Sea Stories

Captivity Among The Japanese

On the fifth of July, A. D., 1811, the Russian sloop of war, Diana, approached Kumachir, one of the most southerly of the Kurile islands, belonging to Japan, for the purpose of seeking shelter in one of its bays against an approaching storm.

They were received, on their arrival, by a shower of balls from a fort which commanded the bay. As no one, however, approached the vessel, its commander, Vassillii Golownin, considering this hostile reception as the natural consequence of former deeds of violence perpetrated by his countrymen in those waters, did not return the fire, but endeavored, by means of signs, to make the natives understand that his intentions towards them were friendly, and that he wished to land merely to fill his water casks. After a protracted negociation, a nearer conference was agreed on, and Golownin was imprudent enough to fall into the snare set for him. But we will let him describe the dangers and sufferings he underwent, in his own words: After we had cast anchor, says he, in the spot designated to us, I landed with midshipman Moor, the steersman, Chleb Nikow, four sailors, and Alexis, a native of the Kuriles, who acted as interpreter. So deceived were we by the apparent friendliness of the Japanese, that we took no arms with us, except our swords. In order to destroy any distrust they might feel towards us, I ordered our boat to be partly drawn on shore, and left a sailor to watch it. The rest of the men, by my orders, carried after us some chairs, and the presents we intended for the natives. As I entered the fort, I was astonished to find that a large crowd had collected in it. There were at least four hundred soldiers, armed with guns, pikes, and javelins, drawn up in an open space to the right of the gates. Opposite to them was a tent made of striped cotton stuffs, into which we were conducted. The commander of the fort, a stately man, dressed in a complete suit of armor, and wearing two sabres by his side, rose on our entrance, and when we had saluted him, politely begged us to be seated on some benches which were set ready for us. We thanked him for his courtesy, but preferred taking our seats on the chairs which we had brought with us. When we were seated, they served us with tea without sugar, which they carried on lacquered wooden waiters. According to the Japanese custom, the cups were only half full. After we had partaken of it, they supplied us with pipes and tobacco, and the conference began. They first inquired the name and rank of each of us, and then asked repeatedly, and in an insidious manner, where we came from, whither we were going, and why our countrymen had formerly ravaged their northern coasts. When we had returned guarded answers to these questions, they wanted to know how many men were in our vessel. As I thought it prudent to magnify our strength, I replied "a hundred;" but Alexis could not translate this number, and I was obliged to make a hundred marks on a piece of paper, with a pencil, and let the Japanese count them. Whilst they were thus employed, midshipman Moor observed that naked sabres were being distributed among the soldiers, and immediately advised me of the fact; but as we had been so kindly treated, I thought little of the circumstance, especially as they were preparing for us a feast, consisting of rice, fish served up with a green sauce, and many other delicacies, the names of which we did not know. After we had partaken heartily of these solids, and for a drink been given a kind of beer called "Sagic," I declared that we could not stay any longer, and begged them to tell us the price of the meal, which we designed paying for. To this request of mine, they returned very evasive answers, and when they saw that we were tired of the useless and fruitless questioning we had undergone, and were making preparations to depart, they suddenly threw off the mask they had hitherto worn, and by their threatening gestures showed plainly enough what their intentions were. Their chief, who, until the present moment, had spoken in a friendly and pleasant manner, now raised his voice, and pronouncing the name of the Russian who had ravaged their coasts, made a long speech, during which he often fiercely struck his hand on his sword, and ended by swearing that the Emperor would have him cut in two if he suffered a single Russian, who was in his power, to escape. As soon as Alexis, in whose anxious countenance we discovered coming evil, had translated these words to us, we sprang to our feet, and made for the door. The Japanese immediately set up a loud and threatening cry, but did not attempt to seize us, contenting themselves with throwing oars and blocks of wood in our way, in order that in running we might stumble over them and fall. When we had almost reached the entrance of the fort, they fired a volley at us, but fortunately hit no one, although the balls whistled most unpleasantly near to our heads. We were lucky enough to get out of the fort, and had almost reached our boat, when I saw to my horror that it was lying high and dry on shore, for in our absence the tide had ebbed. As our pursuers were well aware that we could not float it again, and had also made themselves acquainted with the fact that there were no weapons in it, they grew bolder, and surrounded us on all sides, brandishing their huge sabres, which they held in both hands. As resistance in such a case would be little less than madness, we surrendered ourselves to them as their prisoners. They seized me by the arms, and dragged me back to the fort, together with my unhappy companions. On the way a soldier struck me with a small iron rod, but an officer angrily ordered him to desist, and no more blows followed. They took us into a large building resembling a barrack, which stood on the shore, and having forced us to kneel, bound us with cords of the thickness of one's finger. Over these they lapped thinner ones, which gave us great pain. The Japanese are perfect masters of this art, and we were excellent specimens of their skill. We had about us just the same number of ropes and knots, and were tied in precisely the same parts of our bodies. Cords ran round our breasts and necks, our elbows nearly touched each other behind our backs, and our hands were tied fast together. A long rope was fastened to us, one end of which a Japanese held, and on the least intimation of flight, had only to pull it, and our elbows were painfully pressed together, whilst the ropes around our necks were so tightly drawn, that we were nearly choked. But as if this was not enough, they bound our legs together above the knees and ancles, and then making slip-knots in the ends of some ropes, they put them over our necks, and tied them to the rafters of the building, pulling them so tight that we could not stir. They then searched our pockets, and having taken from them every thing they could find, very coolly lit their pipes and sat down to smoke. Whilst they were binding us, the chief came in, and taking his station in front of us, made a speech, during which he frequently pointed to his mouth, with the intention probably of intimating to us, that at present they had no intention of starving us. In this pitiful and agonizing position we remained for an hour, not knowing what was to be our fate. When I saw them put the ropes over the rafters, I concluded, of course, that their intention was to hang us, and never have I so despised death as I did in that moment; my only wish was, that they would finish the murderous work as soon as possible. But the Japanese, it seemed, had no idea, whatever, of taking such a step. Their sole design and object was to render futile any attempt at escape on our part. After a while they unbound our ancles, loosened the ropes about our knees, and leading us out of the building, conducted us through some cultivated fields into a wood. We were so tightly and skilfully bound that a boy ten years of age might have conducted us in perfect safety, but