Samuel G. (Samuel Griswold) Goodrich.

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

. (page 6 of 7)
Online LibrarySamuel G. (Samuel Griswold) GoodrichPersevere and prosper; or, The Siberian sable-hunter → online text (page 6 of 7)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the Caspian, getting separated from his com-
panions, was taken by one of the enemy.
His commander beingnear the soldier called
out c Captain, I have caught a Tartar,'
c Well/ said the captain, c bring him along !'
( But the fellow won't let me come !' said the
soldier. Since that tune, the expression, he
has caught a Tartar, is applied to those, who,
in seeking to get an advantage of others, have
been taken in themselves.' 5




AFTER some further acquaintance with the
merchant, Alexis to his astonishment and
pleasure found in him the hermit who had
extricated him from the snow; but so changed
was he by an alteration in his dress that he
had easily passed unrecognized.

While the ship continued steadily on her
voyage, Alexis found abundant sources of
amusement. It might seem that being shut
up in a ship was a kind of imprisonment, but
our young sable-hunter did not feel it to be
so. He often talked with Suwarrow, of
Tobolsk, of home, of his father, and, above
all, of his sister. Upon this latter subject,
Suwarrow did not say much, but he spoke in
such terms of tender interest as at once to
bind the young officer to the heart of Alexis,
and, at the same time, to assure him that
he was sincerely attached to Kathinka.


The disguised merchant often took occasion
to converse with Alexis, and while he cau-
tioned him to keep his secret, he spoke freely
of his plans and wishes. " I desire/ 3 said he,
" once more to see the princess Lodoiska ; I
desire to bid her farewell; and then I am
ready to lay my head on the block, if the
emperor wishes to take my life. At all
events, death, imprisonment, the rack any-
thing is preferable to Siberia. To live in that
chill, lonely, desolate exile ; to waste, drop by
drop, the blood of life ; to see existence creep
away with the slow ticking of the clock ; to
gnaw one's own heart in very anguish is
what I cannot and will not endure. I will
see the princess and then I will go to the
emperor ; I will tell him that I once saved his
life ; and then, if he chooses,, he may take
mine as a compensation ?"

Alexis was almost awed by the energy and
firmness of the Polish nobleman; yet he
looked upon his present enterprise as little
better than courting death. One thing led
him to hope for better things : he had sent
the sable-skins designed for the princess to
Kathinka, requesting her to see them for-


warded to Petersburg. This, he had no
doubt, would be done ; and, as it contained
evidence that Count Zinski was still living,
and entertained the deepest affection for the
princess, he fancied, with the fond ardour of
a youthful mind, that she would be incited to
obtain his pardon.

Intent upon gathering knowledge, Alexis
listened to the various observations of the
officers of the ship, several of whom were very
intelligent men ; and as Japan naturally be-

came the subject of discourse, while they were
sailing near the Japanese islands, he learnt a
good deal about the country. One day, one
of the officers gave him the following account :
"The people of Japan, like many others,


pretend that their nation existed for ages,
and they tell of rulers that lived at least
millions of years ago. Yet they were entirely
unknown to Europe, till discovered by the
Portuguese navigators, who were the first to
explore that portion of the world. The
government of Portugal was then eager to
take advantage of intercourse with these
eastern nations, and, accordingly, they sent
ships and ambassadors to Japan. They also
despatched missionaries to introduce the
Christian religion into that country.

(e At first these were kindly received, and,
in the space of sixty years, a number of the
inhabitants were converted to Christianity.
Had the Europeans conducted themselves
wisely, it is probable that Japan would at
this time have been a Christian nation, and
the intercourse between that country and
the civilized nations of Europe, would have
been permanently established. But, instead
of pursuing such a course, their conduct
was licentious, and they meddled, impro-
perly, in political matters. Accordingly,
in 1617, the missionaries were banished for
ever from the country, and the Japanese



who had become Christians were subjected
co the most cruel persecution. These were
continued for forty years, and several mil-
lions of people were sacrificed to the fury of
the storm. 5 *




THE good ship Czarina continued to
pursue her southerly course, and soon came
in sight of Corea, a large peninsula, sepa-
rated from China by the Yellow Sea, and
from the Japanese islands by the straits of
Corea. The peninsula is four hundred miles
long, and one hundred and fifty broad, and
inhabited by a tall, brave and polite race,
who appear to live much after the fashion
of the Chinese. The country is finely cul-
tivated, and though traversed by a range of
mountains, many portions are very fertile.
KingkitaOj an inland town, is the capital.
The king of Corea pays a small tribute to
the emperor of China, but he is in most re-
spects independent. The government here
exclude strangers from the country with the
same jealous care, as in China and Japan.


