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The Bildwn Library
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THE COURIER OF THE CZAR.
THE COURIER OF THE CZAR.
By JULES VERNE,
"TlE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND," "A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH," ETC., ETC.
TRANSLATED BY W. H. G. KINGSTON.
REVISED BY JULIUS CHAMBERS.
WITH NINETY FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.
SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & COMPANY.
(All rights reserved.)
SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & COMPANY,
JOHN F. TROW & SON,
PRINTERS AND BOOKBINDUKS,
205-213 East 12th Stret,',
I. A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE ... ... I
II. RUSSIANS AND TARTARS ... ... ... ... 12
III. MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR ... 23
IV. FROM Moscow TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD ... ... 30
V. THE Two ANNOUNCEMENTS ... ... ... ... 45
VI. BROTHER AND SISTER ... ... ... ... 55
VII. GOING DOWN THE VOLGA ... ... ... ... 62
VIII. GOING UP THE KAMA ... ... ... ... 72
IX. DAY AND NIGHT IN A TARANTASS ... ... ... SO
X. A STORM IN THE URAL MOUNTAINS' ... ... 90
XI. TRAVELLERS IN DISTRESS ... ... ... ... 99
XII. PROVOCATION ... ... ... .. I IO
XIII. DUTY BEFORE EVERYTHING ... ... ... ... 123
XIV. MOTHER AND SON ... ... ... ... 133
XV. THE MARSHES OF THE BARABA ... ... .. 144
XVI. A FINAL EFFORT ... ... ... ... 155
XVII. TiE RIVALS ... ... .. ... ... ... 166
A TARTAR CAMP ...
CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE
BLOW FOR BLOW ...
THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
"LOOK WHILE YOU MAY!"
. ... 204
A FRIEND ON THE HIGHWAY ...
THE PASSAGE OF THE YENISEI
A HARE CROSSES THE ROAD ...
IN THE STEPPE ... ..
BAIKAL AND ANGARA
BETWEEN TWO BANKS ...
IRKUTSK ... ...
THE CZAR'S COURIER
THE NIGHT OF THE FIFTH OF OCTOBER
CONCLUSION ... ...
I. FROM THE ISLE OF GUAJAN TO ACAPULCO
II. FROM ACAPULCO TO CIGUALAN ...
III. CIGUALAN TO TASCO
IV. TASCO TO CUERNAVACA ...
V. FROM CUERNAVACA TO POPOCATEPETL ...
. ... 336
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
The Palace, Moscow .
"Truly, sir, this f&te is charming" .
The officer stepped out on a balcony to breathe
"I will now tell you something you are ignorant of"
SExcuse me, your Majesty" .
The Courier, Michael Strogoff .
"Go, then, Michael Strogoff!" .
Michael Strogoff ensconced himself in his corner
He was immediately taken off .
Seating herself with downcast eyes .
The accident .
" What are you doing here ?" .
A moving mass of human beings ..
Then in a loud voice he read .
There, fallen rather than seated on a bench
"Sister !" said he .
He was already climbing the forecastle ladder .
As the Bohemian troop was leaving the steamboat
Was Alcide Jolivet about to miss his passage? .
Three post-horses were harnessed to the Tarantass
The Tarantass left Perm in a cloud of dust
"Here comes the storm !" .
He managed to master the horses .
"Cries, brother I Listen !" .
Travellers in distress .
" You are not wounded, sister?" .
To face page 7
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Had not the Iemschik prudently retreated To face page 109
The energetic Frenchman had found a Tarantass 12
The arrival at Tioumen .. I15
"Defend yourself!" 121
"For my country, and the Father 124
"Be off, my friend!" .. 128
She was dragged into one of the boats 132
"Do not speak !" thou art still too weak 135
"My son!" 1.. 4o
"Dost thou know that I can torture thee ?" 143
A disagreeable ride .. 147
" Will you answer me a few questions?" 150
Michael Strogoff advances cautiously 157
"Torches !" said he to himself 160
Michael fired 164
Michael's horse struck in the side .. 167
Two versts further a village 170
The house was entered by Tartar soldiers 174
Feofar's tent overlooked the others 179
" You are something of a doctor, then ?" 83
Sangarre was there 189
Ivan Ogareff entered and stood before the Emir 194
He took the letters and read them attentively 195
The girl was there to support her 200
It was necessary to follow the high road 205
They came to drink in their turn 27
" Begin !" said Ogareff 210
Raising the knout he struck Ogareff 214
This woman of Persian origin was wonderfully beautiful 220
" You shall die !" he said ... 224
"Look while you may !" 228
Michael Strogoff was blind 233
"Are you there, Nadia ?" he asked 237
"It is a cart, a young man is driving it" ." 241
"She is very pretty," said Nicholas 246
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
It was seven o'clock in the evening .
They were soon floating .
Seizing the bridle with his strong hand .
A hare crosses the road ..
The body was that of a Mujik .
The horse with his rider fell to the bottom of the cliff
Nadia looked at all these bodies .
A head issued from the ground .
Soon the body of Nicholas was laid in the grave
An old Baikal boatman took command .
" Come said Nadia .
The old boatman crouched down forward .
Nadia crept in front of Michael .
Working night and day .
Wassili Fedor .
A man entered, he appeared to be exhausted with fatigue
lie was everywhere received with cordial congratulations
A note fell into the hands of Sangarre .
"At last !" said Ivan Ogareff .
Lifted by an irresistible force the villain was dashed to the
"Who killed that man?" .
"It will be my joy to call you both my children"
Don Orteva and Pablo .
The mutiny breaks out .
On the road to Mexico .
The traveller's unquiet sleep .
Martinez alarmed at the sight of a snake .
Death of the mutineer Martinez .
To face page 248
A FATE AT THE NEW PALACE.
" SIRE, a fresh despatch."
Is the wire cut beyond that city ?"
"Yes, sire, since yesterday."
"Telegraph hourly to Tomsk, General, and let me Le
kept au courant of all that occurs."
Sire, it shall be done," answered General Kissoff.
These words were exchanged about two hours after
midnight, at the moment when the fete given at the New
Palace was at the height of its splendour.
During the whole evening the bands of the Pr6obra-
jensky and Paulowsky regiments had played without
cessation polkas, mazurkas, schottisches, and waltzes from
among the choicest of their repertories. Innumerable
couples of dancers whirled through the magnificent saloons
of the palace, which stood at a few paces only from the
" old house of stones "-in former days the scene of so
many terrible dramas, and the echoes of whose walls were
this night awakened by the gay strains of the musicians.
2 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
The grand-chamberlain of the court was, besides, well
seconded in his arduous and delicate duties. The grand-
dukes and their aides-de-camp, the chamberlains-in-waiting
and other officers of the palace, presided personally in the
arrangement of the dances. The grand-duchesses, covered
with diamonds, the ladies-in-waiting in their most exquisite
costumes, set the example to the wives of the military
and civil dignitaries of the ancient "city of white stone."
When, therefore, the signal for the polonaise resounded
through the saloons, and the guests of all ranks took part
in that measured promenade, which on occasions of this
kind has all the importance of a national dance, the min-
gled costumes, the sweeping robes adorned with lace, and
uniforms covered with orders, presented a scene of dazzling
and indescribable splendour, lighted by hundreds of lustres
multiplied tenfold by reflection in the numerous mirrors
adorning the walls.
The grand saloon, the finest of all those contained in
the New Palace, formed to this procession of exalted per-
sonages and splendidly dressed women a frame worthy of
the magnificence they displayed. The rich ceiling, with
its gilding already softened by the touch of time, appeared
as if glittering with stars. The embroidered drapery of
the curtains and doors, falling in gorgeous folds, assumed
rich and varied hues, broken by the shadows of the heavy
masses of damask.
Through the panes of the vast semicircular bay-
windows the light, with which the saloons were filled,
shone forth with the brilliancy of a conflagration, vividly
illuminating the gloom in which for some hours the palace
had been shrouded. The attention of those of the guests
not taking part in the dancing was attracted by the con-
trast. Resting in the recesses of the windows, they could
discern, standing out dimly in the darkness, the vague
outlines of the countless towers, domes, and spires which
adorn the ancient city. Below the sculptured balconies
were visible numerous sentries, pacing silently up and
down, their rifles, carried horizontally on the shoulder, and
A FATE AT THE NEW PALACE. 3
the spikes of their helmets glittering like flames in the
glare of light issuing from the palace. The steps also of
the patrols could be heard beating time on the stones
beneath with even more regularity than the feet of the
dancers on the floor of the saloons. From time to time
the watchword was repeated from post to post, and occa-
sionally the notes of a trumpet, mingling with the strains
of the orchestra, penetrated into their midst. Still farther
down, in front of the facade, dark masses obscured the rays
of light which proceeded from the windows of the New
Palace. These were boats descending the course of a
river, whose waters, faintly illumined by the twinkling
light of a few lamps, washed the lower portion of the
The principal personage who has been mentioned, the
giver of the fete, and to whom General Kissoff had been
speaking in that tone of respect with which sovereigns
alone are usually addressed, wore the simple uniform of an
officer of chasseurs of the guard. This was not affectation
on his part, but the custom of a man who cared little for
dress, his contrasting strongly with the gorgeous cos-
tumes amid which he moved, encircled by his' escort of
Georgians, Cossacks, and Circassians--a brilliant band,
splendidly clad in the glittering uniforms of the Caucasus.
This personage, of lofty stature, affable demeanour,
and physiognomy calm, though bearing traces of anxiety,
moved from group to group, seldom speaking, and appear-
ing to pay but little attention either to the merriment of
the younger guests or the graver remarks of the exalted
dignitaries or members of the diplomatic corps who repre-
sented at the Russian court the principal governments of
Europe. Two or three of these astute politicians-physiog-
nomists by virtue of their profession-failed not to detect
on the countenance of their host symptoms of disquietude,
the source of which eluded their penetration; but none
ventured to interrogate him on the subject.
It was evidently the intention of the officer of chasseurs
that his own anxieties should in no way cast a shade over
4 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
the festivities ; and, as he was one of those few personages
whom almost the population of a world in itself was wont
to obey, the gaiety of the ball was not for a moment
"Nevertheless, General Kissoff waited until the officer
to whom he had just communicated the despatch forwarded
from Tomsk should give him permission to withdraw; but
the latter still remained silent. He had taken the tele-
gram, he had read it carefully, and his visage became even
more clouded than before. Involuntarily he sought the
hilt of his sword, and then passed his hand for an instant
before his eyes, as though, dazzled by the brilliancy of the
light, he wished to shade them, the better to see into the
recesses of his own mind.
"We are, then," he continued, after having drawn
General Kissoff aside towards a window, since yesterday
without intelligence from the Grand Duke ?"
Without any, sire; and it is to be feared that shortly
despatches will no longer cross the Siberian frontier."
But have not the troops of the provinces of Amoor
and Irkutsk, as those also of the Trans-Balkan territory,
received orders to march immediately upon Irkutsk ?"
The orders were transmitted by the last telegram we
were able to send beyond Lake Baikal."
"And the governments of Yeniseisk, Omsk, Semipola-
tinsk, and Tobolsk-are we still in direct communication
with them as before the insurrection ?"
"Yes, sire; our despatches have reached them, and we
are assured at the present moment that the Tartars have
not advanced beyond the Irtish and the Obi."
"And the traitor Ivan Ogareff, are there no tidings of
him ? "
"None," replied General Kissoff.. "The head of the
police cannot state whether or not he has crossed the
".Let a description of him. be immediately despatched
to Nijni-Novgorod, Perm, Ekaterenburg, Kasimov, Tiou-
men, Ishim, Omsk, Elamsk, Kalyvan, Tomsk, and to all
A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE. 5
the telegraphic stations with which communication is yet
"Your majesty's orders shall be instantly carried out,'
answered General Kissoff.
You will observe the strictest silence as to this."
The General, having made a sign of respectful assent,
bowing low, mingled for a short time with the crowd, and
finally left the apartments without his departure being
The officer remained absorbed in thought for a few
moments, when, recovering himself, he went among the
various groups formed in different parts of the saloon, his
countenance reassuming that calm aspect which had for an
instant been disturbed.
Nevertheless, the important occurrence which had occa-
casioned these rapidly exchanged words was not so un-
known as the officer of chasseurs of the guard and General
Kissoff had possibly supposed. It was not spoken of
officially, it is true, nor even officiously, since tongues were
not free; but a few exalted personages had been informed,
more or less exactly, of the events which had taken place
beyond the frontier. At any rate, that which was only
slightly known, that which was not matter of conversa-
tion even between members of the corps diplomatique, to
guests, distinguished by no uniform, no decoration, at this
reception in the New Palace, discussed in a low voice, and
with apparently very correct information.
By what means, by the exercise of what acuteness had
these two ordinary mortals ascertained that which so many
persons of the highest rank and importance scarcely even
suspected ? It is impossible to say. Had they the gifts
of foreknowledge and foresight? Did they possess a
supplementary sense, which enabled them to see beyond
that limited horizon which bounds all human gaze ? Had
they obtained a peculiar power of divining the most
secret events ? Was it owing to the habit, now become a
second nature, of living on information, and by informa-
tion, that their mental constitution had thus become
6 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
really transformed ? It was difficult to escape from this
Of these two men, the one was English, the other
French; both were tall and thin, but the latter was sallow
as are the southern Provengals, while the former was ruddy
like a Lancashire gentleman. The Anglo-Norman, formal,
cold, grave, parsimonious of gestures and words, appearing
only to speak or gesticulate under the influence of a spring
operating at regular intervals. The Gaul, on the contrary,
lively and petulant, expressed himself with lips, eyes,
hands, all at once, having twenty different ways of ex-
plaining his thoughts, whereas his interlocutor s-emed
to have only one, immutably stereotyped on his brain.
The strong contrast they presented would at once
have struck the most superficial observer; but a physiog-
nomist, regarding them more closely, would have defined
their particular characteristics by saying, that if the
Frenchman was "all eyes," the Englishman was "all ears."
