Samuel G. (Samuel Griswold) Goodrich.

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

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"The carriage passed on. The princess
had witnessed the whole scene, though she
had not been observed by the emperor's
party. I returned to her. She seemed to


have changed her mind, and begged me to
see her conducted to the emperor's camp.
'You are now safe/ said she. 'You have
saved the czar's life, and that insures you his
forgiveness his gratitude. I know him well.
In matters of government he is severe, but in
all personal things he is noble and generous.
I will plead your cause, and I know I shall
prevail. Your life, your fortune, your honour,
are secure.'

ff I adopted her views, though with much
anxiety. I conducted her nearly to the Russian
camp, and she was then taken in safety to the
czar's tent. Soon after, she went to Sr.
Petersburg, since which I have heard nothing
of her.

" The judgment of the enraged emperor fell
like a thunderbolt upon the insurgents of
Poland. The blood of thpusands was shed
upon the scaffold. Thousands were shut up
in dungeons, never more to see the light or
breathe the air of heaven. Thousands more
were banished to Siberia, and myself among
the number. The emperor's hard heart
knew no mercy. Here I am, and here, alone,
am I resolved to die."



This story was told with such energy, and
with an air so lofty and stern, as to make all
the party afraid to speak. Soon after, the
stranger left the cave for a short time, as if
the thoughts excited by his narrative could
not brook the confinement of the cavern.
He soon returned, and all retired to rest. In
the morning the hunters took leave, Alexis
bearing with him a rich present of furs from
the hermit, several of them the finest sable
skins. One of these was carefully rolled up,
and Alexis was instructed in a whisper to see
that, if possible, it should be sent to the prin-
cess Lodoiska. At the same time, he was
told never to reveal the name and character
of the stranger whom he had met, and was
also requested to enjoin secrecy upon his

Linsk and his party went back to their
hut ; and in a few weeks, having obtained a
large number of rich furs, they took advan-
tage of the sledges of some Tungusians,
going to Yakutsk, and returned to that place,
making a brisk and rapid journey of several
hundred miles in a few days.





ALTHOUGH Alexis did not expect to find
letters from home, as he had returned from
his hunting expedition earlier than he calcu-
lated, still on his arrival at Yakutsk, he went
to the house where they were to be left if
any came. To his great joy he there found
two letters, and on looking at them, recog-
nized the hand-writing of his father upon


one, and that of Kathinka on the other. He
hurried home to read them alone, in his
room. With mingled feelings of hope and
fear of pleasure that he could thus hold
communion with his dearest friends of pain
that he was separated from them by thou-
sands of miles, he broke the seal of that
which was superscribed with his father's
hand, and read as follows :

"Tobolsk, 18.

" My dear Alexis, I embrace a good op-
portunity to send you letters, and thus to
inform you of the state of things here. You
will first desire to know how it is with
Kathinka and me. We get on more com-
fortably than I could have hoped, through
your sister's strenuous and dutiful efforts.
We are far removed from want, though of
course we have many trials.

" Kathinka will tell you all the little details
of news. I am ill able to do that, for my
memory fails fast : and, my dear boy I may
as well say it frankly, that I think my days
are fast drawing to a close. I have no spe-
cial disease but it seems to me that my


heart beats feebly, and that the last sands of
life are nearly running out. It may be other-
wise but so I feel. It is for this reason that
I have had some reluctance in giving my
consent to a plan for your returning home in
a Russian vessel, which is offered to you.

ee A young Russian officer, a relative of the
Princess Lodoiska, by the name of Suwarrow,
is going to Okotsk, at the western extremity
of Siberia, where he will enter a Russian ship
of war, that is to be there ; he will take com-
mand of a corps of marines on board, and
will return home in her. Krusenstern has
offered you a passage with him; and as
Suwarrow is a fine fellow, and, I suspect, is
disposed to become your brother-in-law, if
Kathinka will consent nothing could be
more pleasant or beneficial to you. You will
see a good deal of the world, learn the man-
ners and customs of various peoples at whose
harbours you will touch, and make agreeable,
and, perhaps, useful acquaintances on board
the ship. These are advantages not to be
lightly rejected ; and, therefore, if you so de-
cide and accept the offer, I shall not oppose
your choice. Indeed, the only thing that


makes me waver in my advice, is my fear that
I shall not live to see you, and that Kathinka
will be left here without a protector. Yet if
this happens she is well qualified to take care
of herself, for she has a vigour and energy
only surpassed by her discretion. And after
all, the voyage from Okotsk to St. Petersburg
will not occupy much more than a year, though
it requires a passage almost round the globe,
wiiile, even if you do not go with Suwarrow,
you can hardly get home in much less than a
year, so that the increased time of your ab-
sence will not constitute a serious objection.
Therefore, go, if you prefer it.

