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their opinion, I proposed that we should first eat our dinner, which, by a lucky forethought of mine, we had brought with us, and decide what should be done afterwards.
It is said that women's heads are not made for council; and yet common experience often disproves the assertion. In the present case, my proposition was no sooner made, than the gloomy faces of the company all brightened up. One received it with a smile, another with a significant lick of his tongue; and nobody raised the least objection to it. The proposal was even hurrahed, and carried by acclamation.
Our meal consisted of a pike stewed in the Jewish fashion, and a pudding called pirog, with cream; and directly it was spread out, we began the work of demolition. It is a common saying, that the stomach is akin to the brain, which probably is true; for when we had fortified the inner man, our thoughts grew rational, and the idea flashed through every one's mind that it would be unwise to persist in seeking ducks where none was to be found.
Meanwhile, our Ostiak, who had never fol
lowed us into the bay, seemed to have deserted our company with his little boat and the two lads. We were quite in the dark as to what had become of him; but as he had taken the fishing-net with him, concluded that he had lagged behind to fish. Now, however, it became necessary to seek him, and collecting all our things, we got into the boat, and pushed off. We had scarcely cleared the bay, when we discerned him on one of the islands, drawing his net out of the water. We instantly rowed towards the spot, and disembarked ; but the Ostiak no sooner saw us land, than without speaking a word, he took up the fishing-net, put it in his boat, and pulled off to another point. We followed our dumb companion, and landed at the same spot, close to the Raw Myss, a celebrated headland in the topography of Berezov, to which I had often extended my walks.
Here dry and sandy banks, and water not very deep, held out a promise of sport. We cast our net, and in a few minutes drew it out filled with various kinds of fish. In an instant, the whole of the party, with the exception of
the Doctor, Josephine, and myself, pounced on the spoil, and commenced eating the fish alive. At the same time, we were attacked by swarms of mosquitoes, which regaled themselves on our hands and faces with equal avidity and relish.
In vain we combatted these foes, and struggled against their furious assaults. Fresh nests came upon us, thick and fast. We lit a large fire, and tried to sit cooped up together, enveloping our faces in handkerchiefs; but do what we might, the insidious tormentors penetrated every barrier, and kept us in misery. Josephine and myself could at length endure the infliction no longer, and we availed ourselves of an opportunity to steal away from the company, and, taking refuge behind a promontory, enjoyed a plunge in the water.
What a luxury is a bath! This was the first we had enjoyed since our departure from Poland; for the Soswa in the vicinity of the town is too exposed to view, and the banks too thronged with spectators to admit of such a thing.
The water, fresh and clear, invigorated our frames, enervated from the effect of the burning
It was delightful to behold the even sandy bottom through the clear transparent stream, and immerse ourselves in its crystal depths. The gradually sloping shore allowed us to proceed to any depth we pleased; and we could even advance to such a distance as to be beyond the reach of the mosquitoes. These terrific insects, however, ventured to pursue us further than we expected, and our bodies were covered with the scars and blotches inflicted by their venomous stings.*
* In confirmation of òur authoress's statement, respecting the intense heat in this country, we find the following passage in Sir J. Richardson's " Arctic Narrative :" “ The power of the sun this day, in a cloudless sky, was so great, that Mr. Rae and I were glad to take shelter in the water, while the crews were engaged on the portages. The irritability of the human frame is either greater in these northern latitudes, or the sun, notwithstanding its obliquity, acts more powerfully upon it than near the equator; for I have never felt its direct rays so oppressive within the Tropics, as I have experienced them to be on some occasions in the high latitudes.
were enjoying our bath, Dr. Wakulinski went shooting, and brought down a bird of enormous size, with white plumage, called by the natives a cholewa. This species of bird is found in great numbers in the vicinity of Berezov, and feeds on fish. Wherever it perceives a party of fishermen, the cholewa follows in flocks, flying round the spot till the nets are drawn from the water, and fearing neither man nor firearms. In fact, they have nothing to apprehend, as from some prejudice they are never killed ; and the fisherman even throw them a portion of their spoil. But the Doctor, who did not recognize the prevailing superstition, regarded them with little reverence, and levelled his piece at whole flocks.
The luxury of bathing at such time is not without alloy ; for, if you choose the mid-day, you are assailed in the water by the tabani, who draw blood in an instant with their formidable lancets ; and if you select the morning or the evening, then clouds of thirsty moschetoes, hovering around, fasten on the first part that emerges. Leeches also infest the still waters, and are prompt in their aggressions.”