ePub 版

being has enough of trouble and sadness himself, without being compelled to suffer, from sympathy, the trials of another, and I have purposely refrained from giving expression here to anything of an unpleasant nature, beyond a simple statement of facts, which are, of themselves, sufficiently painful.

Indeed, I had great cause for joy and thanksgiving during my winter residence in Siberia, which effectually repelled any feeling of settled despondency. I had escaped from a life of degrading servitude, and was, at least, in possession of the glorious gift of Freedom which the sons of America so well know how to prize; I had been preserved unscathed in the midst of danger; I had a comfortable home, and the where-withal to support life; and, above all, I had within me, the light of hope, which ever illuminated my pathway in the darkest hour, and which cheered and encouraged me in the midst of danger and priva


As soon as I had learned to speak the Russian language intelligibly, I began to enjoy the society of the Russian inhabitants of the village, and to gain their favor by an exhibition of social and kindly feelings which I have ever

found to be, as it were, contagious, and productive of a similar feeling in others.

I gave them a concise history of my life from my earliest recollection, up to the present time, to which they listened with evident interest; and when I spoke of the harsh treatment to which I had been subjected on shipboard, I could perceive, by the changing expressions of their countenances, that-banished convicts and felons as they were-they were not insensible to the power of human sympathy, and that they regarded me with a feeling of kindly pity, as a victim to the oppressive power of a fellow-being "clothed in a little brief authority."

I gave them a description of my own country, and expatiated upon the industry and enterprise of my countrymen, in the hope of arousing them to a sense of their own degraded condition, and stimulating them to improvement; I pointed out to them the benefits which followed a life of soberness, industry, virtue, and obedience to the laws of God and man, as well as the inevitably bad results which follow a life of indolence and vice; and I awakened their finer feelings by speaking of my own home and friends, of my dear, dead mother, of my

[ocr errors]

kind and affectionate father, and of my dear little sister Clara, the pet and idol of my childhood, and who loved me as dearly as I loved her.

Thus, I not only gained their good-will to such an extent as to render me an especial favorite among them, thereby ensuring myself the kindest treatment; but I flatter myself that my teachings were not altogether in vain, and that, even while I remained at Oudskoi, my advice had begun to produce a good effect, which I have reason to believe may be lasting.

Among other items of information in regard to the manners and customs of the American people, I told them that we had several holidays in the year, which we were accustomed to celebrate with feasting and rejoicing.

Upon this, they informed me that if I would tell them when the next of these feast-days occurred, they would furnish me with what luxuries they could procure, that I might hold a feast in honor of the occasion.

Accordingly, a few days before Christmas, I informed them that one of our holidays was approaching, and reminded them of their promise. To this they promptly responded, by presenting me with what they regard as a prime luxury, viz:-a horse's head.

The reader will, doubtless, be somewhat astonished to learn that I devoured this portion of my Christmas dinner raw, and relished it exceedingly; but such was, indeed, the fact. I had already learned to prefer raw horse flesh to any thing else that could be procured in that region, and I found the head to be the sweetest, tenderest, and best part of the animal.

In a short time I had completed the arrangement of my hut. By this time I had gained the favor of the Russian governor to such a degree that I ventured to ask for the loan of his gun, whenever I wished to make an excursion into the wilderness; my pistol being too small to be used with advantage among the large game of that region, which game consists chiefly of grizzly bears and wolves, many of the former weighing, perhaps, a thousand pounds or more!

During these excursions I met with many extraordinary adventures, and, more than once, escaped death, as it were, by a miracle. I be held many wonderful sights and gained consid erable knowledge of the country; but, I have not space in this little work for a detailed account of my Arctic adventures, or anything, in fact, but a brief outline of my first sea-voyage, its attendant circumstances and results.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Upon one occasion I had wandered many miles from the settlement, in quest of adventures, and the short day being more than half spent, was just on the point of turning my face tɔwards home, when the distant howl of a wolf fell upon my ear, and caused me to hasten forward again in the direction whence it proceeded.

Although wolves are plenty in this region I had never yet succeeded in killing one; but I had a great desire to procure one or more of their skins, the fur of the Siberian wolf being white and extremely thick and soft; and as I knew that a single wolf was not, by any means, a dangerous foe to an armed man, I resolved to give chase to this one, and if possible, secure his skin as a trophy.

Guided by the sound of his howls, I rapidly approached my intended victim; but ere I had caught sight of him, the cries of other wolves had mingled with his own, and it soon became evident that, instead of one wolf, I should be compelled to wage war with several, and perhaps with a whole troop.

Nothwithstanding this, however, I pursued my course without stopping, for I had become greatly excited by the prospect of sport, and was not inclined to return without making, at least

« 上一頁繼續 »