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she has run her long course of brightness. The uniform whiteness of the landscape and the general transparency of the atmosphere add to the lustre of her » beams, which serve the natives to guide their nomadic life, and to lead them to their hunting-grounds.
But of all the magnificent spectacles that relieve the monotonous gloom of the Arctic winter, there is none to equal the magical beauty of the Aurora. Night covers the snow-clad earth; the stars glimmer feebly through the haze which so frequently dims their brilliancy in the high latitudes, when suddenly a broad and clear bow of light spans the horizon in the direction where it is traversed by the magnetic meridian. This bow sometimes remains for several hours, heaving or waving to and fro, before it sends forth streams of light ascending to the zenith. Sometimes these flashes proceed from the bow of light alone; at others they simultaneously shoot forth from many opposite parts of the horizon, and form a vast sea of fire whose brilliant waves are continually changing their position. Finally they all unite in a magnificent crown or copula of light, with the appearance of which the phenomenon attains its highest degree of splendor. The brilliancy of the streams, which are commonly red at their base, green in the middle, and light yellow toward the zenith, increases, while at the same time they dart with greater vivacity through the skies. The colors are wonderfully transparent, the red approaching to a clear blood-red, the green to a pale emerald tint. On turning from the flaming firmament to the earth, this also is seen to glow with a magical light. The dark sea, black as jet, forms a striking contrast to the white snow-plain or the distant ice-mountain ; all the outlines tremble as if they belonged to the unreal world of dreams. The imposing silence of the night heightens the charms of the magnificent spectacle.
come shorter, less frequent, and less vivid ; and finally the gloom of winter once more descends upon the northern desert.
ARCTIC LAND QUADRUPEDS AND BIRDS. The Reindeer.--Structure of its Foot.-Clattering Noise when walking.–Antlers.—Extraordinary
olfactory Powers.—The Icelandic Moss.—Present and Former Range of the Reindeer.--Its invaluable Qualities as an Arctic domestic Animal.--Revolts against Oppression.-Enemies of the Reindeer.--The Wolf.- The Glutton or Wolverine.—Gad-flies.—The Elk or Moose-deer.—The Muskox.—The Wild Sheep of the Rocky Mountains.—The Siberian Argali.- The Arctic Fox.--Its Burrows.-The Lemmings. --Their Migrations and Enemies.-Arctic Anatidæ.—The Snow-bunting.-
The Lapland Bunting.-The Sea-eagle.--Drowned by a Dolphin.. . THE reindeer may well be called the camel of the northern wastes, for it is Ia no less valuable companion to the Laplander or to the Samojede than the “ship of the desert” to the wandering Bedouin. It is the only member of the numerous deer family that has been domesticated by man; but though undoubtedly the most useful, it is by no means the most comely of its race. Its clear, dark eye has, indeed, a beautiful expression, but it has neither the noble proportions of the stag nor the grace of the roebuck, and its thick square-formed body is far from being a model of elegance. Its legs are short and thick, its feet broad, but extremely well adapted for walking over the snow or on a swampy ground. The front hoofs, which are capable of great lateral expansion, curve upward, while the two secondary ones behind (which are but slightly developed in the fallow deer and other members of the family) are considerably prolongedi a structure which, by giving the animal a broader base to stand upan, prevents it from sinking too deeply into the snow or the morass. Had the foot of the reindeer been formed like that of our stag, it would have been as unable to drag the Laplander's sledge with such velocity over the yielding snow-fields as the camel would be to perform his long marches through the desert without the broad elastic sole-pad on which he firmly paces the unstable sands.
The short legs and broad feet of the reindeer likewise enable it to swim with greater ease—à power of no small importance in countries abounding in rivers and lakes, and where the scarcity of food renders perpetual migrations necessary. When the reindeer walks or merely moves, a remarkable clattering sound is heard to some distance, about the cause of which naturalists and travellers by no means agree. Most probably it results from the great length of the two digits of the cloven hoof, which when the animal sets its foot upon the ground separate widely, and when it again raises its hoof suddenly clap against each other.
A long mane of a dirty white color hangs from the neck of the reindeer. In summer the body is brown above and white beneath ; in winter, long-haired and white. Its antlers are very different from those of the stag, having broad palmated summits, and branching back to the length of three or four feet.
Their weight is frequently very considerable-twenty or twenty-five pounds; and it is remarkable that both sexes have horns, while in all other members of the deer race the males alone are in possession of this ornament or weapon.
The female brings forth in May a single calf, rarely two. This is small and weak, but after a few days it follows the mother, who suckles her young but a
short time, as it is soon able to seek and to find its food. The reindeer gives , very little milk--at the very utmost, after the young has been weaned, a bottleful daily; but the quality is excellent, for it is uncommonly thick and nutritious. It consists almost entirely of cream, so that a great deal of water can be added before it becomes inferior to the best cow-milk. Its taste is excellent, but the butter made from it is rancid, and hardly to be eaten, while the cheese is very good..
