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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 392 pages of information about Tent Life in Siberia.
more dreary hours, spent in wandering about through grey drifting clouds, exposed to a bitter north-west wind, and a temperature of just 32 deg., we finally arrived in a half-frozen condition at the yurt.  It was a low, empty hut, nearly square in shape, built of variously sized logs, and banked over with two or three feet of moss and grass-grown earth, so as to resemble an outdoor cellar.  Half of one side had been torn down by storm-besieged travellers for firewood; its earthen floor was dank and wet with slimy tricklings from its leaky roof; the wind and rain drove with a mournful howl down through its chimney-hole; its door was gone, and it presented altogether a dismal picture of neglected dilapidation.  Nothing daunted, Viushin tore down another section of the ruined side to make a fire, hung over teakettles, and brought our provision boxes under such shelter as the miserable hut afforded.  I never could ascertain where Viushin obtained the water that night for our tea, as there was no available stream within ten miles, and the drippings of the roof were thick and discoloured with mud.  I have more than a suspicion, however, that he squeezed it out of bunches of moss which he tore up from the soaking tundra (toon’-drah).  Dodd and I took off our boots, poured about a pint of muddy water out of each, dried our feet, and, as the steam rose in clouds from our wet clothes, began to feel quite comfortable.

Viushin was in high good humour.  He had voluntarily assumed the whole charge of our drivers during the day, had distinguished himself by most unwearied efforts in raising fallen horses, getting them over breakneck places, and cheering up the disconsolate Kamchadals, and he now wrung the water out of his shirt, and squeezed his wet hair absent-mindedly into a kettle of soup, with a countenance of such beaming serenity and a laugh of such hearty good-nature that it was of no use for anybody to pretend to be cross, tired, cold, or hungry.  With that sunny face irradiating the smoky atmosphere of the ruined yurt, and that laugh ringing joyously in our ears, we made fun of our misery and persuaded ourselves that we were having a good time.  After a scanty supper of selanka, dried fish, hardtack, and tea, we stretched our tired bodies out in the shallowest puddles we could find, covered ourselves with blankets, overcoats, oilcloths, and bearskins, and succeeded, in spite of our wet clothes and wetter beds, in getting to sleep.

[Illustration:  Horn Spoon]

[Illustration:  Drinking Vessel made of horn]

CHAPTER XIII.

A DISMAL NIGHT—­CROSSING THE KAMCHATKAN DIVIDE—­ANOTHER BEAR HUNT—­BREAKNECK RIDING—­TIGIL—­STEPPES OF NORTHERN KAMCHATKA

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