 

Captain" Berry is at a loss to account for the origin of 
the fire, as the place where it first made its appearance 
was stored with materials that are not considered subject 
to spontaneous combustion. He thinks that it may have 
occurred from the charring of the deck underneath the 
donkey boiler. The steam pipes for heating the ship all 
pass between decks except the waste pipe, which returns 
through the hold, but before reaching that the steam has 
made the round of the ship and is comparatively cool. 
The men lost everything except what they had with them 
at the time when the fire broke out, as the smoke filled 
the forecastle almost immediately, and when they had 
once left it they were unable to return. The officers lost 
nearly all their clothing, and indeed such of their ward- 
robe as was saved and not required for immediate use 
was distributed among the men who most needed it. 
Captain Berry says that all behaved in the most exem- 
plary manner, but has mentioned to the Secretary of the 
Navy, Master-at-Arms Wm. F. Morgan as especially de- 
serving of credit for his conspicuous gallantry and deter- 
mination in maintaining his position at the nozzle of the 
hose in the smoking hold, until dragged out by the rope 
around his waist more dead than alive. Several times 

129 



130 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

this was repeated, until the Captain forbade his re-enter- 
ing the hold. This order, however, was unnecessary, for 
already he was stretched upon the deck, nearly suffo- 
cated, and it was more than two weeks before he had 
recovered his strength so as to be able to walk around 
unassisted. 

Captain Berry expects to be able to engage one of the 
vessels of the whaling fleet among the first to enter Beh- 
ring Strait this spring, to take him to St. Michael's in 
Alaska, where he will await the arrival of the Alaska 
Commercial Company's steamer St Paul, and engage 
passage for his people upon her to San Francisco, should 
no vessel be sent to his relief from the Pacific fleet. He 
also recommends that any vessel that may be sent to his 
relief shall bring some presents as rewards for the kind 
savages who have taken him, with his officers and men, 
into their houses and fed them through the entire winter. 
It matters not that their homes are a trifle worse than the 
meanest shanties in civilized communities, they are their 
only homes and the welcome was genuine and well meant. 
Should the gifts come before the party leaves Behring 
Strait the Captain can see that the presents reach the in- 
dividuals most deserving. It would cost but a trifle to 
reward them handsomely. What they want is ship's 
bread, molasses, tea, sugar, Henry rifles, and cartridges, 
powder, bullets, lead, caps, shot, knives, axes, saws, and 
carpenter's tools in general, needles, thimbles, calico, 
beads, tobacco, pipes, match-rope, matches, pots, kettles, 
pans, tin cups, chopping-knives, and under-clothing. It 
would not cost -Qye thousand dollars to make them the 
happiest savages on the eastern continent, and teach them 
that it is nothing lost to care for white people who need 
assistance. There is no doubt but that the Russian Gov- 



PROSPECTS OF RELIEF. 131 

eminent will decorate with gold medals those who have 
been most conspicuous in kindness to our people, but, at 
the same time, it would not be out of place for some recog- 
nition to come from the people most interested in those 
who have received the benefit. It may not seem like 
much of a gift to feed a hungry man on rotten walrus 
meat, but there are sometimes occasions in the life of a 
sailor when even a meal of so disgusting a character as that 
may prove a great blessing. I remember, before leaving 
the ship for this island, that I was occasionally tempted, 
when passing a quarter of beef that hung in the rigging, 
to cut off a slice of the cold raw meat and eat it. One 
of my comrades among the officers bantered me about it 
one day and asked if I did not do it to " show off." He 
could not realize that anyone could like raw meat. I told 
him that he might be thankful if, before he got home 
again, he would not be glad to get anything as good as 
that to eat. Since the loss of the ship his only food 
has been the rotten walrus meat of the natives, and 
he has sent me word here that he remembers what I 
said, and that he has seen the day alluded to. There is 
another officer, who had been brought up in Paris and 
accustomed to the indulgence of a taste educated in that 
city of supreme cookery, whose stomach revolted at the 
idea of raw meat, and yet he knew how efficacious it is 
considered in averting scurvy. He often in the ward- 
room announced his intention during the winter of forc- 
ing himself to eat a certain quantity of raw meat as an 
anti-scorbutic, and said he intended to select the best por^ 
tions of reindeer meat and make it into pills, which he 
would throw down his throat and compel himself to swal- 
low. Poor fellow, he is faring worse than that now, and 
has no chance or desire to make pills of his food. It is 



132 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

no trifling matter in his case, either, for it was a long time 
before he conld bring himself to eat this food at all, and 
only then when he was actually starved into it. He has 
grown thin and weak, and Captain Berry has felt great 
anxiety for him. Most of the officers and men submitted 
as gracefully as possible to the force of circumstances, 
and are in good health and spirits. The want of tobacco 
is keenly felt by those accustomed to its use, and the 
lack of a sufficient supply of skin clothing has made it 
necessary for some to confine themselves to the houses 
more than is healthful. Captain Berry has, however, 
succeeded in securing nearly enough to clothe all his peo- 
ple, and on his return to St. Lawrence Bay will take an 
additional supply from this station. 

There was another officer with a dainty appetite, who 
had grown stout on good things, and often at the mess 
table in the ward room of the Rodger s would send his 
untasted food out to be given to "the poor," who would 
gladly number himself with that host now. He has lost 
a great deal of that graceful rotundity of person that pre- 
viously distinguished him, for it was a long time before 
he could eat what was set before him. But youth, a 
cheerful disposition and sound health have come to 
his relief and given him an appetite that does more 
than spice to make his food palatable to him. It will 
require a long season, however, at the restaurants of 
San Francisco before the clothes he left there will fit 
him. 

The following letter from one of the officers on the ship 
at the time of the disaster, which was written to the chief 
surgeon, who is with the party at this island, and which 
was not intended for publication, gives a graphic account 
of the condition of affairs there. 



PROSPECTS OF RELIEF. 133 

North Head, December 24th, 1881. 

My Dear Doctor : 

To be in the fashion, I will begin by wishing you all a Merry 
Christmas and a Happy New Year. As the Captain will give you 
a full detail of the disaster, I'll merely confine myself to a bird's- 
eye view of the affair, and our present pitiable condition. The 
fire was in the fore-hold, and, in spite of all our efforts to extin- 
guish it, kept gaining upon us until two p.m., when we had to 
abandon the ship. All hands were hard at work all day. I my- 
self kept passing buckets of water for a good long while, and then 
turned to, and, with Stoney and two men, removed all the coal-oil 
from the sail room, which, being in the immediate vicinity of the 
fire, got very hot, and consequently little fitted for so dangerous a 
substance as coal-oil. The dispensary was thick with smoke all day, 
and when the fire alarm was given I opened it and threw all the 
whiskey and alcohol overboard. I was kept pretty busy all day 
between the fire and the sick. We had several accidents, all of 
which were cases of asphyxia. Morgan, especially, was very ill, 
and has not quite recovered yet. When he was taken out of the 
fore-hold he presented all the signs of asphyxia, the breathing 
being very difficult. We had to employ Sylvester's method for 
artificial respiration, which proved very successful indeed. Among 
the other patients were Stoney, Grace and Loudon. The ward- 
room was full of smoke all day and also of carbonic-acid gas, gen- 
erated by the burning coal, and the result was fifteen men suffer- 
ing with acute cephalalgy. All that could be done to save the 
ship, and all that ingenuity could suggest, was tried, but all to no 
purpose. Everybody was cool and attended faithfully to his share 
of the work. No provisions or clothing could be got at, and we 
lost most of our things. I, for my part, only saved two suits of 
under-clothing, a pair of trousers, and four plugs of tobacco, for I 
had no time to attend to my own things, busy as I was with my 
patients and trying to see them safely stowed in their respective 
boats. In consequence of this I could save nothing belonging 



134 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

to the medical department except the journal and the atmospheric 
reports up to date. Orders had also been issued that the boats 
were to be loaded only with whatever provisions and trade articles 
we could find about the deck. I hated to see all the instruments 
and the microscope go, but it could not be helped. The ice was 
very thick around the ship and had we not succeeded in getting 
a line ashore with the skin boat some lives might have been lost, 
for we could not make any headway and the flames were spreading 
aft, and if we had attempted to reach the beach over the ice we 
would have broken through and would have been immediately 
frozen, for we had to spend the night ashore shivering with cold 
and harassed by hunger, as we had had nothing to eat all day. The 
subsequent day we made an attempt to reach the village of North 
Head, about five miles up the coast, but a southerly wind sprang 
up and choked the bay with ice, so that our boats were utterly 
helpless. "We landed again and built a tent with the boats and 
their sails, where we spent an uncomfortable night, especially 
the Captain and I, for we were right under a part of the canvas 
which, weighed down by the falling snow, formed a percolater 
through which the water kept constantly dropping upon us. The 
next morning after that uncomfortable night the natives came 
down with their sledges to take us to their village. I had the sick 
comfortably fixed, keeping Morgan on the sleigh I was attached to. 
To give you an idea of our weakness I need only say that it took us 
nearly eight hours to reach the village, distant only about four and 
a half miles. This is not surprising if you take into consideration 
that we had had scarcely any food and no water for two days. 
Hunt and his boat's crew were left on the beach to take care of the 
things that could not be taken on the sleighs. Three days later 
we all returned to the beach to bring the boats around. A harder 
and colder work I never undertook, and my right foot was pretty 
badly frost-bitten. I at first went to the house of a reckless native 
called "Sam," and for the first week had nothing but rotten 
walrus. On inquiry I found that the grub was better in the other 
houses, so I unceremoniously moved into the Captain's house, 



PROSPECTS OF RELIEF. 135 

where the grub is a little better and seldom rotten. But pour 
comhle de malheur, our host is suffering from a disease which, 
though latent now, may break out at any time, as it did last 
winter, according to his own account, and make it still more 
unpleasant for us in such confined quarters. Life here is of 
course very monotonous, and twenty out of the twenty-four 
hours we spend upon our backs. We all crave for something to 
do, and especially for something to eat. For my part, I am always 
hungry. I spend the day craving for something or other, and 
several times I have dreamed that I was in a good restaurant 
enjoying a good dinner, when I would be suddenly awakened by 
our hostess to feast on seal or walrus meat. We saved two half 
barrels of beans, two tins of coffee, two half barrels of sugar and 
five of flour, and now and then we indulge in the luxury of a plate 
of bean soup. To-morrow, in order to celebrate Christmas with 
proper dignity, we are to have some bean soup besides a cup of 
coffee. Just think of it ! I am impatient for the day to arrive. 
I have no Christmas presents to send to any of you, but I want 
one from each. From you I want a four-ounce bottle of molasses ; 
from u Put " a buttered biscuit (half an inch of butter on each 
half of the biscuit), and from Gilder, two pounds of smoking 
tobacco, for I don't know what I should do if I were to be without 
it. Smoking helps to kill the time so much. Remind the Captain to 
bring down some Tobasco sauce, and some salt and pepper. It is 
useless to describe the horrible life we are living here, for you 
will all have a taste of it in April when you come down to 
meet the whaler. 

My best love to all. Your sincere 

C. 

The winter has been, so far, an exceedingly mild one, 
but whether unusually so for this coast I have at present 
no data for ascertaining. The lowest temperature re- 
corded up to date, January 7th, was on the 18th and 19th 
of December, when the thermometer recorded — 35° F. 



136 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

December 29th it rose to 13°F., with a wind from the east 
and sonth to southwest. The natives say it is always 
milder at this part of the coast than even a few miles to 
the east or west, and it was not difficult to recognize a 
considerably lower temperature upon the main-land close 
by than upon the island, though we had no opportunity 
of making a test with the thermometer. A very faithful 
record of the temperature and condition .of the atmos- 
phere has been kept by Frank Melms, one of the party 
at this island, which will prove very interesting as a por- 
tion of the meteorological history of the Arctic. 

The position of the island was established by numerous 
observations of the stars before the weather became too 
cold to use the necessary instruments, and ascertained to 
be 67° 03' north latitude and 172° 45' west longitude. 
Among the natives I found two of Lieutenant Hovgaard' s 
visiting cards, on which he had written the date and posi- 
tion of the Vega when frozen in, October, 1878, and gave 
the position, as ascertained by observations with an ice 
horizon, as 67° 05' north latitude and 173° 15' west longi- 
tude. The position of the Vega during that winter was 
often pointed out to me by the natives, and agrees most 
satisfactorily with our observations, for I should estimate 
her location as about eighteen miles west of Eeteetlan and 
a little further off shore. 



CHAPTER XII. 



THE FATE OF PUTNAM. 



Another disaster which befell the crew of the Rodger s 
happened after my departure, and was related to me 
by Captain Berry at Yakontsk. When the vessel went 
into winter quarters it was the intention of Lieuten- 
ant Berry to build a small house on shore immedi- 
ately, and transfer thither a large part of his stores. 
The weather continued so unfavorable, however, that he 
had been unable to land material, otherwise there would 
have been an ample supply of provisions on the beach. 
Ten days before the fire Mr. Hunt started, with a team of 
nine dogs, up the coast, with the intention of visiting the 
officers at the Wood House on Eeteetlan Island, which was 
about one hundred and fifty miles distant, but owing to 
the severe storms he was compelled to turn back, arriving 
at St. Lawrence Bay two days before the fire. The next 
day Hunt went aboard the ship, leaving his team on the 
beach, and these were the only dogs saved, some having 
died and some being lost with the ship. Their condition 
would not have been quite so deplorable if plenty of dogs 
had been saved. During that first night on shore they 
tried to get the rest and sleep so much needed, but the 
temperature was so low that occasionally they were 
obliged to get up and run to keep up the circulation. At 
first it was undecided whether to try and reach St. 

Michael's in the boats, go to Eeteetlan or remain with 

137 



138 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

the natives at North Head. On consideration it was 
seen that the journey to St. Michael's was impossible, for 
the distance is nearly four hundred miles, and the ice 
would render their boats useless. The Wood House was 
also out of the question, because provisions for only six 
men had been left there, and thirty extra men would 
soon consume them, and leave all in a worse predicament. 
Besides, they had no way of conveyance, and would have 
to walk the distance — about one hundred and fifty miles 
— a very fatiguing journey when the snow is upon the 
ground. They did not know whether or not the natives 
would prove friendly, having had but little communica- 
tion with them since their arrival in the bay. 

It was decided to cast their lot with the natives, and 
next morning the boats were launched (the ice having 
blown a short distance from shore during the night) and 
headed for the village at North Head. The ice soon 
closed in, compelling Lieutenant Berry to haul the boats 
up on the beach ; and a camp was formed with upturned 
boats, sails and tents, and all made themselves as comfort- 
able as possible during the violent snowstorm which had 
set in. Half a pound of pemmican each and some bread 
was served out for the day's fare. Some natives came to 
the camp in sledges and invited the shipwrecked people 
to their village. The offer was gratefully accepted, and 
when the storm abated each crew (the ship's company 
was divided into boat's crews, with an officer in charge of 
each) made its way as best it could to the village, about 
seven miles distant, where they arrived after a hard day's 
tramp through snow from two to three feet deep. One 
boat's crew was left in charge of the provisions and 
boats at the camp. This trip was the most fatiguing of 
any attempted during the winter, the men being insuffi- 



THE FATE OF PUTNAM. 139 

ciently clothed and rendered unfit for travel by their 
recent exertions at the fire. 

When the village was reached the crew was divided, 
two men being assigned to each house or hut ; and here 
they got their first introduction to walrus and blubber. 
In four or five days the storm ceased, and a party was 
sent down for the boats and provisions. The ice had been 
broken up and driven off shore, so the boats were 
launched and stowed and sailed round to North Head. 
It was intensely cold, making the trip anything but 
agreeable. The boats were hauled up for the winter. 
The first thing was to trade. Lieutenant Berry at once 
began to trade with the natives for clothing, and he soon 
had the men comfortably clad. The provisions saved 
from the ship were kept in reserve, every one being com- 
pelled to live on the native food. In three days the sup- 
ply of meat in the village began to run short, and it 
became evident to Lieutenant Berry that his crew would 
have to be divided. Natives from other villages had 
kindly invited some to come and spend the winter with 
them, so the crew was divided into three parties. Mr. 
Zane was placed in charge of one party, and went to the 
village at South Head ; Mr. Hunt, with his party, took 
up his abode in a settlement a short distance up the bay ; 
Mr. Waring and Mr. Stoney remained with the rest at 
North Head. 

As soon as we who were left on the Island had become 
established, Mr. Putnam set up a tide gauge and took a 
series of observations to definitely determine the position 
of the island, which was found to be, as I said, 172° 
45' E. L. and latitude 67° 3' north. He was on his way 
down the coast with the intention of visiting the ship to 
report progress when he heard at Inchuan, twenty-five 



140 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

miles west of East Cape, of the burning of the ship. He 
immediately started back for the Wood House, hired four 
natives and all the teams he could, loaded the sleds with 
provisions and started for St. Lawrence Bay. On all the 
sleds were stowed five boxes of bread, about one thousand 
pounds of pemmican and a few small stores. In the 
meantime Lieutenant Berry turned over the command of 
everything at the bay to Master Waring, and, in company 
with one native, had started for the Wood House, taking 
the one surviving team of dogs. At Inchuan he met Mr. 
Putnam, and gave him orders to continue his trip and to 
bring Mr. Hunt and Mr. Zane back with him. Early in 
January Mr. Putnam and his three natives arrived at 
their destination. He remained several days after de- 
livering the provisions to allow his dogs to recuperate. 

On January 10, the weather being fine, they left the 
North Head for the Wood House, Mr. Putnam driving 
his own team and Mr. Hunt riding on the sled with him, 
Dr. Castillo riding with Ehr Ehren — the principal native 
of the party — and Mr. Zane riding with another native. 
Dr. Castillo was going up for the trip only, and had made 
arrangements with a native at St. Lawrence Bay to bring 
him back. They had not proceeded far when Putnam's 
sled broke down, and, although repaired by his men, 
Hunt was obliged to ride with the third native. It is 
hard to say whether this little accident caused the loss of 
Putnam or the safety of Hunt. Toward noon the sky be- 
came overcast. A wind sprang up from the northward 
and soon increased to a terrific gale, filling the air so 
thickly with snow that it became impossible to see the 
route, and consequently the natives lost their way. They 
kept on, however, making the dogs face the gale, until six 
p, m., when the natives deemed it expedient to camp 



THE FATE OF PUTNAM. 141 

where they were for the night. It was absolutely neces- 
sary to come to a halt, because it would have been death 
to the dogs to compel them to face the gale longer. The 
air was so thick with the drifting snow that the lead dogs 
could not be seen by the drivers. This was a night of 
most intense suffering, sometimes sitting on the sleds to 
try to get a little sleep, and then compelled to move about 
to get warm. The thermometer registered — 30° Fahren- 
heit, and they were obliged to remain in this temperature, 
without even protection from the winds, from six o' clock in 
the evening until eight next morning. In the morning it 
moderated a little, and they decided to return to St. Law- 
rence Bay and wait until the weather became more suit- 
able for travelling. The storm increased in violence all 
the time, but as the wind was now behind they had no 
trouble, and the bay was reached in safety. There being 
no dog food at North Head it became necessary to go to 
the south side. The bay was crossed, arriving on the 
southern shore about one and a half miles from the village 
of Nutapinwin, their destination. All the heavy gales 
during this season of the year were from the northward 
and westward. Just before getting to the village it was 
necessary to make a sharp turn to the right and go in the 
teeth of the gale for about two hundred yards. The order 
in which the sleds were proceeding was, Castillo and Ehr 
Ehren, Putnam, Zane and Notung and Hunt and a native, 
who were some distance behind. Proceeded along well 
until they made the turn to face the gale, when Putnam, 
not having the ability to control dogs so well as the na- 
tives (it is difficult to force the dogs to go to windward in 
a severe storm), or probably not knowing of the abrupt 
deviation from his course, as he could not see the other 
sleds turn, probably kept straight on. Zane, being famil- 



142 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

iar with the locality, recognized some landmarks when 
near the village, but Putnam could not recognize the 
marks, as this was his first visit to the place. 

About this time Zane overtook Putnam, and when their 
sleds were abreast remarked, "Well, Put, it seems that 
we are all right after all." Putnam answered, "I hope 
so." They were the last words he was ever heard to utter, 
and that was the last seen of him. His sled fell a little 
behind. The natives made the turn with some difficulty, 
but Putnam missed it, partly owing to his being unable to 
see them. It is thought that as the wind was quartering 
he was sitting on his sled back to the wind, which, being 
very strong, gradually edged his sled out of the track 
toward the ice, which was but a short distance off. How- 
ever, he got on the ice, and the supposition is that after 
going some distance out he became aware of his mistake, 
and not being able to see which way to go, and his shouts 
not being heard in such a violent gale, he camped, decid- 
ing to wait for clear weather, and also knowing that a 
search would be made for him as soon as he was missed. 
On reaching the village, in about five minutes after speak- 
ing with Putnam, Mr. Zane went immediately into a 
house, as he was almost frozen. It was soon discovered 
that Putnam was missing, and, thinking that he had 
made some mistake, a native started down to the beach 
to look for him, and when Hunt came along on his 
sled he found Notung (the native) yelling with all his 
might, but, thinking this noise was to guide him, kept on 
to the village. Here he ascertained that it was Putnam 
he was seeking. Hunt went in and inquired of Zane if 
Putnam had arrived ; this was the first intimation Zane 
had of the unfortunate occurrence. Both then started for 
the beach to assist in the search ; they were both now 



THE FATE OF PUTNAM. 143 

thorougly alarmed, for they could appreciate the danger 
of being lost in such a storm. They offered every induce- 
ment, entreated, and ordered the natives to hitch up the 
dogs and hunt for the unfortunate man ; but they would 
neither hitch up their dogs nor allow them to use their 
own dogs, saying that the gale was too heavy, they could 
not see, and that probably next day would be fine and 
then all would go out and hunt. All threats proving un- 
availing, nothing could be done but to wait for the mor- 
row. The gale was increasing in violence every moment. 
After going down to the beach it was impossible to get 
back to the houses, the wind blew so strong in the face. 
During the night the heavy wind detached the ice from 
shore and carried it to sea. Next morning, at daylight, 
they again went on the search. Hunt and Zane started 
along the beach, and natives taking various other direc- 
tions to look for him. The wind had gone down some, 
but it was still blowing so hard as to make travelling very 
difficult. The morning was clear, however, and a con- 
siderable distance could be seen. Hunt and Zane gazed 
on the place which the night before had been one sheet of 
ice, and saw that it was now clear water, with no ice in 
sight. They walked along the beach about a mile, until 
they came to a bluff which they knew it would have been 
impossible to pass on a sled, and satisfied themselves that 
he was not on the beach. It was almost certain that he 
had camped on the ice and been carried to sea with it. The 
only chance for his safety seemed to be that the wind 
would spring up from the southward and drive the ice in 
shore, or that it would become calm and allow new ice 
to form between the old and the shore, so that the un- 
fortunate man could walk over it. 
The next day Hunt and Zane, with three natives, started 



144 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

for North Head to notify Waring of the sad accident ; 
Castillo was left at South Head to look after Putnam if 
he should come ashore. After crossing the bay they met 
Waring and told him of the calamity. He told them to 
proceed to the Wood House in obedience to the orders of 
Lieutenant Berry, and he would immediately set out on a 
search along the coast for Putnam. The Wood House 
was reached on the 19th, where they found Lieutenant 
Berry busy in making preparations for a sledge journey 
along the coast to the westward, expecting Putnam to 
accompany him. When Waring heard of the accident he 
was on his way to South Head to get some walrus meat, 
provisions at his village being scarce ; he gave the charge 
of everything at North Head to Stoney, and went on to 
search to the southward. At half -past two that afternoon 
(19th) he received a note from Cahill, one of the crew sta- 
tioned at South Head, stating that Putnam had been seen 
on the morning of the 13th on an ice-floe about three miles 
from shore. The natives would not launch their skin-boats 
on account of the intervening thin ice (which is even worse 
on the boats than heavy ice), though every effort was made 
by Cahill, who offered large rewards, to induce them to do 
so. Late in the afternoon of the following day word was 
received that Putnam had been seen from a village six 
miles south of South Head, on the ice eight miles from 
shore, and that the natives were making preparations to 
rescue him. Waring pushed on to the village, reached it 
that night through a heavy wind and snow storm, blowing 
hard off shore. It was here ascertained that on the pre- 
ceding day an attempt had been made by four men of the 
Rodger s' crew, assisted by two natives, to rescue Putnam; 
but after proceeding nearly three miles they were forced 
to return, the boat having been cut through in so many 



THE FATE OF PUTNAM. 145 

places that they were barely able to keep her afloat until 
shore was reached. Another severe off-shore storm was 
now raging, and the unfortunate man was lost sight of. 
The natives were confident that the ice-floe would be 
driven inside of a point some distance down the coast, 
and preparations were immediately made to go down to 
the point as soon as the weather would permit. Now 
there was trouble in procuring dogs to travel, because the 
natives at both North and South Head were afraid, on 
account of some previous difiiculty with the natives at 
Indian Point, to go down the coast or to allow their dogs 
to go, saying they would be killed. At last, however, a 
team was scraped up from four villages, ranging over a 
space of thirty or forty miles. It was the 17th before an- 
other start could be made ; it opened stormy but soon 
moderated, and the search continued with one native and 
a team of eight dogs. The coast was skirted to the sixth 
settlement, about thirty miles, but no news was heard ; 
the off-shore wind had driven the heavy ice to sea. The 
next day, not being able to get dogs to continue the jour- 
ney, Waring was compelled to return to the village next 
to South Head. 

Natives were now despatched along the coast offering 
great rewards for the rescue of Putnam, or for his body if 
he were dead. Another heavy gale set in, making travel- 
ling impossible. On the 22d a southeast gale brought 
the ice in shore again, but it was found that the sea- had 
crushed it up into small pieces, no heavy floes being any- 
where in sight. Men from down the coast brought no 
news. The case appeared almost hopeless now, as all of 
the floes must have broken up during the five days' gale. 
The ice was not more than ^.ve or six feet thick and had 
much slush and snow on it, and could not possibly have 



146 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

withstood so continuous a storm. Waring retraced his 
steps and reached North Head at dark on the 24th, but 
returned to South Head the next day. On the 26th he 
received a rumor that some dogs had come on shore from 
the ice. For two days he was prevented by storms from 
proceeding ; but on the 29th, though intensely cold, he 
started down the coast to identify the dogs. He arrived 
at Lauren, thirty miles down the coast, in the evening, and 
found three of Putnam's dogs there. Several dogs came 
ashore, but the natives could catch only three. The na- 
tives said that all came ashore without harness. Whether 
the dogs really came ashore without harness or whether 
the natives, fearing the dogs would be claimed and taken 
from them, told this story to make Waring think they 
did not belong to Putnam is not known; but the dogs 
were positively recognized as belonging to the team Put- 
nam drove on that fatal day. Rumors of Putnam's 
having been seen were constantly coming in, and after 
being weather-bound for three days Waring, on the 2d of 
February, started down the coast to verify them. He 
kept steadily on, searching the whole coast minutely from 
South Head to Plover Bay. He communicated with 
several natives who spoke good English, and they were 
satisfied that Putnam had never come near the shore. 

At Engwort (sixty miles from South Head) another dog, 
with a pistol shot wound in his neck, came on shore ten 
days previously and was recognized as belonging to Put- 
nam's team. This dog — as, indeed, all were — was very 
thin and emaciated, covered with ice and had every ap- 
pearance of having been long in the water. Putnam had 
probably shot this dog, intending to use it for food, but 
it had succeeded in escaping. In all six dogs, out of a 
team of nine, came ashore. At Marcus Bay and Plover 



THE FATE OF PUTNAM. 147 

Bay letters were left for the whalers, informing them of 
the condition of the wrecked crew and urging them to 
hasten to their assistance. Mr. Waring was more than a 
month on this trip, getting back on the 18th of February, 
and did not return until he was fully satisfied that there 
were no hopes of Putnam's safety. 

Under Mr. Stoney's supervision a thorough search of 
the coast was made to the northward as far as East Cape, 
but to no purpose. Most of the gales had been from the 
northwest and the ice could not have drifted up there 
though there is quite a strong current setting to the north- 
ward through Behring Strait. 

It is known that Putnam was not dead the third day 
after being lost, and how much longer he survived can 
only be conjectured. All this time the temperature was 
from 20 to 40 degrees below zero, and he had no protec- 
tion from the piercing winds. True, he was very warmly 
clad. He probably killed one or more of his dogs for 
food ; he surely did not die of starvation. The floe that 
he was on doubtless broke into fragments during one of 
the gales and he was drowned. It would not seem so 
awful if he had perished in a shorter time, at least it 
would be some consolation to know that his sufferings 
were not so prolonged. Some spoke of there being a pos- 
sibility of his having drifted down to St. Lawrence Island 
thus being saved ; but the officers spoke some natives from 
the island while oi> their way down in the Corwin, and 
they knew nothing of the accident. Thus the last hopes 
of his shipmates were destroyed. The natives gave all 
the assistance in their power to aid in the search. News 
of the loss was known all along the coast and men were 

placed on the lookout within two days after it occurred. 

10 



CHAPTEE XIII. 



ACROSS SIBERIA. 



Sradnia Koltmsk, N. S. 

March St7i, 1882. 

The sun was above the horizon less than two hours a 
day at the time I left Eeteetlan for the Kolyma River on 
my way to the telegraph station in Eastern Siberia, whither 
I was sent to carry the news of the disaster. This gave 
very short days and very long nights, which is one of the 
inconveniences of winter journeys within the Arctic circle. 
To be sure, it is not so difficult to follow a coast line or travel 
over a road well known to the driver even in the dark as 
to travel over unknown territory, but still it has its dis- 
advantages, and these are increased to a near-sighted man, 
who at night might nearly as well be blind. While upon 
a sled which is under the guidance of another person, he 
can nerve himself to submit blindly and confidently to his 
driver ; but even this is trying when the road is so rough 
as to require all his strength to maintain his position 
upon the sled. The natives here also have a very incon- 
venient habit of starting long before daylight, even when 
they have only a short distance to go and could easily 
accomplish it by daylight. They will do this also when 
daylight is followed by a bright moon and the mornings 
are dark. They have no idea of time, and often mistake 
the northern light for approaching sunrise. There seems 
to be some one up and moving around in camp at any 

148 



ACROSS SIBERIA. 149 

hour of the day or night, and yon may hear him in the 
outer tent, when the following conversation ensues be- 
tween him and some occupant : 

The occupant shouts "May?" to which there comes 
a responsive grunt ; then the occupant " Ydyteef " An- 
other grunt. "Nerartboree?" Another grunt. "Mgerof" 
"E-e-e" which means yes, and all may be liberally trans- 
lated as "Hallo," "Is that you?" "Are there two of 
you?" meaning are you alone, and then, "Is daylight 
coming ? " "Yes." I never knew them to reply " no " to 
this question under any circumstances, and I believe they 
say "yes " with a mental reservation that it is a long way 
off, but will probably come in the course of time. I have 
gone out sometimes two hours after such a conversation, 
and not the slightest trace of dawn was discernible, nor 
would there be for hours afterward. Such things are 
annoying to one who would like to arrange the hours of 
travel and departing upon a more reasonable schedule, 
but it will never do to break in upon the time-honored 
customs of these people, for you will involve yourself in 
greater difficulties thereby than by submitting. 

The day of Captain Berry' s arrival at Eeteetlan there 
also came from Nishne Kolymsk a Russian named 
"Wanker," who agreed to take me to that city for the 
sum of fifty roubles. I did not like the fellow's appear- 
ance. His eyes were too close together, and then he had 
a general hang-dog look that would give him away in the 
company of saints. I knew he was a liar, because he said 
he could read, and when I handed him a letter in the 
Russian language from the Russian Consul in San Fran- 
cisco he read it all through with the deepest interest 
and most intense satisfaction depicted upon his counte- 
nance, occasionally smiling over some official pleasantry 



150 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

of the Consul's, or stumbling over a particularly hard 
word, and all the time held the letter upside down. I 
righted it once, but he immediately turned it again, with 
a look as much as to say, "I always prefer to read my 
letters that way." He then returned the letter after 
having carefully inspected the black border and the 
watermark on the paper, and said it was " All right ;" an 
opinion for which I was duly grateful. He could talk 
fluently with Constantine though, and advised me to 
take him along to drive my dogs and as an interpreter. 
The interpreting was all well enough as far as they were 
concerned, and the only difficulty was in understanding 
Constantine or making him understand me. He was not 
a youth gifted with much understanding in any language, 
but at the same time he was of some benefit to me. 

As an instructor of the Russian language he proved a 
total failure. Knowing I had to be for several months 
among the Russians, I thought that by gaining the start 
by a few words before I came plump into their country 
I would acquire an advantage, so I asked Constantine 
what the Russians said for "yes." "They say 'yes,' " 
he replied. This was easy enough to remember, so I went 
to the next word. "What do they say for 'no?' " I 
asked. "Why, they say 'no.' " This seemed a most re- 
markable coincidence, but certainly convenient, and I 
went on to something harder. "What does a Rus- 
sian man say when he is hungry and wants something to 
eat?" "Oh, sir, he says he wants something to eat." 
Now, this was a little more than I could stand, and I im- 
mediately took a recess. I saw that the poor fellow had 
no idea how he spoke what little English he knew. He 
did not translate it from one language to the other, but 
had merely learned as a parrot would learn, only with 



ACROSS SIBERIA. 151 

greater fluency, for he seemed to have the well-known 
facility of the Kussians in acquiring foreign languages, 
having in two months and a half on ship-board learned 
sufficient to be of considerable use there, as well as to our 
party on shore. En route he drove my sled, but we went 
very slowly, for the dogs I had were hastily bought after 
I had made up my mind to this trip, and proved a sorry 
lot. I found that the natives had not invariably picked 
out their best dogs to sell me, but, on the contrary, had 
chosen the poorest always, and when I happened to get a 
good dog it was because the one from whom I bought it 
had no poor ones in his lot. 

Constantine always examined the dogs as an expert, 
and had a way of running his hand along the dog's back- 
bone, and if it did not cut his finger he pronounced it a fine 
dog. He always asked if the dog had been trained as a 
leader, and seemed to have a most insatiable appetite for 
leaders. I don' t know what dogs he expected to pull the 
sled in case he got all the leaders he wanted. He was a 
most faithful loser of articles belonging to his team, and 
I had to buy nearly a complete set of harness for him, as 
well as a brake and a whip at every village where we 
stopped. But when he came to me at one village to buy 
a whip, after I had just bought him one, not half an hour 
previously, I closed the market for whips. He said he 
might lose the first one and then the second would come 
handy. The second night of our journey we halted at 
the village of Ynedlin, near which the Vega wintered in 
1878-9. We were entertained at the house of the chief, 
the largest house I had yet seen. The sleeping portion 
was about 30 feet long by 12 wide, and 7 feet high. Here 
was plenty of room and fresh air. It was here that 
Wanker promised to meet me the night of my arrival, 



152 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

and hurry me on to Mshne Kolymsk without any delay 
en route, merely expressing his fear that I could not 
stand the cold and rapid travelling. I was forced to 
remain at this house four nights, partially detained 
by stormy weather, and with the hope that Wanker 
might forget himself, and actually keep his appointment 
within a day or two. It was fortunate for me that the 
house was such a pleasant one, since I had to remain 
there so long. I had an opportunity now to witness their 
mode of life more closely than ever before, and it was 
here that I saw for the first time many of those disgusting 
customs that became so familiar to me afterward. They 
had plenty of walrus meat, and also of reindeer meat, 
and we lived well according to Tchouktchi ideas. 