In fact, the visual apparatus of the one had been
singularly perfected by practice. The sensibility of its
retina must have been as instantaneous as that of those
conjurors who recognize a card merely by a rapid move-
ment in cutting the pack, or by the arrangement only of
marks invisible to others. The Frenchman indeed po -
sessed in the highest degree what may be called "the
memory of the eye."
The Englishman, on the contrary, appeared, especially
organised to listen and to hear. When his aural apparatus
had been once struck by the sound of a voice he could not
forget it, and after ten or even twenty years he would have
recognized it among a thousand. His ears, to be sure, had
not the power of moving as freely as those of animals who
are provided with large auditory flaps; but, since scientific
men know that human ears possess, in fact, a very limited
power of movement, we should not be far wrong in
affirming that those of the said Englishman became erect,
and turned in all directions while endeavouring to gather
in the sounds, in a manner apparent only to the naturalist.
"Truly, sir, this Fete is charming!"
A FETE AT THE NJEW PALACE. 7
It must be observed that this perfection of sight and
hearing was of wonderful assistance to these two men in
their vocation, for the Englishman acted as correspondent
of the Daily Telegraph, and the Frenchman, as corres-
pondent of the ..... of what newspaper, or of what
newspapers, he did not say; and when asked, he replied in
a jocular manner that he corresponded with "his cousin
Madeleine." This Frenchman, however, beneath his care-
less surface, was wonderfully shrewd and sagacious. Even
while speaking at random, perhaps the better to hide'his
desire to learn, he never forgot himself. His loquacity
even helped him to conceal his thoughts, and he was
perhaps even. more discreet than his confrere of the Daily
Telegraph. Both were present at this fete given at the
New Palace on the night of the 15th of July in their
character of reporters, and for the greater edification of
It is needless to say that these two men were devoted
to their mission in the world--that they delighted to throw
themselves in the track of the most unexpected intelligence
-that nothing terrified or discouraged them from succeed-
ing-that they possessed the imperturbable sang-froi' and
the genuine intrepidity of men of their calling. Enthu-
siastic jockeys in this steeplechase, this hunt after infor-
mation, they leaped hedges, crossed rivers, sprang over
fences, with the ardour of pure-blooded racers, who will run
'ra good first or die!
Their journals did not restrict them with regard to
money-the surest, the most rapid, the most perfect
element of information known to this day. It must also
be added, to their honour, that neither the one nor the
other ever looked over or listened at the walls of private
life, and that they only exercised their vocation when
political or social interests were at stake. In a word, they
made what has been for ,ome years called "the great
political and military reports."
It will be seen, in following them, that they had
generally an independent mode of viewing events, and,
8 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
above all, their consequences, each having his own way of
observing and appreciating. The object to be obtained
being of adequate value, they never failed to expend the
The French correspondent was named Alcide Jolivet.
Harry Blount was the name of the Englishman. They
had just met for the first time at this f6te in the New
Palace, of which they had been ordered to give an account
in their papers. The dissimilarity of their characters,
added to a certain amount of jealousy, which generally
exists between rivals in the same calling, might have
rendered them but little sympathetic. However, they did
not avoid one another, but endeavoured rather to exchange
with each other the news of the day. They were two
sportsmen, after all, hunting on the same ground, in the
same preserves. That which one missed might be advan-
tageously secured by the other, and it was to their interest
to meet and converse together.
This evening they were both on the look out; they felt,
in fact, that there was something in the air.
Even should it be only a wildgoose chase," said Alcide
Jolivet to himself, "it may be worth powder and shot."
The two correspondents were therefore led to chat
together during the ball, a few minutes after the departure
of General Kissoff, and they began by cautiously sounding
Really, my dear sir, this little fete is charming said
Alcide J.olivet pleasantly, thinking himself obliged to begin
the conversation with this eminently French phrase.
"I have telegraphed already, 'splendid r'" replied
Harry Blount calmly, employing the word specially de-
voted to expressing admiration,, by all subjects of the
"Nevertheless," added Alcide Jolivet, I felt compelled
to remark to my cousin- "
"Your cousin?" repeated Harry Blount in a tone of
surprise, interrupting his brother of the pen.
"Yes," returned Alcide Jolivet, "my cousin Madeleine.
A FATE AT THE NEW PALACE. 9
. ... It is with her that I correspond, and she likes to be
quickly and well informed, does my cousin. I there-
fore remarked to her that, during this fete, a sort of cloud
had appeared to overshadow the sovereign's brow."
To me, it seemed radiant," replied Harry Blount, who
perhaps wished to conceal his real opinion on this topic.
"And, naturally, you made it 'radiant,' in the columns
of the Daily Telegraph."
Do you remember, Mr. Blount, what occurred at Zakret
"I remember it as well as if I had been there, sir,"
replied the English correspondent.
Then," continued Alcide Jolivet, "you know that, in
the middle of a fete given in his honour, it was announced
to the Emperor Alexander that Napoleon had just crossed
the Niemen with the vanguard of the French army.
Nevertheless the Emperor did not leave the fete, and not-
withstanding the extreme gravity of intelligence which
might cost him his empire, he did not allow himself to
show more uneasiness ... ."
"Than our host exhibited when General Kissoff in-
formed him that the telegraphic wires had just been cut
between the frontier and the government of Irkutsk."
"Ah you are aware of that ?"
"As regards myself, it would be difficult to avoid know-
ing it, since my last telegram reached Udinsk," observed
Alcide Jolivet, with some satisfaction.
"And mine only as far as Krasnoiarsk," answered
Harry Blount, in a no less satisfied tone.
"Then you know also that orders have been sent to the
troops of Nikolaevsk ?"
"I do, sir; and at the same time a telegram.was sent
to the Cossacks of the government of Tobolsk to concen-
trate their forces."
Nothing can be more true, Mr. Blount; I was equally
well acquainted with these measures, and you may be sure
that my dear cousin shall know something of them to-
"Exactly as the readers of the Daily Telegraph shall
know it also, M. Jolivet."
Well, when one sees all that is going on ... ."
"And when one hears all that is said ."
"An interesting campaign to follow, Mr. Blount."
"I shall follow it, M. Jolivet! "
"Then it is possible that we shall find ourselves on
ground less safe, perhaps, than the floor of this ball-room."
Less safe, certainly, but- "
But much less slippery," added Alcide Jolivet, holding
up .his companion, just as the latter, drawing back, was
about to lose his equilibrium.
Thereupon the two correspondents separated, pleased
enough to know that the one had not stolen a march on
At that moment the doors of the rooms adjoining the
great reception saloon were thrown open, disclosing to view
several immense tables beautifully laid out, and groaning
under a profusion of valuable china and gold plate. On
the central table, reserved for the princes, princesses, and
members of the corps diplomatique, glittered an epergne
of inestimable price, brought from London, and around
this chef-d'ceuvre of chased gold, were reflected, under the
lint of the lustres, a thousand pieces of the most beautiful
service which the manufactories of Sevres had ever pro-
The guests of the New Palace immediately began to
stream towards the supper-rooms.
At that moment, General Kissoff, who had just re-
entered, quickly approached the officer of chasseurs.
"Well ? asked the latter abruptly, as he had done the
"Telegrams pass Tomsk no longer, sire."
"A courier this moment!
The officer left the hall and entered a large antechamber
The Officer stepped out on a balcony to breathe.
A FATE AT THE NEW PALACE.
It was a cabinet with plain oak furniture, and situated
in an angle of the New Palace. Several pictures, amongst
others some by Horace Vernet, hung on the wall.
The officer hastily opened a window, as if he felt the
want of air, and stepped out on a balcony to breathe the
pure atmosphere of a lovely July night.
Beneath his eyes, bathed in moonlight, lay a fortified
inclosure, from which rose two cathedrals, three palaces,
and an arsenal. Around this inclosure could be seen three
distinct towns : Kitai-Gorod, Beloi-Gorod, Zemlianai-Gorod
-European, Tartar, or Chinese quarters of great extent,
commanded by towers, belfries, minarets, and the cupolas of
three hundred churches, with green domes, surmounted by
the silver cross. A little winding river here and there
reflected the rays of the moon. All this together formed
a curious mosaic of variously coloured houses, set in an
immense frame of ten leagues in circumference.
This river was the Moskowa; the town Moscow; the
fortified inclosure the Kremlin; and the officer of chasseurs
of the guard, who, with folded -arms and thoughtful brow,
was listening dreamily to the sounds floating from the New
Palace over the old Muscovite city, was the Czar.
12_ MICAE STOOF
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS.
THE Czar had not so suddenly left the ball-room of the
New Palace, when the fete he was giving to the civil and
military authorities and principal people of Moscow was at
the height of its brilliancy, without ample cause; for he
had just received information that serious events were
taking place beyond the frontiers of the Ural. It had
become evident that a formidable rebellion threatened to
wrest the Siberian provinces from the Russian crown.
Asiatic Russia, or Siberia, covers a superficial area of
1,790,208 square miles, and contains nearly two millions of
inhabitants. Extending from the Ural Mountains, which
separate it from Russia in Europe, to the shores of the
Pacific Ocean, it is bounded on the south by Turkestan and
the Chinese Empire; on the north by the Arctic Ocean,
from the Sea of Kara to Bchring's Straits. It is divided
into several governments or provinces, those of Tobolsk,
Yeniseisk, Irkutsk, Omsk, and Yakutsk; contains two
districts, Okhotsk and Kamtschatka; and possesses two
countries, now under the Muscovite dominion-that of
the Kirghiz and that of the Tshouktshes. This immense
extent of steppes, which includes more than one hundred
and ten degrees from west to. east, is a land to which
both criminals ar: transported and political offenders are
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS.
Two governor-generals represent the supreme authority
of the Czar over this vast country. One resides at Irkutsk,
the capital of Western Siberia. The River Tchouna, a
tributary of the Yenisei, separates the two Siberias.
No rail yet furrows these wide plains, some of which
are in reality extremely fertile. No iron ways lead from
those precious mines which make the Siberian soil far
richer below than above its surface. The traveller journeys
in summer in a kibick or telga ; in winter, in a sledge.
An electric telegraph, with a single wire more than
eight thousand versts in length, alone affords communica-
tion between the western and eastern frontiers of Siberia.
On issuing from the Ural, it passes through Ekateren-
burg, Kasimov, Tioumen, Ishim, Omsk, Elamsk, Kalyvan
Tomsk, Krasnoiarsk, Nijni-Udinsk, Irkutsk, Verkne-Nert-
sckink, Strelink, Albazine, Blagowstenks, Radde, Orlom-
skaya, Alexandrowskoie, and Nikolaevsk; and six roubles "
and nineteen copecks are paid for every word sent from
one end to the other. From Irkutsk there is a branch to
Kiatka, on the Mongolian frontier; and from thence, for
thirty copecks a word, the post conveys the despatches to
Pekin in a fortnight.
It was this wire, extending from Ekaterenburg to
Nikolaevsk, which had been cut, first beyond Tomsk, and
then between Tomsk.and Kalyvan.
This was the reason why the Czar, to the com-
munication made to him for the second time by General
Kissoff, had only answered by the words, "A courier this
The Czar had remained motionless at the window for a
few moments, when the door was again opened. The chief
of police appeared on the threshold.
"Enter, General," said the Czar briefly, "and tell me
all you know of Ivan Ogareff."
The verst contains 1165 yards.
t The rouble (silver) is worth 3s. 2d. The copeck (copper) rather more
than a farthing.
"He is an extremely dangerous man, sir," replied the
chief of police.
"He ranked as colonel, did he not ?"
"Was he an intelligent officer ?"
"Very intelligent, but a man whose spirit it was
impossible to subdue; and possessing an ambition which
stopped at nothing, he soon became involved in secret
intrigues, and it was then that he was degraded from his
rank by his Highness the Grand Duke, and exiled to
"How long ago was that ?"
Two years since. Pardoned after six months of exile
by your majesty's favour, he returned to Russia."
And since that time, has he not revisited Siberia?"
"Yes, sire; but he voluntarily returned there," replied
the chief of police, adding, and slightly lowering his voice,
" there was a time, sire, when none returned from Siberia."
"Well, whilst I live, Siberia is and shall be a country
whence men can return."
The Czar had the right to utter these words with some
pride, for often, by his clemency, he had shown that
Russian justice knew how to pardon.
The head of the police did not reply to this obser-
vation, but it was evident that he did not approve of such
half-measures. According to his idea, a man who had
once passed the Ural Mountains in charge of policemen,
ought never again to cross them. Now, it was not thus
under the new reign, and the chief of police sincerely
deplored it. What! no banishment for life for other
crimes than those against social order! What! political
exiles returning from Tobolsk,, from Yakutsk, from Ir-
kutsk! In truth, the chief of police, accustomed to the
despotic sentences of the ukase which formerly never par-
doned, could not understand this mode of governing. But
he was silent, waiting until the Czar should interrogate
The questions were not long in coming.
"I will now tell you something which you are ignorant of."
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS.
"Did not Ivan Ogareff," asked the Czar, "return to
Russia a second time, after that journey through the
Siberian provinces, the object of which remains unknown?"
"And have the police lost trace of him since?"
"No, sire; for an offender only becomes really danger-
ous from the day he has received his pardon."
The Czar frowned. Perhaps the chief of police feared
that he had gone rather, too far, though the stubbornness
of his ideas was at least equal to the boundless devotion he
felt for his master. But the Czar, disdaining to reply to
these indirect reproaches cast on his interior policy, con-
tinued his series of questions.
"Where was Ivan Ogareff last heard of?"
"In the province of Perm."
"In what town ?"
"At Perm itself."
"What was he doing ?"
"He appeared unoccupied, and there was nothing
suspicious in his conduct."
"Then he was not under the surveillance of the secret
"When did he leave Perm ?"
"About the month of March ?"
"Where, is unknown."
"And since that time, it is not known what has become
of him ?"
No, sire; it is not known."
"Well, then, I myself know," answered the Czar. I
have received anonymous communications which did not
pass through the police department; and, in the face of
events now taking place beyond the frontier, I have every
reason to believe that they are correct."
