Tent Life in Siberia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 467 pages of information about Tent Life in Siberia.

After botanising a while upon the battle-field, I was joined by Bush, who had completed his sketch, and we all returned, tired and wet, to the village.  Our appearance anywhere on shore always created a sensation among the inhabitants.  The Russian and native peasants whom we met removed their caps, and held them respectfully in their hands while we passed; the windows of the houses were crowded with heads intent upon getting a sight of the “Amerikanski chinovniki” (American officers); and even the dogs broke into furious barks and howls at our approach.  Bush declared that he could not remember a time in his history when he had been of so much consequence and attracted such general attention as now; and he attributed it all to the discrimination and intelligence of Kamchatkan society.  Prompt and instinctive recognition of superior genius he affirmed to be a characteristic of that people, and he expressed deep regret that it was not equally so of some other people whom he could mention.  “No reference to an allusion intended!”



One of the first things which the traveller notices in any foreign country is the language, and it is especially noticeable in Kamchatka, Siberia, or any part of the great Russian Empire.  What the ancestors of the Russians did at the Tower of Babel to have been afflicted with such a complicated, contorted, mixed up, utterly incomprehensible language, I can hardly conjecture.  I have thought sometimes that they must have built their side of the Tower higher than any of the other tribes, and have been punished for their sinful industry with this jargon of unintelligible sounds, which no man could possibly hope to understand before he became so old and infirm that he could never work on another tower.  However they came by it, it is certainly a thorn in the flesh to all travellers in the Russian Empire.  Some weeks before we reached Kamchatka I determined to learn, if possible, a few common expressions, which would be most useful in our first intercourse with the natives, and among them the simple declarative sentence, “I want something to eat.”  I thought that this would probably be the first remark that I should have to make to any of the inhabitants, and I determined to learn it so thoroughly that I should never be in danger of starvation from ignorance.  I accordingly asked the Major one day what the equivalent expression was in Russian.  He coolly replied that whenever I wanted anything to eat, all that I had to do was to say, “Vashavwesokeeblagarodiaeeveeleekeeprevoskhodeete
lstvoeetakdalshai.”  I believe I never felt such a sentiment of reverential admiration for the acquired talents of any man as I did for those of the Major when I heard him pronounce, fluently and gracefully, this extraordinary sentence.  My mind was hopelessly lost in attempting to imagine

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Tent Life in Siberia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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