these anxious and careful people did not think so, for each of us had an especial watchman who held the rope, and an armed soldier to walk by his side. From a hill we saw our vessel for the last time, and with bleeding hearts, bid it and our native land, a long farewell. II. We walked along in single file, and had proceeded on our journey for about half an hour, when we heard the distant thunder of cannon, and concluded that our vessel must have attacked the fort. I was so tightly bound, especially about the neck, that my face became swollen, and I found that my breath was fast leaving me. I could scarcely swallow, and only with the greatest difficulty, articulate. We repeatedly begged our guards to loosen a little the cords which bound us, but the noise of the cannon had thrown them into such paroxysms of terror that they took no notice whatever of our entreaties, but kept looking back, and urging us to go on faster. Life, at this moment, appeared to me a most intolerable burden, and I made up my mind to get rid of it, by leaping into the next stream of water we came to. But this determination of mine, I found, was easier to be made than carried out, for whenever we passed over a stream of the smallest size even, our suspicious guards held us tightly by the arms. At last, unable to proceed farther, I sank exhausted and senseless to the ground. When I recovered, I found that blood had flowed from my mouth and nostrils, and that I was sprinkled with water. For the first time, the natives now listened to our entreaties, and loosening our bonds, greatly relieved us, enabling us to proceed on our way with renewed strength. After walking for about three hours longer, we arrived at a little village, which is situated on the shores of the strait separating Kumachir from the island of Jesso. Here we were led into a house, and rice bread offered us, but as our appetites were entirely gone, they took us into another room, and made us lie down near the walls, so that none of us could communicate with the others. The ropes by which we had been led along, they tied to iron spikes, which were driven into the floor, and they drew off our boots, and again tied our legs as before. When our guards had thus disposed of us to their entire satisfaction, they seated themselves in the middle of the apartment, round a pan of coals, and began to drink tea and smoke tobacco. One would imagine that men might rest in peace even among lions, if they were bound as we were, but the Japanese did not seem to consider themselves safe even now, for they carefully examined our bonds every quarter of an hour or so. Letters were very often brought to the captain of our guards, which he read attentively, and then communicated their contents to his companions. They conversed, however, in such a low tone of voice, that we saw very well they feared our hearing what they said, though on that subject they might have made themselves perfectly easy, for we did not understand a single word of the Japanese language. Towards midnight they made preparations for departure. A wide board was brought in, to the four corners of which ropes had been attached; through these ropes a pole was put, by means of which they raised it from the ground. They now laid me on the board, and carried me away, which made us fully believe that they were going to separate us, and that we now saw each other for the last time. We, therefore, took leave of each other like dying men, our eyes filled with tears. The farewell of the sailors, which they sobbed aloud, cut me to the heart, for I felt that my imprudence was the cause of all their misery. I was carried to the shore, and laid on a mat in a large boat, and to my joy and surprise they brought down my comrades, one after the other, and laid them near to me. This was so unexpected, and so gratifying, that for a moment I almost forgot my sufferings. They then covered me and my companions with moss, and an armed guard having taken his seat by the side of each of us, they pushed off from the shore. During our journey by water that night, the Japanese kept perfectly quiet. They spoke not a word, and turned a deaf ear to all our lamentations and complaints. At the break of day we arrived at a little village on the coast of Jesso, where they placed us in several smaller boats, which they drew along the shore by means of ropes. From time to time they offered us rice-broth, and roasted fish, and if any of us wanted to eat, they put the food into his mouth by means of slender sticks, which, in Japan, are used instead of forks. The good people who had bound us in such an unmerciful manner, from a fear only that we would escape from them, or commit suicide, now showed themselves to be any thing but cruel, for they were even, careful to brush the flies from us with green bushes, which otherwise would have plagued us sadly. After they had carried us along the coast in this manner, for the space of two days, the boats were dragged upon the land, and shoved along by the aid of a large number of people, without either we or our guards being obliged to leave them. They pulled us through thickets and woods, and at last we found ourselves on the top of a high hill. We could not conceive what possible object the Japanese could have in drawing across the land, with so much trouble, boats of no inconsiderable size. We concluded, at last, that they must have seen our vessel, and feared lest they should lose their prize. But the solution of the riddle was soon apparent, for when they had got the boats up to the top of the hill, they allowed them to slide down the other side by the force of their own gravity, and then launched them on a small stream, which, after having navigated for two days, we left in order to continue our journey by land. They loosened the bands from our legs, and having drawn on our boots, asked us whether we would walk or be carried in litters, by which name they designated boards, some four feet in length, fastened to ropes, by which they were borne along. We chose to walk, and accordingly the chief formed the procession. First walked two of the natives, side by side, with red staves in their hands, who pointed out the way. After them came three soldiers, and then myself. On one side of me walked a soldier, and on the other a servant, who, with a green bush, brushed the flies from me. After me walked a guard, who held the rope that bound me, and then followed people bearing my litter. In the same manner, Moor, Chleb Nikow, and the sailors, were led along, and the procession closed with soldiers and a crowd of servants, who carried the baggage and provisions. Each one of the latter had fastened to his girdle a small wooden tablet, marked so as to designate to which of us he was attached, and what was his duty. During the whole of the journey, the Japanese preserved the same order, and the day was spent in the following manner: At dawn we prepared to start, breakfasted, and set out on our march. At the villages through which we passed, we generally stopped to rest, to drink tea, and smoke tobacco. At noon we dined. An hour after dinner, we started again, and two or three hours before sunset halted for the night, generally in some village, or where a garrison lay. Immediately on our arrival, we were led to the chief's dwelling, and seated on benches, until that magnate reviewed and mustered us. We were then taken to a house appropriated to us, and bound fast to iron clamps. Afterwards they pulled off our boots, and washed our feet with salt and water. We ate regularly three times a day; in the morning, at noon, and in the evening. Our food varied very little, consisting of rice-broth, instead of bread, with salted radishes, instead of salt, a mess of greens, balls of pastry, or roasted fish. Sometimes we received mushroom soup, and a hard boiled egg. The food was not measured out to us, but each one was at liberty to eat as much as he pleased. Our drink was generally bad tea, without sugar, and sometimes, though rarely, beer. In this