The four little Russian and native villages, just south of the Arctic Circle, which are collectively known as Anadyrsk, form the last link in the great chain of settlements which extends in one almost unbroken line from the Ural Mountains to Bering Strait. Owing to their peculiarly isolated situation, and the difficulties and hardships of travel during the only season in which they are accessible, they had never, previous to our arrival, been visited by any foreigner, with the single exception of a Swedish officer in the Russian service, who led an exploring party from Anadyrsk toward Bering Strait in the winter of 1859-60. Cut off, during half the year, from all the rest of the world, and visited only at long intervals by a few half-civilised traders, this little quadruple village was almost as independent and self-sustained as if it were situated on an island in the midst of the Arctic Ocean. Even its existence, to those who had no dealings with it, was a matter of question. It was founded early in the eighteenth century, by a band of roving, adventurous Cossacks, who, having conquered nearly all the rest of Siberia, pushed through the mountains from Kolyma to the Anadyr, drove out the Chukchis, who resisted their advance, and established a military post on the river, a few versts above the site of the present settlement. A desultory warfare then began between the Chukchis and the Russian invaders, which lasted, with varying success, for many years. During a considerable part of the time Anadyrsk was garrisoned by a force of six hundred men and a battery of artillery; but after the discovery and settlement of Kamchatka it sank into comparative unimportance, the troops were mostly withdrawn, and it was finally captured by the Chukchis and burned. During the war which resulted in the destruction of Anadyrsk, two native tribes, Chuances and Yukagirs, who had taken sides with the Russians, were almost annihilated by the Chukchis, and were never able afterward to regain their distinct tribal individuality. The few who were left lost all their reindeer and camp-equipage, and were compelled to settle down with their Russian allies and gain a livelihood by hunting and fishing. They have gradually adopted Russian customs and lost all their distinctive traits of character; and in a few years not a single living soul will speak the languages of those once powerful tribes. By the Russians, Chuances, and Yukagirs, Anadyrsk was finally rebuilt, and became in time a trading-post of considerable importance. Tobacco, which had been introduced by the Russians, soon acquired great popularity with the Chukchis; and for the sake of obtaining this highly prized luxury they ceased hostilities, and began making yearly visits to Anadyrsk for the purpose of trade. They never entirely lost, however, a certain feeling of enmity toward the Russians who had invaded their territory, and for many years would have no dealings with them except at the end of a spear. They would hang a bundle of furs or a choice walrus tooth upon the sharp polished blade of a long Chukchi lance, and if a Russian trader chose to take it off and suspend in its place a fair equivalent in the shape of tobacco, well and good; if not, there was no trade. This plan guaranteed absolute security against fraud, for there was not a Russian in all Siberia who dared to cheat one of these fierce savages, with the blade of a long lance ten inches from his breast bone. Honesty was emphatically the best policy, and the moral suasion of a Chukchi spear developed the most disinterested benevolence in the breast of the man who stood at the sharp end. The trade which was thus established still continues to be a source of considerable profit to the inhabitants of Anadyrsk, and to the Russian merchants who come there every year from Gizhiga.

