Hard to know whether the charm of this book is to the narrator or amanensis, but it is a delight to read both for its human interactions and its elements of natural history and hunting. These exxcerpts give some flavor of the book, and there are a few comments on language and literature.
p. 12-13, in addition to two Koreanmen: I engaged the services of a Russian secretary named Nicolai Andrev. He was an old man and not by any means satisfactory, but he was the only one I could get who knew the Russian mining laws and who could make out the necessary papers, in case I should have occasion to stake out claims. As it turned out, he hampered the movements of the party at every turn; he could not stand the hard knocks of the journey, and I was obliged to drop him later at the town of Ghijiga.
His lack of teeth rendered his pronunciation of Russian so peculiar that he was no help to me in acquiring the language, which is not easy to learn even under the best of circumstances. I was also accompanied by a young Russian naturalist named Alexander Michaelovitch Yankoffsky. As this name was quite too complicated for everyday use, I had my choice of paring it down to “Alek,” “Mike,” or “Yank,” and while my loyalty to Uncle Sam would naturally prompt me to use the last of these I forbore and Alek he became. He did not take kindly to it at first, for it is ‘de rigueur to address a Russian by both his first and second names, the latter being his father’s name with vitch attached. This was out of the question, however, and he succumbed to the inevitable.
So our complete party consisted of five men, representing three languages. None of my men knew any English, and I knew neither Russian nor Korean, beyond a few words and phrases. But before two months had elapsed, I had, by the aid of a pocket dictionary, my little stock of Korean words, and a liberal use of pencil and paper, evolved a triglot jargon of English, Korean, and Russian that would have tried the patience of the most charitable philologist.
p. 17: Judging from my experiences in Australia, Burma, Siam, and Korea, as well as from my reading of Nansen, I thought it best not to encumber myself with any liquors excepting four bottles of brandy, which were carried in the medicine-chest and used for medicinal purposes only.
p. 162: Coming to the head of the river, we crossed over the summit of the ridge. The aneroid showed that we were seven thousand six hundred feet above the sea level. When we reached the top, we found that a long, smooth stretch of snow swept down into the valley beyond. For a quarter of a mile the smooth, hard surface was unbroken by bush or stone. I asked Chrisoffsky how it would do to slide down, but he shook his head and replied that it would be dangerous for dogs and sledges alike. I had, however, conceived the foolish notion that it would relieve the monotony of life a little to slide down that incline, and I over-persuaded my driver to make the attempt. More over, it would save several miles of travel over a safer but more circuitous route.
p. 197: Strange is the effect of environment; a year previous, no inducement could have made me use those cups after seeing them cleansed in that fashion. Was I, after all, a savage, and civilization but a thin veneer? I found myself at times looking at life from the standpoint of these people. I was thinking, dreaming, and talking in my sleep in my polyglot language. At times I would talk to myself in English, just to enjoy the sound of it. I had with me no books, except a Bible, which was in my valise, but the print was too fine to read, except with a good light. Action was my only salvation. Had I been compelled to stay in one place I should have feared for my reason.