Tent Life in Siberia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 392 pages of information about Tent Life in Siberia.
poor Kamchatkan village do for the entertainment of its august master?  When the first excitement passed away, the starosta was questioned closely as to the nature of the letter which had brought this news, and was finally compelled to admit that it did not say distinctly, “Alexander Nikolaivitch, Imperator,” but “Yagor” something “Operator,” which he contended was substantially the same thing, because if it didn’t mean the Emperor himself it meant one of his most intimate relations, who was entitled to equal honour and must be treated with equal reverence.  The courier had already gone, and had said nothing about the rank of the travellers whom he heralded, except that they had arrived at Petropavlovsk in a ship, wore gorgeous uniforms of blue and gold, and were being entertained by the governor and the captain of the port.  Public opinion finally settled down into the conviction that “Op-erator”, etymologically considered, was first cousin to “Im-perator,” and that it must mean some dignitary of high rank connected with the imperial family.  With this impression they had received us when we arrived, and had, poor fellows, done their very best to show us proper honour and respect.  It had been a severe ordeal to us, but it had proved in the most unmistakable manner the loyalty of the Kamchadal inhabitants of Milkova to the reigning family of Russia.

The Major explained to the starosta our real rank and occupation, but it did not seem to make any difference whatever in the cordial hospitality of our reception.  We were treated to the very best that the village afforded, and were stared at with a curiosity which showed that travellers through Milkova had hitherto been few and far between.  After eating bread and reindeer meat and tasting experimentally various curiously compounded native dishes, we returned in state to the landing-place, accompanied by another procession, received a salute of fifteen guns, and resumed our voyage down the river.

[Illustration:  War and Hunting Knives.]

[Illustration:  Snowbeaters used for beating snow from the clothing.]

CHAPTER XI

ARRIVAL AT KLUCHEI—­THE KLUCHEFSKOI VOLCANO—­A QUESTION OF ROUTE—­A RUSSIAN “BLACK BATH”

The valley of this river is unquestionably the most fertile part of the whole Kamchatkan peninsula.  Nearly all of the villages that we passed were surrounded by fields of rye and neatly fenced gardens; the banks everywhere were either covered with timber or waving with wild grass five feet in height; and the luxuriant growth in many places of flowers and weeds testified to the richness of the soil and the warm humidity of the climate.  Primroses, cowslips, marsh violets, buttercups, wild-roses, cinquefoil, iris, and azure larkspur grow everywhere throughout the valley in the greatest abundance; and a peculiar species of umbelliferae, with hollow-jointed stems, attains in many places a height of six feet, and grows so densely that its huge serrated leaves hide a man from sight at a distance of a few yards.  All this is the growth of a single summer.

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Tent Life in Siberia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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