The four small villages which compose the settlement, and which are distinctively known as "Pokorukof," "Osolkin," "Markova," and "The Crepast," have altogether a population of perhaps two hundred souls. The central village, called Markova, is the residence of the priest and boasts a small rudely built church, but in winter it is a dreary place. Its small log houses have no windows other than thick slabs of ice cut from the river; many of them are sunken in the ground for the sake of greater warmth, and all are more or less buried in snow. A dense forest of larch, poplar, and aspen surrounds the town, so that the traveller coming from Gizhiga sometimes has to hunt for it a whole day, and if he be not familiar with the net-work of channels into which the Anadyr River is here divided, he may not find it at all. The inhabitants of all four settlements divide their time in summer between fishing, and hunting the wild reindeer which make annual migrations across the river in immense herds. In winter they are generally absent with their sledges, visiting and trading with bands of Wandering Chukchis, going with merchandise to the great annual fair at Kolyma, and hiring their services to the Russian traders from Gizhiga. The Anadyr River, in the vicinity of the village and for a distance of seventy-five miles above, is densely wooded with trees from eighteen to twenty-four inches in diameter, although the latitude of the upper portion of it is 66 deg. N. The climate is very severe; meteorological observations which we made at Markova in February, 1867, showed that on sixteen days in that month the thermometer went to - 40 deg., on eight days it went below - 50 deg., five days below - 60 deg., and once to - 68 deg. This was the lowest temperature we ever experienced in Siberia. The changes from intense cold to comparative warmth are sometimes very rapid. On February 18th, at 9 A.M., the thermometer stood at - 52 deg., but in twenty-seven hours it had risen seventy-three degrees and stood at +21 deg. On the 21st it marked +3 deg. and on the 22d - 49 deg., an equally rapid change in the other direction. Notwithstanding the climate, however, Anadyrsk is as pleasant a place to live as are nine tenths of the Russian settlements in north-eastern Siberia, and we enjoyed the novelty of our life there in the winter of 1866 as much as we had enjoyed any part of our previous Siberian experience.

The day which succeeded our arrival we spent in resting and making ourselves as presentable as possible with the limited resources afforded by our sealskin trunks.

Thursday, January 6th, N.S. was the Russian Christmas, and we all rose about four hours before daylight to attend an early service in the church. Everybody in the house was up; a fire burned brightly in the fireplace; gilded tapers were lighted before all the holy pictures and shrines in our room, and the air was fragrant with incense. Out of doors there was not yet a sign of daybreak. The Pleiades were low down in the west, the great constellation of Orion had begun to sink, and a faint aurora was streaming up over the tree-tops north of the village. From every chimney rose a column of smoke and sparks, which showed that the inhabitants were all astir. We walked over to the little log church as quickly as possible, but the service had already commenced when we entered and silently took our places in the crowd of bowing worshippers. The sides of the room were lined with pictures of patriarchs and Russian saints, before which were burning long wax candles wound spirally with strips of gilded paper. Clouds of blue fragrant incense rolled up toward the roof from swinging censers, and the deep intonation of the gorgeously attired priest contrasted strangely with the high soprano chanting of the choir. The service of the Greek Church is more impressive, if possible, than that of the Romish; but as it is conducted in the old Slavonic language, it is almost wholly unintelligible. The priest is occupied, most of the time, in gabbling rapid prayers which nobody can understand; swinging a censer, bowing, crossing himself, and kissing a huge Bible, which I should think would weigh thirty pounds. The administration of the sacrament and the ceremonies attending the transubstantiation of the bread and wine are made very effective. The most beautiful feature in the whole service of the Greco-Russian Church is the music. No one can listen to it without emotion, even in a little log chapel far away in the interior of Siberia. Rude as it may be in execution, it breathes the very spirit of devotion; and I have often stood through a long service of two or three hours, for the sake of hearing a few chanted psalms and prayers. Even the tedious, rapid, and mixed-up jabbering of the priest is relieved at short intervals by the varied and beautifully modulated "Gospodi pameelui" [God, have mercy!] and "Padai Gospodin" [Grant, O Lord!] of the choir. The congregation stands throughout even the longest service, and seems to be wholly absorbed in devotion. All cross themselves and bow incessantly in response to the words of the priest, and not unfrequently prostrate themselves entirely, and reverently press their foreheads and lips to the floor. To a spectator this seems very curious. One moment he is surrounded by a crowd of fur-clad natives and Cossacks, who seem to be listening quietly to the service; then suddenly the whole congregation goes down upon the floor, like a platoon of infantry under the fire of a masked battery, and he is left standing alone in the midst of nearly a hundred prostrate forms. At the conclusion of the Christmas morning service the choir burst forth into a jubilant hymn, to express the joy of the angels over the Saviour's birth; and amid the discordant jangling of a chime of bells, which hung in a little log tower at the door, Dodd and I made our way out of the church, and returned to the house to drink tea. I had just finished my last cup and lighted a cigarette, when the door suddenly opened, and half a dozen men, with grave, impassive countenances, marched in in single file, stopped a few paces from the holy pictures in the corner, crossed themselves devoutly in unison, and began to sing a simple but sweet Russian melody, beginning with the words, "Christ is born." Not expecting to hear Christmas carols in a little Siberian settlement on the Arctic Circle, I was taken completely by surprise, and could only stare in amazement - first at Dodd, to see what he thought about it, and then at the singers. The latter, in their musical ecstasy, seemed entirely to ignore our presence, and not until they had finished did they turn to us, shake hands, and wish us a merry Christmas. Dodd gave each of them a few kopecks, and with repeated wishes of merry Christmas, long life, and much happiness to our "High Excellencies," the men withdrew to visit in turn the other houses of the village. One band of singers came after another, until at daylight all the younger portion of the population had visited our house, and received our kopecks. Some of the smaller boys, more intent upon the acquisition of coppers than they were upon the solemnity of the ceremony, rather marred its effect by closing up their hymn with "Christ is born, gim'me some money!" but most of them behaved with the utmost propriety, and left us greatly pleased with a custom so beautiful and appropriate. At sunrise all the tapers were extinguished, the people donned their gayest apparel, and the whole village gave itself up to the unrestrained enjoyment of a grand holiday. Bells jangled incessantly from the church tower; dog-sledges, loaded with girls, went dashing about the streets, capsising into snow-drifts and rushing furiously down hills amid shouts of laughter; women in gay flowery calico dresses, with their hair tied up in crimson silk handkerchiefs, walked from house to house, paying visits of congratulation and talking over the arrival of the distinguished American officers; crowds of men played football on the snow, and the whole settlement presented an animated, lively appearance.

