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at certain seasons of the year, with salmon, trout, perch, dace and varonee, all of which might be taken in great quantities, and made to form a valuable addition to their winter stock of food.
At certain seasons of the year, also, the river and the many large lakes in its vicinity, are visited by immense flocks of ducks and geese, which the natives seldom attempt to capture; not deeming them of sufficient value to compensate for the labor of taking them.
During my residence at Oudskoi, it occurred to me that the inhabitants might raise a small stock of vegetables, by selecting the sunny and sheltered spots upon the south side of the hills and rocks, and planting those vegetables which are of rapid growth, very early in the springtime. As soon as I had learned to speak their language, I advanced this idea, and after considerable persuasion, induced them to try the experiment, which I have reason to believe was eminently successful, and if carried out, will have the effect to ameliorate their condition to a considerable degree.
Thus, it appears that, notwithstanding the severity of the climate and the sterility of the soil of Siberia, nature has still placed within
the reach of man, the wherewithal to sustain life in a comfortable manner; and the " one thing needful," to render the inhabitants of that region prosperous and happy, is the spirit of Yankee enterprise and industry.
Shipwrecked mariners - New comers to the Russian settlementThe end of winter-Journey to the coast - A welcome sight — The rescue The ship Daniel Wood of New Bedford - A noble commander-The whale fishery again-Varieties of whales.
During the month of December, a party of natives from the lower settlement, previously referred to, visited our village; bringing tidings from the coast, of a party of American sailors, either cast-aways or deserters, who had encamped on the coast, and were suffering greatly from cold and hunger.
Being unable to relieve the distress of these sufferers, themselves, the natives, in their humanity, had come to Oudskoi for the purpose of informing the Russian governor, that he might send them aid.
After a brief consultation with the natives, the Governor, who could neither speak nor write English, sent for me, and requested me to write a letter to the party of seamen at the coast, at his dictation.
He directed me to write that, if the party were castaways, and had any officers among them, they might immediately accompany the bearer of the letter to Oudskoi, where they should receive aid and protection; but that if they were not castaways, but deserters, they might stay where they were and shift for themselves.
Instead of following these directions, however, I informed them of the governor's willingness to aid and succor castaways, as well as his aversion to deserters; and directed them, if they belonged to the latter class, to select one or more of their number to act as officers, and to return to Oudskoi with the bearer, under the assumed character of wrecked seamen.
This letter was immediately dispatched by one of the natives, who proceeded with all possible haste to the coast and delivered the missive according to directions.
It afterward appeared, however, that the precaution which I had taken, in writing the letter, was needless; for the party, who numbered in all, twelve men, were in reality, a portion of the crew of the ship Phoenix of Nantucket, Capt. Handy, which had been wrecked in the month of October, previous, upon Elbow
Island. All hands were saved; and for some time the whole company remained upon the Island, living in a hut which they had constructed from fragments of the wreck. At length however, as their scanty stock of provisions began to fail, twelve of the bolder and more adventurous spirits had taken leave of their companions, and crossed the ice to the mainland, a distance of about seventy miles.
These twelve men consisted of Capt. Handy, the fourth mate, and ten foremast hands, who, immediately upon the receipt of my letter, set out with the bearer for the settlement of Oudskoi, where they arrived at length, nearly exhausted with cold, hunger, and fatigue, and, without a single exception, badly frost-bitten.
They were received with great hospitality by the villagers, and every thing was done for their comfort, which the circumstances of the case would admit. Immediately upon their arrival I held an interview with Capt. Handy, and offered to share my hut with him. This offer, however, he did not accept, choosing rather to live with his companions in a large cabin which had been placed at their disposal.
Some poet has said,
"A fellow feeling makes us wondrous kind."