Do you mean, sire," cried the chief of police, "that
Ivan Ogareff has a hand in this Tartar rebellion ?"
"Indeed I do; and I will now tell you something
16 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
which you are ignorant of. After leaving Perm, Ivan
Ogareff crossed the Ural mountains, entered Siberia, and
penetrated the Kirghiz steppes, and there endeavoured, not
without success, to foment rebellion amongst their nomadic
population. He then went so far south as free Turkestan ;
there, in the provinces of Bokhara, Khokhand, and Koon-
dooz, he found chiefs willing to pour their Tartar hordes
into Siberia, and excite a general rising in Asiatic Russia.
The storm has been silently gathering, but it has at last
burst like a thunder-clap, and now all means of communica-
tion between Eastern and Western Siberia have been
stopped. Moreover, Ivan Ogareff, thirsting for vengeance,
aims at the life of my brother! "
The Czar had become excited whilst speaking, and now
paced up and down with hurried steps. The chief of police
said nothing, but he thought to himself that, during the
time when the emperors of Russia never pardoned an exile,
schemes such as those of Ivan Ogareff could never have
been realized. A few moments passed, during which he
was silent, then approaching the Czar, who had thrown
himself into an armchair:
Your majesty," said he, "has of course given orders
that this rebellion may be suppressed as soon as possible ?"
Yes," answered the Czar. The last telegram which
was able to reach Nijni-Udinsk would set in motion the
troops in the governments of Yenisei, Irkutsk, Yakutsk, as
well as those in the provinces of the Amoor and Lake
Baikal. At the same time, the regiments from Perm and
Nijni-Novgorod, and the Cossacks from the frontier, are
advancing by forced marches towards the Ural Mountains;
but, unfortunately, some weeks must pass before they can
attack the Tartars."
"And your majesty's brother, his Highness the Grand
Duke, is now isolated in the government of Irkutsk, and
is no longer in direct communication with Moscow ?"
That is so."
"But by the last despatches, he must know what
measures have been taken by your majesty, and what help
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS.
he may expect from the governments nearest to that of
"He knows that," answered the Czar; "but what he
does not know is, that Ivan Ogareff, as well as being a
rebel, is also playing the part of a traitor, and that in him
he has a personal and bitter enemy. It is to the Grand
Duke that Ivan Ogareff owes his first disgrace; and what
is more serious is, that this man is not known to him.
Ivan Ogareff's plan, therefore, is to go to Irkutsk, and,
under an assumed name, offer his services to the Grand
Duke. Then, after gaining his confidence, when the Tar-
tars have invested Irkutsk, he will betray the town, and
with it my brother, whose life is directly threatened. This
is what I have learned from my secret intelligence; this is
what the Grand. Duke does not know ; and this is what he
must know! "
"Well, sire, an intelligent, courageous courier .. ."
I momentarily expect one."
"And it is to be hoped he will be expeditious," added
the chief of police; for, allow me to add, sire, that Siberia
is a favourable land for rebellions."
"Do you mean to say, General, that the exiles would
make common cause with the rebels?" exclaimed the Czar,
indignant at the insinuation.
Excuse me, your majesty," stammered the chief of
police, for that was really the idea suggested to him by his
Suneasy and suspicious mind.
I believe in their patriotism," returned the Czar.
"There are other offenders besides political exiles in
Siberia," said the -chief of police.
"The criminals ? Oh, General, I give those up to you !
They are the vilest, I grant, of the human race. They
belong to no country. But the insurrection, or rather the
rebellion, is not to oppose the emperor; it is raised-against
Russia, against the country which the exiles have not lost
all hope of again seeing-and which they will see again.
No, a Russian would never unite with a Tartar, to weaken,
were it only for an hour, the Muscovite power "
The Czar was right in trusting to the patriotism of
those whom his policy kept, for a time, at a distance.
Clemency, which was the foundation of his justice, when
he could himself direct its effects, the modifications he had
adopted with regard to applications for the formerly
terrible ukases, warranted the belief that he was not mis-
taken. But even without this powerful element of success
in regard to the Tartar rebellion, circumstances were not
the less very serious; for it was to be feared that a large
part of the Kirghiz population would join the rebels.
The Kirghiz are divided into three hordes, the greater,
the lesser, and the middle, and number nearly four hundred
thousand "tents," or two million souls. Of the different
tribes some are independent and others recognize either
the sovereignty of Russia or that of the Khans of Khiva,
Khokhand, and Bokhara, the most formidable chiefs of
Turkestan. The middle horde, the richest, is also the
largest, and its encampments occupy all the space between
the rivers Sara Sou, Irtish, and the Upper Ishim, Lake
Saisang and Lake Aksakal. The greater horde, occupying
the countries situated to the east of the middle one,
extends as far as the governments of Omsk and Tobolsk.
Therefore, if the Kirghiz population should rise, it would be
the rebellion of Asiatic Russia, and the first thing would
be the separation of Siberia, to the east of the Yenisei.
It is true that these Kirghiz, mere novices in the art of
war, are rather nocturnal thieves and plunderers of cara-
vans than regular soldiers. As M. Levchine says, a firm
front or a square of good infantry could repel ten times the
number of Kirghiz; and a single cannon might destroy a
That may-be; but to do this it is necessary for the
square of good infantry to reach the rebellious country,
and the cannon to leave the arsenals of the Russian
provinces, perhaps two or three thousand versts distant.
Now, except by the direct .route from Ekaterenburg to
Irkutsk, the often marshy steppes are not easily prac-
ticable, and come weeks must certainly pass before the
" Excuse me, youth Majesty !"
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS. 19
Russian troops could be in a position to subdue the Tartar
Omsk is the centre of that military organization of
Western Siberia which is intended to overawe the Kirghiz
population. Here are the bounds, more than once in-
fringed by the half-subdued nomads, and there was every
reason to believe that Omsk was already in danger. The
line of military stations, that is to say, those Cossack posts
which are ranged in echelon from Omsk to Semipolatinsk,
must have been broken in several places. Now, it was
to be feared that the Grand Sultans," who govern the
Kirghiz districts would either voluntarily accept, or invol-
untarily submit to, the dominion of Tartars, Mussulmen
like themselves, and that to the hate caused by the slavery
was not united the hate due to the antagonism of the
Greek and Mussulman religions. For some time, indeed,
the Tartars of Turkestan, and principally those from the
khanats of Bokhara, Khiva, Khokhand, and Koondooz,
endeavoured; by employing both force and persuasion, to
subdue the Kirghiz hordes to the Muscovite dominion.
A few words only with respect to these Tartars.
The Tartars belong more especially to two distinct
races, the Caucasian and Mongolian.
The Caucasian race, which, as Abel de R6musat says,
"is regarded in Europe as the type of beauty in our
species, because all the nations in this part of the world
have sprung from it," unites under the same denomination
the Turks and the natives of Persia.
The purely Mongolian race comprises the Mongols,
Manchoux, and Thibetans.
The Tartars, who now threatened the Russian Empire,
belonged to the Caucasian race, and occupied Turkestan.
This immense country is divided into different states,
governed by Khans, and hence termed Khanats. The
principal khanats are those of Bokhara, Khokhand, Koon-
At this period, the most important and the most formi-
dable khanat was that of Bokhara. Russia had already
been several times at war with its chiefs, who, for their
own interests, had supported the independence of the
Kirghiz against the Muscovite dominion. The present
chief, Feofar-Khan, followed in the steps of his prede-
The khanat of Bokhara extends from north to south,
between the thirty-seventh and forty-first parallels, and
from east to west between the sixty-first and sixty-sixth
degrees of longitude, that is to say, over a space of nearly
ten thousand square leagues.
This state has a population of two million five hundred
thousand inhabitants, an army of sixty thousand men,
trebled in time of war, and thirty thousand horsemen.
It is a rich country, with various animal, vegetable, and
mineral productions, and has been increased by the acces-
sion of the territories of Balkh, Aukoi, and Melmaneh. It
possesses nineteen large towns. Bokhara, surrounded by a
wall measuring more than eight English miles, and flanked
with towers, a glorious city, made illustrious by Avicenna
and other learned men of the tenth century, is regarded as
the centre of Mussulman science, and ranks among the
most celebrated cities of Central Asia. Samarcand, which
contains the tomb of Tamerlane and the famous palace
where the blue stone is kept on which each new kahn must
seat himself on his accession, is defended by a very strong
citadel. Karschi, with its triple cordon, situated in an
oasis, surrounded by a marsh peopled with tortoises and
lizards, is almost impregnable. Is-chardjoui is defended
by a population of nearly twenty thousand souls. In
short, Katta-Kourgan, Nourata, Djizah, Paikande, Kara-
koul, Khouzar, etc., form a collection of towns of an almost
impregnable character. Protected by its mountains, and
isolated by its steppes, the khanat of Bokhara is a most
formidable state; and Russia would need a large force to
The fierce and ambitious Feofar now governed this
corner of Tartary. Relying on the other khans-prin-
cipally those of Khokhand and Koondooz, cruel and
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS.
rapacious warriors, all ready to join an enterprise so dear
to Tartar instincts-aided by the chiefs who ruled all the
hordes of Central Asia, he had placed himself at the head
of the rebellion of which Ivan Ogareff was the instigator.
This traitor, impelled by insane ambition as much as by
hate, had ordered the movement so as to intercept the
route to Siberia. Mad indeed he was, if he hoped to
attack the Muscovite Empire. Acting under his sugges-
tion, the Emir-which is the title taken by the khans of
Bokhara-had poured his hordes over the Russian frontier.
He invaded the government of Semipolatinsk, and the
Cossacks, who were only in small force there, had been
obliged to retire before him. He had advanced farther
than Lake Balkhash, gaining over the Kirghiz population
in his way. Pillaging, ravaging, enrolling those who sub-
mitted, taking prisoners those who resisted, he marched
from one town to another, followed by those impedimenta
of Oriental sovereignty which may be called his household,
his wives and his slaves-all with the cool audacity of a
modern Ghengis-Khan. It was impossible to ascertain
where he now was; how far his soldiers had marched
before the news of the rebellion reached Moscow; or to
what part of Siberia the Russian troops had been forced
to retire. All communication was interrupted. Had the
wire between Kalyvan and Tomsk been cut by Tartar
scouts, or had the Emir himself arrived at the Yeniseisk
provinces ? Was all the lower part of Western Siberia in
a ferment ? Had the rebellion already spread to the
eastern regions ? No one could say. The only agent
which fears neither cold nor heat, which can neither be
stopped by the rigours of winter nor the heat of summer,
and which flies with the rapidity of lightning-the electric
current-was prevented from traversing the steppes, and it
was no longer possible to warn the Grand Duke, shut up
in Irkutsk, of the danger threatening him from the treason
of Ivan Ogareff.
A courier only could supply the place of the interrupted
current. It would take this man some time to traverse the
22 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
five thousand two hundred versts between Moscow and
Irkutsk. To pass the ranks of the rebels and invaders he
must display almost superhuman courage and intelligence.
But with a clear head and a firm heart much can be done.
Shall I be able to find this head and heart ?" thought
( 23 )
MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR.
THE door of the imperial cabinet was again opened and
General Kissoff was announced.
"The courier ?" inquired the Czar eagerly.
"He is here, sire," replied General Kissoff.
"Have you found a fitting man ? "
I will answer for him to your majesty."
Has he been in the service of the Palace ?"
You know him ?"
"Personally, and at various times he has fulfilled
difficult missions with success."
In Siberia itself."
"Where does he come from ?"
"From Omsk. He is a Siberian."
"Has he coolness, intelligence, courage ?"
Yes, sire; he has all the qualities necessary to succeed,
even where others might possibly fail."
What is his age ?"
Is he strong and vigorous ?"
"Sire, he can bear cold, hunger, thirst, fatigue, to the
very last extremities."
He must have a frame of iron."
Sire, he has."
And a heart ? "
A heart of gold."
Is he ready to set out ?"
He awaits your majesty's orders in the guard-room."
Let him come in," said the Czar.
In a few moments Michael Strogoff, the courier,
entered the imperial library.
Michael Strogoff was a tall, vigorous, broad-shouldered,
deep-chested man. His powerful head possessed the fine
features of the Caucasian race. His well-knit frame seemed
built for the performance of feats of strength. It would
have been a difficult task to move such a man against his
will, for when his feet were once planted on the ground, it
was as if they had taken root. As he doffed his Muscovite
cap, locks of thick curly hair fell over his broad, massive
forehead. When his ordinarily pale face became at all
flushed, it arose solely from a more rapid action of the
heart, under the influence of a quicker circulation. His
eyes, of a deep blue, looked with clear, frank, firm gaze.
The slightly-contracted eyebrows indicated lofty heroism-
" the hero's cool courage," according to the definition of
the physiologist. He possessed a fine nose, with large
nostrils; and a well-shaped mouth, with the slightly-
projecting lips which denote a generous and noble heart.
Michael Strogoff had the temperament of the man of
action, who does not bite his nails or scratch his head in
doubt and indecision. Sparing of gestures as of words, he
always stood motionless like a soldier before his superior;
but when he moved, his step showed a firmness, a freedom
of movement, which proved the confidence and vivacity of
Michael Strogoff wore a handsome military uniform,
something resembling that of a light-cavalry officer in the
field-boots, spurs, half tightly-fitting trousers, brown
pelisse, trimmed with tur and ornamented with yellow
braid. On his breast glittered a cross and several medals.
The courier Michael Strogoff entered the Imperial library.
MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR. 25
Michael Strogoff belonged to the special corps of the
Czar's couriers, ranking as an officer among those picked
men. His most discernible characteristic-particularly in
his walk, his face, in the whole man, and which the Czar
perceived at a glance-was, that he was "a fulfiller of
orders." He therefore possessed one of the most serviceable
qualities in Russia-one which, as the celebrated novelist
Tourgueneff says, "will lead to the highest positions in the
In short, if any one could accomplish this journey from
Moscow to Irkutsk, across a rebellious country, surmount
obstacles, and brave perils of all sorts, Michael Strogoff was
A circumstance especially favourable to the success of
his plans was, that he was thoroughly acquainted with the
country which he was about to traverse, and understood its
different dialects-not only from having travelled there
before, but because he was of Siberian origin.