On the evening of the third day after Christmas, the priest gave in our honour a grand Siberian ball, to which all the inhabitants of the four villages were invited, and for which the most elaborate preparations were made. A ball at the house of a priest on Sunday night struck me as implying a good deal of inconsistency and I hesitated about sanctioning so plain a violation of the fourth commandment. Dodd, however, proved to me in the most conclusive manner that, owing to difference in time, it was Saturday in America and not Sunday at all; that our friends at that very moment were engaged in business or pleasure and that our happening to be on the other side of the world was no reason why we should not do what our antipodal friends were doing at exactly the same time. I was conscious that this reasoning was sophistical, but Dodd mixed me up so with his "longitude," "Greenwich time," "Bowditch's Navigator," "Russian Sundays" and "American Sundays," that I was hopelessly bewildered, and could not have told for my life whether it was today in America or yesterday, or when a Siberian Sunday did begin. I finally concluded that as the Russians kept Saturday night, and began another week at sunset on the Sabbath, a dance would perhaps be sufficiently innocent for that evening. According to Siberian ideas of propriety it was just the thing.

A partition was removed in our house, the floor made bare, the room brilliantly illuminated with candles stuck against the wall with melted grease, benches placed around three sides of the house for the ladies, and about five o'clock the pleasure-seekers began to assemble. Rather an early hour perhaps for a ball, but it seemed a very long time after dark. The crowd which soon gathered numbered about forty, the men being all dressed in heavy fur kukhlankas, fur trousers, and fur boots, and the ladies in thin white muslin and flowery calico prints. The costumes of the respective sexes did not seem to harmonise very well, one being light and airy enough for an African summer, while the other seemed suitable for an arctic expedition in search of Sir John Franklin. However, the general effect was very picturesque. The orchestra which was to furnish the music consisted of two rudely made violins, two ballalaikas (bal-la-lai'-kahs) or triangular native guitars with two strings each, and a huge comb prepared with a piece of paper in a manner familiar to all boys. Feeling a little curiosity to see how an affair of this kind would be managed upon Siberian principles of etiquette, I sat quietly in a sheltered corner and watched the proceedings. The ladies, as fast as they arrived, seated themselves in a solemn row along a wooden bench at one end of the room, and the men stood up in a dense throng at the other. Everybody was preternaturally sober. No one smiled, no one said anything; and the silence was unbroken save by an occasional rasping sound from an asthmatic fiddle in the orchestra, or a melancholy toot, toot, as one of the musicians tuned his comb. If this was to be the nature of the entertainment, I could not see any impropriety in having it on Sunday. It was as mournfully suggestive as a funeral. Little did I know, however, the capabilities of excitement which were concealed under the sober exteriors of those natives. In a few moments a little stir around the door announced refreshments, and a young Chuancee brought round and handed to me a huge wooden bowl, holding about four quarts of raw frozen cranberries. I thought it could not be possible that I was expected to eat four quarts of frozen cranberries! but I took a spoonful or two, and looked to Dodd for instructions. He motioned to me to pass them along, and as they tasted like acidulated hailstones, and gave me a toothache, I was very glad to do so.