The only food of the reindeer during winter consists of moss, and the most surprising circumstance in his history is the instinct, or the extraordinary olfactory powers, whereby he is enabled to discover it when hidden beneath the snow. However deep the Lichen rangiferinus may be buried, the animal is aware of its presence the moment he comes to the spot, and this kind of food is never so agreeable to him as when he digs for it himself. In his manner of doing this he is remarkably adroit. Having first ascertained, by thrusting his muzzle into the snow, whether the moss lies below or not, he begins making a hole with his fore feet, and continues working until at length he uncovers the lichen. No instance has ever occurred of a reindeer making such a cavity without discovering the moss he seeks. In summer their food is of a different nature; they are then pastured upon green herbs or the leaves of trees. Judging from the lichen's appearance in the hot months, when it is dry and brittle, one might easily wonder that so large a quadruped as the reindeer should make it his favorite food and fatten upon it; but toward the month of September the lichen becomes soft, tender, and damp, with a taste like wheat-bran. In this state its luxuriant and flowery ramifications somewhat resemble the leaves of endive, and are as white as snow.
Though domesticated since time immemorial, the reindeer has only partly been brought under the yoke of man, and wanders in large wild herds both in the North American wastes, where it has never yet been reduced to servitude, and in the forests and tundras of the Old World.
In America, where it is called “ caribou," it extends from Labrador to Mel"ville Island and Washington Land; in Europe and Asia it is found from Lapland and Norway, and from the mountains of Mongolia and the banks of the Ufa, as far as Nova Zembla and Spitzbergen. Many centuries ago--probably during the glacial period—its range was still more extensive, as reindeer bones are frequently found in French and German caves, and bear testimony to the severity of the climate which at that time reigned in Central Europe; for the reindeer is a cold-loving animal, and will not thrive under a milder sky. All attempts to prolong its life in our zoological gardens have failed, and even 'in the royal park at Stockholm Hogguer saw some of these animals, which were quite languid and emaciated during the summer, although care had been taken to provide them with a cool grotto to which they could retire during the warmer hours of the day. In summer the reindeer can enjoy health only in the fresh mountain air or along the bracing sea-shore, and has as great a longing for a low temperature as man for the genial warmth of his fireside in winter.
The reindeer is easily tamed, and soon gets accustomed to its master, whose society it loves, attracted as it were by a kind of innate sympathy; for, unlike
all other domestic animals, it is by no means dependent on man for its subsist
in winter without ever being inclosed in a stable. These qualities are inestimable in countries where it would be utterly impossible to keep any domestic animal requiring shelter and stores of provisions during the long winter months, and make the reindeer the fit companion of the northern nomad, whose simple wants it almost wholly supplies. During his wanderings, it carries his tent and scanty household furniture, or drags his sledge over the snow. On account of the weakness of its back-bone, it is less fit for riding, and requires to be mounted with care, as a violent shock easily dislocates its vertebral column; the saddle is placed on the haunches. You would hardly suppose the reindeer to be the same animal when languidly creeping along under a rider's weight, as when, unencumbered by a load, it vaults with the lightness of a bird over the obstacles in its way to obey the call of its master. The reindeer can be easily trained to drag a sledge, but great care must be taken not to beat or otherwise ill-treat it, as it then becomes obstinate, and quite unmanageable. When forced to drag too heavy a load, or taxed in any way above its strength, it not seldom turns round upon its tyrant, and attacks him with its horns and fore feet. To save himself from its fury, he is then obliged to overturn his sledge, and to seek a refuge under its bottom until the rage of the animal has abated.
After the death of the reindeer, it may truly be said that every part of its body is put to some use. The flesh is very good, and the tongue and marrow are considered a great delicacy. The blood, of which not a drop is allowed to be lost, is either drunk warm or made up into a kind of black pudding. The skin furnishes not only clothing impervious to the cold, but tents and bedding; and spoons, knife-handles, and other household utensils are made out of the bones and horns; the latter serve also, like the claws, for the preparation of an excellent glue, which the Chinese, who buy them for this purpose of the Russians, use as a nutritious jelly. In Tornea the skins of new-born reindeer are prepared and sent to St. Petersburg to be manufactured into gloves, which are extremely soft, but very dear.
Thus the cocoa-nut palm, the tree of a hundred uses, hardly renders a greater variety of services to the islanders of the Indian Ocean than the reindeer to the Laplander or the Samojede ; and, to the honor of these barbarians be it mentioned, they treat their invaluable friend and companion with a grateful affection which might serve as an example to far more civilized nations.
The reindeer attains an age of from twenty to twenty-five years, but in its domesticated state it is generally killed when from six to ten years old. Its most dangerous enemies are the wolf, and the glutton or wolverine (Gulo borealis or arcticus), which belongs to the bloodthirsty marten and weasel family, and is said to be of uncommon fierceness and strength. It is about the size of a large badger, between which animal and the pole-cat it seems to be intermediate, nearly resembling the former in its general figure and aspect, and agreeing with the latter as to its dentition. No dog is capable of mastering: a glutton, and even the wolf is hardly able to scare it from its prey. Its feet. are very short, so that it can not run swiftly, but it climbs with great facility,