The months of April and May, owing to the great length of the days and the comparative mildness of the weather, are the most favourable months in north-eastern Siberia for outdoor work and travel; and as the Company's vessels could not be expected to arrive at Gizhiga before the early part of June, Major Abaza determined to make the most of the intervening time. As soon as he had recovered a little, therefore, from the fatigue of his journey, he started with Bush, Macrae, and the Russian governor, for Anadyrsk, intending to engage there fifty or sixty native labourers and begin at once the construction of station-houses and the cutting and distribution of poles along the Anadyr River. My own efforts to that end, owing to the laziness of the Anadyrsk people, had been unsuccessful; but it was hoped that through the influence and cooperation of the civil authority something might perhaps be done.

Major Abaza returned by the very last winter road in May. His expedition had been entirely successful; Mr. Bush had been put in command of the Northern District from Penzhina to Bering Strait, and he, together with Macrae, Harder, and Smith, had been left at Anadyrsk for the summer. As soon as the Anadyr River should open, this party was directed to descend it in canoes to its mouth, and there await the arrival of one of the Company's vessels from San Francisco, with reinforcements and supplies. In the meantime fifty native labourers from Anadyrsk, Osolkin, and Pokorukof, had been hired and placed at their disposal, and it was hoped that by the time the ice should be out of the river they would have six or eight station-houses prepared, and several thousand poles cut, ready for distribution in rafts between the settlements of Anadyrsk and the Pacific coast. Having thus accomplished all that it was possible to accomplish with the limited means and force at his disposal, Major Abaza returned to Gizhiga, to await the arrival of the promised vessels from America with men, material, and supplies, for the prosecution of the work.

The season for dog-sledge travel was now over; and as the country afforded no other means of interior transportation, we could not expect to do any more work, or have any further communication with our outlying parties at Anadyrsk and Okhotsk until the arrival of our vessels. We therefore rented for ourselves a little log house overlooking the valley, of the Gizhiga River, furnished it as comfortably as possible with a few plain wooden chairs and tables, hung up our maps and charts on the rough log-walls, displayed our small library of two books - Shakespeare and the New Testament - as advantageously as possible in one corner, and prepared for at least a month of luxurious idleness.

It was now June. The snow was rapidly disappearing under the influence of the warm long-continued sunshine; the ice in the river showed unmistakable signs of breaking up; patches of bare ground appeared here and there along the sunny hillsides, and everything foretold the speedy approach of the short but hot arctic summer. Winter in most parts of north-eastern Siberia begins to break up in May, and summer advances with rapid strides upon its retreating footsteps, covering instantly with grass and flowers the ground that it reclaims from the melting snow-drifts of winter. Hardly is the snow off the ground before the delicate wax-like petals of the blueberry and star-flower, and the great snowy clusters of labrador tea begin to whiten the mossy plains; the birches, willows, and alders burst suddenly into leaf, the river banks grow green with a soft carpet of grass, and the warm still air is filled all day with the trumpet-like cries of wild swans and geese, as they come in great triangular flocks from the sea and pass high overhead toward the far North. In three weeks after the disappearance of the last snow all Nature has put on the garments of midsummer and rejoices in almost perpetual sunshine. There is no long wet, lingering spring, no gradual unfolding of buds and leaves one by one as with us. The vegetation, which has been held in icy fetters for eight long months, bursts suddenly its bonds, and with one great irresistible sweep takes the world by storm. There is no longer any night; one day blends almost imperceptibly into another, with only a short interval of twilight, which has all the coolness and repose of night without its darkness. You may sit by your open window and read until twelve o'clock, inhaling the fragrance of flowers which is brought to you on the cool night wind, listening to the murmur and plash of the river in the valley below, and tracing the progress of the hidden sun by the flood of rosy light which streams up in the North from behind the purple mountains. It is broad daylight, and yet all Nature is asleep, and a strange mysterious stillness, like that of a solar eclipse, pervades heaven and earth. You can even hear the faint roar of the surf on the rocky coast ten miles away. Now and then a song-sparrow hidden in the alder thicket by the river bank dreams that it is morning and breaks out into a quick unconscious trill of melody; but as he wakes he stops himself suddenly and utters a few "peeps" of perplexity, as if not quite sure whether it be morning, or only last evening, and whether he ought to sing or go to sleep again. He finally seems to decide upon the latter course, and all becomes silent once more save the murmur of the river over its rocky bed and the faint roar of the distant sea. Soon after one o'clock a glittering segment of the sun appears between the cloud-like peaks of the distant mountains, a sudden flash of golden light illumines the green dewy landscape, the little sparrow in the alder thicket triumphantly takes up again his unfinished song, the ducks, geese, and aquatic birds renew their harsh discordant cries from the marshy flats along the river, and all animated nature wakes suddenly to a consciousness of daylight as if it were a new thing. There has been no night - but it is another day.