manner we were taken to our place of destination, which was as yet unknown to us. By degrees they loosened the ropes, which had been put round our necks, and when, after a time, a man of higher rank took the command of our party, he permitted our hands to be untied, so that we could feed ourselves. Only when we were carried across some strait or river, did they bind us so unmercifully tight, and this did not happen often, nor last long. Our conductors were very careful of us, and carried their caution and watchfulness so far, that for a long time they would not suffer us to approach the shore. However, as we pleaded hard to be allowed to do so, because we could walk so much easier on the wet sand, they at last gave a reluctant consent, taking care to keep between us and the water, even where they were obliged to wade in it. When, also, they allowed us to smoke pipes, they held them with both hands, or fastened to the mouth-pieces wooden balls of the size of hen's eggs, for they seemed to imagine that if we were not restrained, we would choke ourselves with them. We laughed heartily at this proceeding, and made them understand, by signs, that it was much easier to strangle ourselves with these balls than with pipe-stems. At this they laughed too, but told us that they had most positive orders to prevent us in every possible way from committing suicide. They were so very anxious about our health, that they watched us from the tops of our heads to the soles of our feet, carried us across the smallest brooks or puddles, and asked us every morning how we felt. On the eighth of August, we arrived at Khakodade, a large town, which they told us was to be our abode for the present. An immense multitude came forth to meet us. The road was lined on both sides with spectators, but they behaved themselves very soberly, none of them betraying in their looks, as I saw to my satisfaction, either hatred, scorn, or malicious pleasure; still less did they attempt to annoy us with either mockery or outrage. After we had passed through the town gates, and a long and very narrow street, we turned into a by-lane, and saw on a high piece of ground before us, which was surrounded by an earthen wall and thick-set hedge, and guarded by armed soldiers, a building which was, perhaps, to be our prison during life. As soon as we entered we were mustered by an officer, according to the instructions given him by the captain of our guards, and then led farther into the court, where we saw a large, dark shed, in which stood cages made of strong bars of wood, and resembling bird-cages in every thing but size. After the Japanese had taken counsel among themselves for some time, as to how they should dispose of us, they led me along a passage, and forced me to go into one of the little apartments, which was partitioned off by means of wooden posts. I looked around for my companions, and judge of my horror, when I found that they had vanished. After the guards had taken off my bonds, and also, taken off my boots, they fastened the door of my cage, without saying a word, and left me to myself. The thought that I was separated from my comrades, overcame me, and I threw myself on the ground in despair. III. I had lain there, almost unconscious, for some time, when I perceived a man at the window, who, by signs, invited me to approach him. As I did so, he handed me through the grating, a couple of little sweet cakes, and signified to me that I was to eat them quickly, without letting any one see me do so, for if that was to happen it might be all the worse for him. Although at this moment I felt a positive aversion towards all kinds of food, yet with a great exertion, I gulped them both down, because I did not wish either to anger or injure him. He now left me, with a pleased countenance, promising to provide me in future, with the same kind of food. I thanked him as well as I was able, and wondered not a little, that a man, who to judge from his appearance, was of the lowest rank in life, should possess so much goodness of heart, as to resolve on comforting a stranger, at his own peril. Pretty soon they brought me food, but as I had not the least appetite, I sent it back untouched, as I did again in the evening. One object now wholly occupied my thoughts, and that was my escape from imprisonment. With this view I examined my cage very carefully. It was six feet long, about as broad, and some eight feet high. Tolerably thick beams separated it from the passage, and in the wall were a couple of windows, having on the outside, a strong wooden grating, and within, paper curtains which could be rolled up or let down. From one of these windows you looked out on a wall about two feet distant, but the other commanded a beautiful view of mountains, fields, and the sea. All the furniture which the apartment could boast of, was a little bench, so small that one could hardly lie down on it, and some mats spread out on the floor. I was thoroughly convinced that with the aid of an ordinary knife, it would be very easy to cut through the wooden grating of the window, and that in a dark night, I could, with very little difficulty, find my way into the court-yard and over the wall. But then, where was the knife to come from, when they had not trusted us with even a needle? And suppose that I was lucky enough to escape, whither could I turn my steps? The fear too of aggravating the already hard lot of my companions, turned aside any ideas which I might have entertained of attempting a flight. Moreover, our guards were not by any means remiss in their duties. During the whole night, I heard very plainly, people walking round the walls, and striking the hours by means of a couple of dry sticks. My attendants too came very often into the entry with a light, in order to see what I was doing. Before night set in, they brought me a thick cotton covering, and a night-gown, wide and wadded, but which smelt so badly, as it was old and dirty, that I threw it aside into one corner of my cage. On the following morning, whilst every thing was yet still, I heard, to my great joy, some Russian words very plainly pronounced. I sprang up from the bench on which I was lying, and going to the window, which looked out on the next building, heard midshipman Moor in conversation with one of the sailors. Most fervently did I thank God for this unexpected discovery, for I now knew that my companions not only were under the same roof, but were not imprisoned in separate cells, and had, therefore, opportunity for comforting each other, and making the time appear shorter. After several days, during which the tedious and solitary life I led had well nigh driven me to despair, there walked into my cell a Japanese officer, whom I took to be of some rank and importance. After lamenting that they had thus far been obliged to confine me by myself, he agreeably surprised me by asking which of the sailors I would like to have as a companion? I replied that they were all equally dear to me, and that I wished to have them all with me in turns; he immediately gave orders to have my wish attended to. I asked him if the Japanese intended to treat us always in this manner? "No," answered he; "in future you will all live together, and after a while be sent home." "Will this soon happen?" I asked. "Not so very soon," replied he, shortly, and left without further explanations. Men who find themselves in a situation like ours, catch up every word, and meditate on it closely. Had he said "soon," I would have regarded his words as a mere attempt at consolation; but now I believed him, and grew more contented. Hardly was this officer gone, when one of the sailors was brought to me. The man was not a little astonished to see what a pleasant apartment I had, and feasted his eyes on the objects he saw from my window. My prison seemed a paradise compared to the cells in which he and the rest had been put. These cells, it was true, were built like mine, but far more narrow and penable, and they stood one on the other in a