Tent Life in Siberia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 392 pages of information about Tent Life in Siberia.
The papers were of various dates from September, 1866, to March, 1867, and were so mixed up that it was impossible to follow the course of events chronologically or consecutively.  We were not long, however, in ascertaining not only that the new Atlantic cable had been successfully laid, but that the broken and abandoned cable of 1865 had been picked up in mid-ocean, repaired, and put in perfect working order.  I think this discouraged us more than anything else.  If cables could be found in the middle of the Atlantic, picked up in ten or twelve thousand feet of water, and repaired on the deck of a steamer, the ultimate success of submarine telegraphy was assured, and we might as well pack up our trunks and go home.  But there was worse news to come.  A few minutes later, Lewis, who was reading an old copy of the San Francisco Bulletin, struck his knee violently with his clenched fist and exclaimed;

“Boys!  The jig is up!  Listen to this!

  “’Special Dispatch to the Bulletin

  “’New York, October 15.

“’In consequence of the success of the Atlantic cable, all work on the Russian-American telegraph line has been stopped and the enterprise has been abandoned.’”

“Well!” said Robinson, after a moment of thoughtful silence, “that seems to settle it.  The cable has knocked us out.”

Late in the afternoon, we pulled back, with heavy hearts, to the beacon-tower at the mouth of the river, and on the following day returned to Gizhiga, to await the arrival of a vessel from San Francisco with an official notification of the abandonment of the enterprise.

[Illustration:  Women’s Knives used in making clothing]

CHAPTER XXXVII

OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION OF THE BAD NEWS—­THE ENTERPRISE ABANDONED—­A VOYAGE TO OKHOTSK—­THE AURORA OF THE SEA

On the 15th of July, the Company’s bark Onward (which should have been named Backward) arrived at Gizhiga with orders to sell all of our stores that were salable; use the proceeds in the payment of our debts; discharge our native labourers; gather up our men, and return to the United States.  The Atlantic cable had proved to be a complete success, and our Company, after sinking about $3,000,000 in the attempt to build an overland line from America to Europe, had finally decided to put up with its loss and abandon the undertaking.  Letters from the directors to Major Abaza, stated that they would be willing to go on with the work, in spite of the success of the Atlantic cable, if the Russian Government would agree to complete the line on the Siberian side of Bering Strait; but they did not think they should be required, under the circumstances, to do all the work on the American side and half of that on the Russian.

Major Abaza, hoping that he could prevail upon the Russian Minister of Ways and Communications to take the Asiatic Division off the hands of the American Company, and thus prevent the complete abandonment of the enterprise, decided at once to go to St. Petersburg overland.  He therefore sailed in the Onward with me for Okhotsk, intending to disembark there, start for Yakutsk on horseback, and send me back in the ship to pick up our working parties along the coast.

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Tent Life in Siberia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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