No matter how early you may awaken in the morning 
you will always find the mistress of the household already 
up — that is, her position changed from reclining to sitting, 
and as soon as she observes that you are really awake 
she hands you a few small pieces of meat ; not much, only 
an ounce or two perhaps, but it steadies your nerves till 
breakfast time — that is, until the others wake up. Then 
she goes into the adjoining apartment, which is merely an 
enclosure to keep the dogs away from the household 
stores, and after fifteen or twenty minutes of pounding 
and chopping returns with the breakfast. A large flat 
wooden tray is placed on the floor, and the landlady, 
dropping off her clothes, takes her position at one end, a 
position inelegantly but accurately described as " squat- 
ting." The family and their guests gather around the 
board on either side, lying flat on their stomachs, with 
their heads toward the breakfast and their feet out, so 
that a bird's-eye view of the table and guests would look 
something like an immense beetle. The first course is 



ACROSS SIBERIA. 153 

some frozen weeds mixed with seal oil and eaten with, 
small portions of fresh blubber, which the lady of the 
honse cuts with a large chopping-knife. The approved 
method of eating this food is to take a piece of the blub- 
ber and place it somewhere on the pile of weeds and then 
press as mnch as yon can gather between yonr thnmb 
and the three adjoining fingers into a mass, which will, if 
yon are lucky, stick together until you get it into your 
mouth. The man with the biggest thumb has the best 
chance here. One poor fellow whom I saw further up the 
coast who had lost his right hand and the thumb of his 
left had to be fed by his wife. The next course is walrus 
meat. This is also cut up by the presiding lady and is 
served with no stinting hand. At this portion of the 
meal the one who can swallow the largest piece without 
chewing has the advantage, and the only way to get even 
with him is to keep one piece in your mouth and two in 
your hand all the time. After this joint has been thor- 
oughly discussed there comes a large piece of walrus 
hide, which has a small portion of blubber attached to it 
and the hair still on the outside. When the meat is rot- 
ten the hair can be easily scraped off, but otherwise it is 
eaten with the rest of the hide. This hide is about an 
inch thick and very tough, so that it is absolutely impos- 
sible to chew it, or, rather, to affect it by chewing. Even 
the dogs will chew perhaps for half a day upon a small 
piece of walrus hide hanging from a bag of meat, and fail 
to detach it. This is, therefore, cut into very small slices 
by the hostess and finishes the meal. It is really the 
most palatable dish of the meal, and furnishes some- 
thing for the stomach to act upon, that generally occu- 
pies its attention till the following meal ; but it is astonish- 
iag how easily a meat diet is digested and how soon 



154 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

one's appetite returns after having gorged at such a 
meal. 

When forced to lie over on account of storms or some 
notion of Wanker's, and with nothing to do and nothing 
to read, it seemed to me that all I did was to lie on my 
back and watch for indications of the next meal. It was 
all there was to break the monotony, unless my pipe 
needed cleaning. This was always a welcome task, for 
by due carefulness I could generally make it last for half 
a day. There are usually two meals a day in a well pro- 
vided Tchouktchi household— the breakfast just described 
and dinner, which comes on late in the evening. The 
dinner is almost identical in form with the breakfast, 
except that there is most always some hot cooked meat 
that follows the course of walrus hide. Sometimes the 
second course at breakfast or dinner may be frozen seal 
or reindeer meat, but the first and third courses are inva- 
riable, unless changed by force of circumstances beyond 
the control of the householder. Beside these two meals 
there is always a similar service to any guest who may 
arrive during the day from a distance, and all present 
share his luncheon with him, and not infrequently beat 
him out, unless he watches closely and keeps himself well 
provided. I speak feelingly of this matter, for often 
have I had a luncheon put before me, and devoured by 
those who had, perhaps, but just finished a meal, while I 
politely lingered so as not to appear too ravenous. I got 
over such trifling finally, and could take my place at the 
board with full confidence that I would get at least my 
share of what was going. 

The evening, after dinner, is often devoted to games. 
They do not play chess or billiards ; but we used to see 
who could walk the farthest on his hands, with his body 



& 



2 







^:fflm,m. 







ACROSS SIBERIA. I57 

held horizontally from the hips, or upon his knees, while 
his feet were held in his hands behind him. Or perhaps 
the lights were extinguished, and some one played upon 
the drum, or yarar, and sang or chanted a most lugubri- 
ous melody, or would pass crescendo from an almost im- 
perceptible sound into the loudest noise possible, accom- 
panying the drum with a howl like a bear at bay, the most 
frightful noise he could make ; and it did sound prodigious 
in the dark. During this time the landlord would oc- 
casionally shout Ay-Tiek, ay-7ie7c, which seemed to in- 
spire the drummer to renewed exertion. The drum is a 
wooden hoop, over which is tightly drawn a thin mem- 
brane from the skin of the reindeer. It has a handle 
on one side, and is beaten with a small bit of whalebone. 
This drumming never ceases from the moment the lights 
are out until the concert is over, which is generally after 
about two hours and a half. We had a concert the first 
night at Ynedlin, and during the performance I heard 
Constantine breathing heavily and gasping, and occasion- 
ally breaking out into groans and tears. This attracted 
the attention of the performer, who stopped and asked if 
he was sick. He groaned a " yes," and I thought I would 
have to resort to my medical stores, consisting of pills and 
bandages, but I did not know which to use, for upon 
inquiry it transpired that he had only a broken heart. 
He wanted to return to Tay-up-kine, the village near 
Eeteetlan, where was an old woman, named At-tting-er, 
who had grown-up children and grandchildren, and with 
whom he, a lad of nineteen years, had fallen in love. 
When asked what he was grieving for, he said " At-tung- 
er," and after that I felt relieved, for I did not believe 
he would die of his broken heart. 
During the entire journey this same scene was repeated 



158 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

every time the yarar was brought out, and as soon as 
the lights were restored he appeared just as cheerful as 
if nothing disagreeable had ever occurred to him. I be- 
lieve he was frightened, for the noise was at times most 
fiendish and harrowing, and it was at these portions of 
the music that he was most affected. It was the best 
assurance the player could have of the effectiveness of his 
performance. There were two girls about fifteen years 
of age in this household, one the daughter of my host 
and the other some relation, but I could never make out 
exactly what. The old man often tried to explain it to 
me by using the fingers of one hand, which he named, 
and showed that Tay-tin-con-ne was the same relation to 
his daughter Mam-mak that his thumb was to his middle 
finger. But there is where I always fell out. I never 
could satisfy myself as to the kinship of his fingers. Occa- 
sionally during the day or evening these girls used to 
dance, taking their places side by side as if on the stage 
for a double clog, and, accompanying themselves with 
guttural sounds that it is impossible to describe, exe- 
cuted in unison fantastic contortions and gyrations some- 
what similar to the Indians of North America. Their 
costume was the usual evening dress of the country, and 
consisted simply of a string of beads around the neck 
and a narrow breech-cloth of seal skin. This was an 
accomplishment I found had been acquired by all the 
children along the coast, and such entertainments were 
not rare. 

The 13th of January I moved to the next village, start- 
ing in the dark at three o'clock in the morning, and 
arriving at our destination before noon. There were two' 
other sleds beside mine, which belonged to a man from 
Onman, who had with him his wife and son, a young man 



ACROSS SIBERIA. 159 

of about twenty-two years, with yellow hair and light 
hazel eyes, the first blond I had seen with these people. 
I afterwards saw another, a woman, at Enmukki, but 
they are very rare occurrences. The Onman man entered 
the house at this place, and after some conversation with 
the occupants came out and told me we would have to go 
on to Onman, which would take all night, as they had no 
dog food here. They gave us a luncheon of walrus meat, 
and I concluded to stay, preferring that my dogs should 
rest without food than work without. I thought, too, 
that I could get dog food by paying well for it, and after 
the others had left found I was not mistaken — that it was 
only a ruse common with these people when they want to 
get rid of undesirable guests. But I guess the Onman 
people made the same discovery, for in half an hour they 
returned and stayed with us all night. Here, too, I had 
to wait four days, looking for Wanker or clear weather. 
These houses along the coast are all so many hotels for 
the accommodation of those travelling to and fro. At 
East Cape are certain articles which they can procure by 
trading, and at Mshne Kolymsk are others, so that they 
go from one end of the line to the other, a distance of 
about 1,500 miles, as they are compelled to follow the 
coast in all its tortuous windings. At East Cape they can 
get Henry rifles and cartridges, as well as American 
knives, tobacco and calico ; while at Nishne Kolymsk 
they get Circassian tobacco, a cheap but very strong 
article, brass smoking pipes, bear spears, and such arti- 
cles. The stock at East Cape is left by the American 
whalers, who have their agents among the natives there, 
and that at Nishne Kolymsk is in the hands of the 
Russian traders, who, during the latter part of the month 
of February, hold a fair near there on the river Anui, 



160 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

pronounced Ar-noo-ee. The natives pay nothing for 
their entertainment or for feeding their dogs, but they 
expect much from any white strangers who may happen 
to pass their way. If the native traveller has tobacco or 
beads, and his host wants some, he gives it to him ; but 
that is not paying for his board and lodging. He would 
do the same if he received nothing in return. While at 
Peelkan, the second station, at the mouth of the bay of 
that name, I saw many natives who were returning from a 
trip to East Cape. They told me that Wanker did not 
intend to come along for some time yet, that he was trad- 
ing along the coast. This was discouraging, and I deter- 
mined to proceed to Koliutchin village as soon as possible, 
and get along as well as I could. 



CHAPTER XIV. 



ON THE EOAD. 



Sradnia Koltmsk, N. S., 

Mwch 9th, 1882. 

Theke were places on the road, beyond Wankaramen 
especially, where a guide was almost a necessity, unless 
short trips were made in the daylight only and when the 
coast line could be unmistakably distinguished. I knew I 
could easily find people going from one village to another 
until I reached Wankaramen, but from there to North 
Cape was a long stretch without villages, and it required 
two or three sleeps upon the snow to reach the village at 
North Cape, or Dairkijpean, as the natives call it. It 
would not be easy to find company there. There was, 
however, an old man who came to Peelkan on his way 
back to his house at Wankaramen who said he would 
take me on from there. He wanted me to give him some 
biscuit to eat, as his teeth were not equal to the con- 
test with frozen walrus meat ; and when he showed me 
the teeth I agreed with him. On the right side of his 
upper jaw the teeth were perfect to the middle front 
tooth, and the lower jaw had the same arrangement on the 
left side of his mouth, so that when it was closed they fit 
perfectly and shut up like a pair of scissors ; but it must 
have been perplexing when there was anything to be 
chewed. It was a long journey across the mouth of the 

bay to Koliutchin Island, and my dogs were not equal to 

161 



162 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

the emergency, so when night came on I halted and built 
a snow house. The natives who had started with us 
reached the village that night, and were much alarmed 
for our safety when they found we did not get in during 
the night. Their anxiety was increased when the follow- 
ing day brought a snow-storm, which shut out the island 
from view, and left us as they supposed without any- 
thing to guide us. When we started in the morning I 
cautioned Constantine to keep faithfully in the tracks of 
the sleds that preceded us, as they were but faintly dis- 
cernible under the falling snow. He told me his leader 
was a good one, and knew how to keep the road. For 
awhile I trusted to the dog's instinct, but when I found 
the wind upon my back instead of nearly directly in front 
of me, as it should have been, I began to doubt it, and 
asked Constantine where Koliutchin Island was. He 
pointed straight ahead, as I expected, but I had taken the 
bearing of the island by my pocket compass when we 
halted the night before, and on again regarding it I 
showed my driver that we were going almost exactly in 
the opposite direction. 

I then took charge of the course myself, and after about 
an hour heard the barking and quarrelling of dogs in a 
team. I could not see them, but I shouted, and soon two 
sleds came up that had been sent out to look for us. 
The drivers were glad to have found us, and said they had 
been worried all night, thinking we were wandering around 
on the ice. I told them, however, that we were com- 
fortably housed and that I knew where Koliutchin was, 
at the same time pointing in the proper direction. Then 
I showed them my compass, and as the island happened 
to be just magnetic north of us it appeared all the more 
wonderful to them. They imagined that it always pointed 



ON THE ROAD. 163 

in the direction yon wanted to go. While at Kolintchin 
Wanker came up, being only eleven days behind, bnt I 
felt greatly relieved when I saw him. We subsequently 
moved to Wankaramen, and proceeded on our journey 
with greater celerity than before, but not fast enough to 
satisfy one who felt so entirely dependent upon one man, 
and he thoroughly unreliable and bad. All along the 
route the natives, when an opportunity offered, cautioned 
me against him and said he meant no good by me. They 
begged me to return to Eeteetlan, and offered to take me 
there. The only thing that I was afraid of was that 
Wanker would get up in the night and run off with his 
team, leaving me high and dry on the beach. But I kept 
a close watch on him all the time. 

In the daytime the natives would have warned me if he 
attempted to leave, and at night I always slept in the 
same house with him and would awaken at the slightest 
noise. During the journey I never trusted myself beyond 
pistol shot of his sled, and I think he knew I was watch- 
ing him. At first he used to take advantage of my lack 
of knowledge of the Tchouktchi language to say things 
for the entertainment of the savages at my expense, and 
one day shouted at me in a most disrespectful manner. 
Then I spoke to him in good sound English. He did not 
understand what I said, but he knew what I meant, and, 
assuring me that he only wanted to tie my shoe-string, 
was ever afterward more considerate in his manner toward 
me. From Wankaramen to North Cape the weather was 
intensely cold, and the whole party, native and white, for 
there were three natives' sleds with us, suffered from 
frost-bites, though not of a serious nature. We found 
plenty of drift-wood at several points along the coast, and 

halted to make tea and cook some meat. This I found 
11 



1G4 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

took the raw edge off of the cold, and made travelling and 
sleeping without shelter much more endurable. From 
North Cape to Oogarkin there were villages at intervals 
of from five to thirty miles. From Oogarkin to Erktreen, 
a native village of nineteen houses, near Cape Shelagskoi, 
there were no houses, and we slept three nights on the 
snow. Drift-wood was plentiful, and in ordinary weather 
camping out would not have been as disagreeable as might 
be supposed. We found several people at Enmaty, near 
Oogarkin, who were on their way to Mshne Kolymsk, 
and on the morning of February 8th eight sleds, drawn 
by ninety -three dogs, started. It was a brilliant sight, or 
would have been if you could have seen it ; but the start 
was at four o'clock in the morning, about three hours and 
a half before daylight. Some of the sleds had gaudy 
calico storm-coats thrown over them, and the harness of 
several teams was trimmed with red. One man had sev- 
eral small bells attached to his harness, but I never heard 
a sound from them, and doubt if they had tongues. I 
believe they were dumb bells and intended solely for orna- 
ment. 

It was a pleasant day at first, but during the afternoon 
a storm of wind and snow sprang up from the direction 
of our line of march, and when we halted at night it was 
blowing a gale, a genuine poorga, which continued 
throughout the night and the following day. When I 
lay down to sleep I sought shelter behind a sled, but soon 
had to leave it, because I found myself nearly suffocated 
by the weight of snow on top of me. Then I noticed that 
the natives, more wise than I, had lain down on the crest 
of the hill and were free from snow. Travelling the next 
day was simply torture, but it would be equally bad to 
sit still out of doors, so we kept on. The night was a 



ON THE ROAD. 165 

pleasant one and we slept well. The next halt was npon 
the rocky coast not a great distance from Shelagskoi, and 
a huge cavern in the face of the cliff afforded small pro- 
tection from the wind, but made a most picturesque 
camping place. The following day we reached Erktreen 
about two o'clock, and right glad we were to get there, 
for a frightful poorga was raging and the dogs could 
scarcely make any headway against it. There were plenty 
of houses here and but little food. In fact, in the house 
where I slept we fed the occupants, instead of eating 
their provisions. The next stretch was a long one, and we 
slept four nights in the snow. We had expected to re- 
provision our sleds at Erktreen, and were much disap- 
pointed at finding so little food. "We were, therefore, on 
short rations, and as a consequence very cold, for nothing 
seems to defy the north wind like a full stomach. The 
natives were all very kind to me. They knew that 
Wanker was not helping me any more than he should, 
so they each had something for "Kelley," as is my 
Tchouktchi name. I believe I fared better than any one 
else in the party. About noon-time of the third day out 
we reached Rowchooan, as it is called by the Tchouk- 
tchis, or Bassarika, by which name it is known to the 
Russians. 

Here is a deserted village of five log houses, which at 
one time constituted a village of Russian trappers. Here 
we found a large quantity of bear meat and dried fish for 
dog food which they had cached on their way down the 
coast, and, taking a good supply upon our sleds, we 
gorged like genuine savages that night, and slept soundly 
and warm. As night approached on the day following 
we were near the native village of D'lardlowran, the Bar- 
ranno of the Russians. Three of the sleds halted on the 



166 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

beach at dark, while the sled to which I was attached and 
two others started to make a short cut across land to the 
village. One of the natives with us lives at that place 
and was anxious to get home after an absence of two 
months and a half. But without landmarks on the bare 
waste of snow, and no coast line to guide us, even he had 
to give up the search though less than three miles from 
home, and we lay down in the snow to wait for daylight. 
But before dawn came the worst poorga I ever encoun- 
tered, and when we started in the morning we could see 
less distance ahead than when we halted in the dark. It 
was a terrible struggle, that little march of about two 
miles and a half. The wind blew directly in our faces 
and drove the sharp particles of hard frozen snow against 
the eye-balls and cheeks, so that it was impossible to 
look to windward for more than a hasty glance. The 
dogs could not face the storm and lay down in the har- 
ness, so that we had to go ahead and drag them along, 
while we waded painfully through snow nearly waist 
deep. One sled was soon left behind, while Wile-dote, 
the native of the neighboring village, and Wanker and I 
floundered on through the storm. 

At last we reached a hillside swept by the wind, and 
found sled-tracks which Wile-dote recognized as the right 
trail, and we trotted along merrily until the sleds were 
caught by the wind and swept over a precipice. I saw 
Wile-dote and his team disappear over the edge of the 
cliff into a cloud of whirling snow, and knew that in a 
second we must go too. I could do nothing but close my 
eyes and set my teeth when I felt myself in the air and 
falling, I knew not where. Fortunately it was a fall of 
but about twenty feet to a snow bank, down which the 
dogs, the sled and I rolled to the bottom, while I saw 



ON THE ROAD. 167 

Wanker, who had been sitting on the other side of the 
sled with his back to the cliff, shot over my head and 
reach the bottom first. I knew no one had been hnrt, 
for the snow was very soft and we were almost bnried by 
the drift before we conld regain onr feet, and I conld not 
help laughing at the ridiculous figure poor Wanker cut 
as he passed over my head, rolled up in a little ball, and 
desperately grasping his brake. He looked like a witch 
riding on her broomstick. Wile-dote' s sled was broken, 
and, falling on his leg, caused a slight but not very painful 
contusion. We then began to look around to find some 
way out of this pit, but found it surrounded by a high 
wall of rock and snow, except one narrow drift that led 
again to the top of the hill. We plunged along as well 
as we could, but could only make a few yards' advance at 
a time, for the dogs had to be dragged along by main 
force. Time and time again we were compelled to throw 
ourselves down in the snow and rest for ten or fifteen 
minutes before making further exertion. Once again we 
were blown off the hill, but this time into a valley, which 
Wile-dote recognized as the road to the village, not more 
than half a mile away. 

We now moved along more rapidly and soon found the 
coast, and a short turn to the right brought us directly 
into the houses before we could see them. Several times 
during the morning I had to remove from my face a per- 
fect mould or mask of frozen snow half an inch thick, and 
my nose, cheeks, chin and forehead were badly frozen. 
My companions fared no better. Three of Wile-dote' s dogs 
perished during the storm, and I found upon looking at 
my watch, after entering the house, that we had been more 
than seven hours upon the road. The other sled got in 
toward night, but the three that halted on the beach did 



168 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

not overtake us until the second day after we left D'lard- 
lowran. At this village we found four Russians from 
Mshne Kolymsk, who were much interested in the recital 
of our adventures during the morning. The next morn- 
ing we again set out upon our journey, three of the Rus- 
sians accompanying us. Wanker put me on the sled of 
one of these people, and right glad was I of the change, 
for now I felt sure that I would reach my destination. 
This man looked like an honest and an intelligent man, 
though he could not read, and said so. That night we 
halted at a deserted hut half filled with snow, but it was 
a sufficient shelter from a poorga that was raging at the 
time, and ever so much better than sleeping out of doors. 
Indeed, it was cheerful and cosey, with a fire blazing in the 
middle of the hut and a little of the smoke escaping 
through a hole in the roof, but most of it pervading the 
apartment. The tea-kettle hung over the flame, and a 
large pot of reindeer meat was cooking on one side of the 
fire, while we ate frozen fish which my new driver pulled 
from among the rafters. While we waited for tea my 
new Russian friends sang a pretty little chorus, and I 
slept dreaming of home and feeling more at home than I 
had for weeks. 

I had at last reached the borders of civilization, and 
had no longer to crawl at night into the huts of the sav- 
ages, and yet I could not forget how often I had been so 
glad to crawl into those same dirty hovels to escape from 
storms and hunger. 

The next day we reached quite a large deserted village, 
and Wanker here told me that the next day we would 
reach his house and that there we would have to wait for 
Constantine, who was four days behind us, the sled he was 
with and one other having been separated from us during 



ON THE ROAD. 169 

a poor g a the first day out from Erktreen. I felt no un- 
easiness about him, for there was a Tchouktchi and a 
Russian with him who would take good care of him, and 
I knew they had plenty of food. In fact, it was the 
heavy load of food that caused them to fall behind. I 
told Wanker that I would rather go on to Mshne Ko- 
lymsk, as there was a great deal I wanted to attend to 
which I could do before Constantine arrived. But Wan- 
ker would not listen to it, and insisted that I should re- 
main at his house. I poured my complaint into the ear 
of my driver that day, and, though he understood little of 
what I said, he did seize the main point, which was that 
I stayed at Wanker's against my will and preferred to go 
to Mshne Kolymsk. He said " Da, da" and meant 
"yes," and here our conversation ended. He delivered 
me at Wanker's that night and departed early next morn- 
ing. I failed to shake Wanker's determination during 
the day, but was equally determined to wait but one day 
longer, though he said the only people in Nishne who 
could read were away and would not be there for more 
than a week. This seemed likely and I began to waver, 
but the day following my good friend came early with a 
stranger, and I felt certain that my hour of deliverance 
was near at hand. And, sure enough, the stranger read 
my letter from the Consul, and told me I should go along 
with him. Wanker got very red in the face, and submit- 
ted with bad grace to an arrangement that I was certain 
did not please him. But I saw that the quiet stranger 
had some power and could enforce his will. Glad enough 
was I to go away, and with such a kind and considerate 
conductor, but I was overpowered when I found a covered 
sled in waiting to take me like a prince in triumph to my 
destination. It was a bitter cold day, and I was pleased 



170 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

when we halted at a village half-way to the town to get 
some hot tea, and, as nsual, with it frozen fish. 

Here the whole village had turned out to receive me, 
and the men stood in line with their heads bared and 
bowing as I passed them into the house. There was a 
friendly crowd here, also, but, though of my own race, 
I could only talk with them in the language of the sav- 
ages, and our conversation was consequently limited to 
my very meagre knowledge of the Tchouktchi tongue, 
for they all seemed perfectly familiar with it and to speak 
it and their own language with equal fluency. My new 
friend took me to his house and did everything in his 
power to entertain me, and assist in carrying out my 
plans. I found that he was a Cossack, and acting comman- 
der during the absence of that official in Sradnia Kolymsk. 
I managed to make myself understood, and he told me 
that at Sradnia I would find some one who spoke French, 
and that he would send me to that place with a Cossack, 
who would take me in three or four days, while alone I 
would be a week or ten days en route. After Constantine 
arrived, and I finished my business at Mshne, I started 
for Sradnia Kolymsk with my Cossack guide, and bade 
good-by to some of the kindest people I ever met. All 
seemed equally anxious to do something for me, and my 
landlord, who had delivered me out of the hands of the 
Philistines, seemed really sad at parting. I had been at 
his house four days, and during that time he had devoted 
himself entirely to me, trying to make amends for the ill- 
conduct of my travelling companion, Wanker, who, by the 
bye, had told the Russians we met at D'lardlowran that 
he had brought me to the Kolyma because I was big and 
strong, and he was going to keep me at his house until 
the winter was past, and then I would be a good hand to 



OX THE ROAD. 



171 



catch fish for him. But my engagements did not permit 
of my remaining nntil the fishing season arrived. At 
Nishne Kolymsk I first heard of the loss of the Jeannette, 
and that some of her people had survived ; but, though I 
could get along surprisingly well with the common every - 




8RADUIA KOLYMSK. 



day affairs, considering that I could not speak the lan- 
guage of these people, I got a very distorted account of 
the Jeannette affair. This was partially owing to my 
being unable to understand them, and partially because 
they had not heard a correct account of the mournful 
occurrence. 



CHAPTEE XV. 



MIDDLE KOLYMSK. 



Skadnia Kolymsk, N. S., 

March 11th, 1882. 

I beached Sradnia Kolymsk on Sunday the 5th of March, 
and was met in the street by a fine-looking old gentle- 
man in a handsome uniform, who addressed me in French, 
and, informing me that he was the Prefet de Police 
for the district, invited me to his house. It sounded 
most delightfully to hear once more a familiar Christian 
language, and not to be compelled to converse with in- 
telligent people in the language of the savage. At this 
house I met also M. Kotcheroffski, formerly Prefet of the 
District of Werchojansk, but who had just arrived to 
relieve my host, M. de V arowa, as the latter informed me, 
at the same time stating that he would start for Yakoutsk 
in a few days, and extending me an invitation to accom- 
pany him. I gladly accepted his offer, knowing that 
thus I could travel faster than if alone, and more than 
make up the time lost in waiting. In the meantime he 
offered to send a special courier to Yakoutsk with my 
despatches, which would gain five days on the fastest 
journey I could make. This offer I also accepted, and at 
once set to work preparing my papers for the courier. 
At Sradnia Kolymsk, as at Mshne, I met with nothing 
but kindness. All seemed anxious to aid the unfortunate 

mariners who were thrown upon these ice-bound shores. 

172 



MIDDLE EOLYMSK. 175 

Sradnia, or Middle Kolymsk, is a Russian settlement 
of about 500 inhabitants, including Russians, Yakouts, 
and a few Tchouktchis. The houses are all built of hewn 
logs, are but one story high, and the windows are glazed 
with blocks of transparent ice. Some of the houses have 
windows of glass, but these are always much broken and 
mended, so that seen from the outside they look like the 
stained-glass windows of a church. The most conspicu- 
ous building there, as in all the little Russian towns, is 
the church edifice, which is of Oriental architecture, with 
a dome surmounted by a cross and exceedingly florid in 
its style of architecture. Adjoining the church, and 
within the same enclosure, is a small wooden tower sur- 
rounded by a block-house, which was built by the first 
settlers of Sradnia as a means of defence against the 
savage Yakouts and Tchouktchis. This town is irregu- 
larly built and extends over a considerable area of ground, 
the Government buildings being situated about a mile 
from the centre. By Government buildings is meant 
merely the storehouses for grain and bread and for the 
skins which are received for taxes. These buildings are 
of logs, with great heavy doors and padlocks about the size 
of an ordinary valise, while the key is a load of itself. 
I should imagine that a Keeper of the Imperial Keys, if 
there is such an office in Russia, would have to be a man 
trained in athletic exercises from his youth up to accept 
of such an appointment. When a door there is locked it 
is locked, and there is no mistaking the fact. 

I paid a visit to the storehouses while in Sradnia to 
witness the process of turning over the property to the 
new Prefet or Ispravnik, as he is termed, but it was a 
very uninteresting process and the weather so intensely 
cold that I did not stay long. A gang of laborers, not in 



176 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

their shirt sleeves, as I had been accustomed to seeing 
them at home, but heavily clad in skin clothing, were 
running around with bundles on their shoulders, and 
dumping them upon one of the platforms of a pair of im- 
mense balance scales, such as I thought had long since 
become obsolete. The beam was suspended in the middle, 
and had platforms a yard square, hung by the corners to 
either end of the beam. On one side were piled bundles of 
skins or grain in cowskin bags, and on the other were 
heaped up big iron weights, about the size of a 100 lb. 
shell, with handles. It looked as if the articles to be 
weighed were exactly counterbalanced by the proper 
amount of iron weights, and then they guessed how much 
iron there was. When I thought of a city weigher in New 
York having to manoeuvre such an outfit as this, it oc- 
curred to me that the position would be no sinecure. I saw 
another curious balance here. A sort of combination of the 
beam with the steel-yard, used for weighing small arti- 
cles. It has a scoop suspended from one end of a graduated 
steel rod, in which is placed the article to be weighed. On 
the other end of the rod is a fixed weight, and the balance 
is obtained by sliding the rod along the ring that holds it 
in suspension. I had been used to seeing the weight 
moved, and it was a novelty to see the whole beam sliding 
along instead. The rod is round and graduated on many 
parts of its circumference, so that by moving the weight 
and turning the rod its limit of usefulness is extended or 
diminished. 

Pacing up and down near the scales with a gun upon 
his shoulder was a Cossack, who looked strangely, 
bundled up in furs and under arms. Near the beam 
stood the new Ispravnik, wrapped up so that nothing 
could be seen of him except his eyes, I did not blame 



MIDDLE KOLYMSK 



177 




Mm for bundling np as much as possible, as I don't re- 
member ever having felt the cold more keenly than during 
the first three days I was in Sradnia, and M. de Yarowa, 
the retiring Is- 
pravnik, told me 
that he had never 
known it to be so 
cold during his so- 
journ there as at 
this time, and that 
indeed the whole 
winter, that is the 
months of January 
and February, had 
been regarded by 
the inhabitants of 
the town as most 
unusual. Unfor- 
tunately there is no thermometer in any of those towns 
north and east of Yakoutsk, where observations of the 
weather would be so interesting. I have no doubt that the 
thermometer would have marked an unusally low tempera- 
ture on the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th of February by the Eng- 
lish calendar in Northeastern Siberia. There was not a 
breath of wind stirring and the sky was cloudless, all the 
conditions being favorable for cold weather. On the 9th 
of February the sky was overcast and there was a very 
great rise in the temperature, and on the 10th we had 
a snow-storm. The dwellings in Sradnia, as well as 
throughout that part of Siberia, consist usually of three 
rooms, and are heated by an open fireplace built of poles, 
which extend up through the roof and form a low chim- 
ney. The poles are covered with mud to protect them 



COSSACK FORT. 



178 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



from the flames, and the wood is stood on end in the fire- 
place, resting against the back. There is an almost un- 
limited supply of wood in the country, and it is of an 
excellent quality for fuel, as well as for all the purposes 




YAKOUT FISHERMEN. 



of building. It is easily cut and split, and makes a brill- 
iant flame, and an abundance of glowing coals. On this 
same fireplace the cooking for the establishment is carried 
on, apparently with equal skill, by the men and women. 
The culinary arrangements are, however, of the simplest 



MIDDLE EOLYMSK. 179 

character, the staples of food being fish, rye bread and 
tea. 

All the lakes and rivers abonnd with most excellent fish, 
and the poorer classes eat nothing else. My observations 
here have led me to doubt the brain-producing character 
of a fish diet, or else that the fish here are of the right 
sort for that purpose. I can, however, attest the excel- 
lent quality of the fish, especially raw and frozen. In 
that case the skin is stripped off and long slices cut longi- 
tudinally from the fish, and eaten with or without salt, as 
the taste or means of those who eat may dictate. When 
eaten thus it is called by the Russians " struganina" 
and by the Yakouts " tung bullok." When cooked it is 
boiled, fried, baked or made into pie or biscuit. Reindeer 
meat is also eaten by those who can afford it, unless rich 
enough to eat beef, which they prefer, though why I 
could never discover, for the meat of the reindeer is much 
more delicate and tender, and has a peculiarly delicious 
flavor, probably derived from the fragrant moss that con- 
stitutes its food. It is cheap enough to satisfy the most 
economical housekeeper, a fine fat buck, entire, costing at 
Xishne Kolymsk only three roubles — that is, a dollar 
and a half — and at Sradnia five roubles. The meat of 
the reindeer is always excellent, while the beef is usually 
coarse grained and tough. At Nishne and Sradnia beef is 
more expensive than reindeer, at Werchojansk they cost 
about the same, while at Yakoutsk reindeer meat is the 
most expensive, and is only exceeded in price by the 
horse, which is a luxury only to be indulged in by the 
rich. It is a luxury, I believe, chiefly prized by the 
Yakouts, though I understand that it is served at the 
restaurants in Yakoutsk to those who desire it. Break- 
fast here consists of bread and tea, with perhaps frozen or 



180 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

dried fish, and later in the day meat, sonp and tea, and 
in the evening meat or fish and tea. 

It is impossible to imagine what these people would do 
without tea. It is the universal beverage, and they drink 
from four to fifteen cups at one meal, sometimes with 
milk and sometimes with sugar. The sugar is not put 
into the cup with the tea — it is too precious for that — but 
a lump is served to each person, and as he sips his tea he 
nibbles at the lump which is his portion for the meal. It 
would strike a New Yorker as curious to see the tea 
brought in upon a waiter, with one plate filled with lumps 
of sugar and another with lumps of milk or cream, but 
such is the prevailing Siberian fashion. When I would 
start out for a journey my provisions would be arranged 
in bags — one bag for sugar, another for tea, another for 
milk, and so on. At Sradnia Kolymsk I saw several 
political exiles — Socialists, nine in all — who are sentenced 
for various terms. There were also two at Nishne, one a 
Socialist and the other a Pole who had been implicated 
in political intrigues inimical to the Imperial Government. 
His sentence had originally been for twenty -five years at 
Ahlokminsk, between Yakoutsk and Irkutsk, but one 
day, in a fit of indignation at the Government, he gave 
expression to his anger by spitting upon a portrait of his 
late Imperial Majesty, and was sent to the most distant* 
outpost of the Government in Siberia. I found him a 
very pleasant old gentleman, of polished manners and 
education, entirely distinct from the people with whom 
he is at present thrown ; but he has grown gray and aged 
since he left his home in Warsaw, and says he feels 
almost equally at home in Siberia. It was rather difficult 
to talk with him, as he only remembered a few words in 
French, though he spoke German fluently, but I didn't. 



MIDDLE KOLYMSK. 181 

However, by an ingenious intermingling of English, 
French, German, Eussian and Tchouktchi we managed 
to understand each other passably well. 

I visited the Socialists at their houses in Sradnia, and 
found most of them pretty much the kind of people I 
had imagined — a sort of intelligent lunatics. But there 
were exceptions. There were gentlemen whom I could 
not imagine guilty of an evil thought, and these I found 
were held in high esteem by the officers of the Govern- 
ment who have them under their charge. They were all 
interested in the American stranger, and seemed to 
imagine an affinity between my countrymen and the 
Socialists. They were much surprised when I told them 
that their party was but poorly represented in the United 
States, and that such as we had were foreigners ; that I 
did not personally know of a single American Socialist. 