" I have now said all that is necessary, and
I must stop here for my hand is feeble.
Take with you, my dear boy, a father's bless-
ing and wherever you are, whether upon the
mountain wave, or amid the snows of a
Siberian winter place your trust in God.


This affecting letter touched Alexis to the
quick; the tears ran down his cheeks, and
such was his anxiety and gloom on account


of his father's feelings, that he waited several
minutes before he could gather courage to
open the epistle from Kathinka. At last he
broke the seal, and to his great joy found in
it a much more cheerful vein of thought and
feeling. She said her father was feeble.,
and subject to fits of great depression but
she thought him pretty well, and if not con-
tent, at least submissive and tranquil.

She spoke of Suwarrow, and the scheme
suggested by her father, and urged it strongly
upon Alexis to accept the offer. She pre-
sented the subject, indeed, in such a light,
that Alexis arose from reading the letter with
his mind made up to join Suwarrow, and re-
turn in the Russian vessel. He immediately
stated the plan to Linsk and his two sons,
and to his great surprise, found them totally
opposed to it. They were very fond of
Alexis, and it seemed to them like unkind de-
sertion, for him to leave them as he proposed.
Such was the strength of their feelings, that
Alexis abandoned the idea of leaving them,
and gave up the project he had adopted.
This was, however, but transient. Linsk,
who was a reasonable man, though a rough


one, after a little reflection, seeing the great
advantages that might accrue to his young
friend, withdrew his objections, and urged
Alexis to follow the advice of his sister.

As no farther difficulties laid in his way,
our youthful adventurer made his prepara-
tions to join Suwarrow as soon as he should
arrive ; an event which was expected in a
month. This time soon slipped away, in
which Alexis had sold a portion of his furs to
great advantage. The greater part of the
money he sent to his father, as also a share
of his furs. A large number of sable skins,
of the very finest quality, he directed to
Kathinka, taking care to place with them the
one which the hermit hunter of the dell had
requested might be sent to the princess
Lodoiska, at St. Petersburg. He also wrote
a long letter to his sister, detailing his ad-
ventures, and dwelling particularly on that
portion which related to the hermit. He
specially urged Kathinka to endeavour to
have the skin sent as desired ; for though he
had not ventured to unroll it, he could not
get rid of the impression that it contained
something of deep interest to the princess.


At the appointed time, Suwarrow arrived,
and as his mission brooked no delay, Alexis
set off with him at once. He parted with his
humble friends and companions with regret,
and even with tears. Expressing the hope,
however, of meeting them again, at Tobolsk,
after the lapse of two years, he took his

We must allow Linsk and his sons to pur-
sue their plans without further notice at
present, only remarking that they made one
more hunting excursion into the forest, and
then returned to Tobolsk, laden with a rich
harvest of valuable furs. Our duty is to fol-
low the fortunes of Alexis, who immediately
joined Suwarrow. The two were good friends
in a short time, and their journey to Okotsk
was very pleasant.

This town is situated upon the border of
the sea of Okotsk, and at the northern part.
To the west lies Kamtschatka to the south,
the islands of Japan. Although there are
only fifteen hundred people in the place, yet
it carries on an extensive trade in furs,
which are brought from Kamtschatka, the
eastern part of Siberia, and the north-west


coast of America^ where the Russians have
some settlements.