kind of shed, so that there was a free passage all round them. Instead of a door, they had an opening so low that you had to creep through it. No friendly ray of light ever penetrated to them, and they were surrounded by gloom and darkness. The conversation I held with the sailor invigorated, in some degree, the sorrow I felt, and I now ate the food that was brought to me for the first time since our arrival at Khakodade. Our food now was worse by far than when we were on our way to the town. They gave us by turns, rice-broth, warm water, with grated radishes, but no herbs, finely cut leeks, boiled beans, salted cucumbers, a soup with balls of meal, made from beans and spoiled fish. Our drink was generally warm water; sometimes, but seldom, they gave us poor tea, without sugar. When we complained of this wretched fare to one of the officers of the guard, he promised us meat, butter, and milk, but excused himself afterwards, when we reminded him of his promise, by jocosely telling us that the cows were still at pasture. When, in order to accomplish our purpose in another manner, we feigned illness, he asked us, in a sympathizing manner, what the Russians did when they were sick? and what they ate? "All that the physician prescribes," answered I; "most commonly chicken broth." Immediately he demanded of us a detailed account of how chicken broth was prepared, and when we gave it, he wrote it down on a piece of paper. But it seemed as if this were done merely from curiosity or derision, for the chicken broth was never mentioned afterwards. Once he treated us to beer, and in return wished to see us perform a Russian dance. When I remarked to him that no one could compel us to dance, in such a situation as ours, he said, composedly: "That's true; a Japanese, in such a case, would neither dance nor sing." As I could not obtain any materials for writing, I invented, in order to note daily occurrences, a diary of a peculiar kind. If any thing pleasant occurred, I tied a knot in a white thread, which I pulled out of my shirt. When any thing unpleasant happened to us, I tied a knot in a black silken thread, from my cravat. If any thing note-worthy took place, either pleasant or the reverse, I tied together the ends of a green thread, which I drew from the lining of my uniform. From time to time I reckoned over these knots, and recalled to my mind the circumstances they were intended to denote. On the tenth of August, word was brought to us that the commander-in-chief of the town wished to see us, and that at noon we were to be presented to him. Accordingly, at the appointed time, they took us singly from our cages, bound ropes round our bodies, and led us by them, under a strong escort, through a long and wide street, which ran through the town and was filled with people, to a castle surrounded by an earthen wall, at the gates of which stood a numerous guard. Having taken us into the court-yard, they made us take our seats on benches and mats, and treated us to good tea, sugar, and tobacco. We might have sat there about an hour, when a voice was heard calling, "Captain Khovorin!" which was the way the Japanese pronounced my name. Two soldiers, who stood by my side, immediately led me through a door, which was hastily closed behind me, into a large hall, through the paper curtains of which came a dim light. On the walls of this apartment hung irons, with which to fetter criminals, cords, and other instruments of punishment, which made me conclude that I was in a chamber devoted to the torture. In the middle of the hall, sat the commander-in-chief, on a kind of raised platform. He was surrounded by several officers and scribes, each of whom had before him his paper and inkstand, and at his side a dagger and huge sabre. After the other prisoners had been led in, a most tedious and insignificantly minute examination was commenced, concerning our names and ages, our parents, and places of birth; also as to the Russian Empire, its power on land and sea, the ship we arrived in, and the object of our journey. The answers we deemed advisable to give, were, as well as the interpreter could understand them and translate them into Japanese, noted down with the greatest exactness. At last the commander-in-chief asked, with particular emphasis, if the religion of Russia had not been lately changed, as an ambassador who had formerly been in Japan, had worn a long cue, and hair thickly powdered, whilst we had it cut short. When we told him that in our country, the style of wearing the hair had nothing whatever to do with religion, the Japanese laughed in a contemptuous manner, and wondered not a little, that we had no fixed laws on so important a subject. As it was now nearly dark, we were led back to our cages. Afterwards, we were several more times taken into this hall, where the same questions were put to us, though in a different form, that they might entrap us. They compared the answers we now gave, with those formerly given, and on the slightest difference appearing, made the most diffuse inquiries about it. Finally, on the twenty-seventh of September, they took us from Khakodale to Matsmai, the capital of the island, which is situated on the southern coast, where we were immediately immured in a strongly fortified building, which stood on a hill. IV. At the first look which we took of our quarters, we thought that we had seen the sun for the last time, for although without, the day was clear and bright, yet within almost total darkness reigned. Imagine a four cornered shed, five and twenty paces long, fifteen wide, and some twelve feet high, three sides of which were walled up without the smallest opening, and the fourth covered with a strong wooden grating made of bars placed about four inches from each other. In the grating was a door and little gate, but both securely bolted. In the middle of the shed stood a couple of cages, likewise made of wooden bars, and separated from each other and the wall, by narrow passages. One of these cages was six feet square and ten high; the other was of the same heighth and breadth, but only eight feet high. In the latter were the sailors, and in the former, Moor, Chleb Nikow, and I. The entrance to each of them was so narrow that one was obliged to creep through it. The door was made of thick beams and fastened by means of a strong iron bolt, over which was a little opening through which they put our food, when they gave it to us. The wall of each cage, which was opposite that of the other, was made of boards, so that we could not see the sailors nor they us. Outside of the grating which formed one side of the shed, was a sentry box, in which two soldiers kept a continual watch. They could see us all, and did not take their eyes off us for a single moment. During the night they entered the shed every half hour, walked around our cages and looked in through the bars. From sunset until the break of day, numerous watchmen went the rounds with lanterns, and struck the hours with a couple of sticks. At night our prison was still more dreary, for we had neither light nor fire. A lamp set in a paper lantern, burned in the guard-house, and threw a pale, sickly light into the shed, which it would not have been sufficient to illumine, under any circumstances. Except the scanty portion which the rays of this light fell on, all the shed was shrouded in impenetrable darkness. The rattling which ensued from the opening and shutting of doors, whenever the guards visited us, broke through the deep silence of night, and added to the discomforts of our situation. It was out of our power to enjoy a calm refreshing sleep, for besides the noise, frightful phantoms of every kind drove it away. The shed, cages, guard-houses, and hedges, by which they were surrounded, were all quite new, and had so lately been finished, that the chips and shavings had not yet been carried away. The building, which was large, and made of beautiful wood, must have cost the Japanese government no trifling sum; greater indeed, we