Page images

deer and foxes in plenty, which had hitherto served them for bedding, and which they now thought of employing in some more essential service; but the question was how to tan them. After deliberating on this subject, they took to the following method: they soaked the skins for several days in fresh water, till they could pull off the hair pretty easily; then they rubbed the wet leather with their hands till it was nearly dry, when they spread some melted reindeer fat over it, and again rubbed it well. By this process the leather became soft, pliant, and supple, proper for answering every purpose they wanted it for. Those skins which they designed for furs, they only soaked for one day, to prepare them for being wrought: and then proceeded in the mauner before mentioned, except only that they did not remove the hair. Thus they soon provided themselves with the necessary materials for all the parts of dress they wanted. But here another difficulty occurred: they had neither awls for making shoes or boots, nor needles for sewing their garments. This want, however, they soon supplied by means of the pieces of iron they had occasionally collected. Out of these they made both, and by their industry even brought them to a certain degree of perfection. The making eyes to their needles gave them indeed no little trouble, but this they also performed with the assistance of their knife; for, having ground it to a very sharp point, and heated red-hot a kind of wire forged for that purpose, they pierced a hole through one end, and, by whetting and smoothing it on stones, brought the other to a point; and thus gave the whole needle a very tolerable. form. Scissors to cut out the skin were what they next had occasion for; but, having none, their place they supplied with the knife; and, though there was neither shoeinaker nor tailor amongst them, yet they had contrived to

cut out their leather and furs well enough for their purpose. The sinews of the bears and the reindeer, which, as I mentioned before, they had found means to split, served them for thread : and, thus provided with the necessary implements, they proceeded to make their new clothes.

After they had lived more than six years upon this dreary and in hospitable coast, a ship arrived there by accident, which took three of them on board, and carried them in safety to their own country. The fourth was seized with a dangerous disease, called the scurvy: and, being of an indolent temper, and therefore not using the exercise which was necessary to preserve his life, after having lingered some time, died, and was buried in the snow by his companions.

As they had carefully collected whatever happened to be cast on shore, to supply them with fuel, they had found amongst the wrecks of vessels some cordage, and a small quantity of oakum (a kind of hemp used for caulking ships), which served them to make wicks for their lamps. When these stores began to fail, their shirts and their drawers (which are worn by almost all Russian peasants) were employed to make good the deficiency.


THEY then proceeded to make a fire, and cook our even. ing meal. A light was procured by rubbing a blunt-pointed stick in a groove made in another, as if with intention of deepening it, until by the friction the dust became ignited. A peculiarly white and very light wood is alone used for this purpose :

it is the same which serves for poles to carry any burden, and for the floating outriggers to their canoes. The fire was produced in a few seconds : but to a person who does not understand the art, it requires, as I found, the greatest exertion; but at last, to my great pride, I succeeded in igniting the dust. The Gancho in the Pampas uses a different method ; taking an elastic stick about eighteen inches long, he presses one end on his breast, and the other pointed end into a hole in a piece of wood, and then rapidly turns the curved part, like a carpenter's centre-bit.

The Tahitians, having made a small fire of sticks, placed a score of stones, of about the size of cricket-balls, on the burning wood. In about ten minutes the sticks were consumed, and the stones hot. They had previously folded up, in small parcels of leaves, pieces of beef, fish, ripe and unripe bananas, and the tops of the wild arum. These green parcels were laid in a layer between two layers of the hot stones, and the whole then covered up with earth, so that no smoke or steam could

In about a quarter of an hour the whole was most deliciously cooked. The choice green parcels were now laid on a cloth of banana leaves, and with a cocoa-nut shell we drank the cool water of the running stream, and there we enjoyed our rustic meal.







I was very young when I saw the sea for the first time, and I was struck, as every one must be, with the magnificence of the spectacle, which gave me a better idea of the almighty power of the Creator than I had ever had before. I spent the day in watching the waves, or if I perceived a distant sail, I followed it with my eyes till it had disappeared beyond the horizon. From that day my strongest desire was to make a sea-voyage. In my dreams at night I sailed over the wide ocean to distant lands, and even to the other hemisphere ; and by day I read all the books of voyages and travels that I could get hold of. At length an unexpected event offered me the means of obtaining my long-cherished wish. My father obtained the command of a vessel which was to sail round the world on a voyage of discovery; and as I was now of an age to leave school, he determined to take me with him, and wrote to me to join him at Brest, whence his ship was to sail in the course of the next month. 1 The news made me feel almost beside myself with joy. I made my preparations, took leave of my kind instructor, who wished me a fortunate voyage, and soon found myself at Brest. The moment of departure at length arrived, the Lightning (so our brig was called) was ready to set sail, the anchor was heaved up, a cannon fired as a signal, and then we were really at sea.

Our mission was to explore certain islands in the Pacific, whose situation was guessed at, rather than known. We

[ocr errors]

had orders to join the Humming Bird, another brig, then near the north coast of Scotland. In order to reach our companion, it was necessary for us to coast along the cheerful shores of industrious England. The scenes which met our eyes were as varied as they were pleasing. Now a manof-war, in full sail, passed majestically across the horizon,now a fleet of tiny fishing-boats skimmed past us,—then again the coast of old England came in sight, and bill and dale, town and village, appeared rapidly in review before us. When we approached the northern point of Scotland, the cold became severe, though it was only the middle of October. Soon, however, we were enabled to turn south wards; for our destined companion, the Humming Bird, made her appearance; and we sailed in company with her round the western coast of Ireland, and in ten days reached the Bay of Biscay. The beautiful peninsula of Spain and Portugal was soon left far behind us. I almost regretted that we did not stop at some port in these interesting countries.; but our first resting-place was to be at the Azores, and we had to traverse a wide extent of ocean before we heard the welcome sound of “Land on the horizon!” from a sailor who was on the look-out. “Land! land !” was echoed by many voices; and not long afterwards we touched at the island of Pico, the most remarkable of the Azores. Its name means the Peak; and it is so called from the coneshaped mountain of which the whole island is composed, which rises immediately from the water's edge, forming a magnificent sight, especially when its snowy summit is gilded by the rays of the sun. We only remained at Pico long enough to take in some water, and then continued our voyage towards the Bermudas. We arrived at these beautiful islands after some weeks' navigation. They appeared like gardens dropped in the midst of the Atlantic, and their

« PreviousContinue »