His father-old Peter Strogoff, dead ten years since-
inhabited the town of Omsk, situated in the government
of the same name; and his mother, Marfa Strogoff, lived
-there still. There, amid the wild steppes of the provinces
of Omsk and Tobolsk, had the famous huntsman brought
up his son Michael to endure hardship. Peter Strogoff was
a huntsman by profession. Summer and winter-in the
burning heat, as well as when the cold was sometimes fifty
Degrees below zero-he scoured the frozen plains, the
thickets of birch and larch, the pine forests; setting traps;
watching for small game with his gun, and for large game
with the spear or knife. The large game was nothing less
than the Siberian bear, a formidable and ferocious animal,
in size equalling its fellow of the frozen seas. Peter
Strogoff had killed more than thirty-nine bears-that is
to say, the fortieth had fallen under his blows; and,
according to Russian legends, most huntsmen who have
been lucky enough up to the thirty-ninth bear, have
succumbed to the fortieth.
Peter Strogoff had, however, passed the fatal number
without even a scratch. From that time, his son Michael,
aged eleven years, never failed to accompany him to the
hunt, carrying the ragatina, or spear, ready to come to the
aid of his father, who was armed only with the knife.
When he was fourteen, Michael Strogoff had killed his first
bear, quite alone--that was nothing ; but after stripping it
he dagged the gigantic animal's skin to his father's house,
many versts distant, thus exhibiting remarkable strength in
a boy so young.
This style of life was of great benefit to him, and when
he arrived at manhood he could bear any amount of cold,
heat, hunger, thirst, or fatigue. Like the Yakout of the
northern countries, he was made of iron. He could go
four-and-twenty hours without eating, ten nights without
sleeping, and could make himself a shelter in the open
steppe where others would have been frozen to death.
Gifted with marvellous acuteness, guided by the instinct
of the Delaware of North America, over the white plain,
when every object is hidden in mist, or even in higher
latitudes, where the polar night is prolonged for many
days, he could find his way when others would have had
no idea whither to direct their steps. All his father's
secrets were known to him. He had learnt to read almost
imperceptible signs-the forms of icicles, the'appearance of
the small branches of trees, mists rising far away in the
horizon, vague sounds in the air, distant reports, the flight
of birds through the foggy atmosphere, a thousand circum-
stances which are so many words to those who can decipher
them. Moreover, tempered by snow like a Damascus blade
in the waters of Syria, he had a frame of iron, as General
Kissoff had said, and, what was no less true, a heart of
The only sentiment of love felt by Michael Strogoff was
that which he entertained for his mother, the aged Marfa,
who could never be induced to leave the house of the
Strogoffs, at Omsk, on the banks of the Irtish, where the
old huntsman and she had lived so long together. When
her son left her, he went away with a full heart, but promise.
MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR. 27
ing to come and see her whenever he could possibly do so;
and this promise he had always religiously kept.
When Michael was twenty, it was decided that he
should enter the personal service of the Emperor of Russia,
in the corps of the couriers of the Czar. The hardy,
intelligent, zealous, well-conducted young Siberian first
distinguished himself especially, in a journey to the
Caucasus, through the midst of a difficult country, ravaged
by some restless successors of Schamyl; then later, in an
important mission to Petropolowski, in Kamtschatka, the
extreme limit of Asiatic Russia. During these long
journeys he displayed such marvellous coolness, pru-
dence, and courage, as to gain him the approbation and
protection of his chiefs, who rapidly advanced him in his
The furloughs which were his due after these distant
missions, although he might be separated from her by
thousands of versts, and winter had rendered the roads
almost impassable, he never failed to devote to his old
mother. Having been much employed in the south of the
empire, he had not seen old Marfa for three years-three
ages !-the first time in his life he had been so long absent
from her. Now, however, in a few days he would obtain
his furlough, and he had accordingly already made prepara-
tions for departure for Omsk, when the events which have
been related occurred. Michael Strogoff was therefore
introduced into the Czar's presence in complete ignorance
of what the emperor expected from him.
The Czar fixed a penetrating look upon him without
uttering a word, whilst Michael stood perfectly motionless.
The Czar, apparently satisfied with his scrutiny, went
to his bureau, and, motioning to the chief of police to seat
himself, dictated in a low voice a letter of not more than a
The letter penned, the Czar re-read it attentively, then
signed it, preceding his name with the words "BByt po
scmou," which, signifying So be it," constitutes the decisive
formula of the Russian emperors.
The letter was then placed in an envelope, which was
sealed with the imperial arms.
The Czar, rising, told Michael Strogoff to draw near.
Michael advanced a few steps, and then stood motion-
less, ready to answer.
The Czar again looked him full in the face and their
eyes met. Then in an abrupt tone:
"Thy name ?" he asked.
"Michael Strogoff, sire."
Captain in the corps of couriers of the Czar.'
"Thou dost know Siberia ?"
"I am a Siberian."
"A native of .?"
"Hast thou relations there ?"
"What relations ?"
"My old mother."
The Czar suspended his questions for a moment. Then,
pointing to the letter which he held in his hand:
Here is a letter which I charge thee, Michael Strogoff,
to deliver into the hands of the Grand Duke, and to no
other but him."
I will deliver it, sire."
"The Grand Duke is at Irkutsk."
"I will go to Irkutsk."
Thou wilt have to traverse a rebellious country, invaded
by Tartars, whose interest it will be to intercept this letter."
"I will traverse it."
"Above all, beware of the traitor, Ivan Ogareff, who
will perhaps meet thee on the way."
I will beware of him."
"Wilt thou pass through Omsk ?"
"Sire, that is my route."
"If thou dost see thy mother, there will be the risk of
being recognized. Thou must not see her!"
Michael Strogoff hesitated a moment.
"Go, then, Michael Strogoff."
MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR. 29
I will not see her," said he.
Swear to me that nothing will make thee acknowledge
who thou art, nor whither thou ait going."
"I swear it."
"Michael Strogoff," continued the Czar, giving the letter
to the young courier, "take this letter; on it depends the
safety of all Siberia, and perhaps the life of my brother the
"This letter shall be delivered to his Highness the
Then thou wilt pass whatever happens ?"
"I shall pass, or they shall kill me."
I want thee to live."
"I shall live, and I shall pass," answered Michael
The Czar appeared satisfied with Strogoff's calm and
"Go then, Michael Strogoff," said he, "go for God, for
Russia, for my brother, and for myself!"
The courier, having saluted his sovereign, immediately
left the imperial cabinet, and, in a few minutes, the New
"You made a good choice there, General," said the Czar.
"I think so, sire," replied General Kissoff; "and your
majesty may be sure that Michael Strogoff will do all that
a man can do."
He is indeed a man," said the Czar.
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD.
THE distance between Moscow and Irkutsk, about to be
traversed by Michael Strogoff, was five thousand two
hundred versts. Before the telegraph wire extended from
the Ural Mountains to the eastern frontier of Siberia, the
despatch service was performed by couriers, those who
travelled the most rapidly taking eighteen days to get from
Moscow to Irkutsk. But this was the exception, and the
journey through Asiatic Russia usually occupied from four
to five weeks, even though every available means of trans-
port was placed at the disposal of the Czar's messengers.
Michael Strogoff was a man who feared neither frost nor
snow. He would have preferred travelling during the severe
winter season, in order that he might perform the whole
distance by sleighs. At that period of the year the diffi-
culties which all other means of locomotion present are
greatly diminished, the wide steppes being levelled by snow.
while there are no rivers to cross, but simply sheets of glass,
over which the sleigh glides rapidly and easily.
Perhaps certain natural phenomena are most to be feared
at that time, such as long-continuing and dense fogs, exces.
sive cold, fearfully heavy snow-storms, which sometimes
envelop whole caravans and cause their destruction. Hungry
wolves also roam over the plain in thousands. But it would
have been better for Michael Strogoff to face these risks;
for during the winter the Tartar invaders would have been
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD.
stationed in the towns, their marauding bands would not be
overrunning the steppes, any movement of the troops would
have been impracticable, and he could consequently have
more easily performed his journey. But it was not in his
power to choose either his own weather or his own time.
Whatever were the circumstances, he must accept them and
Such were the difficulties which Michael Strogoff boldly
confronted and prepared to encounter.
In the first place, he must not travel as a courier of the
Czar usually would. No one must even suspect what he
really was. Spies swarm in a rebellious country; let him
be recognized, and his mission would be in danger. Also,
while supplying him with a large sum of money, which was
sufficient for his journey, and would facilitate it in some
measure, General Kissoff had not given him any document
notifying that he was on the Emperor's service, which is the
Sesame par excellence. He contented himself with furnish-
ing him with a "podorojna."
This podorojna was made out in the name of Nicholas
Korpanoff, merchant, living at Irkutsk. It authorized
Nicholas Korpanoff to be accompanied if requisite by one
or more persons, and, moreover, it was, by special notifica-
tion, made available in the event of the Muscovite govern-
ment forbidding natives of any other countries to leave
The podorojna is simply a permission to take post-
horses; but Michael Strogoff was not to use it unless he
was sure that by so doing he would not excite suspicion
as to his mission, that is to say, whilst he was on European
territory. The consequence was that in Siberia, whilst
traversing the insurgent provinces, he would have no
power over the relays, either in the choice of horses in
preference to others, or in demanding conveyances for his
personal use; neither was Michael Strogoff to forget that
he was no longer a courier, but a plain merchant, Nicholas
Korpanoff, travelling from Moscow to Irkutsk, and, as such
exposed to all the impediments of an ordinary journey.
To pass unknown, more or less rapidly, but to pass
-somehow or other, such were the directions he had
Thirty years previously, the escort of a traveller of rank
consisted of not less than two hundred mounted Cossacks,
two hundred foot-soldiers, twenty-five Baskir horsemen,
three hundred camels, four hundred horses, twenty-five
waggons, two portable boats, and two pieces of cannon.
All this was requisite for a journey in Siberia.
Michael Strogoff, however, had neither cannon, nor
horsemen, nor foot-soldiers, nor beasts of burden. He
would travel in a carriage or on horseback, when he could ;
on foot, when he could not.
There would be no difficulty in getting over the first
fifteen hundred versts, the distance between Moscow and
the Russian frontier. Railroads, post-carriages, steam-
boats, relays of horses, were at every one's disposal, and
consequently at the disposal of the courier of the Czar.
Accordingly, on the morning of the I6th of July,
having doffed his uniform, with a knapsack on his back,
dressed in the simple Russian costume-tightly-fitting tunic,
the traditional belt of the Moujik, wide trousers, gartered
at the knees, and high boots-Michael Strogoff arrived at
the station in time for the first train. He carried no arms,
openly at least, but under his belt was hidden a revolver
and in his pocket, one of those large knives, resembling
both a cutlass and a yataghan, with which a Siberian
hunter can so neatly disembowel a bear, without injuring
its precious fur.
A crowd of travellers had collected at the Moscow
station. The stations on the Russian railroads are much
used as places for meeting, not only by those who are
about to proceed by the train, but by friends who come to
see them off. It indeed resembles, from the variety of
characters assembled, a small news exchange.
The train in which Michael took his place was to set
him down at Nijni-Novgorod. There terminated, at that
time, the iron road which, uniting Moscow and St. Peters-
Michael Strogoff ensconced himself in his corner.
(Plge 33 )
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD.
burg, will eventually continue to the Russian frontier. It
was a journey of about four hundred versts, and the train
would accomplish it in ten hours. Once arrived at Nijni-
Novgorod, Strogoff would, according to circumstances,
either take the land route or the steamer on the Volga,
so as to reach the Ural mountains as soon as possible.
Michael Strogoff ensconced himself in his corner, like a
worthy citizen whose affairs go well with him, and who
endeavours to kill time by sleep.
Nevertheless, as he was not alone in his compartment,
he slept with one eye open, and listened with both his
In fact, rumour of the rising of the Kirghiz hordes, and
of the Tartar invasion had transpired in some degree.
The occupants of the carriage, whom chance had made his
travelling companions, discussed the subject, though with
that caution which has become habitual among Russians,
who know that spies are ever on the watch for any
treasonable expressions which may be uttered.
These travellers, as well as the larger number of persons
in the train, were merchants on their way to the celebrated
fair of Nijni-Novgorod ;-a very mixed assembly, composed
of Jews, Turks, Cossacks, Russians, Georgians, Kalmucks,
and others, but nearly all speaking the national tongue.
They discussed the pros and cons of the serious events
which were taking place beyond the Ural, and those
merchants seemed to fear lest the government should be
led to take certain restrictive measures, especially in the
provinces bordering on the frontier--measures from which
trade would certainly suffer.
It must be confessed that those selfish individuals
thought only of the war, that is to say, the suppression of
the revolt and the struggle against the invasion, from the
single point of view of their threatened interests. The
presence of a private soldier, clad in his uniform-and the
importance of a uniform in Russia is great-would have
certainly been enough to restrain the merchants' tongues.
But in the compartment occupied by Michael Strogoff,
there was no one who could even be suspected of being a
military man, and the Czar's courier was not the person to
betray himself. He listened, then.
"They say that caravan teas are up," remarked a
Persian, known by his cap of Astrakhan fur, and his ample
brown robe, worn threadbare by use.
"Oh, there's no fear of teas falling," answered an old
Jew of sullen aspect. "Those in the market at Nijni-
Novgorod will be easily cleared off by the West; but,
unfortunately, it won't be the same with Bokhara carpets."
"What! are you expecting goods from Bokhara?"
asked the Persian.
"No, but from Samarcand, and that is even more
exposed. The idea of reckoning on the exports of a
country in which the khans are in a state of revolt from
Khiva to the Chinese frontier! "
"Well," replied the Persian, "if the carpets do not
arrive, the drafts will not arrive either, I suppose."
And the profits, Father Abraham!" exclaimed the
little Jew, "do you reckon them as nothing ?"
"You are right," said another traveller; "goods from
Central Asia run a great risk of falling in the market, and
it will be the same with the Samarcand carpets as with the
wools, tallow, and shawls from the East."