imagined, than they would have devoted to such an object, had their intention been soon to set us free. For a sojourn of two or three years, they might easily have found some suitable building already constructed, and the security and arrangements of this place, seemed to denote that it was to be our abode for a long while, perhaps during life. These reflections tormented us fearfully. For a long while we sat silently gazing at each other, considering ourselves as victims to our own imprudence. On the fourth day after our arrival at Matsmai, the Japanese took us out of our cages, in order, as they told us, to present us to the governor. We went bound in the old way, with soldiers holding the ropes. The road to the fort was through a dirty street, which they had covered with boards, and as it commenced raining, they held umbrellas over our heads. We were led into a roomy court-yard within the fort, which was covered with pebbles, and were placed in a row on a bench which stood within a small building. After we had remained here about an hour, a door was opened, and we were taken through a second court into a third, where the soldiers who accompanied us, laid aside their sabres, daggers, and the straw sandals which they wore instead of shoes, and at the same time, pulled off our boots. We were now taken into an immense hall, the floor of which was covered with magnificently worked carpets. The doors and windows were made of beautiful wood elaborately carved. On the curtains which according to the Japanese custom, formed the partition walls between the rooms, and could be removed at pleasure, were paintings set in golden frames, and ornaments representing beasts and birds. On both sides of the room were seated Japanese officers, armed with swords and daggers. They laughed and joked among themselves until a noise was heard, and a voice cried, "Hush!" when a deep silence prevailed. A servant now entered the apartment, kneeled down at the door, laid the palms of his hands on the ground, and bowed his head. The governor then made his appearance, clad in a plain black robe, on the sleeves of which was embroidered his crest, as is customary in Japan. At his girdle hung a dagger, but his sabre was carried by a servant, who had it rolled up in a cloth, that his hands might not touch it. After the governor had taken his seat, the Japanese all made him a reverence, laying the palms of their hands on the floor, and bowing so profoundly that their foreheads touched it, in which position they remained for several seconds. He replied to their salutation by bowing low, his hands placed on his knees. We also saluted him, in the European fashion, and he nodded his head to us, smiling all the while, as if to assure us that his intentions towards us were friendly. He now drew from his bosom a sheet of paper, and called over the names of each one of us, according to his rank. We replied singly, by a bow, and each time he bent his head. He then spoke to a man who was sitting by his side, and who held the post of interpreter, and commanded him to translate to us what he was about to say. But this individual did not seem to have the slightest knowledge of the Russian language, and began with the words: "I am a man, thou art a man, another is a man, tell me what kind of a man?" When we, astounded at the fellow's impudence, managed to explain to them that we did not understand in the least what he was trying to say, and the officers, after some trouble, had made him confess that he did not know even the commonest phrases in the Russian language, they began to laugh, drove him away, and made use of our interpreter, Alexis, who had hitherto remained a prisoner with us. After an examination, during which the same questions were put to us as had been formerly asked by them, the governor, or "Bunjo," as the Japanese term him, told us that if we had any request to make, we might now do so. "We wish only for two things," we replied, "either to return to our native land, or if that is impossible, to die." At this unexpected declaration, the governor made a long and earnest speech, in which he laid particular emphasis on the fact that the Japanese were men, and had feelings like the rest of mankind, and that, therefore, we need not doubt them, nor have any fear, for as soon as it was proved that it was not by the command of the Russian Emperor, that our countrymen had committed violence in Japanese territory, but of their own accord, we should be sent home, abundantly supplied with all things necessary. Until that time, they would take care that we wanted for nothing, and if we needed clothes or any thing else, we must not be ashamed to ask for them. The Bunjo then left us, and we returned to our cages with the hope, at least, that through favorable circumstances we might escape from our imprisonment. V. From that day our food was greatly improved, for besides the rice broth, and salt radishes, which they had hitherto given us, we now received very good fresh and salt fish, roasted or boiled in poppy-oil, soups made from different kinds of savory herbs, or sea-mussles, and when the snow began to fall, they shot sea-dogs, bears, and rabbits, for us, and prepared under our direction, sometimes, a Russian dish, namely, fish eaten with thin grits, and little barley-cakes. Our food was brought to us three times a day. For drink, we received warm and strong tea, and after any fatiguing examination, they gave us two glasses of warm beer, which they did also in cold weather. They also furnished us with furred coats, and night garments, and when they found that it was not customary in Russia to spend the night on the ground, they made us benches to sleep upon. This amiable behavior, on the part of the Japanese, emboldened us to ask one of the officers, who visited us, whether it was not possible to have a window cut in the back wall of the shed, so that we might be able to see the sky and the tops of the trees. He did not refuse our request, but examined the wall, asked us where we would like to have it made, praised our choice, and went away. We, of course, believed that our entreaty would be complied with, but we were very much mistaken, for when, a few days afterwards, we repeated our request, the officer replied that the Japanese were very anxious about the state of our health, and feared lest the north wind would give us a cold; therefore, they deemed it more prudent not to make a window. As the autumn came on, and it grew more and more unpleasant to live in an open building, the Japanese, at our earnest solicitation, pasted paper over the lattice work, and made a window in the roof, which could be opened and shut by means of ropes. Through this window we saw the sky at times, which, in a situation like ours, was a great comfort. Moreover, when it grew colder, they dug a couple of holes in the ground, about two paces distant from the cages, and having lined them with flag-stones, filled them with sand. During the day they burnt charcoal on these hearths, and by sitting close to the grating, we could warm ourselves without being within reach of the coals. After a few days, they gave us pipes with very long stems, to the middle of which they tied wooden balls, which were too large to be drawn through the pales. In this way we could smoke the pipes, which they filled for us, as often as we wished, without having the power to draw them into our prisons. This mistrust of us, raised our indignation to the highest pitch; but when we expostulated with them, and told them, in the strongest terms, what a horror and aversion the Europeans entertained for suicide, they merely laughed, and appealed to their laws, which enjoined on them the necessity of keeping from their prisoners every thing with which they could hurt either themselves or others. For this reason they would never trust us with needles to mend our clothes, nor even with a pair of scissors to cut our nails, obliging us to put our hands through the bars of our cages, that the soldiers might perform the