Tent Life in Siberia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 392 pages of information about Tent Life in Siberia.
Dodd would strike his horse a sharp blow with a willow switch, turn half round in his saddle, and reply, with a quizzical smile, that we were “not most there yet, but would be soon!”—­an equivocal sort of consolation which did not inspire us with much enthusiasm.  At last, when it had already begun to grow dark, we saw a high column of white steam in the distance, which rose, Dodd and Viushin said, from the hot springs of Malqua; and in fifteen minutes we rode, tired, wet, and hungry, into the settlement.  Supper was a secondary consideration with me that night.  All I wanted was to crawl under a table where no one would step on me, and be let alone.  I had never before felt such a vivid consciousness of my muscular and osseous system.  Every separate bone and tendon in my body asserted its individual existence by a distinct and independent ache, and my back in twenty minutes was as inflexible as an iron ramrod.  I felt a melancholy conviction that I never should measure five feet ten inches again, unless I could lie on some Procrustean bed and have my back stretched out to its original longitude.  Repeated perpendicular concussions had, I confidently believed, telescoped my spinal vertebrae into each other, so that nothing short of a surgical operation would ever restore them to their original positions.  Revolving in my mind such mournful considerations, I fell asleep under a table, without even pulling off my boots.

[Illustration:  Cap of brown and white fur]

CHAPTER IX

THE BEAUTIFUL VALLEY OF GENAL—­WALLS OF LITERATURE—­SCARING UP A BEAR—­END OF HORSEBACK RIDE

It was hard work on the following morning to climb again into the saddle, but the Major was insensible to all appeals for delay.  Stern and inflexible as Rhadamanthus, he mounted stiffly upon his feather pillow and gave the signal for a start.  With the aid of two sympathetic Kamchadals, who had perhaps experienced the misery of a stiff back, I succeeded in getting astride a fresh horse, and we rode away into the Genal (gen-ahl’) valley—­the garden of southern Kamchatka.

The village of Malqua lies on the northern slope of the Kamchatka River watershed, surrounded by low barren granite hills, and reminded me a little in its situation of Virginia City, Nevada.  It is noted chiefly for its hot mineral springs, but as we did not have time to visit these springs ourselves, we were compelled to take the natives’ word for their temperature and their medicinal properties, and content ourselves with a distant view of the pillar of steam which marked their location.

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Tent Life in Siberia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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