Samuel G. (Samuel Griswold) Goodrich.

Persevere and prosper; or, The Siberian sable-hunter online

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CHAP. I. Siberia Struggle of the Poles for Freedom 1
CHAP. II. A Parent's Counsel Pride Necessity of

Exertion Touch of Romance . . .13

CHAP. III. Plain of Baraba Ostiacks Dwaff

Khizan The Mines Tomsk . . . .24
CHAP. IY. The Mines The Cave of Diamonds . 37
CHAP. V. Dull Times Expedition to the Arctic Sea

Elephants' Teeth Brandy . . . .45
CHAP. VI. Meeting with Tunguses Great Feast

The Travellers proceed 52

CHAP. VII. A Dissertation upon going on Foot

Adventure with Wolves 62

CHAP. VIII. Respectability of Bears Yakutsk in

sight. . . 70

CHAP. IX. Arrival at Yakutsk Letter from Home
Departure Adventure . . . .71



CHAP. X. A weary Journey Tunguses Wolves
The first Sables killed 88

CHAP. XI. Successful Hunting Alexis in Trouble

A Stranger introduced . . . .97

CHAP. XII. The Nobleman's Story Eeturn of the
Hunters to Yakutsk 106

CHAP. XIII. News from Home New Plan Okotsk
Kamtsehatka Japan China . . . Ill

CHAP. XIV. The Vessel sets Sail Countries and

Seas passed Tales of the Tartars . . .123
CHAP. XV. A Secret discovered .... 133

CHAP. XVI. Corea Loo Choo, Formosa Psal-

manazar ........ 138

CHAP. XVII. Talk about India The Voyage

St. Petersburg Old Linsk again . . . 149

CHAP. XVIII, Linsk's Story Pultova andKathinka

in Prison A Happy Ending . . . .159








IN the northern part of Asia, there is a vast
country called Siberia. It is nearly destitute
of mountains, and consists principally of a
great plain, stretching out to an immense
extent, and being in many parts almost as



level as the sea. In some places it is barren
and bare, but in others it is covered with
forests. Sometimes these are of pine, cedar,
hemlock, and other evergreens, and grow so
thickly as to make it difficult to pass between
the trees.

Several great rivers cross this country, the
chief of which are the Irtish and Obi, the
Yenisei, and the Lena. These are almost as
large as the great rivers of America. They
flow from south to north, and empty them-
selves into a boisterous sea called the Arctic

Siberia is a cold and desolate region, where
the summer is short, and where winter reigns
about two thirds of the year. There are few
towns or cities, especially in the north, and
thus large portions of the country are both
uncultivated and uninhabited. There are
vast tracts given up to solitude, or visited
only by wolves, bears, and other savage ani-
mals, or occasionally crossed by wandering
parties of Tartars, who are the chief inhabi-
tants of the country, and who are almost as
wild as the Indians of America.


This great country, which is more exten-
sive than the whole of Europe, and about
three times as large as the entire territory of
the United States, belongs to Russia. It is
under the government of the emperor of that
country, who, you know, reigns over a larger
portion of the earth than any other ruler.

It would seem that it could be no great
advantage to hold possession of such a cold
and dreary land as Siberia ; but it produces
a good deal of gold, silver, and copper, and
the southern portions, having a rich soil,
yield vast quantities of grain. Some of the
Tartar tribes are fond of rearing horses and


cattle, and so abundant are these creatures
in certain places, that a horse sells for ten
shillings, and an ox for five shillings. Oat-
meal is sold for two-pence half-penny a
bushel, and a man may live on fifty shillings
a year. But though articles seem so very
cheap, it must be remembered that a man
must labour for about two-pence a day ; so
that, after all, he has to work pretty hard
for a good living.

But what I have been saying relates to the
southern part of Siberia, where the climate is
milder and the soil rich ; as you go north-
ward, the cold increases, and vegetation di-
minishes. At last you come to a country
where there are few people, and where, as
I have said before, the whole region seems to
be given up to savage animals. In the lone-
liness of the forests here, the wolf and the
bear roam at their pleasure, being the sove-
reigns of the country. Yet it is in these
very regions that a great source of wealth is
found for here are various animals which
yield the most beautiful furs.

