After the departure of the Jackson, we began to look forward with eager anticipation to the arrival of our own vessels and the termination of our long imprisonment at Gizhiga. Eight months of nomadic camp life had given us a taste for adventure and excitement which nothing but constant travel could gratify, and as soon as the first novelty of idleness wore off we began to tire of our compulsory inactivity, and became impatient for work. We had exhausted all the amusements of Gizhiga, read all the newspapers which had been brought by the Jackson, discussed their contents to the minutest details, explored every foot of ground in the vicinity of the settlement, and tried everything which our ingenuity could devise to pass away the time, but all to no avail. The days seemed interminable, the long-expected ships did not come, and the mosquitoes and gnats made our life a burden. About the tenth of July, the mosquito - that curse of the northern summer - rises out of the damp moss of the lower plains, and winds his shrill horn to apprise all animated nature of his triumphant resurrection and his willingness to furnish musical entertainment to man and beast upon extremely reasonable terms. In three or four days, if the weather be still and warm, the whole atmosphere will be literally filled with clouds of mosquitoes and from that time until the 10th of August they persecute every living thing with a bloodthirsty eagerness which knows no rest and feels no pity. Escape is impossible and defence useless; they follow their unhappy victims everywhere, and their untiring perseverance overcomes every obstacle which human ingenuity can throw in their way. Smoke of any ordinary density they treat with contemptuous indifference; mosquito-bars they either evade or carry by assault, and only by burying himself alive can man hope to finally escape their relentless persecution. In vain we wore gauze veils over our heads and concealed ourselves under calico pologs. The multitude of our tiny assailants was so great that some of them sooner or later were sure to find an unguarded opening, and just when we thought ourselves most secure we were suddenly surprised and driven out of our shelter by a fresh and unexpected attack. Mosquitoes, I know, do not enter into the popular conception of Siberia; but never in any tropical country have I seen them in such immense numbers as in north-eastern Siberia during the month of July. They make the great moss tundras in some places utterly uninhabitable, and force even the reindeer to seek the shelter and the cooler atmosphere of the mountains. In the Russian settlements they torment dogs and cattle until the latter run furiously about in a perfect frenzy of pain, and fight desperately for a place to stand in the smoke of a fire. As far north as the settlement of Kolyma, on the coast of the Arctic Ocean, the natives are compelled, in still, warm weather, to surround their houses with a circle of smudges, to protect themselves and their domestic animals from the ceaseless persecution of mosquitoes.

Early in July all the inhabitants of Gizhiga, with the exception of the governor and a few Russian merchants, closed their winter-houses, and removed to their "letovies" or summer fishing-stations along the banks of the river, to await the arrival of the salmon. Finding the deserted village rather dull, Dodd, Robinson, Arnold, and I removed to the mouth of the river, and took up our quarters once more in the empty government storehouse which we had occupied during the stay of the Hallie Jackson.

I shall not dwell long upon the monotonous discomfort of the life which we led for the next month. It may all be comprised in four words - inactivity, disappointment, mosquitoes, and misery. Looking for vessels was our only duty, fighting mosquitoes our only diversion; and as the former never appeared and the latter never disappeared, both occupations were equally unprofitable and unsatisfactory. Twenty times a day we put on our gauze veils, tied our clothing down at the wrists and ankles, and climbed laboriously to the summit of a high bluff to look for vessels; but twenty times a day we returned disappointed to our bare, cheerless rooms, and vented our indignation indiscriminately upon the country, the Company, the ships, and the mosquitoes. We could not help feeling as if we had dropped out of the great current of human affairs, as if our places in the distant busy world had been filled and our very existence forgotten.

The chief engineer of our enterprise had promised faithfully that ships with men, material, and supplies for the immediate prosecution of the work, should be at Gizhiga and at the mouth of the Anadyr River as early in the season as ice would permit them to enter; but it was now August, and they had not yet made their appearance. Whether they had been lost, or whether the whole enterprise had been abandoned, we could only conjecture; but as week after week passed away without bringing any news, we gradually lost all hope and began to discuss the advisability of sending some one to the Siberian capital to inform the Company by telegraph of our situation.

It is but justice to Major Abaza to say that during all these long weary months of waiting he never entirely gave up to discouragement, or allowed himself to doubt the perseverance of the Company in the work which it had undertaken. The ships might have been belated or have met with some misfortune, but he did not think it possible that the work had been abandoned, and he continued throughout the summer to make such preparations as he could for another winter's campaign.

Early in August, Dodd and I, tired of looking for vessels which never came, and which we firmly believed never would come, returned on foot to the settlement, leaving Arnold and Robinson to maintain the watch at the mouth of the river.

