Immediately after our arrival at Anadyrsk we I had made inquiries as to the party of Americans who were said to be living somewhere near the mouth of the Anadyr River; but we were not able to get any information in addition to that we already possessed. Wandering Chukchis had brought the news to the settlement that a small band of white men had been landed on the coast south of Bering Strait late in the fall, from a "fire-ship" or steamer; that they had dug a sort of cellar in the ground, covered it over with bushes and boards, and gone into winter quarters. Who they were, what they had come for, and how long they intended to stay, were questions which now agitated the whole Chukchi nation, but which no one could answer. Their little subterranean hut had been entirely buried, the natives said, by the drifting snows of winter, and nothing but a curious iron tube out of which came smoke and sparks showed where the white men lived. This curious iron tube which so puzzled the Chukchis we at once supposed to be a stove-pipe, and it furnished the strongest possible confirmation of the truth of the story. No Siberian native could ever have invented the idea of a stove-pipe - somebody must have seen one; and this fact alone convinced us beyond a doubt that there were Americans living somewhere on the coast of Bering Sea - probably an exploring party landed by Colonel Bulkley to cooperate with us.

The instructions which the Major gave me when we left Gizhiga did not provide for any such contingency as the landing of this party near Bering Strait, because at that time we had abandoned all hope of such cooperation and expected to explore the country by our own unaided exertions. The engineer-in-chief had promised faithfully, when we sailed from San Francisco, that, if he should leave a party of men at the mouth of the Anadyr River at all, he would leave them there early in the season with a large whale-boat, so that they could ascend the river to a settlement before the opening of winter. When we met the Anadyrsk people, therefore, at Gizhiga, late in November, and learned that nothing had been heard of any such party, we of course concluded that for some reason the plan which Colonel Bulkley proposed had been given up. No one dreamed that he would leave a mere handful of men in the desolate region south of Bering Strait at the beginning of an arctic winter, without any means whatever of transportation, without any shelter, surrounded by fierce tribes of lawless natives, and distant more than two hundred miles from the nearest civilised human being. What was such an unfortunate party to do? They could only live there in inactivity until they starved, were murdered, or were brought away by an expedition sent to their rescue from the interior. Such was the situation when Dodd and I arrived at Anadyrsk. Our orders were to leave the Anadyr River unexplored until another season; but we knew that as soon as the Major should receive the letters which had passed through our hands at Shestakova he would learn that a party had been landed south of Bering Strait, and would send us orders by special courier to go in search of it and bring it to Anadyrsk, where it would be of some use. We therefore determined to anticipate these orders and hunt up that American stove-pipe upon our own responsibility.

Our situation, however, was a very peculiar one. We had no means of finding out where we were ourselves, or where the American party was. We had not been furnished with instruments for making astronomical observations, could not determine with any kind of accuracy our latitude and longitude, and did not know whether we were two hundred miles from the Pacific coast or five hundred. According to the report of Lieutenant Phillippeus, who had partially explored the Anadyr River, it was about a thousand versts from the settlement to Anadyr Bay, while according to the dead reckoning which we had kept from Gizhiga it could not be over four hundred. The real distance was to us a question of vital importance, because we should be obliged to carry dog-food for the whole trip, and if it was anything like a thousand versts we should in all probability lose our dogs by starvation before we could possibly get back. Besides this, when we finally reached Anadyr Bay, if we ever did, we should have no means of finding out where the Americans were; and unless we happened to meet a band of Chukchis who had seen them, we might wander over those desolate plains for a month without coming across the stove-pipe, which was the only external sign of their subterranean habitation. It would be far worse than the proverbial search for a needle in a haystack.

