The Baldwin Libraqy
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST,
GODFREY IS CAPTURED BY THE RUSSIAN POLICE.
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST:
A STORY OF
ESCAPE FROM SIBERIA.
G. A. HENTY,
Author of "In Freedom's Cause;" "The Lion of the North;"
"The Young Carthaginian;" &c.
ILLUSTRATED BY WALTER PAGET.
BLACKIE & SON, LIMITED, 49 OLD BAILEY, E.C.
GLASGOW, EDINBURGH, AND DUBLIN.
MY DEAR LADS,
There are few difficulties that cannot be surmounted by
patience, resolution, and pluck, and great as are the obstacles
that nature and the Russian government oppose to an escape
from the prisons of Siberia, such evasions have occasion-
ally been successfully carried out, and that under far less
advantageous circumstances than those under which the
hero of this story undertook the venture. For the account
of life in the convict establishments in Siberia I am indebted
to the very valuable books by my friend the Rev. Dr. Lans-
dell, who has made himself thoroughly acquainted with
Siberia, traversing the country from end to end and visiting
all the principal prisons. He conversed not only with
officials, but with many of the prisoners and convicts, and
with Russian and foreign residents in the country, and his
testimony as to the management of the prisons and the
condition of the convicts is confirmed by other independent
writers personally cognizant of the facts, and like him able
to converse fluently in the language, and writing from inti-
mate knowledge of the subject.
G. A. HENTY.
I. A GREAT CHANGE, . ... . 11
II. A CAT'S-PAW, . . 33
III. A HUNTING PARTY, . . .. .52
IV. A PRISONER, .............. 67
V. AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE, . . 86
VI. AN ESCAPE, .... .. . .104
VII. THE BURIAT'S CHILD, . . 123
VIII. THE MINES OF KARA, . . .. .142
IX. PRISON LIFE,. ... . . 163
X. PREPARATIONS FOR FLIGHT . .. 182
XI. AFLOAT, ...... ...... .... 202
XII. WINTER, ... . . 222
XIII. HUNTING, ...... . . 242
XIV. THE BREAK-UP OF WINTER, . .. 262
XV. COASTING. ................ .282
XVI. A SAMOYEDE ENCAMPMENT, . . 302
XVII. A SEA FIGHT, . . . 322
XVIII. HOME AGAIN,..
. .. .339
GODFREY IS CAPTURED BY THE RUSSIAN POLICE, Frontis. 70
A SUPPER OF ROASTED SQUIRRELS, ...... .. 121
GODFREY PUNISHES KOBYLIN IN THE CONVICT PRISON, 166
SPEARING FISH BY TORCH-LIGHT, . ... 218
GODFREY BRINGS DOWN AN ELK, . .. .245
THE SLAUGHTERED WOLVES, .. ..... .259
LUKA FACES THE BEAR, .. . ... 277
GODFREY AND LUKA ESCAPING FROM THE SAMOYEDES, 318
Map of Russian Empire, . .. .. 80
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
A GREAT CHANGE.
ALF a dozen boys were gathered in one of the
studies at Shrewsbury. A packed portmanteau
and the general state of litter on the floor was
sufficient to show that it was the last day of
"Well, I am awfully sorry you are going, Bullen; we shall
all miss you. You would certainly have been in the foot-
ball team next term; it is a nuisance altogether."
"It is a nuisance; and I am beastly sorry I am leaving.
Of course I have known for some time that I should be
going out to Russia; but I did not think the governor
would have sent me until after I had gone through the
school. His letter a fortnight ago was a regular stumper.
I thought I should have had another year and a half or two
years, and, of course, that is just the jolliest part of school
life. However, it cannot be helped."
"You talk the language, don't you, Bullen "
"Well, I used to talk it, but I don't remember much
about it now. You see I have been home six years. I
expect I shall pick it up again fast enough. I should not
mind it so much if the governor were out there still; but
you see he came home for good two years ago. Still it
12 CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
won't be like going to a strange place altogether; and as he
has been living there so long, I shall soon get to know lots
of the English there. Still I do wish I could have had a
couple of years more at Shrewsbury. I should have been
content to have gone out then."
"Well, it is time for us to be starting. I can hear the
In a few minutes the omnibus was filled with luggage in-
side and out; the lads started to walk to the station. As
the train drew up there were hearty good-byes, and then
the train steamed out of the station, the compartment in
which Godfrey Bullen. had taken his seat being filled with
boys going, like himself, straight through to town. All were
in high spirits, and Bullen, who had felt sorry at leaving
school for the last time, was soon as merry as any of them.
"You must mind what you are up to, Bullen," one of his
companions said. They are terrible fellows those Nihilists,
"They won't hurt Bullen," another put in, "unless he
goes into the secret police. I should say he would make a
good sort of secret policeman."
No, no; he is more likely to turn a Nihilist."
"Bosh!" Bullen said, laughing. "I am not likely to turn
a secret policeman; but I am more likely to do that than
to turn Nihilist. I hate revolutionists and. assassins, and all
those sort of fellows."
"Yes, we all know that you are a Tory, Bullen; but people
change, you know. I hope we shall never see among the
lists of Nihilists tried for sedition and conspiracy, and sen-
tenced to execution, the name of one Godfrey Bullen."
Oh, they wouldn't execute Bullen!" another said; "they
would send him to Siberia. Bullen's always good at fight-
ing an uphill game, and he would show off to great advan-
tage in a chain-gang. Do they crop their hair there, Bullen,
and put on a gray suit, as I saw them at work in Ports-
mouth dockyard last year?"
A GREAT CHANGE.
I am more likely to see you working in a chain-gang at
Portsmouth, Wilkinson, when I come back, than I am to form
part of a convict gang in Siberia-at any rate for being a
Nihilist. I won't say about other things, for I suppose there
is no saying what a fellow may come to. I don't suppose any
of the men who get penal servitude for forgery, and swind-
ling, and so on, ever have any idea, when they are sixteen,
that that is what they are coming to. At present I don't
feel any inclination that way."
"I should say you were not likely to turn forger anyhow,
Bullen, whatever you take to."
"Why is that, Parker "
Because you write such a thundering bad hand that you
would never be able to imitate anyone else's signature, un-
less he couldn't go farther than making a cross for his name,
and the betting is about even that you would blot that."
There was a roar of laughter, for Bullen's handwriting
was a perpetual source of trouble to him, and he was con-
tinually losing marks for his exercises in consequence. He
joined heartily in the laugh.
"It is an awful nuisance that handwriting of mine," he
said, "especially when one is going to be a merchant, you
know. The governor has talked two or three times about
my going to one of those fellows who teach you to write
copperplate in twenty lessons. I shouldn't be surprised if
he does. let me have a course these holidays. I should not
mind if he does, for my writing is disgusting."
"Never mind, Bullen; bad handwriting is a sign of genius,
you know. You have never shown any particular genius
yet, except for rowing and boxing, and I suppose that is
muscular genius; but you may blossom out in a new line
"I don't want to disturb the harmony of this last meet-
ing, Parker, or I should bring my muscular genius into play
at your expense."
"No, no, Bullen," another boy said, "you keep that for
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
Russia. Fancy Bullen polishing off a gigantic Cossack, or
defending the Czar's life against half a dozen infuriated
Nihilists. That would be the thing, Bullen. It would be
better than trade any day. Why, you would get an estate
as big as an English county, with ten thousand serfs, and
sacks upon sacks of roubles."
"What bosh you fellows talk!" Bullen laughed. "There
is one thing I do expect I shall learn in Russia, and that is
to skate. Fancy six months of regular skating, instead of
a miserable three or four days. I shall meet some of you
fellows some day at the Round Pond, and there you will be
just working away at the outside edge, and I shall be join-
ing in those skating-club figures and flying round and round
like a bird."
"What birds fly round and round, Bullen "
"Lots of them do, as you would know, Jordan, if you
kept your eyes open, instead of being always on the edge of
going to sleep. Swallows do, and eagles. Never mind, you
fellows will turn yellow with jealousy when you see me."
And so they laughed and joked until they reached Lon-
don. Then there was another hearty good-bye all round,
and in a couple of minutes they were speeding in hansoms
to their various destinations. Godfrey Bullen's was Eccleston
Square. His father was now senior partner in a firm that
carried on a considerable business with the east of Europe.
He had, when junior partner, resided at St. Petersburg, as
the firm had at that time large dealings in the Baltic. From
various causes this trade had fallen off a good deal, and the
firm had dealt more largely with Odessa and the southern
ports. Consequently, when at the death of the senior part-
ner Mr. Bullen returned to England to take up the principal
management of the affairs of the firm, it was not deemed
advisable to continue the branch at St. Petersburg, and Ivan
Petrovytch, a Russian trader of good standing, had been
appointed their agent there.
The arrangement had not worked quite satisfactorily.
A GREAT CHANGE.
Petrovytch was an excellent agent as far as he went. The
business he did was sound, and he was careful and conscien-
tious; but he lacked push and energy, had no initiative, and
would do nothing on his own responsibility. Mr. Bullen
had all along intended that Godfrey should, on leaving
school, go for a few years to Russia, and should, in time,
occupy the same position there that he himself had done;
but he had now determined that this should take place
earlier than he had before intended. He thought that God-
frey would now more speedily pick up the language again,
than if he remained another two or three years in England,
and that in five or six years' time he might be able to repre-
sent the firm there, either in conjunction with Ivan Petro-
vytch or by himself. Therefore, ten-days before the break-
ing-up of the school for the long holidays, he had written to
Godfrey, telling him that he should take him away at the
end of the term, and that in two or three months' time he
would go out to St. Petersburg.
Mr. Bullen's family consisted of two girls in addition to
Godfrey. Hilda, the elder, was seventeen, a year older than
the lad, while Ella was two years his junior.
"Well, Godfrey," his father said, as, after the first greet-
ing, they sat down to dinner, which had been kept back for
half an hour for his arrival, "you did not seem very enthu-
siastic in your reply to my letter."
"I did not feel very enthusiastic, father," Godfrey replied.
"Of course one's two last years at school are just the jolly
time, and I was really very sorry to leave. Still, of course
you know what is best for me; and I dare say I shall get on
very well at St. Petersburg."
"I have no doubt of that, Godfrey. I have arranged for
you to live with Mr. Petrovytch, as you will regain the lan-
guage much more quickly in a Russian family than you
would in an English one; besides, it will be handy for your
work. In Russia merchants' offices are generally in their
houses, and it is so with him; but, of course, you will know
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
most of the English families. I shall write to several of my
old friends, and I am sure they will do all they can for you;
but I shall write more to my Russian acquaintances than to
my English. The last are sure to call upon you when they
hear you have come out; but it is not so easy to get a footing
in Russian families, and you might be some time before you
make acquaintances that way. Besides, it is much better for
you to be principally in the Russian set than in the English,
in the first place, because of the language; and in the
second, because you will get a much better acquaintance
with the country in general with them than among the
"There are not many English lads of your own age out.
there-very few indeed; and those nearest your age would
be young clerks. I have nothing whatever to say against
young clerks; but, as a rule, they consort together, spend
their evenings in each others' rooms or in playing billiards,
or otherwise amuse themselves, and so learn very little of
the language and nothing of the people. It is unfortunate
that it should be so; but they are not altogether to blame,
for, as I have said, the Russians, although friendly enough
with Englishmen in business, in the club, and so on, do not
as a rule invite them to their houses; and therefore the
English, especially the class I am speaking of, are almost
forced to associate entirely with each other and form a sort
of colony quite apart from native society. I was fortunate
enough to make some acquaintances among them soon aftei
I went out, and your mother and I were much more in Rus-
sian society than is usual with our countrymen there. I
found great advantage from it, and shall be glad for you to
do the same. You will have one very great advantage, that
you will be able to speak Russian fluently in a short time."
"I don't think I remember much about it now, father."
"I dare say not, Godfrey; that is to say, you know it,
but you have lost a good deal of the facility of speaking it.
You have always got on fairly enough with it when we have
A GREAT CHANGE.
spoken it occasionally during your holidays since we have
been in England, and in a very few weeks you will find that
it has completely come back to you. You spoke it as you
did English, indeed better, when you came over to school
when you were ten, and in six years one does not forget a
language. If you had been another five or six years older,
no doubt you would have lost it a good deal; but even then
you would have learnt it very much more quickly than you
would have done had you never spoken it. Your mother
and the girls have been grumbling at me a good deal for
sending you away so soon."
"It is horrid, father," Hilda said. "We have always
looked forward so to Godfrey's coming home; and of course
it would be better still as he got older. We could have gone
about everywhere with him; and we'shall miss him espe-
cially when we go away in summer."
"Well, you must make the most of him this time then,"
her father said.
"Have you settled where we are going Godfrey asked.
"No, we would not settle until you came home, Godfrey,"
Mrs. Bullen said. "As this was to be your last holiday we
thought we would give you the choice."
"Then I vote for some quiet sea-side place, mother. We
went to Switzerland last year, and as I am going abroad
for ever so long I would rather stop at home now; and,
besides, I would rather be quiet with you all, instead of
always travelling about and going to places. Only, of course
if the girls would rather go abroad, I don't mind."
However, it was settled that it should be as Godfrey
"But I do think, father," Godfrey said, "that it will be
a good thing if I had lessons in writing from one of those
fellows who guarantee to teach you in a few lessons. I sup-
pose that is all bosh; but if I got their system and worked
at it, it might do me good. I really do write badly."
The girls laughed.
,c( (731) B
18 CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
"I don't think that quite describes it, Godfrey," his
father said. "If anyone asked me about your accomplish-
ments I should say that you knew a good deal of Latin and
Greek, that you had a vague idea of English, and that you
could read, but unfortunately you were quite unable to
write. According to my idea it is perfectly scandalous that
at the great schools such an essential as writing is altogether
neglected, while years are spent over Greek, which is of no
earthly use when you have once left school. I suppose the
very worst writers in the world are men who have been
educated in public schools.
"Well, I am glad you have had the good sense to suggest
it, Godfrey. I had thought of it myself, but I was afraid
you would think it was spoiling your last holidays at home.
I will see about it to-morrow. I cannot get away very well
for another fortnight. If you have a dozen lessons before
we go, you can practise while we are away; and mind, from
to-day we will talk nothing but Russian when we are alone."
This had been indeed a common.habit in the family since
they had come home two years before, as the two girls and
Mr. and Mrs. Bullen spoke Russian as fluently as English,
and Mr. Bullen thought it was just as well that they should
not let it drop altogether. Indeed on their travels in Swit-
zerland they had several times come across Russians, and
had made pleasant acquaintances from their knowledge of
The holidays passed pleasantly at Weymouth. Godfrey
practised two hours a day steadily at the system of hand-
writing: and although he was, at the end of the holidays,
very far from attaining the perfection shown in the ex-
amples produced by his teachers of the marvels they had
effected in many of their pupils, he did improve vastly, and
wrote a fair current hand instead of the almost undecipher-
able scrawl that had so puzzled and annoyed a succession
of masters at Shrewsbury. After another month spent in
London, getting his clothes and outfit, Godfrey started for
A GREAT CHANGE.
St. Petersburg. On his last evening at home his father
had a serious talk with him.
"I have told Petrovytch," he said, "that you may possibly
some day take up the agency with him, but that nothing is
decided as to that at present, and that it will all depend upon
circumstances. However, in any case, you will learn the
ins and outs of the trade there; and if, at the end of a few
years, you think that you would rather work by yourself than
with him, I can send out a special clerk to work with you.
On the other hand, it is possible that I may require you at
home here. Venables has no family, and is rather inclined
to take it easy. Possibly in a few years he may retire
altogether, and I may want you at home. At five or six
and twenty you should be able to undertake the manage-
ment of the Russian part of the business, running out there
occasionally to see that everything goes on well. I hope
I need not tell you to be steady. There is a good deal too
much drinking goes on out there, arising, no doubt, from
the fact that the young men have no family society there,
and nothing particular to do when work is over.
"Stick to the business, lad. You will find Petrovytch
himself a thoroughly good fellow. Of course he has Russian
ways and prejudices, but he is less narrow than most of his
countrymen of that class. Above all things, don't express
any opinion you may feel about public affairs-at any rate
outside the walls of the house. The secret police are every-
where, and a chance word might get you into a very
serious scrape. As you get on you will find a good deal
that you do not like. Even in business there is no getting
a government contract, or indeed a contract at all, without
bribing right and left. It is disgusting, but business can-
not be done without it. The whole system is corrupt and
rotten, and you will find that every official has his price.
However, you won't have anything to do with this for the
present. If I were you I should work for an hour or two a
day with a German master. There are a great many Ger-
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
mans there, and you will find a knowledge of the language
very useful to you. You see your Russian has pretty nearly
come back to you during the last two months, and you will
very soon speak it perfectly; so you will have no trouble
Godfrey found the long railway journey across the flat
plains of Germany very dull, as he was unable to exchange
a word with his fellow-passengers; but as soon as he crossed
the Russian frontier he felt at home again, and enjoyed
the run through the thickly-wooded country lying between
Wilna and St. Petersburg. As he stepped out at the sta-
tion everything seemed to come back vividly to his memory.