The traveller who has never before experienced an arctic summer, and who has been accustomed to think of Siberia as a land of eternal snow and ice, cannot help being astonished at the sudden and wonderful development of animal and vegetable life throughout that country in the month of June, and the rapidity of the transition from winter to summer in the course of a few short weeks. In the early part of June it is frequently possible to travel in 'the vicinity of Gizhiga upon dog-sledges, while by the last of the same month the trees are all in full leaf, primroses, cowslips, buttercups, valerian, cinquefoil, and labrador tea, blossom everywhere upon the higher plains and river banks, and the thermometer at noon frequently reaches 70 deg. Fahr. in the shade. There is no spring, in the usual acceptation of the word, at all. The disappearance of snow and the appearance of vegetation are almost simultaneous; and although the tundras or moss steppes, continue for some time to hold water like a saturated sponge, they are covered with flowers and blossoming blueberry bushes, and show no traces of the long, cold winter which has so recently ended. In less than a month after the disappearance of snow in 1860, I collected from one high plain about five acres in extent, near the mouth of the Gizhiga River, more than sixty species of flowers. Animal life of all kinds is equally prompt in making its appearance. Long before the ice is out of the gulfs and bays along the coast, migratory birds begin to come in from the sea in immense numbers. Innumerable species of ducks, geese, and swans - many of them unknown to the American ornithologist - swarm about every little pool of water in the valleys and upon the lower plains; gulls, fish-hawks, and eagles, keep up a continual screaming about the mouths of the numerous rivers; and the rocky precipitous coast of the sea is literally alive with countless millions of red-beaked puffin or sea-parrots, which build their nests in the crevices and upon the ledges of the most inaccessible cliffs, and at the report of a pistol fly in clouds which fairly darken the air. Besides these predatory and aquatic birds, there are many others which are not so gregarious in their habits, and which, consequently, attract less notice. Among these are the common barn and chimney swallows, crows, ravens, magpies, thrushes, plover, ptarmigan, and a kind of grouse known to the Russians as "teteref." Only one singing-bird, as far as I know, is to be found in the country, and that is a species of small ground-sparrow which frequents the drier and more grassy plains in the vicinity of the Russian settlements.

The village of Gizhiga, where we had temporarily established our headquarters, was a small settlement of perhaps fifty or sixty plain log houses, situated upon the left bank of the Gizhiga River, eight or ten miles from the gulf. It was at that time one of the most important and flourishing settlements upon the coast of the Okhotsk Sea, and controlled all the trade of north-eastern Siberia as far north at the Anadyr and as far west as the village of Okhotsk. It was the residence of a local governor, the headquarters of four or five Russian merchants, and was visited annually by a government supply steamer, and several trading vessels belonging to wealthy American houses. Its population consisted principally of Siberian Cossacks and the descendants of compulsory emigrants from Russia proper, who had received their freedom as compensation for forcible expatriation. Like all other settled inhabitants of Siberia and Kamchatka, they depended for their subsistence principally upon fish; but as the country abounded in game, and the climate and soil in the valley of the Gizhiga River permitted the cultivation of the hardier kinds of garden vegetables, their condition was undoubtedly much better than it would have been in Russia proper. They were perfectly free, could dispose of their time and services as they chose, and by hiring themselves and their dog-sledges to Russian traders in the winter, they earned money enough to keep themselves supplied with the simpler luxuries, such as tea, sugar, and tobacco, throughout the year. Like all the inhabitants of Siberia, and indeed like all Russians, they were extremely hospitable, good-natured, and obliging, and they contributed not a little to our comfort and amusement during the long months which we were obliged to spend in their far-away isolated settlement.

