Russian Rambles
by Isabel F. Hapgood
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

It occurred to us that it might prove an interesting experiment to try the monastery inn for breakfast, and even to sojourn there for a day or two, and abandon the open sewers and other traces of advanced civilization in the town. Our way thither led past the free lodgings for poor pilgrims, which were swarming with the devout of both sexes, although it was not the busiest season for shrine-visiting. That comes in the spring, before the harvest, at all monasteries, and, in this particular monastery, on the feast of the Assumption, August 15 (Russian style), 27 (European style). But there was a sufficient contingent of the annual one million pilgrims present to give us a very fair idea of the reverence in which this, the chief of all Russian monasteries, is held, and of the throngs which it attracts. But, as usual in Russia, sight alone convinced us of their existence; they were chatting quietly, sitting and lying about with enviable calmness, or eating the sour black bread and boiled buckwheat groats provided by the monastery. I talked with several of them, and found them quite unconscious that they were not comfortably, even luxuriously, housed and fed.

The inn for travelers of means was a large, plain, airy building, with no lodgers, apparently. The monks seemed frightened at the sight of us. That was a novelty. But they escorted us over the house in procession. We looked at a very clean, very plain room, containing four beds. It appeared, from their explanations, that pilgrims have gregarious tastes, and that this was their nearest approach to a single room. I inquired the price. "According to your zeal," was the reply. How much more effective than "What you please" in luring the silver from lukewarm pockets! The good monks never found out how warm our zeal was, after all, for the reason that their table was never furnished with anything but fish and "fasting food," they said, though there was no fast in progress. The reason why, I could not discover; but we knew our own minds thoroughly on the subject of "fasting food," from mushroom soup, fish fried in sunflower oil, and coffee without milk to that most insipid of dessert dishes, kisel, made of potato flour, sweetened, and slightly soured with fruit juice. They told us that we might have meat sent out from town, if we wished; but as the town lay several versts distant, that did not seem a very practical way of coquetting with the Evil One under their roof. Accordingly, we withdrew; to their relief, I am sure. As we had already lived in a monastery inn, it had not occurred to us that there could be any impropriety in doing so, but that must have been the cause of their looks of alarm. I believe that one can remain for a fortnight at this inn without payment, unless conscience interferes; and people who had stayed there told me that meat had been served to them from the monastery kitchen; so that puzzle still remains a puzzle to me.

We went to see the brethren dine in the refectory, an ancient, vaulted building of stone, near the cathedral. Under a white stone slab near the entrance lie the bodies of Kotchubey and Iskra, who were unjustly executed by Peter the Great for their loyal denunciation of Mazeppa's meditated treachery. Within, the walls of the antechamber were decorated with dizzy perspective views of Jerusalem, the saints, and pious elders of the monastery. At the end of the long dining-hall, beyond an ikonostas, was a church, as is customary in these refectories. Judging from the number of servitors whom we had met hurrying towards the cells with sets of porcelain dinner-trays, not many monks intended to join the common table, and it did not chance to be one of the four days in the year when the Metropolitan of Kieff and other dignitaries dine there in full vestments.

At last, a score of monks entered, chanted a prayer at a signal from a small bell, and seated themselves on benches affixed to the wall which ran round three sides of the room. The napkins on the tables which stood before the benches consisted of long towels, each of which lay across four or five of the pewter platters from which they ate, as the table was set in preparation. If it had been a festal day, there would have been several courses, with beer, mead, and even wine to wash them down. As it was, the monks ate their black bread and boiled buckwheat groats, served in huge dishes, with their wooden spoons, and drank kvas, brewed from sour black bread, at a signal from the bell, after the first dish only, as the rule requires. While they ate, a monk, stationed at a desk near by, read aloud the extracts from the Lives of the Saints appointed for the day. This was one of the "sights," but we found it curious and melancholy to see strong, healthy men turned into monks and content with that meagre fare. Frugality and dominion over the flesh are good, of course, but minds from west of the Atlantic Ocean never seem quite to get into sympathy with the monastic idea; and we always felt, when we met monks, as though they ought all to be off at work somewhere, —I will not say "earning money," for they do that as it is in such great monasteries as that of Kieff, but lightening the burden of the peasants, impossible as that is under present conditions, or making themselves of some commonplace, practical use in the world.

The strongest point of the Lavra, even equal to the ancient and venerated ikona of the Assumption in the great cathedral, is the catacombs, from which the convent takes its name.

In the days of the early princes of Kieff, the heights now occupied by the Lavra were covered with a dense growth of birch forest, and entirely uninhabited. Later on, one of the hills was occupied by the village of Berostovo, and a palace was built adjoining the tiny ancient "Church of the Saviour in the Birch Forest," which I have already mentioned. It was the favorite residence of Prince-Saint Vladimir, and of his son, Prince Yaroslaff, after him. During the reign of the latter, early in the eleventh century, the priest of this little church, named Ilarion, excavated for himself a tiny cave, and there passed his time in devout meditation and solitary prayer. He abandoned his cave to become Metropolitan of Kieff. In the year 1051, the monk Antony, a native of the neighboring government of Tchernigoff, came to Kieff from Mount Athos, being dissatisfied with the life led in the then existing monasteries. After long wanderings over the hills of Kieff, he took possession of Ilarion's cave, and spent his days and nights in pious exercises. The fame of his devout life soon spread abroad, and attracted to him, for his blessing, not only the common people, but persons of distinction. Monks and worldlings flocked thither to join him in his life of prayer. Among the first of these to arrive was a youth of the neighborhood, named Fedosy. Antony hesitated, but at last accepted the enthusiastic recruit.

The dimensions of holy Antony's cave were gradually enlarged; new cells, and even a tiny church, were constructed near it. Then Antony, who disliked communal life, retreated to the height opposite, separated from his first residence by a deep ravine, and dug himself another cave, where no one interfered with him. This was the origin of the caves of Fedosy, known at the present day as the "far catacombs," and of the caves of Antony, called the "near catacombs." The number of the monks continued to increase, and they soon erected a small wooden church aboveground, in the name of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, as well as cells for those who could not be contained in the caverns. At the request of holy Antony, the prince gave the whole of the heights where the catacombs are situated to the brethren, and in 1062 a large new monastery, surrounded by a stockade, was erected on the spot where the Cathedral of the Assumption now stands. Thus was monastic life introduced into Russia.

The venerated monastery shared all the vicissitudes of the "Mother of all Russian Cities" in the wars of the Grand Princes and the incursions of external enemies, such as Poles and Tatars. But after each disaster it waxed greater and more flourishing. Restored, after a disastrous fire in 1718, by the zeal of Peter the Great and his successors, enriched by the gifts of all classes, the Lavra now consists of six monasteries,— like a university of colleges,—four situated within the inclosure, while two are at a distance of several versts, and serve as retreats and as places of burial for the brethren. The catacombs, abandoned as residences on the construction of the cells above ground, have not escaped disasters by caving in. Drains to carry off the percolating water, and stone arches to support the soil, have been constructed, and a flourishing orchard has been planted above them to aid in holding the soil together. Earthquakes in the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries permanently closed many of them, and when the Tatars attacked the town, in the thirteenth century, the monks boarded up all the niches and filled in the entrances with earth. Some of these boards were removed about a hundred years ago; some are still in place. The original extent of the caves cannot now be determined.

The entrance to the near catacombs of St. Antony is through a long wooden gallery supported on stone posts, at a sharp slope, as they are situated twenty-four fathoms below the level of the cathedral, and twenty-two fathoms above the level of the Dnyepr.

A fat merchant, with glowing black eyes and flowing, crisp, black beard, his tall, wrinkled boots barely visible beneath his long, full-skirted coat of dark blue cloth, hooked closely across his breast, descended the gallery with us. Roused to curiosity, probably, by our foreign tongue, he inquired, on the chance of our understanding Russian, whence we came.

I had already arrived at the conclusion that the people at Kieff, especially the monks and any one who breathed the atmosphere within their walls, were of an enterprising, inquisitive disposition. My last encounter had been with the brother detailed, for his good looks and fascinating manners, to preside over the chief image shop of the monastery.

"Where do you come from?" he had opened fire, with his most bewitching glance.

"From the best country on earth."

"Is it Germany?"

The general idea among the untraveled classes in Russia is, that all of the earth which does not belong to their own Emperor belongs to Germany, just as nyemetzky means "German" or "foreign," indifferently.

"No; guess again," I said.


"No; further away."

"England, then?"



Evidently that man's geography was somewhat mixed, so I told him.

"America!" he exclaimed, with great vivacity. "Yes, indeed, it is the best land of all. It is the richest!"

So that is the monastic as well as the secular standard of worth! This experience, repeated frequently and nearly word for word, had begun to weary me. Consequently I led the fat merchant a verbal chase, and baffled him until he capitulated with, "Excuse me. Take no offense, I beg, sudarynya. I only asked so by chance." Then I told him with the same result.

This was not the last time, by many, that I was put through my national catechism in Kieff. Every Kievlyanin to whom I spoke quizzed me. Of course I was on a grand quizzing tour myself, but that was different, in some way.

