The vessel came to anchor on the opposite side of the river, and returned the salute. The boat of Mr. M’Dougal went on board, and was seen returning late in the afternoon. The Astorians watched her with straining eyes, to discover who were on board, but the sun went down, and the evening closed in, before she was sufficiently near. At length she reached the land, and Mr. Hunt stepped on shore. He was hailed as one risen from the dead, and his return was a signal for merriment almost equal to that which prevailed at the nuptials of M’Dougal.
We must now explain the cause of this gentleman’s long absence, which had given rise to such gloomy and dispiriting surmises.
Voyage of the Beaver to New Archangel.—A Russian Governor.— Roystering Rule.—The Tyranny of the Table—Hard Drinking Bargainings.—Voyage to Kamtschatka.—Seal Catching Establishment at St. Paul’s.—Storms at Sea.—Mr. Hunt Left at the Sandwich Islands.—Transactions of the Beaver at Canton.—Return of Mr. Hunt to Astoria.
It will be recollected that the destination of the Boston, when she sailed from Astoria on the 4th of August in 1812, was to proceed northwardly along the coast to Sheetka, or New Archangel, there to dispose of that part of her cargo intended for the supply of the Russian establishment at that place, and then to return to Astoria, where it was expected she would arrive in October.
New Archangel is situated in Norfolk Sound, lat. 57deg 2’ N., long. 135deg 50’ W. It was the head-quarters of the different colonies of the Russian Fur Company, and the common rendezvous of the American vessels trading along the coast.
The Beaver met with nothing worthy of particular mention in her voyage, and arrived at New Archangel on the 19th of August. The place at that time was the residence of Count Baranoff, the governor of the different colonies; a rough, rugged, hospitable, hard-drinking old Russian; somewhat of a soldier; somewhat of a trader; above all, a boon companion of the old roystering school, with a strong cross of the bear.
Mr. Hunt found this hyperborean veteran ensconced in a fort which crested the whole of a rocky promontory. It mounted one hundred guns, large and small, and was impregnable to Indian attack, unaided by artillery. Here the old governor lorded it over sixty Russians, who formed the corps of the trading establishment, besides an indefinite number of Indian hunters of the Kodiak tribe, who were continually coming and going, or lounging and loitering about the fort like so many hounds round a sportsman’s hunting quarters. Though a loose liver among his guests, the governor was a strict disciplinarian among his men; keeping them in perfect subjection, and having seven on guard night and day.