Alexis found Okotsk a much pleasanter
place than he expected. The country around
is quite fertile; the town is pleasantly situated
on a ridge between the river and the sea, and
the houses are very neatly built. Most of
the people are either soldiers, or those who
are connected with the military establish-
ments ; yet there are some merchants, and
a good many strange looking men from all
the neighbouring parts, who come here to
sell their furs. Amongst those of this kind,
Alexis saw some short, flat-faced Kamtscha-
dales, clothed in bears' skins, and looking
almost like bears walking on their hind legs.
There were numbers of Kuriles, people with a
yellow skin, from the Kurile Islands, which
stretch from Japan to the southern point of
Kamtschatka ; and there were Tartars, with
black eyes and yellow skins and many other
people of strange features, and still stranger
attire. He remained at this place for a
month, and the time passed away pleasantly

Alexis, instead of going about with his


eyes shut, and his mind in a maze of stupid
wonder, took careful observation of all he
saw ; and having pleasant manners, he mixed
with the people, and talked with them, and
thus picked up a great fund of knowledge.
He became acquainted with the geographical
situation of all the countries and islands
around the great sea of Okotsk ; about the
people who inhabited them ; about the go-
vernments of these countries ; their climate,
productions, and trade; and also the religion,
manners, and customs of the people.

Now, as I am writing a story, I do not
wish to cheat my readers into reading a book
of history and geography but, it is well
enough to mix in a little of the useful with
the amusing. I will, therefore, say a few
words, showing what kind of information
Alexis acquired respecting these far-off re-
gions of which we are speaking.

Kamischatka, you must know, is a long
strip of land, very far north, and projecting
into the sea, almost a thousand miles from
north to south, The southern point is about
as far north as Canada, but it is much colder.
Near this is a Russian post, called St. Peters


and St. Paul's. The Kamtschadales are
chiefly heathen, who worship strange idols in
a foolish way though a few belong to the
Greek church, which has been brought into
the country by the Russians.

The cold bleak winds that sweep over
Siberia, carry their chill to Kamtschatka, and
though the sea lies on two sides of it, they
make it one of the coldest places in the world.
The winter lasts nine months of the year,
and no kind of grain can be made to grow
upon its soil. But this sterility in the vege-
table kingdom is compensated by the abun-
dance of animal life. In no place in the
world is there such a quantity of game. The
coasts swarm with seals and other marine
animals ; the rocks are coated with shell-fish;
the bays are almost choked with herrings
and the rivers with salmon. Flocks of grouse,
woodcocks, wild geese and ducks are most
abundant. In the woods are bears, beavers,
deer, ermines, sables, and other quadrupeds,
producing abundance of rich furs. These
form the basis of a good deal of trade.

Thus, though the Kamtschadales have no
bread, or very little, they have abundance of


fish, flesh, and fowl. In no part of the world,
are the people more gluttonously fed. They
are, in fact, a very luxurious race, spending
a great part of their time in coarse feasting
and frolicing. They sell their furs to the
Russians, by which they get rum and brandy,
and thus obtain the means of intoxication.
Many of them are, therefore, sunk to a state
of the most brutal degradation.

The Kurile islands, as I have stated, extend
from the southern point of Kamtschatka to
Jesso, one of the principal of the Japan isles.
They are twenty-four in number, and contain
about a thousand inhabitants. The length
of the chain is nearly nine hundred miles.
Some of them are destitute of people, but
most of them abound in seals, sea otters, and
other game. The people are heathens, and
are a wild, savage set.

The Japan isles lie in a long, curving line,
in a southerly direction from Okotsk. They
are very numerous, but the largest are Jesso
and Niphon. These are the seat of the
powerful and famous empire of Japan, which
has existed for ages, and has excited nearly
as much curiosity and interest as China.


One thing that increases this interest is,
that foreigners are carefully excluded from
the country, as they are from China. The
only place which Europeans are allowed to
visit., is Nangasaki, on the island of Ximo.
This is a large town, but the place assigned
to foreigners is very small ; and none of these
are permitted to reside there, except some
Dutch merchants, through whom all the
trade and intercourse with foreigners must
be carried on. ,

The interior of Japan is very populous,
there being twenty-six millions of people in
the empire. The capital is Jeddo, on the
island of Niphon ; this is perhaps as popu-
lous a city as London. The lands in the
country are said to be finely cultivated, and
many of the gardens are very beautiful. The
people are polite, and nearly all can read and
write. They have many ingenious arts, and
excel even European workmen in certain
curious manufactures.