It was late in October and the first snow had fallen, and
round the station were a crowd of sledges drawn by rough
little horses. Avoiding the importunities of the drivers ol
the hotel vehicles he hailed an Isvostchik in furred cap and
coat lined with sheepskin. His portmanteaus were corded
at the back of the sledge; he jumped up into the seat be-
hind the driver, pulled the fur rug over his legs, and said,
"Drive to the Vassili Ostrov, 52, Ulitsa Nicolai." The
driver gave a peculiar cry, cracked his whip half a dozen
times, making a noise almost as loud as the discharge of a
pistol, and the horse went off at a sharp trot.
"I thought your excellency was a foreigner," the driver
said, "but I see you are one of us."
"No, I am an Englishman, but I lived here till I was ten
years old. The snow has begun earlier than usual, has it not?"
"It won't last," the Isvostchik said. "Sometimes we
have a week at this time of year, but it is not till December
that it sets in in earnest. We may have droskies out again
to-morrow instead of the sledges."
The sledges are the pleasantest," Godfrey said.
"Yes, your excellency, for those that travel, but not for
us. At night when we are waiting we can get into the
drosky and sleep, while it is terrible without shelter. There
are many of us frozen to death every winter."
A GREAT CHANGE.
Godfrey felt a sense of keen enjoyment as the sledge
glided along. There were many rough bumps and sharp
swings, for the snow was not deep enough to cover tho-
roughly the roughness of the road below; but the air was
brisk and the sun shone brightly, and he looked with plea-
sure at the people and costumes, which seemed, to his sur-
prise, perfectly familiar to him. He was quite sorry when
the journey came to an end at the house of Ivan Petrovytch.
The merchant, whose office was on the ground-floor and
who occupied the floor above (the rest of the house being
let off by floors to other families), came out to greet him.
"I am glad to see you, Godfrey Bullen," he said. "I should
have sent to the station to meet you, but your good father
did not say whether you would arrive by the morning or
evening train; and as my driver did not know you, he
would have missed you. I hope that all has gone well on
the journey. Paul," he said to a man who had followed
him out, "carry these trunks upstairs."
After paying the driver Godfrey followed his host to the
floor above. Petrovytch was a portly man, with a pleasant
but by no means good-looking face. "Wife," he said as he
entered the sitting-room, "this is Godfrey Bullen; I will
leave him in your hands for the present, as I have some
business that I must complete before we close."
"My name," Mrs. Petrovytch said, "is Catharine. You
know in this country we always address each other by our
names. The high-born may use titles, but simple people
use the Christian name and the family name unless they
are very intimate, and then the Christian name only. I
heard you speaking to my husband as you came in, so that
you have not forgotten our language. I should have thought
that you would have done so. I can remember you as quite
a little fellow before you went away."
"I have been speaking it for the last two months at
home," Godfrey said, "and it has nearly come back to
22 CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
"And your father and mother and your sisters, are they
"They are quite well, and my father and mother begged
me to give their kind regards to you."
At this moment the servant came in with the samovar,
It is four o'clock now; we dine at five o'clock, when the
office is closed. Many dine at one, but my husband likes it
when he has done his work, as then he does not need to hurry."
After drinking a tumbler of tea and eating a flat-cake or
two with it, Godfrey went to his room to have a wash after
his long journey, and to unpack some of his things. He
thought that he should like both Petrovytch and his wife,
but that the evenings would be dull if he had to spend
them in the house. Of this, however, he had but little fear,
for he was sure that between his father's friends and the
acquaintances he might himself make he should be out as
much as he liked.
In the course of the next week Godfrey called at the
houses of the various people to whom he had letters of
introduction, and left them with the hall porter. His host
told him that he thought he had better take a fortnight
to go about the capital and see the sights before he settled
down to work at the office; and as not only the gentlemen
with whom he had left letters of introduction and his card
-for in Russia strangers always call first-but many others
of his father's friends called or invited him to their houses,
he speedily made a large number of acquaintances. At the
end of the fortnight he took his place in the office. At first
he was of very little use there; for although he could talk
and understand Russian as spoken, he had entirely forgotten
the written characters, and it took him some little time
before he could either read the business correspondence or
make entries in the office books. Ivan Petrovytch did his
best to assist him, and in the course of a month he began
to master the mysteries of Russian writing.
A GREAT CHANGE.
At five o'clock the office closed. Godfrey very frequently
dined out, but if he had no engagement he took his meal
with the merchant and his wife, and then sallied out and
went either alone or with some of his acquaintances to a
Russian theatre. With December, winter set in in earnest.
The waters were frozen, and skating began. The season
at St. Petersburg commenced about the same time, and as
Godfrey was often sent with messages or letters to other
business houses he had an opportunity of seeing the streets
of St. Petersburg by day as well as by night. He was
delighted with the scene on the Nevski Prospekt, the
principal street of St. Petersburg. The footways were
crowded with people: the wealthy in high boots, coats lined
with sable, and caps to match; the poorer in equally ample
coats, but with linings of sheep, fox, or rabbit skins, with
the national Russian cap of fur with velvet top, and with
fur-lined hoods, which were often drawn up over the head.
The shops were excellent, reminding Godfrey rather of
Paris than London. But the chief interest of the scene lay
in the roadway. There were vehicles of every description,
from the heavy sledge of the peasant, piled up with logs for
fuel, or carrying, perhaps, the body of an elk shot in the
woods, to the splendid turn-outs of the nobles with their
handsome fur wraps, their coachmen in the national costume,
and horses covered with brown, blue, or violet nets almost
touching the ground, to prevent the snow from being thrown
up from the animals' hoofs into the faces of those in the
sledge. The harness was in most cases more or less deco-
rated with bells, which gaily tinkled in the still air as the
sledges dashed along. Most struck was Godfrey with the
vehicles of the nobles who adhered to old Russian customs.
The sledge was drawn by three horses; the one in the
centre was trained to trot, while the two outside went at
a canter. The heads of the latter were bent half round, so
that they looked towards the side, or even almost behind
them as they went. An English acquaintance to whom
24 CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
Godfrey expressed his surprise the first time he saw one of
these sledges replied, Yes, that is the old Russian pattern;
and, curiously enough, if you look at Greek bas-reliefs and
sculptures of the chariot of Phoebus, or at any other repre-
sentations of chariots with three or four horses, you will
see that the animals outside turn their heads in a similar
"But it must be horribly uncomfortable for the horses
to have their heads turned round like that."
"It is the effect of training. They are always tied up
to the stables with their heads pulled in that way, until it
becomes a second nature to go with them in that position."
It is a very curious idea," Godfrey said, but it certainly
looks nice. What magnificent beards all the drivers in the
good sledges have!"
Yes, that again is an old Russian custom. A driver with
a big beard is considered an absolute necessity for a well-
appointed turn-out, and the longer and fuller the beard the
higher the wages a man will command and the greater the
pride of his employer."
"It seems silly," Godfrey said. "But there is no doubt
those fellows do look wonderfully imposing with their fur
caps and their long blue caftans and red sashes and those
splendid beards. They remind me of pictures of Neptune.
Certainly I never saw such beards in England."
Besides these vehicles there were crowds of public sledges,
driven by the Isvostchiks, long rough country sledges
laden perhaps with a dozen peasant women returning from
market, light well-got-up vehicles of English and other
merchants, dashing turn-outs carrying an officer or two of
high rank, and others filled with ladies half buried in rich
furs. The air was tremulous with the music of countless
bells, and broken by the loud cracking of whips, with which
the faster vehicles heralded their approach. These whips
had short handles, but very long heavy thongs; and God-
frey observed that, however loud he might crack this weapon,
A GREAT CHANGE. 25
it was very seldom indeed that a Russian driver ever struck
one of his horses with it.
Sometimes when Ivan Petrovytch told him that there
was little to be done in the office, and that he need not
return for an hour or two, Godfrey would stroll into the
Isaac or Kasan cathedrals, both splendid structures, and
wonder at the taste that marred their effect, by the profusion
of the gilding lavished everywhere. He was delighted by
the singing, which was unaccompanied by instruments, the
bass voices predominating, and which certainly struck him
as being much finer than anything he had ever heard in an
English cathedral. There was no lack of amusement in the
evening. Some of his English friends at once put Godfrey
up as a member of the Skating Club. This club possessed
a large garden well planted with trees. In this was an arti-
ficial lake of considerable extent, broken by wooded islets.
This was always lit up of an evening by coloured lights, and
twice in the week was thrown open upon a small payment
to the public, when a military band played, and the grounds
were brilliantly illuminated.
The scene was an exceedingly gay one, and the gardens
were frequented by the rank and fashion of St. Petersburg.
The innumerable lights were reflected by the snow that
covered the ground and by the white masses that clung to
the boughs of the leafless trees. The ice was covered with
skaters, male and female, the latter in gay dresses, tight-
fitting jackets trimmed with fur, and dainty little fur caps.
Many of the former were in uniform, and the air was filled
with merry laughter and the ringing sound of innumerable
skates. Sometimes parties of acquaintances executed figures,
but for the most part they moved about in couples, the
gentleman holding the lady's hand, or sometimes placing
his arm round her waist as if dancing. Very often Godfrey
spent the evening at the houses of one or other of his
Russian or English friends, and occasionally went to the
theatre. Sometimes he spent a quiet evening at home. He
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
liked Catharine Petrovytch. She was an excellent house-
wife, and devoted to the comfort of her husband; but when
not engaged in household cares she seldom cared to go out,
and passed her time for the most part on the sofa. She was,
like most other Russian ladies when at home and without
visitors, very careless and untidy in her dress.
Among the acquaintances of whom Godfrey saw most
were two young students. One of them was the son of a
trader in Moscow, the other of a small landed proprietor.
He had met them for the first time at a fair held on the
surface of the Neva, and had been introduced to them by
a fellow-student of theirs, a member of a family with whom
Godfrey was intimate. Having met another acquaintance
he had left the party, and Godfrey had spent the afternoon
on the ice with Akim Soushiloff and Petroff Stepanoff. He
found them pleasant young men. He was, they told him,
the first Englishman they had met, and asked many ques-
tions about his country. He met them several times after-
wards, and one day they asked him if he would come up to
"It is a poor place," one said laughing. "But you know
most of us students are poor, and have to live as best we
"It makes no odds to me," Godfrey said. "It was a
pretty bare place I had when I was at school. I shall be
very glad to come up."
The room which the students shared was a large one, at
the top of a house in a narrow street. It was simply fur-
nished enough, containing but two beds, a deal table, four
chairs, and the indispensable stove, which kept the room
warm and comfortable.
"We are in funds just at present," Akim said. "Petroff
has had a remittance, and so you find the stove well alight,
which is not always the case."
"But how do you manage to exist without a fire?"
"We don't trouble the room much then," Petroff said.
A GREAT CHANGE.
"We walk about till we are dead tired out, and then come
up and sleep in one bed together for warmth, and heap all
the coverings from the other bed over us. Oh, we get on
very well! Food is cheap here if you know where to get
it; fuel costs more than food. Now which will you take, tea
Godfrey declared for tea. Some of the water from a great
pot standing on the top of the stove was poured into the
samovar. Some glowing embers were taken from the stove
and placed in the urn, and in a few minutes the water was
boiling, and three tumblers of tea with a slice of lemon
floating on the top were soon steaming on the table. The
conversation first turned upon university life in Russia, and
then Petroff began to ask questions about English schools
and universities, and then the subject changed to English
institutions in general.
"What a different life to ours!" Akim said. "And the
peasants, are they comfortable?"
"Well, their lives are pretty hard ones," Godfrey acknow-
ledged. "They have to work hard and for long hours, and
the pay is poor. But then, on the other hand, they gener-
ally have their cottages at a very low rent, with a good bit
of garden and a few fruit trees. They earn a little extra
money at harvest time, and though their pay is smaller,
I think on the whole they are better off and happier than
many of the working people in the towns."
"And they are free to go where they like?"
"Certainly they are free, but as a rule they don't move
"Then if they have a bad master they can leave him and
go to someone else?"
"Oh, yes! They would go to some other farmer in the
neighbourhood. But there are seldom what you may call
bad masters. The wages are always about the same through
a district, and the hours of work, and so on; so that one
master can't be much better or worse than another, except
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
in point of temper; and if a man were very bad tempered
of course the men would leave him and work somewhere else,
so he would be the loser, as he would soon only get the
very worst hands in the neighbourhood to work for him."
"And they are not beaten?"
"Beaten! I should think not," Godfrey said. "Nobody
is beaten with us, though I think it would be a capital thing
if, instead of shutting up people in prison for small crimes,
they had a good flogging. It would do them a deal more
good, and it would be better for their wives and families,
who have to get on as best they can while they are shut up."
"And nobody is beaten at all?"
"No; there used to be flogging in the army and navy, but
it was very rare, and is now abolished."
"And not even a lord can flog his peasants ?"
"Certainly not. If a lord struck a peasant the peasant
would certainly hit him back again, and if he didn't feel
strong enough to do that he would have him up before the
magistrates and he would get fined pretty heavily."
"And how do they punish political prisoners?"
"There are no political prisoners. As long as a man keeps
quiet and doesn't get up a row, he may have any opinions he
likes; he may argue in favour of a republic, or he may be a
socialist or anything he pleases; but, of course, if he tried to
kick up a row, attack the police, or made a riot or anything
of that sort he would be punished for breaking the law, but
that would have nothing to do with his politics."
The two young men looked in surprise at each other.
"But if they printed a paper and attacked the govern-
ment?" Akim asked.
Oh, they do that! there are as many papers pitch into
the government as there are in favour of the government;
parties are pretty equally divided, you see, and the party that
is out always abuses the party which is in power."
"And even that is lawful?"
"Certainly it is. You can abuse the government as much
A GREAT CHANGE. 23
as you like, say that the ministers are a parcel of incompe-
tent fools, and so on; but, of course, you cannot attack them
as to their private life and character any more than you can
anyone else, because then you would render yourself liable
to an action for libel."
"And you can travel where you like, in the country and
out of the country, without official permits or passports?"
Yes, there is nothing like that known in England. Every
man can go where he likes, and live where he likes, and do
anything he likes, providing that it does not interfere with
the rights of other people."
"Ah! shall we ever come to this in Russia, Akim."
Akim made no answer, but Godfrey replied for him. "No
doubt you will in time, Petroff; but you see liberties like
these do not grow up in a day. We had serfs and vassals in
England at one time, and feudal barons who could do pretty
much what they chose, and it was only in the course of
centuries that these things got done away with." At this
moment there was a knock at the door.
"It is Katia," Akim said, jumping up from his seat and
opening the door. A young woman entered. She was
pleasant and intelligent looking. Katia, this is an English
gentleman, a friend of ours, who has been telling us about
his country. Godfrey, this is my cousin Katia; she teaches
music in the houses of many people of good family."
"I did not expect to find visitors here," the girl said
smiling. "And how do you like our winter? it is a good
deal colder than you are accustomed to."
"It is a great deal more pleasant," Godfrey said: "I call
it glorious weather. It is infinitely better than alternate
rains and winds, with just enough frost occasionally to make
you think you are going to do some skating, and then a thaw."
"You are extravagant," the girl said, looking round; "it
is a long time since I have felt the room as warm as this. I
suppose Petroff has got his allowance?"
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
"Yes, and a grumbling letter. My father has a vague idea
that in some way or other I ought to pick up my living,
though he never offers a suggestion as to how I should
The young woman went to the cupboard, fetched another
tumbler and poured herself out some tea, and then chatted
gaily about St. Petersburg, her pupils, and their parents.
"Do you live at the house of one of your pupils?" Godfrey
"Oh no!" she said. "I don't mind work, but I like to be
free when work is over. I board in an honest family, and
live in a little room at the top of the house which is all my
own and where I can see my friends."
After chatting for some time longer Godfrey took his
leave. As soon as he had gone the girl's manner changed.
"Do you think you are wise to have him here, Akim "
Why not ?" the student asked in turn. "He is frank and
agreeable, he is respectable, and even you will allow that
it would be safer walking with him than some we know; we
do not talk politics with him."
"For all that I am sorry, Akim. You know how it will
be; we shall get him into trouble. It is our fate; we have
a great end in view; we risk our own lives, and although for
the good of the cause we must not hesitate even if others
suffer, I do hate with all my heart that others should be
involved in our fortunes."
This is not like you, Katia," Petroff said. I have heard
you say your maxim is 'At any cost,' and you have certainly
lived up to it."
"Yes, and I shall live up to it," she said firmly; "but it
hurts sometimes, Petroff; it hurt me just now when I
thought that that lad laughing and chatting with us had no
idea that he had better have thrust his hand into that stove
than have given it to us. I do not shrink; I should use him
as I should use anyone else, as an instrument if it were
needful, but don't suppose that I like it."
A GREAT CHANGE.
"I don't think there is any fear of our doing him harm,"
Akim said; "he is English, and would find no difficulty in
showing that he knew nothing of us save as casual acquain-
tances; they might send him out of the country, but that
would be all."