The next course consisted of another wooden bowl, filled with what seemed to be white pine shavings, and I looked at it in perfect astonishment. Frozen cranberries and pine shavings were the most extraordinary refreshments that I had ever seen - even in Siberia; but I prided myself upon my ability to eat almost anything, and if the natives could stand cranberries and shavings I knew I could. What seemed to be white pine shavings I found upon trial to be thin shavings of raw frozen fish - a great delicacy among the Siberians, and one with which, under the name of "struganini" (stroo-gan-nee'-nee), I afterward became very familiar. I succeeded in disposing of these fish-shavings without any more serious result than an aggravation of my toothache. They were followed by white bread and butter, cranberry tarts, and cups of boiling hot tea, with which the supper finally ended. We were then supposed to be prepared for the labours of the evening; and after a good deal of preliminary scraping and tuning the orchestra struck up a lively Russian dance called "kapalooshka." The heads and right legs of the musicians all beat time emphatically to the music, the man with the comb blew himself red in the face, and the whole assembly began to sing. In a moment one of the men, clad in a spotted deerskin coat and buckskin trousers, sprang into the centre of the room and bowed low to a lady who sat upon one end of a long crowded bench. The lady rose with a graceful courtesy and they began a sort of half dance half pantomime about the room, advancing and retiring in perfect time to the music, crossing over and whirling swiftly around, the man apparently making love to the lady, and the lady repulsing all his advances, turning away and hiding her face with her handkerchief. After a few moments of this dumb show the lady retired and another took her place; the music doubled its energy and rapidity, the dancers began the execution of a tremendous "break-down," and shrill exciting cries of "Heekh! Heekh! Heekh! Vallai-i-i! Ne fstavai-i-i!" resounded from all parts of the room, together with terrific tootings from the comb and the beating of half a hundred feet on the bare planks. My blood began to dance in my veins with the contagious excitement. Suddenly the man dropped down upon his stomach on the floor at the feet of his partner, and began jumping around like a huge broken-legged grasshopper upon his elbows and the ends of his toes! This extraordinary feat brought down the house in the wildest enthusiasm, and the uproar of shouting and singing drowned all the instruments except the comb, which still droned away like a Scottish bagpipe in its last agonies! Such singing, such dancing, and such excitement, I had never before witnessed. It swept away my self-possession like the blast of a trumpet sounding a charge. At last, the man, after dancing successively with all the ladies in the room, stopped apparently exhausted - and I have no doubt that he was - and with the perspiration rolling in streams down his face, went in search of some frozen cranberries to refresh himself after his violent exertion. To this dance, which is called the "Russki" (roo'-ski), succeeded another known as the "Cossack waltz," in which Dodd to my great astonishment promptly joined. I knew I could dance anything he could; so, inviting a lady in red and blue calico to participate, I took my place on the floor. The excitement was perfectly indescribable, when the two Americans began revolving swiftly around the room; the musicians became almost frantic in their endeavours to play faster, the man with the comb blew himself into a fit of coughing and had to sit down, and a regular tramp, tramp, tramp, from fifty or sixty feet, marked time to the music, together with encouraging shouts of "Vallai! Amerikansi! Heekh! Heekh! Heekh!" and the tumultuous singing of the whole crazy multitude. The pitch of excitement to which these natives work themselves up in the course of these dances is almost incredible, and it has a wonderfully inspiriting effect even upon a foreigner. Had I not been temporarily insane with unnatural enthusiasm, I should never have made myself ridiculous by attempting to dance that Cossack waltz. It is regarded as a great breach of etiquette in Siberia, after once getting upon the floor, to sit down until you have danced, or at least offered to dance, with all the ladies in the room; and if they are at all numerous, it is a very fatiguing sort of amusement. By the time Dodd and I finished we were ready to rush out-doors, sit down on a snow-bank, and eat frozen fish and cranberry hailstones by the quart. Our whole physical system seemed melting with fervent heat.