"Why, look out, little father," said a Russian traveller,
in a bantering tone; "you'll grease your shawls terribly if
you mix them up with your tallow"'
"That amuses you," sharply answered the merchant,
who had little relish for that sort of joke.
"Well, if you tear you hair, or throw ashes on your
head," replied the traveller, "will that change the course
of events ? No; no more than the course of the Exchange."
"One can easily see that you are not a merchant,"
observed the little Jew.
"Faith, no, worthy son of Abraham! I sell neither
hops, nor eider-down, nor honey, nor wax, nor hemp-seed,
nor salt meat, nor caviare, nor wood, nor wool, nor ribbons,
nor hemp, nor flax, nor morocco, nor furs. .. "
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD.
But do you buy them ? asked the Persian, interrupt-
ing the traveller's list.
"As little as I can, and only for my own private use,"
answered the other, with a wink.
He's a wag," said the Jew to the Persian.
Or a spy," replied the other, lowering his voice. We
had better take care, and not speak more than necessary.
The police are not over-particular in these times, and you
never can know with whom you are travelling."
In another corner of the compartment they were
speaking less of mercantile affairs, and more of the Tartar
invasion and its annoying consequences.
"All the horses in Siberia will be requisitioned," said
a traveller, "and communication between the different
provinces of Central Asia will become very difficult."
"Is it true," asked his neighbour, that the Kirghiz of
the middle horde have made common cause with the
So it is said," answered the traveller, lowering his
voice; but who can flatter themselves that they know
anything really of what is going on in this country ?"
I have heard speak of a concentration of troops on
the frontier. The Don Cossacks have already gathered
along the course of the Volga, and they are to be opposed
to the rebel Kirghiz."
If the Kirghiz descend the Irtish, the route to Irkutsk
will not be safe," observed his neighbour. "Besides, yester-
day I wanted to send a telegram to Krasnoiarsk, and it
could not be forwarded. It's to be feared that before long
the Tartar columns will have isolated Eastern Siberia."
"In short, little father," continued the first speaker,
"these merchants have good reason for being uneasy
about their trade and transactions. After requisitioning
the horses, they will requisition the boats, carriages, every
means of transport, until the time will come when no one
will be allowed to take even one step throughout all the
"I'm much afraid that the Nijni-Novgorod fair won't
end 6s brilliantly as it has begun," responded the other,
shaking his head. "But the safety and integrity of the
Russian territory before everything. Business is only
If in this compartment the subject of conversation
varied but little-nor did it, indeed, in the other carriages
of the train-in all it might have been observed that the
talkers used much circumspection. When they did happen
to venture out of the region of facts, they never went so far
as to attempt to divine the intentions of the Muscovite
government, or even to criticise them.
This was especially remarked by a traveller in a carriage
at the front part of the train. This person-evidently a
stranger-made good use of his eyes, and asked numberless
questions, to which he received only evasive answers.
Every minute leaning out of the window, which he would
keep down, to the great disgust of his fellow-travellers, he
lost nothing of the views to the right. He inquired the
names of the most insignificant places, their position, what
were their commerce, their manufactures, the number of
their inhabitants, the average mortality, etc., and all this
he wrote down in a note-book, already full of memoranda.
This was the correspondent Alcide Jolivet, and the
reason of his putting so many insignificant questions was,
that amongst the many answers he received, he hoped to
find some interesting fact for his cousin." But, naturally
enough, he was taken for a spy, and not a word treating of
the events of the day was uttered in his hearing.
Finding, therefore, that he could learn nothing in rela-
tion to the Tartar invasion, he wrote in his note-book:
'' Travellers of great discretion. Very close as to political
Whilst Alcide Jolivet noted down his impressions thus
minutely, his confrere, in the same train, travelling for the
same object, was devoting himself to the same work" of
observation in another compartment. Neither of them
had seen each other that day at the Moscow station, and
they were each ignorant that the other had set out to visit
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD.
the scene of the war. Harry Blount, speaking little, but
listening much, had not inspired his companions with the
suspicions which Alcide Jolivet had aroused. He was not
taken for a spy, and therefore his neighbours, without con-
straint, gossiped in his presence, allowing themselves even
to go farther than their natural caution would in most cases
have allowed them. The correspondent of the Daily
Telegraph had thus an opportunity of observing how
much recent events pre-occupied the party of merchants
who were on their way to Nijni-Novgorod, and to what a
degree the commerce with Central Asia was threatened in
He therefore did not hesitate fo note in his book this
perfectly correct observation :
My fellow-travellers extremely anxious. Nothing is
talked of but war, and they speak of it, with a freedom
which is astonishing, as' having broken out between the
Volga and the Vistula."
The readers of the Daily Telegraph would not fail to be
as well informed as Alcide Jolivet's cousin."
And moreover, as Harry Blount, seated at the left of
the train, only saw one part of the country, which was hilly,
without giving himself the trouble of looking at the right
side, which was composed of wide plains, he added, with
Country mountainous between Moscow and Wladimir."
It was evident that the Russian government purposed
taking severe measures to guard against any serious
eventualities even in the interior of the empire. The
rebellion had not crossed the Siberian frontier, but evil
influences might be feared in the Volga provinces, so near
to the country of the Kirghiz.
The police had as yet found no traces of Ivan Ogareff.
It was not known whether the traitor, calling in the
foreigner to avenge his personal rancour, had rejoined
Feofar-Khan, or whether he was endeavouring to foment
a revolt in the government of Nijni-Novgorod, which at
this time of year contained a population of such diverse
elements. Perhaps among the Persians, Armenians, or
Kalmucks, who flocked to the great market, he had agents,
instructed to provoke a rising in the interior. All this was
possible, especially in such a country as Russia. In fact,
this vast empire, of 4,740,000 square miles in extent, does
not possess the homogeneousness of the states of Western
Europe. Amongst the many nations of which it is com-
posed, there exist necessarily many shades. The Russian
territory in Europe, Asia, and America extends from the
fifteenth degree east longitude, to the hundred and thirty-
third degree west longitude, or an extent of nearly two
hundred degrees; and from the thirty-eighth south parallel
to the eighty-first north parallel, or forty-three degrees. It
contains more than seventy millions of inhabitants. In
it thirty different languages are spoken. The Sclavonian
race predominates, no doubt, but there are besides
Russians, Poles, Lithuanians, Courlanders. Add to these,
Finns, Laplanders, Esthonians, several other northern
tribes with unpronounceable names, the Permiaks, the
Germans, the Greeks, the Tartars, the Caucasian tribes,
the Mongol, Kalmuck, Samoid, Kamtschatkan, and Aleu-
tian hordes, and one may understand that the unity of
so vast a state must have been difficult to maintain, and
that it could only have been the work of time, aided by
the wisdom of many successive rulers.
Be that as it may, Ivan Ogareff had hitherto managed
to escape all search, and very probably he might have
rejoined the Tartar army. But at every station where the
train stopped, inspectors came forward who scrutinized the
travellers and subjected them all to a minute examination,
as, by order of the superintendent of police, these officials
were seeking Ivan Ogareff. The government, in fact,
believed it to be certain that the traitor had not yet been
able to quit European Russia. If there appeared cause to
suspect any traveller, he was carried off to explain himself
at the police station, and in the meantime the train went
on its way, no person troubling himself about the un-
fortunate one left behind.
Hie was immediately taken off.
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD.
With the Russian police, which is very arbitrary, it is
absolutely useless to argue. Military rank is conferred on
its employs, and they act in military fashion. How can
any one, moreover, help obeying, unhesitatingly, orders
which emanate from a monarch who has the right to
employ this formula at the head of his ukase:-" We, by
the grace of God, Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias,
of Moscow, Kiev, Wladimir, and Novgorod, Czar of Kasan
and Astrakhan, Czar of Poland, Czar of Siberia, Czar of
the Tauric Chersonese, Seignior of Pskov, Prince of
Smolensk, Lithuania, Volkynia, Podolia, and Finland,
Prince of Esthonia, Livonia, Courland, and of Semigallia,
of Bialystok, Karelia, Sougria, Perm, Viatka, Bulgaria, and
many other countries; Lord and Sovereign Prince of the
territory of Nijni-Novgorod, Tchemigoff, Riazan, Polotsk,
Rostov, Jaroslavl, Bielozersk, Oudoria, Obdoria, Kondinia,
Vitepsk, and of Mstislaf, Governor of the Hyperborean
Regions, Lord of the countries of Iveria, Kartalinia, Grou-
zinia, Kabardinia, and Armenia, Hereditary Lord and
Suzerain of the Scherkess princes, of those of the mountains,
and of others; heir of Norway, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein,
Stormarn, Dittmarsen, and Oldenburg." A powerful lord,
in truth, is he whose arms are an eagle with two heads,
holding a sceptre and a globe, surrounded by the escutcheons
of Novgorod, Wladimir, Kiev, Kasan, Astrakhan, and of
Siberia, and environed by the collar of the order of St.
Andrew, surmounted by a royal crown!
As to Michael Strogoff, his papers were in order, and
he was, consequently, free from all police supervision.
At the station of Wladimir the train stopped for
several minutes, which appeared sufficient to enable the
correspondent of the Daily Telegraph to take a twofold
view, physical and moral, and to form a complete estimate
of this ancient capital of Russia.
At the Wladimir station fresh travellers entered the
train. Among others, a young girl, presented herself at
the door of the compartment occupied by Michael Strogoff.
A vacant place was found opposite the courier of the
Czar. The young girl took it, after placing by her side
a modest travelling-bag of red leather, which seemed to
constitute all her luggage. Then seating herself with
downcast eyes, not even glancing at the fellow-travellers
whom chance had given her, she prepared for a journey
which was still to last several hours.
Michael Strogoff could not help looking attentively at
his newly-arrived fellow-traveller. As she was so placed
as to travel with her back to the engine, he even offered
her his seat, which she might prefer to her own, but she
thanked him with a slight bend of her graceful neck.
The young girl appeared to be about sixteen or seven-
teen years of age. Her head, truly charming, was of the
purest Sclavonic type-slightly severe, and which would,
when a few summers should have passed over her, unfold
into beauty rather than mere prettiness. From beneath a
sort of kerchief which she wore on her head escaped in
profusion light golden hair. Her eyes were brown, soft,
and expressive of much sweetness of temper. The nose
was straight, and attached to her pale and somewhat thin
cheeks by delicately mobile nostrils. The lips were finely
cut, but it seemed as if they had long since forgotten how
The young traveller was tall and upright, as far as
could be judged of her figure from, the very simple and
ample pelisse that covered her. Although she was still
a very young girl in the literal sense of the term, the
development of her high forehead and clearly-cut features
gave the idea that she was the possessor of great moral
energy-a point which did not escape Michael Strogoff.
Evidently this young girl had already suffered in the past,
and the future doubtless did not present itself to her in
glowing colours; but it was none the less certain that she
had known how to struggle still with the trials of life. Her
energy was evidently both prompt and persistent, and her
calmness unalterable, even under circumstances in which
a man would be likely to give way or lose his self-
Seating herself with downcast eyes.
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD.
Such was the impression which she produced at first
sight. Michael Strogoff, being himself of an energetic
temperament, was naturally struck by the character of her
physiognomy, and, while taking care not to cause her
annoyance by a too persistent gaze, he observed his neigh-
bour with no small interest. The costume of the young
traveller was both extremely simple and appropriate. She
was not rich-that could be easily seen; but not the
slightest mark of negligence was to be discerned in her
dress. All her luggage was contained in a leather bag
under lock and key, and which, for want of room, she held
on her lap.
She wore a long, dark pelisse, which was gracefully
adjusted at the neck by a blue tie. Under this pelisse,
a short skirt, also dark, fell over a robe which reached to
the ankles, and of which the lower edge was ornamented
with some simple embroidery. Half-boots of worked
leather, and thickly soled, as if chosen in the anticipation
of.a long journey, covered her small feet.
Michael Strogoff fancied that he recognized, by certain
details, the fashion of the costume of Livonia, and he
thought that his neighbour must be a native of the Baltic
But whither was this young girl going, alone, at an age
when the fostering care of a father, or the protection of a
brother, are considered a matter of necessity ? Had she
now come, after an already long journey, from the provinces
of Western Russia ? Was she merely going to Nijni-Nov-
gorod, or was the end of her travels beyond the eastern
frontiers of the empire ? Would some relation, some friend,
await her arrival by the train? Or was it not more
probable, on the contrary, that she would find herself as
much isolated in the town as she was in this compartment,
where no one-she must think-appeared to care for her ?
[t was probable.
'In fact, the effect of habits contracted in solitude was
clearly manifested in the bearing of the young girl. The
manner in which she entered the carriage and prepared
herself for the journey, the slight disturbance she caused
among those around her, the care she took not to incom-
mode or give trouble to any one, all showed that she was
accustomed to be alone, and to depend on herself only.
Michael Strogoff observed her with interest, but, himself
reserved, he sought no opportunity of accosting her, although
several hours must elapse before the arrival of the train at
Once only, when her neighbour-the merchant who had
jumbled together so imprudently in his remarks tallow and
shawls-being asleep, and threatening her with his great
head, which was swaying from one shoulder to the other,
Michael Strogoff awoke him somewhat roughly, and made
him understand that he must hold himself upright and in a
more convenient posture.
The merchant, rude enough by nature, grumbled some
words against "people who interfere with what does not
concern them," but Michael Strogoff cast on him a glance
so stern that the sleeper leant on the opposite side, and
relieved the young traveller from his unpleasant vicinity.
The latter looked at the young man for an instant, and
mute and modest thanks were in that look.
But a circumstance occurred which gave Michael
Strogoff a just idea of the character of the maiden. Twelve
versts before arriving at the station of'Nijni-Novgorod, at a
sharp curve of the iron way, the train experienced a very
violent shock. Then, for a minute, it ran on to the slope of
Travellers more or less shaken about, cries, confusion,
general disorder in the carriages-such was the effect at first
produced. It was to be feared that some serious accident
had happened. Consequently, even before the train had
stopped, the doors were opened, and the panic-stricken
passengers thought only of getting out of the carriages and
taking refuge on the line.