"It would all depend," she said, "upon how he fell into
their hands. If you happened to be arrested only as you
were walking with him down the Nevski Prospekt he would
be questioned, of course, but as soon as they learned who he
was and that he had nothing to do with you, they would let
him go. But if he were with us, say here, when we were
pounced upon, and you had no time to pull the trigger of the
pistol pointing into that keg of powder in the cupboard, he
would be hurried away with us to one of the fortresses, and
the chances are that not a soul would ever know what had
become of him Still it cannot be helped now; he may be
useful, and as we give our own lives, so we must not shrink
from giving others'. But this is not what I came here to
talk to you about; have you heard of the arrest of Michael-
"No," they both exclaimed, leaping from their seats
"It happened at three o'clock this morning," Katia said.
"They surrounded the house and broke in suddenly, and
rushed down into the cellar and found him at work. He
shot two of them, and then he was beaten down and badly
"Where were the other two?" Akim asked.
"He sent them away but an hour before, but he went on
working himself to complete the number of hand-bills. Of
course he was betrayed. I don't think there are six people
who knew where the press was; even I didn't know."
"Where did you hear of it, Katia!"
Feodorina Samuloff told me; you know she often helps
Michaelovich to work at the press; she thinks it must have
been either Louka or Gasin. Why should Michaelovich have
sent them away when he hadn't finished work if one or the
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
other of them had not made some excuse so as to get out of
the way before the police came? But that is nothing, there
will be time to find out which is the traitor; they know
nothing, either of them, except that they worked at the secret
press with him; they were never much trusted. But Michael-
ovich is a terrible loss, he was always daring and full of
"They will get nothing from him," Petroff said.
"Not they," she agreed. "When do they ever get anything
out of us? One of the outer-circle fellows like Louka and
Gasin, who know nothing, who are instruments and nothing
more, may tell all they know for gold, or for fear of the
knout, but never once have they learned anything from one
who knows. Fortunately the press was a very old one and
there was but little type there, only just enough for printing
small hand-bills; we have two others ready to set up."
"Were there any papers there 1"
"No, Michaelovich was too careful for that."
"I hear that old Libka died in prison yesterday,"Akim said.
"He is released from his suffering," Katia said solemnly.
"Anything else, Akim?
"Yes, a batch of prisoners start for Siberia to-morrow, and
there are ten of us among them."
"Well, be careful for the next few days, Akim," Katia
said; "don't do anything in the schools, it will not be long
now before all is ready to strike a blow, and it is not worth
while to risk anything until after that. I have orders that
we are all to keep perfectly quiet till the plans are settled
and we each get our instructions. Now I must go, I have
two lessons to give this afternoon. It tries one a little to
be talking to children about quavers and semiquavers when
one's head is full of great plans, and you know that at any
moment a policeman may tap you on the shoulder and take
you off to the dungeons of St. Nicholas, from which one will
never return unless one is carried out, or is sent to Siberia,
which would be worse. Be careful; the police have certainly
got scent of something, they are very active at present;" and
with a nod she turned and left the room.
"She is a brave girl," Akim said. "I think the women
make better conspirators than we do, Petroff. Look at her.
She was a little serious to-day because of Michaelovich, but
generally she is in high spirits, and no one would dream that
she thought of anything but her pupils and pleasure. Then
there is Feodorina Samuloff. She works all day, I believe, in
a laundry, and she looks as impassive as if she had been carved
out of soap. Yet she is ready to go on working all night if
required, and if she had orders she would walk into the
Winter Palace and throw down a bomb (that would kill her
as well as everyone else within its reach) with as much cool-
ness as if she was merely delivering a message."
ONE evening a fortnight later Godfrey went with two
young Englishmen to a masked ball at the Opera. It
was a brilliant scene. Comparatively few of the men were
masked or in costume, but many of the ladies were so.
Every other man was in uniform of some kind, and the
floor of the house was filled with a gay laughing crowd,
while the boxes were occupied by ladies of the highest
rank, several of the imperial family being present. He
speedily became separated from his companions, and after
walking about for an hour he became tired of the scene,
and was about to make his way towards the entrance when
a hand was slipped behind his arm. As several masked figures
had joked him on walking about so vaguely by himself, he
thought that this was but another jest.
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
You are just the person I wanted," the mask said.
"I think you have mistaken me for some one else, lady,'
"Not at all. Now put up your arm and look as if I be-
long to you. Nonsense! do as you are told, Godfrey Bullen."
"Who are you who know my name!" Godfrey laughed,
doing as he was ordered, for he had no doubt that the
masked woman was a member of one of the families whom
he had visited.
"You don't know who I am?" she asked.
"How should I when I can see nothing but your eyes
through those holes?"
"I am Katia, the cousin of your friend Akim."
"Oh, of course!" Godfrey said, a little surprised at meet-
ing the music mistress in such an assembly. "I fancied I
knew your voice, though I could not remember where I had
heard it. And now what can I do for you "
The young woman hesitated. "We have got up a little
mystification," she said after a pause, "and I am sure I can
trust you; besides, you don't know the parties. There is a
gentleman here who is supposed to be with his regiment at
Moscow; but there is a sweetheart in the case, and you
know when there are sweethearts people do foolish things."
"I have heard so," Godfrey laughed, "though I don't
know anything about it myself, for I sha'n't begin to think
of such luxuries as sweethearts for years to come."
"Well, he is here masked," the girl went on, "and unfor-
tunately the colonel of his regiment is here, and some ill-
natured person-we fancy it is a rival of his-has told the
colonel. He is furious about it, and declares that he will
catch him and have him tried by court-martial for being
absent without leave. The only thing is, he is not certain
as to his information."
"Well, what can I do!" Godfrey asked. "How can I
You can help if you like, and that without much trouble
A CAT'S-PAW. 35
to yourself. He is at present in the back of that empty box
on the third tier. I was with him when I saw you down
here, so I left him to say good-bye to his sweetheart alone,
and ran down to fetch you, for I felt sure you would oblige
me. What I thought was this: if you put his mask and
cloak on-you are about the same height-it would be sup-
posed that you are he. The colonel is waiting down by
the entrance. He will come up to you and say, 'Captain
Presnovich You will naturally say, 'By no means.' He
will insist on your taking your mask off. This you will do,
and he will, of course, make profuse apologies, and will
believe that he has been altogether misinformed. In the
meantime Presnovich will manage to slip out, and will go
down by the early train to Moscow. It is not likely that
the colonel will ever make any more inquiries about it, but
if he does, some of Presnovich's friends will be ready to de-
clare that he never left Moscow."
"But can't he manage to leave his mask and cloak in the
box and to slip away without them?"
"No, that would never do. It is necessary that the
colonel should see for himself that the man in the cloak,
with the white and red bow pinned to it, is not the cap-
"Very well, then, I will do it," Godfrey said. "It
will be fun to see the colonel's face when he finds out his
mistake; but mind I am doing it to oblige you."
"I feel very much obliged," the girl said; "but don't you
bring my name into it though."
"How could I?" he laughed. "I do not see that I am
likely to be cross-questioned in any way; but never fear, I
will keep your counsel."
By this time they had arrived at the door of the box.
"Wait a moment," she said, "I will speak to him first."
She was two minutes gone, and then opened the door and
let him in. "I am greatly obliged to you, sir," a man said
as he entered. It is a foolish business altogether, but if
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
you will enact my part for a few minutes you will get me
out of an awkward scrape."
"Don't mention it," Godfrey replied. "It will be a joke
to laugh over afterwards." He placed the broad hat, to
which the black silk mask was sewn, on his head, and
Katia put the cloak on his shoulders.
"I trust you," she said in a low voice as she walked with
him to the top of the stairs. "There, I must go now. I
had better see Captain Presnovich safely off, and then go
and tell the young lady, who is a great friend of mine-it
is for her sake I am doing it, you know, not for his-how
nicely we have managed to throw dust in the colonel's eyes!"
Regarding the matter as a capital joke, Godfrey went
downstairs and made his way to the entrance, expecting
every moment to be accosted by the irascible colonel. No
one spoke to him, however, and he began to imagine that
the colonel must have gone to seek the captain elsewhere,
and hoped that he would not meet him as he went down
the stairs with Katia. He walked down the steps into the
street. As he stepped on to the pavement a man seized
him from behind, two others grasped his wrists, and before
he knew what had happened he was run forward across the
pavement to a covered sledge standing there and flung into
it. His three assailants leapt in after him; the door was
slammed; another man jumped on to the box with the
driver; and two mounted men took their places beside it
as it dashed off from the door. The men had again seized
Godfrey's hands and held them firmly the instant they
entered the carriage.
"It is of no use your attempting to struggle," one of the
men said, "there is an escort riding beside the sledge, and
a dozen more behind it. There is no chance of a rescue,
and I warn you you had best not open your lips; if you do,
we will gag you."
Godfrey was still half bewildered with the suddenness of
the transaction. What had he been seized for? Who were
the men who had got hold of him? and why were they
gripping his wrists so tightly? He had heard of arbitrary
treatment in the Russian army, but that a colonel should
have a captain seized in this extraordinary way merely
because he was absent from his post without leave was
beyond anything he thought possible.
"I thought I was going to have the laugh all on my side,"
he said to himself, "but so far it is all the other way." In
ten minutes the carriage stopped for a moment, there was
a challenge, then some gates were opened. Godfrey had
already guessed his destination, and his feeling of discom-
fort had increased every foot he went. There was no doubt
he was being taken to the fortress. "It seems to me that
Miss Katia has got me into a horrible scrape of some kind,"
he said to himself. "What a fool I was to let myself be
humbugged by the girl in that wayI"
Two men with lanterns were at the door of a building,
at which the carriage, after passing into a large court-yard,
drew up. Still retaining their grip on his wrists, two of
the men walked beside him down a passage, while several
others followed behind. An officer of high rank was sitting
at the head of a table, one of inferior rank stood beside him,
while at the end of the table were two others with papers
and pens before them.
"So you have captured him!" the general said eagerly.
"Yes, your excellency," the man who had spoken to
Godfrey in the carriage said respectfully.
"Has he been searched?"
"No, your excellency, the distance was so short, and I
feared that he might wrench one of his hands loose. More-
over, I thought that you might prefer his being searched in
"It is better so. Take off that disguise." As the hat
and mask were removed the officer sprang to his feet and
exclaimed, "Why, who is this ? This is not the man you were
ordered to arrest; you have made some confounded blunder."
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
"I assure you, your excellency," the official said in trem-
bling accents, "this is the only man who was there in the
disguise we were told of. There, your excellency, is the
bunch of white and red ribbons on his cloak."
"And who are you, sir ?" the general thundered.
"My name, sir, is Godfrey Bullen. I reside with Ivan
Petrovytch, a merchant living in the Vassili Ostrov."
"But how come you mixed up in this business, sir?" the
general exclaimed furiously. "How is it that you are thus
disguised, and that you are wearing that bunch of ribbon?
Beware how you answer me, sir, for this is a matter which
concerns your life."
"So far as I am concerned, sir," Godfrey said, "I am
absolutely ignorant of having done any harm in the matter,
and have not the most remote idea why I have been arrested.
I may have behaved foolishly in allowing myself to take
part in what I thought was a masquerade joke, but beyond
that I have nothing to blame myself for. I went to the
Opera-house, never having seen a masked ball before. I was
alone, and being young and evidently a stranger, I was
spoken to and joked by several masked ladies. Presently
one of them came up to me. I had no idea who she was;
she was closely masked, and I could see nothing of her face."
He then repeated the request that had been made him.
"Do you expect me to believe this ridiculous nonsense
about this Captain Presnovich and his colonel?"
"I can only say, sir, what I am telling you is precisely
what happened, and that I absolutely believed it. It seemed
to me a natural thing that a young officer might come to a
ball to see a lady who perhaps he had no other opportunity
of meeting alone. I see now that I was very foolish to
allow myself to be mixed up in the affair; but I thought
that it was a harmless joke, and so I did as this woman asked
"Go on, sir," the general said in a tone of suppressed
"There is little more to tell, sir. I went up with this
woman to the box she had pointed out, and there found
this Captain Presnovich as I believed him to be. I put on
his hat, mask, and cloak, walked down the stairs, and was
leaving the Opera-house when I was arrested, and am even
now wholly ignorant of having committed any offence."
"A likely story," the general said sarcastically. "And
this woman, did you see her face ?"
"No, sir, she was closely masked. I could not even see
if she were young or old; and she spoke in the same dis-
guised, squeaking sort of voice that all the others that had
spoken to me used."
"And that is your entire story, sir; you have nothing to
add to it?"
"Nothing whatever, sir. I have told you the simple
The general threw himself back in his chair, too exasper-
ated to speak farther, but made a sign to the officer standing
next to him to take up the interrogation. The questions
were now formal. "Your name is Godfrey Bullen?" he
"Your nationality q"
Godfrey gave the address.
"How long have you been in Russia ?"
"What is your business?"
A clerk to Ivan Petrovytch."
"How comes it that you speak Russian so well?"
I was born here, and lived up to the age of ten with my
father, John Bullen, who was a well-known merchant here,
and left only two years ago."
"That will do," the general said impatiently. "Take
him to his cell and search him thoroughly."
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
Naturally the most minute search revealed nothing of an
incriminating character. At length Godfrey was left alone
in the cell, which contained only a single chair and a rough
pallet. "I have put my foot in it somehow," he said to
himself, and I can't make head nor tail of it beyond the
fact that I have made an ass of myself. Was the whole story
a lie? Was the fellow's name Presnovich? if not, who was
he? By the rage of the general, who, I suppose, is the chief
of the police, it was evident he was frightfully disappointed
that I wasn't the man he was looking for. Was this Pres-
novich somebody that girl Katia knew and wanted to get
safely away? or was she made a fool of just as I was? She
looked a bright, jolly sort of girl; but that goes for nothing
in Russia, all sorts of people get mixed up in plots. If she
was concerned in getting him away I suppose she fixed on
me because, being English and a new-comer here, it would
be easy for me to prove that I had nothing to do with
plots or anything of that sort, whereas if a Russian had
been in my place he might have got into a frightful mess
over it. Well, I suppose it will all come right in the end.
It is lucky that the weather has got milder or I should have
had a good chance of being frozen to death; it is cold enough
as it is."
Resuming his clothes, which had been thrown down on
the pallet, Godfrey drew the solitary rug over him, and in
spite of the uncertainty of the position was soon fast asleep.
He woke just as daylight was breaking, and was so bitterly
cold that he was obliged to get up and stamp about the cell
to restore circulation. Two hours later the cell door was
opened and a piece of dark-coloured bread and a jug of
water were handed in to him. "If this is prison fare I
don't care how soon I am out of it," he said to himself as he
munched the bread. "I wonder what it is made of! Rye!"
The day passed without anyone coming near him save
the jailer, who brought a bowl of thin broth and a ration
of bread for his dinner.
"Can't you get me another rug '" he asked the man. "If
I have got to stop here for another night I shall have a good
chance of being frozen to death."
Just as it was getting dark the man came in again with
another blanket and a flat earthenware pan half full of sand,
on which was burning a handful or two of sticks; he placed
a bundle of wood beside it.
"That is more cheerful by a long way," Godfrey said to
himself as the man, who had maintained absolute silence on
each of his visits, left the cell. No doubt they have been
making a lot of inquiries about me, and find that I have
not been in the habit of frequenting low company. I should
not have had these indulgences if they hadn't. Well, it
will be an amusement to keep this fire up. The wood is
as dry as a bone luckily, or I should be smoked out in no
time, for there is not much ventilation through that narrow
The warmth of the fire and the additional blanket made
all the difference, and in a couple of hours Godfrey was
sound asleep. When he woke it was broad daylight, and
although he felt cold it was nothing to what he had experi-
enced on the previous morning. At about eleven o'clock,
as near as he could guess, for his watch and everything had
been removed when he was searched, the door was opened
and a prison official with two warders appeared. By these
he was conducted to the same room where he had been first
examined. Neither of the officers who had then been there
was present, but an elderly man sat at the centre of the
"Godfrey Bullen," he said, "a careful investigation has
been made into your antecedents, and with one exception,
and that not, for various reasons, an important one, we
have received a good report of you. Ivan Petrovytch tells
us that you work in his office from breakfast-time till five
in the afternoon, and that your evenings are at your own
disposal, but that you generally dine with him. He gave
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
us the names of the families with which you are acquainted,
and where, as he understood, you spend your evenings when
you are not at the Skating Club, where you generally go
on Tuesday and Fridays at least. We learn that you did
spend your evenings with these families, and we have learned
at the club that you are a regular attendant there two or
three times a week, and that your general associates are:"
and he read out a list which included, to Godfrey's sur-
prise, the names of every one of his acquaintances there.
"Therefore we have been forced to come to the conclusion
that your story, incredible as it appeared, is a true one.
