CHAPTER XXXI. LAST WORK OF THE WINTER - BIRDS AND FLOWERS OF SPRING CONTINUOUS DAYLIGHT - SOCIAL LIFE IN GIZHIGA - A CURIOUS SICKNESS - SUMMER DAYS AND NIGHTS - NEWS FROM AMERICA
I will relate one other incident which took place during the first month of our residence at Gizhiga, and which illustrates another phase of the popular character, viz. extreme superstition. As I was sitting in the house one morning, drinking tea, I was interrupted by the sudden entrance of a Russian Cossack named Kolmagorof. He seemed to be unusually sober and anxious about something, and as soon as he had bowed and bade me good-morning, he turned to our Cossack, Viushin, and began in a low voice to relate to him something which had just occurred, and which seemed to be of great interest to them both. Owing to my imperfect knowledge of the language, and the low tone in which the conversation was carried on, I failed to catch its purport; but it closed with an earnest request from Kolmagorof that Viushin should give him some article of clothing, which I understood to be a scarf or tippet. Viushin immediately went to a little closet in one corner of the room, where he was in the habit of storing his personal effects, dragged out a large sealskin bag, and began searching in it for the desired article. After pulling out three or four pair of fur boots, a lump of tallow, some dogskin stockings, a hatchet, and a bundle of squirrelskins, he finally produced and held up in triumph one-half of an old, dirty, moth-eaten woollen tippet, and handing it to Kolmagorof, he resumed his search for the missing piece. This also he presently found, in a worse state of preservation, if possible, than the other. They looked as if they had been discovered in the bag of some poor rag-picker who had fished them up out of a gutter in the Five Points. Kolmagorof tied the two pieces together, wrapped them up carefully in an old newspaper, thanked Viushin for his trouble, and, with an air of great relief, bowed again to me and went out. Wondering what use he could make of such a worn, dirty, tattered article of clothing as that which he had received, I applied to Viushin for a solution of the mystery.
"What did he want that tippet for?" I inquired; "it isn't good for anything."
"I know," replied Viushin, "it is a miserable old thing; but there is no other in the village, and his daughter has got the 'Anadyrski bol'" (Anadyrsk sickness).
"Anadyrski bol!" I repeated in astonishment, never having heard of the disease in question; "what has the 'Anadyrski bol' got to do with an old tippet?"
"Why, you see, his daughter has asked for a tippet, and as she has the Anadyrsk sickness, they must get one for her. It don't make any difference about its being old."