Guided by the stars, Dodd, Gregorie, and I, with one other sledge which remained with us, turned away to the eastward, and about nine o’clock came upon the Penzhina River somewhere below the settlement. We started up it on the ice, and had gone but a short distance when we saw two or three sledges coming down the river. Surprised to find men travelling away from the village at that hour of the night, we hailed them with a “Halloo!”
“Vwe kooda yaydetia?”—“Where are you going?”
“We’re going to Penzhina; who are you?”
“We’re Gizhigintsi, also going to Penzhina; what you coming down the river for?”
“We’re trying to find the village, devil take it; we’ve been travelling all night and can’t find anything!”
Upon this Dodd burst into a loud laugh, and as the mysterious sledges drew nearer we recognised in their drivers three of our own men who had separated from us soon after dark, and who were now trying to reach Penzhina by going down the river toward the Okhotsk Sea. We could hardly convince them that the village did not lie in that direction. They finally turned back with us, however, and some time after midnight we drove into Penzhina, roused the sleeping inhabitants with a series of unearthly yells, startled fifty or sixty dogs into a howling protest against such untimely disturbance, and threw the whole settlement into a general uproar.
In ten minutes we were seated on bearskins before a warm fire in a cozy Russian house, drinking cup after cup of fragrant tea, and talking over our night’s adventures.
[Illustration: Ladle made of Caribou antler]
[Illustration: Woman’s knife for cutting meat]