That you, a youth and a foreigner, should have had the
incredible levity to act in the way you describe, and to
assume the disguise of a person absolutely unknown to you,
upon the persuasion of a woman also absolutely unknown
to you, well-nigh passes belief. Had you been older you
would at once have been sent to the frontier; but as it is,
the Czar, to whom the case has been specially submitted, has
graciously allowed you to continue your residence here, the
testimony being unanimous as to your father's position as a
merchant, and to the prudence of his behaviour while resi-
dent here. But I warn you, Godfrey Bullen, that escapades
of this kind, which may be harmless in England, are very
serious matters here. Ignorantly, I admit, but none the
less certainly, you have aided in the escape of a malefactor
of the worst kind; and but for the proofs that have been
afforded us that you were a mere dupe, the consequences
would have been most serious to you, and even the fact of
your being a foreigner would not have sufficed to save you
from the hands of justice. You are now free to depart;
but let this be a lesson to you, and a most serious one,
never again to mix yourself up in any way with persons of
whose antecedents you are ignorant, and in future to conduct
yourself in all respects wisely and prudently."
"It will certainly be a lesson to me, sir. I am heartily
sorry that I was so foolish as to allow myself to be mixed
A CAT'S-PAW. 43
up in such an affair, and think I can promise you that
henceforth there will be no fault to be found in my con-
In the ante-room Godfrey's watch, money, and the other
contents of his pocket were restored to him. A carriage
was in waiting for him at the outer door, and he was driven
rapidly to the house of the merchant.
"This is a nice scrape into which you have got yourself,
Godfrey," Ivan Petrovytch said as he entered. "It is lucky
for you that you are not a Russian. But how on earth have
you got mixed up in a plot? We know nothing about it
beyond the fact that you had been arrested, for, although a
thousand questions were asked me about you, nothing was
said to me as to the charge brought against you. We have
been in the greatest anxiety about you. All sorts of rumours
were current in the city as to the discovery of a plot to
assassinate one of the grand-dukes at the Opera-house, and
there are rumours that explosive bombs had been discovered
in one of the boxes. It is said that the police had received
information of the attempt that was to be made, and that
every precaution had been taken to arrest the principal
conspirator, but that in some extraordinary manner he
slipped through their fingers. But surely you can never
have been mixed up in that matter?"
"That is what it was," Godfrey said, "though I had no
more idea of having anything to do with a plot than I had
of flying. I see now that I behaved like an awful fool."
And he told the story to Petrovytch and his wife as he had
told it to the head of the police. Both were shocked at the
thought that a member of their household should have been
engaged, even unwittingly, in such a treasonable affair.
"It is a wonder that we ever saw you again," the mer-
chant's wife exclaimed. It is fortunate that we are known
as quiet people or we might have been arrested too. I
could not have believed that anyone with sense could be
silly enough to put on a stranger's mantle and hat!"
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
"But I thought," Godfrey urged, "that at masked balls
people did play all sorts of tricks upon each other. I am
sure I have read so in books. And it did seem quite likely
-didn't it now?-that an officer should have come up to
meet a young lady masked whom he had no chance of meet-
ing at any other time. It certainly seemed to me quite
natural, and I believe almost any fellow, if he were asked
to help anyone to get out of a scrape like that, would
"You may do it in England or in France, but it doesn't
do to take part in anything that you don't know for certain
all about here. The wonder is they made any inquiries at
all. If you had been a Russian the chances are that your
family would never have heard of you again from the time
you left to go to the opera. Nothing that you could have
said would have been believed. Your story would have
been regarded by the police as a mere invention. They
would have considered it as certain that in some way or other
you were mixed up in the conspiracy. They would have
regarded your denials as simple obstinacy, and you would
have been sent to Siberia for life."
"I should advise you, Godfrey," Ivan Petrovytch said,
"to keep an absolute silence about this affair. Mention it
to no one. Everyone knows that something has happened
to you, as the police have been everywhere inquiring; but
there is no occasion to tell anyone the particulars. Of
course rumours get about as to the action of the Nihilists
and of the police, but as little is said as possible. It is, of
course, a mere rumour that a plot was discovered at the
Opera-house. Probably there were an unusual number of
police at all the entrances, and a very little thing gives rise to
talk and conjecture. People think that the police would not
have been there had they not had suspicion that something
or other was going to take place, and as everything in our
days is put down to the Nihilists, it was naturally reported
that the police had discovered some plot; and as two of
the grand-dukes were there, people made sure it was in
some way connected with them.
"As nothing came of it, and no one was, as far as was
known, arrested, it would be supposed that the culprit, who-
ever he was, managed to evade the police. Such rumours
as these are of very common occurrence, and it is quite pos-
sible that there is not much more truth in them this time
than there is generally; however, of one thing you may be
sure, the police are not fonder than other people of being
outwitted, and whether the man for whom they were in
search was a Nihilist or a criminal of some other sort you
certainly aided him to escape. You are sure to be watched
for some time, and it will be known to the police in a very
few hours if you repeat this story to your acquaintances; if
they find you keep silence about it, they will give you credit
for discretion, while it would certainly do you a good deal
of harm, and might even now lead to your being promptly
sent across the frontier, were it known that you made a boast
of having outwitted them.
"There is another reason. You will find that for a time
most of your friends here will be a little shy of you. People
are not fond of having as their intimates persons about whom
the police are inquiring, and you will certainly find for a
time that you will receive very few invitations to enter the
houses of any Russians. It would be different, however,
if it were known that the trouble was about something that
had no connection with politics; therefore, I should advise
you, when you are asked questions, to turn it off with a laugh.
Say you got mixed up in an affair between a young lady
and her lover, and that, like many other people, you found
that those who mingle in such matters often get left in the
lurch. You need not say much more than that. You might
do anything here without your friends troubling much about
it provided it had nothing to do with politics. Rob a bank,
perpetrate a big swindle, run away with a court heiress, and
as long as the police don't lay hands on you nobody else will
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
trouble their heads about the affair; but if you are suspected
of being mixed up in the most remote way with politics,
your best friends will shun you like the plague.
"I will take your advice certainly," Godfrey said, "and
even putting aside the danger you point out, I should not
be anxious to tell people that I suffered myself to be en-
trapped so foolishly."
For some time, indeed, Godfrey found that his acquaint-
ance fell away from him, and that he was not asked to the
houses of any of the Russian merchants where he had been
before made welcome. Cautious questions would be asked
by the younger men as to the trouble into which he got with
the police; but he turned these off with a laugh. "I am
not going to tell the particulars," he said, "they concern
other people. I can only tell you that I was fool enough to
be humbugged by a pretty little masker, and to get mixed
up in a love intrigue in which a young lady, her lover a cap-
tain in the army, and an irascible colonel were concerned,
and that the young people made a cat's-paw of me. I am
not going to say more than that, I don't want to be laughed
at for the next six months;" and so it became understood
that the young Englishman had simply got into some silly
scrape, and had been charged by a colonel in the army
with running away with his daughter, and he was therefore
restored to his former footing at most of the houses that he
had before visited.
Two days after his release a note was slipped into
Godfrey's hand by a boy as he went out after dinner for a
walk. It was unsigned, and ran as follows:-
"Dear Godfrey Bullen, my cousin is in a great state of
distress. She was deceived by a third person, and in turn
deceived you. She has heard since that the story was an
entire fiction to enable a gentleman for whom the police
were in search to escape. She only heard last night of your
arrest and release, and is in the greatest grief that she should
have been the innocent means of this trouble coming upon
you. You know how things are here, and she is overwhelmed
with gratitude that you did not in defence give any particu-
lars that might have enabled them to trace her, for she would
have found it much more difficult than a stranger would
have done to have proved her innocence. She knows that
you did say nothing, for had you done so she would have
been arrested before morning; not improbably we might
also have found ourselves within the walls of a prison, since
you met her at our room, and the mere acquaintanceship
with a suspected person is enough to condemn one here. By
the way, we have moved our lodging, but will give you our
new address when we meet you, that is, if you are good
enough to continue our acquaintance in spite of the trouble
that has been caused you by the credulity and folly of my
Godfrey, who had begun to learn prudence, did not open
the letter until he returned home, and as soon as he had
read it dropped it into the stove. He was pleased at its
receipt, for he had not liked to think that he had been
duped by a girl. From the first he had believed that she,
like himself, had been deceived, for it had seemed to him
out of the question that a young music mistress, who did
not seem more than twenty years old, could have been mixed
up in the doings of a desperate set of conspirators; however,
he quite understood the alarm she must have felt, for though
his story might have been believed owing to his being a
stranger, and unconnected in any way with men who could
have been concerned in a Nihilist plot, it would no doubt
have been vastly more difficult for her to prove her inno-
cence, especially as it was known that there were many
women in the ranks of the Nihilists.
It was a fortnight before he met either of the students,
and he then ran against them upon the quay just at the foot
of the equestrian statue of Peter the Great, opposite the Isaac
Cathedral. They hesitated for a moment, but he held out
his hand cordially.
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
"Where have you been, and how is it I have not seen
"We were afraid that you might not care to know us
further," Akim said, "after the trouble that that foolish
cousin of mine involved you in."
"That would have been ridiculous," Godfrey said. "If
we were to blame our friends for the faults of persons to
whom they introduce us, there would be an end to intro-
"Everyone wouldn't think as you do," Akim said. "We
both wished to meet you, and thank you for so nobly shield-
ing her. The silly girl might be on her way to Siberia now
if you had given her name."
"I certainly should not have done that in any case. It is
not the way of an Englishman to betray his friend, especially
when that friend is a woman; but I thought even before I
got your letter that she must in some way or other have
been misled herself."
"It was very good of you," Petroff said. "Katia has
been in great distress over it. She thinks that you can
never forgive her."
"Pray tell her from me, Petroff, that I have blamed my-
self, not her. I ought not to have let myself be persuaded
into taking any part in the matter. I entered into it as a
joke, thinking it would be fine fun to see the old colonel's face,
and also to help a pair of lovers out of a scrape. It would
have been a good joke in England, but this is not a country
where jokes are understood. At any rate it has been a
useful lesson to me, and in future young ladies will plead
in vain to get me to mix myself up in other people's
"We are going to a students' party to-night," Petroff said.
"One of our number who has just passed the faculty of
medicine has received an appointment at Tobolsk. It is a
long way off; but it is said to be a pleasant town, and the
pay is good. He is an orphan, and richer than most of us,
so he is going to celebrate it with a party to-night before he
starts. Will you come with us?"
"I should like it very much," Godfrey said; "but surely
your friend would not wish a stranger there on such an
"Oh, yes, he would! he would be delighted, he is very
fond of the English. I will answer for it that you will be
welcome. Meet us here at seven o'clock this evening; he
has hired a big room, and there will be two or three dozen
of us there-all good fellows. Most of them have passed,
and you will see the army and navy, the law and medicine,
Godfrey willingly agreed to go. He thought he should
see a new phase of Russian life, and at the appointed hour
he met the two students. The entertainment was held in
a large room in a traktar or eating-house in a small street.
The room was already full of smoke, a number of young
men were seated along two tables extending the length of
the room, and crossed by one at the upper end. Several
were in military uniform, and two or three in that of the
navy. Akim and Petroff were greeted boisterously by name
as they entered.
"I will talk to you presently," Akim shouted in reply to
various invitations to take his seat. "I have a friend whom
I must first introduce to Alexis." He and Petroff took
Godfrey up to the table at the end of the room. "Alexis,"
Akim said, "I have brought you a gentleman whom I am
sure you will welcome. He has proved himself a true friend,
one worthy of friendship and honour. His name is Godfrey
There was general silence as Akim spoke, and an evident
curiosity as to the stranger their comrade had introduced.
The host, who had risen to his feet, grasped Godfrey's hand
"I am indeed glad to meet you, Godfrey Bullen," he
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
"My friends, greet with me the English friend of Akim
There was a general thumping of glasses on the table,
and two or three of those sitting near Alexis rose from their
seats and shook hands with Godfrey, with a warmth and
cordiality which astonished him. Room was made for him
and his two friends at the upper end of one of the side
tables, and when he had taken his seat the lad was able to
survey the scene quietly.
Numbers of bottles were ranged down the middle of the
tables, which were of bare wood without cloth. These con-
tained, as Petroff told him, wines from various parts of
Russia. There were wines similar to sherry and Bordeaux,
from the Crimea; Kahetinskoe, strongly resembling good
burgundy, from the Caucasus; and Don Skoe, a sparkling
wine resembling champagne, from the Don. Besides these
were tankards of lablochin Kavas, or cider; Grushevoi
Kavas, or perry; Malovinoi, a drink prepared from rasp-
berries; and Lompopo, a favourite drink on the shores of the
Baltic. The conversation naturally turned on student topics,
of tricks played on professors, on past festivities, amuse-
ments, and quarrels. No allusion of any kind was made to
politics, or to the matters of the day. Jovial songs were sung,
the whole joining in chorus with great animation. At nine
o'clock waiters appeared with trays containing the indis-
pensable beginning of all Russian feasts. Each tray contained
a large number of small dishes with fresh caviar, raw herrings,
smoked salmon, dried sturgeon, slices of German sausage,
smoked goose, ham, radishes, cheese, and butter. From
these the guests helped themselves at will, the servants
handing round small glasses of Kiimmel Liftofka, a spirit
flavoured with the leaves of the black-currant, and vodka.
Then came the supper. Before each guest was placed a
basin of stchi, a cabbage soup, sour cream being handed
round to be added to it; then came rastigai patties, com-
posed of the flesh of the sturgeon and isinglass. This was
followed by cold boiled sucking pig with horse-radish sauce.
After this came roast mutton stuffed with buck-wheat,
which concluded the supper. When the table was cleared
singing began again, but Godfrey stayed no longer, excusing
himself to his host on the ground that the merchant kept
early hours, and that unless when he had specially mentioned
that he should not be home until late, he made a point of
being in between ten and eleven.
He was again surprised at the warmth with which several
of the guests spoke to him as he said good-night, and went
away with the idea in his mind that among the younger
Russians, at any rate, Englishmen must be much more popu-
lar than he had before supposed. One or two young officers
had given him their cards, and said that they should be
pleased if he would call upon them.
"I have had a pleasant evening," he said to himself.
"They are a jolly set of fellows, more like boys than men.
It was just the sort of thing I could fancy a big breaking-up
supper would be if fellows could do as they liked, only no
head-master would stand the tremendous row they made
with their choruses. However, I don't expect they very
often have a jollification like this. I suppose our host was
a good deal better off than most of them. Petroff said that
he was the son of a manufacturer down in the south. I
wonder what he meant when he laughed in that quiet way
of his when I said I wondered that as his father was well
off he should take an appointment at such an out-of-the-way
place as Tobolsk. 'Don't ask questions here,' he said,
'those fellows handing round the meat may be government
spies.' I don't see, if they were, what interest they could
have in the question why Alexis Stumpoff should go to
However, I suppose they make a point of never touching
on private affairs where any one can hear them, however
innocent the matter may be. It must be hateful to be in
a country where, for aught you know, every other man you
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
come across is a spy. I daresay I am watched now; that
police fellow told me I should be. It would be a lark to
turn off down by-streets and lead the spy, if there is one,
a tremendous dance; but jokes like that won't do here. I
got off once, but if I give them the least excuse again they
may send me off to the frontier. I should not care much
myself, but it would annoy the governor horribly, so I will
walk back as gravely as a judge."
A HUNTING PARTY.
TTWO days later Robson, an English merchant who had
Been one of the most intimate of Godfrey's acquain-
tances, and to whom he had confided the truth about his
arrest, said to him:
"You are not looking quite yourself, lad."
"Oh, I am all right!" he said; "but it is not a pleasant
thing having had such a close shave of being sent to
Siberia; and it isn't only that. No doubt the police feel
that they owe me a grudge for having been the means of
this fellow, whoever he was, slipping through their fingers,
and I shall be a suspected person for a long time. Of course
it is only fancy, but I am always thinking there is some one
following me when I go out. I know it is nonsense, but
I can't get rid of it."
"I don't suppose they are watching you as closely as
that," Mr. Robson said, "but I do think it is likely that
they may be keeping an eye on you; but if they are they
will be tired of it before long, when they see that you go
your own way and have nothing to do with any suspected
persons. You want a change, lad. I have an invitation to
A HiTNTING PARTY.
join a party who are going up to Finland to shoot for a
couple of days. It is more likely than not that we shall
never have a chance of firing a shot, but it will be an outing
for you, and will clear your brain. Do you think you would
"Thank you very much, Mr. Robson, I should like it
immensely. Petrovytch was saying this morning that he
thought I should be all the better for a holiday, so I am
sure he will spare me. I am nothing of a shot, in fact I
never fired a shot at game in my life, though I have practised
a bit with the rifle, but I am sure it will be very jolly
whether we shoot anything or not."
"Very well, then, be at the station to catch the seven
o'clock train in the morning. It is a four hours' railway
"Is there anything to bring, sir?"
"No, you can take a hand-bag and sleeping things, but
beyond a bit of soap and a towel I don't suppose you will
have need of anything, for you will most likely sleep at
some farm-house, or perhaps in a woodman's hut, and there
will not be any undressing. There are six of us going from
here, counting you, but the party is got up by two or three
men we know there. They tell me some of the officers of
the regiment stationed there will be of the party, and they
will have a hundred or so of their men to act as beaters.