As an illustration of the esteem with which Americans are regarded in that benighted settlement of Anadyrsk, I will just mention that in the course of my Cossack waltz I stepped accidentally with my heavy boot upon the foot of a Russian peasant. I noticed that his face wore for a moment an expression of intense pain, and as soon as the dance was over, I went to him, with Dodd as interpreter, to apologise. He interrupted me with a profusion of bows, protested that it didn't hurt him at all, and declared, with an emphasis which testified to his sincerity, that he regarded it as an honour to have his toe stepped on by an American! I had never before realised what a proud and enviable distinction I enjoyed in being a native of our highly favoured country! I could stalk abroad into foreign lands with a reckless disregard for everybody's toes, and the full assurance that the more toes I stepped on the more honour I would confer upon benighted foreigners, and the more credit I would reflect upon my own benevolent disposition! This was clearly the place for unappreciated Americans to come to; and if any young man finds that his merits are not properly recognised at home, I advise him in all seriousness to go to Siberia, where the natives will regard it as an honour to have him step on their toes.

Dances interspersed with curious native games and frequent refreshments of frozen cranberries prolonged the entertainment until two o'clock, when it finally broke up, having lasted nine hours. I have described somewhat in detail this dancing party because it is the principal amusement of the semi-civilised inhabitants of all the Russian settlements in Siberia, and shows better than anything else the careless, happy disposition of the people.

Throughout the holidays the whole population did nothing but pay visits, give tea parties, and amuse themselves with dancing, sleigh-riding, and playing ball. Every evening between Christmas and New Year, bands of masqueraders dressed in fantastic costumes went around with music to all the houses in the village and treated the inmates to songs and dances. The inhabitants of these little Russian settlements in north-eastern Siberia are the most careless, warmhearted, hospitable people in the world, and their social life, rude as it is, partakes of all these characteristics. There is no ceremony or affectation, no "putting on of style" by any particular class. All mingle unreservedly together and treat each other with the most affectionate cordiality, the men often kissing one another when they meet and part, as if they were brothers. Their isolation from all the rest of the world seems to have bound them together with ties of mutual sympathy and dependence, and banished all feelings of envy, jealousy, and petty selfishness. During our stay with the priest we were treated with the most thoughtful consideration and kindness, and his small store of luxuries, such as flour, sugar, and butter, was spent lavishly in providing for our table. As long as it lasted he was glad to share it with us, and never hinted at compensation or seemed to think that he was doing any more than hospitality required.

With the first ten days of our stay at Anadyrsk are connected some of the pleasantest recollections of our Siberian life.