There was one thing that struck me with considerable 
force when my course was turned from the northern coast 
of Siberia into the Kolyma Eiver. The second day of 
my journey on that river I noticed, as we passed near the 
shore, first higher grass than I had seen before, then a 
short growth of bushes, then stunted shrubbery, and 
afterward two solitary lonely trees standing side by side. 
In the course of a few miles the trees became more numer- 
ous along the banks of the river until I reached Wanker's 
house, which is situated in a grove of trees thirty or more 
feet high. I had not expected to see all this climatic 
change in one day's travel. Before reaching his house 
we stopped at a log house, or yarat, to get some tea. This 
was the first inhabited house I had seen, and I regarded 
it with due interest. There was but one room, with the 
fireplace in the corner, on which was blazing a glorious 

fire that made my frozen nose glow with the heat. There 
12 



1S2 



ICE PACE AND TUNDRA. 



stood the steaming tea-kettle, and as we entered the lady 
of the house, attired in a loose robe, not gathered in at 
the waist but flowing from the shoulders half-way down 
her leather boot-legs, cut some pieces of reindeer meat 
from one of two carcasses that leaned against the wall 
with the skins still covering them, and fried them in a 
pan over the glowing coals. In the meantime a frozen 
fish was cut into struganina and placed before us with 
an additional plate of dried fish and some preserved cran- 




INTERIOR OP A STAROSTA'S HOUSE. 

berries, and afterwards the hot tea, that made the re- 
mainder of my journey quite comfortable. While we 
were partaking of the hospitality of the Russian natives 
three sledge loads of Tchouktchis arrived, and were simi- 
larly entertained. I thought it must be a considerable tax 
upon the time and hospitality of those who live upon the 
lines of travel to entertain so many guests, for no one 
passes these houses without entering, and no one pays 
anything for his entertainment. All the guests except- 



MIDDLE EOLYMSK. 183 

ing myself, even the Tchouktchis, crossed themselves 
when they entered the house, as well as before and after 
eating, and when they left. At Wanker' s house the en- 
tire family crossed themselves in front of the pictures of 
saints in one corner and bowed as they muttered their 
prayers. Wanker, too, went through the same forms; 
but not, I thought, sufficiently to make up for the time 
he had lost in the Tchouktchi houses along the coast. 
He spoke the Tchouktchi language perfectly, so that I 
felt certain that he was at least a half-breed. He wore 
their amulets to cure him when he was sick, and was with 
them a skilful shaman, or medicine man. ISTo one could 
excel him in the performance upon the drum, and yet all 
these were laid aside at home, and he was apparently as 
pious as any of his family. I never saw religion so uni- 
versal as the Greek religion in Siberia. 

Not only the Russian inhabitants but the Yakouts, 
Tungusians, Lamoots and Tchouktchis who reside near 
the settlements are all equally religious. It seemed to me 
to be a most convenient religion, for it consisted, as far as 
I could see, in crossing one's self and bowing before the 
pictures and in fasting upon a fish diet where there was 
scarcely anything but fish to eat. The most pious old 
man I saw among them could scarcely restrain his anger 
at some infringement of his orders one day until he had 
finished his prayers. He then turned and opened upon 
the offending head such a volley of — well, if not oaths, 
they sounded as if they would have been when trans- 
lated. It is a beautiful religion, at any rate, and abounds 
in affectionate salutes. All these forms are particularly 
dear to the Yakout, and never omitted, at least in the 
presence of a white man. After prayers every one kisses 
every one else three times — once on each cheek and once 



184 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

on the mouth. This is universal — men, women and chil- 
dren, servants and masters, soldiers and their commanding 
officers. It is neither the ecstatic nor paroxysmal kiss, 
nor yet the Platonic, but simply the kiss of devotion. 
The entire household join in prayers, all standing before 
the chromos of saints with metallic rays attached to their 
heads in the most realistic fashion, and cross themselves 
and bow in unison, unless some one particularly devout 
prostrates himself upon the floor and kisses the planks in 
the fervor of his religious zeal. 

It was a beautiful sight to me to see the gray-haired 
Prefet take the little Nanyah by the hand and lead her 
before the family altar, where they stood side by side at 
their devotions. When finished she would cross her dear 
little hands and hold them suppliantly toward her com- 
panion while he made the sign of the cross over her and 
dropped his hard hand upon hers. Then she would 
raise it to her lips and kiss it. This concluded the devo- 
tions. It is a convenient religion for a lazy man, for of 
the 365 days that compose the year nearly all are saints' 
days or holidays, and no good Christian would work 
upon a holy day. Were it not that the fish are so 
abundant I fear these people would starve to death. I 
never could make out the exact position occupied by 
la petite Nanyah in the household at Sradnia. She 
seemed to unite the duties of a plaything, a daughter and 
a servant. I first saw her the day that I arrived at the 
house of the Prefet. My attention had been attracted by 
a brilliant costume of the Lamoots, and to show it to 
better advantage the ever-useful Nanyah was called upon 
as a lay figure. There was neither hesitation nor bold- 
ness in her manner. She was simply showing the dress, 
not herself. She had neither fear of the stranger nor 



MIDDLE KOLYMSR. 185 

hesitation to accommodate him by wearing this gaudy 
savage costume. With her it was simply a pleasure to 
please others. I was told that Nanyah was to be our 
travelling companion to Yakoutsk ; that she was affianced 
to an officer of the regiment stationed there, and this 
would be the first time she had ever been away from 
Sradnia Kolymsk. Her parents were dead, and she had 
no near relative except a brother, a lad of about ten years, 
who was to follow later in company with the traders on 
their return to Yakoutsk, when the voyage could be made 
at less expense. During my sojourn in Sradnia, as well as 
in Mshne Kolymsk, I was frequently invited to partake of 
the hospitality of some of the inhabitants. At all such 
entertainments it seemed to be a principle with the host to 
insist upon my drinking a glass of vodka, that is, diluted 
alcohol, about every five minutes. At first I thought I 
must submit myself to the customs of the country and 
sustain myself as best I could, and the consequence was 
that when dinner was over I had not the slightest idea 
whether I had eaten anything or not, but was quite sure 
that I had drank something. Later I found out that all 
that was required was that you should sip the liquor, and 
thus avoid the evil consequences of heavy drinking, and 
governed my drinking accordingly. I learned that the 
Russian rule is a glass of vodka before dinner, before each 
plate, during each plate, after each plate, and after dinner 
— that is all. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

APPK0ACHINO THE LENA. 

" Like the breaking up of a hard winter " is an expres- 
sion frequently used, but I doubt if any one knows what 
"the breaking up of a hard winter" really is like unless 
he has had the misfortune to travel in Northern Siberia 
during the spring time. I thought I had seen hard win- 
ters and pretty hard breakings up in the northern portion 
of North America, but they were nothing like the affair in 
this country. To get the real thing in all its force and 
significance you must be near one of the great north flow- 
ing rivers of Siberia about the time of the spring floods, 
when whole districts are covered with water and swift 
moving ice, and no land is to be seen for miles in any 
direction, but occasional forests apparently growing right 
up out of the water. To travel over roads where for hun- 
dreds of yards your sled is entirely under water and you 
only maintain a position upon it by half standing up and 
clinging to the side pieces until the whole concern is 
dumped into an unexpected hole — this is what you must 
expect. You will have to make part of your journey on 
horseback, perhaps, and over such roads and upon such 
cattle as can be found nowhere else in the world. I refer 
now to civilized Siberia, that which is governed by officers 
appointed by the Czar. East of the district of the Ko- 
lyma, which extends but a short distance beyond the 

river which gives its name to the district and lies in about 

186 



APPROACHING THE LENA, 187 

the 161st meridian east of Greenwich, is savage Siberia, 
and nnder no control of the Russian Government. The 
Tchouktchis have never been conquered. A pitched bat- 
tle with them was the greatest success ever effected by the 
Cossacks who occupied the land, though some of them 
passed through the Tchouktchis' country along the north- 
ern coast and by way of Behring Strait to the Anadyr be- 
fore Behring entered the sea that bears his name. The 
police district of the Kolyma is, therefore, the first one 
coming from the East sees of civilization. My experience 
had been so severe and distressing before I reached Nishne 
Kolymsk that I felt that when I arrived there my troubles 
would be ended, and the rest of the journey, though 
carrying me entirely around the world before reaching 
New York, would be comparatively comfortable and 
easy, as it would be over regularly established post roads 
of the Empire. And perhaps it may have been compara- 
tively easy in a general way, but there were many pas- 
sages of discomfort that would equal any of my previous 
experiences. The great advantage I found was the in- 
creased rapidity with which I could travel. There is no 
such thing as comfort in Siberian journeys, except, per- 
haps, in winter and over the more westerly roads. 

I was fortunate in having as a companion on the journey 
to "YYerchojansk M. de Yarowa, the ex-Chief of Police, 
or Ispravnik, of the Kolyma district. We were accom- 
panied by the little Nanyah and a Cossack, whose ser- 
vices were required to take charge of our baggage and 
have everything arranged as comfortably as possible when 
we halted en route for meals or tea. This journey was 
my first experience of post-road travel, and made in such 
company it would be, of course, as rapid and agreeable as 
possible. The stations where we were to change animals 



188 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



were upon this route from sixty to two hundred and fifty 
versts apart. (A verst, it should be remembered, is two- 
thirds of a mile.) Where the stations are far apart there 
are intervening houses, sometimes inhabited and some- 
times mere shelters for travellers, where wood and ice are 
found conveniently provided for the purpose of cooking 
meat or tea. The use of tea on the road is universal in 
Siberia, except in the savage Tchouktchis' land, where it 




INTERIOR OF POVARNNIAR. 



is impossible to obtain it ; and, though new to me, I soon 
appreciated the advantages gained by its use. I never 
approved of the use of alcoholic stimulants in Arctic jour- 
neys, and in Northern America preferred the weak bouil- 
lon obtained by boiling meat, the only method of cooking 
known to the Esquimaux. 

In Siberia I learned that tea is equally efficacious and 
much more convenient ; for you can halt and boil a pot of 
water for your tea and be under way again long before 



APPROACHING THE LENA. 189 

frozen meat would be even thoroughly thawed. These 
intermediate resting places are called povarnniars (kitch- 
ens), and when inhabited no time is lost in obtaining hot 
water, for a good fire is always burning in the houses in 
this thickly wooded country, and where uninhabited it 
does not take much longer to get the pot boiling. Wood 
is plentiful and of a superior quality for fuel, light and 
easily ignited, but requiring almost constant replenishing. 
The chimney is made of small poles which extend up- 
ward through the roof from a raised fireplace, and are 
plastered with mud to prevent ignition. The wood is 
split into long, thin pieces, and loosely piled on end 
against the back of the chimney ; the strong draught soon 
gives you a roaring fire. These povarnniars are found 
usually about thirty or forty versts apart, and were 
generally very welcome during the winter cold. When 
travelling rapidly with good reindeer we would not 
stop at every povarnniar, but sometimes omit one or 
two en route. The people whose abodes are used 
by travellers as povarnniars receive no recompense for 
the inconvenience they experience, but feel, I am told, 
amply repaid by the opportunity of seeing strangers and 
hearing any bit of news or gossip that may be afloat in this 
desolate land. I saw that the Yakouts, who are the station 
masters upon the roads north of the city of Yakoutsk, are 
not the most enterprising and active people in the world, 
and it requires some management to secure the change of 
animals necessary to your journey. They are arrant cow- 
ards and can only be moved by bluster and threats. 
Kindness secures from them only imposition, while they 
seem to adore those who abuse and browbeat them. My 
friend, the Ispravnik, did the wrangling upon this route, 
much to my relief, and we were seldom delayed at the 



190 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



stations. Upon this, as upon all my journeys in Siberia, 
except when mounted on horseback or upon a single small 
dog sled, travel was continued during the night as well as 
day, and consequently we accomplished the 1,500 versts 
to Werchojansk in eighteen days. During a portion of 
the route we had horses for draught animals and at other 
times reindeer. I much preferred the latter, because so 
much fleeter and so much more docile. It seemed impos- 
sible ever to force the Yakout horses out of a walk until 
your sled overturned, and then they would run, and it 
seemed equally impossible to stop them. 




The fifth day after leaving the Kolyma we crossed the 
divide between that river and the Indigirka, and here, by 
the roadside, upon the crest of the mountain, stood a 
cross which marks the dividing line between the police 
districts of the Kolyma and Werchojansk. Here we 
halted a few minutes and got out of our sleds while the 
ex-Ispravnik and la petite JSTanyah took their formal 
and religious farewell of the district we had just left. 
At the foot of the cross they stood side by side facing 
the east, the old man baring his gray head to the wind 
and snow storm, while they muttered their prayers 



APPROACHING THE LENA. 191 

in unison and crossed themselves, the others in the 
meanwhile respectfully bareheaded and attentive. The 
train was drawn up on the road, and the horses embraced 
the interval to paw away the snow and nibble the frost- 
killed herbage beneath. The cross was hung with bits of 
cloth and ribbon and bunches of horsehair, and in some 
of the many cracks that seamed the venerable structure 
were copper coins, all gifts from previous travellers, to 
charm away any prospective evil that might attend so 
great a change of residence. Each member of the party 
contributed something to this curious collection — the old 
man a leaf of tobacco, Nanyah a ribbon from her brown 
tresses, while I tied a few hairs from the tail of each horse 
in our train to one of the sticks that stood in the snow 
near the cross and from which waved many similar offer- 
ings to the idols of the Yakouts and Siberia. It was to 
me altogether a strange and interesting spectacle, this 
weird cross, with its ribbons and horsetails waving in the 
breeze from the summit of a Siberian mountain ; the little 
group of civilized people clad in furs and surrounded by 
half savage yemsheeks, or drivers ; the horses, not 
more civilized than their masters, gathering their food 
from beneath the snow like reindeer; the sudden tran- 
sition from devotion to levity upon the part of my com- 
panions as they turned from their prayers to participate 
in the rites of the savages and decorate the cross of the 
Christians with the emblems of idolatry — all this was 
equally new and impressive. 

Not many days after leaving this spot we came to the 
village of Abooie, where we rested at the house of the 
gollivar, or headman of the village. He was a large fine- 
looking Yakout, with short gray hair and a quiet, digni- 
fied demeanor that greatly impressed me. He entertained 



192 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 



us very handsomely with frozen fish and frozen cream, 
and made us exceedingly welcome to his house, which 
was much larger and cleaner than any Yakout dwelling I 
had yet seen. Two married sons occupied the same house 
with their father, and one seemed to have no other occu- 
pation than keeping the children, who wanted to look at 
the strangers, upon the other side of the house. He was, 
like his father, of colossal stature, but, I am afraid, had a 




NICHOLAI CHAGRA'S HOUSE. 

bad heart, for several times I saw him push the children 
very gently away, and at the same time slyly pull their 
hair until they screamed, when he would most soothingly 
inquire what was the matter. I felt like braining the 
brute for his cruelty, but knew that my interest in the 
poor abused little innocents would neither be understood 
nor appreciated. When our reindeer were harnessed 
what was my surprise to see our dignified and venerable 
host put on his big fur overcoat and go as one of our 



APPROACHING THE LENA. 



193 



yemsTieelcs. He was a thoroughly good driver, however, 
and told me almost to the minute when we would reach 
each povarnniar en route and arrive at the next station. I 
believe him to be a sly old rascal, though, for I detected 
him winking at one of the other drivers after our arrival 




vw^ 



/. 



^ 





v, flfP 






1 








'i 


'4 




M 




N1CHOLA1 


CHAORA. 






-v 



at the station right in the midst of his devotion to the 
corner saints. His face still presented the same venerable 
dignity at the time, and I never was more completely sur- 
prised than at that moment. I then thought that his son 
had inherited some of his father's sly deviltry, which, 
perhaps, accounted for his mild torture of the innocents. 



194 ICE PACE AND TUNDRA. 

A few days later we reached the longest station on the 
road, 250 versts. Here chance would have it that there 
was not a sufficient supply of reindeer, and we had a fine 
prospect of being left without transportation in the 
mountain passes. On reaching the first povarnniar the 
next morning after leaving the station we found some 
Yakouts with sixty fine, strong reindeer returning from 
transporting the merchandise of one of the Kolyma 
traders. As they were going our way it seemed a simple 
matter to hire them to convey us to the next station, but 
I found the simplicity was entirely my own, and owing to 
my lack of knowledge of the Yakout perversity, notwith- 
standing the liberal recompense tendered by M. de 
Yarowa, backed by a special reward offered by me per- 
sonally, they said they were only willing to travel fifty 
versts per day and sleep at night in the povamniars, thus 
consuming four days in a journey that should have been 
made in a day and a half. No amount of money or 
threats would move them, and my companion told me 
that he would therefore take possession of twelve of the 
best reindeer and leave them with the headman of the 
village at the next station, together with a liberal price for 
their use. As may be imagined the drivers were very much 
opposed to this arrangement, and this led to considera- 
ble loud talk, not a word of which I understood. But 
when, a moment afterward, I saw the old Ispravnik pom- 
melling one of the Yakouts and the Cossack lasso 
another who attempted to run away, I thought it was 
time for action and I asked M. de Yarowa what I was to 
do. He said I need do nothing — that they were all very 
pleasant and bland now; that the only way to make 
friends with Yakouts was to beat them; and, sure 
enough, a few minutes later they all came up, hats in 



APPROACHING THE LENA, 



195 



hand, and begged we would take all the reindeer we 
wanted. They even harnessed them for us themselves 
and mended one of our sleds that was broken. 

At Werchojansk I obtained the first complete history 
of the landing at the Lena delta of some of the officers 
and crew of the Jeannette during the previous fall, and 
learned that a search party under Chief Engineer Melville 
was still engaged looking for the remains of those who 





WEIUJIIOJANSK. 



had already perished or for anyone that might still be alive. 
Upon inquiry I ascertained that it was a journey of only 
from about seven to ten days to where I would find Chief 
Engineer Melville, and I could find no reason why I 
should leave the country when so near and not find out 
something about the search party. I therefore bade 
"Good-by" to my kind old companion and his little 
charge, Nanyah, and started at midnight for the Lena 
delta, distant about 1,200 versts. A Cossack was detailed 



196 ICE ?ACK AND TUNDRA. 

by the acting Ispravnik of Werchojansk to accompany 
me to look after my baggage, to see that animals were 
furnished promptly at the stations and also to see that I 
had tea and cooked meat whenever necessary. He was 
to be, in fact, a general manager of my affairs as well as 
half guard and half servant. At this time I did not 
know a single word of the Russian language, as it had 
not been necessary to learn it. At Mshne Kolymsk 
nearly all the Russians spoke the Tchouktchi language, 
and M. de Yarowa spoke French as well as his native 
tongue, and managed everything en route. I was simply 
a passenger in his train. It was different with me now, 
as, though my Cossack spoke the Yakout language per- 
fectly, he spoke no other except Russian. This seemed 
at first a serious drawback, but I was not discouraged, 
for if I had been able to make long journeys through 
lands peopled only by savages, whose language I did not 
understand, I was not afraid that I should fail to make 
myself understood by civilized people. I had also a poly- 
glot dictionary of the French, Russian, German and 
English languages, with the French as the initial lan- 
guage ; which was rather a drawback, as first I must know 
the French equivalent for what I desired to explain in 
Russian. It fortunately happened that my Cossack, be- 
sides being unusually intelligent for one of his class in 
that country, was able to read and write, though by no 
means a scholar — so, with my dictionary and the uni- 
versal sign language we got along quite well. Our con- 
versations were never very extended, nor could they be 
called brilliant ; it was quite enough if they were satis- 
factory. My dictionary was never packed away ; it was 
always placed under my pillow in the sled, and always 
brought into the povarnniars and stations with the cook- 



APPROACHING THE LENA. 197 

ing utensils. Here we would pore over that book until 
the meal was ready; I would, if possible, find the word 
I desired to use and point out the Russian term, Michael 
carefully marking it with his thumb-nail, while he took it 
to the fire to see it more plainly, or some polite Yakout 
stood by us holding a lighted stick for a candle. It was a 
tedious method of communication, but, before finally 
parting with Michael, some two months and a half after- 
ward, I was able to make him understand nearly every- 
thing I desired or that was necessary. Michael was 
recommended to me as a very energetic and driving fellow, 
who would make the Yakouts fly around and have things 
ready quickly, and so I found him to be. He was the 
veriest tyrant in the houses of the Yakouts, much to my 
disgust. He would bluster in, kick over their utensils 
and order them around as if he were the owner and not 
they. If any of them dared to come over to the side of 
the house where I was seated he would drive them back, 
and never was satisfied with anything they did. The con- 
sequence was that they all adored him and were ready to 
kiss the ground he walked on. His manner was just such 
as to endear him to the Yakout heart. They can never 
appreciate kindness, but love to be abused. I never 
could fully understand their character, but knew them to 
be arrant cowards. With Michael I managed to travel 
rapidly when the roads permitted, and at all times as 
rapidly as possible. 



13 



CHAPTER XVII. 

THE DIARY OF DE LONG. 

Lena Delta, April 10th, 1882. 
On April 2d I was more than two hundred miles from 
Werchojansk. I reached the station of Yoayaska at 
nine in the evening, and there found a packet of mail 
matter which was to be forwarded to Irkutsk. The 
Cossack said that I might open it, and these are the let- 
ters which I read : — 

Lena Delta, March 2Mh, 1882. 

Honorable the Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D. O. : 
Sir — I have the honor of informing you of my suc- 
cessful search for the party of Lieutenant De Long, with 
its books, records, &c, &c. After several unsuccessful 
attempts to follow De Long' s track from the northward 
I tried the retracing of Mndermann's track from the 
southward, and after visiting every point of land project- 
ing into the great bay at the junction of the Lena 
branches, from Matvey around from the west to a point 
bearing E.N.E. and forming one of the banks of the river 
Kugoasastack, ascending the bank, I found where a large 
fire had been made, and Mndermann recognized it as the 
river down which he came. I turned the point to go 
north, and about one thousand yards from the point I 
noticed the points of four poles lashed together and pro- 
jecting two feet out of the snow drift, under the bank. I 

dropped from the sled, and going up to the poles saw the 

198 



THE DIARY OF DE LONG. 



201 



muzzle of a Remington rifle standing eight inches out of 
the snow, and the gun strap hitched over the poles. 

I set the natives digging out the bank, and Mndermann 
and myself commenced to search the bank and high 
ground. I walked south, Mndermann walking north. I 
had gone about five hundred yards when I saw the camp 




FINDING DE LONG. 



kettle standing out of the snow, and, close by, three 
bodies partially buried in snow. I examined them and 
found them to be Lieutenant De Long, Dr. Ambler and 
Ah Sam, the cook. 

I found De Long's note book alongside of him, a copy 
of which please find enclosed, dating from October 1, 
when at Usterday, until the end. Under the poles were 
found the books, records, &c, and two men. The rest of 
the people lie between the place where De Long was found 



202 ICE PACE AND TUNDRA. 

and the wreck of a flatboat, a distance of five hundred 
yards. The snow bank will have to be dug out. It has 
a base of thirty feet and a height of twenty feet, with a 
natural slope. 

The point on which the people lie, although high, is 
covered with drift-wood, evidence that it is flooded during 
some seasons of the year. Therefore I will convey the 
people to a proper place on the bank of the Lena and 
have them interred. In the meantime I will prosecute 
the search for the second cutter with all diligence, as the 
weather may permit. The weather has been so bad we 
have been able to travel but one day in four, but hope for 
better weather as spring advances. 

I have the honor, sir, to be very respectfully, 

G. W. MELVILLE, 
Passed Assistant Engineer, United States Navy. 

Mr. Melville's first letter was followed by a second : 

Lena Delta, March 25t7i, 1882. 

The Honorable Secretary of tlie Navy, Washington, D. C. : 
Sik — The following is the list of dead found to date : 
Lieutenant George W. De Long, United States Navy. 
Assistant Surgeon James M. Ambler, United States 
Navy. 
Mr. Jerome J. Collins. 
Neils Iverson, C. H. 
Carl August Goertz, seaman. 
Adolph Dressier, seaman. 

George Washington Boyd, second-class fireman. 
Ah Sam, cook. 

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, 

G. W. MELVILLE, 
Passed Assistant Engineer, United States Navy. 



THE DIARY OF DE LONG. 203 

And when I had read these letters I turned to the 
papers which accompanied them and found them to be 
the diary kept by De Long from October 1st till October 
30th, 1881. It was the most horrible tale of agonizing, 
lingering death. Here is what I read : 

''Saturday, October 1st — 111th day, and a new month. 
— Called all hands as soon as the cook announced boiling 
water, and at 6:45 had our breakfast, half a pound of 
deer meat and tea. Sent Mndermann and Alexia to ex- 
amine the main river, other men to collect wood. The 
Doctor resumed the cutting away of poor Ericksen' s toes 
this morning. No doubt it will have to continue until his 
feet are gone, unless death ensues or we get to some set- 
tlement. Only one toe left now. Weather clear, light 
northeast airs, barometer 30.15 at 6:05. Temperature 
18° at 7:30. Mndermann and Alexia were seen to have 
crossed, and I immediately sent men to carry our load 
over. Left the following record : 

"Saturday, October 1st, 1881. — Fourteen of the officers 
and men of the United States Arctic steamer Jeannette 
reached this hut on Wednesday, September 28th, and, 
having been forced to wait for the river to freeze over, are 
proceeding to cross to the west side this a.m. on their 
journey to reach some settlement on the Lena Elver. 
We have two days' provisions, but having been fortunate 
enough thus far to get game in our pressing needs we 
have no fear for the future. 

fci Our party are all well except one man, Ericksen, 
whose toes have been amputated in consequence of frost 
bite. Other records will be found in several huts on the 
east side of this river, along which we have come from 
the north. 

"GEOKGE W. DE LONG, 
" Lieutenant, U. S. Navy, commanding expedition." 



204 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

Attached to this was a list of the party. 

At 8:30 made the final trip and got our sick man over 
in safety. From there we proceeded until 11:20, dragging 
onr man on the sled. Halted for dinner — half pound of 
meat and tea. At 1 went ahead again until 5:05. Act- 
ually under way 8:30 to 9:15, 1 to 1:40, 3:35 to 4, 9:30 to 
10:20, 1:50 to 2:10, 4:15 to 4:35, 10:30 to 10:20, 2:20 to 
2:40, 4:45 to 5:05, 3 to 3:25. At 8 p.m. crawled into our 
blankets. 

Sunday, October 2d. — I think we all slept fairly well 
until midnight, but from that time forward it was so cold 
and uncomfortable that sleep was out of the question. 
At 4:30 we were all out and in front of the fire, daylight 
just appearing. Ericksen kept talking in his sleep all 
night and effectually kept those awake who are not 
already awakened by the cold. Breakfast at 5 a.m. — 
half pound of meat and tea. Bright, cloudless morning, 
light northern airs ; barometer 30.30 at 5:32 ; temperature 
at 6, 35°. At 7 went ahead, following the frozen water 
whenever we could find it, and at 9:20 I felt quite sure we 
had gone some distance on the main river. I think our 
gait was at least two miles an hour and our time under 
way 2h. 40m. I calculate our forenoon work at least six 
miles, 7 to 7:35, 10:22 to 10:40, 3:20 to 3:40, 7:45 to 8:05, 
10:55 to 11:15, 3:50 to 4:05, 8:15 to 8:30. Dinner camp, 
4:15 to 4:20, 8:40 to 8:50, 1 to 1:30. Total, 9:20 to 9:40, 
1:40 to 2, 5h. 15m.; 9:50 to 10:12, 2:15 to 2:35 at least, 
2:45 to 3. 

Two miles an hour distance make good ten to twelve 
miles, and where are we % I think it the beginning of the 
Lena Kiver at last. Sogaster has been to us a myth. 
We saw two old huts at a distance, and this was all ; but 
they were out of our road and the day not half gone. 



THE DIARY OF DE LONG. 205 

Kept on the ice all the way, and therefore think we were 
over water ; but the stream was so narrow and so crooked 
that it never could have been a navigable stream. My 
chart is simply useless. I must go on plodding to the 
southward, trusting in God to guide me to some settle- 
ment, for I have long since realized that we are powerless 
to help ourselves. A bright, calm, beautiful day brought 
sunshine to cheer us up. An icy road and one day's 
rations yet. Boats frozen, of course, and hauled up. ~No 
hut in sight, and we halt on a bluff to spend a cold and 
comfortless night. Supper — half-pound meat and tea. 
Built a rousing fire. Built a log bed. Set a watch, two 
hours each, to keep fire going and get supper. Then we 
stood by for a second cold and wretched night. There 
was so much wind we had to put up our tent halves for a 
screen and sit shivering in our half blankets. 

Monday, October 3d, 1881 — 113th day. — It was so fear- 
fully cold and wretched that I served out tea to all hands, 
and on this we managed to struggle along until 5 a.m., 
when we ate our last deer meat and had more tea. Our 
morning food now consists of four-fourteenths of a pound 
of pemmican each and a half-starved dog. May God 
again incline unto our aid ! How much farther we have 
to go before making a shelter or settlement He only 
knows. Ericksen seems failing. He is weak and power- 
less, and the moment he closes his eyes talks, mostly in 
Danish, German and English. No one can sleep, even 
though our other surroundings permitted. For some 
cause my watch stopped at 10:45 last night while one of 
the men on watch had it. I set it as near as I could by 
guessing, and we must run by that until I can do better. 
Sun rose yesterday morning at 6:40 by the watch when 
running all right. 7:05 to 7:40, 7:50 to 8:20, 8:30 to 9, 9:15 



206 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

to 9:35, 9:50 to 10:10, 10:25 to 10:45, 11. Back, 11:20, 
11:30, 11:50, 11:50. Dinner, 35, 30, 30, 20, 20; total, 155 
= 2 hours 35 minutes, say 5 miles. 

Our half day's work I put, as above, five miles. Some 
time and distanoe were lost by crossing the river upon see- 
ing numerous fox traps. A man' s track was also seen in 
the snow, bound south, and we followed it until it crossed 
the river to the west bank again. Here we were obliged 
to go back again in our tracks, for the river was open in 
places and we could not follow the man's track direct. 
Another of the dozen shoals that infest the river swung 
us off to the eastward, too, and I hastened to get on the 
west bank again, reaching there at 11:50 for dinner — our 
last four-fourteenths of a pound of pemmican. At 1:40 
got under way again and made a long spurt until 2:20. 
While at the other side of the river Alexia said he saw a 
hut, and during our dinner camp he said he again saw a 
hut. Under our circumstances my desire was to get to it 
as speedily as possible. As Alexia points out, it was on 
the left bank of the river of which we were now on 
the right side, looking south, but a sand-bank gave us 
excellent walking for a mile or two until we took to the 
river and got across it diagonally. Here, at 2:20, I 
called a halt, and Alexia mounted the bluff to take a 
look again. He now announced he saw a second hut 
about one and a quarter miles back from the coast, the 
other hut being about the same distance south, and on 
the edge of the bluff. The heavy dragging across the 
country of a sick man on a sled made me incline to 
the hut on the shore, since as the distance was about the 
same we could get over the ice in one-third of the time. 
Mndermann, who climbed the bluff, saw that the object 
inland was a hut — was not so confident of the one on the 



THE DIARY OF DE LONG. 207 

shore. Alexia, however, was quite positive, and, not see- 
ing very well myself, I unfortunately took his eyes as 
best and ordered an advance along the river to the south- 
ward. Away we went, Nindermann and Alexia leading, 
and had progressed about a mile when plash in I went 
through the ice up to my shoulders before my knapsack 
brought me up. While I was crawling out, in went Gcertz 
to his neck about fifty yards behind me, and behind him 
in went Mr. Collins to his waist. Here was a time. The 
moment we came out of the water we were one sheet of 
ice, and danger of frost bite was imminent. Along we 
hobbled, however, until we reached, at 3:45, about the 
point on which the hut was seen. Here Mndermann 
climbed the bluff, followed by the Doctor. At first the 
cry was " All right, come ahead," but no sooner were we 
well up than Mndermann shouted, " There is no hut 
here." To my dismay and alarm nothing but a large 
mound of earth was to be seen, which, from its regular 
shape and singular position, would seem to have been 
built artificially for a beacon. So sure was Mndermann 
that it was a hut, that he went all round it looking for a 
door, and then climbed on top to look for a hole in the 
roof. But of no avail. It was nothing but a mound 
of earth. Sick at heart, I ordered a camp to be made 
in a hole in the bluff face, and soon before a roaring 
fire we were drying and burning our clothes while the cold 
wind ate into our backs. 

And now for supper nothing remained but the dog. I 
therefore ordered him killed and dressed by Iverson, and 
soon after a stew was made of such parts as could not be 
carried, of which everybody except the Doctor and my- 
self eagerly partook. To us two it was a nauseating 
mess, and — but why go on with such a disagreeable sub- 



208 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

ject. I had the remainder weighed, and I am quite sure 
we had twenty-seven pounds. The animal was fat, and 
as he had been fed on pemmican presumably clean ; but 
immediately upon halting I sent Alexia off with his gun 
inland toward the hut to determine whether that was a 
myth like our present one. He returned about dark, cer- 
tain that it was a large hut, for he had been inside of it 
and had found some deer meat scraps and bones. For a 
moment I was tempted to start everybody for it, but 
Alexia was by no means sure he could find it in the dark, 
and if we lost our way we would be worse off than before. 
We accordingly prepared to make the best of it where we 
were. We three wet people were burning and steaming 
before the fire. Collins and Gcertz had taken some alco- 
hol, but I could not get it down. Cold weather, with a 
raw northwest wind impossible to avoid or screen, our 
future was a wretched, dreary night. Ericksen soon 
became delirious, and his talking was a horrible accom- 
paniment to the wretchedness of our surroundings. 
Warm we could not get, and getting dry seemed out of 
the question. Every one seemed dazed and stupefied, 
and I feared some of us would perish during the night. 
How cold it was I don't know, as my last thermometer 
was broken by my many falls upon the ice, but I think it 
must have been below zero. A watch was set to keep the 
fire going and we huddled around it, and thus our third 
night without sleep was passed. If Alexia had not 
wrapped his sealskin around me and sat alongside of me 
to keep me warm by the heat of his body I think I 
should have frozen to death. As it was I steamed and 
shivered and shook. Ericksen' s groans and rambling talk 
rang out on the night air, and such a dreary, wretched 
night I hope I shall never again see. 



THE DIARY OF DE LONG, 209 

T/iursday, October 4t7i — 114th day. — At the first ap- 
proach of daylight we all began to move around and the 
cook was set to work making tea. The Doctor now made 
the unpleasant discovery that Ericksen had got his 
gloves off during the night, and that now his hands were 
frozen. Men were at once set at work rubbing them, and 
by 6 a.m. had so far restored circulation as to risk mov- 
ing the man. Each one hastily swallowed a cup of tea 
and got his load in readiness. Ericksen was quite un- 
conscious, and we lashed him on the sled. A southwest 
gale was blowing, and the sensation of cold was intense. 
But at 6 a.m. we started, made a forced march of it, 
and at 8 a.m. had got the sick man and ourselves, 
thank God, under cover of a hut large enough to hold us. 
Here we at once made a fire, and, for the first time since 
Saturday morning last, got warm. 