The presence of Americans in a village so little frequented by strangers as Gizhiga had a very enlivening influence upon society, and as soon as the inhabitants ascertained by experiment that these distinguished sojourners did not consider it beneath their dignity to associate with the prostoi narod, or common people, they overwhelmed us with invitations to tea-parties and evening dances. Anxious to see more of the life of the people, and glad to do anything which would diversify our monotonous existence, we made it a point to accept every such invitation which we received, and many were the dances which Arnold and I attended during the absence of the Major and the Russian governor at Anadyrsk. We had no occasion to ask our Cossack Yagor when there was to be another dance. The question was rather, "Where is the dance to be tonight?" because we knew to a certainty that there would be one somewhere, and wished only to know whether the house in which it was to be held had a ceiling high enough to insure the safety of our heads. It would seem like a preposterous idea to invite people to dance the Russian jig in a room which was too low to permit a man of average stature to stand upright; but it did not seem at all so to these enthusiastic pleasure-seekers in Gizhiga, and night after night they would go hopping around a seven-by-nine room to the music of a crazy fiddle and a two-stringed guitar, stepping on one another's toes and bumping their heads against the ceiling with the most cheerful equanimity imaginable. At these dancing parties the Americans always received a hearty welcome, and were fed with berries, black-bread, and tea, until they could eat and dance no more. Occasionally, however, Siberian hospitality took a form which, to say the least, was not altogether pleasant. For instance, Dodd and I were invited one evening to some kind of an entertainment at the house of one of the Cossacks, and, as was customary in such cases, our host set before us a plain lunch of black-bread, salt, raw frozen fish, and a small pepper-sauce bottle about half full of some liquid which he declared to be vodka. Knowing that there was no liquor in the settlement except what we had, Dodd inquired where he had obtained it. He replied with evident embarrassment that it was some which he had bought from a trading vessel the previous fall, and which he had reserved for cases of emergency! I didn't believe that there was a Cossack in all north-eastern Siberia who was capable of reserving a bottle of liquor for any such length of time, and in view of his evident uneasiness we thought best to decline to partake of the liquid refreshments and to ask no further questions. It might be vodka, but it was not free from suspicion. Upon our return home I called our boy and inquired if he knew anything about the Cossack's liquor - how he obtained it, and where it came from at that season of the year, when none of the Russian merchants had any for sale. The boy hesitated a moment, but upon being questioned closely he explained the mystery. It appeared that the liquor was ours. Whenever any of the inhabitants of the village came to call upon us, as they frequently did, especially upon holidays, it was customary to give each one of them a drink. Taking advantage of this custom, our friend the Cossack used to provide himself with a small bottle, hang it about his neck with a string, conceal it under his fur coat, and present himself at our house every now and then for the ostensible purpose of congratulating us upon some Russian holiday. Of course we were expected to reward this disinterested sociability with a drink. The Cossack would swallow all he could of the fiery stuff, and then holding as much as possible in his mouth he would make a terrible grimace, cover his face with one hand as if the liquor were very strong, and start hurriedly for the kitchen to get some water. As soon as he was secure from observation he would take out his bottle, deposit in it the last mouthful of liquor which he had not swallowed, and return in a few-moments to thank us for our hospitality - and our vodka. This manoeuvre he had been practising at our expense for an unknown length of time, and had finally accumulated nearly a pint. He then had the unblushing audacity to set this half-swallowed vodka before us in an old pepper-sauce bottle, and pretend that it was some that he had reserved since the previous fall for cases of emergency! Could human impudence go farther?

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."