To the east of Japan is the great empire of

China, which contains two hundred and fifty

millions of people.





THE season of summer, at Okotsk, con-
sisting of the months of June, July, and
August, is the only time when a vessel can
venture to navigate the stormy sea of that
far northern region. Alexis was, therefore,
obliged to wait several weeks, before the time
of departure arrived. As the land mail came
once every month from St. Petersburg to
Okotsk, by way of Tobolsk, he twice received
a letter from his sister. In the latter instance,
the epistle arrived but a single day before
the vessel was to sail, and contained some-
what painful intelligence in regard to her
father's health, and some suspicions of the
governor's intentions towards them.

Alexis was so much affected by this that
he was on the point of deciding to return


immediately to Tobolsk but before he had
quite made up his mind, the vessel was ready
to depart, and Suwarrow hurried him on
board. There all was activity and bustle.
The ship called the Czarina, carried seventy-
four guns, and contained three hundred men.
To get a vessel of war, of this size, under
way, is a serious matter. The heavy anchor
is to be taken in ; a variety of sails to be set;
and it seemed as if all was to be done with
as much noise as possible. Alexis had never
been on board a ship before, and the scene
was quite strange and bewildering to him.
But at last the anchor was aboard ; several
sheets of broad canvass were spread to the
wind; the vessel began to move forward;
the waves dashed against her prow, and
rippled along her sides ; a stream of milky
foam was at her stern, and the little town of
Okotsk began to appear smaller and smaller,
and at last sank from the view, behind the
swelling bosom of the sea !

The die was now cast ; Alexis was upon
the ocean, separated from the land on which
he had hitherto dwelt, and many months
must elapse before he could hope to see his


kindred, about whom he now had occasion to
feel the greatest anxiety. But his attention
was soon called to other things. The wind
blew more and more fresh, and the gallant
ship flew like an eagle upon her way. Every-
thing was new to our young hero, and for a
long time his mind was diverted by the
scenes on board the ship, or by the aspect of

the great deep. But at last he grew sea-sick,
and was obliged to go to his berth.

The sea of Okotsk appears like a little spot
upon the map, but it is a thousand miles
long, and five hundred miles wide. The
vessel, therefore, was soon out of sight of
land, but proceeding southward, she ap-
proached a rugged and rocky shore, in about


a week. Alexis was now able to be on deck,
and was told that they were about to pass
between the great island of Jesso, on the left,
and the island of Saghalien, on the right.
They soon entered a narrow strip of water,
called the straits of Peyrouse, in honour of
that celebrated navigator, who passed through
them in 1788. The land was visible on both
sides, but it presented a dreary and desolate

The Czarina made no stay in these parts,
farther than to catch a supply of salmon,
which were amazingly abundant in all the
waters along the shore. The mariners found
the sea almost constantly beset by thick fogs,
rendering the navigation very difficult and
dangerous. Beside this, there seemed to be
rocks and reefs on every hand, and swift
currents, that made it necessary to use the
utmost caution.

The straits were soon passed, and the ship
entered the Japanese Sea, which lies between
Tartary and the islands of Japan. The course
of the ship was still southerly, and for several
days nothing of particular interest happened.
While they were thus pursuing their voyage,


the officers of the ship usually dined to-
gether, Alexis and a Russian merchant, who
had entered the vessel at Okotsk, being of
the party. Much hilarity prevailed, songs
were sung, and many good stories were told.

One day after dinner, while all were sitting
around the table, the conversation turned upon
Tartary, the vast country which lay westward
of the Japanese Sea. After a good deal
had been said on the subject, the captain of
the ship, whose name was Orlof, joined in
the discourse, and proceeded as follows :

" In ancient times, the Tartars were called
Scythians; and in their contests with the
Romans, they appear to have displayed great
vigour of character. They have been spread
over nearly all the central and northern part
of Asia, from time immemorial; but they are
broken into many tribes, and pass under
many different names, as Cossacks, Kalmucks,
Mongols, Kirghises, Kalkas, Mandshurs,
Uzbeks, and Turkomans. The tribes which
inhabit Siberia, the Ostiacks, Tunguses and
others, are but fragments of the great Tartar

" At the present day, the central part of


Asia, from the Caspian and Volga on the west,
to the Sea of Japan on the east, is occupied
by Tartars, though divided into two separate
governments, Independent Tartary and Chi-
nese Tartary. The latter, including Thibet,
is nearly as extensive as Siberia, and has been
subject to the emperor of China, since 1647,
for it was about that time that the Mandshur
Tartars took Pekin, and set one of their
princes on the throne of China. Since that
time, the emperors of China have been of this
Tartar line.