The Doctor at once examined Ericksen, and found him 
very low indeed. His pulse was very feeble. He 
was quite unconscious, and under the shock of last 
night's exposure was sinking very fast. Fears were 
entertained that he might not last many hours, and 
I therefore called upon every one to join me in reading 
the prayers for a sick person before we sought any rest 
for ourselves. This was done in a quiet and reverent 
manner, though I fear my broken utterances made but 
little of the service audible. Then setting a watch we all, 
except Alexia, lay down to sleep. At 10 a.m. Alexia 
went off to hunt, but returned at noon wet, having broken 
through the ice and fallen in the river. At 6 p.m. we 
roused up, and I considered it necessary to think of some 
food for my party. Half a pound of dog meat was fried 
for each person, and a cup of tea given, and that consti- 
tuted our day's food, but we were so grateful that we 



210 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

were not exposed to the merciless southwest gale that 
tore around us that we did not mind short rations. 

Wednesday, October Uh— 115th day.— The cook com- 
mences at 7:30 to get tea made from yesterday's tea 
leaves. Nothing to serve out until evening. Half a 
pound of dog meat per day is our food until some relief 
is afforded us. Alexia went off hunting again at 9, and 
I set the men gathering light sticks enough to make a 
flooring for the house, for the frozen ground thawing 
under everybody kept them damp and wet and robbed 
them of much sleep. Southwest gale continues. Ba- 
rometer, 30.12 at 2:40. Mortification has set in in Erick- 
sen's leg and he is sinking. Amputation would be of no 
use, as he would probably die under the operation. He 
is partially conscious. At 12 Alexia came back, having 
seen nothing. He crossed the river this time, but unable 
longer to face the cold gale was obliged to return. I am 
of the opinion we are on Titary Island, on its eastern side, 
and about twenty-five miles from Ku Mark Sirka, which 
I take to be a settlement. This is a last hope for us. 
Sogaster has long since faded away. The hut in which 
we are is quite new and clearly not the astronomical 
station marked on my chart. In fact, the hut is not fin- 
ished, having no door and no porch. It may be intended 
for a summer hut, though the numerous fox traps would 
lead me to suppose that it would occasionally be visited 
at other times. Upon this last chance and another sun 
rest all our hopes of escape, for I can see nothing more to 
be done. As soon as the gale abates I shall send Ninder- 
mann and another man to make a forced march to Ku 
Mark Sirka for relief. At 6 p.m. served out half pound 
of dog meat and second-hand tea, and then went to sleep. 

Thursday, October 6th— 116th day.— Called all hands 



THE DIARY OF DE LONG. 211 

at 7:30. Had a cup of third-hand tea, with half an ounce 
of alcohol in it. Everybody very weak. Gale moderating 
somewhat. Sent Alexia out to hunt. Shall start Ninder- 
mann and Noros at noon to make the forced march to Ku 
Mark Sirka. At 8:45 our messmate Ericksen departed 
this life. Addressed a few words of cheer and comfort to 
the men. Alexia came back empty-handed — too much 
drifting snow. What, in God' s name, is going to become 
of us ? Fourteen pounds of dog meat left and twenty -five 
miles to a possible settlement. As to burying Ericksen, 
I cannot dig a grave, for the ground is frozen and we have 
nothing to dig with. There is nothing to do but bury 
him in the river. Sewed him up in the flaps of the tent 
and covered him with my flag. Got the men ready, and 
with half an ounce of alcohol we will try to make out to 
bury him, but we are all so weak I do not see how we are 
going to travel. At 12:40 read the burial service and 
carried our departed shipmate to the river, where a hole 
having been cut in the ice he was buried, three volleys 
from our Kemingtons being fired over him as a funeral 
honor. A board was prepared, with this cut on it : " In 
memory of H. H. Ericksen, October 6, 1881. U. S. S. 
Jeannette." And this will be stuck in the river bank 
almost over his grave. 

His clothing was divided up among his messmates. 
Iverson has his Bible and a lock of his hair. Supper at 
5 p.m., half a pound of dog meat and tea. 

Friday, October 7th — 117th day. — Breakfast, consist- 
ing of our last half pound of dog meat and tea. Our last 
grain of tea was put in the kettle this morning, and we 
are now about to undertake our journey of twenty-five 
miles with some old tea leaves and two quarts of alcohol. 
However, I trust in God, and I believe that He who has 



212 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

fed us thus far will not suffer us to die of want now. 
Commenced preparations for departure at 7:10. One 
Winchester rille being out of order is, with 161 rounds of 
ammunition, left behind. We have with us two Rem- 
ingtons and 243 rounds of ammunition. Left the follow- 
ing record in the hut : 

"Friday, October 7th, 1881. — The undermentioned offi- 
cers and men of the late United States steamer Jeannette 
are leaving here this morning to make a forced march to 
Ku Mark, Sirka, or some other settlement on the Lena 
River. We reached here Tuesday, October 4, with a 
disabled comrade, H. H. Ericksen, seaman, who died yes- 
terday morning and was buried in the river at noon. 

" His death resulted from frost bite and exhaustion due 
to consequent exposure. 

" The rest of us are well, but have no provisions left, 
having eaten our last this morning." 

Under way by 8:30 and proceeded until 11:20, by which 
time we had made about three miles. Here we were all 
pretty well done up, and seemed to be wandering in a 
labyrinth. A large lump of wood, swept in by an eddy, 
seemed to be a likely place to get hot water, and I halted 
the party for dinner— one ounce of alcohol in a pot of tea. 
Then went ahead and soon struck what seemed like the 
main river again. Here four of us broke through the ice 
in trying to cross, and, fearing frost bite, I had a fire built 
on the west bank to dry us up. Sent Alexia off mean- 
while to look for food, directing him not to go far or stay 
long, but at 1:30 he had not returned nor was he in sight. 
Light southwest breeze, foggy. Mountains in sight to 
southward. At 5:30 Alexia returned with one ptarmigan, 
of which we made soup, and with half an ounce of alcohol 
had our supper. Then crawled under our blankets for a 



THE DIARY OF DE LONG. 213 

sleep. Light west breeze, full moon, starlight, not very- 
cold. Alexia saw the river a mile wide with no ice in it. 

Saturday, October 8th — 118th day. — Called all hands at 
5:30. Breakfast, one ounce of alcohol in a pint of hot 
water. 

Doctor's Note. — Alcohol proves of great advantage. 
Keeps off craving for food, preventing gnawing at 
stomach, and has kept up the strength of the men, as 
given — three ounces per day, as estimated, and in accord- 
ance with Dr. Ambler's experiments. 

Went ahead until 10:30. One ounce alcohol. Half- 
past six to half -past ten, five miles. Struck big river at 
11:30. Ahead again. Snowbanks. Met small river ; have 
to turn back. Halt at 5 ; only made advance one mile 
more. Hard luck. Snow. South-southeast wind, cold. 
Camp. But little wood. Half an ounce of alcohol. 

Sunday, October 9th — 119th day. — All hands at 4:30. 
One ounce of alcohol. Read divine service. Send Nin- 
dermann and Noros ahead for relief. They carry their 
blankets, one rifle, forty rounds of ammunition and two 
ounces of alcohol. Orders to keep the west bank of 
river until they reach a settlement. They started at 7. 
Cheered them. Under way at 8. Crossed the creek. 
Broke through the ice. All wet up to knees. Stopped 
and built fires. Dried clothes. Under way again at 10:30. 
Lee breaking down. At 1 struck river bank. Halt for 
dinner ; one ounce alcohol. Alexia shot three ptarmigan. 
Made soup. We are following Mndermann' s track, al- 
though he is long since out of sight. Under way at 3:30. 
High bluff. Ice moving rapidly to northward in the river. 
Halt at 4:40 on coming to wood. Find canal-boat. Lay 
our heads in it and go to sleep. Half ounce alcohol. 
Supper. 



214 ICE PACE AND TUNDRA. 

Monday, October 10th— 120th day.— Last half ounce of 
alcohol at 5:30. At 6:30 sent Alexia off to look for ptar- 
migan. Eat deer-skin scraps. Yesterday morning ate my 
deer-skin foot nips. Light southeast wind. Air not very 
cold. Under way at 8. In crossing creek three of us 
got wet. Built fire and dried out. Ahead again until 
11; used up. Built fire; made a drink out of the tea 
leaves from alcohol bottle. On again at noon. Fresh 
south-southwest wind. Drifting snow. Very hard going. 
Lee begging to be left. Some little beach and then long 
stretches of high bank. Ptarmigan tracks plentiful. Fol- 
lowing Nindermann's track. At 3 halted, used up. 
Crawled into a hole in the bank. Collected wood and 
built a fire. Alexia away in quest of game. Nothing for 
supper except a spoonful of glycerine. All hands weak 
and feeble, but cheerful. God help us ! 

Tuesday, October 11th — 121st day.— Southwest gale, 
with snow. Unable to move. No game. Teaspoonful of 
glycerine and hot water for food. No more wood in our 
vicinity. 

Wednesday, October 12th — 122d day. — Breakfast, last 
spoonful glycerine and hot water. For dinner we had a 
couple of handsful of Arctic willow in a pot of water, and 
drank the infusion. Everybody getting weaker and 
weaker. Hardly strength to get firewood. Southwest 
gale, with snow. 

Thursday, October 13th — 123d day. —Willow tea. 
Strong southwest winds. No news from Nindermann. 
We are in the hands of God, and unless He relents are 
lost. We cannot move against the wind, and staying here 
means starvation. After noon went ahead for a mile, 
crossing either another river or a wind in the big one. 
After crossing missed Lee. Went down in a hole in the 



THE DIARY OF DE LONG, 215 

bank and camped. Sent back for Lee. He had laid 
down and was waiting to die. All united in saying the 
Lord's Prayer and Creed. After supper strong gale of 
wind. Horrible night. 

Friday, October Itth — 124th day. — Breakfast, willow 
tea. Dinner, half teaspoonful sweet oil and willow tea. 
Alexia shot one ptarmigan. Had soup. Southwest wind 
moderating. 

Saturday, October 15th — 125th day. — Breakfast, willow 
tea and two old boots. Conclude to move at sunrise. 
Alexia broken down ; also Lee. Came to an empty grain 
raft. Halt and camp. Signs of smoke at twilight to 
southward. 

Sunday, October 16t7i — 126th day. — Alexia broken down. 
Divine service. 

Monday, October 17th — 127th day. — Alexia dying. Doc- 
tor baptized him. Read prayers for sick. Mr. Collins' 
birthday, forty years old. About sunset Alexia died. 
Exhaustion from starvation. Covered him with ensign 
and laid him in the crib. 

Tuesday, October ISth — 128th day. — Calm and mild. 
Snow falling. Buried Alexia in the afternoon. Laid 
him on the ice of the river and covered him over with 
slabs of ice. 

Wednesday, October 19th — 129th day. — Cutting up tent 
to make foot-gear. Doctor went ahead to find new camp. 
Shifted by dark. 

TJtursday, October 20th — 130th day. — Bright and sunny, 
but very cold. Lee and Kaach done up. 

Friday, October 21st — 131st day. — Kaach was found 
dead about midnight between the Doctor and myself. 
Lee died about noon. Read prayers for sick when we 
found he was going. 

1 i 



216 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

Saturday, October 22d — 132d day. — Too weak to carry 
the bodies of Lee and Kaach out on the ice. The Doctor, 
Collins and myself carried them around the corner out of 
sight. Then my eyes closed up. 

Sunday, October 23d — 133d day. — Everybody pretty 
weak. Slept or rested to-day, and then managed to get 
enough wood in before dark. Read part of divine ser- 
vice. Suffering in our feet. No foot-gear. 

Monday, October 24t7i— 134th day.— A hard night. 

Tuesday, October 25th— 135th day. 

Wednesday, October 26th — 136th day. 

Thursday, October 27th — 137th day. — Iverson broken 
down. 

Friday, October 28th — 138th day. — Iverson died during 
early morning. 

Saturday, October 29th— 139th day. — Dressier died dur- 
ing the night. 

Sunday, October 30th — 140th day. — Boyd and Gcertz 
died during the night. Mr. Collins dying. 



There the diary stops. When I had read it I tried to 
tell the Cossack what it was, but I could not speak. In 
many passages of the narrative I recognized experiences of 
my own. For the first time in my life I found it impossible 
to restrain my emotion before strangers, and buried my 
face in my hands for ten or fifteen minutes. 




MONUMENT HILL. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 



HOW THE BODIES WERE FOUND. 



Bookoff, Lena Delta, 
April 24tth, 1882. 

During the next fortnight I gathered supplementary 
details of the tragedy. On the 16th of March, all pre- 
liminaries having been arranged, Chief Engineer Melville's 
search party started from the temx>orary depot he had 
established at Cas Carta to make a thorough and exhaust- 
ive search for Captain De Long and his unfortunate com- 
panions. The search party as organized consisted of 
Chief Engineer G. W. Melville, commanding ; James H. 

Bartlett, assistant engineer of the Jeannette, and William 

217 



218 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

Mndermann, who was one of the two sent ahead by Cap- 
tain De Long to seek the aid they conld not reach in a 
body, and thns escaped the tragic fate that awaited those 
left behind. Besides those mentioned, the search party 
comprised Messrs. Greenbek and Bobookoff, interpreters ; 
Kolinkin, a Cossack, and a Russian exile, Yafeem Kapella, 
general assistant and supervisor of the Yakout dog-drivers 
and helpers, who were Tomat Constantin, Georgie Nich- 
olai, "Capitan" Inukkenty Shimuloff, Story Mcholai, 
Yassilli Koolgark and Simeon Illak, with Ivan Portny- 
agin and his wife, cook and helper. 

The search was first from Usterday, following the track 
of the retreat, until arriving at Matvey. This search re- 
sulted in finding nothing new concerning the lost ones, 
and then Chief Engineer Melville decided to work back 
upon Mndermann's line of retreat. They started on the 
23d of March from Matvey and soon found the wreck of a 
scow for which they had been looking, as Mndermann 
felt it would be a surer guide than any other to the re- 
mains of his former shipmates. He had passed this wreck 
when in company with Noros the first day they separated 
from the main body, and was convinced, judging from the 
condition in which he had left his companions and the 
rate of travel they were able to maintain, that they had 
not advanced far beyond this conspicuous object. And 
so it proved, for after they had found the wreck they had 
not hunted along the bank more than about Hyo hundred 
yards when they came upon the barrel of a rifle, which, 
with the ends of four poles lashed together, upon which 
it hung, was protruding from the snowdrift. Three poles 
had been lashed together to support one end of the ridge- 
pole of the tent, while the other extended back and rested 
upon the bank. 



ROW THE BODIES WERE FOUND. 219 

Two natives were at once set to work digging out the 
snow on either side of the poles, which here was abont eight 
feet deep, and soon each came npon a body at the same 
time. Thus Boyd and Gcertz were found, and Chief Engi- 
neer Melville, after directing them to clear away the snow 
toward the east, ascended the bank, here twenty feet 
above the level of the ice, to find a place in which he could 
take a round of angles with his compass. While proceed- 
ing in a westerly direction his attention was drawn to a 
camp kettle about a thousand yards from the boat wreck, 
and, approaching, he nearly stumbled over a bare hand 
protruding up out of the snow. Stooping down and re- 
moving the snow, which was not over a foot in depth, he 
found the remains of the unfortunate commander of the 
expedition, Captain De Long, and within three feet of him 
lay Dr. Ambler, while "Sam," the Chinese cook, was 
stretched at their feet. All were partly covered by the 
half tent which they had brought up with them when 
their companions no longer needed it, and some pieces of 
blanket had also been used to secure a little warmth. 
Near by were the remains of a fire, and in the camp kettle 
some pieces of Arctic willow, of which they had made tea. 

On the ground near him lay Captain De Long' s pocket 
journal, a few extracts from which mournful record I have 
already sent you. It seemed apparent that he, with the 
surgeon and " Sam," had died the day of the last entry 
in this journal ; and probably the book had not been re- 
turned to his pocket after making that entry, for his 
pencil was also on the ground near the book. He had 
ever been particular to make some entry in his journal 
each day, and when nothing transpired he desired to 
mention he merely wrote the date and the number of days 
since the vessel sank and the retreat commenced. Before 



220 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

leaving the tent place to drag their weary, shoeless feet to 
their last rest they had respectfully covered the face of 
Mr. Collins, their brother officer, with a cloth. The tent 
had been pitched in a deep gorge in the river bank. The 
two boxes of records were found at the tent place, below 
the bank, and a little further toward the east were the 
medicine chest and the flag, still upon its staff. 

The bodies of Iverson and Dressier were lying side by 
side just outside of where the half tent shelter had hung 
from the ridge pole, and that of Mr. Collins was further 
in rear on the inside of the tent. Lee and Kaach were 
not discovered for some time ; but by referring to the 
Captain's journal the searchers found the statement that 
after they died their bodies were carried " around the 
corner out of sight" by the three officers, who, with the 
cook, were now the only survivors, and too weak to bury 
their fallen comrades. By sounding through the snow 
toward the west the missing bodies were found in a cleft 
in the bank near by. None of those found had boots on 
their feet, but instead had wrapped rags around and tied 
them on to protect them somewhat from the cold. In 
their pockets, however, were found the remains of burned 
skin boots, which showed but too plainly to what strait 
they had been reduced for food. The hands and clothing 
of all were burned, and it seemed that in their last despair- 
ing effort to gather some warmth they had actually 
crawled into the fire. Boyd was found lying directly 
upon the remains of a fire, and his clothing was burned 
through to the skin, but his body was not scorched. 

It was Chief Engieeer Melville' s intention to bury the re- 
mains upon the bank where they were found, but the na- 
tives assured him that in all probability any tomb would be 
washed away, as when the river broke up in the spring there 



BOW THE BODIES WERE FOUND. 



221 



would be about four feet of water over the entire delta. 
He therefore had them all removed to the top of a hill of 
solid rock about three hun- 
dred feet high, about forty 
versts to the southwest, 
and there constructed a 
mausoleum of wood from 
the wreck of the scow near 
where they were found. 
First a gigantic cross was 
hewn out of a solid piece of 
driftwood and erected on 
the crest of the hill, and 
around it was built a box 
six feet wide, two feet 
deep and twenty-two feet 
long, placed exactly in the 
magnetic meridian. After the bodies had been placed 




- — -=S^5^JEUv^ 




DIAGRAMS OF TOMB. 



222 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



therein the box was covered with timbers laid side by side 
and a ridge pole sixteen feet long framed into the cross 
^.ve feet above the lid of the coffin, the ends supported by 
timbers having the same inward slant. The cross itself 
is twenty-two feet high from the surface of the rock, is 
one foot square, and the cross-beam is twelve feet long by 
one foot square. 

On the cross is engraved the following inscription, cut 
in by the search party at their house at nights : — 





In 






MEMORY 






of 






12 






of 






the 






OFFICERS 






and 






MEN 






of 




THE ARC 


TIC STEAMER "JEA 


^NETTE," 


WHO DIED OF STARVATION 


IN LE 


NA DELTA, OCTOBE 


Ft, 1881. 




Lieutenant 






G. W. DE LONG. 






Dr. J. M. AMBLER. 






J. J. COLLINS. 






W. LEE. 






A, GOIRTZ. 






A. DRESSLER. 






H. ERICKSEN. 






G. W. BOYD. 






N. IVERSON. 






H. KAACH, 






ALEXIA. 






AH SAM. 





HOW THE BODIES WERE FOUND. 223 

Chief Melville lias made arrangements to have the pyra- 
mid sodded this spring, under the direction of the com- 
mander at Bulun, in case he has finished his search in time 
to escape before the breaking np of the rivers. The struct- 
ure is a very creditable affair, and conspicuous from the 
river at a distance of twenty versts. 

When the records and books were found they were im- 
mediately closed and no one permitted to examine their 
contents, with the exception of Captain De Long's pocket 
journal, and of that only the month of October, in order 
to serve as a guide in prosecuting their further search. 
The articles of value and such things as would be of in- 
terest to friends of the deceased were also boxed up, and, 
together with the records and flag, were at once sent to 
Yakoutsk in charge of Mr. Bobookoff and the Cossack, to 
be placed in the care of the Governor of the district until 
the arrival of Chief Melville or instructions from the Navy 
Department concerning the disposition to be made of them. 
In the meantime diligent search has been made for the 
remains of Alexia, which the Captain's journal says were 
carried out upon the ice abreast of the scow and covered 
with slabs of ice, but as yet they have not been found. 

As soon as the entombment had been completed the 
search party started on the 10th of April to look for any 
traces of Lieutenant Chipp's party having reached the 
delta or adjacent coasts. It would be impossible to make 
a complete search of the delta, for that is merely an im- 
mense sand-bank, cut in every direction by thousands of 
large and small rivers, many of them navigable, but most 
of them changing their direction from year to year. A 
search at this time by so small a party could necessarily 
only cover the coast line before the sledging season is over, 
and after that all traces would be removed by the break- 



224 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

ing up and overflow of the river. In this last search Chief 
Melville was to take a westerly conrse as far as the Olenek 
River and return by the northwest coast to Cas Carta, 
while Bartlett and Mndermann started together from Cas 
Carta and went in company as far to the northeast as 
Barkin. Here they were to separate, Bartlett taking the 
eastern coast, while Mndermann returned to Cas Carta by 
the northern shore. 

Neither Bartlett nor Mndermann found any traces of 
those they were seeking, and at this date Chief Melville 



Collira* 

•^Gortz 



BoydN +Fire 

• Fire 



y- 



Iversen 

Medicine Chest '"""«t 

DretSer [ D D an<mag S'!!' 

$ Boxes of Records 



1 









Kuack 



POSITION OF THE BOWES. 



has not returned. He was unfortunately delayed three 
days after the others in starting by circumstances over 
which he had no control and may have found it a serious 
inconvenience when the time for sledging was drawing so 
rapidly to a close. After his return to Cas Carta the 
entire party will join Bartlett, who is at Germavelok, and 
from there a search will be made to Cape Borchoya and 
the bay of that name. If nothing should transpire from 
these last searches the sad presumption must prevail that 
Lieutenant Chipp's boat swamped in the gale of Septem- 
ber 12 and all on board of her perished. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

THE VOYAGE OF THE JEANNETTE. 

In relating the story of the Jeannette, of which conflict- 
ing accounts have been given, I prefer to rely on the 
journal kept by Captain De Long during the voyage, 
and read by me while travelling up the Lena River, and 
on the statement made to me by Mndermann and Noros, 
the two survivors of the Captain's boat. The crew num- 
bered thirty-three all told when the vessel entered the 
Arctic Ocean. She left San Francisco July 8, 1879 ; she 
sank June 13, 1881. She was put into the ice pack within 
two months of her departure ; she was frozen in before 
the end of November, and she never again came out. The 
record of the two years in the ice is extremely monoto- 
nous. It was only when the Jeannette' s last moments 
approached in the summer of 1881 that the interest of the 
tale begins. At this point it is taken up by the journal 
of De Long. His notes run as follows : 

Saturday, June 11th (ship's date Sunday, June 12th, 
correct date). — At half -past seven a.m. the ice com- 
menced to close in on the port side, but after advancing a 
foot or two came to rest. One watch was employed in 
hauling heavy floe pieces into a small canal on the port 
bow to close it up and to receive the greater part of the 
thrust. The ice at ten a.m had advanced toward the 
port side until these floe pieces had received the thrust, 
and everything quieted down again. The situation of the 

227 



228 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

ship and her surroundings may be seen from the following 
rough diagram : — 

Magnetic 




At FOUK p.m. the ice came down in great force all along 
the port side, jamming the ship hard against the ice on 
the starboard side of her and causing her to heel 16° to 
starboard. From the snapping and cracking of her 
bunker sides and starting in of the starboard ceiling, as 
well as the opening of the seams of the ceiling to the 
width of 1J inches, it was feared that the ship was about 
to be seriously endangered, and orders were accordingly 
given to lower the starboard boats and haul them away 
from the ship to a safe position on the ice floe. This was 
done quietly and without confusion. The ice in coming 
in on the port side also had a movement toward the stern, 
and this last movement not only raised her port bow, but 
buried the starboard quarter, and jamming it and the 
stern against the heavy ice effectually prevented the ship 
rising to pressure. Mr. Melville, while below in the en- 
gine room, saw a break across the ship in the wake of the 
boilers and engines, showing that so solidly were the 
stern and starboard quarter held by the ice that the ship 
was breaking in two from the pressure upward exerted on 
the port bow of the ship. The starboard side of the ship 



THE VOYAGE OF THE JEANNETTE. 229 

was also evidently broken, because water was rising rapidly 
in the starboard coal-bunker. Orders were now given to 
land half the pemmican in the deck-house and all the 
bread which was on deck, and the sleds and dogs were 
likewise carried to a position of safety. At 4:30 there was 
a lull in the pressure, and it was assumed for the moment 
that the ice had united under the ship, and being as close 
together as it could come would occasion us no further 
injury, and that we might be able to take care of the 
vessel yet. The ship was heeled 22° to starboard and was 
raised forward 4' 6", the entire port bow being visible also 
to a height of 4' 6" from the forefoot. In the early morning 
we had been able to see through the water down alongside 
the stem on the starboard side, and we could see that the 
forefoot was bent to starboard about a foot. This would 
indicate that the pressure received on the 19th of January, 
1880, was from port to starboard, instead of the other 
way, as we then supposed. But at 5 p.m. the pressure 
was renewed, and continued with tremendous force, the 
ship cracking in every part. The spar-deck commenced 
to buckle up and the starboard side seemed again on the 
point of coming up. Orders were now given to get out 
provisions, clothing, bedding, ship's books and papers, 
and to remove all sick to a place of safety. While en- 
gaged in this work another tremendous pressure was 
received, and at 6 p.m. it was found that the ship was 
beginning to fill. From this time forward every effort 
was devoted to getting provisions, &c, on the ice, and it 
was not desisted from until the water had risen to the 
spar deck, the ship being heeled to starboard about 30°. 
The entire starboard side of the spar-deck was submerged, 
the rail being under water and the water-line reaching to 
the hatch combings. The starboard side was evidently 



230 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



broken in abreast of the mainmast and the ship was 
settling fast. Our ensign had been hoisted at the mizzen 
and every preparation made for abandoning, and at 8 
p.m. everybody was ordered to leave the ship. Assem- 
bling on the floe we dragged all our boats and provisions 
clear of bad cracks and prepared to camp down for the 
night. Took an account of what we had and found the 
following : 



4,950 lbs. pemmican (American). 
1,120 lbs. hard bread. 
260 gallons alcohol. 
100 lbs. cut loaf sugar. 
400 lbs. extra crew sugar. 
100 lbs. tea. 
92J- lbs. mutton soup. 
176 lbs. mutton broth. 
150 lbs. Liebig's extract beef. 
252 lbs. canned chicken. 
144 lbs. canned turkey. 

36 lbs. green corn. 
12£ lbs. pigs' feet. 

32 lbs. tongue. 

42 lbs. onions. 

18 lbs. pickles. 
120 lbs. chocolate. 

36 lbs. cocoa. 
205 lbs. tobacco. 

48 lbs. veal. 

44 lbs. ham. 
150 lbs. cheese. 
210 lbs. ground coffee. 



60 lbs. whole coffee. 
75 bottles malt extract. 
J bbl. lime juice. 
2,000 rounds Eemington ammu- 
nition. 

1 gallon brandy. 

3 gallons whiskey. 

2 bottles whiskey in lime 

juice. 
7 bottles brandy. 

First cutter. 

Second cutter. 

First whale-boat. 

Iron dingy. 

McClintock dingy. 
6 tents sleeping bags. 
33 knapsacks, packed. 
5 cooking stoves. 
2 boat sleds. 

4 McClintock sleds. 
2 St. Michael sleds. 

2 medicine chests and medi- 
cine. 



Sunday, June 12th (Monday, June lSth). — At 1 p.m. 
we were turned out by the ice opening in the midst of our 



THE VOYAGE OF THE JE ANNETTE. 231 

camp. All our gear and belongings were transported to 
a place of safety, and again piped down at 2 a.m., 
leaving a man on watch. At 1 a.m. the mizzenmast 
went by the board, and the ship was so far heeled over 
that the lower yard-arms were resting on the ice. At 3 
a.m. the ship had sunk until her smoke-pipe was nearly 
awash. At 4 a.m. the Jeannette went down. First 
righting to an even keel she slowly sank. The maintop- 
mast fell by the board to starboard ; then the f oretopmast 
and finally the mainmast near the main- truss. When she 
finally sank the foremast was all that was standing. At 
9 a.m. called all hands and breakfasted, after which we 
collected all the clothing and arranged it for distribution. 
Besides the contents of the packed knapsacks and the 
clothing in wear we find we have the following : 

28 woollen overshirts, 20 trousers (cloth), 

2-4 woollen drawers, 8 fur blankets, 

27 woollen undershirts, 18 woollen blankets, 

24 sack coats, 13 skin parkies, 
8 overcoats, 

and they were divided among all hands as required, 
much of it being in excess. * * * Everybody being 
bright and cheerful, with plenty to eat and plenty of 
clothes. Even music is not forgotten. Lauterbach sere- 
naded us to-night with a mouth harmonium. A work 
tent was set up for my use ; kept the silk flag flying. 
Temperature about 23° all day. Men visited the wreck ; 
they found one chair on the ice and some oars and spar 
planks. Chipp better ; Danenhower lively. At 9:45 p.m. 
I read divine service. 

Monday, June \Wi. — Called all hands at seven a.m.; 
breakfast at eight. Turned to at nine, and set to work 



232 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

mounting first and second cutters and whale-boats on 
their travelling sleds. I have concluded to remain where 
we are until all our preparations are well made, and 
then to start properly. We have provisions enough to 
live upon for some time without impairing our sixty days' 
allowance for going south. Our sick are progressing 
favorably, and this delay will also tend to their advan- 
tage. Sweetman visited the place where the ship sank, 
but nothing could be seen but a signal chest floating bot- 
tom up. There is much water sky in all directions ; the 
air is very damp and raw. We all slept very well last 
night, being both warm and comfortable. During the 
afternoon the boats were mounted on the sleds and got 
ready for hauling. Between time we shifted the camp to 
the westward, as we were too near the edge of the floe in 
case of accident. Chipp's tent was placed to the rear and 
to windward, so that he might not be kept awake by the 
" snorers," as was the case last night. Then we moved all 
our boats to the front of the tents and the provisions to 
the front of the boats, and had supper in our new loca- 
tion. We had carried out of the ship all the drinking 
water we had on board, and made it last until Sunday 
night, but now we are, of course, down to what we can 
scrape up from the ice. We select the oldest and highest 
hummocks and scrape off the broken-down crystals when 
we can find them ; but, of course, the sun has not had 
power enough yet to do any great amount of melting. 
The snow, or rather ice, is fresh to the taste, but the Doc- 
tor, by a nitrate of silver test, finds it much too salty. 
However, we cannot help ourselves, and with lime juice, 
which we take daily, must try to avert the danger. Just 
now we are living royally on good things and not working 
very hard, and we are in glorious health, except for some 



THE VOYAGE OF THE JE ANNETTE. 033 

occasional traces of the old lead poisoning suspicions. 
Temperature at eight p.m. 18°, and very damp. 

Tuesday, June ltth. — Called all hands at seven, break- 
fasted and turned to by nine a.m. Then set two men 
from each tent, under Melville' s direction, to get together 
our sixty days' provisions. The Doctor with one man set 
to work dividing up (and fortifying) the lime juice among 
three water breakers. Dunbar, with two men, overhauled 
and relashed the three McClintock sledges to get them 
ready for stowage and loading. The balance of the men 
continue the work of making extra foot-nips, reducing 
sleeping bags and making such additions to their comfort 
as are possible. Our sick list is not progressing favorably. 
Alexia was very sick all night with stomach ache, groan- 
ing all the time and vomiting violently. Kuehne is quite 
sick, and both he and Alexia are laid up in their sleeping 
bags. Chipp seems brighter. Weather clear, bright and 
pleasant. Temperature at ten a.m., 10° in the shade ; 
minimum during night, 12°. To the south the openings 
in the ice are shown by light masses of thin, bright fog 
sweeping away before the wind. Barometer, 30. 37 — but 
I am a little suspicious that my pocket barometer is out of 
order. At two commenced loading up five sleds with pro- 
visions. Divided over 3,960 pounds pemmican and 200 
gallons alcohol among the sleds, and then, having our 
weekly ration bags ready, we switched off to fill them. 
The daily allowance of tea is one ounce ; coffee, two 
ounces ; sugar, two ounces. Sights obtained at six p.m. 
place us in 153° 58' 45"— a drift since the 12th of 13J miles 
north, 84° west. Thus far we are getting along very well. 
Everybody is bright and cheerful and our camp has a 

lively look. The arrangement is as follows : — 
15 



234 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



^ef§ 




Dunbar " 



"Melville" 



Ambler, 



o 

.V„ „ 2ndC 



IsfCutter 1 whale Boat 2ndCutter 



f T I T 



Sled 



SlecL 



Sled 



Sled 



After supper no work was done except putting two 
rifles apart for each, tent — ten in all — which are to be car- 
ried in the boats — four in the first cutter, four in the 
second and two in the whale-boat. 

Wednesday, June 15. — Weather dull, gloomy and 
foggy, but after ten a.m., it cleared away to a bright 
sunshiny day. The night has been cold (10°). I did not 
sleep well, having found it impossible to keep my shoul- 
ders covered by my sleeping bag, but everybody else seems 
to be all right and to have slept well. The sick are as 
follows : — Chipp is better ; he says he has slept well and 
feels bright. Danenhower goes around with his game eye 
darkened and does a number of things. Alexia has had 
a bad night and is quite sick this morning. Kuehne still 
remains shut up in his tent. During the forenoon we 
were engaged in bagging as much tea, coffee and sugar 
as possible, and in dividing the weights among our five 
sleds. This was completed by eleven a.m., and we then 



THE VOYAGE OF THE JEANNETTE. 235 

set to work to lash and secure the loads. The distribution 
of weights was as follows : — 

No.l. No. 2. No. 3. No. 4. No. 5. 