Michael Strogoff thought instantly of the young girl;
but, while the passengers in her compartment were pre-
cipitating themselves outside, screaming and struggling, she
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. 43
had remained quietly in her place, her face scarcely changed
by a slight pallor.
She waited-Michael Strogoff waited also.
She had not made any attempt to leave the carriage.
Nor did he move either.
Both remained quiet.
"A determined nature l" thought Michael Strogoff.
However, all danger had quickly disappeared. A
breakage of the coupling of the luggage-van had first
caused the shock to, and then the stoppage of, the train,
which in another instant would have been thrown from the
top of the embankment into a bog. There was an hour's
delay. At last, the road being cleared, the train proceeded,
and at half-past eight in the evening arrived at the station
Before any one could get out of the carriages, the
inspectors of police presented themselves at the doors and
examined the passengers.
-Michael Strogoff showed his podorojna, made out in the
name of Nicholas Korpanoff. He had consequently no
As to the other travellers in the compartment, all bound
for Nijni-Novgorod, their appearance, happily for them, was
in nowise suspicious.
The young girl in her turn, exhibited, not a passport,
since passports are no longer required in Russia, but a
permit indorsed with a private seal, and which seemed to
be of a special character. The inspector read the permit
with attention. Then, having attentively examined the
person whose description it contained:
You are from Riga ?" he said.
"Yes," replied the young girl.
You are going to Irkutsk ?"
By what route ? "
"Good!" replied the inspector. "Take care to have
your permit visdd at the police station of Nijni-Novgorod."
44 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
The young girl bent her head in token of assent.
Hearing these questions and replies, Michael Strogoff
experienced a mingled sentiment both of surprise and pity.
What! this young girl, alone, journeying to that far-off
Siberia, and at a time when, to its ordinary dangers, were
added all the perils of an invaded country and one in a state
of insurrection! How would she reach it? What would
become of her ?
The inspection ended, the doors of the carriages were
then opened, but, before Michael Strogoff could move
towards her, the young Livonian, who had been the first to
descend, had disappeared in the crowd which thronged the
platforms of the railway station.
THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS.
NIJNI-NOVGOROD, Lower Novgorod, situate at the junction
of the Volga and the Oka, is the chief town in the district
of the same name. It was here that Michael Strogoff was
obliged to leave the railway, which at the time did not go
beyond that town. Thus, as he advanced, his travelling
would become first less speedy and then less safe.
Nijni-Novgorod, the fixed population of which is only
from thirty to thirty-five thousand inhabitants, contained at
that time more than three hundred thousand; that is to
say, the population was increased tenfold. This addition
was in consequence of the celebrated fair, which was held
within the walls for three weeks. Formerly Makariew had
the benefit of this concourse of traders, but since 1817 the
fair had been removed to Nijni-Novgorod.
The town, dreary enough at most times, then presented
a truly animated scene. Six different races of merchants,
European and Asiatic, were fraternising under the congenial
influence of trade.
Even at the late hour at which Michael Strogoff left the
platform, there was still a large number of people in the two
towns, separated by the stream of the Volga, which compose
Nijni-Novgorod, and the highest of which is built on a steep
rock, and is defended by one of those forts called in Russia
Had Michael Strogoff been obliged to stay at Nijni-
Novgorod, he would have had some trouble in finding an
hotel, or even an inn, to suit him. In the meantime, as he
had not to start immediately, for he was going to take a
steamer, he was compelled to look out for some lodging ;
but, before doing so, he wished to know exactly the hour at
which the steamboat would start. He went to the office of
the company whose boats plied between Nijni-Novgorod
and Perm. There, to his great annoyance, he found that
the Caucasus-for that was the boat's name-did not start
for Perm till the foJlowing day at twelve o'clock. Seventeen
hours to wait! It was very vexatious to a man so pressed
for time. However, he resigned himself to circumstances,
for he never senselessly murmured. Besides, the fact was
that no telegue or tarantass, berlin or postchaise, nor horse
could take him more quickly either to Perm or Kasan. It
would be better, then, to wait for the steamer, a mode of
conveyance far more rapid than any other, and which would
enable him to regain lost time.
Here, then, was Michael Strogoff strolling through the
town and quietly looking out for some inn in which to pass
the night. However, he troubled himself little on this score,
aLnd, but that hunger pressed him, he would probably have
wandered on till morning in the streets of Nijni-Novgorod.
He was looking for supper rather than a bed. But he found
both at the sign of the City of Constantinople. There,
the landlord offered him a fairly comfortable room, with
little furniture, it is true, but which was not without an
image of the Virgin, and portraits of a few saints framed in
A goose filled with sour stuffing swimming in thick
cream, barley bread, some curds, powdered sugar mixed
with cinnamon, and a jug of kwass, the ordinary Russian
beer, were placed before him, and sufficed to satisfy his
hunger. He did justice to the meal, which was more than
could be said of his neighbour at table, who, having, in his
character of "old believer" of the sect of Raskalniks, made
the vow of abstinence, rejected the potatoes on the dish in
THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS.
front of him, and carefully refrained from putting sugar in
His supper finished, Michael Strogoff, instead of going
up to his bedroom, again strolled out into the town. But,
although the long twilight yet lingered, the crowd was
already dispersing, the streets were gradually becoming
empty, and at length every one retired to his dwelling.
Why did not Michael Strogoff go quietly to bed, as
would have seemed more reasonable after a long railway
journey? Was he thinking of the young Livonian girl
who had for so many hours been his travelling companion ?
Having nothing better to do, he was thinking of her. Did
he fear that, lost in this busy city, she might be exposed
to insult ? He feared so, and with good reason. Did he
hope to meet her, and, if need were, to afford her protection ?
No. To meet would be difficult. As to protection-what
right had he--
"Alone," he said to himself, "alone, in the midst of
these wandering tribes! And yet the present dangers
are nothing compared to those she must undergo. Siberia!
Irkutsk! I am about to dare all risks for Russia, for the
Czar, while she is about to do so-For whom ? For what ?
She is authorized to cross the frontier 1 And the country
beyond is in revolt The steppes are full of Tartar bands!"
Michael Strogoff stopped for an instant, and reflected.
"Without doubt," thought he, "she must have deter-
mined on undertaking her journey before the invasion.
Perhaps she is even now ignorant of what is happening.
But no ; that cannot be, for the merchants discussed before
her the disturbances in Siberia-and she did not seem
surprised. She did not even ask for an explanation. She
must have known it then, and, though knowing it, she is
still resolute. Poor girl! Her motive for the journey
must be urgent indeed But though she may be brave-
and she certainly is so-her strength must fail her, and, to
say nothing of dangers and obstacles, she will be unable
to endure the fatigue of such a journey. Never can she
pass Irkutsk !"
Indulging in such reflections, Michael Strogoff wandered
on as cliance led him; but, being well acquainted with the
town, he knew that he could, without difficulty, retrace his
Having strolled on for about an hour, he seated
himself on a bench against the wall of a large wooden
cottage, which stood, with many others, on a vast open
He had scarcely been there five minutes when a hand
was laid heavily on his shoulder.
What are you doing here? roughly demanded a tall
and powerful man, who had approached unperceived.
I am resting," replied Michael Strogoff.
Do you mean to stay all night on the bench ? asked
Yes, if I feel inclined to do so," answered Michael
Strogoff, in a tone somewhat too sharp for the simple
merchant he wished to personate.
Come forward, then, that I may see you," said the
Michael Strogoff, remembering that, above all things,
prudence was necessary, instinctively drew back.
"It'is not necessary," he replied ; and he calmly stepped
back ten paces or so.
The man seemed, as Michael observed him well, to
have the look of a Bohemian, such as are met at fairs, and
with whom contact, either physical or moral, is unpleasant.
Then, as he looked more attentively through the dusk
which was coming on, he perceived, near the cottage, a
large caravan, the usual travelling dwelling of the Zingaris
or gipsies, who swarm in Russia wherever a few copecks
can be obtained.
As the gipsy took two or three steps forward, and was
about to interrogate Michael Strogoff more closely, the
door of the cottage was opened. He could just see a
woman, who advanced quickly, and in a language which
Michael Strogoff knew to be a mixture of the Mongol and
. MICHAEL STROGOFF.
" What are you doing here ?"
THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS.
"Another spy she said. "Let him alone, and come
to supper. The papluka'* is waiting for you."
Michael Strogoff could not help smiling at the epithet
bestowed on him, dreading spies as he did above all things.
But in the same dialect, although his accent was very
different, the Bohemian replied in words which signify:
You are right, Sangarre! Besides, we start to-morrow."
To-morrow ?" repeated the woman in a tone of
Yes, Sangarre," replied the Bohemian; "to-morrow,
and the Father himself sends us-where we are going "
Thereupon the man and woman entered the cottage,
and carefully closed the door.
"Good !" said Michael Strogoff, to himself; "if these
gipsies do not wish to be understood when they speak
before me, they had better use some other language."
From his Siberian origin, and because he had passed
his childhood in the Steppes, Michael Strogoff, it has been
said, understood almost all the languages in usage from
Tartary to the Sea of Ice. As to the exact signification
of the words exchanged between the gipsy and his com-
panion, he did not trouble his head. For why should it
interest him ?
It was already late when he thought of returning to his
inn to take some repose. He followed, as he did so, the
course of the Volga, whose waters were almost hidden
under the countless number of boats floating on its bosom.
By the direction of the river he knew the spot which he
had just left. This collection of caravans and cottages
occupied the great square in which was held, year by year,
the principal market of Nijni-Novgorod, and this explained
the assemblage in the square of these mountebanks and
gipsies from all quarters of the world.
An hour after, Michael Strogoff was sleeping soundly
on one of those Russian beds which always seem so hard
to strangers, and on the morrow, the 17th of July, he awoke
at break of day.
*A kind of light cake.
He had still five hours to pass in Nijni-Novgorod ; it
seemed to. him an age. How was he to spend the morning
unless in wandering, as he had done the evening before,
through the streets ? By the time he had finished his
breakfast, strapped up his bag, had his podorojna inspected
at the police office, he would have nothing to do but start.
But he was not a man to lie in bed after the sun had risen;
so he rose, dressed himself, placed the letter with the
imperial arms on it carefully at the bottom of its usual
pocket within the lining of his coat, over which he fastened
his belt; he then closed his bag and threw it over his
shoulder. This done, he had no wish to return to the
City of Constantinople, and intending to breakfast on
the bank of the Volga near the wharf, he settled his bill
and left the inn. By way of precaution, Michael Strogoff
went first to the office of the steam-packet company, and
there made sure that the Caucasus would start at the
appointed hour. As he did so, the thought for the first
time struck him that, since the young Livonian girl was
going to Perm, it was very possible that her intention was
also to embark in the Caucasus, in which case he should
The town above with its kremlin, whose circumference
measures two versts, and which resembles that of Moscow,
was altogether abandoned. Even the governor did not
reside there. But if the town above was like a city of the
dead, the town below, at all events, was alive.
Michael Strogoff, having crossed the Volga on a bridge
of boats, guarded by mounted Cossacks, reached the square
where the evening before he had fallen in with the gipsy
camp. This was somewhat outside the town, where the
fair of Nijni-Novgorod was held, with which that of Leipzig
itself is not to be compared. In a vast plain beyond the
Volga rose the temporary palace.of the governor-general,
where by imperial orders that great functionary resided
during the whole of the fair, which, thanks to the people
who composed it, required an ever-watchful surveillance.
This plain was now covered with booths symmetrically
The moving mass of human beings surging here and there.
THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS.
arranged in such a manner as to leave avenues broad
enough to allow the crowd to pass without a crush.
Each group of these booths, of all sizes and shapes,
formed a separate quarter particularly dedicated to some
special branch of commerce. There was the iron quarter,
the furriers' quarter, the woollen quarter, the quarter of the
wood merchants, the weavers' quarter, the dried fish
quarter, etc. Some booths were even built of fancy
materials, some of .bricks of tea, others of masses of salt
meat-that is to say, of samples of the goods which the
owners thus announced were there to the purchasers-a
singular, and somewhat American, mode of advertisement.
In the avenues and long alleys there was already a
large assemblage of people-the sun, which had risen at
four o'clock, being well above the horizon-Russians, Sibe-
rians, Germans, Cossacks, Turcomans, Persians, Georgians,
Greeks, Turks, Hindoos, Chinese, an extraordinary mix-
ture of Europeans and Asiatics, talking, wrangling,
haranguing, and bargaining. Everything which can be
bought or sold seemed to be heaped up in this square.
Porters, horses, camels, asses, boats, caravans, every
description of conveyance that would serve for the trans-
port of merchandise had been accumulated on the fair-
ground. Furs, precious stones, silks, Cashmere shawls,
Turkey carpets, weapons from the Caucasus, gauzes from
Smyrna and Ispahan, Tiflis armour, caravan teas, European
bronzes, Swiss clocks, velvets and silks from Lyons,
English cottons, harness, fruits, vegetables, minerals from
the Ural, malachite, lapis-lazuli, spices, perfumes, medicinal
herbs, wood, tar, rope, horn, pumpkins, water-melons, etc.
--all the products of India, China, Persia, from the shores of
the Caspian and the Black Sea, from America and Europe,
were united at this corner of the globe.
It is scarcely possible truly to portray the moving mass
of human beings surging here and there, the excitement,
the confusion, the hubbub ; demonstrative as were the
natives and the inferior classes, they were completely out-
done by their visitors. There were merchants from Central
Asia, who had occupied a year in escorting their merchan.
dise across its vast plains, and who would not again see
their shops and counting-houses for another year to come.
