As soon as the ice was fairly out of Gizhiginsk Gulf, so that vessels might be expected to enter, Major Abaza caused a number of Cossacks to be stationed at the mouth of the river, with orders to watch night and day for sails and warn us at once if any appeared.
On the 18th of June the trading brig Hallie Jackson, belonging to W.H. Bordman, of Boston, entered the gulf, and, as soon as the tide permitted, ran into the mouth of the river to discharge her cargo. This vessel brought us the first news from the great outside world which we had received in more than eleven months, and her arrival was hailed with the greatest enthusiasm by both Russians and Americans. Half the population of the village came hurrying down to the mouth of the river as soon as it became known that a ship had arrived and the landing-place for several days was a scene of unwonted activity and excitement. The Jackson could give us no information with regard to the vessels of our Company, except that when she sailed from San Francisco in March they were being rapidly loaded and fitted for sea. She brought, however, all the stores which we had left at Petropavlovsk the previous fall, as well as a large cargo of tea, sugar, tobacco, and sundries for the Siberian trade.
We had found by our winter’s experience that money could not be used to advantage in payment for native labour, except in the settlements of Okhotsk, Gizhiga, and Anadyrsk; and that tea, sugar, and tobacco were in every way preferable, on account of the universal consumption of those articles throughout the country and the high price which they commanded during the winter months. A labourer or teamster, who would demand twenty roubles in money for a month’s work, was entirely satisfied if we gave him eight pounds of tea and ten pounds of sugar in its stead; and as the latter cost us only ten roubles, we made a saving of one-half in all our expenditures. In view of this fact, Major Abaza determined to use as little money as possible, and pay for labour in merchandise at current rates. He accordingly purchased from the Jackson 10,000 lbs. of tea and 15,000 or 20,000 lbs. of white loaf-sugar, which he stored away in the government magazines, to be used during the coming winter instead of money.
The Jackson discharged all the cargo that she intended to leave at Gizhiga, and as soon as the tide was sufficiently high to enable her to cross the bar at the mouth of the river, she sailed for Petropavlovsk and left us again alone.
DULL LIFE—ARCTIC MOSQUITOES—WAITING FOR SUPPLIES—SHIPS SIGNALLED—BARK “CLARA BELL”—RUSSIAN CORVETTE “VARAG”