765 pounds pemmican 720 720 720 720 

40 gallons alcohol 40 40 40 40 

36 pounds Liebig 36 — — 18 

61 pounds 0. L. sugar — — — 61 

60 pounds X. C. sugar — — — — 

4 bags bread 4 4 4 2 

30 pounds ground coffee 30 — 30 — 

90 pounds tea — — 60 — 

10 pounds X. C. sugar — — — — 



1,659 1,318 1,252 1,342 1,325 

On the ice yet, 30 pounds roast coffee, 30 pounds ground 
coffee, 1 bag of bread, which must go in the boats. Still 
short of sixty days' provisions, viz : 315 pounds pemmi- 
can, 43 pounds tea, 55 pounds sugar and 37 pounds 
coffee. We are, of course, leaving behind us many pro- 
visions, as well as our two dingies and one St. Michael's 
sled. As our progress will necessarily be slow, I am of 
the opinion that each encampment for a week after our 
start will be near enough to our present location to enable 
us to send back a dog sledge each halt to bring forward 
our supplies for the succeeding twenty-four hours. In 
this case we shall not break in upon our packed sledges. 
Dinner at one p.m. Turned to at two p.m. Sleds all 
lashed, and I notice No. 2 (Chipp's) has a sled flag already 
mounted with the name " Lizzie." Upon calling Mnder- 
mann's attention to our having none he informed me that 
ours was under way and that he should like to call it 
" Sylvie," to which I had naturally no objection. Sights 
to-day place us in latitude 77° 17 north, longitude 153° 



236 ICE PACE AND TUNDRA. 

42' 30" east — a drift since yesterday of three and three- 
quarter miles, 72° north. Temperature at six p.m., 19° ; 
wind northeast ; force 2. During the afternoon I issued 
the following order : 

United States Cutter Jeannette, In the Ice, ) 

Latitude 77° 17' North, Longitude 153° 42' >■ 

rftBnrm -, East, Arctic Ocean, June 15th, 1881. ; 

[_URDER. J 

When a start is made to drag our sleds to the southward the 
clothing allowance for each officer and man will be limited to 
what he actually wears and the contents of his packed knapsack. 
Each may dress in skins or not, as he pleases, at the start, but 
having made his choice he must be ready to abide by it. Extra 
outside clothing of any kind (except moccasins) cannot be taken. 
The contents of the packed knapsacks are to be as follows : 

2 pairs blanket nips or duffle 1 skull cap. 

nips. 1 comforter. 

2 pairs stockings. 1 pair snow spectacles. 

1 pair moccasins. 1 plug tobacco. 

1 cap. 1 pipe. 

2 pairs mittens. 2 rounds ammunition. 
1 undershirt. 24 wax matches. 

1 drawers. 

Soap, towels, thread and needles at discretion, an extra pair of 
moccasins, making five in all, with its foot nips, may be carried 
in the sleeping bag, but nothing else is to be put in the sleeping 
bag. Each officer will see that the allowance is not exceeded in 
any particular. 

Sled No. 1 stow sleeping bags, tent, knapsacks and mess-gear in 
first cutter. 

Sled No. 2 stow as above in second cutter. 
Sled No. 3 stow as above in whale-boat. 
Sled No. 4 stow as above in second cutter. 
Sled No. 5 stow as above in whale-boat. 



THE VOYAGE OF THE JEANNETTE. 237 

If at any time we go in the boats — 

Sled crew No. 1 goes in the first cutter. 

Sled crew No. 2 goes in the second cutter. 

Sled crew No. 3 goes in the whale-boat. 

Sled crew No. 4 goes in first cutter. 

Surgeon, Mr. Cole, and cabin steward in whale-boat. 

Eemainder of No. 5 in second cutter. 

Further orders or modification of the above will be given as 
necessary. Very respectfully, 

GEORGE W. DE LONG, 

Lieutenant United States Navy, Commanding Arctic Expedi- 
tion. 

An almost cloudless sky and in consequence a broiling 
hot sun shining down on the floe makes us very uncom- 
fortable. We are all terribly sunburned, and our noses, 
lips and cheeks are all beginning to get sore. Our eyes 
are all right yet, however. 

Thursday, June 16th. — De Long records long streaks of 
water sky to the southward and southwest. He also 
permits the men to each take half a blanket in anticipation 
of cold. At half-past four Mr. Dunbar is sent ahead 
southward to mark out a good road, and then the Captain 
issued the following order : 

United States Cutter Jeannetle, In the Ice, ) 
Latitude 77° 18' North, Longitude 153° 25' [• 
East, Arctic Ocean, June \§th, 1881. ) 

We shall start to the southward at six p.m. Friday, June Vt 
(Saturday, June 18), and our travelling thereafter is to be done 
between six p.m. and six a.m. The order of advance will be as 
follows : 

First — All hands drag the first cutter and dogs the No. 1 sled. 

Second — Starboard watch drag the second cutter, port watch 
drag No. 4 sled and dogs drag No. 2 sled. 



238 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



Third — Port watch drag the whale-boat, starboard watch drag 
No. 3 sled and dogs drag No. 5 sled. 

Alexia's three dogs will drag the St. Michael's sled ; Kuehne, 
Charley, Tung Sing and Alexia to report to and accompany Lieu- 
tenant Chipp. The daily routine will be as follows : 



Call all hands, 4:30 p.m. 
Breakfast, 5 p.m. 
Break camp, 5:40 p.m. 
Under way, 6 p.m. 
Halt, 11:30 .p.m 
Dinner, midnight. 
Pack up, 12:40 a.m. 



Under way, 1 a.m. 
Halt, pitch camp, 6 a.m. 
Lime juice and supper, 6:30 



A.M 



Set watch, pipe down, turn 

in, 7 a.m. 
Course, S. by E. \ E. mag. 



As long as it is possible to do so the St. Michael's sled will be 
sent back each morning to bring up provisions now in this camp 
in order that we may not have to break in upon our sled stores. 
But when we do commence upon our loaded provisions the follow- 
ing will be the ration table : 



Breakfast. 
4 oz. pemmican, 

1 oz. ham, 
3 lb. bread, 

2 oz. coffee, 
2-3 oz. sugar. 



Dinner. Supper. 

8 oz. pemmican, 4 oz. pemmican, 

1 oz. Liebig, 1 oz. tongue, 

i oz. tea, \ oz. tea, 

2-3 oz. sugar, 2-3 oz. sugar, 

\ lb. bread. 

GEOKGE W. DE LONG, 

etc., etc., etc. 



Captain De Long continues : During the afternoon the 
sleds and boats were each supplied with flags. 
The Jeannette carries my silk flag. 
The second cutter Hiram carries flag " Hiram." 
The whale boat Bosey carries flag "Rosey." 
~No. 1 sled carries square blue flag " Sylvie," with the 
motto, ' ' Nil desperandum. ' ' 



THE VOYAGE OF THE JE ANNETTE. 239 

No. 2 carries swallow tail " Lizzie." 

No. 3 carries flag . 

No. 4 carries white flag with red Maltese cross ; motto, 
"In hoc signo vinces." 

No. 5 carries flag " Maud ;" motto, " Comme je trouve." 

Then called all hands to muster and read the foregoing 
order. We are now, I believe, ready, and will start at six 
p.^r. to-morrow. The St. Michael's sled was loaded, offi- 
cers divided into watches, and next day (Friday) De 
Long prepared a record, to be left in a water breaker on 
the ice, giving a history of the Jeannetttf s cruise, her dis- 
coveries of the two islands (Jeannette and Henrietta), etc. 
After it was written it was carefully sewed in a piece of 
black rubber and placed in an empty boat breaker, 
"which, left in the ice, may get somewhere." 



CHAPTER XX 



THE EETEEAT. 



Then the start was made, and is thus recorded in Be 
Long' s journal : 

" At 5 p.m. called all hands again, and as soon as pos- 
sible had supper, or, as it might be called now, breakfast. 
Broke camp at 5:50 p.m., and though 6 was the time for 
starting it was 6:20 p.m. before we got under way. All 
hands started with the first cutter, while the dogs, man- 
aged by Anequin, attempted the ~No. 1 sled. The cutter 
went easily enough, but No. 1 sled was more than a match 
for our dogs. Occasionally stopping, we lent a hand to 
start the sled from a deep rut, and finally, seeing the 
necessity of more force, I detached six men from the 
cutter and went back with them to help the ~No. 1 sled. 
And to this the origin of our day's trouble may be re- 
ferred. When I sent Mr. Dunbar ahead yesterday it was 
to plant flags for our first day's journey, and upon his 
return I could see but three flags, and supposed there 
were no more. Melville accordingly dumped the pro- 
visions at the third flag as the end of our day's journey. 
Upon the cutter reaching the third flag Melville wanted 
to stop, but Dunbar informed him there was a fourth flag 
beyond, and that that was the end of the first day's 
journey. Of course I could not be everywhere on a road 
one and a half miles long, and Melville in his uncertainty 

about my wishes had to be guided by Dunbar's idea, so 

240 



THE RETREAT. 241 

that the first cutter, instead of halting by our provisions, 
was carried on beyond them, to my extreme annoyance 
when I learned of it. Meanwhile the six men and myself 
went back to the No. 1 sled, and by almost superhuman 
exertions got it along a quarter of a mile. We then got 
the second cutter and the whale-boat along to where we 
had left No. 1 sled, and while wondering what kept 
Melville and the men away so long I saw that Chipp (who 
was ahead) had come to a standstill. Hastening toward 
him I found that the ice had opened, and that our remain- 
ing effects would have to be unloaded and ferried over. 
Here was a nice fix. Sending back at once for the light 
dingy, I got Chipp and the hospital sled over and sent 
him to bring the cutter party back. Time was slipping 
away, and all that the six men and myself could do, with 
the assistance of the dogs, was to get the cutter and whale- 
boat with No. 1 and No. 2 sleds as far along as the ferry. 
By 10 p.m. the first-cutter party returned, and we at once 
launched the two remaining boats, hauled them across and 
got them up on the ice on the other side. To avoid un- 
loading the sleds a road was sought and found higher up, 
where, by filling in with some large pieces of ice, we man- 
aged to get an uncertain way of crossing the opening lead. 
While so crossing we doubled under the right runner of 
No. 1 sled, and had to stop lest we should ruin it. No. 2 
and No. 5 each broke a runner, the tenons of the uprights 
breaking short off. And, in fine, by the time we had 
crossed this lead (12:10 a.m. on Saturday, June 18th) we 
had three disabled sleds, were already an hour late for 
our dinner, had our provisions half a mile further on, and 
the mess gear and sleeping gear of No. 1 sled half a mile 
further beyond still. However, there was no help for it, 
so buckling to our two boats we started on, and by 



242 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

1:30 A.M. had reached the black flag and our provisions. 
During the advance with the first cutter Lauterbach had 
doubled up with cramps, Lee frequently was falling down 
doubled up with cramps, for which he can assign no cause 
except lead-poison. At 7 we had supper, and at 8 a.m. 
set the watch and piped down— a weary lot of mor- 
tals." 

Next day De Long writes: "All hands seem bright 
and cheerful ; none of us are stiff after our hard work, 
strange to say. The sick are as follows : Chipp, used up 
about the legs ; Alexia better ; steward better ; Kuehne 
better. Our experience thus far has not been very en- 
couraging. We have had such terrific roads, such soft 
and deep snow and such ugly ice openings that our diffi- 
culties have been increased. The necessities of the case 
have led to overloading the sleds, and, though they would 
have gone well enough on smooth ice, the snow would 
stop these or any other sleds. Twenty-eight men and 
twenty- three dogs lying back with all their strength could 
only start one 1,600-pound sled a few feet each time, and 
when sliding down a hill she would plunge into a snow- 
bank, and it was terrible work getting her out. Though 
the temperature was between twenty and twenty-five we 
were in our shirt sleeves and perspiring as on a hot sum- 
mer day. I see very clearly that we must run with lighter 
loads and go over the same ground of tener. I hoped to be 
able to advance our boats and provisions on three separate 
hauls, but I must be satisfied if we now do it in six." 
Next day, Sunday, most of the provisions from the orig- 
inal camp were brought up and distributed among the 
sleds, and on Monday the time was occupied in bringing 
up the remainder, and on Tuesday morning, at eight 
o'clock, De Long writes, they were only one and a 



THE RETREAT. 243 

half miles from the first starting place of Friday, the 
17th. That night it rained heavily and no advance was 
made. 

De Long writes : " At no time of the year is travelling 
worse than at present. In the winter or spring months it 
is, of course, cold and comfortless, but it is, nevertheless, 
dry. In the autumn or late summer it is favorable, be- 
cause the melted snow has all drained off the hard ice, 
and the travelling is excellent. But just now the snow is 
soft enough to sink into, and progress is almost im- 
possible, and when a rainy day sets in our misery is com- 
plete. Even the dogs cower under the boats for shelter 
like hens, or snuggle up against the tent doors begging 
for admission. On shore the pattering of the rain on the 
roof has a pleasant sound to those within, but out here it 
is far from pleasant. No fires, of course, except for cook- 
ing, and no place to dry clothes, and little streams of 
water trickling down on you from the tent ventilating 
holes make your own wetness more wet. These halts and 
long camps have shown me that several of our party have 
been carrying more than I can permit. It is astonishing 
how many ' little things that don' t weigh anything ' have 
crept in, and it is equally surprising how great is their 
aggregate weight. I shall have one more clearing out be- 
fore leaving this camp." 

Tuesday, June 21st. — At half -past two a.m. the rain 
ceased. Sent Mr. Dunbar ahead to make a road where 
necessary and to place flags. At half -past three a.m. I 
took a narta (sled) and nine dogs, and with Kaach carried 
forward 450 pounds of pemmican and fifty pounds of 
Liebig. Mr. Dunbar had cut two roads, one through 
piled up hummocks and another through a broken ridge. 
There is an ugly place where the ice has cracked and 



244 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

opened to a foot in width, and if it opens further, requir- 
ing bridging or ferrying, we shall again have our hands 
full. Called all hands at six p.m.; at half -past seven got 
under way ; sent Melville ahead with Nos. 1 and 2 sleds, 
and two dog sleds and Ericksen and Leach with the 
other nartas to the old camp to bring forward the 
remainder of the stores. Left the camp pitched and 
sleeping gear and mess gear convenient to the boats, 
in the event of our having to dine here. The Doctor, 
with the sick, remained, of course, with the tents. By 
half-past eight p.m. Melville and his party and the two 
advanced dog sleds had come back to camp, having left 
the first load at the crack in the ice mentioned this morn- 
ing, it having widened, as I feared it would, during our 
sleep. By nine the second instalment was sent along, and 
by half-past nine the camp was broken, and the whole 
boat, with two more dog loads, under way. Mr. Dunbar 
and two men remained ahead to try and get a large piece 
of ice down to bridge the opening. I had instructed Mel- 
ville, in case Mr. Dunbar had managed to bridge the open- 
ing, to get all our traps through the gap, and as he did 
not return from the first cutter I concluded this was 
being done. As I was anxious to get forward to see the 
state of things ahead I sent Ericksen and Leach back 
with three dogs for the dingy, and placing ~No. l's mess 
gear in the dog sled I started on with three dogs. This 
brought us to 

Wednesday, June 22d. — I had hardly gone a quarter of 
a mile when I came to an ice opening, and, in spite of my 
strongest efforts, the dogs scattered across some lumps, 
capsized the sled, dragged me in and sent all my mess 
gear flying, having accomplished which and reached the 
other side themselves they sat down and howled to their 



THE RETREAT. 245 

hearts' content. Floundering across I managed to col- 
lect my scattered property and get safely over and then 
righted and dragged out the sled. As soon as resistance 
was removed away went the dogs again. Eeaching the 
ice opening which had occasioned the delay at one a.m. 
I found Melville afloat and adrift on an ice island, with 
all the boats and sleds, nothing having been got through 
the gap. I shouted to him to get dinner and I would get 
to him later when the dingy came up. But he managed 
to get a cake of ice dragged to me and I ferried across 
with my dog team and mess gear. At once we set to work 
getting floes in place as a bridge and before sitting down 
to dinner we got two sleds and a lot of dog loads through 
the gap on to the heavy ice beyond. At half past one we 
sat down to dinner, and at two Ericksen and Leach ar- 
rived with the dingy. At twenty minutes past two a.m., 
turned to and ran the whale-boat and second cutter through 
the gap. Then sending Melville back with his party for 
the first cutter, Ericksen, Leach and myself pushed on two 
dog teams, with pemmican and bread, as far as the flag. 
When we got back to the gap the Doctor and the sick 
were adrift, the ice having opened out during our ab- 
sence. Dragged cakes of ice down and made a crazy 
bridge, over which the sick walked, and then we got the 
medical stores across, and after bridging, dragging, dig- 
ging and filling in we had everything, first cutter included, 
through the gap by six a.m., and on the hard ice. Mel- 
ville had to launch the first cutter and paddle her part of 
the way, but he got her up in time to take a share in the 
work of the rear guard. At twenty minutes past seven 
we had supper, and a more tired and hungry set of 
mortals could not well be found. We got ready to bag — 
having come only about half a mile in ten hours' hard 



246 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

work. At nine a.m. piped down. Slept till six p.m., when 
all hands were called. Sick, so so. Chipp has had a bad 
night and is mnch the worse for wear. Alexia is so 
easily upset by a little stomach ache as to lose his grip 
altogether. Lauterbach looks as if he were going to 
attend a funeral any moment and must keep his counte- 
nance to the proper point of solemnity. Danenhower's 
trouble is of course his blindness. Mr. Dunbar begins to 
wear again, and I have cautioned him to be careful of 
himself for a few days and not to exhaust all his strength. 
At fifty-five minutes past eleven p.m. the marked halting 
place was reached by the sleds — the first time in our ex- 
perience we were able to get in one half day to the in- 
dicated place, have dinner on time and get ready for a 
new start after dinner. This was because we were on 
solid ice and had no openings. 

T/iursday, June 23d. — Sat down to dinner at quarter 
past twelve a.m., and turned to at quarter past one. At 
half past two the sky cleared and the sun came out 
brightly, the fog rolling away magically. At seven camp 
pitched. This is the first really good day' s work, and 
yet I do not think we have made good more than a mile 
and a half, though working seven hours steadily. To the 
southward of us the ice is terribly confused, and presents 
no chance for an advance as yet. But no one can tell 
what six hours may bring forth, and when we get up 
again we may see something. Longitude is about 152° 
east. At half past eight a.m. piped down, and at six 
p.m. called all hands and breakfasted ; at seven sent 
Mr. Dunbar ahead through the most likely looking part 
of the rough ice in front of us to try to find a road. At 
eight started ahead on our day's work, and, to save un- 
necessary detailed description, I will here mention once 



THE RETREAT. 2 -4 7" 

for all our manner of procedure. The daily routine and 
manner of progress marked out on the 16th has had to be 
abandoned for several reasons, chiefest of which was the 
impossibility of telling one minute how the ice would be 
the next in disarranging plans, and next in importance 
because men cannot do this kind of work ten hours each 
day without breaking down. By and by, perhaps, when 
our loads are lighter, we may be able to do it, but just now 
it is out of the question. 

Our route having been indicated by several black flags 
placed after a halt or before a start Mr. Dunbar goes 
ahead at eight p.m. to make sure that no bridges have 
become necessary in the meantime. Then right after him 
goes Melville, with nearly all hands dragging the heavy 
sleds. No. 1 sled (already christened the Walrus) 
requires all his force, but generally he can start two of 
the others at one time. Ericksen and Leach run two dog 
sleds, trip after trip, all day, while I load and occasion- 
ally run one myself ahead to mark progress and indicate 
the route. The loaded sleds being up Melville's party 
come back for the boats. I then start the Doctor ahead 
with the sick, to go as far as the heavy sleds have been 
dragged. I then get the medical sled and run a load up 
to the same place. By this time the boats are up, cooks 
are ordered there to get dinner, while Melville and his 
party drag the sleds ahead another stage. Then, mid- 
night (Friday, June 24), dinner succeeds ; at one we turn 
to, drag the boats where we left the sleds, then along go 
the Doctor and the sick to that place, then ahead go the 
sleds again, again the boats, the dog sleds, and finally at 
half -past five or six a.m. I bring up the rear guard ; we 
prepare for supper, pitch camp and the dog sleds get up 
with the last load. At seven we sup, at eight pipe down, 



248 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

to be called at six p.m. We therefore haul nine hours a 
day, sleep and rest ten, meal hours three ; the other two 
hours are occupied in pitching camp, serving out and 
cooking food, breaking camp and marking the road ahead. 
There is no work in the world harder than this sledging, 
and with my two line officers constantly on the sick list I 
have much on my hands. In Melville I have a strong 
support, as well as a substitute for them, and as long as 
he remains as he is, strong and well, I shall get along all 
right. The Doctor is willing and anxious to pitch in and 
haul like a seaman, but I consider him more necessary 
for the sick, and have directed him to remain with and 
accompany them. 

To-day we have done very well, having made one and a 
quarter miles (estimated) good. The ice opened on us 
twice, and gave us and the dog sleds some trouble. The 
heavy sleds had gone on before the ice opened. One dog 
sled got half overboard, and we had to cut the dogs adrift 
to save them from being drowned, while two of us held 
the sleds back. The prospect for our next start is en- 
couraging. We are now on a piece of old ice which seems 
to extend for several miles yet. To-day has been unusu- 
ally disagreeable on account of water on the surface of 
the ice. Frequently the men broke through over their 
knees, and dragging under these circumstances is hard 
work. In parts here and there around water has formed, 
and, though the low temperature freezes it at night, the 
sun thaws the ice in the middle of the day and we sud- 
denly flounder in. A minute later the water will drain 
off to the sea. We are still in the dark as to our position. 
Chipp is very weak, only just strong enough to be able to 
walk from place to place by easy stages. I am very seri- 
ously disturbed about him. Lauterbach was restored to 



THE RETREAT. 249 

duty yesterday evening. Alexia still sick ; unable to do 
any duty. 

Star informs me that he has often come across written 
papers in our provision packages, and he has brought me 
this one, which he found yesterday among some cof- 
fee : — 

This is to express my best wishes for your futherance and 
success in your great undertaking. Hoping when you peruse 
these lines you will be thinking of the comfortable homes you left 
behind you for the purpose of aiding science. If you can make it 
convenient drop me a line. My address is G. J. K., Post Office 
box — , New York city. 

Saturday, June 25th, found us getting ready for dinner, 

which we sat down to at one a.m. At midnight I had got 

a meridian altitude, which to my amazement gave me a 

latitude of 77° 46' north. There was no mistake in the 

observation, and I went over my figures a half dozen 

times to find any mistake. But each time 77° 46' was the 

result. I overhauled my sextant, but that was all right, 

and my amazement increased. To start in 77° 18' north, 

travel south a week, and then find one's self twenty-eight 

miles further north than the starting point is enough to 

make one thoughtful and anxious. For a long time I 

pondered, and for the moment was inclined to attribute 

the strange result to some extraordinary refraction ; but, 

upon looking back to my rejected Sumner of the 23rd, I 

found that the intersection gave 77° 46' and so was more 

anxious than ever. At half -past four a.m. and half-past 

seven a.m. I got another Sumner, and this gave me 77° 

43' for a latitude, very rough means of making a skeleton 

chart accounting in part for the difference from the lower 

meridian altitude. More anxious than ever I determined 

to sit up until noon and get the upper meridian altitude 
16 



250 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

before committing myself to plans for the future. At 
noon I got a meridian altitude and this gave me latitude 
77° 42', and of this at least there is no doubt. My Sumner 
of this morning was accurate and my midnight observa- 
tion was out only by the greater refraction of such a low 
altitude. I therefore accept the situation and shall 
modify my plans to this extent — instead of making a south 
course I shall incline more to the southwest, for as the 
line of our drift is northwest, a southwest course will 
cross it more rapidly than a south and bring us quicker 
to the ice edge. * * * 

Such a rough country as we have before us requires 
more careful examination than a short run ahead can 
give, and I have therefore sent Mr. Dunbar ahead 
to seek a road out of our difficulty, while I let the 
camp remain "on their oars." After our hard day's 
work of yesterday this additional rest is welcome, and if 
a good road is found we can make a long step this after- 
noon. 

Sunday, June 26th, 1:15 a.m. — Mr. Dunbar returned 
with bridge-makers and two dog sleds. I pushed ahead. 
Melville accidentally fell in the water and got wet to his 
waist, and during the morning's work the Walrus (No. 1 
sled) fell in, sticking her nose well under the ice. How- 
ever, she was got out. Though the road generally was 
better than the day before no less than five bridges had to 
be built, and consequently when, at half -past six a.m., I 
halted and pitched camp we had made only half a mile 
good south-southwest. It has been blistering hot since 
midnight, though the thermometer marked only twenty- 
three degrees in the sun. The sky was cloudless. A light 
south-southwest breeze fanned along, but we all suffered 
from the heat. Our hands and faces are all swollen and 



THE RETREAT. 251 

blistered, and my hands are very painful. At half -past 
seven a.m. had supper ; at half -past eight a.m. read 
divine service, and at nine a.m. piped down. 

Monday, June 27th, 1 a.m. — Turned to at five minutes 
past two a.m., and from this time to seven a.m. we had 
the hardest time we had had yet. We succeeded in 
advancing only half a mile further south-southwest, 
making one and a quarter miles in eleven hours' steady 
work. Just after leaving our halting place we had an ice 
opening to cross twenty feet in width, and while we were 
bridging it it opened twenty feet more. By great effort 
we succeeded in dragging in three large pieces for 
bridges, and by herculean efforts got our sleds and boats 
over, launching the first and second cutters. Beyond this 
(three-eighths of a mile) we had another ice opening, about 
sixty feet in width, and to bridge this we had literally to 
drag an ice island thirty feet thick and hold it in place. 
Hardly had we done this when the lead widened, and we 
had to scour around for more huge blocks to serve our 
purpose. There seems to be a general slackness to the ice 
and a streaming away without any resistance. It is 
hardly late enough to find leads of any length, but there 
are openings enough to give us serious trouble. To work 
like horses all day for ten or eleven hours and get ahead 
only a mile is rather discouraging, and the knowledge 
that we are very likely going three miles north-northwest 
to every mile we make southwest keeps one anxious. Mel- 
ville and the Doctor are the only ones to whom I com- 
municated our latitude, and to whom I intend it shall be 
confined ; for no doubt great discouragement, if not entire 
loss of zeal, would ensue were such a disagreeable bit of 
news known. I dodge Chipp, Danenhower and Dunbar 
lest they should ask me questions. Thus far everybody 



252 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

is bright and cheerful, and singing is going on all around. 
I hope onr good health and spirits may long continue. 
Chipp is improving in health. 

Wednesday, June 29th. — Going ahead with the dog 
sleds and Mr. Dunbar we suddenly came to water, and 
peering into the fog it seemed as if we had some exten- 
sive lead ahead. Going back hurriedly I sent the dingy 
ahead for an exploration, but, alas ! it was fruitless. The 
favorable lead which we thought we had turned out to be 
another water opening, seventy-five feet wide, which we 
had to bridge. By great good fortune a large piece was 
handy, and by hard hauling Dunbar, Sharwell and I suc- 
ceeded in getting it in place, and a fortunate closing of 
the lead a foot or two jammed it in as a solid bridge. 
Unfortunately openings were occurring in our rear and 
we had more bridging to do there. Never was there such 
luck. No sooner do we get our advance across one lead 
than a new one opens behind it and makes us hang back 
lest our rear should be caught. By the time we have got 
a second sled ahead more openings have occurred, and we 
are in for a time. These openings are always east and 
west. By no means, seemingly, can we get one north and 
south, so that we might make something by them, and 
these east and west lanes meander away to narrow veins 
between piled up masses, over which there can no road be 
built, and between which no boat can be got. It is no un- 
common thing for us to have four leads to bridge in half 
a mile, and when we remember that Melville and his 
party have to make always six and sometimes seven trips 
the amount of coming and going is fearful to contemplate. 
Add to this the flying trips of the dog sleds and the mov- 
ing forward of the sick at a favorable moment, and it is 
not strange that we dread meeting an ice opening. This 



THE RETREAT. 253 

very old and hard ice is beyond doubt paleocrystic. I 
measured one floe and found it thirty-two feet nine inches 
thick, and where it is not mud stained it is rounded up in 
hummocks, resembling alabaster. Over this we sledded 
and dragged well enough, though it was, as the men said, 
"a rocky road to Dublin." I encountered one piece 
which was sixteen feet thick, which I am inclined to 
think was a single growth, for not a line of union of layers 
could be seen. 

Danenhower came to me to-day requesting and urging 
his being given duty to perform, claiming that he could 
do a man's work by hauling, &c. Inasmuch as I con- 
sider him unfit to perform any duty whatever, and as he 
would be an impediment and hindrance to anything he 
attempted on account of his one eye, I refused positively 
to assign him to any duty whatever until he was dis- 
charged from the sick list. Chipp seems to be gaining 
strength. The temperature has been steady at, 30° all 
day, but it seems much colder. We always get our feet 
wet early in the morning, and that keeps us uncomfort- 
able until we stop to camp. A thick fog seems to pene- 
trate to our bones all day. 

Thursday, June 30th. — Toward midnight we had ob- 
served a low line of black cloud in the west, extending 
from the southwest to the northwest, and it promised a 
rising fog. By the time we had halted it had spread 
around in its accustomed way, north and south, and by 
1:30 a.m. the sky was entirely overcast, a wet, damp, 
fog, like fine rain, shutting in everything. The daily recur- 
rence of the phenomenon makes me believe that we are 
drawing near open water, for I hardly believe that such 
a fog could arise from ice openings. Daily toward mid- 
night the sun' s power wanes and the water begins to give 



254 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

off vapor slowly, which is condensed on being carried by 
the wind over the cold ice, and is deposited or carried 
along as fog, &c. Generally speaking, when we turn out, 
at 6 p.m., the sun is shining brightly, and when we go 
to bed, at 9 a.m., it is shining again. But between mid- 
night and camping time it is foggy enough. After dinner 
— 1:50 a.m. — we pushed ahead again. By going ahead 
with Mr. Dunbar I managed to mark out a good, long 
route of one and a half miles, and terminating in a good, 
flat floe piece. But it required some little bridging and 
considerable road-making and managing, and a round- 
about road of live miles. However, we accomplished it 
with no other accident than breaking one St. Michael's 
sled and springing a crossbar of the first cutter's sled. 
On top of the old ice we have encountered many pools of 
water, which seem to me as being the same kind as those 
mentioned by Captain Nares, and from which the Alerfs 
people drank steadily. Seeing some of these pools freeze 
to-day at 32° I imagined they might be fresh water, but 
the Doctor tested some with nitrate of silver and found it 
contained much salt ! 

Friday, July 1st. — Records good ice road, but that the 
rain commenced to fall at 6:30 a.m. During the whole 
of our sleeping time the rain was falling in showers, and 
when we were called the pattering of the drops could be 
heard on our tent. Our bags are, of course, wet again, 
and in some of these, mine and Ericksen' s particularly, 
the feet end is as wet as a sop. Ericksen, Boyd and 
Kaach turned in with dry foot-gear, and turned out wet 
to the knees. I managed to get my feet doubled up to a 
dry place and slept with tolerable comfort for some hours 
until my bones commenced to ache with the infernal 
hardness of the ice on which we were lying. Snow would 



THE RETREAT. 255 

be softer, of course, but the heat from our bodies would 
soon melt it and we would be lying in a pool of water be- 
fore long. There is so much snow water all over the ice 
that we cannot find a place dry enough to make our rub- 
ber blanket a sufficient protection. The dinner time is our 
most uncomfortable part of the twenty-four hours. Our 
feet and legs are wet in the first half hour of our marching, 
but as long as we move ahead we do not mind it, but when 
we halt for dinner our feet get cold and generally remain 
so until we camp at night and change our foot-gear. 

Sunday, July 3d. — It took us until 12:30 a.m. to get 
all our sleds and boats up to the beginning of smooth ice 
(7. e., ice with two feet of slush and water over it and holes 
where you suddenly sink to your knees), and then we 
halted for dinner. The sun now began to try to force its 
way through the clouds and fog, and it seemed to grow 
much colder. To avoid the wind as much as possible the 
tents were slewed around across the wind, and we huddled 
under their lee while we ate our dinner. * * * At 
9 a.m. read the articles of war and had divine service. 
At 9:30 piped down. Everybody is bright and cheerful, 
and apparently (except Chipp and Danenhower) in excel- 
lent health. We have abundance of food, good appetites, 
sleep well, and, as Mr. Cole expresses it, he "seems to get 
more spring in him every day." My sights place us in 
77° 31', and 151° 41' east — a change of position since June 
25th of thirteen miles south, 30° west. As our distance 
made by account is twelve miles it would seem that we 
have had no current against us. But, of course, I cannot 
tell. We may have been set down that much in three 
days by our northerly winds, and, therefore, I must 
accept the position as simply showing where we are, and 
push on for the edge of the ice. 



256 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

Monday, July 4th. — At 1:45 a.m. halted for dinner. 
At 3 sharp set out again, and though some little confu- 
sion was imminent because the Walrus took the wrong 
road we avoided all serious delay, and by 6:20 a.m. had 
advanced everything one mile, making the, to us, unprec- 
edented distance of two and a quarter miles in eight hours 
and twenty minutes. For the last quarter of a mile our 
course lay over some beautiful hard ice, parallel to a 
narrow lead, and we were able to send two sleds ahead at 
a time, and the second cutter and whale-boat together, 
making the first cutter our only " all-hands" haul. This 
reduced the number of trips from seven to four, a great 
saving, though possible only for short stages, because 
such work soon exhausted the men's breath. Having 
been sixteen days under way we have sensibly reduced 
the amount of our provisions hauled on the dog sleds, 
and, in consequence, these sleds got home some little time 
in advance of the boats and heavy sleds. So I have or- 
dered some redistribution of weights. * * * The 
prospect is not bad. I find we are not consuming our 
daily ration of one pound of pemmican, nor have we ever 
done so, and, strange to say, the dogs do not sometimes 
eat theirs. We all like it amazingly, eating it cold three 
times a day like cake out of our hands, but yet we seem 
to have enough on less than a pound. Our greatest com- 
fort morning and evening is Liebig's extract of beef tea. 
Our daily allowance of one ounce per man is sufficient to 
give us a pint morning and evening, and I know of no 
more refreshing and comforting thing up here than this 
same warm drink. Some tents take the whole ounce at 
dinner, but we in No. 1 prefer it when we get up and 
when our day's work is done. 

Our flags are flying in honor of the day, though to me 



THE RETREAT. 257 

it is a very blue one. Three years ago to-day at Havre the 
Jeannette was christened, and many pleasant things were 
said and anticipations formed, all of which have gone 
down with the ship. I did not think then that three 
years afterward would see us all out on the ice, with 
nothing accomplished and a story of a lost ship to come 
back to our well-wishers at home. My duty to those who 
came with me is to see them safely back and to devote all 
my mind and strength to that end ; my duty to those 
depending on me for support hereafter impels me to 
desire that I should return also ; but, these two duties 
apart, I fancy it would have made but little difference if 
I had gone down with my ship. But as there is nothing 
done without some good purpose being served I must en- 
deavor to look my misfortune in the face and to learn 
what its application may be. It will be hard, however, 
to be known hereafter as a man who undertook a Polar 
expedition and sunk his ship at the 77th parallel. 

Piped down at nine a.m. Called all hands at six p.m. 
Breakfast at seven p.m. Under way at eight p.m. 
Three hundred yards from our camp we came to an ice 
opening 150 feet wide, right in our way. As we are now 
doubling our fleets — that is, dragging two sleds at a time 
— such an opening was a serious inconvenience. A small 
thick floe piece was floating in the middle of the lead, and 
I hoped to get that pressed into service before any delay 
could occur. Sending for the dingy I succeeded in get- 
ting the lump in tow and ready for a flying bridge ferry 
while the other boats were coming up. The two cutters 
and two sleds were then carried across. Everything was 
got over all right. Soon after we had to make a second 
ferriage and then a number of bridges before we reached 
the hard ice which Dunbar and I had visited before our 



258 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

last camp. Ice which was connected then was all open 
and moving now, and it was not nntil one a.m. of Tues- 
day, July 5, that we had everything in sufficient security 
to sit down to our dinners. The snow was falling quite 
heavily in large flakes and we rigged up our rubber 
blankets from the boats' rails to protect us, making our 
dinner halt look like a small country fair, as some of the 
men said. I could not help remembering that there were 
many people under canvas in Hoboken to-day, picnicing, 
who would like a little of the coolness we were now hav- 
ing, but it seemed to provoke a desire to exchange places 
with them, and I said nothing more. 