When we made known to the people of Anadyrsk our intention of going to the Pacific coast, and called for volunteers to make up a party, we met with the most discouraging opposition. The natives declared unanimously that such a journey was impossible, that it had never been accomplished, that the lower Anadyr was swept by terrible storms and perfectly destitute of wood, that the cold there was always intense, and that we should inevitably starve to death, freeze to death, or lose all our dogs. They quoted the experience of Lieutenant Phillippeus, who had narrowly escaped starvation in the same region in 1860, and said that while he started in the spring we proposed to go in midwinter, when the cold was most intense and the storms most severe. Such an adventure they declared was almost certain to end in disaster. Our Cossack Gregorie, a brave and trustworthy old man, had been Lieutenant Phillippeus's guide and Chukchi interpreter in 1860, had been down the river about a hundred and fifty miles in winter, and knew something about it. We accordingly dismissed the natives and talked the matter over with him. He said that as far as he had ever gone towards Anadyr Bay there was trailing-pine enough along the banks of the river to supply us with firewood, and that the country was no worse than much of that over which we had already travelled between Gizhiga and Anadyrsk. He said that he was entirely willing to undertake the trip, and would go with his own team of dogs wherever we would lead the way. The priest also, who had been down the river in summer, believed the journey to be practicable, and said he would go himself if he could do any good. Upon the strength of this encouragement we gave the natives our final decision, showed them the letter which we brought from the Russian governor at Gizhiga authorising us to demand men and sledges for all kinds of service, and told them that if they still refused to go we would send a special messenger to Gizhiga and report their disobedience. This threat and the example of our Cossack Gregorie, who was known to be an experienced guide from the Okhotsk Sea to the Arctic Ocean, finally had the desired effect. Eleven men agreed to go, and we began at once to collect dog-food and provisions for an early start. We had as yet only the vaguest, most indefinite information with regard to the situation of the American party, and we determined to wait a few days until a Cossack named Kozhevin (ko-zhay'-vin), who had gone to visit a band of Wandering Chukchis, should return. The priest was sure that he would bring later and more trustworthy intelligence, because the wandering natives throughout the whole country knew of the arrival of the mysterious white men, and would probably tell Kozhevin approximately where they were. In the meantime we made some additions to our heavy suits of furs, prepared masks of squirrelskin to be worn over the face in extremely low temperatures, and set all the women in the village at work upon a large fur tent.

On Saturday, Jan. 20th, N.S., Kozhevin returned from his visit to the Chukchis north of Anadyrsk, bringing as we expected later and fuller particulars with regard to the party of exiled Americans south of Bering Strait. It consisted, according to the best Chukchi intelligence, of only five men, and was located on or near the Anadyr River, about one day's journey above its mouth. These five men were living, as we had previously been told, in a little subterranean house rudely constructed of bushes and boards, and entirely buried in drifted snow. They were said to be well supplied with provisions, and had a great many barrels, which the Chukchis supposed to contain vodka, but which we presumed to be barrels of salt-beef. They made a fire, the natives said, in the most wonderful manner by burning "black stones in an iron box," while all the smoke came out mysteriously through a crooked iron tube which turned around when the wind blew! In this vivid but comical description we of course recognised a coal stove and a pipe with a rotary funnel. They had also, Kozhevin was told, an enormous tame black bear, which they allowed to run loose around the house, and which chased away the Chukchis in a most energetic manner. When I heard this I could no longer restrain a hurrah of exultation. The party was made up of our old San Francisco comrades, and the tame black bear was Robinson's Newfoundland dog! I had petted him a hundred times in America and had his picture among my photographs. He was the dog of the expedition. There could no longer be any doubt whatever that the party thus living under the snow on the great steppes south of Bering Strait was the long talked of Anadyr River exploring party, under the command of Lieutenant Macrae; and our hearts beat fast with excitement as we thought of the surprise which we should give our old friends and comrades by coming upon them suddenly in that desolate, Godforsaken region, almost two thousand miles away from the point where they supposed we had landed. Such a meeting would repay us tenfold for all the hardships of our Siberian life.

Everything, by this time, was ready for a start. Our sledges were loaded five feet high with provisions and dog-food for thirty days; our fur tent was completed and packed away, to be used if necessary in intensely cold weather; bags, overstockings, masks, thick sleeping-coats, snow-shovels, axes, rifles, and long Siberian snow-shoes were distributed around among the different sledges, and everything which Gregorie, Dodd, and I could think of was done to insure the success of the expedition.

On Monday morning, Jan. 22d, the whole party assembled in front of the priest's house. For the sake of economising transportation, and sharing the fortunes of our men, whatever they might be, Dodd and I abandoned our pavoskas, and drove our own loaded sledges. We did not mean to have the natives say that we compelled them to go and then avoided our share of work and hardships. The entire population of the village, men, women, and children, turned out to see us off, and the street before the priest's house was blocked up with a crowd of dark-faced men in spotted fur coats, scarlet sashes, and fierce-looking foxskin hoods, anxious-faced women running to and fro and bidding their husbands and brothers good-bye, eleven long, narrow sledges piled high with dried fish and covered with yellow buckskin and lashings of sealskin thongs, and finally a hundred and twenty-five shaggy wolfish dogs, who drowned every other sound with their combined howls of fierce impatience.

Our drivers went into the priest's house, and crossed themselves and prayed before the picture of the Saviour, as is their custom when starting on a long journey; Dodd and I bade good-bye to the kind-hearted priest, and received the cordial "s' Bokhem" (go with God), which is the Russian farewell; and then springing upon our sledges, and releasing our frantic dogs, we went flying out of the village in a cloud of snow which glittered like powdered jewel-dust in the red sunshine.

Beyond the two or three hundred miles of snowy desert which lay before us we could see, in imagination, a shadowy stove-pipe rising out of a bank of snow - the "San greal" of which we, as arctic knights-errant, were in search.