Page:The cruise of the Corwin.djvu/118

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ships from both shores either were wrecked and drifted from one to the other, or that natives crossed on the ice which every year fills Bering Strait. As to-day, so from time immemorial canoes have crossed for trade or mere pleasure, steering by the swell of the sea when out of sight of land. As to crossing on the ice, the natives tell me that they frequently go with their dog-sleds from the Siberian side to the Diomedes, those half-way houses along the route, but seldom or never from the Diomedes to the American side, on account of the movements of the ice. But, though both means of communication, assumed to account for distribution as it is found to exist to-day, were left out, land communication in any case undoubtedly existed, just previous to the glacial period, as far south as the Aleutian Islands, and northward beyond the mouth of the Strait.

While groping in the dense fogs that hang over this region, sailors find their way at times by the flight of the innumerable sea-birds that come and go from the sea to the shore. The direction, at least, of the land is indicated, which is very important in the case of small islands. How the birds find their way is a mystery.

This canoe alongside was "two sleeps" in making the passage. Time, I suppose, is reck-