operation for us. In the beginning of our captivity, they had not allowed us even to change our clothes or wash our shirts, but now they provided us with water for that purpose, which relieved one of our most pressing necessities. They also invited us to get into a tub, in which water was warmed by means of a pipe connecting with a little oven, and wash ourselves. I took the lead, and we found that we had all to bathe in the same water. This arrangement displeased us not a little, as we held it to be treatment unworthy of the commonest criminals. But we soon were silent on this point however, for to our great astonishment, we saw the soldiers who guarded us, follow our example, and without adding a drop of fresh water, use the same that we had bathed in! and these soldiers did not by any means hold a low rank in society, but were highly esteemed by their countrymen. We had, in the meantime, by the command of the governor, by whose orders we were supplied with pen and ink, and with the aid of several interpreters, prepared a written defence which, when finished, we sent to him. On the fifteenth of November, we were again led into the fort, but this time with great rejoicing, and with the assurance that our affairs were prospering, and that our innocence was beginning to be universally acknowledged. The Bunjo too declared that after our assertions, and written defence, he now viewed the attack made on Japanese property by the Russian vessel, in an entirely different light, and that he was fully convinced of our entire innocence. It was true that he had not the disposing of us; that remained with the Emperor, but he would do all in his power to bring our affairs to a happy termination. In the meantime we must not be discouraged, but pray to God. This reference to God, which the Bunjo never failed to make when he examined us, always gave us pleasure, for by it we recognized with joy, that the people into whose power we were fallen, had at least some notion of a Supreme being who cared for man. After this the ropes were taken from us, at which all the Japanese heartily rejoiced; indeed, some were so much moved as to have tears in their eyes. We thanked the Bunjo and officers for their kindness, and for the first time, returned unbound to our prison, where we found every thing so altered that it was unaccountable to us, how the Japanese had accomplished the work in so short a space of time as that during which we were absent. The lattice work of our cages had been removed, and the gloomy passage was transformed into a roomy and cheerful apartment, in which we could all move about conveniently. Round a hearth on which was boiling tea in copper kettles, they had made a kind of wooden frame, on which each of us found a cup, pipe, and tobacco pouch, and instead of the oil lamp which had formerly given us light, we were now treated to candles. Hardly had we somewhat recovered from our astonishment, when some of the officers came with their children to pay us a visit. They congratulated us on this happy change in our condition, sat down with us by the fire, smoked and chatted. In a word, we were no longer treated as prisoners, but as guests. Our supper was now brought to us, not as usual, in cups, but on new and handsome plates. They gave us also, plenty of beer. The hopes of again seeing our native land was awakened within us anew, and this night was the first since our imprisonment, in which we enjoyed a calm sleep. But, alas our joy lasted only a few days. Old suspicions reviving, gradually made our situation worse and worse. Our food was changed back to what it was formerly, and nothing remained but the new dishes on which they brought it to us. In the place of candles, the old oil lamp went into service again, and the guards once more hung up before our eyes the ropes which they had only a little while before removed. Gradually we observed many other indications that our affairs were again assuming a serious aspect since the commander of Kumachir, who had originally made us prisoners by treachery, arrived in Matsmai. Our suspicions soon became certainty, for the Bunjo ordered us to instruct a Japanese in the Russian language, as they could not trust the interpreter whom we had formerly employed. We refused for a long while to undertake this tedious task, but were at last obliged to do so, as they told us very plainly that on it depended the possibility of our liberation. The Japanese had now an opportunity of satisfying their curiosity, through our very docile scholar, a scribe of the Bunjo's. They took unlimited advantage of this opportunity, to our great disgust and vexation, whilst from them we could not get a word as to the intention of their government towards us, nor even whether a Russian vessel had arrived at Japan during our absence, to demand our release. Every day our conviction grew stronger, that nothing was further from their thoughts than to liberate us, but that they were striving by every means in their power to conceal from us our sad fate, and we came to the conclusion that nothing was left to us but flight. VI. We were, however, diverted from these thoughts by the announcement that we were to change our quarters as soon as the fine weather set in. Accordingly, on the first of April, we were removed to a house which was some distance off, and not far from the coast. Yet this was not by any means the commencement of our final liberation, but of a still longer imprisonment, though it was to be in a milder form and more healthy place. At any rate, we thus interpreted the remark of the commander-in-chief, that we must now look upon the Japanese as brethren and countrymen. However, we had so little desire to claim any relationship that we set to work in earnest to make preparations for a flight. The first thing we did was to examine into the condition of our new abode. The house in which we now found ourselves, lay near the southern gate of the fort, between a wall and a steep rock, at the foot of which lay the town. It was surrounded by a large court-yard and a high wooden fence. Another fence divided the yard into two parts, of which the one nearest the house was set apart for our own use. As there were three or four trees in this enclosure, the Japanese, when they were pointing out to us the advantages of our new residence, dubbed it a garden, but we found that if we wished to get along without wounding their vanity, we must call a pool of water that was in one corner of it, "a lake," and a heap of mud in this pool, "an island." This so-called garden was connected with the other court, by means of a little door, which was always kept shut, except when the captain of the guard visited us, or we were permitted to take a walk, which now frequently happened. A gate which was kept carefully closed during the night, led from the second court into the street. Our house was divided into two parts by a lattice work which ran through it in the direction of the fence separating the two court-yards, with one of which each division was connected. In the first of these divisions were three chambers, separated from each other by screens, which were appropriated to our use, and in the second dwelt soldiers armed with guns, javelins, swords, and daggers. In this way they could easily watch us, and their commander generally sat by the lattice and looked into our rooms. A gallery ran round our apartments, from which we could look out upon the sea, and a shore which lay opposite. Our present habitation was in reality far better than the former one, for we could now at least enjoy the sight of the heavens, walk round the court-yard undisturbed, and inhale the fresh air and cool breeze. Our food, also, was much improved. Yet when we came to reflect on the last words of the governor, we knew not whether to rejoice or be sad. He had told us, in the plainest terms, to consider the Japanese as brethren and countrymen, without striving to cheer us, as he was wont to do, with the prospect of returning to our native land. What could