Over the entrance to these catacombs stands a church. The walls of the vestibule where my mother, the merchant, and I waited for a sufficient party to assemble, were covered with frescoes representing the passage of the soul through the various stages of purgatory. Beginning with the death scene (which greatly resembled the ikona of the Assumption in the cathedral) in the lower left-hand corner, the white-robed soul, escorted by two angels, passed through all the halting-places for the various sins, each represented by the appointed devil, duly labeled. But the artist's fancy had not been very fruitful on this fascinating theme. The devils were so exactly alike that the only moral one could draw was, that he might as well commit the biggest and most profitable sin on the list, and make something out of it in this life, as to confine himself to the petty peccadilloes which profit not here, and get well punished hereafter. The series ended with the presentation of the soul before the judgment seat, on the fortieth day after death. Round the corner, Lazarus reclining in Abraham's bosom and the rich man in the flames were conversing, their remarks crossing each other in mid-air, in a novel fashion.

When the guide was ready, each of us bought a taper, and the procession set out through the iron grating, down a narrow, winding stair, from which low, dark passages opened out at various angles. On each side of these narrow passages, along which we were led, reposed the "incorruptible" bodies of St. Antony and his comrades, in open coffins lacquered or covered with sheets of silver. The bodies seemed very small, and all of one size, and they were wrapped in hideous prints or plaid silks. At the head of each saint flickered a tiny shrine-lamp, before a holy picture (ikona) of the occupant of the coffin. It was a surprise to find the giant Ilya of Murom, who figures as the chief of the bogatyri (heroes) in the Russian epic songs, ensconced here among the saints, and no larger than they. Next to the silk-enveloped head of St. John the Great Sufferer, which still projects as in life, when he buried himself to the neck in the earth,—as though he were not sufficiently underground already,—in order to preserve his purity, the most gruesome sight which we beheld in those dim catacombs was a group of chrism-exuding skulls of unknown saints, under glass bells.

On emerging from this gloomy retreat, we postponed meditating upon the special pleasure which the Lord was supposed to have taken in seeing beings made to live aboveground turning into troglodytes, and set out for the Fedosy, or far catacombs, in the hope that they might assist us in solving that problem.

We chose the most difficult way, descending into the intervening ravine by innumerable steps to view the two sacred wells, only to have our raging thirst and our curiosity effectually quenched by the sight of a pilgrim thrusting his head, covered with long, matted hair, into one of them. The ascent of more innumerable steps brought us to the cradle of the monastery, Ilarion's caverns.

In the antechamber we found a phenomenally stupid monk presiding over the sale of the indispensable tapers, and the offerings which the devout are expected to deposit, on emerging, as a memento of their visit. These offerings lay like mountains of copper before him. The guide had taken himself off somewhere, and the monk ordered us, and the five Russians who were also waiting, to go in alone and "call to the monk in the cave." We flatly declined to take his word that there was any monk, or to venture into the dangerous labyrinth alone, and we demanded that he should accompany us.

"No guide—no candles, no coppers," we said.

That seemed to him a valid argument. Loath to leave his money at the mercy of chance comers, he climbed up and closed the iron shutters of the grated window,—the cliff descended, sheer, one hundred and two feet to the Dnyepr at that point,—double-locked the great iron doors, and there we were in a bank vault, with all possible customers excluded. Luckily, the saints in these caverns, which differed very little from those in the former, were labeled in plain letters, since the monk was too dull-witted to understand the simplest questions from any of us. At intervals we were permitted a hasty glimpse of a cell, about seven feet square, furnished only with a stone bench, and a holy picture, with a shrine-lamp suspended before it. Ugh! There were several sets of chrism-dripping saintly skulls in these catacombs, also,—fifteen of the ghastly things in one group. I braced my stomach to the task, and scrutinized them all attentively; but not a single one of them winked or nodded at me in approval, as a nun from Kolomna, whom I had met in Moscow, asserted that they had at her. I really wished to see how an eyeless skull could manage a wink, and hoped I might be favored.

After traversing long distances of this subterranean maze, and peering into the "cradle of the monastery," St. Antony's cell, the procession came to a halt in a tiny church. There stood a monk, actually, though we might have wandered all day and come out on the banks of the Dnyepr without finding him, had we gone in without a guide. Beside him, denuded of its glass bell, stood one of the miraculous skulls. The first Russian approached, knelt, crossed himself devoutly, and received from the priest the sign of the cross on his brow, administered with a soft, small brush dipped in the oil from the skull. Then he kissed the priest's hand, crossed himself again, and kissed the skull. When we beheld this, we modestly stood aside, and allowed our companions, the other four Russian men, to receive anointment in like manner, and pass on after the monk, who was in haste to return to his bank vault. As I approached the priest, he raised his brush.

"We are not Orthodox Christians, batiushka,"* I said. "But pray give us your blessing."

* Little father.

He smiled, and, dropping his brush, made the sign of the cross over us. I was perfectly willing to kiss his pretty, plump hand,—I had become very skillful at that sort of thing,—but I confess that I shrank from the obligatory salute to the skull, and from that special chrism. Nevertheless, I wished the Russians to think that I had gone through with the whole ceremony, if they should chance to look back. I felt sure that I could trust the priest to be liberal, but I was not so certain that our lay companions, who were petty traders and peasants, might not be sufficiently fanatical to construe our refusal into disrespect for their church, and resent it in some way.

Though we returned to the monastery more than once after that, we were never attracted to the catacombs again, not even to witness the mass at seven o'clock in the morning in that subterranean church. The beautiful services in the cathedral, the stately monks, the picturesque pilgrims, with their gentle manners, ingenuous questions, and simple tales of their journeys and beliefs, furnished us with abundant interest in the cheerful sunlight aboveground.

Next to the Catacombs Monastery, the other most famous and interesting sight of Kieff is the Cathedral of St. Sophia. Built on the highest point of the ancient city, with nine apses turned to the east, crowned by one large dome and fourteen smaller domes,—all gilded, some terminating in crosses, some in sunbursts,—surrounded by turf and trees within a white wall, with entrance under a lofty belfry, it produces an imposing but reposeful effect. The ancient walls, dating from the year 1020, are of red brick intermixed with stone, stuccoed and washed with white. It has undergone changes, external and internal, since that day, and its domes and spires are of the usual degenerate South Russian type, without a doubt of comparatively recent construction. So many of its windows have been blocked up by additions, and so cut up is its space by large frescoed pillars, into sixteen sections, that one steps from brilliant sunshine into deep twilight when he enters the cathedral. It is a sort of church which possesses in a high degree that indefinable charm of sacred atmosphere that tempts one to linger on and on indefinitely within its precincts. Not that it is so magnificent; many churches in the two capitals and elsewhere in Russia are far richer. It is simply one of those indescribable buildings which console one for disappointments in historical places, as a rule, by making one believe, through sensations unconsciously influenced, not through any effort of the reason, that ancient deeds and memories do, in truth, linger about their birthplace.

Ancient frescoes, discovered about forty years ago, some remaining in their original state, others touched up with more or less skill and knowledge, mingle harmoniously with those of more recent date. Very singular are the best preserved, representing hunting parties and banquets of the Grand Princes, and scenes from the earthly life of Christ. But they are on the staircase leading to the old-fashioned gallery, and do not disturb the devotional character of the decoration in the church itself.

From the wall of the apse behind the chief of the ten altars gazes down the striking image of the Virgin, executed in ancient mosaic, with her hands raised in prayer, whom the people reverently call "The Indestructible Wall." This, with other mosaics and the frescoes on the staircase, dates from the eleventh century.

I stood among the pillars, a little removed from the principal aisle, one afternoon near sunset, listening to the melodious intoning of the priest, and the soft chanting of the small week-day choir at vespers, and wondering, for the thousandth time, why Protestants who wish to intone do not take lessons from those incomparable masters in the art, the Russian deacons, and wherein lies the secret of the Russian ecclesiastical music. That simple music, so perfectly fitted for church use, will bring the most callous into a devotional mood long before the end of the service. Rendered as it invariably is by male voices, with superb basses in place of the non-existent organ, it spoils one's taste forever for the elaborate, operatic church music of the West performed by choirs which are usually engaged in vocal steeplechases with the organ for the enhancement of the evil effects. My meditations were interrupted by the approach of a young man, who asked me to be his godmother! He explained that he was a Jew from Minsk, who had never studied "his own religion," and was now come to Kieff for the express purpose of getting himself baptized by the name of Vladimir, the tenth century prince and patron saint of the town. As he had no acquaintances in the place, he was in a strait for god-parents, who were indispensable.

"I cannot be your godmother," I answered. "I am neither pravoslavnaya nor Russian. Cannot the priest find sponsors for you?"

"That is not the priest's place. His business is merely to baptize. But perhaps he might be persuaded to manage that also, if I had better clothes."

He wore a light print shirt, tolerably clean, belted outside his dark trousers, and his shoes and cap were respectable enough.

I recalled instances which I had heard from the best authority—a priest—of priests finding sponsors for Jews, and receiving medals or orders in reward for their conversion. I recalled an instance related to me by a Russian friend who had acted, at the priest's request, as godmother to a Jewess so fat that she stuck fast in the receptacle used for the baptism by immersion; and I questioned the man a little. He said that he had a sister living in New York, and gave me her name and address in a manner which convinced me that he knew what he was saying. He had no complaint to make of his treatment by either Russians or Jews; and when I asked him why he did not join his sister in America, he replied,

"Why should I? I am well enough off here."

Perhaps I ought to state that he was a plumber by trade. On the other hand, justice demands the explanation that Russian plumbing in general is not of a very complicated character, and in Minsk it must be of a very simple kind, I think.

He intended to return to Minsk as soon as he was baptized. How he expected to attend the Russian Church in Minsk when he had found it inexpedient to be baptized there was one of the points which he omitted to explain.

