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, avoided these dangers. They soon reached a vast plain three hundred miles across, utterly deserted by the human race; a desert composed half of barren rock and half of swampy quagmire, soft above, but at a foot deep solid and perpetual ice. Fortunately, it was now frozen hard, and the surface was fit to bear the horses. But for this the party must have halted and waited for a severe frost. The rivers were not frozen when large in volume, and the Aldana had to be crossed in the usual flat-bottomed boat kept for travelers. At night they halted, and with a bush and some deer-skins made a tent. Kolina cooked the supper, and the men searched for some fields of stunted half-frozen grass to let the horses graze. This was the last place where even this kind of food would be found, and for some days their steeds would have to live on a stinted portion of hay. On they went over the arid plain, which, however, affords nourishment for some trees, fording rivers, floundering through marshes, and still meeting some wretched apology for grass, when, on the third day, down came the snow in a pelting cloud, and the whole desert changed in an instant from somber gray to white. The real winter was come. Now all Sakalar's intelligence was required. Almost every obvious sign by which to find his way had disappeared, and he traversed the plain wholly guided by distant hills, and by observing the stars at night. This Sakalar did assiduously, and when he had once started under the guidance of the twinkling lights of the heavens, rarely was he many yards out at the next halt. He always chose the side of a hillock to camp, where there was a tree or two, and half-rotten trunks with bushes to make a huge fire. It was nearly dawn on the fifth morning after entering the plain, and Ivan and Kolina yet slept. But Sakalar slept not. They had nearly reached the extremity of the horrible desert, but a new danger occupied the thoughts of the hunter. They were now in the track of the wild and savage Tchouktchas, and their fire might have betrayed them. Had Sakalar been alone, he would have slept in the snow without fire; for he knew the peril of an encounter with the independent Tchouktchas, who have only recently been nominally brought into subjection to Russia. The heavy fall of snow of the two previous days rendered the danger greater. Sakalar sat gravely upon a fallen tree--a pipe in his mouth, and his eye fixed on the distant horizon. For som
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