this mean, but that we were now domiciliated in Japan, and must in future give up all thoughts of returning home? Yet we were now more determined than ever, either to free ourselves by force, or escape on some favorable opportunity offering. After mature deliberation, we determined on attempting flight, hoping that ere our absence was discovered we should have time to reach some mountains, in the north of the island, where we could lie concealed until an opportunity offered of seizing some kind of a vessel along the coast, in which we could make a journey from island to island, and so reach the nearest Russian port. Having thus made our plans, the first thing we determined to do was to divert the attention of the Japanese from us, by assuming a cheerful demeanor, and suffering no complaint to escape us. To our great joy, we were successful. It is true that the soldiers, who mounted guard, did not sleep at their posts during the night, but they troubled themselves less about us than formerly, and sat round the fire, smoking their pipes and playing at draughts. The officer still went the rounds every half hour, with his men, but he then sat down in a corner, and amused himself by reading. In the meantime, we sought to provide ourselves with such things as were indispensable to our flight. Every day we put aside some of the rice broth, which continued to be our usual food, and having dried it during the night, put it into bags, which we tied to our girdles, or under our arms. One day, whilst we were walking outside of the town, one of the sailors found a fire-steel. He immediately put his foot upon it, and stooping down under pretence of pulling up his stocking, slipped it into his pocket. We stole some flints from our attendants, and made tinder by burning an old shirt. "Necessity is the mother of invention," says an old proverb, which, in our case, spoke truly, for by untiring perseverance we succeeded in constructing a compass, which, though of course imperfect, answered every purpose. After many entreaties, we procured from our attendants a couple of needles, under pretence of mending our clothes. Pretending that we had lost them, we devoted them to the manufacture of our compass. Through repeated rubbings on a magnetic stone, which Chleb Nikow had found, and which we kept carefully concealed in a corner of the yard, we succeeded in rendering one of them magnetic, and then fastened it to a little sheet of copper, which we loosened from the roof of our house. We undertook, besides this, to manufacture some weapons for our defence, in case of need, and in this attempt fortune again favored us. We found, among the grass in the court-yard, a large and sharp chisel, which, most probably, the carpenters had used in the construction of the house, and forgotten. We put it carefully by, in order that we might fasten it to a pole, and use it in the moment of our flight as a spear. We found, also, a spade in the court, which we hid, that it too might serve as a weapon. Besides this, the sailors, on the night when we made the attempt, were to arm themselves with some long poles, which had been used in drying our clothes. After we had finished our preparations, we noted carefully, whenever we took a walk, the road and footpath which led to the mountains. On the twenty-third of April, having gone farther than usual, we induced our attendants, under the plea of curiosity, to show us a temple, which lay directly in the way we must take in our flight. Whilst we were gathering, as usual, leeks and herbs for our own use, we observed accurately the whole neighborhood, and then set out on our way home. When we arrived there, we went to bed. A half an hour before midnight, two of the sailors, who had taken a couple of knives from the kitchen, which adjoined our rooms, slunk into the garden just after the guard had made the twelfth round, and hiding themselves under the steps, began digging a hole under the hedge, whilst we put a bundle of clothes into each of their beds, that it might appear as if they were still there. After they had happily finished their task, without being discovered, we all went out, and one after the other crept through the hole. When it came to my turn, I stumbled, but got through, striking my knee, however, as I did so, against a small post, which was nearly buried in the ground. The blow was violent, but the pain soon disappeared. We now found ourselves in a very narrow footpath, between the hedge and the wall of the fort, which we followed, and after some trouble, reached the principal street of the town. We hastened along, keeping among the trees, and at the end of a half hour found ourselves at the foot of a high mountain, which we were obliged to ascend. VII. We immediately began to climb up the hill, and endeavored, as far as possible, by means of the stars, our only guides, to direct our course due north. By the time we had reached the first eminence, I felt a stinging pain in my knee, which suddenly swelled up so much, and put me into such agony, that I could proceed only with the greatest difficulty. My companions, therefore, to my great vexation and concern, were obliged to halt every little while, that I might recover myself, and ease my injured limb. Our intention was to reach, before daybreak, that portion of the hill which was covered with trees, in order to secure ourselves against the first attempts which the Japanese, who we now considered as our mortal enemies, might make to capture us. In our walks through the valleys which surrounded the town, these woods had not appeared to us to be very far off, but we saw now how much we had been deceived. One of the footpaths which we had remarked during the day as leading directly to them, we were unable to find in the thick darkness, which shrouded from our view objects only a few paces distant. The only resource left to us was to keep ascending, which the unevenness of the soil, covered as it was with brushwood, rendered tedious and difficult. After three painful hours passed in this way, we came at last to the highest ridge of the mountain, and now imagined that we could go forward on the high level ground, without any great exertion. But fate had many obstacles and much trouble in store for us, that we knew not of. We had now got to a part of the mountain which in many places was covered with snow, and as we did not wish our trail to be visible to the Japanese, we were obliged to go first to the one side and then to the other, and often had to retrace our steps. In this way we expended our strength, and made very little progress. An hour before daybreak, we struck on a broad road, which led towards the north, and which was firm and almost free from snow. As we knew that we could now go on without the fear of leaving our footprints visible, we rejoiced not a little, and redoubled our speed. I still felt much pain in my knee and leg, but as we were now on level ground, it was not to be compared to what I endured whilst ascending the mountain. We believed that we must now reach the wood in a very short time, and had made up our minds to rest in one of its thickets, when suddenly a sailor who chanced to look back, exclaimed, "They are coming after us on horseback, with lanterns!" and immediately sprang into an opening by the road side. Startled by this exclamation, we looked round, and perceived some lights which seemed to be rapidly approaching us. Seeing that there was no time to be lost, we followed the sailor's example. For a long way the road led us down the mountain, without there being either tree or bush to afford us shelter, or screen us from our pursuers. Soon the day began to break. If there had been more light at that moment, the Japanese must inevitably have seen us from the surrounding heights, as there was nothing which could hide us from their sight. At length we reached the bottom of the ravine, which was surrounded by naked rocks. Deep snow covered it, and we could not find a single place where we could hide. It was now broad