I was at last obliged to bid him a decisive "good-day," and leave the church. He followed, and passed me in the garden, his cap cocked jauntily over his tight bronze curls, and his hips swaying from side to side in harmony. Under the long arch of the belfry-tower gate hung a picture, adapted to use as an ikona, which set forth how a mother had accidentally dropped her baby overboard from a boat on the Dnyepr, and coming, disconsolate, to pray before the image of St. Nicholas, the patron of travelers, she had found her child lying there safe and sound; whence this holy picture is known by the name of St. Nicholas the Wet.

Before this ikona my Jew pulled off his cap, and crossed himself rapidly and repeatedly, watching me out of the corner of his eye, meanwhile, to see how his piety impressed me. It produced no particular effect upon me, except to make me engage a smart-looking cabby to take me to my hotel, close by, by a roundabout route. Whether this Jew returned to Minsk as Vladimir or as Isaac I do not know; but I made a point of mentioning the incident to several Russian friends, including a priest, and learned, to my surprise, that, though I was not a member of a Russian Church, I could legally have stood godmother to a man, though I could not have done so to a woman; and that a godmother could have been dispensed with. Men who are not members of the Russian Church can, in like manner, stand as godfathers to women, but not to men. Moreover, every one seemed to doubt the probability of a Jew quitting his own religion in earnest, and they thought that his object had been to obtain from me a suit of clothes, practical gifts to the godchild being the custom in such cases. I had been too dull to take the hint!

A few months later, a St. Petersburg newspaper related a notorious instance of a Jew who had been sufficiently clever to get himself baptized a number of times, securing on each occasion wealthy and generous sponsors. Why the man from Minsk should have selected me, in my plain serge traveling gown, I cannot tell, unless it was because he saw that I did not wear the garb of the Russian merchant class, or look like them, and observation or report had taught him that the aristocratic classes above the merchants are most susceptible to the pleasure of patronizing converts; though to do them justice, Russians make no attempt at converting people to their church. I have been assured by a Russian Jew that his co-religionists never do, really, change their faith. Indeed, it is difficult to understand how they can even be supposed to do so, in the face of their strong traditions, in which they are so thoroughly drilled. Therefore, if Russians stand sponsors to Jews, while expressing skepticism as to conversion in general, they cannot complain if unscrupulous persons take advantage of their inconsistency. I should probably have refused to act as godmother, even had I known that I was legally entitled to do so.

Our searches in the lower town, Podol, for rugs like those in the monastery resulted in nothing but amusement. Those rugs had been made in the old days of serfdom, on private estates, and are not to be bought.

By dint of loitering about in the churches, monasteries, catacombs, markets, listening to that Little Russian dialect which is so sweet on the lips of the natives, though it looks so uncouth when one sees their ballads in print, and by gazing out over the ever beautiful river and steppe, I came at last to pardon Kieff for its progress. I got my historical and mythological bearings. I felt the spirit of the Epic Songs stealing over me. I settled in my own mind the site of Fair-Sun Prince Vladimir's palace of white stone, the scene of great feasts, where he and his mighty heroes quaffed the green wine by the bucketful, and made their great brags, which resulted so tragically or so ludicrously. I was sure I recognized the church where Diuk Stepanovitch "did not so much pray as gaze about," and indulged in mental comments upon clothes and manners at the Easter mass, after a fashion which is not yet obsolete. I imagined that I descried in the blue dusk of the distant steppe Ilya of Murom approaching on his good steed Cloudfall, armed with a damp oak uprooted from Damp Mother Earth, and dragging at his saddle-bow fierce, hissing Nightingale the Robber, with one eye still fixed on Kieff, one on Tchernigoff, after his special and puzzling habit, and whom Little Russian tradition declares was chopped up into poppy seeds, whence spring the sweet-voiced nightingales of the present day.

The "atmosphere" of the cradle of the Epic Songs and of the cradle of Pravoslavnaya Russia laid its spell upon me on those heights, and even the sight of the cobweb suspension bridge in all its modernness did not disturb me, since with it is connected one of the most charming modern traditions, a classic in the language, which only a perfect artist could have planned and executed.

The thermometer stood at 120 degrees Fahrenheit when we took our last look at Kieff, the Holy City.




We had seen the Russian haying on the estate of Count Tolstoy. We were to be initiated into the remaining processes of the agricultural season in that famous "black earth zone" which has been the granary of Europe from time immemorial, but which is also, alas! periodically the seat of dire famine.

It was July when we reached Nizhni Novgorod, on our way to an estate on the Volga, in this "black earth" grainfield, vast as the whole of France; but the flag of opening would not be run up for some time to come. The Fair quarter of the town was still in its state of ten months' hibernation, under padlock and key, and the normal town, effective as it was, with its white Kremlin crowning the turfed and terraced heights, possessed few charms to detain us. We embarked for Kazan.

If Kazan is an article in the creed of all Russians, whether they have ever seen it or not, Matushka Volga (dear Mother Volga) is a complete system of faith. Certainly her services in building up and binding together the empire merit it, though the section thus usually referred to comprises only the stretch between Nizhni Novgorod and Astrakhan, despite its historical and commercial importance above the former town.

But Kazan! A stay there of a day and a half served to dispel our illusions. We were deceived in our expectations as to the once mighty capital of the imperial Tatar khans. The recommendations of our Russian friends, the glamour of history which had bewitched us, the hope of the Western for something Oriental,—all these elements had combined to raise our expectations in a way against which our sober senses and previous experience should have warned us. It seemed to us merely a flourishing and animated Russian provincial town, whose Kremlin was eclipsed by that of Moscow, and whose university had instructed, but not graduated, Count Tolstoy, the novelist. The bazaar under arcades, the popular market in the open square, the public garden, the shops,—all were but a repetition of similar features in other towns, somewhat magnified to the proportions befitting the dignity of the home port of the Ural Mountains and Siberia.

The Tatar quarter alone seemed to possess the requisite mystery and "local color." Here whole streets of tiny shops, ablaze with rainbow-hued leather goods, were presided over by taciturn, olive-skinned brothers of the Turks, who appeared almost handsome when seen thus in masses, with opportunities for comparison. Hitherto we had thought of the Tatars only as the old-clothes dealers, peddlers, horse-butchers, and waiters of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Here the dignity of the prosperous merchants, gravely recommending their really well-dressed, well-sewed leather wares, bespoke our admiration.

The Tatar women, less easily seen, glided along the uneven pavements now and then, smoothly, but still in a manner to permit a glimpse of short, square feet incased in boots flowered with gay hues upon a green or rose-colored ground, and reaching to the knee. They might have been houris of beauty, but it was difficult to classify them, veiled as they were, and screened as to head and shoulders by striped green kaftans of silk, whose long sleeves depended from the region of their ears, and whose collar rested on the brow. What we could discern was that their black eyes wandered like the eyes of unveiled women, and that they were coquettishly conscious of our glances, though we were of their own sex.

We found nothing especially striking among the churches, unless one might reckon the Tatar mosques in the list; and, casting a last glance at Sumbeka's curious and graceful tower, we hired a cabman to take us to the river, seven versts away.

We turned our backs upon Kazan without regret, in the fervid heat of that midsummer morning. We did not shake its dust from our feet. When dust is ankle-deep that is not very feasible. It rose in clouds, as we met the long lines of Tatar carters, transporting flour and other merchandise to and from the wharves across the "dam" which connects the town, in summer low water, with Mother Volga. In spring floods Matushka Volga threatens to wash away the very walls of the Kremlin, and our present path is under water.

Fate had favored us with a clever cabman. His shaggy little horse was as dusty in hue as his own coat,—a most unusual color for coat of either Russian horse or izvostchik. The man's armyak was bursting at every seam, not with plenty, but, since extremes meet, with hard times, which are the chronic complaint of Kazan, so he affirmed. He was gentle and sympathetic, like most Russian cabmen, and he beguiled our long drive with shrewd comments on the Russian and Tatar inhabitants and their respective qualities.

"The Tatars are good people," he said; "very clean,—cleaner than Russians; very quiet and peaceable citizens. There was a time when they were not quiet. That was ten years ago, during the war with Turkey. They were disturbed. The Russians said that it was a holy war; the Tatars said so, too, and wished to fight for their brethren of the Moslem faith. But the governor was not a man to take fright at that. He summoned the chief men among them before him. 'See here,' says he. 'With me you can be peaceable with better conscience. If you permit your people to be turbulent, I will pave the dam with the heads of Tatars. The dam is long. Allah is my witness. Enough. Go!' And it came to nothing, of course. No; it was only a threat, though they knew that he was a strong man in rule. Why should he wish to do that, really, even if they were not Orthodox? A man is born with his religion as with his skin. The Orthodox live at peace with the Tatars. And the Tatars are superior to the Russians in this, also, that they all stick by each other; whereas a Russian, Hospodi pomilui! [Lord have mercy] thinks of himself alone, which is a disadvantage," said my humble philosopher.

We found that we had underrated the power of our man's little horse, and had arrived at the river an hour and a half before the steamer was appointed to sail. It should be there lading, however, and we decided to go directly on board and wait in comfort. We gave patient Vanka liberal "tea-money." Hard times were evidently no fiction so far as he was concerned, and we asked if he meant to spend it on vodka, which elicited fervent asseverations of teetotalism, as he thrust his buckskin pouch into his breast.

Descending in the deep dust, with a sense of gratitude that it was not mixed with rain, we ran the gauntlet of the assorted peddlers stationed on both sides of the long descent with stocks of food, soap, white felt boots, gay sashes, coarse leather slippers too large for human wear, and other goods, and reached the covered wharf. The steamer was not there, but we took it calmly, and asked no questions—for a space.