I have a spare gun that I will bring for you."
The next morning Godfrey joined Mr. Robson at the
station. A Mr. White, whom he knew well, was one of the
party, and the other three were Russians. They had secured
a first-class compartment, and as soon as they started they
rigged up a table with one of the cushions and began to play
"You don't play, I suppose, Godfrey?" Mr. Robson
"No, sir. I have played a little at my father's, but it
will be a long time before I shall be good enough to play.
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
I have heard my father say that there is better whist at St.
Petersburg than in any place in the world."
"I think he is right, lad. The Russians are first-rate
players and are passionately fond of the game, and natu-
rally we English here have had to learn to play up to their
standard. The game is similar to that in England, but they
score altogether differently."
The four hours passed rapidly. Godfrey sometimes looked
out of the window at the flat country they were passing
through, but more often watched the play. They were met
at the station by two of Mr. Robson's friends, and found
that sledges were in readiness and they were to start at
"We have ten miles to drive," one of them said. "The
others went on early; they will have had one beat by the
time we get there, and are then to assemble for luncheon."
The road was good and the horses fast, so that the sledges
flew along rapidly. Most of the distance was through
forest, but the last half-mile was open, and the sledge drew
up at a large farm-house standing in the centre of the cleared
space, and surrounded at a distance of half a mile on all
sides by the forest. A dozen men, about half of whom
were in uniform, poured out from the door as the four
sledges drew up.
You are just in time," one of them said. The soup is
ready and in another minute we should have set to."
The civilians all knew each other, but the new-comers
were introduced to the Russian colonel and his five officers.
"Have you had any luck, colonel" Mr. Robson asked.
"Wonderful," the latter replied with a laugh. "A stag
came along and every one of us had a shot at it, and each
and every one is ready to take oath that he hit it, so that
every one is satisfied. Don't you call that luck?"
Mr. Robson laughed. "But where is the stag?" he asked,
"That is more than any one can tell you. IIe went
A HUNTING PARTY.
straight on, and carried off our twelve bullets. Captain
Fomitch here, and in fact all my officers, are ready to swear
that the deer is enchanted, and they have all been crossing
themselves against the evil omen. Such a thing was never
heard of before, for being such crack shots, all of us, of
course there can be no doubt about our each having hit the
stag when it was not more than a hundred yards away at the
outside; but come in, the soup smells too good to wait, and
the sight of that enchanted beast has sharpened my appetite
Godfrey entered with the rest. Large as the farm-house
was, the greater portion of the ground-floor was occupied
by the room they entered. It was entirely constructed of
wood blackened with smoke and age. A great fire burned on
the hearth, and the farmer's wife and two maids were occu-
pied with several large pots, some suspended over the fire,
others standing among the brands. The window was low, but
extended half across one side of the room, and was filled
with small lattice panes. From the roof hung hams, sides
of bacon, potatoes in network bags, bunches of herbs, and
several joints of meat. A table extended the length of the
room covered with plates and dishes that from their appear-
ance had evidently been brought out from the town, and
differed widely from the rough earthenware standing on a
great dresser of darkened wood extending down one side of
the room. At one end the great pot was placed, the cloth
having been pushed back for the purpose, and the colonel,
seizing the ladle, began to fill the earthenware bowls which
were used instead of soup plates.
"Each man come for his ration before he sits down," he
said. "It would be better if you did not sit down at all,
for I know well enough that when my countrymen sit down
to a meal it is a long time before they get up again, and we
have to be in the forest again in three-quarters of an hour."
Quite right, colonel," one of the hosts said; "this even-
ing you may sit as long as you like, but if we are to have
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
another drive to-day we must waste no time. A basin of
soup and a plate of stew are all you will get now, with a
cup of coffee afterwards to arm you against the cold, and a
glass of vodka or kiimmil to top up with. No, colonel, not
any punch just now. Punch in the evening; but if we were
to begin with that now, I know that there would be no
shooting this afternoon."
"What are the beaters doing?" Mr. Robson asked as they
hastily ate their dinner.
"They have brought their bread with them," the colonel
said, "and our friends here have provided a deer almost as
fine as that which carried off the twelve bullets. It was
roasting over a fire in the forest when we went past, and I
saw some black bottles which I guessed were vodka."
"Yes, colonel, I ordered that they should have a glass
each with their dinner, and another glass when they had
done this afternoon."
"They would not mind being on fatigue duty every day
through the winter on those terms," the colonel said. It is
better for them than soldiering. We must mind that we
don't shoot any of them, gentlemen. The lives of the Czar's
soldiers are not to be lightly sacrificed, and next time, you
know, the whole of the bullets may not hit the mark as they
did this morning."
"There really is some danger in it," Mr. Robson said to
Godfrey, who was sitting next to him; "in fact, I should
say there was a good deal of danger. However, I fancy the
beaters all throw themselves down flat when they hear the
crack of the first rifle."
"I see most of them have got a gun as well as a rifle."
"Yes, there is no saying what may come along, and,
indeed, they are more likely to get birds than fur. I was
told there are a good many elk in the forest, and the pea-
sants have been bringing an unusual number in lately. A
friend of mine shot two last week; but as our party did not
get one in their first drive they are not likely to get any after-
A HUNTING PARTY.
wards. Occasionally in these big drives a good many animals
are inclosed, but as a rule the noise the soldiers make as
they move along to take up their places is enough to frighten
every creature within a couple of miles. I told you you
were not likely to have to draw a trigger. Expeditions like
this are rather an excuse for a couple of days' fun than any-
thing else. The real hunting is more quiet. Mefi who are
fond of it have peasants in their pay all over the country,
and if one of these hears of a bear or an elk anywhere in
his neighbourhood he brings in the news at once, and then
one or two men drive out to the village, where beaters will
be in readiness for them, and have the hunt to themselves.
"I used to do a good deal of it the first few years I came
out, but it is bitter cold work waiting for hours till a beast
comes past, or trying to crawl up to him. After all, there is
no great fun in putting a bullet into a creature as big as a
horse at a distance of thirty or forty yards. But there, they
are making a move. They are going to drink the coffee
and vodka standing, which is wise, for after standing in the
snow for four hours, as they have been doing, they are apt
to get so sleepy after a warm meal that if we were to stop
here much longer you would find half the number would
not make a start at all."
The sledges were brought up, and there was a three miles'
drive through the forest. Then the shooters were placed in
a line, some forty or fifty yards apart, each taking his station
behind a tree. Then a small bugler sounded a note. God-
frey heard a reply a long distance off. Three-quarters of an
hour passed without any further sound being heard, and
then Godfrey, who had been stamping his feet and swinging
his arms to keep himself warm, heard a confused murmur.
Looking along the line he saw that the others were all on
the alert, and he accordingly took up his gun and began to
gaze across the snow. The right-hand barrel was loaded
with shot, the left with ball. Presently a shot rang out
away on his right, followed almost immediately afterwards
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
by another. After this evidence that there must be some-
thing in the forest he watched more eagerly for signs of
life. Presently he saw a hare coming loping along. From
time to time it stopped and turned its head to listen, and
then came on again. He soon saw that it was bearing to
the left, and that it was not going to come within his range.
He watched it disappear among the trees, and two minutes
later heard a shot. Others followed to the right and left of
him, and presently a hare, which he had not noticed, dashed
past at full speed, almost touching his legs. He was so startled
for the moment that the hare had got some distance before
he had turned round and was ready to fire, and he was in
no way surprised to see it dash on unharmed by his shot.
When there was a pause in the firing the shouting recon-
menced, this time not far distant, and he soon saw men
making their way towards him through the trees.
"It is all over now," Mr. Robson shouted from the next
tree. "If they have not done better elsewhere than we
have here the bag is not a very large one."
"Did you shoot anything, Mr. Robson?'
"I knocked a hare over; that is the only thing I have
seen. What have you done?"
"I think I succeeded in frightening a hare, but that was
all," Godfrey laughed. "It ran almost between my legs
before I saw it, and I think it startled me quite as much as
my shot alarmed it."
The bugle sounded again, and the party were presently
collected round the colonel. The result of the beat was five
hares, and a small stag that had fallen to the gun of Mr.
"Much cry and little wool," Mr. Robson said. "A
hundred beaters, twenty guns, and six head of game."
Another short beat was organized, resulting in two stags
and three more hares. One of the stags and the three hares
were placed on a sledge to be taken back to the farm-house,
and the rest of the game was given to the soldiers. A glass
A HUNTING PARTY.
of vodka was served out to each of them, and, highly pleased
with their day's work, the men slung the deer to poles and
set out on their march of eight miles back to the town.
"They will have done a tremendous day's work by the
time they have finished," Godfrey said. Eight miles out
and eight miles back, and three beats, which must have cost
them four or five miles' walking at least. They must have
gone over thirty miles through the snow."
"It won't be as much as that, though it will be a long
day's work," the colonel said. "They came out yesterday
evening and slept in a barn. Another company come out
to-night to take their place."
It was already dark by the time the party reached the
farm-house, and after a cup of coffee all round they began to
prepare the dinner. They were like a party of school-boys,
laughing, joking, and playing tricks with each other. Two
of them undertook the preparation of hare-soup. Two
others were appointed to roast a quarter of venison, keeping
it turning as it hung by a cord in front of the fire, and being
told that should it burn from want of basting they would
forfeit their share of it. The colonel undertook the mixing
of punch, and the odour of lemons, rum, and other spirits
soon mingled with that of the cooking. Godfrey was set to
whip eggs for a gigantic omelette, and most of the others
had some task or other assigned to them, the farmer's wife
and her assistants not being allowed to have anything to do
with the matter.
The dinner was a great success. After it was over a huge
bowl of punch was placed on the table, and after the health
of the Czar and that of the Queen of England had been
drunk, speeches were made, songs were sung, and stories told.
While this was going on, the farmer brought in a dozen
trusses of straw. These his wife and the maids opened and
distributed along both sides of the room, laying blankets
over them. It was not long before Godfrey began to feel
very drowsy, the result of the day's work in the cold, a good
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIStt.
dinner, the heated air of the room and the din, and would
have gladly lain down; but his movement to leave the table
was at once frustrated, and he was condemned to drink an
extra tumbler of punch as a penalty. After that he had but
a confused idea of the rest of the evening. He knew that
many songs were sung, and that everyone seemed talking
together, and as at last he managed to get away and lie
down on the straw he had a vague idea that the colonel was
standing on a chair making a final oration, with the punch-
bowl turned upside down and worn as a helmet.
Godfrey had not touched the wine at dinner, knowing
that he would be expected to take punch afterwards, and
he had only sipped this occasionally, except the glass he had
been condemned to drink; and when he heard the colonel
shout in a stentorian voice "To arms !" he got up and shook
himself, and felt ready for another day's work, although
many of the others were sitting up yawning or abusing the
colonel for having called them so early. However, it was
already light. Two great samovars were steaming, and the
cups set in readiness on the table. Godfrey managed to get
hold of a pail of water and indulged in a good wash, as after
a few minutes did all the others; while a cup or two of tea
and a few slices of fried bacon set up even those who were
at first least inclined to rise.
A quarter of an hour later the sledges were at the door,
and the party started. The hunt was even less successful
than that of the previous day. No stag was seen, but some
ten hares and five brace of grouse were shot. At three
o'clock the party assembled again at the farm-house and had
another hearty meal, terminating with one glass of punch
round; then they took their places in their sledges and were
driven back to the town; the party for St. Petersburg
started by the six-o'clock train, the rest giving them a hearty
cheer as the carriage moved off from the platform.
"Well, have you enjoyed it, Godfrey?" Mr. Robson
A HUNTING PARTY.
"Immensely, sir. It has been grand fun. The colonel is
a wonderful fellow."
"There are no more pleasant companions than the
Russians," Mr. Robson said. "They more closely resemble
the Irish than any people I know. They have a wonderful
fund of spirits, enjoy a practical joke, are fond of sport, and
have too a sympathetic, and one may almost say a melancholy
vein in their disposition, just as the Irish have. They have
their faults, of course-all of us have; and the virtue of
temperance has not as yet made much way here. Society,
in fact, is a good deal like that in England two or three
generations back, when it was considered no disgrace for
a man to sit after dinner at the table until he had to be
helped up to bed by the servants. Now, White, you have
got the cards, I think."
Godfrey watched the game for a short time, then his eyes
closed, and he knew nothing more until Mr. Robson shook
him and shouted, "Pull yourself together, Godfrey. Here
we are at St. Petersburg."
Three days later, when Ivan Petrovytch came in to break-
fast at eleven o'clock-for the inmates of the house had a
cup of coffee or chocolate and a roll in their rooms at half-
past seven, and office work commenced an hour later-
Godfrey saw that he and his wife were both looking very
grave. Nothing was said until the servant, having handed
round the dishes, left the room."
"Has anything happened?" Godfrey asked.
"Yes, there is bad news. Another plot against the life
of the Czar has been discovered. The Nihilists have mined
under the road by which he was yesterday evening to have
travelled to the railway-station. It seems that some suspicion
was felt by the police. I do not know how it arose; at any
rate at the last moment the route was changed. During
the night all the houses in the suspected neighbourhood
were searched, and in the cellar of one of them a passage
was found leading under the road. A mine was heavily
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
charged with powder, and was connected by wires to an
electric battery; and there can be no doubt that had the
Czar passed by as intended he would have been destroyed
by the explosion. It is terrible, terrible!"
"Did they find any one in the cellar?" Godfrey asked.
"No one. The conspirators had no doubt taken the
alarm when they heard that the route was changed, and the
place was deserted. It seems that the shop above was
taken four months ago as a store for the sale of coal and
wood, and the cellar and an adjoining one were hired at the
same time. There was also a room behind the shop, where
the man and woman who kept it lived. They say that
arrests have been made all over the city this morning, and
we shall no doubt have a renewal of the wholesale trials
that followed the assassination of General Mesentzeff, the
head of the police, last autumn. It is terrible! These mis-
guided men hope to conquer the empire by fear. Instead
of that, they will in the end only strengthen the hands of
despotism. I have always been inclined to liberalism, but
I have wished for gradual changes only. For large changes
we are not yet fit; but as education spreads and we approach
the western standard, some power and voice ought to be
given to all intelligent enough to use it; that is to say, to
the educated classes. I would not-no one in his senses
would-give the power of voting to illiterate and ignorant
men, who would simply be tools in the hands of the design-
ing and ambitious; but the peoples of the great towns, St.
Petersburg, Moskow, Kieff, Odessa, and others should be
permitted to send representatives-men of their own choice
-to the provincial councils, which should be strengthened
and given a real, instead of a nominal, voice in the control
"That was all I and thousands like me ever wished for
in the present, but it would have been the first step towards
a constitution which the empire, when the people become
fit for it, might enjoy. That dream is over. These men,
A HUNTING PARTY.
by their wild violence, have thrown back the reforms for
half a century at least. They have driven the Czar to war
against them; they have strengthened the hands of the men
who will use their acts as an excuse for the extremest mea-
sures of repression; they have ranged on the other side all
the moderate men like myself, who, though desirous of con-
stitutional changes, shrink with horror from a revolution
heralded by deeds of bloodshed and murder."
"I quite agree with you," Godfrey said warmly. "Men
must be mad who could counsel such abominable plans.
The French Revolution was terrible, although it began peace-
fully, and was at first supported by all the best spirits of
France; but at last it became a hideous butchery. But here
in Russia it seems to me that it would be infinitely worse,
for it is only in the towns that there are men with any
education; and if it began with the murder of the Czar,
what would it grow to I"
"What, indeed!" Ivan Petrovytch repeated. "And yet,
like the French Revolution, the pioneers of this movement
were earnest and thoughtful men, with noble dreams for the
regeneration of Russia."
"But how did it begin?"
"It may be said to have started about 1860. The eman-
cipation of the serfs produced a sort of fever. Every one
looked for change, but it was in the universities, the semi-
naries, and among the younger professional men that it
first began. Prohibited works of all kinds, especially those
of European socialists, were, in spite of every precaution at
the frontier, introduced and widely circulated. Socialistic
ideas made tremendous progress among the class I speak
of, and these, by writing, by the circulation of prohibited
papers, and so on, carried on a sort of crusade against the
government, and indeed against all governments, carrying
their ideas of liberty to the most extreme point and waging
war against religion as well as against society.
In the latter respect they were more successful than in
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
the former, and I regret to say that atheism made immense
strides among the educated class. They had some profound
thinkers among them: Tchernyshevsky, Dobroluboff, Mi-
khailoff, besides Herzen and Ogareff, the two men who
brought out the Kolokol in London in the Russian language,
and by their agents spread it broadcast over Russia. The
stifling of the insurrection in Poland strengthened the re-
actionary party. More repressive edicts were issued, with
the usual result, that secret societies multiplied everywhere.
Then came the revolution and commune in Paris, which
greatly strengthened the spread of revolutionary ideas here.
Another circumstance gave a fresh impetus to this. Some
time before, there had been a movement for what was called
the emancipation of women, and a perfect furore arose
among girls of all classes for education.