CHAPTER XXI 



BENNETT ISLAND. 



Captain De Long proceeds : At two a.m. we turned 
to and went ahead. Ice openings again annoyed us some- 
what, but we set to work bridging them. While so doing 
the whole pack seemed to get alive, and the tossing and 
tumbling that went on for fifteen minutes was unconifort- 
ble to witness. Large floes which had been held under 
the others became liberated, and, rising to the surface, 
floundered around like huge whales. When the floe edges 
came together large blocks were broken off and reared on 
end twenty-five and thirty feet high. A mass of rubble 
coming together raised up an enormous piece until it 
stood like a monument thirty feet above the surface of 
the floe. Long thick snouts shoved up above and over 
even floe pieces like immense snow ploughs, and groans 
and shrieks came from all directions as these snouts rose 
and advanced inch by inch. When long floe pieces reared 
up to thirty feet and toppled backward they broke in 
large lumps and scattered themselves for yards. And yet 
we seem to have got out of paleocrystic ice. Our road 
yesterday and to-day has been over ice that more nearly 
resembles the pack ice which we entered near Herald 
Island than anything else, and with occasional exceptions 
seems to be one season's growth, the thickness varying 
between seven and ten feet. If this be a correct assump- 
tion we may be out of the drifting pack and in the ice 

259 



260 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

clinging to the Liakhoff Islands, in which case I hope 
many days will not elapse before we get in a lead to some 
purpose. Chipp is not nearly as strong as he would have 
us believe. I mentioned yesterday that the Doctor stopped 
his whiskey to see the effect. Last night (our sleeping 
time) he ate nothing, had no sleep and was groaning and 
tumbling around all the time. This we learn from Dun- 
bar, for Chipp asserts he is " first rate," and tells Dunbar 
to say so when he is asked by the Doctor. Foolishly 
enough, he wants to be discharged to duty, thinking he 
is able to work. 

Friday, July 8th, has completed one mile of the most 
disheartening and discouraging day we have yet had. 
The fresh northwest wind had opened the ice in all 
directions except the one we wanted and a constant suc- 
cession of ferriages and bridges fell to our lot. The wind 
seemed very searching, and finally our customary fog and 
misty rain set in, making us wet as well as cold. We did 
not have dinner till two a.m., it taking us six hours to 
make our last half mile. At three we turned to again, 
and by seven went into camp. Supper at half -past seven. 
Barometer 29.58 at 36° ; temperature 31°. Piped down at 
nine a.m. Called all hands at six p.m. Fresh breezes, 
northwest. Three to five, a very little blue sky and sun. 
At quarter to eight, snow squall. At eight p.m. got un- 
der way. 

Saturday, July 9th, we had advanced everything one 
and a quarter miles and had come to a halt for dinner. 
Our travelling to-day must make up for our mishaps and 
delays of yesterday. We can do well enough when the 
ice holds together ; it is only these ugly openings which 
make us lose ground. Generally speaking one mile made 
means seven miles travelled by the men. What with com- 



BENNETT ISLAND. 261 

ing and going, getting ahead to see the road and going 
back to see the rear close up, I am three times over the 
road night and morning, and I know from my own sensa- 
tions how welcome the camping hour must be to Melville 
and the men. The northwest wind continued fresh while 
we were at dinner, and though we cowered under the lee 
of the boats we were cold and miserable. Our usual fog 
made things still more uncomfortable, and I think no one 
was sorry when at ten minutes past one a.m. I gave the 
order to turn to and go ahead. * * * 

Sunday, July 10th. — We encountered considerable 
needle ice, so called by Parry, and by him attributed 
to the action of rain drops. In our opinion this is caused 
by the more rapid driving away of the salt in some places 
than in others, leaving bunches or tufts of long spikes. A 
piece of honeycomb cut down through shows the same 
general formation. Got a fair Sumner this morning, from 
which I determine our position to be 77° 8' 30", longitude 
151° 38"— a change of position since the 30th of 26| miles 
south 30° east. By account we had made about sixteen 
miles southwest, so this shows how little can be done with 
any certainty. Keeping on in our course is all that can 
be accomplished, and, in my opinion, if our longitude be 
right, a southwesterly course will soonest bring us to the 
edge of the ice. Supper at half -past seven. Divine ser- 
vice at a quarter to nine. Piped down at nine. 

After supper quite a little excitement was created by 
the cry of land. To the southwest was something which 
certainly looked like land, but the fog assumes so many 
deceiving forms that we cannot be sure of anything. The 
nearest Siberian island is 120 miles from us, and unless 
we are going to discover new islands I cannot believe that 
we have seen land to-day. I think we made three and a half 



262 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

miles to day in nine hours and a half's work. Under way 
at a quarter past eight o'clock p.m. At nine I started 
forward and met Anequin coming back in haste for a rifle, 
saying that Mr. Dunbar had seen a bear. Getting to the 
front I met Mr. Dunbar, who, sure enough, had encoun- 
tered Bruin, and, like a prudent man, having nothing more 
dangerous than a boarding pike, took to his heels. 
While turning a sharp corner he met the bear at thirty 
yards' distance, and upon retreating was followed in 
chase for a short spell. The bear then sat down and 
looked at him, and, while Mr. Dunbar was waiting for a 
rifle, waited conveniently in the neighborhood, leaving 
only as Anequin with the weapon came in sight. Clouds 
to the southwest gave more indications of water than 
anything else yet seen. Calling Mr. Dunbar's attention to 
them he expressed his opinion that " such clouds did not 
hang over ice." Climbing to the top of a hummock, 
twenty feet above the water level, and examining care- 
fully with a glass I saw unmistakable land and water. 
It now appears that this was the land seen yesterday. 
At all events it is land sure enough, and water, too. 
What it may be no one can say, whether newly dis- 
covered land or (our longitude being out) some portion of 
Siberia. It can hardly be any one of the Liakhoff islands. 
Another pleasant feature is our course (southwest) being 
a straight line to it. My change from south to southwest 
may, therefore, be a wise act, resulting in our speedier 
liberation. Judging by ordinary distances I should say 
the land is ten to fifteen miles distant, and as I could see 
quite a large expanse of water, with long stretches of 
detached ice, it may be that once at the margin of this ice- 
field through which we are now toiling we may have open 
water to the Siberian coast ; thus verifying some part of 



BENNETT ISLAND. 263 

the statements of Russian explorers. We have exploded 
so many theories of other people that it will be hard to 
make us believe that we can have left the ice behind us 
short of the Arctic Circle. One month ago to-day our 
ship went down, and I do not see any one the worse for 
the work that has fallen to us since. That it is hard work 
there can be no dispute. It is conceded by everybody to 
be the hardest work they ever had. The drag, drag — the 
slips and jerks, the sudden bringing up of the hauling 
belt across the chest are fearfully trying, and the working 
with pickaxes through floating ice makes every bone 
ache. * * * 

Tuesday, July 12th. — * * * Nothing could be seen 
of the land and water we saw yesterday. The southwest 
horizon was foggy. Many guillemots were seen, several 
gulls, an auk, and, strange to say, the Doctor picked up 
a live butterfly, which I have preserved. This is not a 
habitue of the ice, and was certainly blown from the land 
by the southeaster of yesterday or by the southwester 
which followed it. * * * Then follow descriptions of 
daily journeys over ice, ferriages and hard work. Upon 
looking to the southwest a land-like appearance was again 
seen, and several also declared they could see the water. 

Thursday, July 14th. — De Long continues : — Our men's 
boot soles are wearing out so rapidly on the sharp ice 
over which we are travelling that their demands for re- 
pairs exceed our supply. I have already authorized the 
use of the leather from the dingy' s oars, and this a.m. I 
had to have the leather cut off the first cutter's steering 
oar for patches. This leather will last longer than skin 
patches, but I hope the time is not far distant when I can 
have at least this one care and anxiety removed from my 
mind. * * * 



264 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

Friday, July Wt7i. — The land seen again. Onr conrse 
has been steadily southwest. All things being taken into 
consideration I assume that we are near land and water. 
During dinner (twenty minutes of two to twenty minutes 
past two a.m.) we saw the moon for the first time, I 
think, in two months. And what was more satisfactory, 
we saw a seal in a lead near us, and Mr. Collins shot him, 
while the dingy this time got him before he sunk. 
Course west and south (true). The seal came in splendidly 
for food. At a quarter past seven a.m. we sat down in 
No. 1 tent to a simply delicious supper. After our long 
diet of pemmican the change alone was a luxury. We 
did not stand upon our ship ideas of hanging the seal up 
until the animal heat had disappeared, or keeping it for a 
few days. The seal was shot at half -past two, skinned at 
four and eaten at seven, and we feel as if we had dined at 
Delmonico' s. Over seven thirty- thirds of twenty pounds 
was cut up in small lumps, boiled in water, three and 
one-half ounces of Liebig added, one pint of bread crumbs; 
and for a feast I shall long remember it. No. 4 tried to 
fry their six thirty -thirds, and so very successfully that 
Melville says it tasted like fried oysters. 

Saturday, July Wth. — The weather bright and pleasant. 
The island showed more plainly than yesterday, but no 
water could be seen. Mr. Collins shot another seal, which 
was secured by the dingy, and we have another luxurious 
supper ahead. Previous to getting sights I had a mishap 
which was annoying. Going to the top of a hummock to 
get a look at the land Mr. Dunbar and I had to go out of 
the road and jump some rather wide openings. Going 
was all right, but coming back, upon jumping a four-foot 
opening, the ice broke under me as I jumped, and I went 
into the water up to my neck. My clothes held me up for 



BENNETT ISLAND. 265 

a moment, and Mr. Dunbar grabbed me by the head, as 
he thought, but by the whiskers principally, as I realized, 
for he nearly took my head off. My knapsack was away 
to the rear, and I sent Johnson back for it when I reached 
the dingy. However, I soon got dry clothes, and, thanks 
to the bright sun, my wet ones were soon drying. By the 
capsizing of dog sled lost 270 pounds pemmican. * * * 
The event of the day was the seal, a fine, large, fat one, 
giving us food and boot grease. Not much less in impor- 
tance was the appearance of a walrus — the first one seen 
by us in a very, very long time. Though fired at and hit 
by Mr. Collins and Nindermann he remained under water 
finally after many reappearances. The land showed some- 
what plainer to-day, but I could see no water. My obser- 
vations place us in latitude 76° 44' and longitude east 153° 
25' — a change of position since the 10th (six days) of 
thirty-four miles southeast. As this land bears west and 
south of west (true), it can hardly be one of the Liakhoff 
Islands, even if our longitude is a long way out. Supper 
at a quarter past ten a.m. Our seal was simply deli- 
cious. * * * 

Chipp was discharged from the sick list and returned 
to duty. This relieves Melville, who now takes charge of 
the road and bridge making in place of the Doctor, who 
now becomes a reserve. At nine p.m. the island is much 
plainer in sight than ever. I am again in hope that we 
have made another discovery. Working my longitude 
over will correct latitude. I find we are in 76° 41' and 
153° 30' east — a change since the 10th of thirty-seven miles 
south, 43° east ; soundings, twenty-three fathoms. This 
brings me along to Sunday, July 17th. * * * Mr. Dun- 
bar thinks that in two days we can reach the water, but 

the land seems as distant as ever. * * * A very curious 
17 



266 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

seal trick came to light by my breaking through the ice. 
He had two holes leading from the sea, connected by a 
covered way under the snow and thin crust. I suppose it 
was to give him a resort in case a bear headed him off. 
On the ice by the air-hole was a cavity in which the seal 
had lain and rubbed the shedding hair off his skin. 

From this time to Tuesday, the 26th of July, Captain 
De Long's notes refer at some length to the difficulties of 
the roads over the ice, the gradual approach to the land, 
and the more and more confused masses of ice and water 
which had to be got over. He records the shooting of a 
seal, a bear and a walrus. There is also mention made of 
an appearance resembling land to the northward, seen by 
Mr. Collins and Mr. Chipp, but so uncertain that he did 
not deem it wise to alter his course to verify its existence. 

During the night of July 26th Mr. Collins, who turned 
Out during the night, said we were in front of the valley 
of the island, and he could see clear water between us and 
an ice-foot next the land. The solution, I think, is as 
follows : — 



BENNETT ISLAND 




*-1$ 



A. — Own position. 

E. — East end of south side of island. 

W.— West. 

B. — Ice rapidly drifting to southwest before the wind. 

C. — Water and drift pieces. 

D. — Ice-foot or strip of fresh ice. 

I think we are far enough under the lee of point E to 



BENNETT ISLAND. 267 

escape drifting with the ice pressing down along the 
island and passing the point E, even if we are not in an 
eddy so created and then pushed in closer to the land. 
As nothing can be seen clearly it would be folly to move 
into a probably endless confusion, and I shall therefore 
wait until some plan can be safely carried out. 

I do not think I shall ever forget yesterday ; such a 
tissue of difficulty and vexation can be experienced no- 
where else. Such a shifting of ice and opening of leads. 
Hardly had we commenced to move our things along 
what seemed a fair road than the road broke up. Ice 
broke under us, ice slid away from us, ice moved to 
the right when we wanted to go to the left, and vice 
versa, and each instalment of provisions got safely across 
was considered by me as barely rescued from destruction. 
And all this time the land not half a mile off was tempt- 
ing us by its solidity and appealing to our desire for rest 
by its moss covered hills and slopes. At eight a.m. 
yesterday, when we concluded to go on and work for 
twenty-four hours, so many good roads, each leading 
seemingly directly on shore, presented themselves that I 
was embarrassed in a choice, but in fifteen minutes they 
had fallen to pieces and become puzzling mazes of ice and 
water. There was no question that when I gave it up at 
six p.m. everybody was used up and could not possibly 
have gone further. Everybody was wet up to his knees, 
stiff legs and cramps annoyed us until we had been an 
hour or two in our bags, and we were too tired, in fact, to 
get the rest we stood so much in need of. However, we 
are all right again this morning and none the worse off. 
Better, off, in fact, for if we had not put in the twenty- 
four hours in full we would have been out on the heavy 
drift ice and probably miles away from the land by the 



268 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 

time this gale is over (spoken of previously). At noon the 
fog broke away and showed the land for a few moments. 
We were exactly as I had supposed and indicated 
by the sketch on another page. The pressure of the 
ice on swinging off the easterly point has backed us in 
toward the bay, and between our floe and the land there 
is about two miles of water nearly clear of ice. I assumed 
that against our floe are a number of large blocks and 
hummocks, offering serious difficulty to any attempt to 
launch our boats. On the off side of these hummocks the 
sea is breaking considerably. The wind tears around us 
in fierce gusts. No. 6 tent has been twice blown down. 
We will see what the state of affairs is after dinner. 
Dined at half -past twelve p.m. luxuriously on bear stew. 
By half past one the land was again in fog, and otherwise 
the situation was as before. My desire was to go ahead, 
but prudence told me to wait until the weather moder- 
ated. The barometer is still falling, the rain beats down 
from time to time, and nothing can be seen through the 
fog. I decide to wait for an improvement, and then I shall 
push on in the second cutter and try to land some pro- 
visions. Soundings in thirteen fathoms ; no drift indica- 
tion. Our ice is evidently jammed tight. Probably at the 
first chance the loose hummocks now pressing against us 
will slack off and leave no place to launch our boats, 
even if our floe piece does not go bodily in toward the 
land. 

During the afternoon the ice scene was constantly 
changing. At one moment ice seemed to reach from our 
floe to the land. At another time lanes of water were 
seen, and once our floe was left as an island, while it 
would have been possible to launch a boat and reach the 
shore. I confess I was tempted to try it, but I realized 



BENNETT ISLAND. 269 

that the whale-boat could carry nothing but her crew 
safely until her garboards were repaired, and that it 
would take six or seven trips of the two other boats to 
carry our effects. Before I could have got our boat in the 
water, however, ice shoved in between us and the land 
and we were once more helpless. It seems as if Provi- 
dence were directing our movements, for the floe upon 
which we camped last night is the only large piece of ice 
to be seen ; all else is confusion and trouble. Had I gone 
further or stopped short of this place it is hard to say 
where we would be now. We are moving west slowly, 
about a mile or a mile and a half from the land, and are 
now (seven p.m.) abreast a large glacier, whose broken 
edge — it may be twenty feet high — we can see with a 
glass. I have watched carefully all day for a landing 
place, but not one has shown. The coast is either steep cliff 
or glacier, and neither is a successful landing place. The 
barometer is now at a stand, and I think 29.63 at 33 
degrees ; and though rain is occasionally falling, and the 
sky is dark and threatening where the fog does not hide it 
altogether, I am in hopes the weather will improve during 
the night. Supper, bear stew, at six p.m. Piped down 
at nine. 

Wednesday, July 27th. — Called all hands at six. 
Breakfast at seven. The wind has veered to east and is 
dying away. Patiently and hopefully I waited all the 
forenoon for a clearing, but (one p.m.) the fog still hangs 
about us impenetrably. The barometer goes up 29.72 at 
38 degrees and the temperature 30 degrees. Soundings in 
sixteen fathoms water, and I am afraid we have drifted 
down abreast the point west and are too far west to hope 
for any benefit from the bay in which yesterday we 
shoaled water to thirteen fathoms. In which case we are 



270 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

now beginning to open the west face of the island. This 
will be the last forlorn hope for open water in the neigh- 
borhood. And yet there is mnch to be thankful for. 
Everybody is in excellent health in spite of onr terribly hard 
work. The appetites are something wonderful to think 
of and our sleep is sound and unbroken. Forty-one days 
of our march over the frozen sea have had no bad effect. 
One bear is so nearly consumed that for supper we have 
only half our usual ration to serve out. (In five meals we 
have eaten about 250 lbs. of bear meat. The gross weight 
was probably 450 lbs.) The only trace our marching 
shows on us is tender feet, and that probably arises from 
their being so often wet. Wading through ponds would 
make wet feet if our foot-gear was changed every hour. 
At six p.m. had supper. At forty -five minutes past six 
the fog lifted a little and showed us the land seemingly 
about half a mile off. We have drifted along shore since 
last evening and have left on our right hand the glacier 
which ve were in front of last night. But ahead of us, 
and apparently extending into the land, was a very heavy 
floe of blue ice, and separated from us by a few insignifi- 
cant openings. Such a chance was not to be lost. All 
hands were at once turned to, and at fifteen minutes past 
seven we went ahead with all four sleds, officers dragging 
also, and then bounced along the boats, and in an hour 
we had everything on the heavy floe. This we now found 
to be a mile and a half in width after going over it, and 
we were still separated from the land by a half mile of 
broken ice, water lanes, &c. I at once made up my mind 
that it could not be done to-night and that I had better 
devote a day to it. The Wind had veered to east-southeast, 
was blowing fresh and rain began to fall steadily, and 
when, at a quarter to eleven p.m., just inside the blue 



BENNETT ISLAND. 271 

floe edge, I gave the order to camp, I think I did a very 
prudent and sensible thing. 

Thursday, July 28th.— €alled all hands at seven, break- 
fast at eight ; windy (east-southeast), foggy and disagree- 
able. Land in sight at times. We have gone a short 
distance to westward. Barometer 29.78 at 36 degrees ; 
temperature 29 degrees. Under way at ten minutes to 
nine a.m. Sent Mr. Dunbar ahead, and after a while we 
succeeded in crossing the broken ice which had stopped 
us last night. Here we had a small floe, across which we 
speeded. The fog now shut in impenetrably, and I feared 
we were in for a troublesome time. Mr. Dunbar now 
returned, however, and informed me that after crossing 
this floe we should find large ice blocks with only two- 
feet openings, and that the blocks extended to the ice foot 
or fast ice ; and that, moreover, he had climbed up on 
the ice foot and advanced a hundred yards over it toward 
the land. This was too good a chance to lose, and away 
we went. But, though we made all haste and got over 
our last ferry and across the small floe in splendid time, 
when we reached the further edge we found everything 
fallen to pieces, and more water and rapidly moving ice 
than we could undertake. Much of the moving ice looked 
like small bergs broken off from a glacier foot, and from 
the rounded lumps of ice on top and their almost straight 
edges I am inclined to think they were icebergs. By half- 
past twelve p.m. we had everything up to the floe edge 
and halted for dinner. The sun now tried to break 
through the fog, and I hoped for a clearing, but at half- 
past one p.m., when we turned to, the fog was as thick as 
ever. The situation had improved somewhat, for another 
floe piece had now come along, and a few loose pieces 
afforded a convenient bridge. Away we went, but the 



272 ICE PACE AND TUNDRA. 

floe piece was a small one and we soon reached its edge. 
Here was another confusion, but we could make out a 
larger floe ahead. Everything was embarked on an ice- 
cake for a ferryboat and a hauling line run to the floe. 
By great effort we got our piece clear by four p.m. and 
commenced to haul over. 

Suddenly everybody gave a shout, " Look ! " Away up 
over our heads, 2,500 feet, towered the land, and we were 
swinging past it like a mill stream. Hurriedly sounded 
in eighteen and a half fathoms. Soon our floe was 
reached ; away we jumped over sleds and boats, and, 
seeing two or three large cakes nearly together, ran 
everything rapidly over until we at last stood at the base 
of the ice foot. It was a narrow squeeze, for the men 
with the tents and remaining provisions on their shoul- 
ders had hard work to run fast enough to get on the last 
cake before the other cakes were swept away. Now that 
we were on the last cake our position became critical. 
We could not get up on the ice foot, for ten feet of water 
and small lumps intervened, and we were sweeping along 
by it at the rate of three miles an hour. Our cake was 
none of the strongest, and in the swirling and running 
masses and small bergs I feared we would be broken up 
and separated. It was an anxious moment. The south- 
west cape of the island was not half a mile away and 
this was our last chance. Over two weeks of dragging 
and walking to reach this island seemed about to be 
thrown away. I soon noticed our cake began to turn 
around and saw that it might be whirled into a kind of 
corner against the fast ice, where if it remained long 
enough a landing might be effected. " Stand by ! " was 
the order now, and with sled ropes in hand we waited 
the trying moment. Soon our cake caught and held! 



BENNETT ISLAND. 273 

" Now is the time, Chipp!" I shouted, and away he 
went. One sled got over on the rough ice foot all right ; 
a second nearly fell overboard ; the third did fall over- 
board, dragging in Cole, and a piece of ice had to be 
dragged in by sheer force to bridge for the fourth. Then 
I started the St. Michael's sleds, and they seemed to 
stick somewhere. Watching our cake closely I saw signs 
of it giving way. " Away with the boats ! " but Mnder- 
mann thought he could float the boats below and haul 
them over. No sooner said than done, and away they 
went into the water. The men were hurried from the 
sleds into the boats, and I saw the first cutter just begin- 
ning to haul out, when away swept our ice cake, carrying 
Melville, Iverson, Anequin and myself, with six dogs. 
Wilson had carried one load of dogs over in the dingy, 
but he could not get back for the remainder. Chipp 
was on the ice foot with the boats and I knew he could 
look out for everything, and I felt pretty certain we had 
saved everything. For ourselves on the drifting ice 
cake I had some little anxiety, but one corner of our cake 
fortunately soon after drifted near a fast berg, and by 
making a flying trip through the air we escaped in safety. 
At last ! But though standing still we were not ashore. 
The ice foot extended out from the land many yards, and 
was a confused mass of piled-up ice blocks and ridges, 
honeycombed, cracked and broken and presenting a sim- 
ply impassable roads for travel with sleds. Glad enough 
was I to get a solid foothold anywhere, and I gave the 
order to camp at half -past six p. m. (our first sled having 
got on the ice foot about five), everything being hauled in 
as near to the land as possible — say fifty feet from it. 
Eocks were occasionally slipping down and falling into a 
little stream of water at the foot of the cliff, the stream 



274 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

being where the thawing of surface ice had left a channel 
about four feet deep. The face of the cliff was literally 
alive with dovekies. Supper at half -past seven p.m. At 
half -past eight p.m. all hands were called to muster, and, 
led by me, everybody waded or jumped or ferried over to 
the steep slopes of debris, while our colors were displayed. 
When all had gathered around me I said : 

"I have to announce to you that this island, toward 
which we have been struggling for more than two weeks, 
is newly discovered land. I, therefore, take possession of 
it in the name of the President of the United States, and 
name it 'Bennett Island.' I now call upon you to give 
three cheers." 

And never were three more lusty cheers given. With 
great kindness three were then given for me. I now 
change the date to the correct one, and record that at 
half -past eight p.m., Friday, July 29, I added Bennett 
Island to American soil. Our landing cape I name " Cape 
Emma." Piped down at nine p.m. Fresh east wind, 
thick fog, ice off shore rapidly moving west. The birds 
kept up a fearful chattering all night, but we slept well 
in spite of it. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

KENDERMANN AND NOROS. 

From Bennett Island to Semenoffski Island the expe- 
riences of the retreating party were but a repetition of the 
scenes since leaving the sunken vessel. I will therefore 
pass over those incidents of the retreat which occurred 
after the landing on Bennett Island until the separa- 
tion of the boats at the mouth of the Lena. Mnder- 
mann and JSToros, the seamen, who were in the cutter 
with De Long, here continued the narrative. " On Sep- 
tember 12th," says Mndermann, " we were steering south, 
with a fresh breeze from the northeast ; the wind soon in- 
creased, and the sea ran quite high ; about noon there 
seemed to be some trouble with the whale-boat ; Mr. Mel- 
ville called out to the Captain that his boat was leaking 
badly ; all three boats were hauled up on the ice, dinner 
was eaten and the whale-boat was repaired ; after dinner 
the boats were launched and the course laid to the south- 
ward ; the wind increased and the sea was rising ; toward 
evening it was blowing a gale ; a reef was taken in the 
sail of the first cutter ; the sea was continually breaking 
over the boat and there was great difficulty in keeping her 
free of water ; the whale-boat was on the weather bow and 
the second cutter on the port quarter, some distance away ; 
Captain De Long signalled to the boats, intending to tell 
them to keep as near together as possible ; the sea was 
running so high the whale-boat could not slow down so as 

275 



276 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



to come alongside ; another reef was taken in the sail by 
the first cutter, but it had to be shaken out again shortly 
after that ; it was then getting dark, and the whale-boat, 
being the fastest sailer, was out of sight ; the second cut- 
ter could be seen astern, but before long she was also out 




NINDKRMANN AND NOKGS. 



of sight ; the wind and sea still increased, and the first 
cutter took in water over both sides and the stern ; Erick- 
sen was at the tiller, and the boat was running so close 
before the wind that the sail jibed two or three times and 
nearly swamped the boat. 
Finally the sail jibed again and both mast and sail were 



NINDERMANN AND NOROS. 277 

earned away, the boat took in a heavy sea, and with great 
difficulty the water was gotten out, as she was full up to 
the thwarts ; another sea would have sunk her ; as soon 
as the mast went overboard the boat came around head to 
the wind ; the Captain ordered a drag to be made, using 
the sail and boat breaker ; the drag was put out over the 
stern, and the boat behaved pretty well for some time 
until the drag was carried away ; another one was then 
made ; a cross was made, using the mast and an oar, 
weighting it with a heavy pickaxe at the head ; about 
midnight there seemed as if there were two seas running 
from different directions, making it very choppy and con- 
tinually breaking into the boat and keeping the men 
bailing all the time ; the next day the wind and sea were 
high until toward the evening, when the sea began to go 
down ; we were obliged to lay-to that night ; the next 
morning the Captain asked me what I had in the boat 
with which to make a jury sail; I replied a hammock and 
an old sleigh cover, and that we could make a sail out of 
them ; Gcertz and Kaach were then set to work, and as 
soon as the hammock and sleigh cover were sewed to- 
gether the mast was stepped, sail set, and the course was 
laid south-southwest ; at noon the sea had gone down a 
good deal and the wind shifted to the westward ; we were 
still on our course; toward the evening the Captain's 
hands and feet began to swell, so that he could not write 
in his journal ; he put his feet in a sleeping bag and sat 
up in the stern of the boat ; when night set in the wind 
had hauled more to the southward ; we could not make 
our course, but were obliged to tack ; the Captain gave 
me orders to stay about four hours on one tack and then 
go about on the other tack and to call him in case any- 
thing should happen ; we kept on tacking during the 



278 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 

night ; the next morning the wind hanled to the north 
and east so that we could lay our course again ; I took 
soundings and found eight feet of water ; about ten o'clock 
I stood up in the stern sheets and saw on the horizon 
dark spots that looked like land ; this was on the morn- 
ing of the 15th of September ; I told the Captain, but as 
he was sitting down he could not see it, and at first 
thought I was mistaken ; on standing in a little further 
we could soon see land while sitting down in the boat ; we 
could see young ice east and west and for some distance 
toward the land ; as there was no lead to be seen through 
the young ice we ran into it under sail until we got stuck; 
we then used the oars in breaking the ice ahead of us 
while we forced the boat through it ; we pushed on until 
we were about three miles off the mouth of the river ; the 
water rapidly shoaled until we had only about two feet 
of water and soon after our boat grounded. 

The entire day was passed in endeavoring to find deep 
water ; at times all hands were in the water pushing the 
boat along, and great suffering ensued from the cold, wet 
and fatigue. Toward evening, all hands being pretty well 
exhausted, the Captain determined to lay alongside the ice 
till morning ; after supper the men got out their sleeping 
bags, but found them so wet that they could not be used, 
so each person passed the night as he best could, all suf- 
ering extremely from the cold. The next morning the 
boat was pushed off shore. About ten o'clock the 
Captain, finding he could make no progress to the west- 
ward, put the course to the north and east ; the water was 
very shoal, and the boat continually grounded in the mud. 
When the men pushed on the oars the boat would be 
crowded ahead a foot or two, but when the oars were 
withdrawn for a new purchase the boat would settle back 



NINDERMANN AND NOROS. 279 

into about her former position ; toward afternoon the wind 
freshened and the shoal water became very choppy, fre- 
quently breaking into the boat and keeping all hands 
drenched to the skin. By this time the boat had been 
worked away from the young ice about a mile and a half, 
and, finding no further progress could be made in that di- 
rection, the Captain gave orders to return to the ice ; two 
days had been passed in the attempt to reach the land, 
and during this time the only water to be had was from 
melting the young ice. After dinner that day the Captain 
said he could do nothing else, so had concluded to make 
a landing by wading. I made a raft out of the boat sled 
upon which to place some of the boat's load for the pur- 
pose of lightening her. About three p.m. the Captain 
gave orders to shove the boat in toward the shore ; after 
going about twenty yards the boat again grounded, and 
the Captain, seeing no other resource, gave orders for all 
hands to strip and get overboard ; Captain De Long, Dr. 
Ambler, Ericksen and Boyd were the only ones who 
stayed in the boat. The sail was set and the men got into 
the water and took hold of the painter to drag the boat ; 
about fifty yards were made in this way, when the boat 
again grounded, and the Captain gave orders for every 
man to take a back load and wade ashore ; every one took 
what he could carry and all started to wade : sometimes 
the water was only knee deep, at times up to their waists; 
frequently some one would fall into a mud hole, from 
which he would be extricated with great difficulty. About 
a mile from the beach young ice was encountered, through 
which it was necessary to break their way. At last the 
boat was made fast and all hands made another trip to 
the shore, then returned and dragged the boat a little fur- 
ther, but she soon grounded, and the men started ashore 



280 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

with another load ; in this way, alternately lightening and 
dragging the boat toward shore, they managed to get her 
to the yonng ice, which was about a mile and a half from 
the beach ; when it was found impossible to get the boat 
any nearer ; the sick people had to get into the water and 
wade, as it was not possible for any one to carry them 
through the ice, and with such a soft, slippery bottom. I 
and another seaman made a final trip to the boat to see if 
anything had been left, and when we started to return 
found it so dark we could not see the beach, so had to feel 
our way back through the young ice. On reaching shore 
I found a large fire going and the men sitting around try- 
ing to dry their clothing. 

The events of the next few days being recorded in the 
last diary kept by De Long Mndermann continues : 

On the 6th of October Ericksen's condition left no hope 
of recovery, and it was feared that he would be unable to 
move on further. I was alone in the hut and the Captain 
asked me if I was strong enough to go to Kumak Surka, 
which he said was only twenty -five miles distant. He 
thought that I with a companion would be able to make 
the journey and return to them in four days. He told me 
that if we failed to find people at Kumak Surka we should 
then go further to a place called Ajakit, which he said 
was about forty-five miles further to the south than 
Kumak Surka. "If you find people," he said, "come 
back as quickly as possible and bring with you meat 
enough to feed us until we can get to the place." The 
Captain asked me which of the men I would take with me 
on the journey, and I said Noros. He asked me if I 
would not rather take Iverson, but I said no, Iverson had 
been complaining of his feet for some days as having 
given him very much pain. To my selection the Captain 



NINDERMANN AND NOROS. 281 

then agreed. He said further, ' ' Mndermann, yon know 
that we have nothing to eat and that I can give yon noth- 
ing with yon on your journey ; but I will give you your 
portion of the dog meat." As we talked about these 
things the Doctor walked up and looked at Ericksen, and 
exclaimed, " He is dead ! " We were all awed. The Cap- 
tain then said, "Mndermann, now we will all go south- 
ward." This was about nine o'clock when Ericksen died. 
The Captain then asked me where we could find a place 
to bury him, whereupon I answered that the earth was 
too hard frozen to dig a grave and that we had no imple- 
ments with us ; we could do nothing else than make a hole 
in the ice of the river and bury him there. The Captain 
said yes, it must be so, and then told Noros and Kaach 
to sew the body up in a portion of the canvas belonging 
to the tent. At midday we were ready to bury him, the 
flag was placed over him, and we had a little warm water 
with alcohol in it for our dinner. When we had drunk 
that the Captain said: "We will now bury our ship- 
mate." All were very still, and the Captain spoke a few 
words to us, and when he was finished we took our 
comrade toward the river, and then made a hole in the ice 
with a hatchet. The Captain then read the service for 
the dead, and Ericksen' s body was let into the river 
and was carried away from our eyes by the stream. 
Three shots were fired over his grave, and then we went 
back to the hut. The weather was very bad, the wind 
was very strong and the snow drifted fearfully. We had 
not much to say one to the other. The Captain told me 
to go out and see how the weather was, if it was good 
enough for us to make a further journey. I went out, 
but the weather was so bad and the snow drifted so 

strongly that I could scarcely see anything, and I said it 
18 



282 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

would be better to wait till the storm abated, for we could 
not see where we were going if we started out. I thought 
the day was just such a day as the one in which we buried 
Captain Hall. The Captain then said "We will wait till 
to-morrow." That evening we ate our portion of dog 
meat. The Captain said, "This is our last meat, but I 
hope we will soon have some more." Then we all laid 
down to rest. 