The most celebrated and valuable are pro-


duced by a species of weasel, called the sable
one skin of which has been known to
sell for thirty pounds. Beside the sable,
the black fox, whose skin often sells for
six pounds, martens of two or three kinds,
and other animals, are found, which pro-
duce valuable furs; and it is to be consi-
dered that it is the very coldness of the
country which renders the furs so excellent.
Creatures living here have need of very
warm jackets, and according to the wisdom
and benevolence which we find everywhere
in creation, they are provided with them.
Considering that the animals in the north of
Siberia live among regions of snow and frost,
where summer comes only for a few weeks
in the year, and winter holds almost perpe-
tual sway, nature gives the sable, the marten,
and the fox, and even the wolf and the bear,
such nice warm clothes, that kings and queens
envy them, and hunters are sent two thou-
sand miles to procure these luxuries. Thus
it is that nature watches over the wild ani-
mals : but my readers must remember that
when I speak of nature, in this manner, I


mean that kind providence of God which
takes care of us all, and permits not even a
sparrow to fall unnoticed to the ground.

By what I have said you will see that
Siberia, after all, yields a great deal of wealth,
and the emperor of Russia therefore holds on
to it with a greedy grasp. But it is not for
its productions alone that he holds it ; for
the emperor has many subjects about fifty
millions in Europe and Asia and as he is a
hard master, some of them are pretty often
rebellious ; and to punish them, he sends
them to Siberia. This is a kind of prison,
though a large one where those are banished
who have incurred the displeasure or dislike
of the emperor. So numerous are these exiles,
that Tobolsk, one of the largest towns, which
lies in the western part of the country, is
to a great extent peopled by them and then-
descendants. It is about some of these exiles
that I am going to tell you a story in the
following pages.

A few years since, a Pole, by the name of
Ludovicus Pultova, a native of Warsaw, was
banished to Siberia, by Nicholas, the present


emperor of Russia. His offence was, that he
had engaged in the struggle of 1830 to libe-
rate Poland, his native country, from the
tyranny exercised over it by its Russian mas-
ters. The Poles had hoped for aid in their
efforts from other nations ; but in this they
were disappointed, and they were over-
whelmed by the powerful armies of the em-
peror. Thousands of them fled to other
lands, to escape the fate that awaited them
at home ; others were shot, or shut up in
dungeons ; and others, amounting to many
hundreds, were sent to Siberia.

The wife of Pultova was dead, but he had
a son and daughter, the first about eighteen
years of age, and the other sixteen, at the
time of his banishment. It was no small
part of his misery that they were not per-
mitted to accompany him in his exile. After
a year, however, they contrived to leave
Warsaw, where they had lived, and, passing
through many dangers and trials, they at last
reached their father at Tobolsk.

This city contains about 16,000 people,
nearly all the houses are of wood : the


city consists of a fort and citadel, with nu-
merous dwellings around them, on a hill.
and another portion on the low ground, bor-
dering on the river Obi. The people, as I
have said before, are chiefly exile's, or their
descendants ; and as it has been said that
tyranny never banishes fools, so the society
embraces many persons of talent and merit.
Some of them, indeed, have been celebrated
for their genius, and numbers of them are of
high rank and character. But what must a
city of exiles be ? composed of people who
have been separated from their native lad
from their homes, their relatives from all
they hold most dear and that, too, with little
hope of return or restoration to then* former
enjoyments ? Most of them, also, are stripped
of their property, and if they possessed wealth
and independence before, they come here to
drag out a life of poverty, perhaps of desti-

Such was in fact the condition of Pultova.
He was, in Warsaw, a merchant of great
wealth and respectability. When his coun-
trymen rose in their resistance, he received a


military commission, and distinguished him-
self alike by his wisdom and bravery. In the
fierce battles that raged around the walls of
the city before its fall, he seemed almost too
reckless of life, and in several instances hewed

his way, at the head of his followers, into the
very bosom of the Russian camp. He became
an object of admiration to his countrymen,
and of equal hatred to the Russians. When
Warsaw fell, his punishment was propor-


tioned to the magnitude of his offence. He
was entirely stripped of his estates, and per-
petual banishment was his sentence.