"There were no upper schools or colleges open to them
in Russia, and they went in enormous numbers to Switzer-
land, especially to Zurich. Girls of the upper classes shared
their means with the poorer ones, and the latter eked out
their resources by work of all descriptions. Zurich, as you
know, is a hotbed of radicalism, and those young women
who went to learn soon imbibed the wildest ideas. Then
came a ukase, ordering the immediate return home of all
Russian girls abroad. It was undoubtedly a great mistake.
In Switzerland they were harmless, but when they returned
to Russia and scattered over the towns and villages, they
became so many apostles of socialism, and undoubtedly
strengthened the movement. So it grew. Men of good
families left their homes, and in the disguise of workmen
expounded their principles among the lower classes. Among
these was Prince Peter Krapotkine, the rich Cossack Obuch-
off, Scisoko and Rogaceff, both officers, and scores of others,
who gave up everything and worked as workmen among
"Innumerable arrests were made, and at one trial a
thousand prisoners were convicted. So wholesale were the
A HUNTING PARTY.
arrests that even the most enthusiastic saw that they were
simply sacrificing themselves in vain, and about 1877 they
changed their tactics. The prisons were crowded, and the
treatment there of the political prisoners was vastly harder
than that given to those condemned for the most atrocious
crimes, as you may imagine when I tell you that in the course
of the trial of that one batch I spoke of, which lasted four
years, seventy-five of the prisoners committed suicide, went
mad, or died. Then when the authorities thought Nihilism
was stamped out by wholesale severity the matter assumed
another phase. The crusade by preaching had failed, and
the Nihilists began a crusade of terror. First police spies
were killed in many places, then more highly placed persons,
officers of the police, judges, and officials who distinguished
themselves by their activity and severity. Then in the
spring of last year Vera Zasulitch shot at General Tr6poff,
who had ordered a political prisoner to be flogged. She
was tried by a jury, and the feeling throughout the country
was so much in favour of the people who had been so ter-
ribly persecuted that she was acquitted. The authorities
were furious, and every effort was made to find and re-arrest
Vera; and a verdict of the court acquitting many of the
accused in one of the trials was annulled by the Czar.
"Well, you know, Godfrey Bullen, I am not one who
meddles with politics. You have never heard me speak of
them before, and I consider the aims of these men would
bring about anarchy. An anarchy that would deluge the
land with blood seems to me detestable and wicked. But
I cannot but think the government has made a terrible mis-
take by its severity. These people are all enthusiastic
fanatics. They see that things are not as they should be,
and they would destroy everything to right them. Hate
their aims as one may, one must admit that their conduct is
heroic. Few have quailed in their trials. All preserve a
calmness of demeanour that even their judges and execu-
tioners cannot but admire. They seem made of iron; they
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
suffer everything, give up everything, dare everything for
their faith; they die, as the Christian martyrs died in Rome,
unflinching, unrepentant. If they have become as wild beasts,
severity has made them so. Their propaganda was at first
a peaceful one. It is cruelty that has driven them to use
the only weapon at their disposal, assassination.
"One man, for example, in 1877, Jacob Stefanovic, organ-
ized a conspiracy in the district of Sighirino. It spread
widely among the peasants. The priests, violating the
secret of the confessional, informed -the police, but these,
although using every effort, could learn no more. Hundreds
of arrests were made, but nothing discovered. Learning
that the priests had betrayed them the peasants no longer
went to confession, and to avoid betraying themselves in a
state of drunkenness abstained from the use of brandy; but
one man, tired and without food, took a glass. It made him
drunk, and in his drunkenness he spoke to the man who
had sold him spirits. Hie was arrested, and although he did
not know all, gave enough clue for the police to follow up,
and all the leaders and over a thousand persons were
arrested. Two thousand others, who were affiliated to the
society, were warned in time and escaped. You can guess
the fate of those who were captured.
"Last year, three months before you came here, General
Mezentsoff, the head of the police, was assassinated, and
since then we know that it is open war between the Nihilists
and the Czar. The police hush matters up, but they get
abroad. Threatening letters reach the Czar in his inmost
apartments, and it is known that several attempts have been
made to assassinate him, but have failed.
"One of the most extraordinary things connected with
the movement is that women play a large part in it. Being
in the thick of every conspiracy they are the life and soul
of the movement, and they are of all classes. There are a
score of women for whose arrest the authorities would pay
any money, and yet they elude every effort. It is horrible.
This is what comes of women going to Switzerland and
learning to look upon religion as a myth and all authority
as hateful, and to have wild dreams of an impossible state
of affairs such as never has existed in this world. It is
horrible, but it is pitiable. The prisons in the land are full
of victims; trains of prisoners set off monthly for Siberia.
It is enough to turn the brain to think of such things. How
it is to end no one can say."
But it was only in bated breath and within closed doors
that the discovery of the Nihilist plot was discussed in St.
Petersburg. Elsewhere it was scarcely alluded to, although,
if mentioned, those present vied with each other in the
violence of their denunciation of it; but when society from
the highest to the lowest was permeated by secret agents
of the police, and every word was liable to be reported and
misinterpreted, a subject so dangerous was shunned by
common consent. It was known, though, that large num-
bers of arrests had been made, but even those whose dear-
est friends had suddenly disappeared said no word of it in
public, for to be even a distant acquaintance of such a per-
son was dangerous. Yet apparently everything went on
as usual: the theatres were as well filled; the Nevski as
crowded and gay.
SOON after this St. Petersburg was startled at the news
that there had been a terrible explosion at the Winter
Palace, and that the Czar and royal family had narrowly
escaped with their lives. Upon the following evening God-
frey was walking down the Nevski, where groups of people
werj still discussing the terrible affair. He presently met
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILTST.
Akim Soushiloff and Petroff Stepanoff. He had not seen
them for some time, and as they had omitted to give him
the address of the lodging into which they had moved, he
was really glad to see them, for he liked them better than
any of the Russians of his acquaintance, for both had an
earnest manner and seemed to be free from narrow preju-
dices, sincere admirers of England, and on most subjects
very well informed.
"It is quite an age since I have seen you both," he said.
"Where have you been hiding?"
"We have been working harder than usual," Petroff said;
"our last examinations are just coming off. But you said
that you would come to see us, and you have never done
You did not tell me where you had moved to," Godfrey
said, "or I should have done so long ago."
"That was stupid indeed!" Akim said. "Have you an
hour to spare now?"
"Yes, I have nothing to do, and shall be very glad to
come round and have a talk. This is a horrible business at
the Winter Palace."
"Horrible," Petroff said; "but it is just as well not to
talk about it in the streets. Come along, we will take you
to our place; we were just thinking of going back."
A quarter of an hour's walking took them to the students'
room, which was, like the last, at the top of the house. A
lamp was lighted, the samovar placed on the table, and a little
charcoal fire lit under it. A glass of vodka was handed
round to pass the time until the water was boiling, pipes
were brought out from the cupboard and filled, for cigars,
which are cheap and good, are generally smoked in the
streets in Russia by the middle and upper classes, pipes
being only used there by Isvostchiks, labourers, and English-
men. The conversation naturally for a time turned upon
the explosion in the Winter Palace, the Russians expressing
an indignation fully equal to that of Godfrey. Then they
talked of England, both regretting that they were unable
to speak the language.
"I would give much to be able to read Shakespeare,"
Petroff said. "I have heard his works spoken of in such
high terms by some of our friends who have studied your
language, and I have heard, too, from them of your Dickens.
They tell me it is like reading of another world-a world
in which there are no officials, and no police, and no soldiers.
That must be very near a paradise."
"We have some soldiers," Godfrey laughed, "but one
does not see much of them. About half of those we have at
home are in two military camps, one in England and one in
Ireland. There are the Guards in London, but the popula-
lation is so large that you might go a week without seeing
one, while in very few of the provincial towns are there any
garrisons at all. There are police, and plenty of them, but
as their business is only to prevent crime, they naturally
don't play a prominent part in novels giving a picture of
everyday life. As to officials, beyond rate-collectors we don't
see anything of them, though there are magistrates, and gov-
ernment clerks, and custom officers, and that sort of thing, but
they certainly don't play any prominent part in our lives."
So they chatted for an hour, when at short intervals two
other men came in. One was a tall handsome fellow who
was introduced by Petroff as the son of Baron Kinkoff, the
other was a young advocate of Moscow on a visit to St.
Petersburg. Both, Godfrey observed, had knocked in a
somewhat peculiar manner at the door, which opened, as
he had noticed when they came in, only by a key. Akim
observed a slight expression of surprise in Godfrey's face
at the second knock, and said laughing:
Our remittances have not come to hand of late, Godfrey,
and some of our creditors are getting troublesome, so we
have established a signal by which we know our friends,
while inconvenient visitors can knock as long as they like,
and then go away thinking we are out."
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
Godfrey chatted for a short time longer, and then got up
to go. Akim went to the door with him. As it opened
there was a sudden rush of men from outside that nearly
knocked him down. Of what followed he had but a vague
idea Pistol shots rang out. There was a desperate struggle.
He received a blow on the head which struck him to the
ground, and an instant later there was a tremendous ex-
plosion. The next thing he knew was that he was being
hauled from below some debris. As he looked round be-
wildered he saw that a considerable portion of the ceiling
and of the roof above it had been blown out. Several bodies
lay stretched on the floor. The room was still full of smoke,
but by the light of two or three lanterns he perceived that
the young baron, bleeding freely from a sabre wound across
the forehead, was standing bound between two policemen
with drawn swords. Policemen were examining the bodies
on the floor, while others were searching the closets, cutting
open the beds and turning out their contents. Akim lay on
his back dead, and across him lay the young advocate. Of
Petroff he could see nothing; the other bodies were those
of policemen. Three of these near the door appeared to
have been shot; the others were lying in contorted positions
against the walls, as if they had been flung there by the
force of the explosion. All this he saw in a state of vague
wonderment, while the two policemen kneeling at his side
were passing cords tightly round him.
"This one still lives," one of the policemen said, stooping
over the young advocate, "but I think he is nearly done
"Never mind, bring him along with the others," a man
in plain clothes said in tones of authority. "Get them
away at once, we shall Lave half St. Petersburg here in a
Godfrey was lifted by the policemen, one at his head, and
one at his feet, carried down-stairs, and flung into a vehicle
at the door. Dully he heard a roar of excited shouts and
questions, and the sharp orders of the police ranged round
the vehicle. Three policemen took their places inside with
him, and the vehicle drove off, slowly at first until it was
free of the crowd, and then at a sharp gallop. Godfrey was
conscious of but little as he went along; he had a vague
idea of a warm moist feeling down the back, and wondered
whether it was his own blood. Gradually his impressions
became more and more indistinct, and he knew nothing
more until he was conscious of a sensation of cold at the
back of the head, and of a murmur of voices round him.
Soon he was lifted up into a sitting position, and he felt
that bandages were being wrapped round his head. Then
he was laid down again, he heard a door slam and a key
turn, and then he knew nothing more. When he awoke
daylight was streaming in through a loophole high up in
the wall. He tried to sit up, but could not, and looked
round trying to recall where he was and what had happened.
He was in a dark cell with no furniture save the straw on
which he was lying.
"It is a prison certainly," he muttered to himself. "How
did I get here?"
Then gradually the events of the night before came to
his mind. There had been a terrible fight. Akim had been
killed. There had been a tremendous explosion. The police
had something to do with it. Was it all a dream, or was
it real? Was he dreaming now? He was some time before
he could persuade himself that it was all real, and indeed
it was not until the door opened and two men entered that
he felt quite sure that he, Godfrey Bullen, was really lying
there in a prison cell, with a dull numbing pain at the back
of his head, and too weak even to sit upright. One of the
men leaned over him. Godfrey tried to speak, but could
not do so above a whisper.
"He will do now," the man said without paying any
attention to his words. "He must have a thick skull or
that sword-cut would have finished him. Give him some
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
wine and water now, and some soup presently. We must
not let him slip through our fingers."
Some liquid was poured between his lips, and then he
was left alone again. "Certainly it is all real," he said to
himself. "Akim must have been killed, and I must be a
prisoner. What in the world can it be all about?" He was
too weak to think, but after another visit had been paid
him, and he had been lifted up and given some strong broth,
he began to think more clearly. "Can it have been a
Nihilist arrest" he thought to himself. "Akim and Petroff
can never be Nihilists. The idea is absurd. I have never
heard them say a word against the government or the
Then he thought of their friend Katia, and how she had
got him to aid in the escape of a Nihilist. "It is all non-
sense," he murmured, "the idea of a girl like that being
mixed up in a conspiracy." Then his ideas again became
more and more confused, and when the doctor visited him
again in the evening he was in a state of high fever, talk-
ing incoherently to himself. For seven days he continued
in that state. There was no lack of care; the doctor visited
him at very short intervals, and an attendant remained
night and day beside him, applying cold bandages to his
head, and carefully noting down in a book every word
that passed his lips. Then a good constitution gradually
triumphed over the fever, and on the eighth day he lay a
mere shadow of himself, but cool and sensible, on a bed in
an airy ward. Nourishing food was given to him in abun-
dance, but it was another week before he was able to stand
alone. Then one morning two attendants brought a stretcher
to the side of his bed. He was assisted to put on his clothes,
and was then placed on the stretcher and carried away.
He was taken through long passages, up and down stairs,
at last into a large room. Here he was lifted on the stretcher
and placed in a chair. Facing him at a table were nine
Prisoner," the president said, glancing at a large closely-
written sheet of paper before him, "you are accused of
taking part in a Nihilist conspiracy to murder the Czar."
"I know nothing of any Nihilist conspiracy," Godfrey
said. "I was accidentally in the room with my friends
Akim and Petroff when the police entered."
The president waved his hand impatiently. "That of
course," he said. "Your name is Godfrey Bullen?"
"Born in St. Petersburg, but of English parentage?"
Godfrey bowed his head.
"Three months since you took part in the plot by means
of which the notorious Valerian Ossinsky escaped from the
hands of the police, and you were the accomplice of Sophia
Perovskaia in that matter."
"I never heard the name before,'2 Godfrey said.
The president paid no attention, but went on: "You said
at the time," he continued, reading from the notes, "that
you did not know the woman who spoke to you, but it is
known that she was an associate of Akim Soushiloff and
Petroff Stepanoff, at whose place you were captured the
other day. There is therefore no doubt that you know her."
"I knew her under another name," Godfrey said; "but
if I had been told she was Sophia Perovskaia, it conveyed
nothing to me, for I had never heard of her."
"You are committing yourself, prisoner," the president
said coldly. "When examined you denied all acquaintance
with the woman, and declared that she was a stranger."
"Excuse me, sir," Godfrey said, "I said it was a masked
woman, and that I did not see her face, which was perfectly
true. I admit now that I did know who she was, but
naturally as a gentleman I endeavoured to shield her in a
matter concerning which I believed that she was as innocent
as I was."
A murmur of incredulity ran round the circle of officers.
"A few days after that," the president went on, again
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
reading from his notes, you were present with Akim
Soushiloff and Petroff Stepanoff at a supper in a trakir in
Ossuloff Street. There were present on that occasion"-and
he read a list of six names-"four of whom have since been
convicted and punished, and two of whom, although not
yet taken, are known to have been engaged in the mur-
derous attempt at the Winter Palace. You were greeted
there with significant enthusiasm, which was evidently a
testimony on the part of these conspirators to the part you
had played in the affair of Ossinsky."
Godfrey felt that the meshes were closing round him.
He remembered that he had wondered at the time why he
had been received with such great cordiality.
"Now," the president went on, "you are captured in the
room of Akim Soushiloff and Petroff Stepanoff, who were
both beyond doubt engaged in the plot at the Winter
Palace, with two other equally guilty conspirators, and were
doubtless deliberating on some fresh atrocity when inter-
rupted by the agents of the police. You shared in the
desperate resistance they made, which resulted in the
death of eight police officers by pistol shot, or by the explo-
sion of gunpowder, by which Petroff Stepanoff, who fired
it, was also blown to pieces. What have you to say in your
"I still say that I am perfectly innocent," Godfrey said.
"I knew nothing of these men being conspirators in any
way, and I demand to be allowed to communicate with my
friends, and to obtain the assistance of an advocate."
"An advocate could say nothing for you," the president
said. "You do not deny any of the charges brought against
you, which are, that you were the associate of these assassins,
that you aided Sophia Perovskaia in effecting the escape of
Valerian Ossinsky, that you received the congratulations of
the conspirators at the banquet, and that you were found
in this room in company with four of the men concerned in
the attempt to assassinate the Czar. But the court is willing
to be merciful, and if you will tell all you know with refer-
ence to this plot, and give the names of all the conspirators
with whom you have been concerned, your offence will be
dealt with as leniently as possible."
"I repeat that I know nothing, and can therefore disclose
nothing, sir, and I venture to protest against the authority
of this court to try and condemn me, an Englishman."
"No matter what is the nationality of the person," the
president said coldly, "who offends against the laws of this
country, he is amenable to its laws, and his nationality
affords him no protection whatever. You will have time
given you to think the matter over before your sentence is
communicated to you. Remove the prisoner."
