網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Before proceeding to examine the carcases, however, we turned our attention to our wounded companion, who lay groaning with pain, and completely helpless, by the side of his defunct assailant. We found that his wounds, although deep and painful, were not dangerous ; and after binding up his lacerated limb with portions of our own clothing, we prepared a bed of leaves, at the inner extremity of our wigwam, for the sufferer, and made him as comfortable as was possible under the circumstances.

We then commenced the work of divesting our trophies of their valuable skins; and before this task was completed, a bright streak in the eastern horizon had given indications of the approach of day.

To the surprise of both Tolman and myself, our native companions, after holding a brief consultation among themselves, expressed, by signs, their intention of giving up all claim in the bear skins ; thus, virtually presenting to us these valuable gifts. The skins were unusually large, and the fur extremely soft and thick; and in giving them to us, the natives ex

< hibited a feeling of generosity and good will, which would do credit to many who pride themselves upon their civilization, and social refinement. During our sojourn in the wilds of Siberia, these bear skins were to us a comfort and protection, to an extent which the inhabitants of warmer regions can scarcely conceive of.

After the bears had been divested of their skins, we proceeded to cut off the choicest portion of the carcases with the intention of taking with us as much meat as we could carry, learing the remainder in charge of one of the natives, who had already expressed his desire to remain at the encampment until the return of our escort, for the purpose of taking care of his wounded companion.

Everything having been satisfactorily arranged, we partook of a hearty and comfortable breakfast of bear's meat; the natives, as usual, devouring the flesh raw, while Tolman and myself rendered our portion not only palatable but delicious, by broiling it in the form of steaks upon a bed of coals.

We then bade farewell to our wounded companion and his kind-hearted protector, expressing our kindly feelings towards them as well as we were able, and, with packs of bear's meat upon our shoulders, we took up our line of march for Oud-koi, where we arrived just at sunset, and were received with a warm welcome, and many expressions of sympathy and kindly fellow feelings, by the semi-civilized and exiled inhabitants of this Siberian wilderness.

CHAPTER VII.

A WINTER HOME IN SIBERIA.

The village of Oudskoi — Going to work — Disappointment - Going

to house-keeping — The commencement of winter - Description of the climate - Incident of sea-life.

On the morning following our arrival at the settlement of Oudskoi, the inhabitants met for the purpose of holding a consultation in regard to the manner in which they could best provide for the necessities of their American guests. The result of this council was made known to us by a Russian convict, who had acquired a slight knowledge of the English language, by intercourse with English and American sailors in Russian ports.

It appears that they wished to give us our choice of two things, viz: to live in common, with them, working as they did, and living as they lived, or to live alone, and be put upon a short allowance of provisions, as their supplies were, necessarily, limited.

I should have preferred the latter mode of living ; but Tolman declared that he would sooner accept the former terms than livo

upon

short allowance ; and I feared to express this preference, lest my generous protectors should misconstruc my desire to live by myself into a feeling of superiority to them, which caused me to avoid their society, and which, under the circumstances, would have been most ungrateful and absurd.

Accordingly, both Tolman and myself expressed our willingness to become members of their community, and co-laborers upon an equal footing with themselves, and, in order to make, if possible, a favorable “first impression,” dcsired that we might be set at work forthwith.

They seemed greatly pleased at our decision, and in answer to our request for employment, informed us that the only work which they could give us, at present, was cutting wood, which labor we might commence as soon as we pleased.

Upon this, we prepared ourselves for labor, without delay, and having bade farewell to the two natives, who had escorted us hither, and who were in readiness to depart for their home, commenced the work of felling spruce and fir trees, and preparing them for fuel. To my

« 上一頁繼續 »