Page:The cruise of the Corwin.djvu/188

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THE CRUISE OF THE CORWIN

fearing, as some say, that, should they refuse to kill as opportunity offers, though it be at a time when food is no object, then the deer-spirit would be offended at the refusal of his gifts and would not send any deer when they are in want. Probably, however, they are moved simply by an instinctive love of killing on which their existence depends, and these wholesale slaughters are to be regarded as only too much of a good thing. Formerly there were large herds about St. Michael, but since the introduction of repeating rifles they have wholly vanished. Hundreds were surrounded in passes among the hills, were killed and left lying where they fell, not even the hides being taken. Often a band of moose or reindeer is overtaken in deep snow, when they are easily killed with clubs by Indians on snowshoes, who will simply cut out their tongues, and leave the rest to be eaten by wolves.

The reindeer is found throughout the Arctic and subarctic regions of both Asia and America, and, in either the wild or the domestic state, supplies to the natives an abundance of food and warm clothing, thus rendering these bleak and intensely cold regions inhabitable. I believe it is only in Lapland and Siberia that the reindeer is domesticated. They are never sold alive by the Chukchis on account of a super-