" The Mongols are regarded as the origi-
nal race of all the Tartars, and also of the
Japanese, Chinese, and some of the adjacent
nations. They are, also, the original stock
from which the Turks have sprung, as well
as the Huns, and some other tribes of Europe.
But the point about which I was going to
speak, is the inconsistency of the Tartar cha-
racter. With other nations, they are consi-
dered savage and merciless, while, among
each other, they are kind, gentle, and affec-
tionate, in a remarkable degree. Of these
two opposite characters there is abundant


' Attila, leader of the Huns, a kindred race
which fell like a cloud of locusts upon Italy,
about the year 400 after Christ, was called the
' scourge of God.' His mission seemed to be
to destroy, and he performed the fearful work
without mercy. Hundreds of thousands of
men, women, and children, were sacrificed to
his fury, and that of his bloody followers.

"In 1206, Gengis Khan founded the em-
pire of the Mongols, and spread his empire
from east to west, three thousand five hun-
dred miles. Not only smaller kingdoms, but
China itself became subject to his sway. In
the early part of his career, he took a large
number of prisoners ; but, as if to make his
name a terror throughout the world, he ordered
those of the most elevated rank to be thrown
into caldrons of boiling water. He pursued
his conquests with amazing success, but with
unsparing severity. Cities, towns, and coun-
tries he laid waste, and he felt no hesitation
in destroying thousands, when they stood in
the way of his merciless and selfish ambition.
He turned his armies against China, and
passed the great wall, which had been built
a thousand years before, to defend the em-


pire from the Tartars, who even then appear
to have excited the dread of their neighbours.

"Genghis entered China, and attacked
Pekin. The city at last yielded, and for an
entire month it was given up to fire and the
sword. He afterwards led his armies against
the more western nations. The conflict and
the slaughter were fearful ; in the destruction
of two cities, alone, Bochara and Samarcand,
two hundred thousand people were destroyed,
of every age and sex. Everywhere he was suc-
cessful ; but at last he died, in his sixty-sixth
year. Six millions of people had fallen victims
to the bloody wars of this great butcher of
his fellow-men. Yet, savage as he was in
war, Genghis was a promoter of learning, and
a friend to religious freedom ; he welcomed
all learned men at his court, and showed
great attachment to his friends, and especially
to his own family.

"Timour the Tartar, or Tamerlane, though
the son of a peasant, became a king, and,
about the year 1400, had so extended his
conquests that his empire nearly equalled
that of Genghis Khan. He subdued Persia,
India, Syria, and Asia Minor. He conquered


Bajazet, the sultan of Constantinople, and
took him prisoner. He twice took Bagdat,
and in the latter case, gave it up to the fury
of his soldiers, who slew eight hundred thou-
sand men. Yet Timour, like Genghis, was
a man of many agreeable qualities, and has
left behind him the memory of numerous
instances of justice and gentleness.

" There are many other proofs to be found
in history of this savageness of the Tartars in
war ; yet, all travellers tell us of their hos-
pitality, humanity, and kindness in peace.
Many of them are robbers by trade, and from
the earliest times they have been accustomed
to pour down, by thousands, from their colder
climes, to ravage the rich and luxurious na-
tives of the south."

When the captain paused, the merchant
remarked, that he was much gratified at this
sketch of Tartar history and character. ee I
suppose," said he, "that the phrase, *he
has caught a Tartar,' arose from the general
notion among mankind, that the people of
this stock are a rough untameable race. I
have, indeed, heard a story told as having
given origin to this proverb. A braggadocia



soldier, it is said, in one of our wars against
some of the Tartar tribes on the borders of

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Online LibrarySamuel G. (Samuel Griswold) GoodrichPersevere and prosper; or, The Siberian sable-hunter → online text (page 5 of 7)