day, and we stood still for a moment, looking vainly in every direction, and much perplexed to know what to do. At length we discovered in the rocks an opening, which on examination, turned out to be a cave, but so small as to be hardly able to contain us all. Close to it was a water-fall, which coming down from the mountain, had hollowed out in the snow, directly before the entrance, a pit some ten feet deep. By the aid of a little tree we climbed into this cave, in which, however, we could not sit down, but were obliged to stand upright, squeezed together in a most uncomfortable way. As the bottom of our hiding-place was shelving, and covered with loose stones, we were obliged to change our positions with the greatest caution, for fear of rolling out, and in order to rest ourselves, we leaned first on one elbow and then on the other. However, we were now tolerably secure, for the cave could not be seen by any one who was not close to it. We remained in this position until sunset, consulting, with drooping courage, on the best way to save ourselves. The day was clear and warm, but the rays of the sun did not penetrate into the ravine, and the water-fall made the air so cold that our teeth absolutely chattered. We heard plainly the strokes of an axe in the surrounding forest, and as we ventured out in the evening, saw people on the mountains. Suddenly we heard a rushing sound as if some one was sliding down the mountain towards us. It came nearer and grew louder, and we thought that we should now soon see the soldiers who were seeking us. We prepared ourselves for a struggle, when behold a wild stag appeared, and as soon as he saw us, dashed quickly away. As soon as the stars began to appear, we left our inconvenient hiding-place, and climbed up a high mountain, which in many places was overgrown with brushwood. My situation was now really dreadful. While in the cave I had held my leg in one position, and consequently, felt no great pain, but it returned as soon as I began to walk, and soon became almost intolerable. As we had still to cross many mountains, and in our case great haste was necessary, I saw clearly that I was keeping back my comrades, and most likely would be the cause of their re-capture. I, therefore, implored them to leave me to my fate, and think only of their own safety. But my entreaties had no effect on them whatever, except to render them most determined not to leave me. They swore they would stay by me whilst life remained, and that they were perfectly willing to rest whenever I wished it. Moreover, Makarov, the strongest of the sailors, entreated me to let him help me along, which he could do, if I would go behind him, and hold fast to his girdle. On hearing this I determined to remain with my companions and allow myself to be dragged along by them. After we had gone some distance from them, over rocky cliffs, and through deep ravines, we came to a couple of huts, from which came a whistling noise, such as, with us, the people use to charm quails, in order to capture them. We stooped down among the grass, and listened for a long while, in order to find out whether it came from a bird, or whether there were people in the huts. As it was not likely that many persons dwelt in such an out of the way place, we took courage, and went up to them; but when we drew near, we found out that what we had taken for huts, were in reality two heaps of wood. As we had not been able to gain a moment's rest during the preceding day, we laid ourselves down on this spot, where we were protected from the wind and cold, and slept for two or three hours. Greatly refreshed, we started again on our journey, and by daybreak reached the top of a high mountain, which was covered with thick brushwood, and which far out-topped the surrounding hills. Here we determined to pass the day. As at sunrise a thick fog covered the tops of the mountains, we ventured to make a fire among the bushes to warm our limbs, stiffened with wet and cold. We placed on it a tea kettle, which, however, was not for the purpose of preparing tea, a luxury by no means within our reach, but to warm our dry and mouldy rice, in order to render it palatable. We searched, also, for wild herbs, but nothing eatable was to be found any where, for on the heights winter reigned despotic. We melted some snow for a drink, and made a meal of our rice, which was already nearly putrid. In the meantime, black clouds were rising in the east, the wind howled through the trees, and every thing indicated that a storm was fast approaching. As we concluded that none of the Japanese would venture among the mountains in such weather as this, we determined not to wait for the approach of night, but to continue our journey during the day. After we had passed through a deep ravine, and waded through a stream of water, the road again led us up the mountain, and we had already reached a tolerable height, when suddenly a high and steep rock towered up directly in front of us, which could not be ascended without great difficulty and danger, and yet there was no way of avoiding it. Up we went, I holding fast to the girdle of Makarov, who had nearly reached the top, when he was obliged to free himself from my grasp, in order to climb up a very steep part of the rock just at the top. I braced the toes of my uninjured foot against a projecting stone, wound my right arm round a young tree, which curved up from below, and in this position waited until Makarov had reached the summit, from which he could assist me to mount up to him. But this Hercules of a man was now so fatigued and overcome that he had hardly strength to swing himself to the top of the rock, where he lay as if dead. At this moment the stone, against which I was resting, gave way, and rolled down the mountain, leaving me swinging by one hand, and totally unable, on account of the smoothness of the rock, to get a resting place for my feet. The other sailors, it is true, were not far from me, but they were all so fatigued as to be totally unable to come to my assistance. In this fearful situation I passed several minutes, and my hand began to pain me so intolerably that I was tempted to let go my hold, and have my sufferings ended by being dashed to pieces on the rocks, a hundred fathoms below me. But at this moment Makarov recovered himself, and seeing the danger I was in, prepared to help me. He braced his left foot against a stone, which projected from the rock directly opposite to my breast, grasped the branches of the tree to which I was clinging, and let me seize his girdle with my unoccupied hand. Then, with a great exertion of strength, he dragged me to his side, and again fell back almost senseless. Had the stone, on which he stood, given way, or the bough he grasped broken, we should both have been inevitably dashed to the ground. After we had rested for some time on the top of the rock, we continued our fatiguing journey until nightfall. We then encamped on a part of the mountain which was overgrown with reeds, and immediately made a fire to prepare our evening meal, which this time consisted of wild leeks and other herbs, collected along the banks of the stream we had waded through. We then dried our clothes, and lay down to rest in a tent hastily constructed of reeds. Want of sleep, and the great fatigue we had undergone, soon closed our eyes, and we slept soundly. After a few hours I awoke, and found the hut so uncomfortably hot that I went out into the open air. I leaned against a tree which grew near by, and thought over our probable fate. The sublime picture of nature first attracted my attention. The sky was clear, but below us and among the mountains rolled dark masses of clouds; it was most probably raining in the valleys. The snow which lay on the mountains glittered brightly in the distance, and never before had I seen the stars shine forth so clearly as they did on that night. A death-like silence prevailed, or was broken only by the sighing

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