On the 7th of October when we awoke the wind was 
pretty strong and the snow was still drifting. We made 
preparations to continue our journey. We ]eft in the hut 
a repeating rifle, some ammunition and a record. We 
took nothing with us but the records and papers, the 
Captain's private journal, two rifles and the clothes we 
wore. I suggested that all the papers should be left 
there in the hut and that when we found people I would 
go back and fetch them, whereupon the Captain an- 
swered: — "Mndermann, the papers go with me as long 
as I live." We then left the hut and went in a southerly 
direction until we came to a large river, which we then 
thought was the Lena proper, but it was the one that we 
now call the Duropean. When we left the hut I had 
forgotten to say we made a short cut across a sand pit, 
about southeast, then struck a river, went along on the 
west bank of the river for some distance to the south, 
then as the river took a turn we had to go southeast 
again, then struck another small river where there was 
no water at all, going south for a short time, then going 
to the east for a short distance, when we struck the Lena, 
as the Captain supposed it to be at the time. That is 
the river he was found on. The Captain said, "Nin- 
dermann, do you think the ice is strong enough to bear 
us % " I said, " I will try it." I went a short way on the 



NINDERMANN AND NOROS. 283 

river when I broke through, but was not very wet. 
When I looked around me I saw the Captain quite near 
to me, and he had broken through up to his shoulders. 
I helped him out and we went back to the bank, made a 
fire and dried our things. It was then midday and we 
made some alcohol and warm water to drink. 

On Sunday, October 9, after divine service, Captain De 
Long sent Mndermann and Noros southward, repeating the 
instructions to Mndermann that he had given him the day 
before Ericksen' s death. Mndermann says : ' ' The Captain 
gave me a copy of his small chart of the Lena River, say- 
ing, ' That is all I can give you on your journey ; informa- 
tion about the land or river I cannot give you, for you 
know as much as I do myself. But go southward with 
Xoros, who is under your command, until you reach 
Kumak Surka, and if you should not find any one there 
then go on to Ajakit, which is forty-five miles southward 
from Kumak Surka, and should you fail to find people 
there then go on to Bulun, which is twenty-five miles 
southward from Ajakit, and if there are no people there 
go southward until you do find people. But I think you 
will find people at Kumak Surka. If you should shoot 
reindeer not further away than one or two days' journey 
from us come back and let us know.' He gave me further 
the order not to leave the western bank of the stream, 
because, he said, on the eastern bank I should find neither 
people nor drift-wood. He told me that he could not give 
me any written instructions, because if he did the people 
would not be able to read them, but I should do the best I 
could and use my own judgment. He gave me strict orders 
that we should not wade through the water. He then said 
adieu to us and that as soon as he was ready he would 
follow in our footsteps as rapidly as possible. Then all 



284 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

gave us three cheers and my comrade and I left them. 
They were all in good hopes that we wonld be able soon 
to bring back assistance. My hopes, however, were not 
so bright, for I knew that it was very late in the fall, and 
that in all probability the people had gone away to the 
south." Noros here said: " We did not follow the river 
round, but took a straight cut across the land. The 
mountains were ahead of us and we knew that the river 
ran near them. It was an island we were on. There was 
a river (the Duropean) on the other side of it. Mndermann 
and I reached the river and walked along it about five or 
six miles. We stopped before noon and had a little alco- 
hol. After that we walked on till we came to a little 
canoe on the top of the bluff, and perched on the canoe 
we saw a ptarmigan. Nindermann shot at it with his rifle, 
and, though he took out some tail feathers, the bird got 
away. We went down to the beach, where it was easier 
walking than on the bluff. We walked there about a 
mile, when we again took to the bluff, principally to look 
around us and to see if we could see any game. Nindermann 
happened to get up on the bluff first and exclaimed, ' They 
are deer — give me the gun.' We could see them ; they 
were not more than half a mile away, but partly to the 
windward. So Mndermann took off his heavy clothes and 
lightened himself up and then crawled along in the snow. 
I gave him the cartridges and said, ' Nindermann, make 
sure of your game ; that may be the saving of the whole 
of us.' He said, 'I will do my best.' I was almost 
smoke-blind at the time and could not see very well, but I 
watched his movements very eagerly. I could make out 
his progress, and saw him crawling slowly up. There 
were several deer, perhaps a dozen; two or three were 
grazing and keeping the lookout, and the others were 



NINDER2IANN AND XOROS. 285 

resting on the ground. Mndermann got to within two or 
three hundred yards of them, when one of them caught 
sight or wind of him and gave the alarm to the rest. I 
saw Nindermann start up, and, seeing the deer making off, 
he fired three shots at them, hoping to bring down one 
with a chance shot. But he missed. They all escaped. 
Mndermann came back much disheartened. ' I could not 
help it,' he said ; ' I could not do any better,' so we had 
to put up with it. Then we started off again and made 
another pretty good stretch, till we felt exhausted and 
determined to seek shelter for the night. The best place 
we could find was beneath the high bluff, at a place where 
the earth had fallen away, and here we built a fire, 
had our alcohol and there spent the night. We did not 
sleep much it was so cold, and most of our time was occu- 
pied in keeping up the fire. ' ' (This camping place was 
near the place where Captain De Long later built his last 
signal fire — perhaps a mile from the deserted raft.) 

"We had to go whichever way the wind blew us, 
and so we got away to the northwestward somewhere. 
Anyhow that day' s travel took us out of our course so far 
that it took us nearly two days to get back again to a 
point opposite to the bluff on which we were when the 
gale commenced. We pushed on in spite of the wind and 
the drifting snow and sand. That night we could not find 
any shelter on the banks, and so we dug a hole in the 
drift for a shelter. This took us three or four hours to 
do, as we had nothing to work with except our hands and 
sheath knives, but at last we managed to dig a hole large 
enough for the two of us to creep into. After we had got 
in the hole the wind drifted the snow upon us and soon 
filled the entrance of our little place, and next morning 
we had to work a long time before we could get out of the 



286 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

drift again. We got up and started out again ; we did 
not use any of our alcohol to speak of ; we were saving it 
up as much as we could." 

Toward the evening of the 11th the two men, after a 
terrible day's tramp in the drifting snow storm, were 
gladdened by the sight of a hut to the southeast — Matvey 
— and there they determined to stay for the night. It was 
a small log hut with a raised hearthplace in the centre. 
They soon built a fire, keeping it up by putting on the 
logs of the benches or bunks built round the hut. 

"We hated to leave the first shelter we had found 
since leaving the Captain," Noros says. " We went down 
to the river again. We had to face the wind from the 
southward, and we could hardly make any progress 
against it. We would have to stop once in a little while, 
unable to move a step further. We began to give it up in 
despair. At times we felt like going back to the hut and 
to wait there until death relieved us from our suffer- 
ings." But they kept on, walking wearily, with nothing 
to eat. Then they saw some mountains ahead, and they 
thought they saw a hut close by, but were not quite sure. 
There was water between them and the hut, and this they 
had to wade through up to their knees. They got across, 
and then found it was really a shelter place, a little 
palatka or round, tent-like hut, built of sticks and 
plastered outside with mud to keep out the wind. They 
went inside, but found it was in a very dilapidated con- 
dition. Noros thought Nindermann had followed him, but 
instead of that he had gone a mile further on and had 
found another hut, a still smaller one. There they saw 
two crosses stuck up, marking the graves of dead natives. 

Here the two men stayed a day and a half, until all the 
find of food had been consumed down to the fishheads 



NINDERMANN AND NOR OS. 287 

and the refuse, and, though very bad, it seemed to give 
them some strength. Mndermann says they thought they 
had then arrived at Kumak Surka, and Relieved that the 
course they had followed agreed pretty well with the 
chart that De Long had given them. But, finding no in- 
habitants, they determined to press on again and make 
for Ajakit or Bulun. On the morning of the 14th they 
again started out on their weary tramp. The wind blew 
strong from the southeast, and snow and sand were 
drifted against their faces as they walked, so that they 
could scarcely hold their eyes open. They did not make 
much progress that day, and at night they found shelter 
in a curious opening in the bank, two feet and a half 
broad, six feet high and about fifteen yards in extent. It 
was, in fact, a kind of cave funnel, the other opening 
being on the top of the bank. Next day, the 16th, they 
had breakfast of Arctic willow tea and portions of sealskin 
pantaloons, and though the southeast wind was bitterly 
cold they started out again. They crossed numerous sand 
banks and small streams frozen over, and toward evening 
struck the Lena proper, close to the high mountains on 
the western bank (the place where De Long' s party are 
now entombed). That day, thinking they might find game 
on the other shore, they crossed over to the mountainous 
eastern bank of the Lena, where they spent a most 
wretched night in a ravine in a mountain side. They then 
crossed over to the western shore of the Lena again. 
They began to congratulate themselves that the streams 
were at last all frozen over and wading was now unneces- 
sary. That night they had to camp under the shelter of 
a high bank, but, failing to find wood, they had neither 
supper nor shelter, and spent another wretched night. 
Next morning, the 19th, they started out again after a 



288 ICE PA CK AND TUNDRA. 

meal of willow tea and sealskin, going south along the 
Lena. But they made little progress, being terribly 
weak. Mndermann says : " We made nearly no progress 
at all, and every five minutes we had to lay down to rest 
on the ice." They could hardly drag themselves along, 
yet they refused to give in, saying they would crawl 
when they could not walk any further. But assistance 
was fortunately nearer than they thought. They had 
accomplished an almost superhuman task already in 
walking so far with scarcely any food and in the bitter 
cold. From the place where they had left the Captain 
to the broken flatboat the distance is about fifteen 
miles ; from that point to Matvey is fifteen or eighteen 
miles in a direct line, but they had made a circuit of 
nearly thirty-five ; and from Matvey to Bulkoor is offi- 
cially recognized as 110 versts, or over seventy miles ; 
so that they had already done nearly one hundred and 
twenty miles. It must have been a terrible walk, and 
from Bulkoor to Kumak Surka, a known settlement, 
whither the Captain had told them to go, they had still 
fifty versts, or thirty -three miles, to go. But on the even- 
ing of the 19th, while Noros was walking on the edge of 
the river about half a mile ahead of Mndermann, on 
turning a point of land he saw a square hut perched in a 
gully between two high mountains on the west bank of 
the river, and going toward it saw two other huts, tent- 
like structures of wood and plastered outside with mud. 
These were the huts of Bulkoor. 

Noros called Mndermann' s attention to the discovery, 
and both went up to the huts, glad to have found shelter 
for the night at least, if nothing more. They stayed there 
two or three days, and then they determined that they 
would make a fresh start in the morning. They believed 



NINDERMANN AND NOROS. 



289 



the place to be Ajakit, and thought that the next place 
would be Bulun. Everything was ready for the journey, 
which they had fixed for the morning of the 22d ; but, 
Nindermann says, on that morning, although they had felt 
strong enough when sitting or lying down, they felt 




hoj^elessly weak when they stood up and attempted to 
walk, and therefore decided to rest there another day. 
This proved fortunate for them. They were cooking their 
dinner when they heard a noise outside the door that 
"sounded like a flock of geese sweeping by." Ninder- 
mann, who could see through the chinks of the door, said, 



290 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

" They are deer." He picked up his gun and was creep- 
ing up near the door when it was suddenly opened. It 
was a Tunguse native, who, seeing the gun in JNmder- 
mann's hands, dropped on his knees, pleading, apparently, 
that they should not kill him. The two men made all 
sorts of signs to assure the man of his safety. Mndermann 
threw the gun away in the corner to let him see they did 
not intend to harm him. It was a long time, however, 
before he would enter, but after fastening his deer up — he 
had driven up on a deer sled — he finally entered the hut. 
Norossays: — "He began to talk, but we could not un- 
derstand what he was saying. We tried to explain to 
him that we wanted to go to Bulun. We were so glad 
when we saw him that we could have hugged him, for we 
knew then that we were pretty nearly all right. We tried 
to explain to him that there were others of our party 
away to the north, but he could not understand us. He 
examined Mndermann' s clothes, and then brought in a 
deerskin and then a pair of deerskin boots, and made ges- 
tures as if to say that he would go away, but would soon 
return. He held up three fingers and we thought he 
meant three days. ' ' Mndermann was for keeping him, but 
ISToros advised that he should be permitted to do as he 
thought best, the more so as he had left articles enough 
as a pledge of his wish to assist them, and anyway if he 
left them they could follow the sled tracks and find him 
again. Going outside the two men saw four deer, and 
they afterward learned he had brought the two extra ani- 
mals to put in a sled which he had left there some days 
previously, but which had been used by them for their 
fire. 

The two men watched the Tunguse drive down the gully 
at a dead run and then went into the hut to await what 



MNDERMANN AND NOROS. 091 

fate should bring them. They waited until darkness 
came, and then they began to fear that the Tunguse did 
not intend to return. Mndermann said, "We have done 
wrong in letting him go." "Mght came on," Noros 
says, "and we had got a little under way with our 
soup when we heard sleds drive up and saw our Tunguse 
coming with two other natives and five reindeer teams. 
The original Tunguse came rushing into the hut, bringing 
some frozen fish, deerskin coats and boots. We went for 
the fish. He picked up all our things and put them on 
the sleds. We put on the coats and the boots and soon 
started off. This was about midnight. We were driven 
about fifteen miles when we came to two large tents and 
many sleds, the deer not being in sight. The natives 
took us and washed our faces and hands and got us look- 
ing a little decent again. They had a big kettle of deer 
meat on the fire and we were motioned to help ourselves 
at once. After that they made us some tea, and then 
spread deerskins for us to sleep on. This was our first 
comfortable night since the time we left the Captain." 
The native had brought them to a camp of travelling 
Tunguses, who were on their way to Kumak Surka from a 
temporary settlement where they had been staying a 
little further to the north. In the caravan were seven 
men and three women, seventy-five head of deer dragging 
thirty sleds. With this caravan Mndermann and Noros 
travelled all one day and till four of the afternoon of the 
next day, when they finally arrived at Kumak Snrka on 
the 24th of October. Here the two men were well taken 
care of, Noros at one hut and Mndermann at another. 
Before this, when but a short distance on the road, a 
native known as "Alexia" led Mndermann to the top 
of a neighboring hill, and, pointing out the island moun- 



292 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

tain of Stalbowy, asked if it was there that he had left his 
companions. He said "Yes," and explained as well as 
he conld that he wanted the sleds to take him there with 
something for the Captain's party to eat. The native 
does not seem to have understood him, for he started 
down the hillside toward the sonth. They arrived at 
Kumak Surka dnring the evening, and, busied with the 
preparation of meals for a house full of people and with 
the arrangement of bunks for the accommodation of the 
guests, there was no opportunity that night to engage 
their attention to the subject of his errand. The next 
day, however, he had the field to himself after the morn- 
ing meal had been discussed. Some one brought him the 
model of a Yakout boat, which they called a "parahut" 
(a corruption of the Kussian term for steamer) and asked 
if his "paraliut" was like that. Then, with sticks to 
represent masts and spars, he showed them that it was 
bark rigged and moved by steam power also. All this 
they seemed to understand perfectly and then asked how 
and where they lost the ship. 

Pointing toward the north he made them understand it 
was very far in that direction, and, with two pieces of 
ice, showed them how the ship was crushed and sank 
down into the sea. Afterward he cut the models of three 
small boats and put sticks in them to represent the men 
in each boat, and told them, as well as he could, how, with 
sleds and dogs and boats, they had crossed great seas of 
broken ice and open water and finally reached the shore 
of their country. He then got a piece of paper and drew 
the coast line and sketched the boat, illustrating the 
manner in which the landing was effected. Drawing in 
the river from the coast line to the south he showed that 
they walked down the east bank of the river, and marked 



NINDERMANN AND NOROS. 293 

the places where they found huts or encamped. He 
indicated the number of days they had been walking by 
putting his head down and closing his eyes as if to sleep 
and counting the number of sleeps with his fingers. He 
told them as plainly as he could that the Captain, or 
"Kapitan," as they called it, had sent him to get clothes 
and food and reindeer, and to fetch them to the settlement, 
as they were very weak and in a starving condition. He 
told them he had left the party sixteen days ago and that 
two days before his departure they had had nothing to 
eat. He used every effort to convey his meaning to the 
savages who had befriended him and induce them to go 
to the succor of the Captain and his party, but was not 
successful. Sometimes it seemed as if they understood 
him perfectly, and at others he felt convinced that they 
had not understood a single thing he had told them. 
During the entire day he kept talking to them by signs 
and illustrations upon paper, but without avail. The 
next day he renewed his efforts and resorted to every 
expedient to make them understand him. He did not 
ask them only to go alone, but wanted them to go with 
him. Prostrated by famine and exposure and weakened 
by dysentery he was in no fit condition to undertake such 
a task, but his anxiety was so great that he felt con- 
strained to go. This day, as on the day previous, he at 
times thought he had been understood, and, again, that it 
was all a blank to them. They would sigh and look 
distressed when he described the sufferings and condition 
of the party on the delta, but when he urged that assist- 
ance should be sent to them the faces of his hearers were 
totally devoid of expression. He then thought of his 
companions as dead or dying, looking to his return as 
their only hope for deliverance. Weakened by fatigue, 



294 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

exposure and famine, and feeling how utterly powerless 
he was when so much depended on him, the terrible 
strain was too much for him, and this strong, brave man, 
who has faced death and endured untold hardships with- 
out a quiver, sank into a corner and cried like a child. 
An old woman, the wife of the master of the hut, saw 
him and took compassion on him, and a long conference 
was held by the natives, which resulted in their endeavor- 
ing to comfort him. Resting a hand tenderly upon his 
shoulder they told him he should go to Bulun the next 
day. He had asked to be taken there, hoping to find 
some one by whom he could make himself understood, 
and it was to his anxiety to reach that town that they 
attributed his grief. 

The next day he again asked them to take him to Bu- 
lun to see the " Commandant," and they told him they 
had already sent for the " Commandant," and were ex- 
pecting him. During the evening the Russian exile, 
Kusmah, came to the hut and Mndermann asked him if 
he was the " Commandant" of Bulun. To this he an- 
swered " Yes !" or at least Mndermann so understood him. 
Then Kusmah asked, " ParaTcod Jeannette f " and Mnder- 
mann replied " Yes ! " at the same time believing that he 
had been notified by the Government at St. Petersburg of 
the probability of the Jeannette 1 s arrival upon the Sibe- 
rian coast and had been directed to look out for the ship' s 
company. He then told, as well as he could, the whole 
story of the loss of the Jeannette and the history of the 
retreat, illustrating by his little chart and by sketches. 
Mndermann soon felt convinced that Kusmah did not un- 
derstand either the chart or his descriptions. Then he 
told him that on the journey on land one man had died 
and that there were eleven alive. While he was telling 



NINDERMANN AND NOR OS. 



295 



Mm this portion of the story Kusmah kept assenting and 
seemed to understand perfectly. He afterwards found that 
Kusmah was alluding all the time to Mr. Melville's party, 
which also consisted of eleven people. He would keep 
saying, "Kapitan, yes. Two Kapitan, first Kapitan, 
second Kapitan," alluding to Melville and Danenhower. 
Mndermann then understood him to say he couldn' t do 




anything until either one or the other of them had tele- 
graphed to St. Petersburg for instructions. Therefore 
Mndermann wrote a telegram addressed to the American 
Minister in St. Petersburg, telling him the exact condition 
of affairs, and that the Captain's party was starving and 
in need of food and clothing, and while talking, before 
the despatch was quite finished, Kusmah took it. Nin- 



296 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 

dermann thought nothing of this at the time, supposing he 
was transacting business with the " Commandant " of 
Bulun. Three days afterward Kusmah handed the de- 
spatch to Melville at Germavelok. 

From Kumak Surka the two men were sent to Bulun, a 
hundred versts further south, where they arrived on the 
29th of October. As soon as the " Commandant" learned 
of their arrival he sent for them and gave them quarters 
for the day. The next day they were transferred to the 
house of the priest's assistant, but this gentleman did not 
appear to know the virtues of hospitality to shipwrecked 
men. After two days he sent them to the hut of a native, 
who also did not provide well for the guests. In short, 
the Bulun ese did not show any very praiseworthy char- 
acteristics until the arrival of Melville in Bulun, who 
compelled the people to furnish better food for the two 
rescued men. Melville arrived at Bulun on the 2d of 
November, and the remainder of his boat's crew a few 
days later. He had lost no time as soon as he heard of 
the existence of Mndermann and Noros in making a 
move, but it was too late to benefit De Long and his party. 

This was the story which Mndermann and Noros related 
to me on the Lena River. It was the closing chapter of 
the mournful annals of the Jeannette. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

AMONG THE YAKOUTS. 

Irkutsk, July 29th, 1882. 

Retukning to my own mission, I was compelled to cur- 
tail my visit to the delta in consequence of the prevailing 
impression that the summer would arrive sooner than 
usual this year, though the Ispravnik of Werchojansk, 
whom I met on the road to Bulun, assured me that if I 
left Werchojansk for Yakoutsk on the 6th of May I 
would be in time to make the journey on sledges and in 
from seven to nine days. My anxiety was to get upon the 
other side of the rivers intervening between Yakoutsk 
and the north before they broke up and interrupted travel. 

I was glad to meet at Werchojansk a Mr. Leon, a polit- 
ical exile, who spoke English quite well, and had been 
very useful to Chief Melville and also to the Russian offi- 
cials by acting as interpreter for them. He was well 
informed concerning the history of the voyage of the 
Jeannette, the remarkable retreat and the sad fate of 
those who failed to reach the settlements after landing 
upon the delta. He also told me all that was known con- 
cerning Chief Melville's subsequent movements, and 
furnished me with a chart of the Lena delta, which 
was as accurate as any in existence at that time. Upon 
my return to Werchojansk he hurried me off for Yakoutsk 
very reluctantly, but assuring me that he felt great anxi- 
ety already concerning the state of the roads, and feared 
19 299 



300 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

I would experience considerable difficulty in reaching my 
destination. When one reflects that most of the stop- 
pages upon these northern roads are in unoccupied houses 
it will not be necessary to explain that provision must be 
made for the entire journey before starting out from a 
town like Werchojansk. 

The stock at these places is very limited indeed, and at 
the time I arrived provisions were scarce and dear, ren- 
dered so partly by the lateness of the season and partly 
by the fact that Chief Melville, in equipping his search 
party, was compelled to draw heavily from their limited 
stores. The articles to provide are cooking utensils, such 
as a copper tea-kettle, a china or metal teapot, a frying 
pan and a copper pot for boiling meat ; tea, sugar, fresh 
and dried bread, fresh meat and fish. Then, also, it will 
be found convenient to have tea-cups and saucers, large 
spoons for soup and small spoons for tea, plates of iron 
plated with porcelain, and knives and forks. Many of 
these articles are luxuries, and may, if found too cumber- 
some, be dispensed with — as, for instance, knives and 
forks and plates, for a man can eat with his fingers ; tea- 
cups and saucers, for a wooden bowl will answer. He can 
do without spoons, for perhaps he may have no sugar, and 
he can drink his soup from the same bowl which he uses 
for tea, or he can drink right out of the pot it was cooked 
in, the same as do the natives ; but it is well to provide 
one's self with the articles named, though perhaps to be 
abandoned if found necessary. One is not likely to be 
surfeited with luxuries in this country, and can safely 
trust himself with the articles I have mentioned. In lay- 
ing in your stores of provisions it is well to remember that 
the yemsJieeks expect a little reward in the shape of civ- 
ilized food, and though it is not in the bond that they 



AMONG THE YAKOUTS. 301 

shall receive it it must be a hard heart that can withstand 
their eager, expectant look as they watch every process 
of cooking and eating. So if you have not taken this item 
into consideration you will find yourself short of provi- 
sions before the end of your trip. 

A proper sled is another desideratum. Dog sledges 
require to be lighter and to run more easily than reindeer 
sledges, while horse sledges are more cumbersome than 
either of the others. In travelling continuously — that is, 
night and day — it will be found more comfortable to have 
a covered sled to protect you from the wind and snow 
and allow you to sleep occasionally. This is seldom 
allowable, however, with dog teams, as they are not 
generally used upon stations, but for the entire route, 
from one distant point to another, where other animals 
cannot be procured. It is not that dogs are not strong 
enough, for one good dog team will carry the loads of 
about six reindeer teams — that is, a single dog can pull 
nearly as much as a single reindeer. When heavily 
loaded, however, the dogs travel slowly, while reindeer 
always trot along at a lively pace. Yakout horses are 
probably the slowest of all animals except oxen, while 
the horses upon the post roads of Siberia west of Irkutsk 
are about the same as those of other countries. I left 
Werchojansk in the same sled that had carried me 
through from Sradnia Kolymsk to the portion of the Lena 
where dogs only are available. It was a light sled, 
covered with reindeer skins to keep out the wind. It had 
to be repaired repeatedly, and whenever we halted suffi- 
ciently long for such a purpose it was thoroughly over- 
hauled, so that when I say it was the same sled when I 
left Werchojansk I may make a mistake ; it may have 
been entirely new by that time, for there I had a new 



302 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. > 

cover put on of thin reindeer skin with the hair scraped 
off. I managed to retain my sled for three stations, the 
last one being drawn almost all the way over bare gronnd. 
After that I had to mount a horse, and experienced all 
the misfortunes attending such a mode of travel. 

The Yakout horses of Northern Siberia can scarcely be 
called horses — they are a sort of domesticated wild ani- 
mal. They are small, ill-shaped and awkward, with 
thick hair and very long and heavy mane and tail. The 
front lock often entirely conceals the eyes and the whole 




YAKOUT HORSE. 



front of the head. They stumble and fall in the most 
unexpected and unnecessary places, and when down 
make no effort to assist themselves to their feet. They 
simply stick out their heads to reach for such dried, frost- 
killed grass or bunches of shrubs as may be within reach 
until urged to self -assistance by the kicks and voice of 
their driver. They follow each other in long lines, and it 
is almost impossible to make a Yakout horse go alongside 
of another — he wants either to be ahead or behind. This 
arises from the fact that they are mostly used as pack 
animals, and are then driven in lines, the hinder animal 



AMONG THE YAKOUTS. 303 

tied to the tail of the one preceding. Thns also they are 
harnessed in sledges, with a single trace passing around 
the bow of the sled and fastened to the tail of the leading 
horse to keep it from beneath their feet. I don't mean 
that the first horse pulls his share of the load entirely by 
his tail. The trace is first fastened to the saddle, and, 
passing back toward the sled, is attached to the horse's 
tail to keep it up from the ground when occasionally 
it slackens. The saddle is always placed by the Yakouts 
in the middle of the horse's back, is an open tree like 
the McClellan, with a high, square pommel, often hand- 
somely ornamented with silver and gold of native metal 
and workmanship highly creditable to their skill in the 
mechanical arts. The saddle is mounted upon a pad of 
straw, and the effect when a horse is ready saddled for 
the road is something like a camel. The natives generally 
pile a coat or two on the saddle under them, and when 
mounted are perched high up in the air in what, to one 
accustomed to civilized accoutrements, seems a very awk- 
ward and uncomfortable position. It is quite an art, too, 
to mount one of these saddles perched in the centre of a 
horse's back, and the stirrup depending almost imme- 
diately from the pommel. If you rise upon your left foot 
in the stirrup and raise your right leg horizontally over 
the horse's back you will find yourself ten times to one 
on the horse's neck just in front of the pommel, and as it 
is next to impossible to get back over a pommel eight to 
ten inches high you have to slide ignominiously down 
over the horse's head to the ground and try it over again. 
They are perfectly docile — provokingly so — they have not 
animation enough to be wicked. One could well wish for 
a little of the mustang or broncho spirit. Their favorite 
gait is a walk so slow and deliberate that you lose all 



304 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



patience and force them into a trot if possible. Now you 
have all the exercise you require, for their trot is like 
unto nothing known to the outside world. They rise in 
the air and straighten out their legs and then come down 
upon the end that has the foot on it, the recoil bouncing 
you high up from your seat and just in time to meet the 
saddle as it is coming up for the next step. It is for all 
the world like constant bucking. Soon you have pains in 
your limbs and chest and hold your breath as long as 




GROUP OF BOKIAKS. 



possible in order to keep it from being driven entirely 
out of your body. There is no comfort in the saddle upon 
such horses. The Yakouts, as well as the Boriaks, who are 
very similar in their nature and habits, although brought 
up among horses and living upon them in more senses than 
one — for horseflesh is a delicacy to these people — are not 
good horsemen. They neither sit well nor manage their 
horses well. Later I saw many Tartars. They also have 
many horses and are perfect horsemen. It is a pleasure 
to see them mounted. They sit upon their horses as if 



AMONG THE YAKOUTS. 



305 




306 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 



3 



LO 





a 

§ 

HpBj'Tcraro OOmaro ryOepecKflro yDpaujicHia iN& %$?! 



AMONG THE YAKOUTS. 307 

they belonged there. Indeed I understand they some- 
times sit other people's horses in the same way, as most 
of them I saw are exiled horse thieves. Beyond Ya- 
koutsk, that is, south of that city, you begin to find 
horses that have been improved by breeding with Euro- 
pean stock and a much superior class of animals. The 
country is traversed with post roads plentifully supplied 
with horses that cost but little and are capable of the 
hard work demanded of them. And when I speak of a 
plentiful supply I do not mean that on your arrival at a 
post station you are sure to find horses waiting to convey 
you to the next post station. 

The probability is that your demand for horses will be 
met with the reply, " LorsTiad naytoo" (no horses), and 
you will have to wait for from forty minutes to several 
hours before you can resume your journey. Between 
Werchojansk and Yakoutsk it is still worse. It is no 
unusual experience at the season I passed over the road 
not only to find no animals at the stations but no station 
master nor any one else. Nothing, in fact, but an empty 
house. Several times I had to help drive before us horses 
that we picked up on the prairie so I would have them at 
the next station. Finally, after much tribulation, I reached 
the station of Kingyorak, at the foot of the Werchojansk 
Mountains. Here were neither horses nor reindeer. In- 
deed horses would have been of no use whatever on this 
route, as the valleys on either side of the mountain were 
filled with soft snow, partially thawed by the sun, which 
now, in the early part of May, was quite powerful. There 
was a presumable beaten track made by reindeer teams, 
which were employed on this route as far as within thirty 
versts of the Aldan River. Horses travel in this part of 
the country in single file, as before explained, and would 



308 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

consequently be between the tracks made by the reindeer, 
which are driven side by side in double teams. Horses, 
therefore, would sink out of sight in the valleys, as it 
was only possible to travel, if at all, upon this beaten 
path. When I found there were no reindeer at the station 
I at once hired one of my yemslieeks to hunt up the 
savages in the neighborhood and employ some of them to 
convey me to the south side of the Aldan, some 230 versts 
distant. I at last succeeded in securing a sufficient num- 
ber of reindeer from a camp of Yakouts about ten versts 
from the station, and a promise that they would come for 
me by nine o'clock. 

In the meantime a Tunguse arrived at the station with a 
team of fine large reindeer, and said he had plenty of 
them at his camp, which was thirty versts off. He told 
me he would take me on my journey in case the Yakout 
team did not arrive, and I would have preferred his escort 
to the others, as I have always found the Tunguses and 
Lamoots much more reliable and honorable than the 
Yakouts. For instance, Mr. Bobookoff, who, with some 
baggage from Chief Melville's search party, had preceded 
me over the same road, was compelled to hire teams from 
some wandering Tunguses in the vicinity of this station, 
and paid in advance twenty-five rubles for their services. 
The next morning when they came for him with their 
teams they asked if he did not belong to the American 
party that was expected over the road. He told them he 
did, and had some of their baggage in his charge "In 
that case," replied the driver, " I cannot accept your 
money, for the Ispravnik of the district has sent word 
that we must help the Americans all we can; you are 
therefore welcome to the use of my reindeer." With this 
he returned the money to Mr. Bobookoff and proceeded 



AMONG THE YAKOUTS. 311 

with him to the Aldan. I had a somewhat similar expe- 
rience with an old Lamoot whom I had employed for fifteen 
rubles to carry me and my baggage abont fifty versts over 
a very bad road. He received the money during the eve- 
ning and came for me about midnight, but before starting 
he returned me five rubles of the money, saying that upon 
reflection he thought the job was not worth more than ten. 
It would be an interesting sight to behold a Yakout re- 
turning any money he had ever received, whether justly 
or unjustly, unless forced to do it. I much prefer the 
Tunguse character and the Lamoot. About the ap- 
pointed hour my Yakout yemsheeks came with a lot of 
small, thin reindeer, and I was disgusted with them, but 
subsequently found that they were better for work at this 
season than the fat, strong ones would have been. It was 
but ten versts from the station to the foot of the moun- 
tains, and yet we did not reach that spot until about four 
o'clock the next morning. All night long the yemsTieeks 
were walking in front of their teams and sounding with 
long poles through the deep snow to keep upon the beaten 
path. Occasionally one of them would lose the track and 
would go almost out of sight in the deep snow. We 
crossed the mountains as soon as we reached them. As 
we approached I saw four sleds drawn by reindeer coming 
down the mountain side, and in the distance they looked 
like centipedes crawling upon a wall, so steep was the 
descent. When we met the drivers of these sleds we 
ascertained that they were the Tunguses who had taken 
Mr. Bobookoff to the Aldan and were just returning. 
They reported the road as in a fearful condition, and so 
we found it to be. 

There was one thing that I remarked at this time — 
namely, the delicious melody of the Yakout tongue as 



312 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 

spoken in the conversation with my drivers and Cossack. 
I had never before noticed this peculiarity, though subse- 
quently it was a matter of constant remark. It seemed to 
me like a blending of the Irish and Italian dialects, with 
the crisp, rolling gutturals of the one, modified by the 
soft musical tones of the other. 

Soon we commenced the ascent of this mountain, which 
proved a sore task. There could be no passengers on the 
sleds ; all had to climb as best they could. I found it 
impossible to advance more than eight or ten paces at a 
time through the soft snow, and felt convinced that with- 
out the adhesive qualities it then possessed I could not 
have accomplished so much. When at last the summit 
was attained there were but six or eight paces before the 
descent commenced upon the other side, and as I stood 
there upon the peak looking down it appeared almost an 
absolute impossibility to make the descent without per- 
sonal injury. Following the direction and example of my 
guide, the Cossack, I sat down and worked my passage as 
best I could, and, at the end of three-quarters of an hour, 
I found myself about two-thirds of the way to the base. 
Looking back, I saw that the yemsJieeks had lashed the 
six sleds three abreast, with the reindeer astern, and with 
one man holding firmly on either side, their feet planted 
forward in the snow, and the reindeer holding back as 
much as possible, the descent was safely accomplished ; 
but even from where I stood, though still on the mountain 
side, it appeared as if the reindeer were standing on their 
heads and the men were sliding down a perpendicular 
wall. I believe there is no parallel to this pass upon any 
known road. I have been informed that in midwinter, 
before the early summer sun has softened the snow, the 
mountain side is a sheet of ice, and the passage is even 



AMONG THE YAKOUTS. 313 

more difficult than when I crossed. At that season one is 
obliged to sit down astride of a stick, which he must 
manage as a brake, and regulate his speed with great skill 
or else the descent becomes exceedingly dangerous. From 
the summit to the valley on the south side the slope is ten 
versts long, and the gathered momentum of an unob- 
structed slide from the top may be imagined. There are 
one or two places in the descent where one can divert his 
course to a sort of platform and recover his wind and 
courage to finish the descent. What an opportunity for 
coasting ! I don't believe there is a boy living who ever 
dreamed of such a lark as to pass this mountain on run- 
ners. We found the road through the valley quite as bad 
as it had been reported, and at ten o'clock were compelled 
to halt until the cool evening had hardened the surface so 
as to enable us to proceed. 

