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PRINCESS NOOR APPRECIATION SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL newsletters,
will be happy to read his latest message from the Siberian Tundra.
"After making the necessary repairs to the rudder of our boat, and noticing that the storm had decreased in intensity, we scanned the horizon with our telescope only to see a long stripe of silver stretching over the lake...ICE!
On the following day the ominous indications of the telescope rendered it necessary to approach the more open west side of the lake; which we followed until stopped by the ice, along whose borders we then sailed in order to reach the river, which must still be open.
Meanwhile the wind had completely fallen, and, to our astonishment, we saw the water in our wake cover itself with a thin crust of ice as soon as we passed.
The danger of freezing fast in the lake was evident! Unfortunately, while endeavoring to reach the river, the boat was crushed between two ice flows, and was with great difficulty dragged on shore.
The only chance of rescue now was to meet with some Samoyeds (Nenetsky people) on the upper course of the river, for these nomads seldom wander northward beyond the southern extremity of the lake, and from this place we were still a great distance.
We made a large hand sledge and set out without loss of time, in spite of rainy weather, which had completely dissolved the sparing snow upon the hills. The sharp stones cut into our sledge runners like knives, and after scarcely making three miles, the vehicle fell to pieces.
The bad weather forced us to stop for the night. The fatigues of our boat-journey, the want of proper food, and mental anxiety, had for several weeks been undermining our health; a total want of sleep destroyed the remainder of our strength, so we felt quite unable to proceed any further.
Thus, no choice remained but to wait for rescue. The winter having already set in, we remained quite alone in the icy desert, behind a sheltering rock, several hundred miles from all human dwellings, almost without fuel, and with a miserable supply of food.
We saw the lake cover itself completely with ice, as the last birds departed for the south....Now followed a succession of terrible snow-storms, which completely imprisoned us, but at the same time afforded us a better shelter against the wind.
Twelve days passed...human assistance could no longer be realistically expected. We were convinced that we had only ourselves to rely on...that we were doomed, and as good as numbered with the dead.
My trekking companion, in worse shape than myself; no doubt in consequence of his sedentary Tahitian lifestyle of the last few months; kept drifting in and out of delirious conciousness. During the long sleepless nights, fancy opened her domains, and I forgot even hunger and thirst....then a blizzard broke roaring out of the gullies as if it intended to sweep us away into the skies, and in a short time we were covered with a comfortable snow-mantle.
Thus we lay for three days, thinking of wretches who had been immured alive, and grown mad in their dreadful prison.
An overwhelming fear of insanity befell me - it opressed my heart - it became insupportable. In vain I attempted to cast it off - my weakened brain could grasp no other idea.....And now, suddenly - like a ray of light from heaven - the saving thought flashed upon me......Our last pieces of wood were quickly lighted - some water was thawed and warmed - I poured into it the remaining half flask of medicinal brandy - and I drank....A new life seemed to awaken in me, thoughts returned again to family, to happy days spent with the friends of my youth.
Soon I fell into a profound sleep - how long it lasted I know not - but on awakening, I felt like another man, and my breast was filled with gratitude.....Appetite returned with recovery, although I was reduced to eat leather and birch-bark. My poor eminent colleague's alarming condition remaining unchanged.
However, that very same afternoon, while looking through the telescope, on a well-known declivity of the hills, I saw three black spots which I had not previously noticed.
Excitedly, I watched as the spots increased slowly in size, until the outline of 3 Reindeer-sledges came into view.....Saved at last!
Our Samoyed rescuers brought us back to their tents, provided us with ample food and other necessities and in a week's time, we had regained our vigor and were ready to continue our journey.
I would like to share with the readers of the Princess Noor Appreciation Society Newsletters, a little about these hardy Tundra folk.
With his REINDEER herds, the Nenetsky people (or Samoyeds) wander over the naked wastes, from the eastern coast of the White Sea to the banks of the Chatanga, or hunt in the boundless forests between the Obi and the Jenissei.
They believe in a Supreme Being - Num, or Jilibeambaertje - who resides in the air, and like the Jupiter of old, sends down thunder and lightning, rain and snow; and they call the rainbow the "hem of his garment".
As this deity is too far removed from them to leave any hope of gaining his favor, they never think of offering him either prayer or sacrifice. But, besides Num, there are a great many inferior spirits who directly interfere in human concerns - capricious beings, who allow themselves to be influenced by offerings, or yield to magical incantations; and to these, therefore, the 'Nenetsky' have recourse when they feel the necessity of invoking the aid or averting the wrath of a higher Power.
They depend on the Reindeer for many of life's necessities. This animal has long been domesticated among the Laplanders and the tribes along the coast of Siberia, and used for drawing sledges and as a riding and burden animal, besides furnishing skins for tents, clothing and harness, flesh and milk for food, and horns and hoofs for various utilities. It has remarkable endurance, strength and speed in drawing sledges, and without this animal much of Lapland and Siberia could not be permanently inhabited.
The wild Reindeer is much larger than the domesticated races. It is as large as the Stag, but heavier and more clumsy in appearance. It has a dark coat in summer and a lighter one in winter, with a growth of long whitish hair under the neck, while the region around the short goat-like tail and the outlines of the hoofs are nearly white.
Thankful again for the Mercies of Providence, we retire for the night in anxious anticipation of the new adventures the morrow will bring.
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