It is not easy to conceive of a situation
more deplorable than his, at Tobolsk. The
friends that he had there, like himself, were
generally oppressed with poverty. Some
shunned him, for fear of drawing down the
vengeance of the government ; for the chief
officer of the citadel was of course a spy, who
kept a vigilant watch over the people : and
there are few persons, reduced to servitude
and poverty, who do not learn to cower be-
neath the suspicious eye of authority.

What could Pultova do? Here was no
scope for his mercantile talents, even if he
had possessed a capital to begin with. His
principles would not allow him to join the
bands of men, who, driven to desperation by
their hard fate, took to the highway, and
plundered those whom they could master.
Nor could he, like too many of his fellow-
sufferers, drown his senses in drunkenness.
Could he go to the mines, and in deep pits,
away from the light of heaven, work for three


or four half-pence a day, and that too in com-
panionship with convicts and criminals of the
lowest and most debased character ? Could
he go forth to the fields and labour for his
maintenance where the wages of a man
trained to toil, were hardly sufficient for sub-

These were the questions which the poor
exile had occasion to revolve in his mind ;
and after his son and daughter joined him,
and the few dollars he had brought with him
were nearly exhausted, it became necessary
that he should decide upon some course of
action. Nor were these considerations those


which alone occupied his mind. He had also
to reflect upon the degradation of his country
the ruin of those hopes of liberty which
had been indulged the wreck of his personal
fortunes and the exchange, in his own case,
of independence for poverty.

It requires a stout heart to bear up against
such misfortunes, and at the same time to
support the heavy burden which is added, in
that bitter sense of wrong and injustice, which
comes again and again, under such circum-
stances, to ask for revenge or retribution.
But Pultova was not only a man of energy in
the field he was something better a man
of that moral courage which enabled him to
contend against weakness of heart in the hour
of trouble. In the next chapter, 1 shall make
you understand his feelings and character by
telling you how he spoke to his children, a
few weeks after their arrival.




" MY dear Alexis," said Pultova, " you
complain of want of books, that you may
pursue your studies and occupy your mind :
how can we get books in Siberia, especially
without money ? You are uneasy for want
of something to do some amusement or oc-
cupation ; think, my boy, how many of our
countrymen are at this very hour in dun-
geons, their limbs galled by chains, and not
only denied books and amusement, but
friends, the pure air, nay the very light of
heaven ! Think how many a noble Polish
heart is now beating and fluttering, like a
caged eagle, against the gratings that confine
it ; how many a hero, who seemed destined


to fill the world with the fame of his glorious
deeds, is now in solitude, desolate, emaciated,
buried from the world, and lost to all exist-
ence, save that he still feels, suffers, despairs
and all this without a friend who may
share his sorrow ! How long and weary is a
single day to you, Alexis ; think how tedious
the hours the months the years, to the
prisoner in the prolonged night of the dun-
geon !"

" Dear father," said Alexis, ff this is dread-
ful but how can it help our condition? It
only shows us that there is deeper sorrow
than ours."

"Yes, Alexis; and from this contrast we
may derive consolation. Whether it be ra-
tional or not, still, by contemplating these
deeper sorrows of our fellow-men, and espe-
cially of our fellow-countrymen, we may alle-
viate our own. But let me suggest another
subject for contemplation : what are we to do
for food, Alexis ? My money is entirely gone
except five dollars, and this sum will last for
only a few weeks."

" Why, father, I can do something, surely/'


Well, what can you do ?"

" I do not know I cannot say ; I never
thought of it before. Cannot you borrow
some money ?"

"No; and if I could, I would not. No,
no, Alexis, our circumstances have changed.
It is the will of God. We are now poor, and
we must toil for a subsistence. It is a griev-
ous change certainly but it is no disgrace.
We are indeed worse off than the common
labourer, for our muscles are not so strong as
his ; but we must give them strength by ex-
ercise. We have pride and long habit to con-
tend with ; but these we must conquer. It
is weakness, it is folly, to yield to circum-
stances. If the ship leaks, we must take to
the boat. Heaven may prosper our efforts,
and bring us, after days of trial, to a safe
harbour. But my greatest anxiety is for
poor Kathinka."

