Page:The cruise of the Corwin.djvu/56

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THE CRUISE OF THE CORWIN

though the Aleutian kvass is only a coarse imitation of the Russian article, as the Indian hootchenoo is of whiskey. In its manufacture they put a quantity of sugar and flour, or molasses and flour, with a few dried apples, in a cask, fill it up with water, and leave it to ferment. Then they make haste to drink it while it is yet thick and acrid, and capable of making them howling drunk. It also creates a fiery thirst for alcohol, which is supplied by traders whenever they get a chance. This renders the misery of the Aleuts complete.

There are about two thousand of them scattered along the chain of islands, living in small villages. Nearly all the men are hunters of the fur seal, the most expert making five hundred dollars or more per season. After paying old debts contracted with the Companies, they invest the remainder in trinkets, in clothing not so good as their own furs, and in beer, and go at once into hoggish dissipation, hair-pulling, wife-beating, etc. In a few years their health, becomes impaired, they become less successful in hunting, their children are neglected and die, and they go to ruin generally. When they toss in their kayaks among surf-beaten rocks where their prey dwells, their business requires steady .nerve. But all the proceeds are spent for what is worse than use-