Tent Life in Siberia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 467 pages of information about Tent Life in Siberia.
as a reward for reindeer given to the starving Russians of Kamchatka during a famine.  The Korak was asked if he had received no paper with these gifts, and he immediately left the tent, and returned in a moment with a sheet of paper tied up carefully with reindeer’s sinews between a couple of thin boards.  This paper explained everything.  The coat and sword had been given to the present owner’s father, during the reign of Alexander I., by the Russian Governor of Kamchatka as a reward for succour afforded the Russians in a famine.  From the father they had descended to the son, and the latter, proud of his inherited distinction, had presented himself to us as soon as he heard of our arrival.  He wanted nothing in particular except to show himself, and after examining his sword, which was really a magnificent weapon, we gave him a few bunches of tobacco and dismissed him.  We had hardly expected to find in the interior of Kamchatka any relics of Alexander I., dating back to the time of Napoleon.

[Illustration:  Iron Skin Scraper]



On the following morning at daybreak we continued our journey, and rode until four hours after dark, over a boundless level steppe, without a single guiding landmark to point the way.  I was surprised to see how accurately our drivers could determine the points of the compass and shape their course by simply looking at the snow.  The heavy north-east winds which prevail in this locality throughout the winter sweep the snow into long wave-like ridges called sastrugi (sas-troo’-gee), which are always perpendicular to the course of the wind, and which almost invariably run in a north-west and south-east direction.  They are sometimes hidden for a few days by fresh-fallen snow; but an experienced Korak can always tell by removing the upper layer which way is north, and he travels to his destination by night or day in a nearly straight line.

We reached the third encampment about six o’clock, and upon entering the largest tent were surprised to find it crowded with natives, as if in expectation of some ceremony or entertainment.  Inquiry through our interpreter elicited the interesting fact that the ceremony of marriage was about to be performed for, or rather by, two members of the band; and instead of taking up our quarters, as we at first intended, in another less crowded tent, we determined to remain and see in what manner this rite would be solemnised by a wholly uncivilised and barbarous people.

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Tent Life in Siberia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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