" Fear not for me/ 5 said the lovely girl,
rushing to her father and kneeling before him
** fear not for me !"

" Kathinka, I did not know you were in
the room."


" Nor was I till this moment ; but the
door was ajar, and I have heard all. Dear
father dear Alexis fear not for me. I will
be no burden I will aid you rather."

(e My noble child \" said the old man, as
he placed his arms around the kneeling girl.

and while his tears fell fast upon her brow,
" you are indeed worthy of your mother, who,
with all the softness of a woman, had the
energy of a hero. In early life, while con-
tending with difficulties in my business, she
was ever my helper and supporter. In every
day of darkness, she was my guiding-star.
She has indeed bequeathed her spirit to me
in you, Kathinka."


" My dear father, this is indeed most kind,
arid I will endeavour to make good the opi-
nion you entertain of me. See! I have
already begun my work. Do you observe
this collar ? I have foreseen difficulties, and
I have wrought this that I may sell it and
get money by it.'*

" Indeed \" said Pultova, you are a
Drave girl; and who put this into your

" I do not know I thought of it myself,
I believe."

" And who do you think will buy this col-
lar, here at Tobolsk ? Who can pay money
for such finery ?"

" I intend to sell it to the governor's lady.
She at least has money, for I saw her at the
chapel a few days since, and she was gaily
dressed. I do not doubt she will pay me for
the collar."

At these words a bright flush came to the
old man's cheek, and his eye kindled with
the fire of pride. The thought in his mind
was "And can I condescend to live upon
the money that comes from the wife of the


V 6


governor, the officer, the tool of the emperor,
my oppressor ? And shall my daughter, a
descendant of Poniatowsky, be a slave to
these cringing minions of power?" But he
spoke not the thought aloud. A better and
wiser feeling came over him, and kissing his
daughter's cheek, he went to his room, leav-
ing his children together.

A long and serious conversation ensued
between them, the result of which was a
mutual determination to seek some employ-
ment, by which they could obtain the
means of support for their parent and

After this, a few days had elapsed, when
Alexis came home with an animated counte-
nance, and finding his sister, told her of a
scheme he had formed for himself, which
was to join a party of fur hunters, who were
about to set out for the north-eastern regions
of Siberia. Kathinka listened attentively,
and, after some reflection, replied, " Alexis,
I approve of your scheme. If our father
assents to it, you must certainly go."

<e It seems to me that you are very ready to


part with me !" said Alexis, with a little

" Nay, nay," said the girl ; " do not be
playing the boy, for it is time that you were
a man. Think not, dear Alexis, that I shall
not miss you ; think not that I shall feel no
anxiety for my only brother, my only com-
panion, and, save our good parent, the only
friend I have in Siberia."

Alexis smiled, though the tear was in
his eye. He said nothing, but, clasping
Kathinka's hand tenderly, he went to con-
sult with his father. It is sufficient to say,
that the old man's consent was obtained, and
in a few days, the young hunter, by the active
efforts of his sister, was equipped for the ex-
pedition. The evening before he was to set
out, he had a long interview with Kathinka,
who encouraged him to procure the finest
sable skins, saying that she had a scheme of
her own for disposing of them to advantage.

" And what is this scheme of yours ?'*
said Alexis.

" I do not like to tell you, for you will say
it is all a girl's romance."


" But you must tell me."

Indeed I must ? Well, if I must, I will.
Do you remember the princess Lodoiska,
that was for some time in concealment at our
house during the siege of Warsaw 1"

"Yes, I remember her well. But why
was she there, and what became of her?
And did father know that she was there?
or was it only you and our mother and my-
self that saw her ?

" Too many questions at once, Alexis ! I
will tell you all I know. The princess was
accidentally captured by father's troop in one
of its excursions to a neighbouring village.
She had fled from Warsaw a few days before,
when the insurrection first broke out, and
she had not yet found the means of going
to St. Petersburg. Father must have known
who she was, though he affected not to
know. He kept the secret to himself and
his family, fearing, perhaps, that some harm
would come to the lady if she were disco-
vered. It was while she was at our house
that our blessed mother died.