My yemsheeJcs had refused to bargain for conveying 
me further than to the station of Beerdakool, ninety 
versts south of Kingyorak, but before we reached that 
point informed me that I would find the place deserted 
and uninhabitable. They said that for an additional 
exorbitant sum they would take me sixty versts further 
on, where there was an uninhabited povarnniar, near 
which lived a tribe of Lamoots, who would take me to 
the Aldan for the regular price — that is, nine kopecks 
(four and a half cents) a verst. They also agreed to go to 
the Lamoot camp and bring some of the tribe to me to 
make the necessary arrangements. I could, of course, do 
nothing else than accept their terms, as otherwise. there 
was a strong probability of my starving at this house 
during the season, when the rivers break up, and there is 
no communication between one part of the country and 
another until the water falls. As an excuse for charging 



314 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

me so much for this second stretch they told me that 
shortly after leaving the station we must cross a river 
which was filled with surface water to a great depth, and 
there was every prospect of our being drowned. At this 
they commenced crossing themselves and praying, and, to 
add to our other discomforts, the first rain storm of the 
season set in. I knew the effect of a warm rain upon ice, 
and felt considerable alarm concerning the condition of the 
ice upon the Aldan, which I was hastening to cross before 
it broke. When within ten versts of the little river which 
they expressed so much fear of crossing these incorrigible 
miscreants insisted upon stopping in the woods to cook 
tea, though they had halted for that purpose but two 
hours before. All my persuasion and threats were of no 
avail in forcing them to proceed until the little river had 
been passed until I produced a pistol from my pocket. 
That was enough. The moment that inducement was 
offered they exclaimed " Piadjet!" (go) and moved off at 
once. On the trees near the bank of this stream were 
hung similar gifts to the deities to those described as hung 
upon the cross between the Kolyma and Werchojansk. 
My drivers made similar offerings and crossed themselves 
most fervently before we descended to the ice. I think 
their appeals must have been heard and answered, for we 
found less water upon the ice than in many holes in the 
main road through which we had already passed, and 
effected the crossing without any difficulty worth notic- 
ing. From where we halted for tea on the south side of 
this river I sent one of the yemsheeks ahead to have the 
Lamoots at the povarnniar when we arrived, so that no 
time need be lost in getting away, and gave him a liberal 
reward for his extra services as messenger. Upon arriving 
at the povarnniar later in the afternoon I found it a most 



AMONG THE YAKOUTS. 315 

miserable hovel, the rain streaming through the roof, so 
that it was impossible to find shelter. It was not alto- 
gether rain, either, for that is at least clean white, while 
this water dribbled through a roof of turf, and was simply 
mud. The floor was covered with water, and one could 
only walk around on pieces of wood that had been placed 
around for that purpose There was no chimney— simply 
a hole in the roof over the fireplace for the smoke to 
escape, which it sometimes did. Here I found the sub- 
Prefect of the police district of the Kolyma, whom I had 
previously met at Sradnia Kolymsk, with his wife and little 
girl, of about twelve years. They had been here in this 
miserable hut for four days waiting for transportation, 
but could obtain no animals. Here, also, I found my 
Yakout messenger, who had not been to the Lamoot 
camp at all. He said there was a deep river intervening 
and he could not cross it, but promised to make another 
attempt that evening in company with the other yemsheek. 
The reindeer were sent to a feeding ground in charge of a 
Lamoot boy ; but, much against my desire, they were 
allowed to put all their effects on their sled which went 
with the reindeer. I felt convinced that they would make 
no further effort to reach the Lamoot camp, but would 
wait until we slept and then go for their animals and drive 
home. I expressed my fears to the sub-Prefect, or "Pro- 
moshnik," as he is termed in Russian, but he and the Cos- 
sack both assured me I need have no fear of that, and I, 
believing they should know more of the character of 
these people than I, reluctantly submitted to this arrange- 
ment. It had been my intention to hold one of the men 
as hostage, and, in case the Lamoots did not arrive in the 
morning, to compel them to go on with me to the Aldan. 
Their reindeer were in excellent condition, and it was only 



316 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

fifty versts to where I would find horses to carry me over 
the river. If I had been allowed to have my own way I 
would have been able to cross the Aldan before the ice 
broke, and been spared much anxiety and suffering ; but I 
foolishly trusted to the judgment of others instead of fol- 
lowing the rule laid down by Lieutenant Schwatka, who 
has said that " a man travelling in the North, or in any 
unknown country, must depend upon his own judgment 
and not upon the advice of others if he would be success- 
ful." As I had anticipated, the Yakout yemsheelcs went 
off home during the night and left me in this forlorn hovel 
without means of moving, and without food to sustain 
life until the swollen rivers had subsided and travel could 
be resumed upon the roads. 



20 



CHAPTER XXIY. 

CAUGHT BY THE FLOODS. 

Irkutsk, July §\st, 1882. 
Dttking the day following my arrival my Cossack took 
the Lamoot boy as a guide and started for the camp, 
which was twenty versts distant, carrying with him a 
hatchet to cnt a log upon which to pass the little river if 
unable to ford it. He returned during the evening with 
the grateful information that they would take me to the 
inhabited house I desired to reach that night, if their 
reindeer returned, which had gone a long distance away 
to bring home the carcasses of three large elk that had 
recently been killed by one of their hunters. They did 
not come that night, but the night following arrived 
about midnight, while in the meantime about eight horses 
came from the Aldan to promote the journey. We there- 
fore took all the people on the sleds and left the baggage 
to be brought on horses. The roads were getting worse 
and worse every day, and nearly every day it rained, so 
that the roads were filled with water, and for versts at a 
time the sled and everything on it was completely sub- 
merged. It was such a day's travel that one would be 
loath to repeat, but finally we arrived at the house, or 
hut, as it should be called, completely worn out and 
drenched to the skin. Our baggage arrived later, but the 
roads were so bad that two of the horses had to be aban- 
doned and the yemsheeks came in on foot. At this house 

319 



320 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 

we learned that the Aldan, which was now but thirty 
versts distant, had not yet broken, but that the Lena 
had, and the ice was moving down, so that the Aldan 
might be expected to break any day. There was, there- 
fore, no time to be lost, so we started early in the morn- 
ing mounted upon the six poor horses that had brought 
our baggage the day before. We could, therefore, only 




VIEW ON THE UPPER LENA. 



take our blankets, a teakettle and a very small amount of 
food, only sufficient for the day. We expected to cross 
the river and reach the station, where we would find suffi- 
cient to eat until our baggage arrived the next day. This 
was a more disagreeable day than the previous, for, though 
I thought it impossible, the roads were even worse than 
those we had passed. Almost the whole distance was 



CAUGHT BY THE FLOODS. 321 

through frozen swamp land, upon which the water had 
drained from the adjacent high land, and the horses had 
to wade through water up to their bellies, treading upon 
the treacherous icy bottom, and, being without shoes, it 
was almost impossible for them to keep their feet. The 
little girl was mounted behind the Cossack. Once his 
horse fell and he and the horse both rolled over the little 
one, and I thought she was drowned, when some one 
riding behind jumped from his horse and rescued the 
poor frightened creature from her perilous position. 
Nearly every horse in the party fell several times. 
Several small streams had to be crossed that were already 
swollen and we had to seek another than the regular 
crossing place. Sometimes we would have to leap from 
our saddles to the shore and help the struggling horses to 
land. 

At last, about ten o'clock in the evening, we reached 
the bank of the Aldan, to find it already broken up, and 
heavy ice going down stream at the rate of fourteen versts 
an hour. Our worst fears were realized. It was now too 
late and too dark to find our way back to the house we 
had left, where we could pass the time until the water fell, 
and we went about three versts along the bank of the 
river to the point where the crossing is always made, di- 
rectly opposite the station. Here we cooked some meat 
with drift-wood, and then lay down to sleep till morning, 
when light enough to find our way back through the net- 
work of little rivers that began to traverse the country in 
every direction. They told me it would be from eight to 
twenty days before the ice left the river free enough to 
cross in a boat, and this intervening time we would have 
to pass in a hut about ten versts back from the river. 
We got up about eight o'clock in the morning, cooked 



322 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

some more meat, and then started to return along the river 
bank by the route we had come. 

I noticed that the water in the river was much 
higher than when we lay down at night, but did not think 
much of it until we found that our retreat was cut off less 
than a verst from where we slept. The yemsheeJc said 
there was another way out by passing around a lake behind 
where we had slept, but on attempting that route we found 
we were cut off there also, so we had now nothing else to 
do but to select the highest piece of ground we could find, 
and there await the falling of the waters. This was not a 
very pleasant prospect, with our baggage thirty versts 
away and with our last meal already eaten. We had a 
little tea left, and that was all. The highest ground we 
could find was not much above the general level, and 
when I saw water marks four feet high upon the trees 
near us I began to feel a little nervous. We had little 
time for reflection, however, for there was plenty to do. 
We cut brush and made a hut that would afford a little 
shelter from the wind, and covering it with some skin 
blankets and the saddle pads stopped a good deal of the 
rain from coming through when we slept. In the mean- 
time I had set a tide gauge, and found the water rising at 
the rate of twelve inches an hour. At this rate it would 
only require four hours more to put the floor of our house 
under water. This was a dismal prospect, but while I 
was looking around for some place where, in an emergency, 
we could hang the woman and child up in the trees while 
we swam around and caught fish for them I again ex- 
amined my tide gauge and found the water had been 
stationary for twelve minutes, and soon afterward it was 
subsiding. It went down as rapidly as it rose, and by 
evening a fall of six feet was observed. The ice, from one 



CAUGHT BY THE FLOODS. 323 

to three feet thick, which had been coursing like a 
race-horse through the inlet or temporarily submerged 
land in the rear of our camp, carrying before it masses of 
drift-wood and tearing up trees in its course most omi- 
nously, was now aground. We had six horses with us 
and had no fear of starving, but felt the need of an axe 
about as seriously as anything else. Later my Cossack 
and the Promoshnik rode out to inspect the road to the hut 
in rear of us and returned with the report that it was 
feasible. We therefore decided to move there in the 
morning. Now there seemed no danger of serious disas- 
ters, and we slept soundly and comfortably except for a 
miserable snow and rain storm that drove into the open 
doorway of our brush hut. 

I can in no way better describe the alternate hope and 
anxiety that were our portion for the next few days than 
by copying directly from my little pocket journal the 
pages relating to our lagoon camp : 

May 17th. — The second day of our residence in the 
brush. For variety we have had thunder storms all day 
long, with occasional glimpses of the sun, just sufficient to 
tempt us to hang out our wet blankets and clothes, merely 
to get them more thoroughly drenched before we could 
again get them under cover. Tried the road to the povarn- 
niar and found it impassable, and nothing before us but 
to sit in this swamp until the river is passable. During the 
afternoon I walked around to where we had slept on the 
river bank the night of our arrival, and found the ground 
all wet from having been submerged, and great cakes of ice 
from one to five feet thick twenty or thirty yards further 
inland than where we had lain. Stood for some time on 
an immense cake of grounded ice and gazed wistfully 
across the three versts of water, filled with moving ice, to 



324 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

where the station is located, not more than four versts 
from me. We held a council of war after returning from 
our unsuccessful attempt to retreat this morning, and 
decided that, as we would be compelled eventually to kill 
a horse for food to save us from starvation, we might as 
well kill it now and not wait until starved into it. 

Consequently the yemsTteek was directed to slaughter 
an animal. I assisted at the operation, which was a novel 
one. Fastened the horse's hind legs to a tree and then 
passed a line attached to his fore feet around a tree in 
front of him. We all pulled on one end of this line, and 
when the horse began struggling pulled his feet forward, 
thus throwing him down. His legs were then secured and 
the yemsTteek stabbed him behind the ears, severing the 
spinal column. He was soon skinned and dressed, but as 
we were all very hungry a piece of meat was cut off im- 
mediately from his hind leg and boiled in the teakettle. 
When I returned from my walk to the river bank I was 
called to eat and thought I was eating beef ; thought it 
was some they had saved and gave to me, believing that 
horseflesh would be repugnant to my palate. Don't be- 
lieve I could tell the difference between horse and cow 
except that horse meat is harder and tougher. Slept 
soundly with a full stomach. 

May 18th. — Breakfasted and dined upon horseflesh and 
spent the time, as we have done ever since encamping 
here, trying to dry our clothes, but continued rain and 
snow storms have prevented. I have been wishing for a 
change of wind, and this evening it seems to have settled 
down from the southwest, and blows the smoke from our 
fire right into the open front of our hut. We may look for 
better weather, I think, if it continue from that direction. 
I would like to pass the time writing but dare not open 



CAUGHT BY THE FLOODS. 325 

my box in this unsettled state of the weather ; it wonld 
bring on a deluge surely. Ever since about one o'clock 
yesterday the water has been rising in the low land be- 
hind our brush hut, until at two p.m. to-day it stood six 
inches higher than at the highest day before yesterday. 
Then in an hour and a half it settled an inch and stays 
there without change. There, I think, it will continue for 
perhaps the ten or twenty days they say it takes for 
things to settle down after the breaking up of the rivers. 
In that case we can hope for no relief from behind us, but 
must wait patiently for the river to clear of ice and a boat 
can come from the other side. If we could only get our 
baggage up and have some clean clothes and tobacco, and 
something else to eat besides horseflesh it would be a 
relief. Took a walk to see how the river looked, but 
could not reach the place where we first slept. Returning 
to camp at half -past six, found the water rising at the 
rate of three inches an hour and within about two feet 
of reaching our hut, which is on the highest ground we 
could find. Looks bad. I don't like this slow and con- 
tiued rise. 

May 19th. — Woke up at six o'clock to find the water 
rising rapidly and close to our hut. Walked to where I 
could get a distant view of the river and saw it still full 
of ice moving rapidly and the water well up on the land 
all around us. Soon the water reached our fire and put 
it out, and we had to move it to another spot a little 
higher, where we cooked some horse meat for breakfast. 
At half -past seven the water was in our hut. Opened my 
box and put my most important papers in my pocket and 
inside the lining of my vest. Moved our place of rest 
twice and now at a quarter past nine are on the best spot 
we can find, where we must await events as they transpire. 



326 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

The water still coming in very fast. Feel the need of an 
axe more than anything else. I never knew of such 
idiocy as to come away without one. I saw one slung in 
its leathern case outside the house before we started and 
took it for granted they meant to bring it. It must have 
been forgotten at the last minute. My Cossack and the 
Promoshnik have crossed themselves and said their prayers 
and are now stretched out on a big log sleeping. The 
rest of us are seated on the log, with our feet up on it 
to keep them out of the water, which now pervades every 
spot of ground in the vicinity of our camp. I am glad 
my Cossack is asleep, for when awake he does nothing 
but scold the poor yemsheek for getting us into the 
dilemma, while I look upon it as his fault for insisting 
upon going up to the crossing place the night we arrived. 
I feel more anxiety for the woman and child than for the 
rest of us, as we can make shift somehow, even if we have 
to climb a tree. If we only had an axe we could build a 
raft and cross the inlet to ground from which we could 
reach the povarnniar, which is only four versts off that 
way. I lose my temper whenever I think of the axe. 
At ten a.m. the water began falling and went down at 
the same rate it came up — three inches an hour. This 
evening it is comparatively pleasant — that is, no snow or 
rain — and there being no wind all shouted across the river 
and finally got a response. They sent the fool of a yem- 
sheek to talk with them, and he could not understand, 
though, notwithstanding being along distance behind him, 
I could hear them distinctly ; but every time they com- 
menced talking he would do the same and drown their 
voices. There is one good thing about it, however — they 
know at the station that we are here and will send a boat 
over as soon as possible. At six p.m. the water has gone 



CAUGHT BY THE FLOODS. 327 

down two feet and we can again occnpy onr hnt. The 
ice in the river seems to me to be looser than before. 

May 20th. — A fine day and the river nearly cleared of 
ice. Only a thin, narrow strip of ice along this shore. 
This evening, after shouting an hour, got a response that 
the boat would be over in the morning. Spent most of 
the day in writing. 

By evening the water had gone down as low as I had 
seen it at any time there, and our anxiety was about at 
an end. During the afternoon of the next day a small 
boat came over with two Yakouts, who brought some tea, 
flour and the awful butter mixed with tallow which is 
made by the Yakout housewives. The supper that fol- 
lowed was a most sumptuous one — boiled horse meat, 
with rye cakes, made by mixing the flour with water and 
baked on a twig stuck in the ground before the fire. Af- 
terward tea boiled in the same pot in which the meat had 
been cooked and retaining somewhat the flavor of soup. 
After tea Michael, the Cossack, went back across the 
river in the little boat with the Yakouts to get some milk, 
sugar, tobacco and wild geese from the station master. 
We had been entirely out of tobacco for several days, and 
had adopted numerous devices to procure a smoke. The 
bark of the pine tree was chopped up fine and mixed 
with the stem of an old pipe which had also been cut fine, 
and, being rank with nicotine, gave some tobacco flavor 
to the mixture. Our yemsheeJc started back for the 
house where the baggage had been left to bring it up, but 
found the land still inundated behind our camp and was 
compelled to return. 

During the next day the big boat came over from the 
station, propelled by about a dozen men and boys, and 
bringing an extra horse and a bull with its sled to carry 



328 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA, 

our baggage to the boat. This was the first bull sled I 
had seen and it was as such a great curiosity. They are 
used on land devoid of snow, and the driver, often a 
woman or girl, sits astride of the animal, not upon the 
sled. I have occasionally met on the road a man mounted 
upon a bull and guiding it by means of a small rope 
attached to a ring in its nose. He would have a saddle, 
too, to sit upon, while his wife walked alongside or ahead 
of him through all the slush and water. But she was 
only a woman and he was a man. I found at the station 
two Cossacks with the post, who had left Werchojansk 
ten days ahead of me, and another Cossack with a pris- 
oner whom he was taking from Yakoutsk to Werchojansk. 
I also learned that Mr. Bobookoff was at a house ten 
versts away and completely surrounded with water. The 
roads were all reported to be in a fearful condition and 
travel impossible. That night Mr. Bobookoff arrived, 
having been informed that I was at the station. I was 
very glad indeed to meet him, for he spoke French, and 
since I left Werchojansk I had seen no one with whom I 
could talk. He told me he had been twelve days at the 
house where he was now living, unable to get away, as the 
roads were filled with water and there were several rivers 
to cross which were too deep to ford. Besides this there 
were no animals to be had and no boats at the rivers. 
He had sent his Cossack forward to report the condition 
of affairs, and expected horses from a village half way to 
Yakoutsk, and had ordered boats to be taken on bull 
sleds to the rivers en route. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

END OF THE JOUKNEY. 

Irkutsk, August 2d, 1882. 
My baggage did not arrive until the 26th of May, when 
I started immediately in company with Mr. Bobookoff, 
who had with him the box containing the records and rel- 
ics found with the bodies of Captain De Long and his 
companions at the Lena mouth. We found the roads in a 
fearful condition, and bridges broken down. Twice during 
the night we had to unload the horses before crossing 
the bridges, which we temporarily repaired. The horse 
which carried the heavy box containing the relics fell six 
or seven times in crossing small but deep and swift 
streams, which beset our path continually, but the larger 
river, which we had to cross in a boat, was passed without 
accident, though the current was almost like a waterfall. 
The horses swam the river, guided and sustained by a 
rope of twigs made by the natives, a ad exceedingly 
strong, though not particularly flexible. All the baggage 
was transferred on the boat, and, as might be imagined, I 
watched the box containing the precious relics of the un- 
fortunate heroes from the Jeannette with considerable 
anxiety, and drew a long breath when I saw it safely 
landed on the opposite shore. We reached the next 
station at half past one o'clock in the morning, to find 
it deserted and half filled with water. By making a 

long detour we managed to pass the submerged land, and 

331 



332 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

four hours later reached a Yakout house five versts from 
the station. We made a bargain with the inhabitants to 
take us to the house of the Opraveur, or writer, a petty 
officer of the Government, living half way between the 
Aldan and Yakoutsk. 

The country here is more thickly peopled than further 
north, but the houses are of the same construction — logs 
notched into each other at the corners and a flat roof of 
logs closely laid and covered with a thick layer of turf. 
The whole outside of the structure is afterward smeared 
with manure. The rich Yakouts live just like the poor 
ones — the same kind of houses, one little end reserved for 
the family, and the other filled with cows and calves. At 
the season I passed through this country these people live 
entirely upon milk, rich and poor alike. The milk is 
boiled with the inner bark of the pine tree, pounded first 
to break the fibres. Sometimes this dish is improved 
with a gallon or two of minnows, caught in traps that 
are set for the purpose in every lake and stream. I have 
eaten of this dish with these people in the fashionable 
style — that is, each male is provided with a large wooden 
spoon, and the pot is set in the middle of the table, so that 
every one can fish for himself. When one is hungry 
it is a very palatable dish, but I cannot understand how 
great, strong men can be satisfied to subsist on milk when 
they have an abundance of cattle. Perhaps it is this milk 
diet that makes such cowards of these people. We 
reached the village where the Opraveur lives the second 
day, with the Yakout horses, and again crossed a flood in 
boats. 

We were entertained for the night at the house of a 
quaint-looking old priest, who was all kindness and atten- 
tion and brought us such delicacies from his slender 



END OF THE JOURNEY. 333 

stock as boiled beef, biscuit, tea with sugar, and pickled 
fish. He also opened his heart and brought out his bot- 
tle of wdJca and piously blessed the liquor each time be- 
fore he joined with us in a glass of the beverage. After 
refreshment he took a guitar, upon which he played very 
skilfully, and, for my especial edification, played several 
negro melodies which he had learned while on a visit to 
San Francisco many years ago. Afterward he played and 
sang a number of comic Russian songs in a minor key, 
each verse concluding with a lively "tol-la-rol-lol," which 
he gave with great spirit, keeping time to the measure 
with his foot. Then followed some Spanish love songs, 
equally well rendered, and I was as much pleased as sur- 
prised to hear such good music from so unusual an instru- 
ment in the wilds of Siberia and from a long robed and 
long haired old priest, who looked more like a backwoods- 
man of America than a musician. But he was a dear, 
good old soul, and I shall ever remember with the greatest 
pleasure his successful efforts to entertain his weary 
guests. We were also indebted to him for some fresh 
provisions with which to continue our journey the next 
day. Since my diet of horse meat I had lived entirely 
upon wild ducks and geese purchased for a nominal price 
from the Yakouts we encountered en route. 

Two stations further on I met a newly married Yakout 
bride and groom, and from my companion, Mr. Bobookoff, 
who speaks the Yakout language well, I learned the mar- 
riage rites of those people. A young man buys a wife 
from her father for from fifty to five hundred rubles, 
varying according to her beauty and accomplishments and 
the earnestness or wealth of the swain. After the purchase 
the father of the affianced bride again takes possession of 
her and the lover is not allowed even to see her for a year. 



334 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

After that interval they are married by a priest and again 
subjected to an agonizing separation of twenty days, at 
the termination of which they can fly to each other's arms 
and none can pnt them asunder. What devotion must 
animate their bosoms to outlive such cruel parting with- 
out one sly glance to replenish the fires of love ! No com- 
munication whatever, not even a valentine, may pass be- 
tween them, for I never saw but one Yakout who could 
read or write. I expressed my admiration of this sincere 
love to my friend Bobookoff ; but that cynic scouted the 
idea of love. He said it was simply a matter of money. 
The young man paid his rubles, and intended to get some- 
thing for them, if it was only a wife. He says true love 
would have died for want of nourishment long before the 
first term of separation was ended. The young man can't 
be false, for he has already paid all the money he has, 
and could not afford to be unfaithful. Pshaw ! I despise 
such incredulity, but my friend Bobookoff is an ex-exile, 
and is, perhaps, entitled to his lack of faith in humanity. 
I reached the bank of the Lena late in the afternoon of 
May 30th, twenty-seven days after my departure from 
Werchojansk, wearied, hungry and dirty. After crossing 
the quicksands, where our horses sank nearly to their 
bellies, we reached a cluster of houses, and there found 
Sergeant Kolinkon, the Cossack who had accompanied 
Mr. Bobookoff to the island house where I found him 
after crossing the Aldan. He had come out from Ya- 
koutsk to meet us, and brought some fresh beefsteak, 
bread and several interesting looking bottles. He also 
brought the Governor's greeting to me and a request that 
I should call upon him as soon as I arrived. The next 
day we reached Yakoutsk, having crossed the river, 
which here is fifteen versts wide, during the night, while 



END OF THE JOURNEY. 337 

I slept, overcome with fatigue and the happy feeling of 
relief that the hardest part of my long journey was ended. 
My old friend, M. de Varowa, came out on the road to 
meet me and conducted me to his residence, where "La 
petite N any ah" welcomed me with apparent pleasure as 
an old companion on the road. Soon a messenger came 
from the Governor with the request that I would call upon 
him at once, as there was now with him a gentleman who 
speaks English and who would act as an interpreter for 
us. To my apology for appearing in my dirty clothes of 
the road the old General politely replied that he was 
ashamed to hear an old soldier apologize to another for 
the accidents of a campaign, and received me with the ut- 
most cordiality, compelling me to stay and dine with him 
informally comme a la guerre. 

Our interpreter was Captain Jurgens, of the Russian 
navy, who was on his way to the Lena delta to establish a 
meteorological station as one of Russia's links in the 
chain of stations to take synchronous observations encir- 
cling the world within the Arctic. During the period of 
my stay at Yakoutsk I received the kindest attention on 
all sides, and there formed friendships that, though they 
may remain but as recollections, will always be among the 
pleasantest and most sincere of my life. General Tcher- 
naieff, the Governor, was more like a father to me than 
a host, and the Lieutenant Governor, Basil Priklonsky, a 
true brother. Captain Jurgens, though himself a visitor, 
was unremitting in attention and most patiently per- 
formed the onerous duties of interpreter, at all times 
sacrificing his personal comfort for my benefit. 

Seven days after my arrival the search party arrived 

from the Lena delta and shared with me the hospitality 

of our friends in Yakoutsk. Chief Melville and his im- 
21 



338 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

mediate companions, Bartlett, Mndermann and Greenbek 
were old friends, and bnt renewed the relations of the 
previous winter. Captain Berry and Ensign Hunt, of the 
Rodgers, met them, as I had done, for the first time. 
But all united in feelings of the warmest friendship and 
deepest gratitude to the officers of the Russian Govern- 
ment in Yakoutsk. On the 11th of June we all embarked 
upon the little steamer Pioneer, and were accompanied to 
the landing by about half of the citizens of Yakoutsk, 
including the officers of the Government, who had come 
thus far to take a final farewell. Many were the warm 
hand shakings and earnest protestations of enduring 
friendship, while I, who had become Russianized in Sibe- 
ria almost as easily as I had become uncivilized among 
the savages of the North, kissed and was kissed repeat- 
edly by nearly all the — horrors ! — men. 

The Pioneer was a most miserable little steamer, that 
shed sparks all over us as she struggled up stream against 
the strong current of the Lena. This was our home for 
nearly two weeks, during which we often ran unsuccess- 
ful races against boats that were being towed along the 
shore by a couple of bareheaded boys. There was only 
one convenience in such a craft, and that was there was a 
place on the cabin tables where you could write at almost 
any time, for they were seldom encumbered with meals. 
A little foraging at villages where we stopped for wood 
added a good deal to our personal comfort, but, much to 
our surprise, induced the Captain to raise our board. 

At Witem we left the Pioneer and went aboard of the 
Constantine, a larger and more comfortable craft, where 
we boarded a la carte and fared much better. There were 
many other passengers than our party upon this boat, and 
it was a motley group, comprising Russians, Yakoutsks, 



EXD OF THE JOUR SET. 



339 



Tunguses, Tartars, Mongols and gypsies. Among them 
were two women who wore a sort of Bloomer costume, 
which is quite common in travelling in Siberia. The habit 
consists of a loose shirt, with a belt around the waist and 
loose trousers tucked into high topped boots. A derby 
or soft felt hat completes the costume, which is striking 
and prepossessing. 




GOLD MIXES OF WITEM. 



The scenery along the Lena River is, in many places, 
most charming and picturesque. Turreted clilfs rise di- 
rectly from the water's edge, or decorate the wooded 
slopes, like great feudal castles. Eolling farm lands, 
tilled with great toil and but little skill, stretch away into 
the forests, and at intervals of twenty or thirty versts 
pretty little villages dot the river's banks. In every vil- 
lage are one or more churches of the Greek faith, with the 



340 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

Oriental domes, gaudily painted or gilded, and giving dig- 
nity to what otherwise might be an uninteresting collec- 
tion of square houses. But I have noticed that a taste for 
decoration is a distinguishing mark of Siberian architecture. 
In the cities, the sills and lintels of the windows are orna- 
mented, and even the tin waterspouts that lead the rain 
from the roofs into the street terminate in dragons' 
mouths or some other artistic design. Little balconies 
and corners relieve the monotony of the plain wooden 
walls, and this, too, with no other material, perhaps, 
than the cumbrous logs of which most of the dwellings 
are built. Often you will see the solid window shutters 
painted in flagrant, gaudy colors, but almost everywhere 
the attempt is made to beautify one's dwelling. Some of 
the log church edifices I have seen on the Upper Lena 
would decorate the finest park in Europe or America. 

After five days upon the Constantine we reached a sta- 
tion beyond which the boat could not pass. I needed 
nothing more to convince me of this when I saw herds of 
cattle fording the river a short distance above us. At this 
station we took the small boats of the post stations, and 
for five days and nights were towed near the river bank 
by horses, which sometimes trotted along the shore, and 
at others waded in the stream ; while occasionally the line 
was cast adrift entirely until the horses passed around a 
deep inlet and reappeared ahead of us on a little island, 
we, in the meantime, maintaining our position against the 
current or moving ahead propelled by poles in the hands 
of our yemsheeks. 

Four days more in carriages took us to Irkutsk, the only 
real city I had yet seen in Siberia. We took up our quar- 
ters at the Hotel Deko, a commodious and well kept inn, 
where every effort was made to accommodate and please 



EXD OF THE JOURNEY. 



341 



the taste of the American guests. Another hotel, the 
Siberian, frequently enticed us to dine, where the cooking 
was more like civilization than one would expect to find 
in this country. Cosey little dining rooms, with a really 
excellent cuisine and fair wines, left with you a feeling that 
you had passed within the lines of civilization at last. 

There was one dish that we found most palatable as 
well as novel — that was cold soup, a dish truly Siberian. 
It is made of little chunks of cold meat and sliced hard 
boiled eggs, mixed with 
onion tops and sour 
cream, into which is 
poured for each individ- 
ual portion a bottle of 
"quass" that gives it 
a most refreshing, pun- 
gent taste. Chunks of 
transparent ice floating 
in it have a cooling effect. 
But what is "quass?" 
queries the uninformed 
New Yorker. Quass is a 
harmless beverage made 
from black bread and 

yeast, and is so lively when bottled that it must be tightly 
corked and tied down to keep it. I dare not give the 
receipt for making this delightful drink, as it is the key 
of cold soup, or " okroshka" as it is called here, and I 
know an American who intends to make a fortune in New 
York with a summer lunch room down town, where noth- 
ing will be served except these two articles, with bread, of 
course, but a strictly temperance house. It will only need 
an introduction there to secure the patronage of every 




GENERAL ANOUTCHINE. 



342 ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 

hungry and thirsty business man, for these are articles 
that recommend themselves when once tried. Then, to be 
served by girls in the cool, pretty dress of Little Rus- 
sia, will have such a soothing influence upon all customers 
that they will gladly add to the prospective fortune of 
the enterprising individual who brings this blessing to 
New York. 

The day after our arrival General Anoutchine, the 
Governor General of Oriental Siberia, returned to town 
from a protracted tour through his principality to Japan 
and by the Suez Canal to Europe, from which he re- 
turned by the regular post road. He was accompanied 
by his wife and daughter, who had not only withstood 
the fatigues of so great a journey, but enjoyed the trip 
intensely. The entire American party called to pay their 
respects to the Governor General, by whom they were 
subsequently presented to his family and afterward en- 
tertained at dinner. The whole family, as might be 
expected, speak French fluently, and Mile. Anoutchine 
has added the English language to her other accomplish- 
ments. General Anoutchine is quite a young man, 
though already gray, but a man of considerable force of 
character. He is polished in his manners and agreeable 
to all, so that he is exceedingly popular wherever 
known. We visited the public garden the second evening 
we were in Irkutsk, and listened to an excellent concert 
by a small orchestra of stringed and brass instruments. 
It was an unexpected and brilliant sight to see once more 
elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen strolling through 
avenues of trees illumined with numerous gaudy Chinese 
lanterns and listening to familiar selections from Wagner 
and Strauss. In the garden is a summer club house, to 
which we were introduced by a member and allowed the 



END OF THE JOURNEY. 



343 



freedom of the club upon the payment of a nightly due of 
fifty kopecks each. The club has here a good restaurant 
and the best wines and liquors that can be procured in 
town, and here the evenings are passed in playing cards 
for a small gage. The assemblage is all the more brilliant 
from the fact that all officers in Russia and its possessions 
are required to wear their uniform at all times, and, as 
nearly every citizen, unless a merchant, is an officer, 



LAKE BAIKAL. 



gaudy uniforms are numerous. But all seemed pleased 
to greet and be friendly with the American visitors, and 
they, on their part, will long remember with pleasure 
their short sojourn in Irkutsk. 

Fully convinced that no one who visits Irkutsk should 
leave without seeing Lake Baikal, I made a trip there and 
spent two days enjoying its grand and picturesque scenery. 
At Irkutsk my journey virtually ended, and it only 



344 



ICE PACK AND TUNDRA. 



remained for me to get home by the most feasible route. 
This was found to be over the post roads to Tomsk, a dis- 
tance of about a thousand miles. At Tomsk, a city of 
40,000 inhabitants, I made the acquaintance of the Mayor, 
Mr. Zoubolski, who in his youth had been a famous 
hunter and trapper, and later had accumulated enough to 
purchase an interest in a gold mine, thus becoming one of 
the richest men in Siberia. From Tomsk, in company with 
my old friend, Captain John O. Spicer, of Groton, Conn., 
I journeyed upon a small steamer to Toumein. From this 

point there were 
two more days of 
travel over the post 
roads to Ekaterin- 
burg, where a short 
railroad crosses the 
Ural Mountains, 
and brings the 
traveller to Perm. 
Another steamer 
brought us in four 
days to Mshne 
Novgorod, the old 
Russian city which 
has for years been 
a resort for merchants from all points in Europe and 
Siberia, assembling for the great fair which is held upon 
the lowlands on the southern shore of the Volga. Nishne 
Novgorod is the terminus of the grand railroad system 
of Europe. Henceforward I entered upon beaten tracks 
of travel. I had returned to civilization. My mission 
as a courier was done. 




MAYOK OF TOMSK. 




GENERAL MAP OF NORTHERN SIBERIA AND EUROPE, SHOWING THE AUTHOR'S ROUTE ACROSS TUE CONTINENT. 



G 

700 
1879 
G56 



Gilder, William Henry 
Ice-pack and tundra 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 



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