We whiled away the time by chaffering with the persistent Tatar venders for things which we did not want, and came into amazed possession of some of them. This was a tribute to our powers of bargaining which had rarely been paid even when we had been in earnest. We contrived to avoid the bars of yellow "egg soap" by inquiring for one of the marvels of Kazan,—soap made from mare's milk. An amused apothecary had already assured us that it was a product of the too fertile brain of Baedeker, not of the local soap factories. May Baedeker himself, some day, reap a similar harvest of mirth and astonishment from the sedate Tatars, who can put mare's milk to much better use as a beverage!

In the hope of obtaining a conversation-lesson in Tatar, we bought a Russo-Tatar grammar, warranted to deliver over all the secrets of that gracefully curved language in the usual scant array of pages. But the peddler immediately professed as profound ignorance of Tatar as he had of Russian a few moments before, when requested to abate his exorbitant demands for the pamphlet.

By the time we had exhausted these resources one o'clock had arrived. The steamer had not. The office clerk replied to all inquiries with the languid national "saytchas" which the dictionary defines as meaning "immediately," but which experience proves to signify, "Be easy; any time this side of eternity,—if perfectly convenient!" Under the pressure of increasingly vivacious attacks, prompted by hunger, he finally condescended to explain that the big mail steamer, finding too little water in the channel, had "sat down on a sand-bank," and that two other steamers were trying to pull her off. "She might be along at three o'clock, or later,—or some time." It began to be apparent to us why the success of the Fair depends, in great measure, on the amount of water in the river.

Our first meal of bread and tea had been eaten at seven o'clock, and we had counted upon breakfasting on the steamer, where some of the best public cooking in the country, especially in the matter of fish, is to be found. It was now two o'clock. The town was distant. The memory of the ducks, the size of a plover, and other things in proportion, in which our strenuous efforts had there resulted, did not tempt us to return. Russians have a way of slaying chickens and other poultry almost in the shell, to serve as game.

Accordingly, we organized a search expedition among the peddlers, and in the colony of rainbow-hued shops planted in a long street across the heads of the wharves, and filled chiefly with Tatars and coarse Tatar wares. For the equivalent of seventeen cents we secured a quart of rich cream, half a dozen hard-boiled eggs, a couple of pounds of fine raspberries, and a large fresh wheaten roll. These we ate in courses, as we perched on soap-boxes and other unconventional seats, surrounded by smoked fish, casks of salted cucumbers, festoons of dried mushrooms, "cartwheels" of sour black bread, and other favorite edibles, in the open-fronted booths. A delicious banquet it was,—one of those which recur to the memory unbidden when more elaborate meals have been forgotten.

Returning to the wharf with a fresh stock of patience, we watched the river traffic and steamers of rival lines, which had avoided sand-banks, as they took in their fuel supplies of refuse petroleum from the scows anchored in mid-stream, and proceeded on their voyage to Astrakhan. Some wheelbarrow steamers, bearing familiar names, "Niagara" and the like, pirouetted about in awkward and apparently aimless fashion.

Passengers who seemed to be better informed than we as to the ways of steamers began to make their appearance. A handsome officer deposited his red-cotton-covered traveling-pillow and luggage on the dock and strolled off, certain that no one would unlock his trunk or make way with his goods. The trunk, not unusual in style, consisted of a red-and-white tea-cloth, whose knotted corners did not wholly repress the exuberance of linen and other effects through the bulging edges.

A young Tatar, endowed with india-rubber capabilities in the way of attitudes, and with a volubility surely unrivaled in all taciturn Kazan, chatted interminably with a young Russian woman, evidently the wife of a petty shopkeeper. They bore the intense heat with equal equanimity, but their equanimity was clad in oddly contrasting attire. The woman looked cool and indifferent buttoned up in a long wadded pelisse, with a hot cotton kerchief tied close over ears, under chin, and tucked in at the neck. The Tatar squatted on his haunches, folded in three nearly equal parts. A spirally ribbed flat fez of dark blue velvet, topped with a black silk tassel, adorned his cleanly shaven head. His shirt, of the coarsest linen, was artistically embroidered in black, yellow, and red silks and green linen thread in Turanian designs, and ornamented with stripes and diamonds of scarlet cotton bestowed unevenly in unexpected places. It lay open on his dusky breast, and fell unconfined over full trousers of home-made dark blue linen striped with red, like the gussets under the arms of his white shirt. The trousers were tucked into high boots, slightly wrinkled at the instep, with an inset of pebbled horsehide, frosted green in hue, at the heels. This green leather was a part of their religion, the Tatars told me, but what part they would not reveal. As the soles were soft, like socks, he wore over his boots a pair of stiff leather slippers, which could be easily discarded on entering the mosque, in compliance with the Moslem law requiring the removal of foot-gear.

Several peasants stood about silently, patiently, wrapped in their sheepskin coats. Apparently they found this easier than carrying them, and they were ready to encounter the chill night air in the open wooden bunks of the third-class, or on the floor of the fourth-class cabin. The soiled yellow leather was hooked close across their breasts, as in winter. An occasional movement displayed the woolly interior of the tulup's short, full ballet skirt attached to the tight-fitting body. The peasants who thus tranquilly endured the heat of fur on a midsummer noon would, did circumstances require it, bear the piercing cold of winter with equal calmness clad in cotton shirts, or freeze to death on sentry duty without a murmur. They were probably on their way to find work during the harvest and earn a few kopeks, and very likely would return to their struggling families as poor as they went. As we watched this imperturbable crowd, we became infected with their spirit of unconcern, and entered into sympathy with the national saytchas—a case of atmospheric influence.

At last the steamer arrived, none the worse for its encounter with the bar. Usually, the mail steamers halt three hours—half-merchandise steamers four hours—at Kazan and other important towns on the Volga, affording hasty travelers an opportunity to make a swift survey in a drosky; but on this occasion one hour was made to suffice, and at last we were really off on our way to the estate down the river where we were to pay our long-promised visit.

We were still at a reach of the river where the big steamer might sit down on another reef, and the men were kept on guard at the bow, with hardly an intermission, gauging the depth of the water with their striped poles, to guide the helmsman by their monotonous calls: "Vosim!" "Schest-s-polovino-o-o-iu!" "Sim!" (Eight! Six and a half! Seven!) They had a little peculiarity of pronunciation which was very pleasing. And we soon discovered that into shallower water than five and a half quarters we might not venture.

The river was extremely animated above the mouth of the Kama, the great waterway from the mines and forests of the Ural and Siberia. Now and then, the men on a float heavily laden with iron bars, which was being towed to the Fair at Nizhni Novgorod, would shout a request that we would slacken speed, lest they be swamped with our swell. Huge rafts of fine timber were abundant, many with small chapel-like structures on them, which were not chapels, however. Cattle steamers passed, the unconfined beasts staring placidly over the low guards of the three decks, and uttering no sound. We had already learned that the animals are as quiet as the people, in Russia, the Great Silent Land. Very brief were our halts at the small landings. The villagers, who had come down with baskets of fresh rolls and berries and bottles of cream, to supply hungry passengers whose means or inclination prevented their eating the steamer food, had but scant opportunity to dispose of their perishable wares.

As the evening breeze freshened, the perfume of the hayfields was wafted from the distant shores in almost overpowering force. The high right bank, called the Hills, and the low left shore, known as the Forests, sank into half-transparent vagueness, which veiled the gray log-built villages with their tiny windows, and threw into relief against the evening sky only the green roofs and blue domes of the churches, surmounted by golden crosses, which gleamed last of all in the vanishing rays of sunset. A boatload of peasants rowing close in shore; a red-shirted solitary figure straying along the water's edge; tiny sea-gulls darting and dipping in the waves around the steamer; a vista up some wide-mouthed affluent; and a great peaceful stillness brooding over all,—such were the happenings, too small for incidents, which accorded perfectly with the character of the Volga. For the Volga cannot be compared with the Rhine or the Hudson in castles or scenery. It has, instead, a grand, placid charm of its own, imperial, indefinable, and sweet. One yields to it, and subscribes to the Russian faith in the grand river.

No one seemed to know how much of the lost time would be made up. Were it spring, when Mother Volga runs from fifty to a hundred and fifty miles wide, taking the adjoining country into her broad embrace, and steamers steer a bee-line course to their landings, the officers might have been able to say at what hour we should reach our destination. As it was, they merely reiterated the characteristic "Ne znaem" (We don't know), which possesses plural powers of irritation when uttered in the conventional half-drawl. Perhaps they really did not know. Owing to a recent decree in the imperial navy, officers who have served a certain number of years without having accomplished a stipulated amount of sea service are retired. Since the Russian war vessels are not many, while the Naval Academy continues to turn out a large batch of young officers every year, the opportunities for effecting the requisite sea service are limited. The officers who are retired, in consequence, seek positions on the Volga steamers, which are sometimes commanded by a rear-admiral, in the imperial uniform, which he is allowed to retain, in addition to receiving a grade. But if one chances upon them during their first season on the river, their information is not equal to their fine appearance, since Mother Volga must be studied in her caprices, and navigation is open only, on the average, between the 12th of April and the 24th of November. Useless to interrogate the old river dogs among the subordinates. The "We don't know" is even more inveterate with them, and it is reinforced with the just comment, "We are not the masters."