In short, of such importance is this fair of Nijni-Novgorod,
that the sum total of its transactions amounts yearly to not
less than a hundred million roubles.*
On one of the open spaces between the quarters of this
temporary city were numbers of mountebanks of every
description; harlequins and acrobats, deafening the visitors
with the noise of their instruments and their vociferous
cries; gipsies from the mountains, telling fortunes to the
credulous fools who are ever to be found in such assem-
blies; Zingaris or Tsiganes-a name which the Russians
give to the gipsies who are the descendants of the ancient
Copts-singing their wildest melodies and dancing their
most original dances; comedians of foreign theatres, act-
ing Shakespeare, adapted to the taste of spectators who
crowded to witness them. In the long avenues the bear
showmen accompanied their four-footed dancers, mena-
geries resounded with the hoarse cries of animals under the
influence of the stinging whip or red-hot irons of the
tamer; and, besides all these numberless performers, in the
middle of the central square, surrounded by a circle four
deep of enthusiastic amateurs, was a band of "mariners of
the Volga," sitting on the ground, as on the deck of their-
vessel, imitating the action of rowing, guided by the stick
of the master of the orchestra, the veritable helmsman of
this imaginary vessel!
A whimsical and pleasing custom!
Suddenly, according to a time-honoured observance in
the fair of Nijni-Novgorod, above the heads of the vast con-
course a flock of birds was allowed to escape from the cages
in which they had been brought to the spot. In return
for a few copecks charitably offered by some good people,
the bird-fanciers opened the prison doors of their captives,
who flew out in hundreds, uttering their joyous notes.
About ,15,720,000 sterling.
THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS.
It should here be mentioned that England and France,
at all events, were this year represented at the great fair of
Nijni-Novgorod by two of the most distinguished products
of modern civilisation, Messrs. Harry Blount 'and Alcide
Alcide Jolivet, an optimist by nature, seemed to find
everything agreeable, and as by chance both lodging and
food were to his taste, he jotted down in his book some
memoranda particularly favourable to the town of Nijni-
Harry Blount, on the contrary, having in vain hunted
for a supper, had been obliged to find a resting-place in
the open air. He therefore looked at it all from another
point of view, and was preparing an article of the most
withering character against a town in which the landlords
of the inns refused to receive travellers who only begged
leave to be flayed, morally and physically."
Michael Strogoff, one hand in his pocket, the other
holding his cherry-stemmed pipe, appeared the most in-
different and least impatient of men ; yet, from a certain
contraction of his eyebrows every now and then, a careful
observer would have perceived that he was burning to be off.
For about two hours he had been walking about the
streets, only to find himself invariably at the fair again.
As he passed among the groups of buyers and sellers he
discovered that those who came from countries on the
confines of Asia manifested great uneasiness. Their trade
was visibly suffering from it.
Another symptom also was to be remarked. In Russia
military uniforms appear on every occasion. Soldiers are
wont to mix freely with the crowd, the police agents being
almost invariably aided by a number of Cossacks, who,
lance on shoulder, keep order in the crowd of three hundred
But on this occasion the soldiers, Cossacks and the rest,
did not put in an appearance at the great market. Doubt-
less, a sudden order to move having been foreseen, they
were restricted to their barracks.
Nevertheless, though no soldiers were to be seen, it was
not so with their officers. Since the evening before, aides-
de-camp, leaving the governor's palace, galloped in every
direction. An unusual movement was going forward which
a serious state of affairs could alone account for. There
were innumerable couriers on the roads both to Wladimir
and to the Ural Mountains. The exchange of telegraphic
despatches between Moscow and St. Petersburg was
Michael Strogoff found himself in the central square
when the report spread that the head of police had been
summoned by a courier to the palace of the governor-
general. An important despatch from Moscow, it was
said, was the cause of it.
"The fair is to be closed," said one.
"The regiment of Nijni-Novgorod has received the
route," declared another.
They say that the Tartars menace Tomsk!"
"Here is the head of police!" was shouted on every
A loud clapping of hands was suddenly raised, which
subsided by degrees, and finally was succeeded by absolute
silence. The head of police arrived in the middle of the
central square, and it was seen by all that he held in his
hand a despatch.
Then, in a loud voice, he read the following announce-
By order of the Governor of Nijni-Novgorod.
Ist. All Russian subjects are forbidden to quit the
province upon any pretext whatsoever.
2nd. All strangers of Asiatic origin are commanded to
leave the province within twenty-four hours."
Then in a loud voice he read .
BROTHER AND SISTER.
HOWEVER disastrous these measures might, prove to
private interests, they were, under the circumstances,
- "All Russian subjects are forbidden to leave the
province;" if Ivan Ogareff was still in the province, this
would at any rate prevent him, unless with the greatest
difficulty, from rejoining Feofar-Khan, and becoming a
very formidable lieutenant to the Tartar chief.
"All foreigners of Asiatic origin are ordered to leave
the. province in four-and-twenty hours;" this would send
off in a body all the traders from Central Asia, as well as
the bands of Bohemians, gipsies, etc., having more or less
sympathy with the Tartar or Mongolian populations, and
which had been collected together at the fair. So many
heads, so many spies-undoubtedly the state of affairs
required their expulsion.
It is easy to understand the effect produced by these
two thunder-claps bursting over a town like Nijni-
Novgorod, so densely crowded with visitors, and of which
the commerce so greatly surpassed that of all other places
in Russia. The natives, therefore, whom business called
beyond the Siberian frontier could not leave the province
for a time at least. The tenor of the first article of the
order was express; it admitted of no exception. All
private interests must yield to the public weal. As to the
second article of the proclamation, the order of expulsion
which it contained admitted of no evasion either. It only
concerned foreigners of Asiatic origin, but these could do
nothing but pack up their merchandise and go back the
way they came. As to the mountebanks, of which there
were a considerable number, and who had nearly a
thousand versts to go before they could reach the nearest
frontier, for them it was simply misery.
At first there rose against this unusual measure a
murmur of protestation, a cry of despair, but this was
quickly suppressed by the presence of the Cossacks and
agents of police.
Immediately, what might be called the exodus from the
immense plain began. The awnings in front of the stalls
were folded up; the theatres were taken to pieces; the
song and the dance ceased; the shows were silent; the
fires were put out; the acrobats' ropes were lowered; the
old broken-winded horses of the travelling vans came back
from their sheds. Agents and soldiers with whip or stick
stimulated the tardy ones, and made nothing of pulling
down the tents even before the poor Bohemians had left
Under these energetic measures the square of Nijni-
Novgorod would, it was evident, be entirely evacuated
before the evening, and to the tumult of the great fair
would succeed the silence of the desert.
It must again be repeated-for it was a necessary
aggravation of these severe measures-that to all those
nomads chiefly concerned in the order of expulsion even
the steppes of Siberia were forbidden, and they would be
obliged to hasten to the south of the Caspian Sea, either to
Persia, Turkey, or the plains of Turkestan. The post of
the Ural, and the mountains which form, as it were a
prolongation of the river along the Russian frontier, they
were not allowed to pass. They were therefore under the
necessity of travelling a thousand versts before they could
tread a free soil.
Just as the reading of the proclamation by the head of
the police came to an end, an idea darted instinctively into
the mind of Michael Strogoff.
"What a singular coincidence," thought he, "between
this proclamation expelling all foreigners of Asiatic origin,
and the words exchanged last evening between those two
gipsies of the Zingari race. 'The Father himself sends us
where we wish to go,' that old man said. But 'the Father'
is the emperor! He is never called anything else among
the people. How could those gipsies have foreseen the
measure taken against them ? how could they have known
it beforehand, and where do they wish to go ? Those are
suspicious people, and it seems to me that to them the
government proclamation must be more useful than
But these reflections, though certainly correct, were
completely dispelled by another which drove every other
thought out of Michael's mind. He forgot the Zin-
garis, their suspicious words, the strange coincidence which
resulted from the proclamation. The remembrance of
the young Livonian girl suddenly rushed into his mind.
"Poor child!" he thought to himself. "She cannot
now cross the frontier."
In truth the young girl was from Riga; she was
Livonian, consequently Russian, and now could not leave
Russian territory The permit which had been given her
before the new measures had been promulgated was
evidently no longer available. All the routes to Siberia
had just been pitilessly closed to her, and, whatever was
the motive which was taking her to Irkutsk, she was now
forbidden to go there.
This thought greatly occupied Michael Strogoff. He
said to himself, vaguely at first, that, without neglecting
anything of what was due to his important mission, it
would perhaps be possible for him to be of some use to this
brave girl; and this idea pleased him. Knowing how
serious were the dangers which he, an energetic and
vigorous man, would have personally to encounter through
BROTHER AND SISTER.
a country of which however the roads were familiar, he
could not conceal from himself how infinitely greater they
would prove to a young unprotected girl. As she was
going to Irkutsk, she would be obliged to follow the same
road as himself, she would have to pass through the bands
of invaders, as he was about to attempt doing himself. If,
moreover, and according to all probability, she had at her
disposal only the resources necessary for a journey taken
under ordinary circumstances, how could she manage to
accomplish it under conditions which late events would
render not only perilous but expensive ?
"Well," said he, "if she takes the route to Perm, it is
nearly impossible but that I shall fall in with her. Then, I
will watch over her without her suspecting it; and as she
appears to me as anxious as myself to reach Irkutsk, she
will cause me no delay."
But one thought leads to another. Michael Strogoff
had till now reasoned on the supposition of doing a kind
action, of rendering a service; but now another idea
flashed into his brain, and the question presented itself
under quite a new aspect.
"The fact is," said he to himself, "that I have much
more need of her than she can have of me. Her presence
will be useful in drawing off suspicion from me. A man
travelling alone across the steppe, may be easily guessed to
be a courier of the Czar. If, on the contrary, this young
girl accompanies me, I shall appear, in the eyes of all, the
Nicholas Korpanoff of my podorojna. Therefore, she must
accompany me. Therefore, I must find her again at any
cost. It is not probable that since yesterday evening she
has been able to get a carriage and leave Nijni-Novgorod.
I must look for her. And may God guide me! "
Michael left the great square of Nijni-Novgorod, where
the tumult produced by the carrying out of the prescribed
measures had now reached its height. Recriminations
from the banished strangers, shouts from the agents and
Cossacks who were using them so brutally, together made
an indescribable uproar. The girl for whom he searched
Then fallen, rather than seated, on a bench .
BROTHER AND SISTER.
could not be there. It was now nine o'clock in the morning.
The steamboat did not start till twelve. Michael Strogoff
had therefore nearly two hours to employ in searching for
her whom he wished to make his travelling companion.
He crossed the Volga again and hunted through the
quarters on the other side, where the crowd was much less
considerable. He visited every road, both in the high and
low towns. He entered the churches, the natural refuge
for all who weep, for all who suffer. Nowhere did he meet
with the young Livonian.
"And yet," he repeated, "she could not have left
Nijni-Novgorod yet. We'll have another look."
Michael wandered about thus for two hours. He went
on without stopping, feeling no fatigue, but obeying Ihe
potent instinct which allowed him no room for thought.
All was in vain.
It then occurred to him that perhaps the girl had not
heard of the order-though this was improbable enough,
for such a thunder-clap could not have burst without being
heard by all. Evidently interested in knowing the smallest
news from Siberia, how could she be ignorant of the
measures taken by the governor, measures which concerned
her so directly ?
But, if she was ignorant of it, she would come in an
hour to the quay, and there some merciless agent would
brutally refuse her a passage! At any cost, he must see
her beforehand, and do what he could to enable her to avoid
such a repulse.
But all his endeavours were in v%. in, and he at length
almost despaired of finding her again.
It was now eleven-o'clock, and Michael, though under
any other circumstances it would have been useless, thought
of presenting his podorojna at the office of the head of
police. The proclamation evidently did not concern him,
since the emergency had been foreseen for him, but he
wished to make sure that nothing would hinder his de-
parture from the town.
Michael then returned to the other side of the Volga,
to the quarter in which was the office of the head of
An immense crowd was collected there; for though all
foreigners were ordered to quit the province, they had
notwithstanding to go through certain forms before they
Without this precaution, some Russian more or less
implicated in the Tartar movement would have been able,
in a disguise, to pass the frontier-just those whom the
order wished to prevent going. The strangers were sent
away, but still had to gain permission to go.
Mountebanks, gipsies, Tsignanes, Zingaris, mingled
with merchants from Persia, Turkey, India, Turkestan,
China, filled the court and offices of the police station:
Every one was in a hurry, for the means of transport
would be much sought after among this crowd of banished
people, and those who did not set about it soon ran a
great risk of not being able to leave the town in the pre-
scribed time, which would expose them to some brutal
treatment from the governor's agents.
Owing to the strength of his elbows Michael Strogoff
was able to cross the court. But to get into the office and
up to the clerk's little window was a much more difficult
business. However, a word into an inspector's ear and a
few judiciously given roubles were powerful enough to gain
him a passage.
The man, after taking him into the waiting-room, went
to call an upper clerk.
Michael Strogoff would not be long in making every-
thing right with the police and being free in his move-
Whilst waiting, he looked about him, and what did he
see ? There, fallen, rather than seated, on a bench, was
a girl, prey to a silent despair, although her face could
scarcely be seen, the profile alone being visible against
Michael Strogoff could not be mistaken. He instantly
recognized the young Livonian.
BROTHER AND SISTER. 61
Not knowing the governor's orders, she had come to
the police office to get her pass signed. .... They had
refused to sign it. No doubt she was authorized to go to
Irkutsk, but the order was peremptory-it annulled all
previous authorizations, and the routes to Siberia were
closed to her.
Michael, delighted at having found her again, ap-
proached the girl.
She looked up for a moment and her face brightened
on recognizing her travelling companion, She instinctively
rose, and, like a drowning man who clutches at a spar,
she was about to ask his help. .... At that moment the
agent touched Michael on the shoulder.
The head of police will see you," he said.
Good," returned Michael. And without saying a
word to her for whom he had been searching all day,
without reassuring her by even a gesture, which might
compromise either her or himself, he followed the man
through the crowd.
The young Livonian, seeing the only being to whom
she could look for help disappear, fell back again on her
Three minutes had not passed before Michael Storgoff
reappeared, accompanied by the agent. In his hand he
held his podorojna, which threw open the roads to Siberia
for him. He again approached the young Livonian, and
holding out his hand :
"Sister," said he.
