About two hours after dark we heard the howling of dogs from Lesnoi, and twenty minutes later we rode into the settlement, dashed up to the little log house of the starosta, and burst in upon the Major and Dodd as they sat at supper. Our long ride was over.
Thus ended our unsuccessful expedition to the Samanka Mountains—the hardest journey I ever experienced in Kamchatka.
Two days afterward, the anxiety and suffering which the Major had endured in a five days’ camp on the sea beach during the storm, brought on a severe attack of rheumatic fever, and all thoughts of farther progress were for the present abandoned. Nearly all the horses in the village were more or less disabled, our Samanka mountain guide was blind from inflammatory erysipelas brought on by exposure to five days of storm, and half my party were unfit for duty. Under such circumstances, another attempt to cross the mountains before winter was impossible. Dodd and the Cossack Meranef (mer-ah’-nef) were sent back to Tigil after a physician and a new supply of provisions, while Viushin and I remained at Lesnoi to take care of the Major.
[Illustration: Stone Lamps]
KAMCHATKAN NIGHTS’ ENTERTAINMENTS—CHARACTER OF PEOPLE—SALMON-FISHING— SABLE-TRAPPING—KAMCHADAL LANGUAGE—NATIVE MUSIC—DOG-DRIVING—WINTER DRESS
After our unsuccessful attempt to pass the Samanka Mountains, there was nothing for us to do but wait patiently at Lesnoi until the rivers should freeze over, and snow fall to a depth which would enable us to continue our journey to Gizhiga on dog-sledges. It was a long, wearisome delay, and I felt for the first time, in its full force, the sensation of exile from home, country, and civilisation. The Major continued very ill, and would show the anxiety which he had felt about the success of our expedition by talking deliriously for hours of crossing the mountains, starting for Gizhiga in the whale-boat, and giving incoherent orders to Viushin, Dodd, and myself, about horses, dog-sledges, canoes, and provisions. The idea of getting to Gizhiga, before the beginning of winter, filled his mind, to the exclusion of everything else. His sickness made the time previous to Dodd’s return seem very long and lonesome, as I had absolutely nothing to do except to sit in a little log room, with opaque fish-bladder windows, and pore over Shakespeare and my Bible, until I almost learned them by heart. In pleasant weather I would sling my rifle across my back and spend whole days in roaming over the mountains in pursuit of reindeer and foxes; but I rarely met with much success. One deer and a few arctic ptarmigan were my only trophies. At night I would sit on the transverse section of a log in our little kitchen, light a rude Kamchadal lamp, made with a fragment of moss and a tin cup full of seal oil, and listen for hours to the songs and guitar-playing of