" Father, you know, was at that time en-



gaged with the Russians without the walls.
One day I came into our mother's room and
found the princess, who had been reading to
her, sitting by her bedside. Her countenance

was bright and calm. I never saw her look
so beautiful. e Sweet lady/ said she, taking
the hand of the princess, ' I see how this strife
will end. Poor Poland is destined to fall
and many a noble heart must fall with her.
I know not that my gallant husband may


survive ; but if he do, he will be an exile and
an outcast. For him I have few fears, for I
know that he has a spirit that cannot be
crushed or broken. But, princess, forgive if
a mother's heart, in the shadow of death,
sinks at the thought 01 leaving children, and
especially this dear girl, in such circum-
stances !'

" The princess wept, but answered not for
some time. A.t last she said, * I feel your
appeal, dear friend, and I will answer it.
Your husband has put my life in peril, by
bringing me here ; but he did it in the way
of duty, and in ignorance of my name and
character. He has at least given me safety,
and I owe him thanks. I owe you, also, a
debt of gratitude, and it shall be repaid to
your child. You know my power with the
emperor is small, for I have been a friend to
Poland, and my heart has dwelt but too
fondly on one of Poland's noblest sons, and
this has almost brought me into disgrace at
court. But fear not. If Kathinka should ever
need a friend, let her apply to Lodoiska.'

" Such were the exact words of the prin-


cess. Our mother soon after died, and in a
few days I contrived the lady's escape, which
was happily effected, by the aid of the Polish
chief, to whom the princess had alluded in
speaking to my mother. Father never spoke
to me on the subject. He must have known
it, and approved of it, but perhaps he wished
not to take an active part in the matter ."

" This is interesting," said Alexis, " but
what has it to do with the sable skins ?"

" A great deal the princess will enable us
to dispose of them."

" But who is to take them to her ?"
" You you, perhaps or perhaps I."
" You ! This is indeed a girl's romance.
However, there can be no harm in getting
sable skins, for they bring the best price."

After much further conversation between
the brother and sister, they parted for the
night ; and the next day, with a father's bles-
sing and a sister's tenderest farewell, the
young hunter set out on his arduous adven-





IT is the character oi young people to en-
gage in new enterprises with ardour : it was
so with Alexis, in his fur-hunting expedition.
For a time, indeed, after parting with his
father and sister, his heart was heavy, and
tears more than once dimmed his eyes. He
expected to be absent for a year at least, and
who could tell what might befall him or
them, during that space of time? Such
thoughts came again and again into his mind,
and as fancy is apt to conjure up fears for
those we love, he pictured to himself many
possible evils that might beset his relations at

But these images gradually faded away,
and the young hunter began to be occupied


with the scenes around him, and with the
conversation of his companions. These con-
sisted of two young men of nearly his own
age, and their father, a rough old man, but
an experienced and skilful hunter. They
were all equipped with rifles, and each had a

long knife like a dagger in his belt. Their
design was to travel on foot to the eastward,
a distance of nearly two thousand miles, and
then proceed northward into the cold and
woody regions which border the banks of the
great river Lena, as it approaches the Arctic


Hitherto Alexis had seen little of Siberia ;
his curiosity was therefore alive, and he no-
ticed attentively everything he met. Soon
after leaving Tobolsk, the party entered upon
the vast plain of Baraba, which spreads out
to an extent of several hundred miles. It is
almost as level as the sea, with slight swells
resembling waves. Such plains are called
steppes in Siberia, and they are like the

prairies of the western part of the United
States, being generally destitute of trees,
except low willows, and large portions having
a marshy soil. Upon this plain, the tra-
vellers met with no towns, but occasionally
they fell in with miserable villages of people,
with huts of the rudest construction half sunk
in the mud. They also sometimes encoun-
tered small bands of people, called Ostiacks.


These seemed to be a roving tribe, and in a
state of barbarism. The old hunter of the
party, whose name was Linsk, seemed to be
well acquainted with the habits of these peo-
ple ; and as the four hunters were trudging
along, he gave the following account of them,

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Online LibrarySamuel G. (Samuel Griswold) GoodrichPersevere and prosper; or, The Siberian sable-hunter → online text (page 1 of 7)