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.]
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.