Late in the afternoon of the 14th, while I was busily engaged in drawing maps to illustrate the explorations of the previous winter, our Cossack servant came rushing furiously into the house, breathless with haste and excitement, crying out: "Pooshka! soodna!" - "A cannon! a ship!" Knowing that three cannon-shots were the signals which Arnold and Robinson had been directed to make in case a vessel was seen entering the gulf, we ran hurriedly out of doors and listened eagerly for a second report. We had not long to wait. Another faint, dull explosion was heard in the direction of the lighthouse, followed at an interval of a moment by a third, leaving no room for a doubt that the long-expected ships had arrived. Amid great excitement a canoe was hastily prepared and launched, and taking our seats upon bearskins in the bottom, we ordered our Cossack rowers to push off. At every letoie or fishing-station which we passed in our rapid descent of the river, we were hailed with shouts of: "Soodnat soodna" - "Aship! aship!" and at the last one - Volinkina (vo-lin'-kin-ah) - where we stopped for a moment to rest our men, we were told that the vessel was now in plain sight from the hills, and that she had anchored near an island known as the Matuga (mat'-oo-gah), about twelve miles distant from the mouth of the river. Assured that it was no false alarm, we pushed on with redoubled speed, and in fifteen minutes more landed at the head of the gulf. Arnold and Robinson, with the Russian pilot, Kerrillof, had already gone off to the vessel in the government whale-boat, so that there remained nothing for us to do but climb to the summit of lighthouse bluff and watch impatiently for their return.

It was late in the afternoon when the signal of a vessel in sight had been given, and by the time we reached the mouth of the river, it was nearly sunset. The ship, which was a good-sized bark, lay quietly at anchor near the middle of the gulf, about twelve miles distant, with a small American flag flying at her peak. We could see the government whale-boat towing astern, and knew that Arnold and Robinson must be on board; but the ship's boats still hung at the davits, and no preparations were apparently being made to come ashore. The Russian governor had made us promise, when we left the settlement, that if the reported vessel turned out a reality and not a delusion, we would fire three more guns. Frequent disappointment had taught him the fallibility of human testimony touching the arrival of ships at that particular port, and he did not propose to make a journey to the lighthouse in a leaky canoe, unless further intelligence should fully justify it. As there could no longer be any doubt about the fact, we loaded up the old rusty cannon once more, stuffed it full of wet grass to strengthen its voice, and gave the desired signals, which echoed in successive crashes from every rocky promontory along the coast, and died away to a faint mutter far out at sea.

In the course of an hour the governor made his appearance, and as it was beginning to grow dark, we all climbed once more to the summit of the bluff to take a last look at the ship before she should be hidden from sight. There was no appearance of activity on board, and the lateness of the hour made it improbable that Arnold and Robinson would return before morning. We went back therefore to the empty government house, or "kazarm," and spent half the night in fruitless conjectures as to the cause of the vessel's late arrival and the nature of the news which she would bring.

With the earliest morning twilight, Dodd and I clambered again to the crest of the bluff, to assure ourselves by actual observation that the ship had not vanished like the Flying Dutchman under cover of darkness, and left us to mourn another disappointment. There was little ground for fear. Not only was the bark still in the position which she had previously occupied, but there had been another arrival during the night. A large three-masted steamer, of apparently 2000 tons, was lying in the offing, and three small boats could be seen a few miles distant pulling swiftly toward the mouth of the river. Great was the excitement which this discovery produced. Dodd rushed furiously down the hill to the kazarm, shouting to the Major that there was a steamer in the gulf, and that boats were within five miles of the lighthouse. In a few moments we were all gathered in a group on the highest point of the bluff, speculating upon the character of the mysterious steamer which had thus taken us by surprise, and watching the approach of the boats. The largest of these was now within three miles, and our glasses enabled us to distinguish in the long, regular sweep of its oars, the practised stroke of a man-of-war's crew, and in its stem-sheets the peculiar shoulder-straps of Russian officers. The steamer was evidently a large war-ship, but what had, brought her to that remote, unfrequented part of the world we could not conjecture.

In half an hour more, two of the boats were abreast of lighthouse bluff, and we descended to the landing-place to meet them in a state of excitement not easily imagined. Fourteen months had elapsed since we had heard from home, and the prospect of receiving letters and of getting once more to work was a sufficient excuse for unusual excitement. The smallest boat was the first to reach the shore, and as it grated on the sandy beach an officer in blue naval uniform sprang out and introduced himself as Captain Sutton, of the Russian-American Telegraph Company's bark Clara Bell, two months from San Francisco, with men and material for the construction of the line. "Where have you been all summer?" demanded the Major as he shook hands with the captain; "we have been looking for you ever since June, and had about come to the conclusion that the work was abandoned." Captain Sutton replied that all of the Company's vessels had been late in leaving San Francisco, and that he had also been detained some time in Petropavlovsk by circumstances explained in his letters. "What steamer is that lying at anchor beyond the Clara Bell?" inquired the Major. "That is the Russian corvette Varag, from Japan." - "But what is she doing up here?" "Why," said the captain with a quizzical smile, "you ought to know, sir; I understand that she reports to you for orders. I believe she has been detailed by the Russian Government to assist in the construction of the line; at least that was what I was told when we met her at Petropavlovsk. She has a Russian Commissioner on board, and a correspondent of the New York Herald." This was unexpected news. We had heard that the Navy Departments of Russia and the United States had been instructed to send ships to Bering Sea to assist the Company in making soundings and laying down the cable between the American and Siberian coasts, but we had never expected to see either of these vessels at Gizhiga. The simultaneous arrival of a loaded bark, a steam corvette, a Russian Commissioner, and a correspondent of the New York Herald certainly looked like business, and we congratulated ourselves and each other upon the improving prospects of the Siberian Division.