Sailing in a southerly direction the vessel
soon came near the Loo Choo islands, the
largest of which is .sixty miles long. These
islands possess the most delightful climate in
the world. Fanned by perpetual sea-breezes,
they are alike free from the frosts of winter

and the scorching heat of summer. The
vegetation is of the most luxuriant kind.

But the people of these islands are the
most interesting objects of observation. The
captain of the Czarina went ashore upon the
great Loo Choo, and S uwarrow and Alexis


were permitted to accompany him. They
found the people not more than five feet
high, very fat, and with a smooth, oily skin,
of a copper colour. Their houses were low,
and built in the Chinese fashion. The people
seemed the most cheerful and happy crea-
tures imaginable. They were very polite to
the captain and his party, and gave them a
feast of roasted dogs, monkeys and cats.
Nothing could exceed the beauty of the
country. Though it was now winter, still
the whole of the woods and fields were nearly
as verdant as spring, and the island bore
the appearance of a vast garden.

Alexis and Suwarrow left this lovely island
and these gentle people with great regret,
and proceeded, with the captain, to the ship.
Their course was still southward, and they
soon came in sight of the large island of
Formosa, the name of which signifies " fair/'
The western portion of the island is very
fertile, and inhabited by a civilized people.
The eastern part is mountainous, and is
occupied by savages, who tattoo their skins,
sleep in caves on beds of leaves, and have
scarcely any clothes or furniture.


While the ship was passing by the island,
the Russian merchant asked Alexis if he
had ever heard of Psalmanazar. To this
the youth replied in the negative; but ex-
pressing a desire to hear about him, the
merchant related it as follows :

"This extraordinary man is supposed to
have been a native of France, but this is not

certainly known. He obtained an excellent
education in one of the colleges of the
Jesuits ; and at an early age stole a pilgrim's
cloak from a church, where it had been
dedicated, and putting it on, travelled about
as a pilgrim, and lived upon the charity he
thus obtained.


"After this, he put on another disguise,
and pretended to be a native of Japan.
Not succeeding very well in his scheme, he
went to another place, and there passed
himself off as a native of Formosa. In this
character he went to Liege, in Belgium, and
there being met with by an English clergy-
man, who was duped by his plausible story,
he was apparently converted to Christianity,
was baptized, and formally admitted into
the church!

"The conversion of so able and extra-
ordinary a man was esteemed a great thing,
and accordingly, as he went to London soon
after, he easily obtained the patronage of
Compton, the bishop of London. Under
his auspices, Psalmanazar became one of
the greatest objects of interest and curiosity,
especially among learned men. He lived
in the house of bishop Compton, and was
greatly sought after and flattered by persons
of high rank and station. All this time, he
pretended to be very pious, but to keep up
his imposition, he affected a little of the
wild man too, and fed upon raw flesh, roots,
and herbs.


" Things went on very well with him, and
so he set to work and made up a language,
which he called Fonnosan. He even trans-
lated the church catechism into his fictitious
lingo; and finally he wrote a history of
Formosa out of his own brains. Such was
the ingenuity of his trick, and such the cre-
dulity of the public, that this fabrication
quickly passed through two editions, few or
none doubting that it was all a genuine
relation of real events. But at last some
inconsistencies were detected in the history;
suspicions were excited; the learned For-
mosan was charged with his imposition;
and being fully detected, he confessed his
guilt. He lived a number of years in London
after this and though fully exposed, he
devoted himself to writing books, and
greatly assisted in preparing a famous work
entitled c The Universal History. 5 He pro-
fessed to be penitent for his imposture, and
lived in an exemplary manner. He wrote a
life of himself, in which he told the story of
his deception, and died in 1763."