This struck me as being a very singular explanation of a very curious performance, and I proceeded to question Viushin more closely as to the nature of this strange disease, and the manner in which an old moth-eaten tippet could afford relief. The information which I gathered was briefly as follows: The "Anadyrski bol," so called from its having originated at Anadyrsk, was a peculiar form of disease, resembling very much the modern spiritual "trance," which had long prevailed in north-eastern Siberia, and which defied all ordinary remedies and all usual methods of treatment. The persons attacked by it, who were generally women, became unconscious of all surrounding things, acquired suddenly an ability to speak languages which they had never heard, particularly the Yakut language, and were gifted temporarily with a sort of second sight or clairvoyance which enabled them to describe accurately objects that they could not see and never had seen. While in this state they would frequently ask for some particular thing, whose appearance and exact location they would describe, and unless it were brought to them they would apparently go into convulsions, sing in the Yakut language, utter strange cries, and behave generally as if they were insane. Nothing could quiet them until the article for which they had asked was produced. Thus Kolmagorof's daughter had imperatively demanded a woollen tippet, and as the poor Cossack had nothing of the sort in the house, he had started out through the village to find one. This was all the information that Viushin could give me. He had never seen one of these possessed persons himself, and had only heard of the disease from others; but he said that Paderin, the chief of the Gizhiga Cossacks, could undoubtedly tell me all about it, as his daughter had been similarly afflicted. Surprised to find among the ignorant peasantry of north-eastern Siberia a disease whose symptoms resembled so closely the phenomena of modern spiritualism, I determined to investigate the subject as far as possible, and as soon as the Major came in, I persuaded him to send for Paderin. The chief of the Cossacks - a simple, honest old fellow, whom it was impossible to suspect of intentional deception - confirmed all that Viushin had told me, and gave us many additional particulars. He said that he had frequently heard his daughter talk the Yakut language while in one of these trances, and had even known her to relate events which were occurring at a distance of several hundred miles. The Major inquired how he knew that it was the Yakut language which his daughter spoke. He said he did not know certainly that it was; but it was not Russian, nor Korak, nor any other native language with which he was familiar, and it sounded very much like Yakut. I inquired what was done in case the sick person demanded some article which it was impossible to obtain. Paderin replied that he had never heard of such an instance; if the article asked for were an uncommon one, the girl always stated where it was to be found - frequently describing with the greatest minuteness things which, so far as he knew, she had never seen. On one occasion, he said his daughter asked for a particular spotted dog which he was accustomed to drive in his team. The dog was brought into the room, and the girl at once became quiet; but from that time the dog itself became so wild and restless as to be almost unmanageable, and he was finally obliged to kill him. "And do you believe in all this stuff?" broke in the Major impatiently, as Paderin hesitated for a moment.

"I believe in God and in our Saviour Jesus Christ," replied the Cossack, as he crossed himself devoutly.

"That's all right, and so you ought," rejoined the Major; "but that has nothing whatever to do with the 'Anadyrski bol.' Do you really believe that these women talk in the Yakut language, which they have never heard, and describe things which they have never seen?"

Paderin shrugged his shoulders expressively and said that he believed what he saw. He then proceeded to relate to us further and still more incredible particulars as to the symptoms of the disease, and the mysterious powers which it developed in the persons attacked, illustrating his statements by reference to the case of his own daughter. He was evidently a firm believer in the reality of the sickness, but would not say to what agency he ascribed the phenomena of second sight and the ability to speak strange languages, which were its most remarkable symptoms.

During the day we happened to call upon the ispravnik or Russian governor, and in course of conversation mentioned the "Anadyrski bol," and related some of the stories which we had heard from Paderin. The ispravnik - skeptical upon all subjects, and especially upon this - said that he had often heard of the disease, and that his wife was a firm believer in it, but that in his opinion it was a humbug, which deserved no other treatment than severe corporal punishment. The Russian peasantry, he said, were very superstitious and would believe almost anything, and the "Anadyrski bol" was partly a delusion and partly an imposition practised by the women upon their male relatives to further some selfish purpose. A woman who wanted a new bonnet, and who could not obtain it by the ordinary method of teasing, found it very convenient as a dernier ressort to fall into a trance state and demand a bonnet as a physiological necessity. If the husband still remained obdurate, a few well-executed convulsions and a song or two in the so-called Yakut language were generally sufficient to bring him to terms. He then related an instance of a Russian merchant whose wife was attacked by the "Anadyrski bol," and who actually made a winter journey from Gizhiga to Yamsk - a distance of 300 versts - to procure a silk dress for which she had asked and which could not be elsewhere obtained! Of course the women do not always ask for articles which they might be supposed to want in a state of health. If they did, it would soon arouse the suspicions of their deluded husbands, fathers, and brothers, and lead to inconvenient inquiries, if not to still more unpleasant experiment, upon the character of the mysterious disease. To avoid this, and to blind the men to the real nature of the deception, the women frequently ask for dogs, sledges, axes, and other similar articles of which they can make no possible use, and thus persuade their credulous male relatives that their demands are governed only by diseased caprice and have in view no definite object. Such was the rationalistic explanation which the ispravnik gave of the curious delusion known as the "Anadyrski bol"; and although it argued more subtlety on the part of the women and more credulity on the part of the men than I had supposed either sex to be capable of, I could not but admit that the explanation was a plausible one, and accounted satisfactorily for most of the phenomena.