Knowing nothing, in the general uncertainty, except that we must land some time during the night, we were afraid to make ourselves comfortable even to the extent of unpacking sheets to cool off the velvet divans, which filled two sides of our luxurious cabin. When we unbolted the movable panels from the slatted door and front wall, to establish a draft of fresh air from the window, a counter-draft was set up of electric lights, supper clatter, cigarette smoke, and chatter, renewed at every landing with the fresh arrivals. We resolved to avoid these elegant mail steamers in the future, and patronize the half-merchandise boats of the same line, which are not much slower, and possess the advantage of staterooms opening on a corridor, not on the saloon, and are fitted with skylights, so that one can have fresh air and quiet sleep.

At four o'clock in the morning we landed. The local policeman, whose duty it is to meet steamers, gazed at us with interest. The secret of his meditations we learned later. He thought of offering us his services. "They looked like strangers, but talked Russian," he said. The combination was too much for him, and, seeing that we were progressing well in our bargain for a conveyance, he withdrew, and probably solved the riddle with the aid of the postboy.

The estate for which we were bound lay thirty-five versts distant; but fearing that we might reach it too early if we were to start at once, I ordered an equipage for six o'clock. I was under the impression that the man from the posting-house had settled it for us that we required a pair of horses, attached to whatever he thought fit, and that I had accepted his dictation. The next thing to do, evidently, was to adopt the Russian stop-gap of tea.

The wharfinger, who occupied a tiny tenement on one end of the dock, supplied us with a bubbling samovar, sugar, and china, since we were not traveling in strictly Russian style, with a fragile-nosed teapot and glasses. We got out our tea, steeped and sipped it, nibbling at a bit of bread, in that indifferent manner which one unconsciously acquires in Russia. It is only by such experience that one comes to understand the full—or rather scanty—significance of that puzzling and oft-recurring phrase in Russian novels, "drinking tea."

As we were thus occupied in one of the cells, furnished with a table and two hard stuffed benches, to accommodate waiting passengers, our postboy thrust his head in at the door and began the subject of the carriage all over again. I repeated my orders. He said, "Kharasho" (Good), and disappeared. We dallied over our tea. We watched the wharfinger's boys trying to drown themselves in a cranky boat, like the young male animals of all lands; we listened to their shrill little songs; we counted the ducks, gazed at the peasants assembled on the brow of the steep hill above us, on which the town was situated, and speculated about the immediate future, until the time fixed and three quarters of an hour more had elapsed. The wharfinger's reply to my impatient questions was an unvarying apathetic "We don't know," and, spurred to action by this, I set out to find the posting-house.

It was not far away, but my repeated and vigorous knocks upon the door of the izba (cottage), ornamented with the imperial eagle and the striped pole, received no response. I pushed open the big gate of the courtyard alongside, and entered. Half the court was roofed over with thatch. In the far corner, divorced wagon bodies, running-gear, and harnesses lay heaped on the earth. A horse, which was hitched to something unsubstantial among those fragments, came forward to welcome me. A short row of wagon members which had escaped divorce, and were united in wheeling order, stood along the high board fence. In one of them, a rough wooden cart, shaped somewhat like a barrel sawed in two lengthwise, pillowed on straw, but with his legs hanging down in an uncomfortable attitude, lay my faithless postboy (he was about forty years of age) fast asleep. The neighboring vehicle, which I divined to be the one intended for us, was in possession of chickens. A new-laid egg bore witness to their wakefulness and industry.

While I was engaged in an endeavor to rouse my should-be coachman, by tugging at his sleeve and pushing his boots in the most painful manner I could devise, a good-looking peasant woman made her tardy appearance at the side door of the adjoining izba, and seemed to enjoy the situation in an impartial, impersonal way. The horse thrust his muzzle gently into his master's face and roused him for me, and, in return, was driven away.

I demanded an explanation. Extracted by bits in conversational spirals, it proved to be that he had decided that the carriage needed three horses, which he had known all along; and, chiefly, that he had desired to sleep upon a little scheme for exploiting the strangers. How long he had intended to pursue his slumberous meditations it is impossible to say.

He dragged me through all the mazes of that bargain once more. Evidently, bargaining was of even stricter etiquette than my extensive previous acquaintance had led me to suspect; and I had committed the capital mistake of not complying with this ancestral custom in the beginning. I agreed to three horses, and stipulated, on my side, that fresh straw should replace the chickens' nest, and that we should set out at once,—not saytchas but sooner, "this very minute."

I turned to go. A fresh difficulty arose. He would not go unless I would pay for three relays. He brought out the government regulations and amendments,—all that had been issued during the century, I should think. He stood over me while I read them, and convinced myself that his "Yay Bogu" (God is my witness) was accurately placed. The price of relays was, in reality, fixed by law; but though over-affirmation had now aroused my suspicions, in my ignorance of the situation I could not espy the loophole of trickery in which I was to be noosed, and I agreed once more. More quibbling. He would not stir unless he were allowed to drive the same horses the whole distance, though paid for three relays, because all the horses would be away harvesting, and so forth and so on. Goaded to assert myself in some manner, to put an end to these interminable hagglings, I asserted what I did not know.

"Prince X. never pays for these relays," I declared boldly.

"Oh, no, he does n't," replied the man, with cheerful frankness. "But you must, or I'll not go."

That settled it; I capitulated once more.

We had omitted to telegraph to our friends, partly in order to save them the trouble of sending a carriage, partly because we were thirsting for "experiences." It began to look as though our thirst was to be quenched in some degree, since we were in this man's power as to a vehicle, and it might be true that we should not be able to obtain any other in the town, or any horses in the villages, if indeed there were any villages. Fortified by another volley of "Yay Bogu" of triumphant fervor, we survived a second wait. At last, near nine o'clock, we were able to pack ourselves and our luggage.

The body of our tarantas, made, for the sake of lightness, of woven elm withes, and varnished dark brown, was shaped not unlike a baby carriage. Such a wagon body costs about eight dollars in Kazan, where great numbers of them are made. It was set upon stout, unpainted running-gear, guiltless of springs, in cat's-cradle fashion. The step was a slender iron stirrup, which revolved in its ring with tantalizing ease. It was called a pletuschka, and the process of entering it resembled vaulting on horseback.

Our larger luggage was tied on behind with ropes, in precarious fashion. The rest we took inside and deposited at our feet. As there was no seat, we flattened ourselves out on the clean hay, and practiced Delsartean attitudes of languor. Our three horses were harnessed abreast. The reins were made in part of rope; so were the traces. Our yamtschik had donned his regulation coat over his red shirt, and sat unblenchingly through the heat. All preliminaries seemed to be settled at last. I breathed a sigh of relief, as we halted at the posting-house to pay our dues in advance, and I received several pounds of copper coin in change, presumably that I might pay the non-existent relays.

The troika set off with spirit, and we flattered ourselves that we should not be long on the road. This being a county town, there were some stone official buildings in addition to the cathedral, of which we caught a glimpse in the distance. But our road lay through a suburb of log cabins, through a large gate in the wattled town fence, and out upon the plain.

For nearly five hours we drove through birch forests, over rolling downs, through a boundless ocean of golden rye, diversified by small patches of buckwheat, oats, millet, and wheat. But wheat thrives better in the adjoining government, and many peasants, we are told, run away from pressing work and good wages at hand to harvest where they will get white bread to eat, and return penniless.

Here and there, the small, weather-beaten image of some saint, its face often indistinguishable through stress of storms, and shielded by a rough triangular penthouse, was elevated upon a pole, indicating the spot where prayers are said for the success of the harvest. Corn-flowers, larkspur, convolvulus, and many other flowers grew profusely enough among the grain to come under the head of weeds.

The transparent air allowed us vast vistas of distant blue hills and nearer green valleys, in which nestled villages under caps of thatch, encircled by red-brown fences cleverly wattled of long boughs. In one hollow we passed through a village of the Tchuvashi, a Turkish or Finnish tribe, which was stranded all along the middle Volga in unrecorded antiquity, during some of the race migrations from the teeming plateaux of Asia. The village seemed deserted. Only a few small children and grannies had been left at home by the harvesters, and they gazed curiously at us, aroused to interest by the jingling harness with its metal disks, and the bells clanging merrily from the apex of the wooden arch which rose above the neck of our middle horse.

The grain closed in upon us. We plucked some ears as we passed, and found them ripe and well filled. The plain seemed as trackless as a forest, and our postboy suspected, from time to time, that he had lost his way among the narrow roads. A few peasant men whom we encountered at close quarters took off their hats, but without servility, and we greeted them with the customary good wishes for a plentiful harvest, "Bog v pomozh" (God help), or with a bow. The peasant women whom we met rarely took other notice of us than to stare, and still more rarely did they salute first. They gazed with instinctive distrust, as women of higher rank are wont to do at a stranger of their own sex.

Although the grain was planted in what seemed to be a single vast field, belonging to one estate, it was in reality the property of many different peasants, as well as of some proprietors. Each peasant had marked his plot with a cipher furrow when he plowed, and the outlines had been preserved by the growing grain. The rich black soil of the fallow land, and strips of turf separating sections, relieved the monotony of this waving sea of gold.

The heat was intense. In our prone position, we found it extremely fatiguing to hold umbrellas. We had recourse, therefore, to the device practiced by the mountaineers of the Caucasus, who, in common with the Spaniards, believe that what will keep out cold will also keep out heat. We donned our heavy wadded pelisses. The experiment was a success. We arrived cool and tranquil, in the fierce heat, at the estate of our friends, and were greeted with fiery reproaches for not having allowed them to send one of their fifteen or twenty carriages for us. But we did not repent, since our conduct had secured for us that novel ride and a touch of our coveted "experience," in spite of the strain of our thirty hours' vigil and the jolts of the springless vehicle.