Godfrey was laid on the stretcher again and carried away.
This time he was taken, not to the room where he had been
placed while ill, but to a dark cell where scarce a ray of
light penetrated. There was a heap of straw in one corner,
a loaf of black bread, and a jug of water. Godfrey when
left alone shook up the straw to make it as comfortable as
he possibly could, then sat down upon it with his back against
"Well, this is certainly a go," he said to himself. "If
there was one thing that seemed less likely than another,
it was that I should get involved in this Nihilist business.
In the first place, the governor specially warned me against
it; in the second place, I have been extremely careful never
to give any opinion on public affairs; and in the third place,
if there is one thing I detest more than another it is assas-
sination. I cannot say it is cowardly in these men. The
Nihilists do more than risk their lives; they give their lives
away to carry out their end. Still, though I own it is not
cowardly, I hate it. The question is, what next? Petrovytch
will, of course, write home to say that I am missing. I don't
suppose he will have the slightest idea that I have been
arrested as a Nihilist. I don't see how he could think so.
He is more likely to think that I have been made away
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
with somehow. No doubt my father will come out; but, of
course, he won't learn any more than Petrovytch, unless they
choose to tell him. I don't suppose they will tell him. I
have heard that generally families of people they seize know
nothing about it, unless they are arrested too. They may
guess what has happened, but they don't know. In my
case I should fancy the police would say nothing.
They will hear from the inquiries that my father makes
that he has no suspicion of what has happened to me, and
they will know if they did tell him our ambassador would
be making a row. But even if the governor were to learn
what had become of me, and were to insist upon learning
what crime I am accused of committing, I do not see that
things would be much better. They would hand over the
notes of the evidence on which I was convicted, and, taking
it altogether, I am bound to say I do not see how they could
help convicting me. Short of catching me like a sort of
Guy Fawkes blowing up the palace, the case is about as
strong as it could be. I certainly have put my foot in it.
I was acquainted with these two conspirators; through them
I got acquainted with that confounded woman Katia, though
it seems that wasn't her name. Then through her I helped
this fellow Ossinsky to escape. Then, trying to shield her, I
make matters twenty times worse; for while my answer be-
fore led them to believe that she was a perfect stranger to
me, I was ass enough to let out just now that I knew her.
Then there was that supper. I could not make out at the
time why they greeted me so heartily. Now, of course, it
is plain enough; and now, just after this blowing-up busi-
ness, here am I caught with four notorious conspirators,
and mixed up in a fight in which eight or ten policemen are
killed, and the roof blown off a house. That would be cir-
cumstantial evidence enough to condemn a man in England,
let alone Russia.
"I don't suppose they are going to hang me, because they
publish the names of the fellows they hang; but imprison-
ment for years in one of their ghastly dungeons is bad
enough. If it is to be, it will be Siberia, I hope. There
must be some way of getting out of a big country like that-
north, south, east, or west. Well, I don't see any use bother-
ing over it. I have got into a horrible scrape, there is no
doubt about that, and I must take what comes."
Godfrey was essentially of a hopeful nature, and always
looked at the bright side of things. He was a strong believer
in the adage, "Where there is a will, there is a way." He
had been in his full share of scrapes at school, and had
always made a rule of taking things easily. He now examined
Beastly place!" he said, "and horribly damp. I wonder
why dungeons are always damp. Cellars at home are not
damp, and a dungeon is nothing but a cellar after all. Well,
I shall take a nap."
The next day Godfrey was again taken before the tribunal,
and again closely questioned as to his knowledge of the
Nihilists. He again insisted that he knew nothing of
Of course I knew Akim Soushiloff and Petroff Stepanoff;
but I had only been in their rooms once before, and the only
person I met there before was the young woman who called
herself Katia, but who you say was somebody else. This
was at the lodgings they occupied before."
"But you were found with Alexander Kinkoff and Paul
They only arrived a short time before the police entered.
I had never seen either of them before."
These two prisoners had been examined before Godfrey
entered, and had been questioned about him. Kousmitch
had declared that he had never seen him before, and the court
knew that the spies who had been watching the house had
seen him enter but a short time before the police force ar-
rived. As the two statements had been made independently
it was thought probable that in this respect Godfrey was
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
speaking the truth. Not so, however, his assertions that he
was unacquainted with any of the other conspirators.
He was again taken back to his cell, and for the next
week saw no one but the warder who brought his bread
and water, and who did not reply by a single word to any
questions that he asked him. Godfrey did his best to keep
up his spirits. He had learnt by heart at Shrewsbury the
first two books of the Iliad, and these he daily repeated
aloud, set himself equations to do, and solved them in his
head, repeated the dates in Greek history, and went through
everything he could remember as having learned.
He occasionally heard footsteps above him, and wondered
whether that also was a cell, and what sort of man the pri-
soner was. Once or twice at night, when all was quiet, he
heard loud cries, and wondered whether they were the result
of delirium or torture. His gruff jailer was somewhat won
by his cheerfulness. Every day Godfrey wished him good-
morning as he visited the cell, inquired what the weather
was like outside, expressed an earnest hope that silence
didn't disagree with him, and generally joked and laughed
as if he rather enjoyed himself than otherwise. At the end
of the week an official entered the cell
"I have come to inform you, prisoner, that the sentence
of death that had been passed upon you has, by the clemency
of the Czar, been commuted to banishment for life to
"Very well, sir," Godfrey said. "I know, of course, that.
I am perfectly innocent of the crime of which I am charged;
but as the Czar no doubt supposes that I am guilty of taking
part in a plot against his life, I acknowledge and thank
him for his clemency. I have no peculiar desire to visit
Siberia, but at least it will be a change for the better from
this place. I trust that it shall not be long before I start."
As the official was unable to make out whether Godfrey
spoke in mockery or not, he made no reply.
"These Nihilists are men of iron," he said afterwards.
"They walk to the scaffold with smiling faces; they exist in
dungeons that would kill a dog in twenty-four hours, and
nothing can tempt them to divulge their secrets; even star-
vation does not affect them. They are dangerous enemies,
but it must be owned that they are brave men and women.
This boy, for he is little more, almost laughed in our faces;
and, in spite of his stay in that damp cell, seemed to be in
excellent spirits. It is the same with them all, though I
own that some of them do break down sometimes; but I
think that those who commit suicide do so principally be-
cause they are afraid that, under pressure, they may divulge
secrets against each other. Ossip, who attends that young
fellow, says that he is always the same, and speaks as cheer-
fully to him every morning as if he were in a palace instead
of in a dungeon."
Two days later Godfrey was aroused in the night.
"Why, it is not light yet," he said. "What are you dis-
turbing me at this time for?"
"Get up," the man said; "you are going to start."
"Thank goodness for that!" Godfrey said, jumping up
from his straw. "That is the best news that I have heard
for a long time."
In the court-yard seven prisoners were standing. They
were placed at some distance from each other, and by each
stood a soldier and a policeman. A similar guard took their
places by the side of Godfrey as he came out. An official
took charge of the whole party, and, still keeping a few
paces apart, they sallied out through the prison doors and
marched through the sleeping city. Perhaps Godfrey was
the only one of the party who did not feel profoundly im-
pressed. They were going to leave behind them for ever
family and friends and country, and many would have wel-
comed death as an escape from the dreary prospect before
them. Godfrey's present feeling was that of exhilaration.
He had done his best to keep his mind at work, but
the damp and unwholesome air of the cell had told upon
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
him, enfeebled as he had been by the attack of fever. As
he walked along now he drew in deep breaths of the brisk
night air, and looked with delight at the stars glistening
overhead. As to the future, just at that moment it
troubled him but little. He knew nothing of Siberia beyond
having heard that the prisoners there led a terrible life.
That he should escape from it some time or other seemed to
him a matter of course. How, he could form no idea until
he got there; but as to the fact he had no misgiving, for it
seemed to him ridiculous that in a country so enormous as
Siberia a prisoner could not make his way out sooner or
When they reached the railway-station a train stood in
readiness. Each prisoner had a separate compartment, his
two guards accompanying him. Godfrey addressed a word
to his custodians. The policeman, however, said, "You are
forbidden to speak," and in a minute or two the train
Godfreydozed occasionally until morning, and then looked
out at the dark woods through which they passed for hours.
Twice the train stopped at lonely stations, and the prisoners
were supplied with food. In the afternoon Godfrey saw the
gilded and painted domes of a great city, and knew that it
must be Moscow. Here, however, they made no stay, but
steamed straight through the station and continued their way.
Godfrey slept soundly after it became dark, waking up once
when the train came to a standstill. At early morning he
was roused and ordered to alight, and in the same order as
before the prisoners were marched through the streets of
Nijni Novgorod to the bank of the Volga. Few people
were yet abroad in the streets, but all they met looked pity-
ingly at the group of exiles, a sight of daily occurrence in
the springtime of the year. Ordinary prisoners, of whom
from fifteen to twenty thousand are sent annually to Siberia,
are taken down the Volga in a convict barge, towed by a
steamer, in batches of six or seven hundred, Political pri-
RUSSIA IN ASIA
Scale of Miles
O see soe s
LC &SON, EDINBUiRGH &DUBIN.
BltCKI.TS m. SON, : "
soners are differently treated; they are carried on board the
ordinary steamer, each having a separate cabin, and during
the voyage they are allowed no intercourse whatever, either
with each other or with the ordinary passengers.
Of these there were a considerable number on board the
steamer, as the season had but just begun, and merchants,
traders, and officials were taking advantage of the river's
being open to push forward into Siberia. At present, how-
ever, these were all below. The prisoners were conducted
to the cabins reserved for them, and then locked in. Pre-
sently Godfrey heard a buzz of many voices and a general
movement in the cabin outside, and the fact that he was
a prisoner and cut off from the world came to him more
strongly than it had hitherto done. An hour later there was a
movement and shouting overhead. Then he felt the paddles
revolving, and knew that the steamer was under way. He
could, however, see nothing. A sort of shutter was fastened
outside the scuttle, which gave him the opportunity to take
a glimpse of the sky, but nothing of the shore or water.
Nothing could be more monotonous than the journey, and
yet the air and light that came down through the port-hole
rendered it far more pleasant than existence in a prison cell.
He knew, too, that, dull as it was in the cabin, there would
be little to see on deck, for the shores of the rivers were
everywhere flat and low.
After twenty-four hours' travel the steamer stopped.
Since Godfrey had been in Russia he had naturally studied
the geography of the empire, and knew a good deal about
the routes. He guessed, therefore, that the halt was at
Kasan, the capital of the old Tartar kingdom. It was a
break to him to listen to the noises overhead, to guess at the
passengers who were leaving and coming on board, to listen
to scraps of conversation that could be heard through the
open port-hole, and to the shouts of farewell from those on
board to those on shore as the vessel steamed on again. He
knew that after two hours' more steaming down the Volga
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
the vessel turned up the Kama, a large river running into
it and navigable for 1400 miles. Up this the vessel steamed
for three days and then reached Perm. In the evening
Godfrey and his companions were disembarked and, strictly
guarded as before, were marched to the railway-station,
placed in a special carriage attached to a train, and after
twenty-four hours' travel at the rate of about twelve miles
an hour reached Ekaterinburg. This railway had only been
open for a year, and until its completion this portion of the
journey had been one of the most tiresome along the whole
route, as the Ural Mountains intervene between Perm and
Ekaterinburg; their height is not great here, and the railway
crosses them at not more than 1700 feet above sea-level.
On arriving at the station half the prisoners were at once
placed in vehicles and the others were sent to the prison.
Godfrey was one of the party that went on at once. The
vehicle, which was called a telega, was a sort of narrow
waggon without springs, seats, or cover; the bottom was
covered with a deep layer of straw, and there were some
thick rugs for coverings at night. It was drawn by three
horses. Godfrey was in the last of the four vehicles that
started together. His soldier guard took his place beside
him, four mounted Cossacks rode, two on each side of the
procession. The driver, a peasant, to whom the horses
belonged, cracked his short-handled whip and the horses
sprang forward. Siberian horses are wiry little animals,
not taking to the eye, but possessing speed and great endur-
ance. The post-houses are situated from twelve to twenty-
five versts apart, according to the difficulty of the country,
a verst being about two-thirds of an English mile. At these
post-houses relays of horses are always kept in readiness for
one or two vehicles, but word is sent on before when political
prisoners are coming, and extra relays are obtained by the
post-masters from the peasants.
To Godfrey the sensation of being whirled through the
air as fast as the horses could gallop was, after his long con-
finement, perfectly delightful, and he fairly shouted with joy
and excitement. Now that they were past Ekaterinburg,
Godfrey's guard, a good-tempered-looking young fellow,
seemed to consider that it was no longer necessary to pre-
serve an absolute silence, which had no doubt been as irksome
to him as to his companion.
"We can talk now. Why are you so merry ?'
"To be in the air again is glorious," Godfrey said. "I
should not mind how long the journey lasted if it were like
this. How far do we travel in carriages?"
"To Tiumen, 300 versts; then we take steamer again, that
is if you go farther."
"You don't know where we are going to then "
"Not at all, it will be known at Tiumen; that is where
these things are settled generally, but people like you are
under special orders. You don't look very wicked;" and he
smiled in a friendly way as he looked at the lad beside him.
"I am not wicked at all, not in the way you think,"
"Do not talk about that," the soldier interrupted, "I must
not know anything about you; talk about other things, but
not why you are here."
Godfrey nodded. "If we go on beyond Tiumen we go by
steamer, do we not?"
"Yes, through Tobolsk to Tomsk, beyond that we shall
drive. You are lucky, you people, that you drive, the others
walk; it is long work, but not so long as it used to be, they
say. I have been told that in the old times, when they
started on foot from Moscow it took them sometimes two
years to reach the farthest places. Now they have the rail-
way, and the steamers on the river as far as Tomsk."
"How do they take them in the steamers ?"
"They take them in great barges that are towed; we
passed two on our way to Perm. They hold five or six
hundred, there is a great iron cage on deck, and they let
half the number up at a time in order to get air. They are
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
always going along at this time of year, for they all go early
in the season so as to get to the journey's end before the
frosts set in."
"But surely all these men cannot be guilty of great
crimes," Godfrey said, "for I have heard that about twenty
thousand a year are sent away?"
"No, many of them are only lazy fellows who drink and
will not work. We sent away three from my village the
year before I was taken for a soldier. They were lazy and
would not do their share of work, so the heads of the village
met and decided that they should go to Siberia. They drew
up a paper, which was sent to be confirmed by the judge of
the district, and then soldiers came and took them away."
"But you don't mean to say," Godfrey said, "that men
are sent to prison all their lives because they are lazy."
Oh no, no one would think of such a thing as that!
Men like these are only sent to the big towns, Tiumen,
or Perm, or Tobolsk, and then they are settled on land or
work in the towns, but they are free to do as they like.
The country wants labour, and men who won't work at home
and expect the community to keep them have to work here
or else they would starve. Then there are numbers who are
only guilty of some small offence. They have stolen some-
thing, or they have resisted the tax-gatherer, or something
of that sort. They only go to prison for the term of their
sentences, perhaps only three or four months, and then they
too are free like the others, and can work in the towns, or
trade if they happen to have money to set them up, or they
can settle in a village and take up land and cultivate it.
They can live where they like in Siberia. I had many rich
men pointed out to me in Tobolsk who had come out as
"You have been here before then?" Godfrey said.
"Yes, this is my second journey. I hope I shall come no
more. We get a little extra pay and are better fed than we
are with the regiment, and we have no drill; but then it is
sad. Last time I had one with me who had left his wife
and family behind; he was always sad, he talked to me
sometimes of them, there was no one else to talk to. He
was here for life, and he knew he should never see them
again. She was young and would marry again."
"But she couldn't do that as long as he lived," Godfrey
Oh yes; from the day a prisoner crosses the frontier his
marriage is annulled and his wife can marry again. She
may come with him if she likes, but if she does she can never
go back again."
"And do many wives come ?"
"A good many," the soldier said; "but I only know what
I have heard. I was with one of you last time, and it was
only on the way back that I heard of things about the others.
Formerly the guards remained in Siberia if they chose, it was
too far to send them back to Russia; but now that the
journey is done so quickly, and we can get back all the way
from Tomsk by the rivers, except this little bit, we go back
again as soon as we have handed over our charges. I did
not go farther than Tomsk last time, and I was back at Nijni
in less than three months after starting. What part of
Russia do you come from?"
"I am an Englishman."
The soldier looked round in surprise. "I did not know
Englishmen could speak our language so well; of course I
noticed that your speech was not quite like mine, but I am
from the south and I thought you must come from some-
where in the north or from Poland. How did-" and here
he stopped. But I must not ask that; I don't want to
know anything, not even your name. Look there, we are
just going to pass a convoy of other prisoners."
In a minute or two they overtook the party. It consisted
of about a hundred and fifty prisoners escorted by a dozen
mounted Cossacks. The men were in prison garb of yellowish-
brown stuff with a coloured patch in the back between the
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
shoulders. They had chains fastened to rings round the
ankles and tied up to their belts. They were not heavy, and
interfered very little with their walking. The procession
in no way accorded with Godfrey's preconceived idea. The
men were walking along without much attempt at regular
order. They were laughing and talking together or with
their guards, and some of them shouted chaffing remarks to
the four vehicles as they swept past them.
