Tent Life in Siberia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 392 pages of information about Tent Life in Siberia.
of things with which they are acquainted; but by far the greater number are as incomprehensible as the hieroglyphics of the Aztecs.  I remember that a Korak once brought to me an old tattered fashion-plate from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper containing three or four full-length figures of imaginary ladies, in the widest expansion of crinoline which fashion at that time prescribed.  The poor Korak said he had often wondered what those curious objects could be; and now, as I was an American, perhaps I could tell him.  He evidently had not the most remote suspicion that they were intended to represent human beings.  I told him that those curious objects, as he called them, were American women.  He burst out into a “tyee-e-e-e!” of amazement, and asked with a wondering look, “Are all the women in your country as big as that at the bottom?” It was a severe reflection upon our ladies’ dress, and I did not venture to tell him that the bigness was artificial, but merely replied sadly that they were.  He looked curiously down at my feet and then at the picture, and then again at my feet, as if he were trying to trace some resemblance between the American man and the American woman; but he failed to do it, and wisely concluded that they must be of widely different species.

[Illustration:  A TUNGUSE SUMMER TENT]

The pictures from these papers are sometimes put to curious uses.  In the hut of a Christianised but ignorant native near Anadyrsk, I once saw an engraved portrait, cut from Harper’s Weekly, of Major General Dix, framed, hung up in a corner of the room and worshipped as a Russian saint!  A gilded candle was burning before his smoky features, and every night and morning a dozen natives crossed themselves and said their prayers to a major-general in the United States Army!  It is the only instance, I believe, on record, where a major-general has been raised to the dignity of a saint without even being dead.  St. George of England, we are told, was originally a corrupt army contractor of Cappadocia, but he was not canonised until long after his death, when the memory of his contracts was no more.  For Major-General Dix was reserved the peculiar privilege of being at the same time United States Minister in Paris and a saint in Siberia!

[Illustration:  Woman’s fur lined Hood]

CHAPTER XXX

AN ARCTIC AURORA—­ORDERS FROM THE MAJOR—­ADVENTURES OF MACRAE AND ARNOLD WITH THE CHUKCHIS—­RETURN TO GIZHIGA—­REVIEW OF WINTER’S WORK

Among the few pleasures which reward the traveller for the hardships and dangers of life in the Far North, there are none which are brighter or longer remembered than the magnificent auroral displays which occasionally illumine the darkness of the long polar night, and light up with a celestial glory the whole blue vault of heaven.  No other natural phenomenon is so grand, so mysterious, so terrible in its unearthly splendour as this.  The veil which conceals from mortal eyes the glory of the eternal throne seems drawn aside, and the awed beholder is lifted out of the atmosphere of his daily life into the immediate presence of God.

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Tent Life in Siberia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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