Then we discovered the exact extent of our yamtschik's trick. He had let us off on fairly easy terms, getting not quite half more than his due. By the regular route, we might really have had three relays and made better time, had we been permitted. By the short cut which our wily friend had selected, but one change was possible. This left the price of two changes to be credited to his financial ability (in addition to the tea-money of gratitude, which came in at the end, all the same), and the price of the one which he would not make. And, as I was so thoughtless as not to hire him to carry away those pounds of "relay" copper, I continued to be burdened with it until I contrived to expend it on peasant manufactures. The postboy bore the reputation of being a very honest fellow, I learned,—something after the pattern of the charming cabby who drove us to Count Tolstoy's estate.

The village, like most Russian villages, was situated on a small river, in a valley. It consisted of two streets: one running parallel with the river, the other at right angles to it, on the opposite bank. The connecting bridge had several large holes in it, on the day of our arrival, which were mended, a few days later, with layers of straw and manure mixed with earth. We continued, during the whole period of our stay, to cross the bridge, instead of going round it, as we had been advised to do with Russian bridges, by Russians, in the certainty that, if we came near drowning through its fault, it would surely furnish us with an abundance of straws to catch at.

In one corner of the settlement, a petty bourgeois,—there is no other word to define him,—the son of a former serf, and himself born a serf, had made a mill-pond and erected cloth-mills. His "European" clothes (long trousers, sack coat, Derby hat) suited him as ill as his wife's gaudy silk gown, and Sunday bonnet in place of the kerchief usual with the lower classes, suited her face and bearing. He was a quiet, unassuming man, but he was making over for himself a handsome house, formerly the residence of a noble. Probably the money wherewith he had set up in business had been wrung out of his fellow-peasants in the profession of a kulak, or "fist," as the people expressively term peasant usurers.

On the other side of the river stood the church, white-walled, green-roofed, with golden cross, like the average country church, with some weather stains, and here and there a paling missing from the fence. Near at hand was the new schoolhouse, with accommodations for the master, recently erected by our host. Beyond this began the inclosure surrounding the manor house, and including the cottages of the coachmen and the steward with their hemp and garden plots, the stables and carriage houses, the rickyard with its steam threshing machine and driers, and a vast abandoned garden, as well as the gardens in use. The large brick mansion, with projecting wings, had its drawing-rooms at the back, where a spacious veranda opened upon a flower-bordered lawn, terminating in shady acacia walks, and a grove which screened from sight the peasant cottages on the opposite bank of the river. A hedge concealed the vegetable garden, where the village urchins were in the habit of pilfering their beloved cucumbers with perfect impunity, since a wholesome spanking, even though administered by the Elder of the Commune, might result in the spanker's exile to Siberia. Another instance of the manner in which the peasants are protected by the law, in their wrongs as well as their rights, may be illustrated by the case of a load of hay belonging to the owner of the estate, which, entering the village in goodly proportions, is reduced to a few petty armfuls by the time it reaches the barn, because of the handfuls snatched in passing by every man, woman, and child in the place.

No sound of the village reached us in our retreat except the choral songs of the maidens on holiday evenings. We tempted them to the lawn one night, and overcame their bashfulness by money for nuts and apples. The airs which they sang were charming, but their voices were undeniably shrill and nasal, and not always in harmony. We found them as reluctant to dance as had been the peasants at Count Tolstoy's village. Here we established ourselves for the harvest-tide.


Our life at Prince X.'s estate on the Volga flowed on in a semi-monotonous, wholly delightful state of lotus-eating idleness, though it assuredly was not a case which came under the witty description once launched by Turgeneff broadside at his countrymen: "The Russian country proprietor comes to revel and simmer in his ennui like a mushroom frying in sour cream." Ennui shunned that happy valley. We passed the hot mornings at work on the veranda or in the well-filled library, varying them by drives to neighboring estates and villages, or by trips to the fields to watch the progress of the harvest, now in full swing. Such a visit we paid when all the able-bodied men and women in the village were ranged across the landscape in interminable lines, armed with their reaping-hooks, and forming a brilliant picture in contrast with the yellow grain, in their blue and scarlet raiment. They were fulfilling the contract which bound them to three days' labor for their landlord, in return for the pasturage furnished by him for their cattle. A gay kerchief and a single clinging garment, generally made of red and blue in equal portions, constituted the costume of the women. The scanty garments were faded and worn, for harvesting is terribly hard work, and they cannot use their good clothes, as at the haying, which is mere sport in comparison. Most of the men had their heads protected only by their long hair, whose sunburnt outer layer fell over their faces, as they stooped and reaped the grain artistically close to the ground. Their shirts were of faded red cotton; their full trousers, of blue-and-red-striped home-made linen, were confined by a strip of coarse crash swathed around the feet and legs to the knee, and cross-gartered with ropes. The feet of men and women alike were shod with low shoes of plaited linden bark over these cloths.

They smiled indulgently at our attempts to reap and make girdles for the sheaves,—the sickles seemed to grow dull and back-handed at our touch,—chatting with the dignified ease which characterizes the Russian peasant. The small children had been left behind in the village, in charge of the grandams and the women unfit for field labor. Baby had been brought to the scene of action, and installed in luxury. The cradle, a cloth distended by poles, like that of Peter the Great, which is preserved in the museum of the Kremlin at Moscow, was suspended from the upturned shafts of a telyega by a stiff spiral spring of iron, similar to the springs used on bird-cages. The curtain was made of the mother's spare gown, her sarafan. Baby's milk-bottle consisted of a cow's horn, over the tip of which a cow's teat was fastened. I had already seen these dried teats for sale in pairs, in the popular markets, but had declined to place implicit faith in the venders' solemn statements as to their use.

It was the season which the peasants call by the expressive title strada (suffering). Nearly all the summer work must be done together, and, with their primitive appliances, suffering is the inevitable result. They set out for the fields before sunrise, and return at indefinite hours, but never early. Sometimes they pass the night in the fields, under the shelter of a cart or of the grain sheaves. Men and women work equally and unweariedly; and the women receive less pay than the men for the same work, in the bad old fashion which is, unhappily, not yet unknown in other lands and ranks of life. Eating and sleeping join the number of the lost arts. The poor, brave people have but little to eat in any case,—not enough to induce thought or anxiety to return home. Last year's store has, in all probability, been nearly exhausted. They must wait until the grain which they are reaping has been threshed and ground before they can have their fill.

One holiday they observe, partly perforce, partly from choice, though it is not one of the great festivals of the church calendar,—St. Ilya's Day. St. Ilya is the Christian representative of the old Slavic god of Thunder, Perun, as well as of the prophet Elijah. On or near his name day, July 20 (Old Style), he never fails to dash wildly athwart the sky in his chariot of fire; in other words, there is a terrific thunderstorm. Such is the belief; such, in my experience, is the fact, also.

Sundays were kept so far as the field work permitted, and the church was thronged. Even our choir of ill-trained village youths and boys could not spoil the ever-exquisite music. There were usually two or three women who expected to become mothers before the week was out, and who came forward to take the communion for the last time, after the newborn babes and tiny children had been taken up by their mothers to receive it.

Every one was quiet, clean, reverent. The cloth-mill girls had discovered our (happily) obsolete magenta, and made themselves hideous in flounced petticoats and sacks of that dreadful hue. The sister of our Lukerya, the maid who had been assigned to us, thus attired, felt distinctly superior. Lukerya would have had the bad taste to follow her example, had she been permitted, so fast are evil fashions destroying the beautiful and practical national costumes. Little did Lukerya dream that she, in her peasant garb, with her thick nose and rather unformed face, was a hundred times prettier than Annushka, with far finer features and "fashionable" dress.

Independent and "fashionable" as many of these villagers were, they were ready enough to appeal to their former owners in case of illness or need; and they were always welcomed. Like most Russian women who spend any time on their estates, our hostess knew a good deal about medicine, which was necessitated by the circumstance that the district doctor lived eight miles away, and had such a wide circuit assigned to him that he could not be called in except for serious cases. Many of the remedies available or approved by the peasants were primitive, not to say heroic. For example, one man, who had exhausted all other remedies for rheumatism, was advised to go to the forest, thrust the ailing foot and leg into one of the huge ant-hills which abounded there, and allow the ants to sting him as long as he could bear the pain, for the sake of the formic acid which would thus be injected into the suffering limb. I confess that I should have liked to be present at this bit of— surgery, shall I call it? It would have been an opportunity for observing the Russian peasant's stoicism and love of suffering as a thing good in itself.

The peasants came on other errands, also. One morning we were startled, at our morning coffee, by the violent irruption into the dining-room, on his knees, of a man with clasped hands uplifted, rolling eyes, and hair wildly tossing, as he knocked his head on the floor, kissed our hostess's gown, and uttered heart-rending appeals to her, to Heaven, and to all the saints. "Barynya! dear mistress!" he wailed. "Forgive! Yay Bogu, it was not my fault. The Virgin herself knows that the carpenter forced me to it. I'll never do it again, never. God is my witness! Barynya! Ba-a-rynya! Ba-a-a-a-a-a-rynya!" in an indescribable, subdued howl. He was one of her former serfs, the keeper of the dramshop; and the carpenter, that indispensable functionary on an isolated estate, had "drunk up" all his tools (which did not belong to him, but to our hostess) at this man's establishment. The sly publican did not offer to return them, and he would not have so much as condescended to promises for the misty future, had he not been aware that the law permits the closing of pothouses on the complaint of proprietors in just such predicaments as this, as well as on the vote of the peasant Commune. Having won temporary respite by his well-acted anguish, he was ready to proceed again on the national plan of avos which may be vulgarly rendered into English by "running for luck."