Leaving the Chinese sea to the right, the
navigators now turned to the east, and were


soon upon that mighty sea the Pacific
Ocean. In a few weeks they came to the
La drones, a group of islands, inhabited by
an interesting race of people, who appeared
to have made further advances in civilization
than most of the barbarous tribes who occu-
pied the islands of the Pacific. When first
discovered, in 1512, the islands were quite
populous, the whole number of inhabitants
amounting to forty thousand. They are now
reduced to five thousand.

Passing by various other groups of islands,
our voyagers at length approached the Fejee
islands, which are situated nearly in the
middle of the Pacific Ocean. At one of the
largest of the group, called Paoo, the captain
concluded to stop for a short time, for the
purpose of obtaining fresh water. The ves-
sel was accordingly brought to anchor near
the land ; and the captain, with two or three
of the officers, the Russian merchant, and
about a dozen men, went on shore.

Here they were met by some of the natives,
who invited them by signs, to visit the king,
at a short distance. To this the party agreed,
and were led forward about a mile, where


there was a considerable village, at the head
of a small bay. As the strangers approached
this place, their attention was drawn to a
large vessel, built in the fashion of a canoe,
coming up the bay. She had tall masts,
and four ranges of spars across them, to each
of which were suspended a great number of
figures bearing a resemblance to the human

The margin of the bay was soon crowded
with the natives, all eagerly awaiting the
arrival of the canoe, and seemingly excited
by some event of great and animating inte-
rest. The strangers paused on the brow of
a hill near the bay, for they began to be sur-
rounded with multitudes of savages. The
Fejee vessel soon came to the shore, and
now the captain and his friends could easily
see that the images which decorated the
spars of the vessel were human bodies the
upper tier consisting of infants, the second
of larger children, the third of women, and
the fourth of men! It appeared that the
king and his warriors had been to wage war
against a neighbouring island, and these
mangled bodies were the trophies of victory


-which they bore back with shouts of triumph
and rejoicing.

No sooner was the Fejee king informed of
the visit of the Russian captain and his
company, than he marched to his cabin, and
there awaited the strangers. Here a short
interview took place, during which the Rus-
sians observed that a crowd of warriors were
gradually surrounding them. Alarmed at
this, the captain begged leave of the swarthy
prince, to withdraw, when a sudden signal
was made, and the Fejee warriors set up a
wild yell, and brandished their weapons in
the air, with a fierce and threatening aspect.
It was clear that an attack was about to
follow, and it was to be the onset of hundreds
upon but a few more than a dozen men.

It was a fearful moment and even the
Russian officers seemed to quail before the
dark and lowering throng of armed men that
hemmed them in on all sides. The hope of
escape appeared to be utterly vain ; and by
degrees they were making up their minds to
sell their lives as dearly as they might when
an incident occurred which suddenly changed
the whole aspect of the scene. The Russian


merchant had taken the precaution, before
leaving the ship, to arm himself with a brace
of pistols, which were stuck in his belt, and
a dagger, which he had swung at his side.
Seeing the imminent danger which now
threatened his party he sprang forward like
a tiger, seized the king, hurled him to the
ground, and holding his pistol to his face,

threatened him with instant death. At the
same time, he required him, by signs, to
command his men to depart. The king,
utterly confounded at the whole manoeuvre,
did as he was required ; the warriors drew
back, and the Russians made a hasty retreat
leaving their savage foes to recover at
leisure from their panic. Scarcely had the
party reached the boat, when the throng of



savages came roaring after them, like a foam-
ing tide fretting upon a rocky beach.

The Russians soon gained their vessel in
safety and were glad to take leave of the
island of the Fejee king. Nor did the cap-
tain fail to express his gratitude to the Fur
Merchant, who saved his life and the lives of
his companions by his prompt skill and
manly daring. The event indeed was noticed
by all on board, and from that time the Fur
Merchant became an object of notice, every
one fancying that he saw something extra-
ordinary about him.