In view of this remarkable piece of feminine strategy, our strong-minded women in America must admit that their Siberian sisters show greater ingenuity in obtaining their rights and throwing dust in the eyes of their lords and masters than has yet been exhibited by all the Women's Rights Associations in Christendom. To invent an imaginary disease with such peculiar symptoms, cause it to prevail as an epidemic throughout a whole country, and use it as a lever to open the masculine pocketbooks and supply feminine wants, is the greatest triumph which woman's craft has ever achieved over man's stupidity.

The effect of the ispravnik's revelation upon Dodd was very singular. He declared that he felt the premonitory symptoms of the "Anadyrski bol" coming on, and was sure that he was destined to be a victim to the insidious disease. He therefore requested the Major not to be surprised if he should come home some day and find him in strong convulsions, singing "Yankee Doodle" in the Yakut language, and demanding his back pay! The Major assured him that, in a case of such desperate emergency, he should be compelled to apply the ispravnik's remedy, viz., twenty lashes on the bare back, and advised him to postpone his convulsions until the exchequer of the Siberian Division should be in a condition to meet his demands.

Our life at Gizhiga during the early part of June was a very decided improvement upon the experience of the previous six months. The weather was generally warm and pleasant, the hills and valleys were green with luxuriant vegetation, daylight had become perpetual, and we had nothing to do but ramble about the country in pursuit of game, row down to the mouth of the river occasionally to look for vessels, and plan all sorts of amusements to pass away the time.

The nights were the most glorious parts of the days, but the perpetual light seemed even more strange to us at first than the almost perpetual darkness of winter. We could never decide to our own satisfaction when one day ended and another began, or when it was time to go to bed. It seemed ridiculous to make any preparations for retiring before the sun had set; and yet, if we did not, it was sure to rise again before we could possibly get to sleep, and then it seemed just as preposterous to lie in bed as it did in the first place. We finally compromised the matter by putting tight wooden shutters over all our windows, and then, by lighting candles inside, succeeded in persuading our unbelieving senses that it was night, although the sun outside was shining with noonday brilliancy. When we awoke, however, another difficulty presented itself. Did we go to bed today? or was it yesterday? And what time is it now? Today, yesterday, and to-morrow were all mixed up, and we found it almost impossible to distinguish one from the other. I caught myself repeatedly making two entries in my journal in the course of twenty-four hours, with the mistaken impression that two days had passed.

As soon as the ice was fairly out of Gizhiginsk Gulf, so that vessels might be expected to enter, Major Abaza caused a number of Cossacks to be stationed at the mouth of the river, with orders to watch night and day for sails and warn us at once if any appeared.

On the 18th of June the trading brig Hallie Jackson, belonging to W.H. Bordman, of Boston, entered the gulf, and, as soon as the tide permitted, ran into the mouth of the river to discharge her cargo. This vessel brought us the first news from the great outside world which we had received in more than eleven months, and her arrival was hailed with the greatest enthusiasm by both Russians and Americans. Half the population of the village came hurrying down to the mouth of the river as soon as it became known that a ship had arrived and the landing-place for several days was a scene of unwonted activity and excitement. The Jackson could give us no information with regard to the vessels of our Company, except that when she sailed from San Francisco in March they were being rapidly loaded and fitted for sea. She brought, however, all the stores which we had left at Petropavlovsk the previous fall, as well as a large cargo of tea, sugar, tobacco, and sundries for the Siberian trade.

We had found by our winter's experience that money could not be used to advantage in payment for native labour, except in the settlements of Okhotsk, Gizhiga, and Anadyrsk; and that tea, sugar, and tobacco were in every way preferable, on account of the universal consumption of those articles throughout the country and the high price which they commanded during the winter months. A labourer or teamster, who would demand twenty roubles in money for a month's work, was entirely satisfied if we gave him eight pounds of tea and ten pounds of sugar in its stead; and as the latter cost us only tenroubles, we made a saving of one-half in all our expenditures. In view of this fact, Major Abaza determined to use as little money as possible, and pay for labour in merchandise at current rates. He accordingly purchased from the Jackson 10,000 lbs. of tea and 15,000 or 20,000 lbs. of white loaf-sugar, which he stored away in the government magazines, to be used during the coming winter instead of money.

The Jackson discharged all the cargo that she intended to leave at Gizhiga, and as soon as the tide was sufficiently high to enable her to cross the bar at the mouth of the river, she sailed for Petropavlovsk and left us again alone.