She understood. She rose as if some sudden inspiration
prevented her from hesitating a moment.
Sister," repeated Michael Strogoff, we are authorized
to continue our journey to Irkutsk. Will you come ? "
I will follow you, brother," replied the girl, putting
her hand into that of Michael Strogoff. And together
they left the police station.
GOING DOWN THE VOLGA.
A LITTLE before mid-day, the steamboat's bell drew to
the wharf on the Volga an unusually large concourse of
people, for not only were those about to embark who had
intended to go, but the many who were compelled to go
contrary to their wishes. The boilers of the Caucasus
were under full pressure; a slight smoke issued from its
chimney, whilst the end of the escape-pipe and the lids of
the valves were crowned with white vapour. It is needless
to say that the police kept a close watch over the departure
of the Caucasus, and showed themselves pitiless to those
travellers who did not satisfactorily answer their questions.
Numerous Cossacks came and went on the quay, ready
to assist the agents, but they had not to interfere, as no
one ventured to offer the slightest resistance to their orders.
Exactly at the hour the last clang of the bell sounded, the
warps were cast off, the powerful wheels of the steamboat
began to beat the water, and the Caucasus passed rapidly
between the two towns of which Nijni-Novgorod is
Michael Strogoff and the young Livonian had taken a
passage on board the Caucasus. Their embarkation was
made without any difficulty. As is known, the podorojna,
drawn up in the name of Nicholas Korpanoff, authorized
this merchant to be accompanied on his journey to Siberia.
GOING DOWN THE VOLGA.
They appeared, therefore, to be a brother and sister travel-
ling under the protection of the imperial police. Both, seated
together at the stern, gazed at the receding town, so dis-
turbed by the governor's order. Michael had as yet said
nothing to the girl, he had not even questioned her. lie
waited until she should speak to him, when that was
necessary. She had been anxious to leave that town,
in which, but for the providential intervention of this
unexpected protector, she would have remained imprisoned.
She said nothing, but her looks spoke her thanks.
The Volga, the Rha of the ancients, is considered to be
the largest river in all Europe, and is not less than four
thousand versts in length. Its waters, rather unwholesome
in its upper part, are improved at Nijni-Novgorod by those
of the Oka, a rapid affluent, issuing from the central pro-
vinces of Russia.
The system of Russian canals and rivers has been justly
compared to a gigantic tree whose branches spread over
every part of the empire. The Volga forms the trunk of
this tree, and it has for roots seventy mouths opening into
the Caspian Sea. It is navigable as far as Rjef, a town in
the government of Tver, that is, along the greater part of
The steamboats plying between Perm and Nijni-
Novgorod rapidly perform the three hundred and fifty
versts which separate this town from the town of Kasan.
It is true that these boats have only to descend the Volga,
which adds nearly two miles of current per hour to their
own speed; but on arriving at the confluence of the Kama,
a little below Kasan, they are obliged to quit the Volga for
the smaller river, up which they ascend to Perm. Powerful
as were her machines, the Caucasus could not thus, after
entering the Kama, make against the current more than
sixteen versts an hour. Including an hour's stoppage at
Kasan, the voyage from Nijni-Novgorod to Perm would
take from between sixty to sixty-two hours.
The steamer was very well arranged, and the passengers,
according to their condition or resources, occupied three
distinct classes on board. Michael Strogoff had taken care
to engage two first-class cabins, so that his young com-
panion might retire into hers and be quiet whenever she
The Caucasus was loaded with passengers of every
description. A number of Asiatic traders had thought it
best to leave Nijni-Novgorod immediately. In that part
of the steamer reserved for the first-class might be seen
Armenians in long robes and a sort of mitre on their heads;
Jews, known by their conical caps; rich Chinese in their
traditional costume, a very wide blue, violet, or black robe,
open at front and at the back, and covered by a second
robe with wide sleeves, the cut of which recalls that of the
popes; Turks, wearing the national turban ; Hindoos, with
square caps, and a simple string for a girdle, some of whom,
more especially designated under the name of Shikarporis,
hold in their hands all the traffic of Central Asia; and,
lastly, Tartars, weaving boots, ornamented with many-
coloured braid, and the breast a mass of embroidery.
All these merchants had been obliged to pile, up their
numerous bales and chests in the hold and- on the deck;
and the transport of their baggage would cost them dear,
for, according to the regulations, each person had only a
right to twenty pounds' weight.
In the bows of the Caucasus were more numerous
groups of passengers, not only foreigners, but also Russians,
who were not forbidden by the order to go back to the
towns in the province.
There were mujiks with caps on their heads, and
wearing checked shirts under their wide pelisses; peasants
of the Volga, with blue trousers stuffed into their boots,
rose-coloured cotton shirts, drawn in by a cord, felt caps;
a few women, habited in flowery-patterned cotton dresses,
gay-coloured aprons, and bright handkerchiefs on their
heads. These were principally third-class passengers,
who were, happily, not troubled by the prospect of a
long return voyage. In short, this part of the deck was
crowded. The cabin passengers did not venture among
GOING DOWN THE VOLGA.
these mixed groups, whose place was marked beyond the
In the meantime the Caucasus was rapidly plying
her paddles between the banks of the Volga. She passed
numerous boats being towed up the stream, carrying all
sorts of merchandise to Nijni-Novgorod. Then passed
rafts of wood, as long as those interminable masses of
weed found in a part of the Atlantic known as the Sar-
gasso Sea, and barges loaded up to the gunwale, and
nearly sinking under water. A bootless voyage they were
making, since the fair had been abruptly broken up at its
SThe waves caused by the steamer splashed on the
banks, covered with flocks of wild duck, who flew away
uttering deafening cries. A little farther, on the dry fields,
bordered with alders, willows, and aspens, were scattered a
few dark-red cows, flocks of brown-fleeced sheep, and herds
of black and white pigs of all sizes. Fields, sown with thin
buckwheat and rye, stretched away to a background of half-
cultivated hills, but offering no remarkable prospect. The
pencil of an artist in quest of some picturesque scene would
have found nothing to reproduce in this monotonous land-
The Caucasus had been steaming on for about two
hours, when the young Livonian, addressing herself to
Michael Strogoff, said :
"Are you going to Irkutsk, brother ?"
Yes, sister," answered the young man. "We are both
going the same way. Consequently, wherever I go, you
"To-morrow, brother, you shall know why I left the
shores of the Baltic to go beyond the Ural Mountains."
I ask you nothing, sister."
"You shall know all," replied the girl, with a faint smile.
"A sister should hide nothing from her brother. But I
cannot to-day. '. Fatigue and sorrow have broken me
"Will you go and rest in your cabin ?" asked Michael.
Yes-yes; and to-morrow- "
Come then- "
He hesitated to finish his sentence, as if he had wished
to end it by the name of his companion, of which he was
Nadia," said she, holding out her hand.
Come, Nadia," answered Michael, "and make what
use you like of your brother Nicholas Korpanoff." And
he led the girl to the cabin engaged for her off the saloon.
Michael Strogoff returned on deck, and eager for any
news which might bear on his journey, he mingled in the
groups of passengers, though without taking any part in
the conversation. Should he by any chance be questioned,
and obliged to reply, he would announce himself as the
merchant Nicholas Korpanoff, going back to the frontier
in the Caucasus, for he did not wish it to be suspected
that a special permission authorized him to travel to
The foreigners in the steamer could evidently speak of
nothing but the occurrences of the day, of the order and its
consequences. These poor people, scarcely recovered from
the fatigue of a journey across Central Asia, found them-
selves obliged to return, and if theydid not give loud vent
to their anger and despair, it was because they dared not.
Fear, mingled with respect, restrained them. It was
possible that inspectors of police, charged with watching
the passengers, had secretly embarked on board the
Caucasus, and it was just as well to keep silence;
expulsion, after all, was a good deal preferable to im-
prisonment in a fortress. Therefore the men were either
silent, or remarks were exchanged with so much caution
that it was scarcely possible to get any useful information
Michael Strogoff thus could learn nothing here ; but if
mouths were often shut at his approach-for they did not
know him-his ears were soon struck by the sound of one
voice, which cared little whether it was heard or not.
The man w;th the hearty voice spoke Russian, but with
"Sister," said he.
J\q!ifvr i I,1'I1 3
GOING DOWN THE VOLGA.
a foreign accent; and the other speaker answered him more
reservedly in the same language, evidently, however, not his
"What," said the first, "are you on board this boat,
too, my dear fellow; you whom I met at the imperial
fete in Moscow, and just caught a glimpse of at Nijni-
Yes, it's me," answered the second drily.
"Well, really, I didn't expect to be so closely followed
Indeed I am not following you sir; I am preceding
Precede! precede! Let us march abreast, keeping
step, like two soldiers on parade, and for the time, at least
let us agree, if you will, that one shall not pass the other."
On the contrary, I shall pass you."
We shall see that, wheii we are on the theatre of war ;
but" till then, why, let us be travelling companions.
Later, we shall have both time and occasion to be
"Enemies, if you like. There is a precision in your
words, my dear fellow, which is particularly agreeable to
me. One may always know what one has to look for,
"What is the harm ?"
"No harm at all. So, in my turn, I will ask your
permission to state our respective situations."
You are going to Perm-like me ?"
"And probably you will go from Perm to Ekaterenburg,
since that is the best and safest route by.which to cross the
Ural Mountains ?"
"Once past the frontier, we shall be in Siberia, that is
to say, in the midst of the invasion."
"We shall be there."
"Well! then, and only then, will be the time to say,
Each for himself, and God for-----"
"For you, all by yourself! Very well! But since we
have a week of neutral days before us, and since it is very
certain that news will not shower down upon us on the
way, let us be friends until we become rivals again."
"Yes; that's right, enemies. But till then, let us act
together, and not try and ruin each other. All the same,
I promise you to keep to myself all that I can see- "
"And I, all that I can hear."
"Is that agreed ?"
It is agreed."
"Your hand ?"
Here it is."
And the hand of the first' speaker, that is to say, five
wide-open fingers, vigorously shook the two fingers coolly
extended by the other.
"By the bye," said the first, I was able this morning to
telegraph the very words of the order to my cousin at
seventeen minutes past ten."
"And I sent it to the Daily Telegraph at thirteen
minutes past ten."
Bravo, Mr. Blount! "
"Very good, M. Jolivet."
"I will try and match that !"
It will be difficult."
"I can try, however."
So saying, the French correspondent familiarly saluted
the Englishman, who bowed stiffly. The governor's
proclamation did not concern these two news-hunters, as
they were neither Russians nor foreigners of Asiatic origin.
They had set out, however, and being urged by the
same instinct, had left Nijni-Novgorod together. It was
natural that they should take the same means of transport,
and that they should follow the same route to the Siberian
steppes. Travelling companions, whether enemies or
GOING DOWN THE VOLGA.
friends, they had a week to pass together before the hunt
would be open." And then success to the most expert!
Alcide Jolivet had made the first advances, and though
Harry Blount had accepted them, he had done so coldly.
That very day at dinner, however, the Frenchman,
open as ever, and even too loquacious, the Englishman
still silent and grave, were seen hobnobbing at the same
table, drinking genuine Cliquot, at six roubles the bottle,
made from the fresh sap of the birch-trees of the country.
On hearing Alcide Jolivet and Harry Blount chatting
away together, Michael Strogoff said to himself: "Those
are inquisitive and indiscreet fellows whom I shall probably
meet again on the way. It will be prudent for me to keep
them at a distance."
The young Livonian did not come to dinner. She was
asleep in her cabin, and Michael did not like to awaken
her. It was evening before she reappeared on the deck
of the Caucasus.
The long twilight imparted a coolness to the atmosphere
eagerly enjoyed by the passengers after the stifling heat
of the day. As the evening advanced, the greater number
never even thought of going back to the saloon and cabins.
Stretched on the benches, they inhaled with delight the
slight breeze caused by the speed of the steamer. At this
time of year, and under this latitude, the sky scarcely
darkened between sunset and dawn, and left the steersman
light enough to guide his steamer among the numerous
vessels going up or down the Volga.
Between eleven and two, however, the moon being new,
it was almost dark. Nearly all the passengers were then
asleep on the deck, and the silence was disturbed only by
the noise of the paddles striking the water at regular
intervals. Anxiety kept Michael Strogoff awake. He
walked' up and down, but always in the stern of the
steamer. Once, however, he happened to pass the engine-
room. He then found himself, in the part reserved for
second and third-class passengers.
There, every one was lying asleep, not only on the
benches, but also on the bales, packages, and even the deck
itself. The men on watch above were standing about
on the forecastle. Two lights, one green, the other red,
hung over the starboard and port sides, and sent a few rays
along the steamboat's bulwarks.
Some care was necessary not to tread on the sleepers,
who were lying about everywhere. They were chiefly
mujiks, accustomed to hard couches, and quite satisfied
with the planks of the deck. But no doubt they would,
all the same, have soundly abused the clumsy fellow who
happened to rouse them with an accidental kick.
Michael Strogoff took care, therefore, not to disturb any
one. By going thus to the end of the boat, he had no
other idea but that of striving against sleep by a rather
He reached the other part of the deck, and was already
climbing the forecastle ladder, when he heard some one
speaking near him. He stopped. The voices appeared to
come from a group of passengers enveloped in cloaks and
wraps, so that it was impossible to recognize them in the
dark. But it sometimes happened that, when the steamer's
chimney sent forth a plume of ruddy flames amongst the
volumes of smoke, the sparks seemed to fall amongst the
group as though thousands of spangles had been suddenly
illuminated. Michael was about to step up the ladder,
when a few words reached his ear, distinctly uttered in
that strange tongue which he had heard during the night at
Instinctively he stopped to listen. Protected by the
shadow of the forecastle, he could not be perceived himself.
As to seeing the passengers who were talking, that was
impossible. He was obliged to confine himself to
The first words exchanged were of no importance-to
him at least-but they allowed him to recognize the voices
of the man and woman whom he had heard at Nijni-
Novgorod. This, of course, made him redouble his
attention. It was, indeed, not at all impossible that the
lie was already climbing the forecastle ladder.