I CANNOT undertake to tell all the details
of the voyage of the Czarina in her passage
homeward. My readers must be content with
a few very brief sketches of what passed
on board the ship. The Fur Merchant
seemed to possess a vast deal of know-
ledge, and his happy talent in the way of
story telling rendered his conversation very
interesting. In the course of the voyage
he gave an account of his travels in Hin-
dostan, and particularly described a huge
image that he once saw in a temple of that
country. It consisted of three enormous
heads, cut in stone, and fifteen feet high
These represented the three great deities in



the Hindo religion; Bramha the creator,
Vishnoo the preserver, and Sheva the de-
stroyer '. .

He also gave an interesting account of a
curious temple at Pegu, in Birmah, shaped
like a speaking trumpet, with the broad part
set on the ground. The foundation consisted
of a vast flight of steps, around which are the



dwellings of hundreds of priests. The spire
was hung with bells, which made a tinkling
sound in the wind. The height of this curious
edifice was about three hundred and sixty

By conversations on such topics, the hours
that had otherwise been tedious, passed
lightly away, especially to our young hero,
who had a lively curiosity, and drank in with
eager interest whatever was said that might
enlarge his store of knowledge. If we had
space we could tell a great variety of such


tales and incidents as we have already related
but it is now time to hasten on with our

After touching at various islands in the
Pacific Ocean ; after doubling Cape Horn,
crossing the Atlantic, and stretching far to
the north, she at length passed through the
British Channel, entered the North Sea, tra-
versed the gulf of Finland, and approached
the city of Cronstadt, a port about twenty
miles from St. Petersburg, where vessels of
war always stop, it being impossible for them
to reach the capital on account of the shoals.

It was now about a year since the vessel
had left Okotsk, and at least eighteen months
since Alexis had parted with his father and
sister at Tobolsk. He expected to find letters
from them at St. Pertersburg; but what
mingled emotions agitated his heart as he
approached that great city! What hopes
and fears what ardent desire and yet what
apprehension lest it should all end in learn-
ing that some fearful calamity had befallen
those he loved alternately took possession
of his heart !

In this agitation, Suwarrow participated to


a considerable degree. Although he always
spoke cheeringly to Alexis, in respect to his
father and sister, he could not deny to him-
self, that there were causes of uneasiness.
He feared that the misfortunes which had
befallen the noble-minded Pultova misfor-
tunes which alike extended to his country
and himself had broken his spirit, and,
added to the weight of years, had borne him
down to the grave. This apprehension was
founded partly upon his own observations
before he left Tobolsk, and partly upon the
last letters which Alexis had received from
his father and sister.

Nor was this his only source of uneasi-
ness. A shadowy fear a dim suspicion of
Krusenstern, the commandant of the castle
at Tobolsk, as to his intentions towards
the exiles, had sprung up in his bosom,
before he left that place, and by degrees it
had grown into an active feeling of distrust
and jealousy.

While Alexis and his young friend had
these common sources of uneasiness, there
was still another, which affected them in
no small degree. Alexis knew the secret


of the mysterious merchant, and as he had
become deeply interested in his behalf, he
trembled when he thought of the probable
fate that awaited him on his arrival at St.
Petersburg. Impelled by his fears for the
safety of one whom he now loved as a friend,
he urged the count, almost with tears, not
to take the rash step he meditated, which
was immediately to report himself to the
emperor; but, rather to seek concealment
for a time ; to make h*s situation known to
the princess Lodoiska, and trust to her me-
diation in his behalf. These suggestions,
though kindly received, seemed to have
little effect upon the determined purpose of
the count.

While such were the feelings of Alexis, in
respect to the count, those of Suwarrow,
though of a lively nature, were somewhat
different. He had not been told the real name
and character of the merchant for Alexis
had kept his friend's counsel in good faith ;
but still, the bearing of the stranger, though
in general harmonizing with the part he was
playing, in a multitude of instances, and
especially in the affair of the Fejee islands,


betrayed the fact that he was not what he
would seem to be. Suwarrow was not alone
in remarking this for the captain of th
ship, and the other officers had come to the
same conclusion. Suwarrow had often heard
them expressing their suspicions, and more
than once he had listened to the suggestion
that the seeming Russian merchant was no
other than the Polish exile count Zinski.