But even more attractive than these house diversions and the village were the other external features of that sweet country life. The mushroom season was beginning. Equipped with baskets of ambitious size, we roamed the forests, which are carpeted in spring with lilies of the valley, and all summer long, even under the densest shadow, with rich grass. We learned the home and habits of the shrimp-pink mushroom, which is generally eaten salted; of the fat white and birch mushrooms, with their chocolate caps, to be eaten fresh; of the brown and green butter mushroom, most delicious of all to our taste, and beloved of the black beetle, whom we surprised at his feast. However, the mushrooms were only an excuse for dreaming away the afternoons amid the sweet glints of the fragrant snowy birch-trees and the green-gold flickerings of the pines, in the "black forest," which is a forest composed of evergreens and deciduous trees. Now and then, in our rambles, we met and skirted great pits dug in the grassy roads to prevent the peasants from conveniently perpetrating thefts of wood. Once we came upon a party of timber-thieves (it was Sunday afternoon), who espied us in time to rattle off in their rude telyega with their prize, a great tree, at a rate which would have reduced ordinary flesh and bones to a jelly; leaving us to stare helplessly at the freshly hewn stump. Tawny hares tripped across our path, or gazed at us from the green twilight of the bushes, as we lay on the turf and discussed all things in the modern heaven and earth, from theosophy and Keely's motor to—the other extreme.

When the peasants had not forestalled us, we returned home with masses of mushrooms, flower-like in hue,—bronze, pink, snow-white, green, and yellow; and Osip cooked them delicately, in sour cream, to accompany the juicy young blackcock and other game of our host's shooting. Osip was a cordon bleu, and taxed his ingenuity to initiate us into all the mysteries of Russian cooking, which, under his tuition, we found delicious. The only national dish which we never really learned to like was one in which he had no hand,—fresh cucumbers sliced lengthwise and spread thick with new honey, which is supposed to be eaten after the honey has been blessed, with the fruits, on the feast of the Transfiguration, but which in practice is devoured whenever found, as the village priest was probably aware. The priest was himself an enthusiastic keeper of bees in odd, primitive hives. It was really amazing to note the difference between the good, simple-mannered old man in his humble home, where he received us in socks and a faded cassock, and nearly suffocated us with vivaciously repetitious hospitality, tea, and preserves, and the priest, with his truly majestic and inspired mien, as he served the altar.

Among the wild creatures in our host's great forests were hares, wolves, moose, and bears. The moose had retreated, for the hot weather, to the lakes on the Crown lands adjacent, to escape the maddening attacks of the gadflies. Though it was not the hungry height of the season with the wolves, there was always an exciting possibility of encountering a stray specimen during our strolls, and we found the skull and bones of a horse which they had killed the past winter. From early autumn these gray terrors roam the scene of our mushroom-parties, in packs, and kill cattle in ill-protected farmyards and children in the villages.

It was too early for hare-coursing or wolf-hunting, but feathered game was plentiful. Great was the rivalry in "bags" between our host and the butler, a jealously keen sportsman. His dog, Modistka (the little milliner), had taught the clever pointer Milton terribly bad tricks of hunting alone, and was even initiating her puppies into the same evil ways. When "Monsieur, Madame, and Bebe;" returned triumphantly from the forest with their booty, and presented it to their indignant masters, there were fine scenes! Bebe and his brothers of the litter were so exactly alike in every detail that they could not be distinguished one from the other. Hence they had been dubbed tchinovniki (the officials), a bit of innocent malice which every Russian can appreciate.

Of the existence of bears we had one convincing glimpse. We drove off, one morning, in a drizzling rain, to picnic on a distant estate of our host, in a "red" or "beautiful" forest (the two adjectives are synonymous in Russian), which is composed entirely of pines. During our long tramp through a superb growth of pines, every one of which would have furnished a mainmast for the largest old-fashioned ship, a bear stepped out as we passed through a narrow defile, and showed an inclination to join our party. The armed Russian and Mordvinian foresters, our guides and protectors, were in the vanguard; and as Misha seemed peaceably disposed we relinquished all designs on his pelt, consoling ourselves with the reflection that it would not be good at this season of the year. We camped out on the crest of the hill, upon a huge rug, soft and thick, the work of serfs in former days, representing an art now well-nigh lost, and feasted on nut-sweet crayfish from the Volga, new potatoes cooked in our gypsy kettle, curds, sour black bread, and other more conventional delicacies. The rain pattered softly on us, —we disdained umbrellas,—and on the pine needles, rising in hillocks, here and there, over snowy great mushrooms, of a sort to be salted and eaten during fasts. The wife of the priest, who is condemned to so much fasting, had a wonderfully keen instinct for these particular mushrooms, and had explained to us all their merits, which seemed obscure to our non-fasting souls. Our Russian forester regaled us with forest lore, as we lay on our backs to look at the tops of the trees. But, to my amazement, he had never heard of the Leshi and the Vodyanoi, the wood-king and water-king of the folk-tales. At all events, he had never seen them, nor heard their weird frolics in the boughs and waves. The Mordvinian contributed to the entertainment by telling us of his people's costumes and habits, and gave us a lesson in his language, which was of the Tatar-Finnish variety. Like the Tchuvashi and other tribes here on the Volga, the Mordvinians furnish pleasurable excitement and bewilderment to ethnographists and students of religions.

These simple amusements came to an end all too soon, despite the rain. We were seized with a fancy to try the peasant telyega for the descent, and packed ourselves in with the rug and utensils. Our Mordvinian, swarthy and gray-eyed, walked beside us, casting glances of inquiry at us, as the shaggy little horse plunged along, to ascertain our degrees of satisfaction with the experiment. He thrust the dripping boughs from our faces with graceful, natural courtesy; and when we alighted, breathless and shaken to a pulp, at the forester's hut, where our carriages awaited us, he picked up the hairpins and gave them to us gravely, one by one, as needed. We were so entirely content with our telyega experience that we were in no undue haste to repeat it. We drove home in the persistent rain, which had affected neither our bodies nor our spirits, bearing a trophy of unfringed gentians to add to our collection of goldenrod, harebells, rose-colored fringed pinks, and other familiar wild flowers which reminded us of the western hemisphere.

The days were too brief for our delights. In the afternoons and evenings, we took breezy gallops through the forests, along the boundary sward of the fields, across the rich black soil of that third of the land which, in the "three-field" system of cultivation, is allowed to lie fallow after it has borne a crop of winter grain, rye, and one of summer grain, oats. We watched the peasants plowing or scattering the seed-corn, or returning, mounted side-saddle fashion on their horses, with their primitive plows reversed. Only such rich land could tolerate these Adam-like earth-scratchers. As we met the cows on their way home from pasture, we took observations, to verify the whimsical barometer of the peasants; and we found that if a light-hued cow headed the procession the next day really was pretty sure to be fair, while a dark cow brought foul weather. As the twilight deepened, the quail piped under the very hoofs of our horses; the moon rose over the forest, which would soon ring with the howl of wolves; the fresh breath of the river came to us laden with peculiar scents, through which penetrated the heavy odor of the green-black hemp.

One day the horses were ordered, as usual. They did not appear. The cavalryman who had been hired expressly to train them had not only neglected his duty, but had run away, without warning, to reap his own little field, in parts unknown. He had carefully observed silence as to its existence, when he was engaged. This was item number one. Item number two was that there was something the matter with all the horses, except Little Boy, Little Bird, and the small white Bashkir horse from the steppes, whose ear had been slit to subdue his wildness. The truth was, the steward's young son had been practicing high jumping, bareback, in a circus costume of pink calico shirt and trousers, topped by his tow-colored hair. We had seen this surreptitious performance, but considered it best to betray nothing, as the lad had done so well in the village school that our hosts were about to send him to town, to continue his studies at their expense.

The overseer, another soldier, was ordered to don his uniform and accompany us. He rebelled. "He had just got his hair grown to the square state which suited his peasant garb, and it would not go with his dragoon's uniform in the least. Why, he would look like a Kazak! Impossible, utterly!" He was sternly commanded not to consider his hair; this was not the city, with spectators. When he finally appeared, in full array, we saw that he had applied the shears to his locks, in a hasty effort to compromise between war and peace without losing the cut. The effect was peculiar; it would strike his commanding officer dumb with mirth and horror. He blushed in a deprecating manner whenever we glanced at him.

There was a bath-house beside the river. But a greater luxury was the hot bath, presided over by old Alexandra. Alexandra, born a serf on the estate, was now like a humble member of the family, the relations not having changed, perceptibly, since the emancipation, to the old woman's satisfaction. She believed firmly in the Domovoi (the house sprite), and told wonderful tales of her experiences with him. Skepticism on that point did not please her. When the horses were brought round with matted manes, a sign of an affectionate visit from the Domovoi, which must not be removed, under penalty of his displeasure, it was useless to tell Alexandra that a weasel had been caught in the act, and that her sprite was no other. She clung to her belief in her dreaded friend.