The corvette's boat by this time had reached the shore, and after making the acquaintance of Mr. Anossof, Colonel Knox, the Herald correspondent, and half a dozen Russian officers who spoke English with the greatest fluency, we proceeded to open and read our long-delayed mail.

The news, as far as it related to the affairs of the Company and the prospects of the enterprise, was very satisfactory. Colonel Bulkley, the engineer-in-chief, had touched at Petropavlovsk on his way north, and had written us from there, by the Varag and the Clara Bell, full particulars as to his movements and dispositions. Three vessels - the Clara Bell, Palmetto, and Onward - had been sent from San Francisco to Gizhiga with a force of about sixty men, and large assorted cargoes to the value of sixty thousand dollars. One of these, the Clara Bell, loaded with brackets and insulators, had already arrived; and the other two, with commissary stores, wire, instruments, and men, were en route. A fourth vessel with thirty officers and workmen, a small river-steamer, and a full supply of tools and provisions, had also been sent to the mouth of the Anadyr River, where it would be received by Lieutenant Bush. The corvette Varag had been detailed by the Russian Navy Department to assist in laying the cable across Bering Strait; but as the cable, which was ordered in England, had not arrived, there was nothing in particular for the Varag to do, and Colonel Bulkley had sent her with the Russian Commissioner to Gizhiga. Owing to her great draught of water - twenty-two feet - she could not safely come within less than fifteen or twenty miles of the Okhotsk Sea coast, and could not, of course, give us much assistance; but her very presence, with a special Russian Commissioner on board, invested our enterprise with a sort of governmental authority and sanction, which enabled us to deal more successfully with the local authorities and people than would otherwise have been possible.

It had been Major Abaza's intention, as soon as one of the Company's vessels should arrive, to go to the Russian city and province of Yakutsk, on the Lena River, engage there five or six hundred native labourers, purchase three hundred horses, and make arrangements for their distribution along the whole route of the line. The peculiar state of affairs, however, at the time the Varag and the Clara Bellreached Gizhiga, made it almost impossible for him to leave. Two vessels - the Onward and the Palmetto - were yet to arrive with large and valuable cargoes, whose distribution along the coast of the Okhotsk Sea he wished to superintend in person. He decided, therefore, to postpone his trip to Yakutsk until later in the fall, and to do what he could in the meantime with the two vessels already at his disposal. The Clara Bell, in addition to her cargo of brackets and insulators, brought a foreman and three or four men as passengers, and these Major Abaza determined to send under command of Lieutenant Arnold to Yamsk, with orders to hire as many native labourers as possible and begin at once the work of cutting poles and preparing station-houses. The Varag he proposed to send with stores and despatches to Mahood, who had been living alone at Okhotsk almost five months without news, money, or provisions, and who it was presumed must be nearly discouraged.

On the day previous to the Varag's departure, we were all invited by her social and warm-hearted officers to a last complimentary dinner; and although we had not been and should not be able with our scanty means to reciprocate such attentions, we felt no hesitation in accepting the invitation and tasting once more the pleasures of civilised life. Nearly all the officers of the Varag, some thirty in number, spoke English; the ship itself was luxuriously fitted up; a fine military band welcomed us with "Hail, Columbia!" when we came on board, and played selections from Martha, Traviata, and Der Freischuetz while we dined, and all things contributed to make our visit to the Varag a bright spot in our Siberian experience.

On the following morning at ten o'clock, we returned to the Clara Bell in one of the latter's small-boats, and the corvette steamed slowly out to sea, her officers waving their hats from the quarter-deck in mute farewell, and her band playing the Pirate's Chorus - "Ever be happy and blest as thou art" - as if in mockery of our lonely, cheerless exile! It was a gloomy party of men which returned that afternoon to a supper of reindeer-meat and cabbage in the bare deserted rooms of the government storehouse at Gizhiga! We realised then, if never before, the difference between life in "God's country" and existence in north-eastern Asia.

As soon as possible after the departure of the Varag, the Clara Bell was brought into the mouth of the river, her cargo of brackets and insulators discharged, Lieutenant Arnold and party sent on board, and with the next high tide, August 26th, she sailed for Yamsk and San Francisco, leaving no one at Gizhiga but the original Kamchatkan party, Dodd, the Major, and myself.