Under these circumstances, Suwarrow 7 had
a severe struggle between his feelings and
his sense of duty. He was a Russian officer,
and bound by every tie of honour to act with
fidelity to the government. Could he let
such a secret as this, in respect to the count,
pass by, without communicating his know-
ledge to the emperor ? While he was thus
debating the question in his own mind, he
was summoned to the apartment of the cap-
tain, where he found the officers of the ship
assembled, together with Alexis and the
count. The latter soon after rose, and ad-
dressed the captain as follows :

ee Before we part, my dear sir, I have an
apology to make to you and these gentlemen.
It is to hear this apology that I have requested


you to meet me here. I have practised a
disguise, I may almost say, an imposition,
Upon you all. I am not a Russian merchant
but the disgraced and banished Count
Zinski. I have taken this step merely to
reach St. Petersburg. We are now ap-
proaching the city, and my object being
accomplished, it is due to you and my own
character to remove the mask under which I
have sought and obtained your kindness and
courtesy. Do not fear that either your cha-
racter or mine shall suffer for this ; my pur-
pose is fixed: I shall forthwith surrender
myself to the emperor. Here," said he,
addressing the captain, while he held a paper
in his hand, " is a statement of my return :
this I shall entrust to Alexis Pultova, who
will bear it to the emperor. As is your duty,
captain, I have to request that you will place
me under a guard, that I may remain in
security on board your vessel, at Cronstadt,
till the will of the emperor is known. At the
same time, my wish is, that my real name
may not be exposed. Indeed, captain and
gentlemen, if it be compatible with your
sense of duty and propriety, I could wish that


my whole story might for the present be
held in reserve, as a matter only known to

As the count finished, the captain rose, and,
grasping his hand, was about to speak but
his voice was choked, and the tears gushed
down his cheeks. In a moment, however, he
recovered, and said^" My dear count, I will
do as you request, for I know that this is as
well my duty, as your interest ; I would not
encourage false hopes but, sir, I am in-
debted to you for my life, and for the lives of
many of these friends around me. But for
you, our career had ended in gloriously, at
the island of Paoo. You shall not suffer for
the want of due representation of this service
rendered to us and to the country ."

The vessel at last approached the frowning
castle of Cronstadt, and was saluted with a
discharge of cannon which shook the sea to
its bed and made even the stout ship stagger
in her path. This attention was returned by
the vessel and soon after, she entered one
of the docks provided for the Russian fleet.

After taking an affectionate leave of the
count, the captain and other officers, Suwarrow


and Alexis set out immediately for St.
Petersburg, where they arrived late in the
evening. The latter proceeded immediately to
the place where he expected to obtain letters
from Tobolsk ; but j udge of his disappointment
to find that none awaited him ! With a heavy
heart he returned to the hotel where he had
taken lodgings but as he was about to
ascend the steps, his arm was seized by a
rough, strong hand, and turning suddenly
round, he recognized the well-known features
of old Linsk !





IN a state of extreme agitation, Alexis
hurried Linsk into his room, locked the door,
and then turning round upon him said, almost
with fierceness, " Tell Hie, Linsk tell me
are they well?"

" Who do you mean ?" said the old fur-


hunter almost doubting whether Alexis was
not out of his mind.

"Tell me instantly ," said Alexis, "is he

" Is who alive ?" said Linsk,

"My father my father/ 5 said Alexis,
bursting into tears, from apprehensions sug-
gested by the hesitation of Linsk.

" I hope he is," said Linsk, a good deal
affected ; " I hope he is alive, and well/'

"AndKathinka is she well?"

" I hope so," said Linsk.

" My dear friend do not torment me thus;
see, I am calm ! Tell me the whole truth
I will hear it all I believe I can bear it. If
they are dead, let me know it anything is
better than suspense."

"Well, now, that is right: be calm and
I will tell it all but you must give me time/'

" Go on go on !"

"Well now you must know that four
months ago I left Tobolsk to come here and
sell my furs. As I was coming away, your

1 2 3 4 6

Online LibrarySamuel G. (Samuel Griswold) GoodrichPersevere and prosper; or, The Siberian sable-hunter → online text (page 6 of 7)