"They do not look very unhappy," Godfrey said.
"Why should they ?" the soldier replied; "they are better
off than they would be at home. Lots of men break the
law on purpose to be sent out; it is a good country. They
say wives get rid of their husbands by informing against
them and getting them sent here. I believe there are quite
as many husbands with scolding wives who get themselves
sent here to be free of them. As long as they are on the
road or employed in hard labour they are fed better than
they ever were at home, better a great deal than we soldiers
are. Even in the prisons they do not work so very hard,
for it is difficult to find work for them; only if they are
sent to the mines their lot is bad. Of that I know nothing,
but I have heard. As for the rest, from what I have
seen of it I should say that a convict here is better off than
a peasant at home. But here we are at the post-house."
AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.
THE stay at the post-houses was very short. As soon as
the vehicles were seen coming along the straight level
road, the first set of horses were brought out, and the lead-
ing tarantass was ready to proceed in two or three minutes.
AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.
The other horses were changed as quickly, and in less than
ten minutes from their arrival the whole were on their
way again. While the horses were being changed the pris-
oners were permitted to get out and stretch their legs, but
were not allowed to exchange a word with each other or
with anyone else. At every fourth stage a bowl of soup
with a hunch of bread was brought to each prisoner by one
of the guards at the ostrov or prison, where the convicts
were lodged as they came along. There were rugs in the
vehicles to lay over them at night when the air was sharp
and chilly, although in the day the sun had great power,
and the dust rose in clouds under the horses' feet.
There was little of interest to be seen on the journey.
Only round the villages was there any cultivation, and the
plains stretched away unbroken save by small groups of
cattle, horses, and sheep. Although Godfrey had not minded
the shaking of the springless vehicle for the first stage or
two, he felt long before he reached the journey's end as if
every bone was dislocated. As a rule the road was good,
but in some places, where it passed through swampy tracts,
it had given in the spring thaw, and had been cut into deep
ruts. Here the shaking as they passed along at night was
tremendous. Godfrey and his companion were dashed
against each other or against the sides with such force that
Godfrey several times thought his skull was fractured, and
he was indeed thankful when, after forty hours on the road,
they drove into Tiumen.
Tiumen is a town of over 15,000 inhabitants, and is the
first town arrived at in Siberia proper, the frontier between
Russia and that country running between Ekaterinburg and
that town. Here the prisoners were at once placed on
board a steamer, and Godfrey was glad indeed to throw
himself down upon the bed, where he slept without waking
until the steamer got under way in the morning. He was
delighted to see that the port-hole was not, as in the first
boat, blocked by an outside shutter, but that he could look
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
out over the country as they passed along. For a time the
scenery was similar to that which they had been passing
over, bare and desolate; but it presently assumed a different
character; fields of green wheat stretched away from the
river side; comfortable-looking little villages succeeded each
other rapidly as the steamer passed along, and save for the
difference of architecture and the peculiar green domes and
pinnacles of the little churches he might have been looking
over a scene in England.
The river was about two hundred yards wide here, a
smooth and placid stream. The steamer did not proceed
at any great pace, as it was towing behind it one of the
heavy convict barges, and although the passage is ordinarily
performed in a day and a half, it took them nearly a day
longer to accomplish, and it was not until late in the after-
noon of the third day that Tobolsk came in sight. Through
his port-hole Godfrey obtained a good view of the town,
containing nearly 30,000 inhabitants, with large govern-
ment buildings, and a great many houses built of stone.
It is built in a very unhealthy position, the country round
being exceedingly low and marshy. After passing Tobolsk
they entered the Obi, one of the largest rivers in Asia. The
next morning the steamer again started for her sixteen-
hundred-mile journey to Tomsk. The journey occupied
eight days, the convict barge having been left behind at
The time passed tediously to Godfrey, for the banks were
low and flat, villages were very rare, and the steamer only
touched at three places. Herds of horses were seen from
time to time roaming untended over the country. The only
amusement was in watching the Ostjaks, the natives of the
banks of the Obi. These people have no towns or villages,
but live in rough tents made of skins. He saw many of them
fishing from their tiny canoes, but the steamer did not pass
near enough to them to enable him to get a view of them, as
they generally paddled away towards the shore as the steamer
AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. 89
approached. He heard afterwards that they are wonderfully
skilful in the use of the bow, which they use principally
for killing squirrels and other small animals. These bows
are six feet long, the arrows four feet. The head is a small
iron ball, so as to kill without injuring the fur of small
animals, and the feats recorded of the English archers of
old times are far exceeded by the Ostjaks. Even at long
distances they seldom fail to strike a squirrel on the head,
and Godfrey was informed by a man who had been present
that he saw an Ostjak shoot an arrow high into the air,
and cut it in two with another arrow as it descended, a feat
that seemed to him altogether incredible, but is confirmed
by the evidence of Russian travellers.
Tomsk is situated on the river Tom, an affluent of the
Obi. The town is about the same size as Tobolsk; the
climate of the district is considered the best in Siberia; the
land is fertile, and among the mountains are many valuable
mines. Although a comparatively small province in com-
parison to Tobolsk on one side and Yeneseisk on the other,
it contains an area of half a million square miles, and,
excluding Russia, is bigger than any two countries of Europe
together. It contains a rural population of 725,000-
130,000 natives, chiefly Tartars and Kalmucs, and 30,000
Here Godfrey was landed, and marched to the prison.
Of these there are two, the one a permanent convict estab-
lishment, the other for the temporary detention of prisoners
passing through. Godfrey slipped a few roubles into the
hand of his guard, for his watch, money, and the other
things in his pockets had been restored to him before start-
ing on his journey. After two days' stop in the prison the
journey was continued as before, a soldier sitting by the
driver, a police-officer taking the place of the soldier who
had before accompanied him. He began to speak to God-
frey as soon as they started.
"We are not so strict now," he said. "You will soon be
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST
across the line into Eastern Siberia, and you will no longer
meet people through whom you might send messages or
letters. As to escape, that would be out of the question
since you left Ekaterinburg, for none can travel either by
steamer or post without a permit, or even enter an inn, and
the document must be shown at every village."
"But I suppose prisoners do escape sometimes," Godfrey
"There have not been a dozen escapes in the last fifty
years," the policeman said. "There are great numbers get
away from their prisons or employment every year, but the
authorities do not trouble about them; they may take to the
mountains or forests, and live on game for a few months in
summer, but when winter arrives they must come in and
give themselves up."
"What happens to them then?" Godfrey asked.
"Perhaps nothing but solitary confinement for a bit,
perhaps a beating with rods, just according to the temper
of the chief official at the time. Perhaps if it is a bad case
they are sent to the mines for a bit; that is what certainly
happens when they are political prisoners."
"Why can't they get right away?"
"Where are they to go to?" the officer said with a laugh.
"To the south there are sandy deserts where they would
certainly die of thirst; to the north trackless forests, cold
that would freeze a bullock solid in a night, great rivers
miles wide to cross, and terrible morasses, to say nothing of
the wolves who would make short work of you. The native
tribes to the west, and the people of the desert, are all fierce
and savage, and would kill anyone who came among them
merely for his clothes; and, besides, they get a reward from
government for every escaped prisoner they bring in alive
or dead. No, we don't want bolts or bars to keep prisoners
in here. The whole land is a prison-house, and the prisoners
know well enough that it is better to live under a roof and
to be well fed there than to starve in the forest, with the
AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.
prospect of a flogging at the end of their holiday. Still there
are thousands take to the woods in the summer. The govern-
ment does not care. Why should it? It is spared the
expense of feeding them, and if they starve to death or
kill each other off in their quarrels (for the greater part of
them would think no more of taking life than of killing a
fowl) there is an end of all further trouble about them, for
you understand, it is only the men who have life sentences,
the murderers, and so on, that attempt to run away; the
short-sentence men are not such fools.
"No," he went on kindly, seeing that Godfrey looked de-
pressed at what he had heard; "whatever you do don't think
of running away. If you behave well, and gain the good
opinion of the authorities, you won't find yourself uncom-
fortable. You will be made a clerk or a store-keeper, and
will have a good deal of liberty after a time. If you try
to run away, you will probably be sent to the mines; and
though it is not so bad there as they say, it is bad enough."
But even this prospect was not very cheering to Godfrey.
Hitherto it had seemed to him that there could be no real
difficulty, although there might be many hardships and pri-
vations, in making his escape from so vast a prison. He
had told himself that it must be possible to evade pursuit in
so vast a region; but now it seemed that nature had set so
strong a wall round the country that the Russians did not
even trouble themselves to pursue, confident that in time
the prisoners must come back again. But he was not silent
long. With the buoyancy of youth he put the question aside
for the present with the reflection, "Where there is a will
there is a way; anyhow some fellows have got away, and
if they have done it, I can."
Godfrey had not as yet realized his situation; the sentence
"for life" had fallen upon his ears but not upon his mind;
he still viewed the matter as he might have viewed some
desperate scrape at school. He had, as he would have said,
put his foot in it horribly; but that he should really have to
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
pass his whole life in these wilds, should never see England
again, his father, mother, or sisters, was a thing that his
mind absolutely refused to grasp. "Of course I shall get
away somehow." This had been the refrain that was con-
stantly running through his mind, and even now a satisfac-
tory reply to the assertion that not a dozen men had made
their escape at once occurred to him. There was no motive
to induce them to make their escape. They could not
return to Russia, and in any other country they would be
even more in exile than here, where everyone spoke their
language, and where, as far as he had seen, the climate was
as good as that of Russia, and the country no more flat and
"There is nothing they can want to escape for," he re-
peated to himself. "I have everything to escape for, and
I mean to do it." Having once re-established that view to
his satisfaction, he began to chat away cheerfully again to
his companion. "It is not everyone," he said, "who pos-
sesses my advantages, or who can travel five or six thousand
miles by rail, steamer, and carriage, without ever having to
put his hand in his pocket for a single kopec. The only
objection to it is that they don't give me a return ticket."
"That is an objection," the policeman agreed, smiling.
"We are not going to travel night and day, as we did
between Ekaterinburg and Tiumen, I hope?"
"Oh, no; we shall only travel while it is light."
"Well, that is a comfort. It was bad enough for that short
distance. It would be something awful if it had to be kept
up for a fortnight. How long shall we be before we get to
"About a month. I know nothing as to what will be
done with you beyond that. You may, for anything I know,
go to the mines at Nertchinsk, which are a long distance east
beyond Irkoutsk; or you may go to Verkhoyansk, a Yakout
settlement 3000 miles from Irkutsk, within the Arctic Circle.
There are lots of these penal settlements scattered over the
AN OLD' ACQUAINTANCE.
country. They do not send the ordinary convict popula-
tion there. There is no danger from them; but the theory
is that the political are always plotting, and therefore they
are for the most part sent where by no possibility can they
get up trouble."
Godfrey set his lips hard together and asked no questions
for the next half-hour. Although the journey was not con-
tinued by night the telega was still Godfrey's constant place
of abode. Sometimes it was wheeled under a shed, some-
times it stood in the road, but in all cases the policeman
was by his side night and day. Godfrey was indifferent
whether he slept in a bed or in the telega, which, when the
straw was fresh shaken up and a couple of rugs laid upon
it, was by no means uncomfortable. The nights were not
cold and no rain had fallen since he left Nijni. He further
reflected that probably there would be fleas and other ver-
min in the post-houses, and that altogether he was a gainer
instead of a loser by the regulation.
He was pleased with the appearance of Atchinsk, a bright
little town a day's journey from Tomsk. It was, like all
the Siberian towns, built of wood, but the houses were all
painted white or gray, picked out with bright colours. It
stood in the middle of a large grass plain, with inclosed
meadows of luxuriant herbage and bright flowers, among
which large numbers of sheep and cattle were feeding.
Beyond this the country again became dull and monotonous.
Krasnoiarsk was the next town reached. Between this town
and Kansk the country was again cultivated.
Scarce a day passed without large gangs of convicts being
overtaken on the road. For some distance Godfrey suffered
terribly from mosquitoes, which swarmed so thickly that the
peasants working in the fields were obliged to wear black
veils over their faces. Fortunately he had been warned by
his guard at Atchinsk that there would be trouble with
these pests on further, and the man had, at his request,
bought for him a few yards of muslin, under which they
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
sat during the day and spread over the telega at night. It
was, however, a long and dreary journey, and Godfrey was
heartily glad when at last they saw the domes of Irkoutsk,
a city of fifty thousand inhabitants.
They drove rapidly through the town to the prison, where
he was placed in a cell by himself. The morning after his
arrival the warder entered with a man carrying a basin and
"Confound it!" Godfrey muttered. "I have been expect-
ing this ever since I saw the first gang of convicts, but I
hoped they did not do it to us."
It was of course useless to remonstrate. His hair, which
had grown to a great length since he left St. Petersburg,
was first cut short; then the barber lathered his head and
set to work with a razor. Godfrey wondered what his par-
ticular style of hair was going to be. He had noticed that
all the convicts were partially shaved. Some were left bare
from the centre of the head down one side; others had the
front half of the head shaved, while the hair at the back
was left; some had only a ridge of hair running along the
top of the head, either from the forehead to the nape of the
neck or from one ear to the other.
He is shaving me like a monk," he said to himself as
the work proceeded. "Well, I think that is the best after
all, for with a cap on it won't show."
When the barber had done he stepped back and surveyed
Godfrey with an air of satisfaction; while the jailer, as he
wrote down the particulars in a note-book, grinned. Godfrey
passed his hand over his head and found that, as he sup-
posed, he had been shaved half-way down to the ears;
but in the middle of this bald place the barber had left
a patch of hair about the size of half-a-crown which stood
up perfectly erect. He burst into a shout of laughter, in
which the other two men joined. The jailer patted him
approvingly on the shoulder. "Bravo, young fellow!" he
said, pleased at seeing how lightly Godfrey took it, foi
AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.
many of the exiles who had stood bravely the loss of their
liberty were completely broken down by the loss of a por-
tion of their hair, which branded them wherever they went
Godfrey was then taken out into a large court-yard and
out through a gate into another inclosure. This had evi-
dently been added but a very short time to the precincts of
the prison. It was of considerable size, being four or five
acres in extent, and was surrounded on three sides by a
palisade some fourteen feet in height, of newly-sawn timber.
The wall of the prison formed the fourth side of the square.
In each corner of the inclosure was placed a clump of six
little wooden huts. Two low fences ran across the inclosure
at right angles to each other, dividing the space into four
equal squares. Where the fences crossed each other there
was an inclosure a few yards across, and in this were two
sentry-boxes with soldiers, musket in hand, standing bythem.
A few men were listlessly moving about, while others were
digging and working in small garden patches into which the
inclosures were divided. The policeman who accompanied
Godfrey led him to one of the little huts. He opened the
door and went in. A young man was sitting there.
"I have brought you a companion," the policeman said.
"He will share your hut with you. You can teach him
what is required." With this brief introduction he closed
the door behind him and left. The young man had risen,
and he and Godfrey looked hard at each other.
"Surely we have met before!" the prisoner said. "I know
your face quite well."
"And I know yours also," Godfrey replied.
"Now that you speak I know you. You are the young
Englishman, Godfrey Bullen."
"I am," Godfrey replied; "and you?"
"So it is!" Godfrey exclaimed in surprise, and, delighted
at this meeting, they shook hands cordially.
CONDEMNED AS A NIHILIST.
"But what are you here for?" Godfrey asked. "I thought
that you had obtained an appointment at Tobolsk."
"Yes, I was sent out as assistant to the doctor of one of
the prisons. I suppose you understood that it was not the
sort of appointment one would choose."
"I was certainly surprised when I heard that you were
going so far away," Godfrey said, "as my friends told me
that you had property. It seemed almost like going into
"That was just what it was," the young doctor laughed.
"I had been too outspoken in my political opinions, and
one or two of our set had been arrested and sent out here;
and when I was informed, on the day after I passed my
examinations, that I was appointed to a prison at Tobolsk,
it was also intimated to me that it would be more agreeable
to go there in that capacity than as a prisoner. As I was
also of that opinion, and as, to tell you the truth, some of
our friends were for pushing matters a good deal farther
than I cared about doing, I was not altogether sorry to get
out of it."
"But how is it that you are here as a prisoner?" Godfrey
"That is more than I can tell you. Some two months
ago the governor of the prison entered my room with two
warders, and informed me briefly that I was to be sent here
as a prisoner. I had ten minutes given me to pack up my
things for the journey, and half an hour later was in the
cabin of a steamer, with a Cossack at the door. What it
was for, Heaven only knows. I had never broken any regu-
lations, never spoken to a political prisoner when in the
hospital except to ask him medical questions, and had never
opened my lips on politics to a soul there."
"I think perhaps I can enlighten you," Godfrey said;
and he related to him the attempt to blow up the emperor
at the Winter Palace, and the fate of Petroff Stepanoff and