Our host’s cordial manner soon put us at our ease, and in ten minutes Dodd was rattling off fluently a highly coloured account of our adventures and sufferings, laughing, joking, and drinking vodka with the priest, as unceremoniously as if he had known him for ten years instead of as many minutes. That was a peculiar gift of Dodd’s, which I often used to envy. In five minutes, with the assistance of a little vodka, he would break down the ceremonious reserve of the severest old patriarch in the whole Greek Church, and completely carry him by storm; while I could only sit by and smile feebly, without being able to say a word. Great is “the gift o’ gab.”
After an excellent supper of shchi (shchee) or cabbage-soup, fried cutlets, white bread and butter, we spread our bearskins down on the floor, undressed ourselves for the second time in three weeks, and went to bed. The sensation of sleeping without furs, and with uncovered heads, was so strange, that for a long time we lay awake, watching the red flickering firelight on the wall, and enjoying the delicious warmth of soft, fleecy blankets, and the luxury of unconfined limbs and bare feet.
ANADYRSK—AN ARCTIC OUTPOST—SEVERE CLIMATE CHRISTMAS SERVICES AND CAROLS—A SIBERIAN BALL—MUSIC AND REFRESHMENTS—EXCITED DANCING HOLIDAY AMUSEMENTS
The four little Russian and native villages, just south of the Arctic Circle, which are collectively known as Anadyrsk, form the last link in the great chain of settlements which extends in one almost unbroken line from the Ural Mountains to Bering Strait. Owing to their peculiarly isolated situation, and the difficulties and hardships of travel during the only season in which they are accessible, they had never, previous to our arrival, been visited by any foreigner, with the single exception of a Swedish officer in the Russian service, who led an exploring party from Anadyrsk toward Bering Strait in the winter of 1859-60. Cut off, during half the year, from all the rest of the world, and visited only at long intervals by a few half-civilised traders, this little quadruple village was almost as independent and self-sustained as if it were situated on an island in the midst of the Arctic Ocean. Even its existence, to those who had no dealings with it, was a matter of question. It was founded early in the eighteenth century, by a band of roving, adventurous Cossacks, who, having conquered nearly all the rest of Siberia, pushed through the mountains from Kolyma to the Anadyr, drove out the Chukchis, who resisted their advance, and established a military post on the river, a few versts above the site of the present settlement. A desultory warfare then began between the Chukchis and the Russian invaders, which lasted, with varying success, for many years. During a considerable part of the time Anadyrsk was garrisoned by a force of six hundred men and a battery