The bath was a small log house, situated a short distance from the manor. It was divided into anteroom, dressing-room, and the bath proper. When we were ready, Alexandra, a famous bath-woman, took boiling water from the tank in the corner oven, which had been heating for hours, made a strong lather, and scrubbed us soundly with a wad of linden bast shredded into fibres. Her wad was of the choicest sort; not that which is sold in the popular markets, but that which is procured by stripping into rather coarse filaments the strands of an old mat-sack, such as is used for everything in Russia, from wrappers for sheet iron to bags for carrying a pound of cherries. After a final douche with boiling water, we mounted the high shelf, with its wooden pillow, and the artistic part of the operation began. As we lay there in the suffocating steam, Alexandra whipped us thoroughly with a small besom of birch twigs, rendered pliable and secure of their tender leaves by a preliminary plunge in boiling water. When we gasped for breath, she interpreted it as a symptom of speechless delight, and flew to the oven and dashed a bucket of cold water on the red-hot stones placed there for the purpose. The steam poured forth in intolerable clouds; but we submitted, powerless to protest. Alexandra, with all her clothes on, seemed not to feel the heat. She administered a merciless yet gentle massage to every limb with her birch rods,—what would it have been like if she had used nettles, the peasants' delight?—and rescued us from utter collapse just in time by a douche of ice-cold water. We huddled on all the warm clothing we owned, were driven home, plied with boiling tea, and put to bed for two hours. At the end of that time we felt made over, physically, and ready to beg for another birching. But we were warned not to expose ourselves to cold for at least twenty-four hours, although we had often seen peasants, fresh from their bath, birch besom in hand, in the wintry streets of the two capitals.

We visited the peasants in their cottages, and found them very reluctant to sell anything except towel crash. All other linen which they wove they needed for themselves, and it looked as even and strong as iron. Here in the south the rope-and-moss-plugged log house stood flat on the ground, and was thatched with straw, which was secured by a ladder-like arrangement of poles along the gable ends. Three tiny windows, with tinier panes, relieved the street front of the house. The entrance was on the side, from the small farmyard, littered with farming implements, chickens, and manure, and inclosed with the usual fence of wattled branches. From the small ante-room designed to keep out the winter cold, the store-room opened at the rear, and the living-room at the front. The left hand corner of the living-room, as one entered, was occupied by the oven, made of stones and clay, and whitewashed. In it the cooking was done by placing the pots among the glowing wood coals. The bread was baked when the coals had been raked out. Later still, when desired, the owners took their steam bath, more resembling a roasting, inside it, and the old people kept their aged bones warm by sleeping on top of it, close to the low ceiling. Round three sides of the room ran a broad bench, which served for furniture and beds. In the right-hand corner, opposite the door,—the "great corner" of honor,—was the case of images, in front of which stood the rough table whereon meals were eaten. This was convenient, since the images were saluted, at the beginning and end of meals, with the sign of the cross and a murmured prayer. The case contained the sacred picture wherewith the young couple were blessed by their parents on their marriage, and any others which they might have acquired, with possibly a branch of their Palm Sunday pussy willows. A narrow room, monopolizing one of the windows, opened from the living-room, beyond the oven, and served as pantry and kitchen. A wooden trough, like a chopping-tray, was the washtub. The ironing or mangling apparatus consisted of a rolling-pin, round which the article of clothing was wrapped, and a curved paddle of hard wood, its under-surface carved in pretty geometrical designs, with which it was smoothed. This paddle served also to beat the clothes upon the stones, when the washing was done in the river, in warm weather. A few wooden bowls and spoons and earthen pots, including the variety which keeps milk cool without either ice or running water, completed the household utensils. Add a loom for weaving crash, the blue linen for the men's trousers and the women's scant sarafans, and the white for their aprons and chemises, and the cloth for coats, and the furnishing was done.

The village granaries, with wattled walls and thatched roofs, are placed apart, to lessen the danger from fire, near the large gates which give admission to the village, through the wattled fence encircling it. These gates, closed at night, are guarded by peasants who are unfitted, through age or infirmities, for field labor. They employ themselves, in their tiny wattled lean-tos, in plaiting the low shoes of linden bark, used by both men and women, in making carts, or in some other simple occupation. An axe—a whole armory of tools to the Russian peasant— and an iron bolt are their sole implements.

We were cut off from intercourse with one of the neighboring estates by the appearance there of the Siberian cattle plague, and were told that, should it spread, arrivals from that quarter would be admitted to the village only after passing through the disinfecting fumes of dung fires burning at the gate.

Incendiaries and horse-thieves are the scourges of village life in Russia. Such men can be banished to Siberia, by a vote of the Commune of peasant householders. But as the Commune must bear the expense, and people are afraid that the evil-doer will revenge himself by setting the village on fire, if he discovers their plan, this privilege is exercised with comparative rarity. The man who steals the peasant's horse condemns him to starvation and ruin. Such a man there had been in our friends' village, and for long years they had borne with him patiently. He was crafty and had "influence" in some mysterious fashion, which made him a dangerous customer to deal with. But at last he was sent off. Now, during our visit, the village was trembling over a rumor that he was on his way back to wreak vengeance on his former neighbors. I presume they were obliged to have him banished again, by administrative order from the Minister of the Interior,—the only remedy when one of this class of exiles has served out his term,—before they could sleep tranquilly.

When seen in his village home, it is impossible not to admire the hard-working, intelligent, patient, gentle, and sympathetic muzhik, in spite of all his faults. We made acquaintance with some of his democratic manners during a truly unique picnic, arranged by our charming hosts expressly to convince us that the famous sterlet merited its reputation. We had tried it in first-class hotels and at their own table, as well as at other private tables, and we maintained that it was merely a sweet, fine-grained, insipid fish.

"Wait until we show you zhiryokha [sterlet grilled in its own fat] and ukha [soup] as prepared by the fishermen of the Volga. The Petersburg and Moscow people cannot even tell you the meaning of the word 'zhiryokha'" was the reply. "As for the famous 'amber' soup, you have seen that even Osip's efforts do not deserve the epithet."

Accordingly, we assembled one morning at seven o'clock, to the sound of the hunting-horn, to set out for a point on the Volga twelve miles distant. We found Milton, the Milliner, and the whole litter of officials in possession of the carriage, and the coachman's dignity relaxed into a grin at their antics, evoked by a suspicion that we were going hunting. Our vehicle, on this occasion, as on all our expeditions to field and forest, was a stoutly built, springless carriage, called a lineika, or little line, which is better adapted than any other to country roads, and is much used. In Kazan, by some curious confusion of ideas, it is called a "guitar." Another nickname for it is "the lieutenant's coach," which was bestowed upon it by the Emperor Nicholas. The Tzar came to visit one of the Volga provinces, and found a lineika awaiting him at the landing, for the reason that nothing more elegant, and with springs, could scale the ascent to the town, over the rough roads. The landed proprietors of that government were noted for their dislike for the service of the state, which led them to shirk it, regardless of the dignity and titles to be thus acquired. They were in the habit of retiring to their beloved country homes when they had attained the lowest permissible rung of that wonderful Jacob's ladder leading to the heaven of officialdom, established by Peter the Great, and dubbed the Table of Ranks. This grade was lieutenant in the army or navy, and the corresponding counselor in the civil service. The story runs that Nicholas stretched himself out at full length on it for a moment, and gave it its name. Naturally, such men accepted the Emperor's jest as a compliment, and perpetuated its memory.

This style of carriage, which I have already described in my account of our visit to Count Tolstoy, is a development of the Russian racing-gig, which is also used for rough driving in the country, by landed proprietors. In the latter case it is merely a short board, bare or upholstered, on which the occupant sits astride, with his feet resting on the forward axle. Old engravings represent this uncomfortable model as the public carriage of St. Petersburg at the close of the last century.

Our troika of horses was caparisoned in blue and red leather, lavishly decorated with large metal plaques and with chains which musically replaced portions of the leather straps. Over the neck of the middle horse, who trotted, rose an ornamented arch of wood. The side horses, loosely attached by leather thongs, galloped with much freedom and grace, their heads bent downward and outward, so that we could watch their beautiful eyes and crimson nostrils. Our coachman's long armyak of dark blue cloth, confined by a gay girdle, was topped by a close turban hat of black felt, stuck all the way round with a row of eyes from a peacock's tail. He observed all the correct rules of Russian driving, dashing up ascents at full speed, and holding his arms outstretched as though engaged in a race, which our pace suggested.

Our road to the Volga lay, at first, through a vast grainfield, dotted with peasants at the harvest. Miles of sunflowers followed. They provide oil for the poorer classes to use in cooking during the numerous fasts, when butter is forbidden, and seeds to chew in place of the unattainable peanut. Our goal was a village situated beneath lofty chalk hills, dazzling white in the sun. A large portion of the village, which had been burned a short time before, was already nearly rebuilt, thanks to the ready-made houses supplied by the novel wood-yards of Samara.

The butler had been dispatched on the previous evening, with a wagon-load of provisions and comforts, and with orders to make the necessary arrangements for a boat and crew with fisherman Piotr. But, for reasons which seemed too voluble and complicated for adequate expression, Piotr had been as slow of movement as my bumptious yamtschik of the posting-station, and nothing was ready. Piotr, like many elderly peasants, might sit for the portrait of his apostolic namesake. But he approved of more wine "for the stomach's sake" than any apostle ever ventured to recommend, and he had ingenious methods of securing it. For example, when he brought crayfish to the house, he improved the opportunity. The fishermen scorn these dainties, and throw them out of the nets. The fact that they were specially ordered was sufficient hint to Piotr. He habitually concealed them in the steward's hemp patch or some other handy nook, and presented himself to our host with the announcement that he would produce them when he was paid his "tea-money" in advance, in the shape of a glass of vodka. The swap always took place.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse