Citation
Michael Strogoff

Material Information

Title:
Michael Strogoff the courier of the czar
Added title page title:
The mutineers
Creator:
Verne, Jules, 1828-1905
Kingston, William Henry Giles, 1814-1880
Chambers, Julius, 1850-1920
Scribner, Armstrong, and Company
Place of Publication:
New York
Publisher:
Scribner, Armstrong & company
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
xi, p., 1 l., 377 p. incl. front. : plates, 2 maps. ; 21 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Children's stories ( lcsh )
Juvenile fiction -- Soviet Union ( lcsh )
Juvenile literature -- 1877 ( rbgenr )
Publishers' catalogues -- 1877 ( rbgenr )
Bldn -- 1877
Genre:
Juvenile literature ( rbgenr )
Publishers' catalogues ( rbgenr )
fiction ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- New York -- New York

Notes

General Note:
"The mutineers. A romance of Mexico": p. 343-377.
General Note:
Includes 8 p. publisher's catalog.
Statement of Responsibility:
By Jules Verne. Tr. by W.H.G. Kingston. Rev. by Julius Chambers. With ninety full-page illustrations.

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University of Florida
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Resource Identifier:
023972663 ( ALEPH )
02684842 ( OCLC )
AHM7978 ( NOTIS )
12039780 ( LCCN )
Classification:
PZ3.V394 Mi ( lcc )

UFDC Membership

Aggregations:
University of Florida
Jules Verne

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Full Text




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MICHAEL STROGOFTF,

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THE COURIER OF THE CZAR.



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THE PALACE—MOSCOW.





MICHAEL STROGOFF,

THE COURIER OF THE CZAR.

By JULES VERNE,

AUTHOR OF

“THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,” ‘fA JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH,” ETC., ETC.

TRANSLATED BY W. H. G. KINGSTON.

REVISED BY JULIUS CHAMBERS.

WITH NINETY FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.

NEW YORK:
SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & COMPANY.
1877.

(All rights reserved.)



CopyRIGHT, BY

SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & COMPANY,

jJoun F. Trow & Son,
PRINTERS AND BOOKBINDEkS,
205-213 Fast 12th Street, |
NEW YORK.



CONTENTS.

PART I.

CHAPTER

I,

IT.
II.
‘TV.
V.
VI.
VIL.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.
XVI,
XVII.

Il.
III.
IV.

A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS ... eee oe
MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR
From Moscow To NIJNI-NovGorRoD

THE Two ANNOUNCEMENTS

BROTHER AND SISTER

GOING DOWN THE VOLGA uae

GOING UP THE KAMA

DAY AND NIGHT IN A TARANTASS

A STORM IN THE URAL MOUNTAINS |
TRAVELLERS IN DISTRESS

PROVOCATION .

DUTY BEFORE EVERYTHING

MOTHER AND SON

THE MARSHES OF THE BARABA

A FINAL EFFORT

THE RIVALS ... - a

PART II.

A TARTAR CAMP ves
CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE
BLOW FOR BLOW wee
THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY or ees bee sae
“LOOK WHILE YOU MAY!” eee ses cas

PAGE

12
23
30
45
55
62
72
So
90
99
IIo
123
133
144.
155
100

177
188

204
210
2260



CONTENTS.

— —— eee ee Se eom*

CHAPTER

VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.

JI.
III.
IV.

A FRIEND ON THE HIGHWAY ...

THE PASSAGE OF THE YENISEI

A HARE CROSSES THE ROAD

IN THE STEPPE

BAIKAL AND ANGARA

BETWEEN Two BANKS

IRKUTSK eee

THE CZAR’sS COURIER ves
THE NIGHT OF THE FIFTH OF OCTOBER
CONCLUSION

THE MUTINEERS.

FROM THE ISLE OF GUAJAN TO ACAPULCO
From ACAPULCO TO CIGUALAN

CIGUALAN TO TASCO

TASCO TO CUERNAVACA i
FROM CUERNAVACA TO POPOCATEPETL

PAGE
235
246
257
270
281
292
393
314
325

330

345
355
362
306
372



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.



The Palace, Moscow . ‘ : : ; . . . Lrontisptece.

‘‘ Truly, sir, this féte is charming ’”’ : . . . To face page 7
The officer stepped out on a balcony to breathe ; . “¢ II
*¢T will now tell you something you are ignorant of” . 7 15
‘¢ Excuse me, your Majesty” . . . : ‘ . “s 18
The Courier, Michael Strogoff . ; . : 7 24
** Go, then, Michael Strogoff !” ‘ ; . : . —« 29
Michael Strogoff ensconced himself in his corner. . 7 33
He was immediately taken off . : . . ° . 7 33
Seating herself with downcast eyes . . . : . 40
The accident . : ; . . ; . : : 7 44
‘* What are you doing here?” . ; . ; . “s 48
A moving mass of human beings oe ; . ; “¢ 5!
Then in a loud voice he read . . . . ; “¢ 54
There, fallen rather than seated on a bench ; . 7 58
‘¢ Sister !”’ said he . : . . ; ; . “¢ 66
He was already climbing the forecastle ladder. ‘ : “é 70
As the Bohemian troop was leaving the steamboat . “6 74
Was Alcide Jolivet about to miss his passage? . . ; 98
Three post-horses were harnessed to the Tarantass . : - 8I
The Tarantass left Perm in a cloud of dust : . . “s 86
‘* Here comes the storm!” . : . . . ° | “¢ go
He managed to master the horses. . : . : “¢ 94.
** Cries, brother! Listen !” . ; ; . “6 98
Travellers in distress . : . . ; : . ‘¢ 101

**You are not wounded, sister?” : . . ; ‘* 107



Xx LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Had not the Iemschik prudently retreated .
The energetic Frenchman had found a Taranfass
The arrival at Tioumen

‘¢ Defend yourself !”’

‘* For my country, and the F ather !”

‘* Be off, my friend!” ~~. : . . ; . .
She was dragged into one of the boats . , ’ .
‘*Do not speak !” thou art still too weak . :

** My son!” . . . . ; . ;

“‘Dost thou know that I can torture thee?”

A disagreeable ride : . . : . .

‘¢ Will you answer me a few questions?”

Michael Strogoff advances cautiously to, :
“Torches !’’ said he to himself :

Michael fired . ; . :

Michael’s horse struck in the side .

Two versts further a village . . ; : :
The house was entered by Tartar soldiers. °
Feofar’s tent overlooked the others . : . . :
** You are something of a doctor, then?” .
Sangarre was there . . : . ; . .

Ivan Ogareff entered and stood before the Emir
He took the letters and read them attentively

The girl was there to support her . . : .
It was necessary to follow the high road °

They came to drink in their turn . . .

** Begin !”’ said Ogareff . : . .

Raising the knout he struck Ogareff

This woman of Persian origin was wonderfully beautiful
** You shall die!” he said

‘**Look while you may!” _

Michael Strogoff was blind. ‘

‘* Are you there, Nadia?” he asked

‘*Tt is a cart, a young man is driving it”

‘‘She is very pretty,” said Nicholas :

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To face page 109

112
IIs
I2I
124
128
132
135
140
143
147
150
157
160
164.

170
174
179

189
194
195
200
205
227
210
214
220



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

x1

It was seven o’clock in the evening . . : . To face page 248

They were soon floating

Seizing the bridle with his strong hand

A hare crosses the road

The body was that of a Mujik .

The horse with his rider fell to the bottom of the cliff
Nadia looked at all these bodies

A head issued from the ground

Soon the body of Nicholas was laid in the grave

An old Baikal boatman took command

“Come !” said Nadia . : . : ; . .
The old boatman crouched down forward . . . °
Nadia crept in front of Michael . . . . .
Working night and day

Wassili Fedor

A man entered, he appeared to be exhausted with fatigue
He was everywhere received with cordial congratulations
A note fell into the hands of Sangarre

** At last !” said Ivan Ogareff

Lifted by an irresistible force the villain was dashed to the
ground, . : : - . : :

‘Who killed that man?” .
**Tt will be my joy to call you both my children”

THE MUTINEERS.

Don Orteva and Pablo

The mutiny breaks out

On the road to Mexico

The traveller’s unquiet sleep .

Martinez alarmed at the sight of a snake .

Death of the mutineer Martinez

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252
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276
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284
289
292
300

306

349
351

359

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364
376







MICHAEL STROGOFE.



CHAPTER I.
A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE. °

“ SIRE, a fresh despatch.”

“Whence?”

“From Tomsk.”

“Ts the wire cut beyond that city?”

“Yes, sire, since yesterday.”

“Telegraph hourly to Tomsk, General, and let me ke
kept az courant of all that occurs.”

“ Sire, it shall be done,” answered General Kissoff.

These words were exchanged about two hours after
midnight, at the moment when the féte given at the New
Palace was at the height of its splendour.

During the whole evening the bands of the Préobra-
jensky and Paulowsky regiménts had played without
cessation polkas, mazurkas, schottisches, and waltzes from
among the choicest of their repertories. Innumerable
couples of dancers whirled through the magnificent saloons
of the palace, which stood at a few paces only from the
“old house of stones’”—in former days the scene of so
many terrible dramas, and the echoes of whose walls were
this night awakened by the gay strains of the musicians,

B



to

MICHAEL STROGOFF.



The grand-chamberlain of the court was, besides, well
seconded in his arduous and delicate duties. The grand-
dukes and their aides-de-camp, the chamberlains-in-waiting
and other officers of the palace, presided personally in the
arrangement of the dances. The grand-duchesses, covered
with diamonds, the ladies-in-waiting in their most exquisite
costumes, set the example to the wives of the military
and civil dignitaries of thé ancient “city of white stone.”
When, therefore, the signal for the “ polonaise ” resounded
through the saloons, and the guests of all ranks took part
in that measured promenade, which on occasions of this
kind has all the importance of a national dance, the min-
eled costumes, the sweeping robes adorned with lace, and
uniforms covered with orders, presented a scene of dazzling
and indescribable splendour, lighted by hundreds of lustres
multiplied tenfold by reflection in the numerous mirrors
adorning the walls. .

The grand saloon, the finest of all those contained in
the New Palace, formed to this procession of exalted per-
sonages and splendidly dressed women a frame worthy of
the magnificence they displayed. The rich ceiling, with
its gilding already softened by the touch of time, appeared
as if glittering with stars. The embroidered drapery of
the curtains and doors, falling in gorgeous folds, assumed
rich and varied hues, broken by the shadows of the heavy
masses of damask.

Through the panes of the vast semicircular bay-
windows the light, with which the saloons were filled,
shone forth with the brilliancy of a conflagration, vividly
illuminating the gloom in which for some hours the palace
had been shrouded. The attention of those of the guests
not taking part in the dancing was attracted by the con-
trast. Resting in the recesses of the windows, they could
discern, standing out dimly in the darkness, the vague
outlines of the countless towers, domes, and spires which
adorn the ancient city. Below the sculptured balconies
were visible numerous ‘sentries, pacing silently up and
down, their rifles, carried horizontally on the shoulder, and



A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE. 3
the spikes of their helmets glittering like flames in the
glare of light issuing from the palace. The steps also of
the patrols could be heard beating time on the stones
beneath with even more regularity than the feet of the
dancers on the floor of the saloons. From time to time
the watchword was repeated from post to post, and occa-
sionally the notes of a trumpet, mingling with the strains
of the orchestra, penetrated into their midst. Still farther
down, in front of the facade, dark masses obscured the rays
of light which proceeded from the windows of the New
Palace. These were boats descending the course of a
river, whose waters, faintly illumined by the twinkling
light of a few lamps, washed the lower portion of the
terraces.

The principal personage who has been mentioned, the
siver of the féte, and to whom General Kissoff had been
speaking in that tone of respect with which sovereigns
alone are usually addressed, wore the simple uniform of an
officer of chasseurs of the guard. This was not affectation
on his part, but the custom of a man who cared little for
dress, his contrasting strongly with the gorgeous cos-
tumes amid which he moved, encircled by his! escort of
Georgians, Cossacks, and Circassians—a brilliant band,
splendidly clad in the glittering uniforms of the Caucasus.

This personage, of lofty stature, affable demeanour,
and physiognomy calm, though bearing traces of anxiety,
moved from group to group, seldom speaking, and appear-
ine to pay but little attention either to the merriment of
the younger guests or the graver remarks of the exalted
dignitaries or members of the diplomatic corps who repre-
sented at the Russian court the principal governments of
Iurope. Two or three of these astute politicians—physiog-
nomists by virtue of their profession—failed not to detect
on the countenance of their host symptoms of’ disquietude,
the source of which eluded their penetration; but none
ventured to interrogate him on the subject.

It was evidently the intention of the officer of chasseurs
that his own anxieties should in no way cast a shade over



4. MICHAEL STROGOFF.

the festivities ; and, as he was one of those few personages
whom almost the population of a world in itself was wont
to obey, the gaiety of the ball was not for a moment
checked.

“Nevertheless, General Kissoff waited until the officer
to whom he had just communicated the despatch forwarded
from Tomsk should give him permission to withdraw ; but
the latter still remained silent. He had taken the tele-
gram, he had read it carefully, and his visage became even
more clouded than before. Involuntarily he sought the
hilt of his sword, and then passed his hand for an instant
before his eyes, as though, dazzled by the brilliancy of the
light, he wished to shade them, the better to see into the
recesses of his own mind.

“We are, then,’ he continued, after having drawn
General Kissoff aside towards a window, “ since yesterday
without intelligence from the Grand Duke?”

“Without any, sire ; and it is to be feared that shortly
despatches will no longer cross the Siberian frontier.”

“But have not the troops of the provinces of Amoor
and Irkutsk,'as those also of the Trans-Balkan territory,
received orders to march immediately upon Irkutsk ?”

“The orders were transmitted by the last telegram we
were able to send beyond Lake Baikal.”

“And the governments of Yeniseisk, Omsk, Semipola-
tinsk, and Tobolsk—are we still in direct communication
with them as before the insurrection ?”

“Yes, sire ; our despatches have reached them, and we
are assured at the present moment that the Tartars have
not advanced beyond the Irtish and the Obi.”

“And the traitor Ivan Ogareff, are there no tidings of
him?”

“None,” replied General Kissoff. “The head of the
police cannot state whether or not he has crossed the
frontier.”

“Let a description of him be immediately despatched
to Nijni-Novgorod, Perm, Ekaterenburg, Kasimov, Tiou-
men, Ishim, Omsk, Elamsk, Kalyvan, Tomsk, and to ail



A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE. 5

the telegraphic stations with which communication is yet
open.”

“Your majesty’s orders shall be instantly carried out,’
answered General Kissoff. |

“You will observe the strictest silence as to this.”

The General, having made a sign of respectful assent,
bowing low, mingled for a short time with the crowd, and
finally left the apartments without his departure being
remarked.

The officer remained absorbed in thought for a few
moments, when, recovering himself, he went among the
various groups formed in different parts of the saloon, his
countenance reassuming that calm aspect which had for an
instant been disturbed.

Nevertheless, the important occurrence which had occa-
casioned these rapidly exchanged words was not so un-
known as the officer of chasseurs of the guard and General
Kissoff had possibly supposed. It was not spoken of
officially, it is true, nor even officiously, since tongues were
not free; but a few exalted personages had been informed,
more or less exactly, of the events waich had taken placc
beyond the frontier. At any rate, that which was only
slightly known, that which was not matter of conversa-
tion even between members of the corps diplomatique, to
guests, distinguished by no uniform, no decoration, at this
reception in the New Palace, discussed in a low voice, and
“with apparently very correct information.

By what means, by the exercise of what acuteness had
these two ordinary mortals ascertained that which so many
persons of the highest rank and importance scarcely even
suspected? It is impossible to say. Had they the gifts
of foreknowledge and foresight? Did they possess a
supplementary sense, which enabled them to see beyond
that limited horizon which bounds all human gaze? Had
they obtained a peculiar power of divining the most
secret events? Was it owing to the habit, now become a
second nature, of living on information, and by informa-
tion, that their mental constitution had thus become



6 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

really transformed ? It was difficult to escape from this
conclusion.

Of these two men, the one was English, the other
French ; both were tall and thin, but the latter was sallow
as are the southern Provengals, while the former was ruddy
like a Lancashire gentleman. The Anglo-Norman, formal,
cold, grave, parsimonious of gestures and words, appearing
only to speak or gesticulate under the infiuence of a spring
operating at regular intervals. The Gaul, on the contrary,
lively and petulant, expressed himself with lips, eyes,
hands, all at once, having twenty different ways of ex-
plaining his thoughts, whereas his interlocutor s*emed
to have only one, immutably stereotyped on his brain.

The strong contrast they presented would at once
have struck the most superficial observer; but a physiog-
nomist, regarding them more closely, would have defined
their particular characteristics by saying, that if the
Frenchman was “all eyes,” the Englishman was “all ears.”

In fact, the visual apparatus of the one had been
singularly perfected by practice. The sensibility of its
retina must have been as instantaneous as that of those
conjurors who recognise a card merely by a rapid move-
ment in cutting the pack, or by the arrangement only of
marks invisible to others. The Frenchman indeed pos-
sessed in the highest degree what may be called “the
memory of the eye.”

The Englishman, on the contrary, appeared, especially
organised to listen and to hear. When his aural apparatus
had been once struck by the sound of a voice he could not
forget it, and after ten or even twenty years he would have
recognised it among a thousand. His ears, to be sure, had
not the power of moving as freely as those of animals who
are provided with large auditory flaps; but, since scientific
ren know that human ears possess, in fact, a very limited
power of movement, we should not be far wrong in
affirming that those of the said Englishman became erect,
and turned in all directions while endeavouring to gather
in the sounds, in a manner apparent only to the naturalist.



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A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE. 7
It must be observed that this perfection of sight and
hearing was of wonderful assistance to these two men in
their vocation, for the Englishman acted as correspondent
of the Daily Telegraph, and the Frenchman, as corres-
pondent of the..... of what newspaper, or of what
newspapers, he did not say; and when asked, he replied in
a jocular manner that he corresponded with “his cousin
Madeleine.” This Frenchman, however, beneath his care-
less surface, was wonderfully shrewd and sagacious. Even
while speaking at random, perhaps the better to hide his
desire to learn, he never forgot himself. His loquacity
even helped him to conceal his thoughts, and he was
perhaps even. more discreet than his confrére of the Dazly
Telegraph. Both were present at this féte given at the
New Palace on the night of the 15th of July in their
character of reporters, and for the greater edification of
their readers.

It is needless to say that these two men were devoted
to their mission in the world—that they delighted to throw
themselves in the track of the most unexpected intelligence
-—that nothing terrified or discouraged them from succeed-
ing—that they possessed the imperturbable sang-frord and
the genuine intrepidity of men of their calling. Enthu-
siastic jockeys in this steeplechase, this hunt after infor-
mation, they leaped hedges, crossed rivers, sprang over
fences, with the ardour of pure-blooded racers, who will run
“a good first” or die!

Their journals did not restrict them with regard to
money—the surest, the most rapid, the most perfect
element of information known to this day. It must also
be added, to their honour, that neither the one nor the
ether ever looked over or listened at the walls of private
life, and that they only exercised their vocation when
political or social interests were at stake. In a word, they
made what has been for :ome years called “the great
political and military reports.”

It will be seen, in following them, that they had
generally an independent mode of viewing events, and,



8 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



——— —-.

above all, their consequences, each having his own way of
observing and appreciating. The object to be obtained
being of adequate value, they never failed to expend the
money required. |

The French correspondent was named Alcide Jolivet.
Harry Blount was the name of the Englishman. They
had just met for the first time at this féte in the New
Palace, of which they had been ordered to give an account
in their papers. The dissimilarity of their characters,
added to a certain amount of jealousy, which generally
exists between rivals in the same calling, might have
rendered them but little sympathetic. However, they did
not avoid one another, but endeavoured rather to exchange
with each other the news of the day. They were two
sportsmen, after all, hunting on the same ground, in the
same preserves. ‘That which one missed might be advan-
tageously secured by the other, and it was to their interest
to meet and converse together.

This evening they were both on the look out; they felt,
in fact, that there was something in the air.

_ “Even should it be only a wildgoose chase,” said Alcide
Jolivet to himself, “it may be worth powder and shot.”

The two correspondents were therefore led to chat
together during the ball, a few minutes after the departure
of General Kissoff, and they began by cautiously sounding
each other.

“ Really, my dear sir, this little féte is charming!” said
-Alcide Jolivet pleasantly, thinking himself obliged to begin
the conversation with this eminently French phrase.

“JT have telegraphed already, ‘splendid!’” replied
Harry Blount calmly, employing the word specially de-
voted to expressing admiration.,by all subjects of the
United Kingdom.

“ Nevertheless,” added Alcide Jolivet, “I felt compelled
to remark to my cousin :

“Your cousin?” repeated Harry Blount in a tone of
surprise, interrupting his brother of the pen.

“Ves,” returned Alcide Jolivet, “my cousin Madelcine.





A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE, | 9

.... It is with her that I correspond, and she likes to be
quickly and well informed, does my cousin. .... I there-
fore remarked to her that, during this féte, a sort of cloud
had appeared to overshadow the sovereign’s brow.”

“To me, it seemed radiant,” replied Harry Blount, who
perhaps wished to conceal his real opinion on this topic.

“And, naturally, you made it ‘radiant,’ in the columns
of the Daily Telegraph.”

“Exactly.”

“Do you remember, Mr. Blount, what occurred at Zakret
in 1812?” |

“T remember it as well as if I had been there, sir,”
replied the English. correspondent.

“Then,” continued Alcide Jolivet, “you know that, in
the middle of a féte given in his honour, it was announced
to the Emperor Alexander that Napoleon had just crossed
the Niemen with the vanguard of the French army.
Nevertheless the Emperor did not leave the féte, and not-
withstanding the extreme gravity of intelligence which
might cost him his empire, he did not allow himself to
show more uneasiness ... .”

“Than our host exhibited when General Kissoff in-
formed him that the telegraphic wires had just been cut
between the frontier and the government of Irkutsk.”

“Ah! you are aware of that ?”

“Tam!”

“As regards myself, it would be difficult to avoid know-
ing it, since my last telegram reached Udinsk,” observed
Alcide Jolivet, with some satisfaction. ~

“And mine only as far as Krasnoiarsk,’ answered
Harry Blount, in a no less satisfied tone.

“Then you know also that orders have been sent to the
troops of Nilkolaevsk ?”

“T do, sir; and at the same time a telegram.was sent
to the Cossacks of the government of Tobolsk to concen-
trate their forces.”

“Nothing can be more true, Mr. Blount; I was equally
well acquainted with these measures, and you may be sure

‘



IO MICHAEL STROGOFF.
that my dear cousin shall know something of them to-
morrow.”

“Exactly as the readers of the Daily Telegraph: shall
know it also, M. Jolivet.”

“Well, when one sees all that is going on... .”

“ And when one hears all that is ‘Said oes

“ An interesting campaign to follow, Mr. Blount.”

“T shall follow it, M. Jolivet!”

“Then it is possible that we shall find ourselves on
ground less safe, perhaps, than the floor of this ball-room.”

“ Less safe, certainly, but ”

“But much less slippery,” added Alcide Jolivet, holding
up -his companion, just as the latter, drawing back, was
about to lose his equilibrium.

Thereupon the two correspondents separated, pleased
enough to know that the one had not stolen a march on
the other.

At that moment the doors of the rooms adjoining the
great reception saloon were thrown open, disclosing to view
several immense tables beautifully laid out, and groaning
under a profusion of valuable china and gold plate. On
the central table, reserved for the princes, princesses, and
members of the corps diplomatique, glittered an épergne
of inestimable price, brought from London, and around
this chef-d’ceuvre of chased gold, were reflected, under the
liznt of the lustres, a thousand pieces of the most beautiful
service which the manufactories of Sevres had ever pro-
duced.

The guests of the New Palace immediately began to
stream towards the supper-rooms.

At that moment, General Kissoff, who had just re-
entered, quickly approached the officer of chasseurs.

“Well?” asked the latter abruptly, as he had done the
former time. |

“ Telegrams pass Tomsk no longer, sire.”

“A courier this moment!”

The officer left the hall and entcred a large antechamber
adjoining.





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The Officer stepped out on a balcony to breathe.
(Page 11.)



A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE. 11

It was a cabinet with plain oak furniture, and situated
in an angle of the New Palace. Several pictures, amongst
others some by Horace Vernet, hung on the wall.

The officer hastily opened a window, as if he felt the
want of air, and stepped out on a balcony to breathe the
pure atmosphere of a lovely July night.

Beneath his eyes, bathed in moonlight, lay a fortified
inclosure, from which rose two cathedrals, three palaces,
and an arsenal. Around this inclosure could be seen three
distinct towns: Kitai-Gorod, Beloi-Gorod, Zemlianai-Gorod
—European, Tartar, or Chinese quarters of great extent,
commanded by towers, belfries, minarets, and the cupolas of
three hundred churches, with green domes, surmounted by
the silver cross. A little winding river here and there
reflected the rays of the moon. All this together formed
a curious mosaic of variously coloured houses, set in an
immense frame of ten leagues in circumference.

This river was the Moskowa; the town Moscow; the
fortified inclosure the Kremlin ; and the officer of chasseurs
of the guard, who, with folded ‘arms and thoughtful brow,
was listening dreamily to the sounds floating from the New
Palace over the old Muscovite city, was the Czar.



12 MICHAEL STROGOFF.





Ts

CHAPTER II.
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS.

THE Czar had not so suddenly left the ball-room of the
New Palace, when the féte he was giving to the civil and
military authorities and principal people of Moscow was at
the height of its brilliancy, without ample cause ; for he
hed just received information that serious events were
taking place beyond the frontiers of the Ural. It had
become evident that a formidable rebellion threatened to
wrest the Siberian provinces from the Russian crown.
Asiatic Russia, or Siberia, covers a superficial area of
1,790,208 square miles, and contains nearly two millions of
inhabitants. Extending from the Ural Mountains, which
separate it from Russia in Europe, to the shores of the
Pacific Ocean, it is bounded on the south by Turkestan and
the Chinese Empire; on the north by the Arctic Ocean,
from the Sea of Kara to Bchring’s Straits. It is divided
into several governments or provinces, those of Tobolsk,
Yeniseisk, Irkutsk, Omsk, and Yakutsk; contains two
districts, Okhotsk and Kamtschatka; and possesses two
countries, now under the Muscovite dominion—that of
the Kirghiz and that of the Tshouktshes. This immense
extent of steppes, which includes more than one hundred
and ten degrees from west to. east, is a land to which

both criminals arc transported and political offenders are
banished.



RUSSIANS AND TARTARS. 13

Two governor-generals represent the supreme authority
of the Czar over this vast country. One resides at Irkutsk,
the capital of Western Siberia. The River Tchouna, a
tributary of the Yenisei, separates the two Siberias.

No rail yet furrows these wide plains, some of which
are in reality extremely fertile. No iron ways lead from
those precious mines which make the Siberian soil far
richer below than above its surface. The traveller journeys
in summer in a kibick or telga ; in winter, in a sledge.

An electric telegraph, with a single wire more than
eight thousand versts * in length, alone affords communica-
tion between the western and eastern frontiers of Siberia,
On issuing from the Ural, it passes through Ekateren-
burg, Kasimov, Tioumen, Ishim, Omsk, Elamsk, Kalyvan
Tomsk, Krasnoiarsk, Nijni-Udinsk, Irkutsk, Verkne-Nert-
sckink, Strelink, Albazine, Blagowstenks, Radde, Orlom-
skaya, Alexandrowskoé, and Nikolaevsk ; and six roubles +
and nineteen copecks are paid for every word sent from
one end to the other. From Irkutsk there is a branch to
Kiatka, on the Mongolian frontier; and from thence, for
thirty copecks a word, the post conveys the despatches to
Pekin in a fortnight.

It was this wire, extending from Ekaterenburg to
Nikolaevsk, which had been cut, first beyond Tomsk, and
then between Tomsk.and Kalyvan.

This was the reason why the Czar, to the com-
munication made to him for the second time by General
Kissoff, had only answered by the words, “A courier this
moment!”

The Czar had remained motionless at the window for a
few moments, when the door was again opened. ‘The chief
of police appeared on the threshold.

“Tenter, General,’ said the Czar briefly, “ and tell me
all you know of Ivan Ogareff.”

* The verst contains 1165 yards.
+ The rouble (silver) is worth 3s. 2d. The copeck (copper) rather more
than a farthing.



14. MICHAEL STROGOFF.



“He is an extremely dangerous man, sir,” replied the
chief of police.

“He ranked as colonel, did he not?”

“Yes, sire.”

‘Was he an intelligent officer?”

“Very intelligent, but a man whose spirit it was
impossibie to subdue; and possessing an ambition which
stopped at nothing, he soon became involved in secret
intrigues, and it was then that he was degraded from his
rank by his Highness the Grand Duke, and exiled to
Siberia.”

“Tow long ago was that?”

“Two years since. Pardoned after six months of exile
by your majesty’s favour, he returned to Russia.”

“ And since that time, has he not revisited Siberia?”

“Yes, sire; but he voluntarily returned there,” replied
the chief of police, adding, and slightly lowering his voice,
“there was a time, sire, when zoe returned from Siberia.”

“Well, whilst I live, Siberia is and shall be a country
whence men caz return.”

The Czar had the right to utter these words with some
pride, for often, by his clemency, he had shown that
Russian justice knew how to pardon.

The head of the police did not reply to this obser-
vation, but it was evident that he did not approve of such
half-measures. According to his idea, a man who had
once passed the Ural Mountains in charge of policemen,
ought never again to cross them. Now, it was not thus
under the new reign, and the chief of police sincerely
deplored it. What! no banishment for life for other
crimes than those against social order! What! political
exiles returning from Tobolsk, from Yakutsk, from Ir-
kutsk! In truth, the chief of police, accustomed to the
despotic sentences of the ukase which formerly never par-
doned, could not understand this mode of governing. But
he was silent, waiting until the Czar should interrogate
him further.

The questions were not long in coming.



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(Page 15.)



RUSSIANS AND TARTARS. 15

— ~———



ee

“Did not Ivan Ogareff,’ asked the Czar, “return to
Russia a second time, after that journey through the
Siberian provinces, the object of which remains unknown?”

“He did.”

“ And have the police lost trace of him since ?”

“No, sire; for an offender only becomes really danger-
ous from the day he has received his pardon.”

The Czar frowned. Perhaps the chief of police feared
that he had gone rather, too far, though the stubbornness
of his ideas was at least equal to the boundless devotion he
felt for his master. But the Czar, disdaining to reply to
these indirect reproaches cast on his interior policy, con-
tinued his series of questions.

“Where was Ivan Ogareff last heard of 2?”

“Tn the province of Perm.”

“Tn what town?”

“At Perm itself.”

“What was he doing?”

“He appeared unoccupied, and there was nothing
suspicious in his conduct.”

“Then he was not under the surveillance cf the secret
police?”

“No, sire.”

“When did he leave Perm ?” .

“ About the month of March ?”

“Togo ...?”

“Where, is unknown.”

“And since that time, it is not known what has become
of him ?”

“No, sire; it is not known.”

“Well, then, I myself know,” answered the Czar. “I
have received anonymous communications which did not
pass through the police department; and, in the face of
events now taking place beyond the frontier, 1 have every
reason to believe that they are correct.”

“Do you mean, sire,” cried the chief of police, “ that
Ivan Ogareff has a hand in this Tartar rebellion ?”

“Indeed I do; and-I will now tell you something



16 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

which you are ignorant of. After leaving Perm, Ivan
Ogareff crossed the Ural mountains, entered Siberia, and
penetrated the Kirghiz steppes, and there endeavoured, not
without success, to foment rebellion amongst their nomadic
population. He then went so far south as free Turkestan ;
there, in the provinces of Bokhara, Khokhand, and Koon-
dooz, he found chiefs willing to pour their Tartar hordes
into Siberia, and excite a general rising in Asiatic Russia.
The storm has been silently gathering, but it has at last
burst like a thunder-clap, and now all means of communica-
tion between Eastern and Western Siberia have been
stopped. Moreover, Ivan Ogareff, thirsting for vengeance,
aims at the life of my brother! ”

The Czar had become excited whilst speaking, and now
paced up and down with hurried steps. The chief of police
said nothing, but he thought to himself that, during the
time when the emperors of Russia never pardoned an exile,
schemes such as those cf Ivan Ogareff could never have
been realized. A few moments passed, during which he
was silent, then approaching the Czar, who had thrown
himself into an armchair:

““Your majesty,” said he, “has of course given orders
that this rebellion may be suppressed as soon as possible ?”

“Yes,’ answered the Czar. “ The last telegram which
was able to reach Nijni-Udinsk would set in motion the
troops in the governments of Yenisei, Irkutsk, Yakutsk, as
well as those in the provinces of the Amoor and Lake
Baikal. At the same time, the regiments from Perm and
Nini-Novgorod, and the Cossacks from the frontier, are
advancing by forced marches towards the Ural Mountains ;
but, unfortunately, some weeks must pass before they can
attack the Tartars.”

“And your majesty’s brother, his Highness the Grand
Duke, is now isolated in the government of Irkutsk, and
is no longer in direct communication with Moscow ?”

“That is so.’

“But by the last despatches, he must. know what
measures have been taken by your majesty, and what he!p



‘

RUSSIANS AND TARTARS. 17

ee

= ee

he may expect from the governments nearest to that of
Irkutsk ?”

“He knows that,” answered the Czar; “but what he
does not know is, that Ivan Ogareff, as well as being a
rebel, is also playing the part of a traitor, and that in him
he has a personal and bitter enemy. It is to the Grand
Duke that Ivan Ogareff owes his first disgrace ; and what
is more serious is, that this man is not known to him.
Ivan Ogareff’s plan, therefore, is to go to Irkutsk, and,
under an assumed name, offer his services to the Grand
Duke. Then, after gaining his confidence, when the Tar-
tars have invested Irkutsk, he will betray the town, and
with it my brother, whose life is directly threatened. This
is what I have learned from my secret intelligence ; this is
what the Grand-Duke does not know ; and this is what he
must know!”

“Well, sire, an intelligent, courageous courier .. .”

“JT momentarily expect one.”

“And it is to be hoped he will be expeditious,” added
the chief of police; “ for, allow me to add, sire, that Siberia
is a favourable land for rebellions.”

“Do you mean to say, General, that the exiles would
make common cause with the rebels?” exclaimed the Czar,
indignant at the insinuation.

“Excuse me,: your majesty,” stammered the chief of
police, for that was really the idea suggested to him by his
uneasy and suspicious mind. |

“T believe in their patriotism,” returned the Czar.

“There are other offenders besides political exiles ‘in
Siberia,” said the:chief of police. _

“The criminals ?) Oh, General, I give those up to you!
They are the vilest, I grant, of the human race. They
belong to no country. But the insurrection, or rather the
rebellion, is not to oppose the emperor; it is raised-against
Russia, against the country which the exiles have not lost
all hope of again seeing—and which they will see again.
No, a Russian would never unite with a Tartar, to weaken,

were it only for an hour, the Muscovite power !”
| Cc



18 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

—_-



The Czar was right in trusting to the patriotism of
those whom his policy kept, for a time, at a distance.
Clemency, which was the foundation of his justice, when
he could himself direct its effects, the modifications he had
adopted with regard to applications for the formerly
terrible ukases, warranted the belief that he was not mis-
taken. But even without this powerful element of success
in regard to the Tartar rebellion, circumstances were not
the less very serious; for it was to be feared that a large
part of the Kirghiz population would join the rebels.

The Kirghiz are divided into three hordes, the greater,
the lesser, and the middle, and number nearly four hundred
thousand “ tents,’ or two million souls. Of the different
tribes some are independent and others recognize either
the sovereignty of Russia or that of the Khans of Khiva,
Khokhand, and Bokhara, the most formidable chiefs of
Turkestan. The middle horde, the richest, is also the
largest, and its encampments occupy all the space between
the rivers Sara Sou, Irtish, and the Upper Ishim, Lake
Saisang and Lake Aksakal. The greater horde, occupying
the countries situated to the east of the middle one,
extends as far as the governments of Omsk and Tobolsk.
Therefore, if the Kirghiz population should rise, it would be
the rebellion of Asiatic Russia, and the first thing would
be the separation of Siberia, to the east of the Yenisei.

It is true that these Kirghiz, mere novices in the art of
war, are rather nocturnal thieves and plunderers of cara-
vans than regular soldiers. As M. Levchine says, “a firm
front or a square of good infantry could repel ten times the
number of Kirghiz; and a single cannon might destroy a
frightful number.”

That may~be; but to do this it is necessary for the
square of good infantry to reach the rebellious country,
and the cannon to leave the arsenals of the Russian
provinces, perhaps two or three thousand versts distant.
Now, except by the direct .route from Ekaterenburg to
Irkutsk, the often. marshy steppes are not easily prac-
ticable, and some’ weeks must certainly pass before the



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RUSSIANS AND TARTARS. 19

Russian troops could be in a position to subdue the Tartar
hordes.

Omsk is the centre of that military organization of
Western Siberia which is intended to overawe the Kirghiz
population. Here are the bounds, more than once in-
fringed by the half-subdued nomads, and there was every
reason to believe that Omsk was already in danger. The
line of military stations, that is to say, those Cossack posts
which are ranged in echelon from Omsk to Semipolatinsk,
must have been broken in several places. Now, it was
to be feared that the “Grand Sultans,’ who govern: the
Kirghiz districts would either voluntarily accept, or invol-
untarily submit to, the dominion of Tartars, Mussulmen
like themselves, and that to the hate caused by the slavery
was not united the hate due to the antagonism of ihe
Greek and Mussulman religions. For some time, indeed,
the Tartars of Turkestan, and principally those from the
khanats of Bokhara, Khiva, Khokhand, and Koondooz,
endeavoured; by employing both force and persuasion, to
subdue the Kirghiz hordes to the Muscovite dominion.

A few words only with respect to these Tartars.

The Tartars belong more especially to two distinct
races, the Caucasian and Mongolian.

The Caucasian race, which, as Abel de Rémusat says,
“is regarded in Europe as the type of beauty in our
species, because all the nations in this part of the world
have sprung from it,” unites under the same denomination
the Turks and the natives of Persia.

The purely Mongolian race comprises the Mongols,
Manchoux, and Thibetans. .

The Tartars, who now threatened the Russian Empire,
belonged to the Caucasian race, and occupied Turkestan.
This immense country is divided into different states,
governed by Khans, and hence termed Khanats. The
principal khanats are those of Bokhara, Khokhand, Koon-
dooz, etc.

At this period, the most important and the most formi-
dable khanat was that of Bokhara. Russia had already



20 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



——___—

been several times at war with its chiefs, who, for their
own interests, had supported the independence of the
Kirghiz against the Muscovite dominion. The present
chief, Feofar-Khan, followed in the steps of his prede-
cessors.

The khanat of Bokhara extends from north to south,
between the thirty-seventh and forty-first parallels, and
from east to west between the sixty-first and sixty-sixth
degrees of longitude, that is to say, over a space of nearly
ten thousand square leagues.

This state has a population of two million five hundred
thousand inhabitants, an army of sixty thousand men,
trebled in time of war, and thirty thousand horsemen.
It is a rich country, with various animal, vegetable, and
mineral productions, and has been increased by the acces-
sion of the territories of Balkh, Aukoi, and Meitmaneh. It
possesses nineteen large towns. Bokhara, surrounded by a
wall measuring more than eight English miles, and flanked
with towers, a glorious city, made illustrious by Avicenna
and other learned men of the tenth century, is regarded as
the centre of Mussulman science, and ranks among the
most celebrated cities of Central Asia. Samarcand, which
contains the tomb of Tamerlane and the famous palace
where the blue stone is kept on which each new kahn must
seat himself on his accession, is defended by a very strong
citadel. Karschi, with its triple cordon, situated in an
oasis, surrounded by a marsh peopled with tortoises and
lizards, is almost impregnable. Is-chardjoui is defended
by a population of nearly twenty thousand souls.’ In
short, Katta-Kourgan, Nourata, Djizah, Paikande, Kara-
koul, Khouzar, etc., form a collection of towns of an almost
impregnable character. Protected by its mountains, and
jsolated by its steppes, the khanat of Bokhara is a most
formidable state; and Russia would need a large force to
subdue it.

The fierce and ambitious -Feofar now governed _ this
corner of Tartary. Relying on the other khans—prin-
cipally those of Khokhand and Koondooz, cruel and





RUSSIANS AND TARTARS. 21
rapacious warriors, all ready to join an enterprise so dear
to Tartar instincts—aided by the chiefs who ruled all the
hordes of Central Asia, he had placed himself at the head
of the rebellion of which Ivan Ogareff was the instigator.
This traitor, impelled by insane ambition as much as by
hate, had ordered the movement so as to intercept the
route to Siberia. Mad indeed he was, if he hoped to
attack the Muscovite Empire. Acting under his sugges-
tion, the Emir—which is the title taken by the khans of
Bokhara—had poured his hordes over the Russian frontier.
He invaded the government of Semipolatinsk, and the
Cossacks, who were only in small force there, had been
obliged to retire before him. He had advanced farther
than Lake Ballkhash, gaining over the Kirghiz population
in his way. Pillaging, ravaging, enrolling those who sub-
mitted, taking prisoners those who resisted, he marched
from one town to another, followed by those impedimenta
of Oriental sovereignty which may be called his household,
his wives and his slaves—all with the cool audacity of a
modern Ghengis-Khan. It was impossible to ascertain
where he now was; how far his soldiers bad marched
before the news of the rebellion reached Moscow ; or to
what part of Siberia the Russian troops had been forced
to retire. All communication was interrupted. Had the
wire between Kalyvan and Tomsk been cut by ‘Tartar
scouts, or had the Emir himself arrived at the Yeniseisk
provinces? Was all the lower part of Western Siberia in
a ferment? Had the rebellion already spread to the
eastern regions? No one could say. The only agent
which fears neither cold. nor heat, which can neither be
stopped by the rigours of winter nor the heat of summer,
and which flies with the rapidity of lightning—the electric
current—was prevented from traversing the steppes, and it
was no longer possible to warn the Grand Duke, shut up
in Irkutsk, of the danger threatening him from the treason
of Ivan Ogareff.

A courier only could supply the place of the interrupted
current. It would take this man some time to traverse the



22 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

five thousand two hundred versts between Moscow and
Irkutsk. To pass the ranks of the rebels and invaders he
must display almost superhuman courage and intelligence.
But with a clear head and a firm heart much can be done.

“ Shall I be able to find this head and heart ?” thought
the Czar,



( 23 )

CHAPTER III.
MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR.

THE door of the imperial cabinet was again opened and
General Kissoff was announced. :

“The courier?” inquired the Czar eagerly.

“ He is here, sire,” replied General Kissoff.

“Have you found a fitting man?”

“T will answer for him to your majesty.”

“ Has he been in the service of the Palace ?”

“Yes, sire.”

“You know him ?”

“Personally, and at various times he has fulfilled
difficult missions with success.”

“ Abroad ?”

“In Siberia itself.”

“Where does he come from ?”

“From Omsk. He is a Siberian.”

“ Has he coolness, intelligence, courage ?”

“Yes, sire ; he has all the qualities necessary to succeed,
even where others might possibly fail.”

“What is his age ?”

“Thirty.”

“Is he strong and vigorous ?”

“Sire, he can bear cold, hunger, thirst, fatigue, to the
very last extremities.”

“ He must have a frame of iron.”

“ Sire, he has.”



24 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“And a heart?”

“A heart of gold.”

“His name?”

“ Michael Strogoff.

“Ts he ready to set out?”

“He awaits your majesty’s orders in the guard-room.”

“ Let him come in,” said the Czar.

“In a few moments Michael Strogoff, the courier,
entered the imperial library.

Michael Strogoff was a tall, vigorous, broad-shouldered,
deep-chested man. His powerful head possessed the fine
features of the Caucasian race. His well-knit frame seemed
built for the performance of feats of strength. It would
have been a difficult task to move such a man against his
will, for when his feet were once planted on the ground, it
was as if they had taken root. As he doffed his Muscovite
cap, locks of ‘thick curly hair fell over his broad, massive
forehead. When his ordinarily pale face became at all
flushed, it arose solely from a more rapid action of the
heart, under the influence of a quicker circulation. His
eyes, of a deep blue, looked with clear, frank, firm gaze.
The slightly-contracted eyebrows indicated lofty heroism—
“the hero’s cool courage,” according to the definition of
the physiologist. He possessed a fine nose, with large
nostrils; and a well-shaped mouth, with the slightly-
projecting lips which denote a generous and noble heart.

Michael Strogoff had the temperament of the man of
action, who does not bite his nails or scratch his head in
doubt and indecision. Sparing of gestures as of words, he
always stood motionless like a soldier before his superior ;
but when he moved, his step showed a firmness, a freedom
of movement, which proved the confidence and vivacity of
his mind.

Michael Strogoff wore a handsome military uniform,
something resembling that of a light-cavalry officer in the
held—boots, spurs, half tightly-fitting trousers, brown
pelisse, trimmed with tur and ornamented with yellow
braid. On his breast ¢littered a cross and several medals.



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\

MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR. 25

Michael Strogoff belonged to the special corps of the
Czar’s couriers, ranking as an officer among those picked
men. His most discernible characteristic—particularly in
his walk, his face, in the whole man, and which the Czar
perceived at a glance—was, that he was “a fulfiller of
orders.” Hetherefore possessed one of the most serviceable
qualities in Russia—one which, as the celebrated novelist
Tourgueneff says, “will lead to the highest positions in the
Muscovite empire.”

In short, if any one could accomplish this journey from
Moscow to Irkutsk, across a rebellious country, surmount
obstacles, and brave perils of all sorts, Michael Strogoff was
the man.

A circumstance especially favourable to the success of
his plans was, that he was thoroughly acquainted with the
country which he was about to traverse, and understood its
different dialects—not only from having travelled there
before, but because he was of Siberian origin.

His father—old Peter Strogoff, dead ten years since—
inhabited the town of Omsk, situated in the government
of the same name; and his mother, Marfa Strogoff, lived

‘there still. There, amid the wild steppes of the provinces

of Omsk and Tobolsk, had the famous huntsman brought
up his son Michael to endure hardship. Peter Strogoff was
a huntsman by profession. Summer and winter—in the
burning heat, as well as when the cold was sometimes fifty
degrees below zero—he scoured the frozen plains, the
thickets of birch and larch, the pine forests ; setting traps ;
watching for small game with his gun, and for large game
with the spear or knife. The large game was nothing less
than the Siberian bear, a formidable and ferocious animal,
in size equalling its fellow of the frozen seas. Peter
Strogoff had killed more than thirty-nine bears—that is
to say, the fortieth had fallen under his blows; and,
according to Russian legends, most huntsmen who have
been lucky enough up to the thirty-ninth bear, have
succumbed to the fortieth.

Peter Strogoff had, however, passed the fatal number



26 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



without even a scratch. From that time, his son Michael,
aged eleven years, never failed to accompany him to the
hunt, carrying the ragatina, or spear, ready to come to the
aid of his father, who was armed only with the knife.
When he was fourteen, Michael Strogoff had killed his first
bear, quite alone—that was nothing ; but after stripping it
he dagged the gigantic animal's skin to his father’s house,
many versts distant, thus exhibiting remarkable strength in
a boy so young.

This style of life was of great benefit to him, and when
he arrived at manhood he could bear any amount of cold,
heat, hunger, thirst, or fatigue. Like the Yakout of the
northern countries, he was made of iron. He could go
four-and-twenty hours without eating, ten nights without
sleeping, and could make himself a shelter in the open
steppe where others would have been frozen to death.
Gifted with marvellous acuteness, guided by the instinct
of the Delaware of North America, over the white plain,
when every object is hidden in mist, or even in higher
latitudes, where the polar night is prolonged for many
days, he could find his way when others would have had
no idea whither to direct their steps. All his father’s
secrets were known to him. He had learnt to read almost
imperceptible signs—the forms of icicles, the appearance of
the small branches of trees, mists rising far away in the
horizon, vague sounds in the air, distant reports, the flight
of birds through the foggy atmosphere, a thousand circum-
stances which are so many words to those who can decipher
them. Moreover, tempered by snow like a Damascus blade
in the waters of Syria, he had a frame of iron, as General
Kissoff had said, and, what was no less true, a heart of
gold.

The only sentiment of love felt by Michael Strogoff was
that which he entertained for his mother, the aged Marfa,
who could never be induced to leave the house of the
Strogoffs, at Omsk, on the banks of the Irtish, where the
old huntsman and she had lived so long together. When
her son left her, he went away with a full heart, but promis-



MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR. 27
ing to come and see her whenever he could possibly do so ;
and this promise he had always religiously kept.

When Michael was twenty, it was decided that he
should enter the personal service of the Emperor of Russia,
in the corps of the couriers of the Czar. The hardy,
intelligent, zealous, well-conducted young Siberian first
distinguished himself especially, in a journey to the
Caucasus, through the midst of a difficult country, ravaged
by some restless successors of Schamyl; then later, in an
important mission to Petropolowski, in Kamtschatka, the
extreme limit of Asiatic Russia. During these long
journeys he displayed such marvellous coolness, pru-
dence, and courage, as to gain him the approbation and
protection of his chiefs, who rapidly advanced him in his
profession.

The furloughs which were his due after these distant
missions, although he might be separated from her by
thousands of versts, and winter had rendered the roads
almost impassable, he never failed to devote to his old
mother. Having been much employed in the south of the
empire, he had not seen old Marfa for three years—three
ages !—the first time in his life he had been so long absent
from her. Now, however, in a few days he would obtain
his furlough, and he had accordingly already made prepara-
tions for departure for Omsk, when the events which have
been related occurred. Michael Strogoff was therefore
introduced into the Czar’s presence in complete ignorance
of what the emperor expected from him.

The Czar fixed a penetrating look upon him without
uttering a word, whilst Michael stood perfectly motionless.

The Czar, apparently satisfied with his scrutiny, went
to his bureau, and, motioning to the chief of police to seat
himself, dictated in a low voice a letter of not more than a
few lines. |

The letter penned, the Czar re-read it attentively, then
signed it, preceding his name with the words “Ay¢ fo
sémou,” which, signifying “ So be it,” constitutes the decisive
formula of the Russian emperors.



28 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

The letter was then placed in an envelope, which was
sealed with the imperial arms.

The Czar, rising, told Michael Strogoff to draw near.

Michael advanced a few steps, and then stood motion-
less, ready to answer.

The Czar again looked him full in the face and their
eyes met. Then in an abrupt tone:

“Thy name?” he asked.

“ Michael Strogoff, sire.”

“Thy rank ?”

“Captain in the corps of couriers of the Czar.’

“Thou dost know Siberia ?”

“Tam a Siberian.”

“A native of ....?”

“Omsk, sire.”

“Hast thou relations there?”

“Ves, sire.”

“What relations ?”

“My old mother.”

The Czar suspended his questions for a moment. Then,
pointing to the letter which he held in his hand: .

“Here is a letter which I charge thee, Michael Strogoff,
to deliver into the hands of the “Grand Duke, and to no
other but him.”

‘“‘T will deliver it, sire.”

“The Grand Duke is at Irkutsk.”

“JT will go to Irkutsk.”

“ Thou wilt have to traverse a rebellious country, invaded
by Tartars, whose interest it will be to intercept this letter.”

“T will traverse it.”

“Above all, beware of the traitor, Ivan Ogareff, who
will perhaps meet thee on the way.”

“J will beware of him.”

“Wilt thou pass through Omsk ?”

“Sire, that is my route.”

“Tf thou dost see thy mother, there will be the risk of
being recognized. Thou must not see her!”

Michael Strogoff hesitated a moment.



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MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR. 29

“T will not see her,” said he.

“ Gwear to me that nothing will make thee acknowledge
who thou art, nor whither thou art going.”

“T swear it.”

“Michael Strogoff,’ continued the Czar, giving the letter
to the young courier, “take this letter; on it depends the
safety of all Siberia, and perhaps the life of my brother the
Grand Duke.” |

“This letter shall be delivered to his Highness the
Grand Duke.”

“Then thou wilt pass whatever happens?”

“JT shall pass, or they shall kill me.”

“T want thee to live.”

“T shall live, and I shall pass,’ answered Michael
Strogoff.

The Czar appeared satisfied with Strogoff’s calm and
simple answer.

“ “Go then, Michael Strogoff,” said he, “go for God, for
Russia, for my brother, and for myself!”

The courier, having saluted his sovereign, immediately
left the imperial cabinet, and, in a few minutes, the New
Palace.

“You made a good choice there, General,” said the Czar,

“JT think so, sire,” replied General Kissoff; “and your
majesty may be sure that Michael Strogoff will do all that

2 man can do.”
“ fle is indeed a man,

v)

said the Czar.



30 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

CHAPTER IV.
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD.

THE distance between Moscow and Irkutsk, about to be
traversed by Michael Strogoff, was five thousand two
hundred versts. Before the telegraph wire extended from
the Ural Mountains to the eastern frontier of Siberia, the
despatch service was performed by couriers, those who
travelled the most rapidly taking eighteen days to get from
Moscow to Irkutsk. But this was the exception, and the
journey through Asiatic Russia usually occupied from four
to five weeks, even though every available means of trans-
port was placed at the disposal of the Czar’s messengers.

Michael Strogoff was a man who feared neither frost nor
snow. He would have preferred travelling during the severe
winter season, in order that he might perform the whole
distance by sleighs. At that period of the year the diffi-
culties which all other means of locomotion present are
greatly diminished, the wide steppes being levelled by snow.
while there are no rivers to cross, but simply sheets of glass,
over which the sleigh glides rapidly and easily.

Perhaps certain natural phenomena are most to be feared
at that time, such as long-continuing and dense fogs, exces.
sive cold, fearfully heavy snow-storms, which sometimes
envelop whole caravans and cause their destruction. Hungry
wolves also roam over the plain in thousands. But it would
have been better for Michael Strogoff to face these risks;
for during the winter the Tartar invaders would have been



FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. 31



stationed in the towns, their marauding bands would not be
overrunning the steppes, any movement of the troops would
have been impracticable, and he could consequently have
more easily performed his journey. But it was not in his
power to choose either his own weather or his own time.
Whatever were the circumstances, he must accept them and
set out.

Such were the difficulties which Michael Strogoff boldly
confronted and prepared to encounter.

In the first place, he must not travel as a courier of the
Czar usually would. No one must even suspect what he
really was. Spies swarm in a rebellious country; let him
be recognized, and his mission would be in danger. Also,
while supplying him with a large sum of money, which was
sufficient for his journey, and would facilitate it in some
measure, General Kissoff had not given him any document
notifying that he was on the Emperor’s service, which is the
Sesame par excellence. He contented himself with furnish-
ing him with a “ podorojna.”

This podorojna was made out in the name of Nicholas
Korpanoff, merchant, living at Irkutsk. It authorized
Nicholas Korpanoff to be accompanied if requisite by one
or more persons, and, moreover, it was, by special notifica-
tion, made available in the event of the Muscovite govern-
ment forbidding natives of any other countries to leave
Russia.

The podorojna is simply a permission to take post-
horses ; but Michael Strogoff was not to use it unless he
was sure that by so doing he would not excite suspicion
as to his mission, that is to say, whilst he was on European
territory. The consequence was that in Siberia, whilst
traversing the insurgent provinces, he would have no
power over the relays, either in the choice of horses in
preference to others, or in demanding conveyances for his
personal use; neither was Michael Strogoff to forget that
he was no longer a courier, but a plain merchant, Nicholas
Korpanoff, travelling from Moscow to Irkutsk, and, as such
exposed to all the impediments of an ordinary journey.



32 MICHAEL STROGOFF,

To pass unknown, more or less rapidly, but to pass
somehow or other, such were the directions he had
received.

Thirty years previously, the escort of a traveller of rank
consisted of not less than two hundred mounted Cossacks,
two hundred foot-soldiers, twenty-five Baskir horsemen,
three hundred camels, four hundred horses, twenty-five
waggons, two portable boats, and two pieces of cannon.
All this was requisite for a journey in Siberia.

Michael Strogoff, however, had neither cannon, nor
horsemen, nor foot-soldiers, nor beasts of burden. He
would travel in a carriage or on horseback, when he could ;
on foot, when he could not.

There would be no difficulty in getting over the first
fifteen hundred versts, the distance between Moscow and
the Russian frontier. Railroads, post-carriages, steam-
boats, relays of horses, were at every one’s disposal, and
consequently at the disposal of the courier of the Czar.

Accordingly, on the morning of the 16th of July,
having doffed his uniform, with a knapsack on his back,
dressed in the simple Russian costume—tightly-fitting tunic,
the traditional belt of the Moujik, wide trousers, gartered
at the knees, and high boots—Michael Strogoff arrived at
the station in time for the first train. He carried no arms,
openly at least, but under his belt was hidden a revolver
and in his pocket, one of those large knives, resembling
both a cutlass and a yataghan, with which a Siberian
hunter can so neatly disembowel a bear, without injuring
its precious fur.

A crowd of travellers had collected at the Moscow
station. The stations on the Russian railroads are much
used as places for meeting, not only by those who are
about to proceed by the train, but by friends who come to
see them off. It indeed resembles, from the variety of
characters assembled, a small news exchange.

The train in which Michael took his place was to set
him down at Nijni-Novgorod. There terminated, at that
time, the iron road which, uniting Moscow and St. Peters-





Michael Strogoff ensconced himself in his corner.

(Page 33)



FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. 33
burg, will eventually continue to the Russian frontier. It
was a journey of about four hundred versts, and the train
would accomplish it in ten hours. Once arrived at Nijni-
Novgorod, Strogoff would, according to circumstances,
either take the land route or the steamer on the Volga,
so as to reach the Ural mountains as soon as possible.

Michael Strogoff ensconced himself in his corner, like a
worthy citizen whose affairs go well with him, and who
endeavours to kill time by sleep.

Nevertheless, as he was not alone in his compartment,
he slept with one eye open, and listened with both his
ears.

In fact, rumour of the rising of the Kirghiz hordes, and
of the Tartar invasion had transpired in some degree.
The occupants of the carriage, whom chance had made his
travelling companions, discussed the subject, though with
that caution which has become habitual among Russians,
who know that spies are ever on the watch for any
treasonable expressions which may be uttered.

These travellers, as well as the larger number of persons
in the train, were merchants on their way to the celebrated
fair of Nijni-Novgorod ;—a very mixed assembly, composed
of Jews, Turks, Cossacks, Russians, Georgians, Kalmucks,
and others, but nearly all speaking the national tongue.

They discussed the pros and cons of the serious events
which were taking place beyond the Ural, and those
merchants seemed to fear lest the government should be
led to take certain restrictive measures, especially in the
provinces bordering on the frontier—measures from which
trade woud certainly suffer.

It must be confessed that those selfish individuals
thought only of the war, that is to say, the suppression of
the revolt and the struggle against the invasion, from the
single point of view of their threatened interests. The
presence of a private soldier, clad in his uniform—and the
importance of a uniform in Russia is great—would have
certainly been enough to restrain the merchants’ tongues.

But in the compartment occupied by Michael Strogoff,
D



34 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

there was no one who could even be suspected of being a
military rman, and the Czar’s courier was not the person to
betray himself. He listened, then.

“They say that caravan teas are up,’ remarked a
Persian, known by his cap of Astrakhan fur, and his ample
brown robe, worn threadbare by use.

“Oh, there’s no fear of teas falling,” answered an old
Jew of sullen aspect. “Those in the market at Nijni-
Novgorod will be easily cleared off by the West; but,
unfortunately, it won’t be the same with Bokhara carpets.”

“What! are you expecting goods from Bokhara?”
asked the Persian.

“No, but from Samarcand, and that is even more
exposed. The idea of reckoning on the exports of a
country in which the khans are ina state of revolt from
Khiva to the Chinese frontier!”

“Well,” replied the Persian, “if the carpets do not
arrive, the drafts will not arrive either, I suppose.”

“And the profits, Father Abraham!” exclaimed the
little Jew, “do you reckon them as nothing ?”

“You are right,’ said another traveller; “goods from
Central Asia run a great risk of falling in the market, and
it will be the same with the Samarcand carpets as with the
wools, tallow, and shawls from the East.”

“Why, look out, little father,” said a Russian traveller,
in a bantering tone ; “you'll grease your shawls terribly if
you mix them up with your tallow’’

“That amuses you,” sharply answered the merchant,
who had little relish for that sort of joke.

“Well, if you tear you hair, or throw ashes on your
head,” replied the traveller, “will that change the course
of events? No; no more than the course of the Exchange.”

“One can easily see that you are not a merchant,”
observed the little Jew.

“Faith, no, worthy son of Abraham! I sell neither
hops, nor eider-down, nor honey, nor wax, nor hemp-seed,
nor salt meat, nor caviare, nor wood, nor wool, nor ribbons,
nor hemp, nor flax, nor morocco, nor furs... .”



FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. 35

“But do you buy them?” asked the Persian, interrupt-
ing the traveller's list.

“As little as I can, and only for my own private use,”
answered the other, with a wink.

“ He’s a wag,” said the Jew to the Persian.

“Or a spy,” replied the other, lowering his voice. “ We
had better take care, and not speak more than necessary.
The police are not over-particular in these times, and you
never can know with whom you are travelling.”

In another corner of the compartment they were
speaking less of mercantile affairs, and more of the Tartar
invasion and its annoying consequences.

“ All the horses in Siberia will be requisitioned,” said
a traveller, “and communication between the different
provinces of Central Asia will become very difficult.”

“Ts it true,’ asked his neighbour, “that the Kirghiz of
the middle horde have made common cause with the
Tartars ?”

“So it is said,” answered the traveller, lowering his
voice ; “but who can flatter themselves that they know
anything really of what is going on in this country ?”

“T have heard speak of a concentration of troops on
the frontier. The Don Cossacks have already gathered
along the course of the Volga, and they are to be opposed
to the rebel Kirghiz.”

“Tf the Kirghiz descend the Irtish, the route to Irkutsk
will not be safe,” observed his neighbour. “ Besides, yester-
day I wanted to send a telegram to Krasnoiarsk, and it
could not be forwarded. It’s to be feared that before long
the Tartar columns will have isolated Eastern Siberia.”

“In short, little father,” continued the first speaker,
“these merchants have good reason for being uneasy
about their trade and transactions. After requisitioning
the horses, they will requisition the boats, carriages, every
means of transport, until the time will come when no one
will be allowed to take even one step throughout all the
empire.”

“T’m much afraid that the Nijni-Novgorod fair won’t



36 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

end 4s brilliantly as it has begun,” responded the other,
shaking his head. “But the safety and integrity of the
Russian territory before everything. Business is only
business.” :

If in this compartment the subject of conversation
varied but little—nor did it, indeed, in the other carriages
of the train—in all it might have been observed that the
talkers used much circumspection. When they did happen
to venture out of the region of facts, they never went so far
as to attempt to divine the intentions of the Muscovite
government, or even to criticise them.

This was especially remarked by a traveller in a carriage
at the front part of the train. ‘This person—evidently a
stranger—made good use of his eyes, and asked numberless
questions, to which he received only evasive answers.
Every minute leaning out of the window, which he would
keep down, to the great disgust of his fellow-travellers, he
lost nothing of the views to the right. He inquired the
names of the most insignificant places, their position, what
were their commerce, their manufactures, the number of
their inhabitants, the average mortality, etc., and all this
he wrote down in a note-book, already full of memoranda.

This was the correspondent Alcide Jolivet, and the
reason of his putting so many insignificant questions was,
that amongst the many answers he received, he hoped to
find some interesting fact “for his cousin.” But, naturally
enough, he was taken for a spy, and not a word treating of
the events of the day was uttered in his hearing.

Finding, therefore, that he could learn nothing in rela-
tion to the Tartar invasion, he wrote in his note-book:
“Travellers of great discretion. Very close as to political
matters.”

Whilst Alcide Jolivet noted down his impressions thus
minutely, his confrere, in the same train, travelling for the
same object, was devoting himself to the same work of
observation in another compartment. Neither of them
had seen each other that day at the Moscow station, and
they were each ignorant that the other had set out to visit



FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. 37

the scene of the war. Harry Blount, speaking little, but
listening much, had not inspired his companions with the
suspicions which Alcide Jolivet had aroused. He was not
taken for a spy, and therefore his neighbours, without con-
straint, gossiped in his presence, allowing themselves even
to go farther than their natural caution would in most cases
have allowed them. The correspondent of the Dazly
Telegraph had thus an opportunity of observing how
much recent events pre-occupied the party of merchants
who were on their way to Nijni-Novgorod, and to what a
degree the commerce with Central Asia was threatened in
its transit.

He therefore did not hesitate fo note in his book this
perfectly correct observation :

“My fellow-travellers extremely anxious. Nothing is
talked of but war, and they speak of it, with a freedom
which is astonishing, as’ having broken out between the
Volga and the Vistula.”

The readers of the Daily Telegraph would not fail to be
as well informed as Alcide Jolivet’ s “ cousin.’

And moreover, as Harry Blount, seated at the left of
the train, only saw one part of the country, which was hilly,
without giving himself the trouble of looking at the right
side, which was composed of wide plains, he added, with
British assurance :

“ Country mountainous between Moscow and Wladimir.”

It was evident that the Russian government purposed
taking severe measures to guard against any serious
eventualities even in the interior of the empire. The
rebellion had not crossed the Siberian frontier, but evil
influences might be feared in the Volga provinces, so near
to the country of the Kirghiz.

The police had as yet found no traces of Ivan Ogareff.
It was not known whether the traitor, calling in the
foreigner to avenge his personal rancour, had rejoined
Feofar-Khan, or whether he was endeavouring to foment
a revolt in the government of Nijni-Novgorod, which at
this time of year contained a population of such diverse



—_——

38 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

elements. Perhaps among the Persians, Armenians, or
Kalmucks, who flocked to the great market, he had agents,
instructed to provoke a rising in the interior. All this was
possible, especially in such a country as Russia. In fact,
this vast empire, of 4,740,000 square miles in extent, does
not possess the homogeneousness of the states of Western
Europe. Amongst the many nations of which it is com-
posed, there exist necessarily many shades. The Russian
territory in Europe, Asia, and America extends from the
fifteenth degree east longitude, to the hundred and thirty-
third degree west longitude, or an extent of nearly two
hundred degrees ; and from the thirty-eighth south parallel
to the eighty-first north parallel, or forty-three degrees. It
contains more than seventy millions of inhabitants. In
it thirty different languages are spoken. ‘The Sclavonian
race predominates, no doubt, but there are besides
Russians, Poles, Lithuanians, Courlanders. Add to these,
Finns, Laplanders, Esthonians, several other northern
tribes with unpronounceable names, the Permiaks, the
Germans, the Greeks, the Tartars, the Caucasian tribes,
the Mongol, Kaimuck, Samoid, Kamtschatkan, and Aleu-
tian hordes, and one may understand that the unity of
so vast a state must have been difficult to maintain, and
that it could only have been the work of time, aided by
the wisdom of many successive rulers.

Be that as it may, Ivan Ogareff had hitherto managed
to escape all search, and very probably he might have
rejoined the Tartar army. But at every station where the
train stopped, inspectors came forward who scrutinized the
travellers and subjected them all to a minute examination,
as, by order of the superintendent of police, these officials
were seeking Ivan Ogareff. The government, in fact,
believed it to be certain that the traitor had not yet been
able to quit European Russia. If there appeared cause to
suspect any traveller, he was carried off to explain himself
at the police station, and in the meantime the train went
on its way, no person troubling himself about the un-
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He was immediately taken of



FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. 39



With the Russian police, which is very arbitrary, it is
absolutely useless to argue. Military rank is conferred on
its employés, and they act in military fashion. How can
any one, moreover, help obeying, unhesitatingly, orders
which emanate from a monarch who has the right to
employ this formula at the head of his ukase :—“ We, by
the grace of God, Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias,
of Moscow, Kiev, Wladimir, and Novgorod, Czar of Kasan
and Astrakhan, Czar of Poland, Czar of Siberia, Czar of
the Tauric Chersonese, Seignior of Pskov, Prince of
Smolensk, Lithuania, Volkynia, Podolia, and Finland,
Prince of Esthonia, Livonia, Courland, and of Semigallia,
of Bialystok, Karelia, Sougria, Perm, Viatka, Bulgaria, and
many other countries; Lord and Sovereign Prince of the
territory of Nijni-Novgorod, Tchemigoff, Riazan, Polotsk,
Rostov, Jaroslavl, Bielozersk, Oudoria, Obdoria, Kondinia,
Vitepsk, and of Mstislaf, Governor of the Hyperborean
Regions, Lord of the countries of Iveria, Kartalinia, Grou-
zinia, Kabardinia, and Armenia, Hereditary Lord and
Suzerain of the Scherkess princes, of those of the mountains,
and of others ; heir of Norway, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein,
Stormarn, Dittmarsen, and Oldenburg.” A powerful lord,
in truth, is he whose arms are an eagle with two heads,
holding a sceptre and a globe, surrounded by the escutcheons
of Novgorod, Wladimir, Kiev, Kasan, Astrakhan, and of
Siberia, and environed by the collar of the order of St.
Andrew, surmounted by a royal crown!

As to Michael Strogoff, his papers were in order, and
he was, consequently, free from all police supervision.

At the station of Wladimir the train stopped for
several minutes, which appeared sufficient to enable the
correspondent of the Dazly Telegraph to take a twofold
view, physical and moral, and to form a complete estimate
of this ancient capital of Russia.

At the Wladimir station fresh travellers entered the
train. Among others, a young girl, presented herself at
the door of the compartment occupied by Michael Strogoff.

A vacant place was found opposite the courier of the



40 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



Czar. The young girl took it, after placing by her side
a modest travelling-bag of red leather, which seemed to
constitute all her luggage. Then seating herself with
downcast eyes, not even glancing at the fellow-travellers
whom chance had given her, she prepared for a journey
which was still to last several hours.

Michael Strogoff could not help looking attentively at
his newly-arrived fellow-traveller. As she was so placed
as to travel with her back to the engine, he even offered
her his seat, which she might prefer to her own, but she
thanked him with a slight bend of her graceful neck.

The young girl appeared to be about sixteen or seven-
teen years of age. Her head, truly charming, was of the
purest Sclavonic type—slightly severe, and which would,
when a few summers should have passed over her, unfold
into beauty rather than mere prettiness. From beneath a
sort of kerchief which she wore on her head escaped in
profusion light golden hair. Her eyes were brown, soft,
and expressive of much sweetness of temper. ‘The nose
was straight, and attached to her pale and somewhat thin
cheeks by delicately mobile nostrils. The lips were finely
cut, but it seemed as if they had long since forgotten how
to smile.

The young traveller was tall and upright, as far as
could be judged of her figure from. the very simple and
ample pelisse that covered her. Although she was still
a very young girl in the literal sense of the term, the
development of her high forehead and clearly-cut features
gave the idea that she was the possessor of great moral
energy—a point which did not escape Michael Strogoff.
Evidently this young girl had already suffered in the past,
and the future doubtless did not present itself to her in
elowing colours ; but it was none the less certain that she
had known how to struggle still with the trials of life. Her
energy was evidently both prompt and persistent, and her
calmness unalterable, even under circumstances in which

a man would be likely to give way or lose his self.
command.



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FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. Al

Such was the impression which she produced at first
sight. Michael Strogoff, being himself of an energetic
temperament, was naturally str uck by the character of her
physiognomy, and, while taking care not to cause her
annoyance by a too persistent gaze, he observed his neigh-
bour with no small interest. The costume of the young
traveller was both extremely simple and appropriate. She
was not rich—that could be easily seen; but not the
slightest mark of negligence was to be discerned in her
dress. All her luggage was contained in a leather bag
under lock and key, and which, for want of room, she held
on her lap.

She wore a long, dark pelisse, which was gracefully
adjusted at the neck by a blue tie. Under this pelisse,
a short skirt, also dark, fell over a robe which reached to
the ankles, and of which the lower edge was ornamented
with some simple embroidery. Half-boots of worked
leather, and thickly soled, as if chosen in the anticipation
of-a long journey, covered her small feet.

Michael Strogoff fancied that he recognized, by certain
details, the fashion of the costume of Livonia, and he
thought that his neighbour must be a native of the Baltic
provinces. | |

But whither was this young girl going, alone, at an age
when the fostering care of a father, or the protection of a
brother, are considered a matter of necessity? Had she
now come, after an already long journey, from the provinces
of Western Russia? Was she merely going to Nijni-Nov-
gorod, or was the end of her travels beyond the eastern
frontiers of the empire? Would some relation, some friend,
await her arrival by the train? Or was it not more
probable, on the contrary, that she would find herself as
much isolated in the town as she was in this compartment,
where no one—she must think—appeared to care for her?
[t was probable.

‘In fact, the effect of habits contracted in solitude was
clearly manifested in the bearing of the young girl. The
manner in which she entered the carriage and prepared



42 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



herself for the journey, the slight disturbance she caused
among those around her, the care she took not to incom-
mode or give trouble to any one, all showed that she was
accustomed to be alone, and to depend on herself only.

Michael Strogoff observed her with interest, but, himself
reserved, he sought no opportunity of accosting her, although
several hours must elapse before the arrival of the train at
Nijni-Novgorod.

Once only, when her neighbour—the merchant who had
jumbled together so imprudently in his remarks tallow and
shawls—being asleep, and threatening her with his great
head, which was swaying from one shoulder to the other,
Michael Strogoff awoke him somewhat roughly, and made
him understand that he must hold himself upright and ina
more convenient posture.

The merchant, rude enough by nature, grumbled some
words against “people who interfere with what does not
concern them,” but Michael Strogoff cast on him a glance
so stern that the sleeper leant on the opposite side, and
relieved the young traveller from his unpleasant vicinity.

The latter looked at the young man for an instant, and
mute and modest thanks were in that look.

But a circumstance occurred which gave Michael
Strogoff a just idea of the character of the maiden. Twelve
versts before arriving at the station of Nijni-Novgorod, at a
sharp curve of the iron way, the train experienced a very
violent shock. Then, for a minute, it ran on to the slope of
an embankment.

Travellers more or less shaken about, cries, confusion,
general disorder in the carriages—such was the effect at first
produced. It was to be feared that some serious accident
had happened. Consequently, even before the train had
stopped, the doors were opened, and the panic- stricken
passengers thought only of getting out of the carriages and
taking refuge on the line.

Michael Strogoff thought instantly of the young girl ;
but, while the passengers in her compartment were pre-
cipitating themselves outside, screaming and struggling, she



FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGORCD. 43



——-



had remained quietly in her piace, her face scarcely changed
by a slight pallor.

She waited—Michael Strogoff waited also.

She had not made any attempt to leave the carriage.
Nor did he move either.

Both remained quiet.

“A determined nature!” thought Michael Strogoff.

However, all danger had quickly disappeared. A
breakage of the coupling of the luggage-van had first
caused the shock to, and then the stoppage of, the train,
which in another instant would have been thrown from the
top of the embankment into a bog. There was an hour’s
delay. At last, the road being cleared, the train proceeded,
and. at half-past eight in the evening arrived at the station
of Nijni-Novgorod. |

Before any one could get out of the carriages, the
inspectors of police presented themselves at the doors and
examined the passengers.

- Michael Strogoff showed his podorojna, made out in the
name of Nicholas Korpanoff. He had consequently no
difficulty.

As to the other travellers in the compartment, all bound
for Nijni-Novgorod, their appearance, happily for them, was
in nowise suspicious.

The young girl in her turn, exhibited, not a passport,
since passports are no longer required in Russia, but a
permit indorsed with a private seal, and which seemed to
be of a special character. The inspector read the permit
with attention. Then, having attentively examined the
person whose description it contained ;

“You are from Riga?” he said.

“Yes,” replied the young girl.

“You are going to Irkutsk ?”

“Yes,”

“By what route?”

“By Perm.”

“Good!” replied the inspector. “Take care to have
your permit vzséd at the police station of Nijni-Novgorod.”



Al MICHAEL STROGOFF.
The young girl bent her head in token of assent.
Hearing these questions and replies, Michael Strogoff

experienced a mingled sentiment both of surprise and pity.

What! this young girl, alone, journeying to that far-off

Siberia, and at a time when, to its ordinary dangers, were

added all the perils of an invaded country and one in a state

of insurrection! How would she reach it? What would
become of her?

The inspection ended, the doors of the carriages were
then opened, but, before Michael Strogoff could move
towards her, the young Livonian, who had been the first to
descend, had disappeared in the crowd which thronged the
platforms of the railway station.





nh

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in



The Accident.





CHAPTER V.
TIE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS.

N1JNI-NOVGOROD, Lower Nevgorod, situate at the junction
of the Volga and the Oka, is the chief town in the district
of thesame name. It was here that Michael Strogoff was
obliged to leave the railway, which at the time did not go
beyond that town. Thus, as he advanced, his travelling
would become first less speedy and then less safe.

Nijni-Novgorod, the fixed population of which is only
from thirty to thirty-five thousand inhabitants, contained at
that time more than three hundred thousand; that is to
say, the population was increased tenfold. This addition
was in consequence of the celebrated fair, which was held
within the walls for three weeks. Formerly Makariew had
the benefit of this concourse of traders, but since 1817 the
fair had been removed to Nijni-Novgorod.

The town, dreary enough at most times, then presented
a truly animated scene. Six different races of merchants,
European and Asiatic, were fraternising under the congenial
influence of trade.

ven at the late hour at which Michael Strogoff left the
platform, there was still a large number of people in the two
towns, separated by the stream of the Volga, which compose
Nijni-Novgorod, and the highest of which is built on a steep
rock, and is detended by one of those forts called in Russia
“krenil.”



46 | MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Had Michael Strogoff been obliged to stay at Nijni-
Novgorod, he would have had some trouble in finding an
hotel, or even an inn, to suit him. In the meantime, as he
had not to start immediately, for he was going to take a
steamer, he was compelled to look out for some lodging ;
but, before doing so, he wished to know exactly the hour at
which the steamboat would start. He went to the office of
the company whose boats plied between Nijni-Novgorod
and Perm. There, to his great annoyance, he found that
the Caucasus—for that was the boat’s name—did not start
for Perm till the following day at twelve o'clock. Seventeen
hours to wait! It was very vexatious to a man so pressed
for time. However, he resigned himself to circumstances,
for he never senselessly murmured. Besides, the fact was
that no telegue or tarantass, berlin or postchaise, nor horse
could take him more quickly either to Perm or Kasan. It
would be better, then, to wait for the steamer, a mode of
conveyance far more rapid than any other, and which would
enable him to regain lost time.

Here, then, was Michael Strogoff strolling through the
town and quietly looking out for some inn in which to pass
the night. However, he troubled himself little on this score,
and, but that hunger pressed him, he would probably have
wandered on till morning in the streets of Nijni-Novgorod.
He was looking for supper rather thana bed. But he found
both at the sign of the City of Constantinople. There,
the landlord offered him a fairly comfortable room, with
little furniture, it is true, but which was not without an
image of the Virgin, and portraits of a few saints framed in
yellow gauze. !

A goose filled with sour stuffing swimming in thick
cream, barley bread, some curds, powdered sugar mixed
with cinnamon, and a jug of kwass, the ordinary Russian
beer, were placed before him, and sufficed to satisfy his
hunger. He did justice to the meal, which was more than
could be said of his neighbour at table, who, having, in his
character of “old believer” of the sect of Raskalniks, made
the vow of abstinence, rejected the potatoes on the dish in



THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS. 47
front of him, and carefully refrained from putting sugar in
his tea.

His supper finished, Michael Strogoff, instead of going
up to his bedroom, again strolled out into the town. But,
although the long twilight yet lingered, the crowd was
already dispersing, the streets were gradually becoming
empty, and at length every one retired to his dwelling.

Why did not Michael Strogoff go quietly to bed, as
would have seemed more reasonable after a long railway
journey? Was he thinking of the young Livonian girl
who had for so many hours been his travelling companion ?
Having nothing better to do, he was thinking of her. Did
he fear that, lost in this busy city, she might be exposed
to insult? He feared so, and with good reason. Did he
hope to meet her, and, if need were, to afford her protection?
No. To meet would be difficult. As to protection—what
right had he——

“ Alone,” he said to himself, “alone, in the midst of
these wandering tribes! And yet the present dangers
are nothing compared to those she must undergo. Siberia!
Irkutsk! Iam about to dare all risks for Russia, for the
Czar, while she is about to do so—For whom ? For what?
She is authorized to cross the frontier! And the country
beyond is in revolt! The steppes are full of Tartar bands!”

Michael Strogoff stopped for an instant, and reflected.

“Without doubt,” thought he, “she must have deter-
mined on undertaking her journey before the invasion.
Perhaps she is even now ignorant of what is happening.
But no; that cannot be, for the merchants discussed before
her the disturbances in Siberia—and she did not seem
surprised. She did not even ask for an explanation. She
must have known it then, and, though knowing it, she is
still resolute. Poor girl! Her motive for the journey
must be urgent indeed! But though she may be brave—
and she certainly is so—her strength must fail her, and, to
say nothing of dangers and obstacles, she will be unable
to endure the fatigue of-such a journey. Never can she
pass Irkutsk !”



48 . MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Indulging in such reflections, Michael Strogoff wandered
on as chance led him; but, being well acquainted with the
town, he knew that he could, without difficulty, retrace his
steps.

Having strolled on for about an hour, he seated
himself on a bench against the wall of a large wooden
cottage, which stood, with many others, on a vast open
space.

He had scarcely been there five minutes when a hand
was laid heavily on his shoulder.

“What are you doing here?” roughly demanded a tall
and powerful man, who had approached unperceived.

“Tam resting,’ replied Michael Strogoff.

“Do you mean to stay all night on the bench?” asked
the man.

“Yes, if I feel inclined to do so,’ answered Michael
Strogoff, in a tone somewhat too sharp for the simple
merchant he wished to personate.

“Come forward, then, that I may see you,” said the
man.

Michael Strogoff, remembering that, above all things,
prudence was necessary, instinctively drew back.

“Tt*is not necessary,” he replied ; and he calmly stepped
back ten paces or so.

The man seemed, as Michael observed him well, to
have the look of a Bohemian, such as are met at fairs, and
with whom contact, either physical or moral, is unpleasant.
Then, as he looked more attentively through the dusk
which was coming on, he perceived, near the cottage, a
large caravan, the usual travelling dwelling of the Zingaris
or gipsies, who swarm in Russia wherever a few copecks
can be obtained.

As the gipsy took two or three steps forward, and was
about to interrogate Michael Strogoff more closely, the
door of the cottage was opened. He could just see a
woman, who advanced quickly, and in a language which
Michael Strogoff knew to be a mixture of the Mongol and
Siberian :



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PANT (HH I R

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‘© What are you doing here?”



(Page 48.)



THE ‘TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS. 49

“ Another spy!” she said. “Let him alone, and come
to supper. The ‘ papluka’* is waiting for you.”

Michael Strogoff could not help smiling at the epithet
bestowed on him, dreading spies as he did above all things.

But in the same dialect, although his accent was very
different, the Bohemian replied in words which signify :

“You are right, Sangarre! Besides, we start to-morrow.”

“To-morrow?” repeated the woman in a tone of
surprise.

“Yes, Sangarre,” replied the Bohemian ; “to-morrow,
and the Father himself sends us—where we are going!”

Theréupon the man and woman entered the cottage,
and carefully closed the door.

“Good!” said Michael Strogoff, to himself; “if these
gipsies do not wish to be understood when they speak
before me, they had better use some other language.”

From his Siberian origin, and because he had passed
his childhood in the Steppes, Michael Strogoff, it has been
said, understood almost all the languages in usage from
Tartary to the Sea of Ice. As to.the exact signification
of the words exchanged between the gipsy and his com-
panion, he did not trouble his head. For why should it
interest him ? :

It was already late when he thought of returning to his
inn to take some repose. He followed, as he did so, the
course of the Volga, whose waters were almost hidden
under the countless number of boats floating on its bosom.

By the direction of the river he knew the spot which he
had just left. This collection of caravans and cottages
occupied the great square in which was held, year by year,
the principal market of Nijni-Novgorod, and this explained
the assemblage in the square of these mountebanks and
gipsies from all quarters of the world.

An hour after, Michael Strogoff was sleeping soundly
on one of those Russian beds which always seem so hard
to strangers, and on the morrow, the 17th of July, he awoke
at break of day.

*A kind of light cake.



50 MICHAEL STROGOFF. ~

He had still five hours to pass in Nijni-Novgorod ; it
seemed to.him an age. How was he to spend the morning
unless in wandering, as he had done the evening before,
through the streets? By the time he had finished his
breakfast, strapped up his bag, had his podorojna inspected
at the police office, he would have nothing to do but start.
But he was not a man to lie in bed after the sun had risen ;
so he rose, dressed himself, placed the letter with the
imperial arms on it carefully at the bottom of its usual
pocket within the lining of his coat, over which he fastened
his belt; he then closed his bag and threw it over his
shoulder. This done, he had no wish to return to the
City of Constantinople, and intending to breakfast on
the bank of the Volga near the wharf, he settled his bill
and left the inn. By way of precaution, Michael Strogofi
went first to the office of the steam-packet company, and
there made sure that the Caucasus would start at the
appointed hour. As he did so, the thought for the first
time struck him that, since the young Livonian girl was
going to Perm, it was very possible that her intention was
also to embark in the Caucasus, in which case he should
accompany her.

The town above with its kremlin, whose circumference
measures two versts, and which resembles that of Moscow,
was altogether abandoned. Even the governor did not
reside there. But if the town above was like a city of the
dead, the town below, at all events, was alive.

Michael Strogoff, having crossed the Volga on a bridge
of boats, guarded by mounted Cossacks, reached the square
where the evening before he had fallen in with the gipsy
camp. This was somewhat outside the town, where the
fair of Nijni-Novgorod was held, with which that of Leipzig
itself is not to be compared. In avast plain beyond the
Volga rose the temporary palace of the governor-general,
where by imperial orders that great functionary resided
during the whole of the fair, which, thanks to the people
who composed it, required an ever-watchful surveillance.

This plain was now covered with booths symmetrically



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The moving mass of human beings surging here and there.
(/age 51-)



THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS. 51

arranged in such a manner as to leave avenues broad
enough to allow the crowd to pass without a crush.

Each group of these booths, of all sizes and shapes,
formed a separate quarter particularly dedicated to some
special branch of commerce. There was the iron quarter,
the furriers’ quarter, the woollen quarter, the quarter of the
wood merchants, the weavers’ quarter, the dried fish
quarter, etc. Some booths were even built of fancy
materials, some of bricks of tea, others of masses of salt
meat—that is to say, of samples of the goods which the
owners thus announced were there to the purchasers—a
singular, and somewhat American, mode of advertisement.

In the avenues and long alleys there was already a
large assemblage of people—the sun, which had risen at
four o’clock, being well above the horizon— Russians, Sibe-
rians, Germans, Cossacks, Turcomans, Persians, Georgians,
Greeks, Turks, Hindoos, Chinese, an extraordinary mix-
ture of Europeans and Asiatics, talking, wrangling,
haranguing, and bargaining. Everything which can be
bought or sold seemed to be heaped up in this square.
Porters, horses, camels, asses, boats, caravans, every
description of conveyance that would serve for the trans-
port of merchandise had been accumulated on the fair-
ground. Furs, precious stones, silks, Cashmere shawls,
Turkey carpets, weapons from the Caucasus, gauzes from
Smyrna and Ispahan, Tiflis armour, caravan teas, European
bronzes, Swiss clocks, velvets and silks from Lyons,
English cottons, harness, fruits, vegetables, minerals from
the Ural, malachite, lapis-lazuli, spices, perfumes, medicinal
herbs, wood, tar, rope, horn, pumpkins, water-melons, etc.
—all the products of India, China, Persia, from the shores of
the Caspian and the Black Sea, from America and Europe,
were united at this corner of the globe.

It is scarcely possible truly to portray the moving mass
of human beings surging here and there, the excitement,
the confusion, the hubbub ; demonstrative as were the
natives and the inferior classes, they were completely out-
done by their visitors. There were merchants from Central



52 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



Asia, who had occupied a year in escorting their merchan-
dise across its vast plains, and who would not again see
their shops and counting-houses for another year to come.
In short, of such importance is this fair of Nijni-Novgorod,
that the sum total of its transactions amounts yearly to not
less than a hundred million roubles.* .

On one of the open spaces between the quarters of this
temporary city were numbers of mountebanks of every
description ; harlequins and acrobats, deafening the visitors
with the noise of their instruments and their vociferous
cries; gipsies from the mountains, telling fortunes to the
credulous fools who are ever to be found in such assem-
blies; Zingaris or Tsiganes—a name which the Russians
give to the gipsies who are the descendants of the ancient
Copts—singing their wildest melodies and dancing their
most original dances; comedians of foreign theatres, act-
ing Shakespeare, adapted to the taste of spectators who
crowded to witness them. In the long avenues the bear
showmen accompanied their four-footed dancers, mena-
geries resounded with the hoarse cries of animals under the
influence of the stinging whip or red-hot irons of the
tamer ; and, besides all these numberless performers, in the
middle of the central square, surrounded by a circle four
deep of enthusiastic amateurs, was a band of “ mariners of
the Volga,” sitting on the ground, as on the deck of their-
vessel, imitating the action of rowing, guided by the stick
of the master of the orchestra, the veritable helmsman of
this imaginary vessel !

A. whimsical and pleasing custom !

Suddenly, according to a time-honoured observance in
the fair of Nijni- Novgorod, above the heads of the vast con-
course a flock of birds was allowed to escape from the cages
in which they had been brought to the spot. In return
for a few copecks charitably offered by some good people,
the bird-fanciers opened the prison doors of their captives,
who flew out in hundreds, uttering their joyous notes.



# About 415,720,000 sterling.



——--

THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS. 53

It should here be mentioned that England and France,
at all events, were this year represented at the great fair of
Nijni-Novgorod by two of the most distinguished products
of modern civilisation, Messrs. Harry Blount and Alcide
Jolivet.

Alcide Jolivet, an optimist by nature, seemed to find
everything agreeable, and as by chance both lodging and
food were to his taste, he jotted down in his book some
memoranda particularly favourable to the town of Nijni-
Novgorod.

Harry Blount, on the contrary, having in vain hunted
for a supper, had been obliged to find a resting-place in
the open air. He therefore looked at it all from another
point of view, and was preparing an article of the most
withering character against a town in which the landlords
of the inns refused to receive travellers who only begged
leave to be flayed, “ morally and physically.”

Michael Strogoff, one hand in his pocket, the other
holding his cherry-stemmed pipe, appeared the most in-
different and least impatient of men; yet, from a certain
contraction of his eyebrows every now and then, a careful
observer would have perceived that he was burning to be off.

For about.two hours he had been walking about the
streets, only to find himself invariably at the fair again.
As he passed among the groups of buyers and sellers he
discovered that those who came from countries on the
confines of Asia manifested great uneasiness. Their trade
was visibly suffering from it.

Another symptom also was to be remarked. In Russia
military uniforms appear on every occasion. Soldiers are
wont to mix freely with the crowd, the police agents being
almost invariably aided by a number of Cossacks, who,
lance on shoulder, keep order in the crowd of three hundred
thousand strangers.

But on this occasion the soldiers, Cossacks and the rest,
did not put in an appearance at the great market. Doubt-
less, a sudden order to move having been foreseen, they
were restricted to their barracks. .



54. MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Nevertheless, though no soldiers were to be seen, it was
not so with their officers. Since the evening before, aides-
de-camp, leaving the governor's palace, galloped in every
direction. An unusual movement was going forward which
a serious state of affairs could alone account for. There
were innumerable couriers on the roads both to Wladimir
and to the Ural Mountains. ‘The exchange of telegraphic
despatches between Moscow and St. Petersburg was
incessant.

Michael Strogoff found himself in the central square
when the report spread that the head of police had been
summoned by a courier to the palace of the governor-
general. An important despatch from Moscow, it was
said, was the cause of it.

“The fair is to be closed,” said one.

“The regiment of Nijni-Novgorod has received the
route,’ declared another.

“They say that the Tartars menace Tomsk!”

“Here is the head of police!”” was shouted on every
side.

A loud clapping of hands was suddenly raised, which
subsided by degrees, and finally was succeeded by absolute
silence. The head of police arrived in the middle of the
central square, and it was seen by all that he held in his
hand a despatch.

Then, in a loud voice, he read the following announce-
ments :-—

“ By order of the Governor of Nijni-Novgorod.

“jst. All Russian subjects are forbidden to quit the
province upon any pretext whatsoever.

“2nd. All strangers of Asiatic origin are commanded to
leave the province within twenty-four hours.”



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Then in a loud voice he read . . . .
(Page 54.)



( 55 )

CHAPTER VI.
BROTHER AND SISTER.

HOWEVER disastrous these measures might, prove to
private interests, they were, under the ciftcumstances,
perfectly justifiable.

- “All Russian subjects are forbidden to leave the
province ;” if Ivan Ogareff was still in the province, this
would at any rate prevent him, unless with the greatest
difficulty, from rejoining Feofar-Khan, and becoming a
very formidable lieutenant to the Tartar chief.

“All foreigners of Asiatic origin are ordered to leave
the province in four-and-twenty hours ;” this would send
off in a body all the traders from Central Asia, as well as
the bands of Bohemians, gipsies, etc., having more or less
sympathy with the Tartar or Mongolian populations, and
which had been collected together at the fair. So many
heads, so many spies—undoubtedly the state of affairs
required their expulsion.

It is easy to understand the effect produced by these
two thunder-claps bursting over a town like Nijni-
Novgorod, so densely crowded with visitors, and of which
the commerce so greatly surpassed that of all other places
in Russia. The natives, therefore, whom business called
beyond the Siberian frontier could not leave the province
for a time at least. The tenor of the first article of the
order was express; it admitted of no exception. All



56 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

private interests must yield to the public weal. As to the
second article of the proclamation, the order of expulsion
which it contained admitted of no evasion either. It only
concerned foreigners of Asiatic origin, but these could do
nothing but pack up their merchandise and go back the
way they came. As to the mountebanks, of which there
were a considerable number, and who had nearly a
thousand versts to go before they could reach the nearest
frontier, for them it was simply misery.

At first there rose against this unusual measure a
murmur of protestation, a cry of despair, but this was
quickly suppressed by the presence of the Cossacks and
agents of police.

Immediately, what might be called the exodus from the
immense plain began. ‘The awnings in front of the stalls
were folded up; the theatres were taken to pieces; the
song and the dance ceased; the shows were silent; the
fires were put out; the acrobats’ ropes were lowered ; the
old broken-winded horses of the travelling vans came back
from their sheds. Agents and soldiers with whip or stick
stimulated the tardy ones, and made nothing of pulling
down the tents even before the poor Bohemians had left
them. . |

Under these energetic measures the square of Nijni-
Novgorod would, it was evident, be entirely evacuated
before the evening, and to the tumult of the great fair
would succeed the silence of the desert.

It must again be repeated—for it was a necessary
aggravation of these severe measures—ihat to all those
nomads chiefly concerned in the order of expulsion even
the steppes of Siberia were forbidden, and they would be
obliged to hasten to the south of the Caspian Sea, either to
Persia, Turkey, or the plains of Turkestan. The post of
the Ural, and the mountains which form, as it were a
prolongation of the river along the Russian frontier, they
were not allowed to pass. They were therefore under the
necessity of travelling a thousand versts before they could
tread a free soil.



BROTHER AND SISTER, _ 57



Just as the reading of the proclamation by the head of
the police came to an end, an idea darted instinctively into
the mind of Michael Strogoff.

“What a singular coincidence,” thought he, “ between
this proclamation expelling all foreigners of Asiatic origin,
and the words exchanged last evening between those two
gipsies of the Zingari race. ‘The Father himself sends us
where we wish to go, that old man said. But ‘the Father’
is the emperor! He is never called anything else among
the people. How could those gipsies have foreseen the
measure taken against them? how could they have known
it beforehand, and where do they wish to go? Those are
suspicious people, and it seems to me that to them the
government proclamation must be more useful than
injurious.”

But these reflections, though certainly correct, were
completely dispelled by another which drove every other
thought out of Michael’s mind. He forgot the Zin-
garis, their suspicious words, the strange coincidence which
resulted from the proclamation. . . . The remembrance of
the young Livonian girl suddenly rushed into his mind.

“Poor child!” he thought to himself. “She cannot
now cross the frontier.”

In truth the young girl was from Riga; she was
Livonian, consequently Russian, and now could not leave
Russian territory! The permit which had been given her
before the new measures had been promulgated was
evidently no longer available. All the routes to Siberia
had just been pitilessly closed to her, and, whatever was
the motive which was taking her to Irkutsk, she was now
forbidden to go there.

This thought greatly occupied Michael Strogoff. He
said to himself, vaguely at first, that, without neglecting
anything of what was due to his important mission, it
would perhaps be possible for him to be of some use to this
brave girl; and this idea pleased him. Knowing how
serious were the dangers which he, an energetic and
vigorous man, would have personally to encounter through



58 - MICHAEL STROGOFF. -

a country of which however the roads were familiar, he
could not conceal from himself how infinitely greater they
would prove to a young unprotected girl. As she was
going to Irkutsk, she would be obliged to follow the same
road as himself, she would have to pass through the bands
of invaders, as he was about to attempt doing himself. If,
moreover, and according to all probability, she had at her
disposal only the resources necessary for a journey taken
under ordinary circumstances, how could she manage to
accomplish it under conditions which late events would
render not only perilous but expensive ?

“Well,” said he, “if she takes the route to Perm, it is
nearly impossible but that I shall fall in with her. Then, IJ
will watch over her without her suspecting it; and as she
appears to me as anxious as myself to reach Irkutsk, she
will cause me no delay.”

But one thought leads to another. Michael Strogoff
had till now reasoned on the supposition of doing a kind
action, of rendering a service; but now another idea
flashed into his brain, and the question presented itself
under quite a new aspect.

“The fact is,’ said he to himself, “that I have much
more need of her than she can have of me. Her presence
will be useful in drawing off suspicion from me. A man
travelling alone across the steppe, may be easily guessed to
be a courier of the Czar. If, on the contrary, this young
gir] accompanies me, I shall appear, in the eyes of all, the
Nicholas Korpanoff of my podorojua. Therefore, she must
accompany me. Therefore, ] must find her again at any
cost. It is not probable that since yesterday evening she
has been able to get a carriage and leave Nijni-Novgorod.
I must look for her. And may God guide me!”

Michael left the great square of Nijni-Novgorod, where
the tumult produced by the carrying out of the prescribed
measures had now reached its height. Recriminations
from the banished strangers, shouts from the agents and
Cossacks who were using them so brutally, together made
an indescribable uproar. The girl for whom he searched



We

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Pad
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a aN

vay
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Then fallen, rather than seated, on a bench . . .
(Puge CG.)



BROTHER AND SISTER. 59

could not be there. It was nownine o'clock in the morning,
The steamboat did not start till twelve. Michael Strogoff
had therefore nearly two hours to employ in searching for
her whom he wished to make his travelling companion.

He crossed the Volga again and hunted through the
quarters on the other side, where the crowd was much less
considerable. He visited every road, both in the high and
low towns. He entered the churches, the natural refuge
for all who weep, for all who suffer. Nowhere did he meet
with the young Livonian.

“And yet,’ he repeated, “she could not have left
Nijni-Novgorod yet. We'll have another look.”

- Michael wandered about thus for two hours. He went
on without stopping, feeling no fatigue, but obeying the
potent instinct which allowed him no room for thought.
All was in vain.

It then occurred to him that perhaps the girl had not
fieard of the order—though this was improbable enough,
for such a thunder-clap could not have burst without being
heard by all. Evidently interested in knowing the smallest
news from Siberia, how could she be ignorant of the
measures taken by the governor, measures which concerned
her so directly ?

But, if she was ignorant of it, she would come in an
hour to the quay, and there some merciless agent would
brutally refuse her a passage! At any cost, he must see
her beforehand, and do what he could to enable her to avoid
such a repulse.

But all his endeavours were in vin, and he at length
almost despaired of finding her again.

It was now eleven-o’clock, and Michael, though under
any other circumstances it would have been useless, thought
of presenting his podorojna at the office of the head of
police. The proclamation evidently did not concern him,
since the emergency had been foreseen for him, but he
wished to make sure that nothing would hinder his de-
parture from the town.

Michael then returned to the other side of the Volga,



60 MICHAEL STROGOFF,



to the quarter in which was the office of the head of
police.

An immense crowd was collected there ; for though all
foreigners were ordered to quit the province, they had
notwithstanding to go through certain forms before they
could depart.

Without this precaution, some Russian more or less
implicated in the Tartar movement would have been able,
in a disguise, to pass the frontier—just those whom the
order wished to prevent going. ‘The strangers were sent
away, but still had to gain permission to go.

Mountebanks, gipsies, Tsignanes, Zingaris, mingled
with merchants from Persia, Turkey, India, Turkestan,
China, filled the court and offices of the police station:

Every one was in a hurry, for the means of transport
would be much sought after among this crowd of banished
people, and those who did not set about it soon ran a
great risk of not being able to leave the town in the pre-
scribed time, which would expose them to some brutal
treatment from the governor's agents.

Owing to the strength of his elbows Michael Strogoff
was able to cross the court. But to get into the office and
un to the clerk’s little window was a much more difficult
business. However, a word into an inspector’s ear and a
few judiciously given roubles were powerful enough to gain
him a passage.

The man, after taking him into the waiting-room, went
to call an upper clerk.

Michael Strogoff would not be long in making every-
thing right with the police and being free in his move-
ments.

Whilst waiting, he looked about him, and what did he
see? There, fallen, rather than seated, on a bench, was
a girl, prey to a silent despair, although her face could
scarcely be seen, the profile alone being visible against
the wall. | |

Michael Strogoff could not be mistaken. He instantly
recognised the young Livonian.



BROTHER AND SISTER. 61

Not knowing the governor’s orders, she had come to
the police office to get her pass signed. ... They had
refused to sign it. No doubt she was authorized to go to
Irkutsk, but the order was peremptory—it annulled all
previous authorizations, and the routes to Siberia were
ciosed to her.

Michael, delighted at having found her again, ap-
proached the girl.

She looked up for a moment and her face brightened
on recognizing her travelling companion, She instinctively
rose, and, like a drowning man who clutches at a spar,
she was about to ask his help. ...At that moment the
agent touched Michael on the shoulder.

“The head of police will see you,” he said.

“Good,” returned Michael. And without saying a
word to her for whom he had been searching all day,
without reassuring her by even a gesture, which might
cempromise eithcr her or himself, he followed the man
through the crowd. |

The young Livonian, seeing the only being to whom
she could look for help disappear, fell back again on her
bench. |

Three minutes had not passed before Michael Storgoff
reappeared, accompanied by the agent. In his hand he
held his podorojna, which threw open the roads to Siberia
for him. He again approached the young Livonian, and
holding out his hand :

“ Sister,’ said he.

She understood. She rose as if some sudden inspiration
prevented her from hesitating a moment. |

“ Sister,” repeated Michael Strogoff, “ we are authorized
to continue our journey to Irkutsk. Will you come ?”

“JT will follow you, brother,” replied the girl, putting
her hand into that of Michael Strogoff. And together
they left the police station,



62 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



CHAPTER VIL.
GOING DOWN THE VOLGA.

A LITTLE before mid-day, the steamboat’s bell drew to
the wharf on the Volga an unusually large concourse of
people, for not only were those about to embark who had
intended to go, but the many who were compelled to go
contrary to their wishes. The boilers of the Caucasus
were under full pressure; a slight smoke issued from its
chimney, whilst the end of the escape-pipe and the lids of
the valves were crowned with white vapour. It is needless
to say that the police kept a close watch over the departure
of the Caucasus, and showed themselves pitiless to those
travellers who did not satisfactorily answer their questions.

Numerous Cossacks came and went on the quay, ready
to assist the agents, but they had not to interfere, as no
one ventured to offer the slightest resistance to their orders.
Exactly at the hour the last clang of the bell sounded, the
warps were cast off, the powerful wheels of the steamboat
began to beat the water, and the Caucasus passed rapidly
between the two towns of which Nijni-Novgorod is
composed.

Michael Strogoff and the young Livonian had taken a
passage on board the Caucasus. Their embarkation was
made without any difficulty. As is known, the podorojua,
drawn up in the name of Nicholas Korpanoff, authorized
this merchant to be accompanied on his journey to Siberia.



GOING DOWN THE VOLGA. 63



They appeared, therefore, to be a brother and sister travel-
ling under the protection of the imperial police. Both, seated
together at the stern, gazed at the receding town, so dis-
turbed by the governor's order. Michael had as yet said
nothing to the girl, he had not even questioned her. He
waited until she should speak to him, when that was
necessary. She had been anxious to leave that town,
in which, but for the providential intervention of this
unexpected protector, she would have remained imprisoned.
She said nothing, but her looks spoke her thanks.

The Volga, the Rha of the ancients, is considered to be
the largest river in all Europe, and is not less than four
thousand versts in length. Its waters, rather unwholesome
in its upper part, are improved at Nijni-Novgorod by those
of the Oka, a rapid affluent, issuing from the central pro-
vinces of Russia.

The system of Russian canals and rivers has been justly
compared to a gigantic tree whose branches spread over
every part of the empire. The Volga forms the trunk of
this tree, and it has for roots seventy mouths opening into
the Caspian Sea. It is navigable as far as Rjef, a town in
the government of Tver, that is, along the greater part of
its course. :

The: steamboats plying between Perm and Nijni-
Novgorod rapidly perform the three hundred and _ fifty
versts which separate this town from the town of Kasan.
It is true that these boats have only to descend the Volga,
which adds nearly two miles of current per hour to their
own speed ; but on arriving at the confluence of the Kama,
a little below Kasan, they are obliged to quit the Volga for
the smaller river, up which they ascend to Perm. Powerful
as were her machines, the Cazcasus could not thus, after
entering the Kama, make against the current more than
sixteen versts an hour. Including an hour’s stoppage at
Kasan, the voyage from Nijni-Novgorod to Perm would
take from between sixty to sixty-two hours.

The steamer was very well arranged, and the passengers,
according to their condition or resources, occupied three



04. MICHAEL STROGOFF.



distinct classes on board. Michael Strogoff had taken care
to engage two first-class cabins, so that his young com-
panion might retire into hers and be quiet whenever she
liked. |

The Caucasus was loaded with passengers of every
description. A number of Asiatic traders had thought it
best to leave Nijni-Novgorod immediately. In that part
of the steamer reserved for the first-class might be seen
Armenians in long robes and a sort of mitre on their heads;
Jews, known by their conical caps; rich Chinese in their
traditional costume, a very wide blue, violet, or black robe,
open at front and at the back, and covered by a second
robe with wide sleeves, the cut of which recalls that of the
popes; Turks, wearing the national turban ; Hindoos, with
square caps, and a simple string for a girdle, some of whom,
more especially designated under the name of Shikarporis,
hold in their hands all the traffic of Central Asia; and,
lastly, Tartars, wearing boots, ornamented with many-
coloured braid, and the breast -a mass of embroidery.
All these merchants had been obliged to pile up their
numerous bales and chests in the hold and on the deck;
and the transport of their baggage would cost them dear,
for, according to the regulations, each person had only a
right to twenty pounds’ weight.

In the bows of the Caucasus were more numerous
groups of passengers, not only foreigners, but also Russians,
who were not forbidden by the order to go back to the
towns in the province.

There were mujiks with caps on their heads, and
wearing checked shirts under their wide pelisses ; peasants
of the Volga, with blue trousers stuffed into their boots,
rose-coloured cotton shirts, drawn in by a cord, felt caps;
a few women, habited in flowery-patterned cotton dresses,
gay-coloured aprons, and bright handkerchiefs on their
heads. These were principally third-class passengers,
who were, happily, not troubled by the prospect of a
long return voyage. In short, this part of the deck was
crowded. The cabin passengers did not venture among



GOING DOWN THE VOLGA. 65

these mixed groups, whose place was marked beyond the
paddle-boxes.

In the meantime the Caucasus was rapidly plying
her paddles between the banks of the Volga. She passed
numerous boats being towed up the stream, carrying all
sorts of merchandise to Nijni-Novgorod. Then passed
rafts of wood, as long as those interminable masses of
weed found in a part of the Atlantic known as the Sar-
gasso Sea, and barges loaded up to the gunwale, and
nearly sinking under water. A bootless voyage they were
making, since the fair had been abruptly broken up at its
outset.

- The waves caused by the steamer splashed on the
banks, covered with flocks of wild duck, who flew away
uttering deafening cries. A little farther, on the dry fields,
bordered with alders, willows, and aspens, were scattered a
few dark-red cows, flocks of brown-fleeced sheep, and herds
of black and white pigs of all sizes. Fields, sown with thin
buckwheat and rye, stretched away to a background of half-
cultivated hills, but offering no remarkable prospect. ‘The
pencil of an artist in quest of some picturesque scene would
have found nothing to reproduce in this monotonous land-
scape.

The Caucasus had been steaming on for about two
hours, when the young Livonian, addressing herself to
Michael Strogoff, said :

‘Are you going to Irkutsk, brother ?”’

“Yes, sister,” answered the young man. “ We are both
going the same way. Consequently, wherever I go, you
shall go.”

“To-morrow, brother, you shall know why I left the
shores of the Baltic to go beyond the Ural Mountains.”

“T ask you nothing, sister.”

“You shall know all,” replied the girl, with a faint smile.
“A sister should hide nothing from her brother. But I
cannot to-day... .. Fatigue and sorrow have broken me
down.”

“Will you go and rest in your cabin?” asked Michael.
F



66 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“Yes—yes ; and to-morrow

“ Come then——”

He hesitated to finish his sentence, as if he had wished
to end it by the name of his companion, of which he was
still ignorant.

“Nadia,” said she, holding out her hand.

“Come, Nadia,” answered Michael, “and make what
use you like of your brother Nicholas Korpanoff.” And
he led the girl to the cabin engaged for her off the saloon.

Michael Strogoff returned on deck, and eager for any
news which might bear on his journey, he mingled in the
groups of passengers, though without taking any part in
the conversation. Should he by any chance be questioned,
and obliged to reply, he would announce himself as the
merchant Nicholas Korpanoff, going back to the frontier
in the Caucasus, for he did not wish it to be suspected
that a special permission authorized him to travel to
Siberia.

The foreigners in the steamer could evidently speak of
nothing but the occurrences of the day, of the order and its
consequences. These poor people, scarcely recovered from
the fatigue of a journey across Central Asia, found them-
selves obliged to return, and if they did not give loud vent
to their anger and despair, it was because they dared not.
Fear, mingled with respect, restrained them. It was
possible that inspectors of police, charged with watching
the passengers, had secretly embarked on board the
Caucasus, and it was just as well to keep silence;
expulsion, after all, was a gcod deal preferable to im-
prisonment in a fortress. Therefore the men were either
silent, or remarks were exchanged with so much caution
that it was scarcely possible to get any useful information
from them.

Michael Strogoff thus could learn nothing here ; but if
miouths were often shut at his approach—for they did not
know him—his ears were soon struck by the sound of one
voice, which cared little whether it was heard or not.

The man with the hearty voice spoke Russian, but with







(Page 61.)

” said he,

‘¢ Sister,



GOING DOWN THE VOLGA. 67



a foreign accent; and the other speaker answered him more
reservedly in the same language, evidently, however, not his
native tongue.

“What,” said the first, “are you on board this boat,
too, my dear feliow; you whom [| met at the imperial
féte in Moscow, and just caught a glimpse of at Nijni-
Novgorod ?”’

“Yes, it’s me,” answered the second drily.

“Well, really, [ didn’t expect to be so closely followed

by you.”
“Tndeed! Iam not following you sir; I am preceding

”

you.
“.Precede! precede! Let us march abreast, keeping

step, like two soldiers on parade, and for the time, at least
let us agree, if you will, that one shail not pass the other.”

“On the contrary, I shall pass you.”

“We shall see that, when we are on the theatre of war ;
but till then, why, let us be travelling companions,
Later, we shall have both time and occasion to be
rivals.”

“ Enemies.”

“Enemies, if you like. There is a precision in your
words, my dear fellow, which is particularly agreeable to
me. One may always know what one has to look for,
with you.”

“What is the harm ?”

“No harm at all. So, in my turn, I will ask your
permission to state our respective situations,”

“ State away. ” |

“You are going to Perm—like me?”

“ Like you.’

“ And probably you will go from Perm to Ekaterenburg,
since that is the best and safest route by which to cross the
Ural Mountains ?”

“ Probably.”

“Once past the frontier, we shall be in Siberia, that is
to say, in the midst of the invasion.”

“We shall be there.”



68 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“Well! then, and only then, will be the time to say,
Each for himself, and God for——”

“For me.”

“For you, all by yourself! Very well! But since we
have a week of neutral days before us, and since it is very
certain that news will not shower down upon us on the
way, let us be friends until we become rivals again.” -

“ Enemies.” |

“Ves; that’s right, enemies. But till then, let us act
together, and not try and ruin each other. All the same,
I promise you to keep to myself all that I can see -

“ And I, all that I can hear.” |

“Ts that agreed ?”

“Tt is agreed.”

“Your hand ?”

“ Here it is.”

And the hand of the first speaker, that is to say, five
wide-open fingers, vigorously shook the two fingers coolly
extended by the other.

“ By the bye,” said the first, “I was able this morning to
telegraph the very words of the order to my cousin at
seventeen minutes past ten.” |

“And I sent it to the Dazly Telegraph at thirteen
minutes past ten.”

“ Bravo, Mr. Blount!”

“Very good, M. Jolivet.”

“T will try and match that !”

— © Tt will be difficult.”

“T can try, however.”

So saying, the French correspondent familiarly saluted
the Englishman, who bowed stiffly. The governor's
proclamation did not concern these two news-hunters, as
they were neither Russians nor foreigners of Asiatic origin.

They had set out, however, and being urged by the
same instinct, had left Nijni-Novgorod together. It was
natural that they should take the same means of transport,
and that they should follow the same route to the Siberian
steppes. Travelling companions, whether enemies or







GOING DOWN THE VOLGA. 69





friends, they had a week to pass together before “ the hunt
would be open.” And then success to the most expert!
Alcide Jolivet had made the first advances, and though
Harry Blount had accepted them, he had done so coldly.

That very day at dinner, however, the Frenchman,
open as ever, and even too loquacious, the Englishman
still silent and grave, were seen hobnobbing at the same
table, drinking genuine Cliquot, at six roubles the bottle,
made from the fresh sap of the birch-trees of the country.

On hearing Alcide Jolivet and Harry Blount chatting
away together, Michael Strogoff said to himself: ‘Those
are inquisitive and indiscreet fellows whom I shall probably
meet again on the way. It will be prudent for me to keep
them at a distance.”

The young Livonian did not come to dinner. She was
asleep in her cabin, and Michael did not like to awaken
her. It was evening before she reappeared on the deck
of the Caucasus.

The long twilight imparted a coolness to the atmosphere
eagerly enjoyed by the passengers after the stifling heat
of the day. As the evening advanced, the greater number
never even thought of going back to the saloon and cabins.
Stretched on the benches, they inhaled with delight the
slight breeze caused by the speed of the steamer. At this:
time of year, and under this latitude, the sky scarcely
darkened between sunset and dawn, and left the steersman
light enough to guide his steamer among the numerous
vessels going up or down the Volga.

Between eleven and two, however, the moon being new,
it was almost dark. Nearly all the passengers were then
asleep on the deck, and the silence was disturbed only by
the noise of the paddles striking the water at regular
intervals. Anxiety kept Michael Strogoff awake. He
walked’ up and down, but always in the stern of the
steamer. Once, however, he happened to pass the engine-
room. He then found himself, in the part reserved for
second and third-class passengers.

There, every one was lying asleep, not only on the



70 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

benches, but also on the bales, packages, and even the deck
itself. The men on watch above were standing about
on the forecastle. Two lights, one green, the other red,
hung over the starboard and port sides, and sent a few rays
along the steamboat’s bulwarks.

Some care was necessary not to tread on the sleepers,
who were lying about everywhere. They were - chiefly
mujiks, accustomed to hard couches, and quite satisfied
with the planks of the deck. But no doubt they would,
all the same, have soundly abused the clumsy fellow who
happened to rouse them with an accidental kick.

Michael Strogoff took care, therefore, not to disturb any
one. By going thus to the end of the boat, he had no
other idea but that of striving against sleep by a rather
longer walk. |

He reached the other part of the deck, and was already
climbing the forecastle ladder, when he heard some one
speaking near him. He stopped. ‘The voices appeared to
come from a group of passengers enveloped in cloaks and
wraps, so that it was impossible to recognize them in the
dark. But it sometimes happened that, when the steamer’s
chimney sent forth a plume of ruddy flames amongst the
volumes of smoke, the sparks seemed to fall amongst the
group as though thousands of spangles had been suddenly
illuminated. Michael was about to step up the ladder,
when a few words reached his ear, distinctly uttered in
that strange tongue which he had heard during the night at
the fair.

Instinctively he stopped to listen. Protected by the
shadow of the forecastle, he could not be perceived himself.
As to seeing the passengers who were talking, that was
impossible. He was obliged to confine ~ himself to
listening.

The first words exchanged were of no importance—to
him at least—but they allowed him to recognize the voices
of the man and woman whom he had heard at Nijni-
Novgorod. This, of course, made him redouble his
attention. It was, indeed, not at all impossible that the







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THE PALACE—MOSCOW.


MICHAEL STROGOFF,

THE COURIER OF THE CZAR.

By JULES VERNE,

AUTHOR OF

“THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND,” ‘fA JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH,” ETC., ETC.

TRANSLATED BY W. H. G. KINGSTON.

REVISED BY JULIUS CHAMBERS.

WITH NINETY FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.

NEW YORK:
SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & COMPANY.
1877.

(All rights reserved.)
CopyRIGHT, BY

SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & COMPANY,

jJoun F. Trow & Son,
PRINTERS AND BOOKBINDEkS,
205-213 Fast 12th Street, |
NEW YORK.
CONTENTS.

PART I.

CHAPTER

I,

IT.
II.
‘TV.
V.
VI.
VIL.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.
XVI,
XVII.

Il.
III.
IV.

A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS ... eee oe
MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR
From Moscow To NIJNI-NovGorRoD

THE Two ANNOUNCEMENTS

BROTHER AND SISTER

GOING DOWN THE VOLGA uae

GOING UP THE KAMA

DAY AND NIGHT IN A TARANTASS

A STORM IN THE URAL MOUNTAINS |
TRAVELLERS IN DISTRESS

PROVOCATION .

DUTY BEFORE EVERYTHING

MOTHER AND SON

THE MARSHES OF THE BARABA

A FINAL EFFORT

THE RIVALS ... - a

PART II.

A TARTAR CAMP ves
CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE
BLOW FOR BLOW wee
THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY or ees bee sae
“LOOK WHILE YOU MAY!” eee ses cas

PAGE

12
23
30
45
55
62
72
So
90
99
IIo
123
133
144.
155
100

177
188

204
210
2260
CONTENTS.

— —— eee ee Se eom*

CHAPTER

VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.

JI.
III.
IV.

A FRIEND ON THE HIGHWAY ...

THE PASSAGE OF THE YENISEI

A HARE CROSSES THE ROAD

IN THE STEPPE

BAIKAL AND ANGARA

BETWEEN Two BANKS

IRKUTSK eee

THE CZAR’sS COURIER ves
THE NIGHT OF THE FIFTH OF OCTOBER
CONCLUSION

THE MUTINEERS.

FROM THE ISLE OF GUAJAN TO ACAPULCO
From ACAPULCO TO CIGUALAN

CIGUALAN TO TASCO

TASCO TO CUERNAVACA i
FROM CUERNAVACA TO POPOCATEPETL

PAGE
235
246
257
270
281
292
393
314
325

330

345
355
362
306
372
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.



The Palace, Moscow . ‘ : : ; . . . Lrontisptece.

‘‘ Truly, sir, this féte is charming ’”’ : . . . To face page 7
The officer stepped out on a balcony to breathe ; . “¢ II
*¢T will now tell you something you are ignorant of” . 7 15
‘¢ Excuse me, your Majesty” . . . : ‘ . “s 18
The Courier, Michael Strogoff . ; . : 7 24
** Go, then, Michael Strogoff !” ‘ ; . : . —« 29
Michael Strogoff ensconced himself in his corner. . 7 33
He was immediately taken off . : . . ° . 7 33
Seating herself with downcast eyes . . . : . 40
The accident . : ; . . ; . : : 7 44
‘* What are you doing here?” . ; . ; . “s 48
A moving mass of human beings oe ; . ; “¢ 5!
Then in a loud voice he read . . . . ; “¢ 54
There, fallen rather than seated on a bench ; . 7 58
‘¢ Sister !”’ said he . : . . ; ; . “¢ 66
He was already climbing the forecastle ladder. ‘ : “é 70
As the Bohemian troop was leaving the steamboat . “6 74
Was Alcide Jolivet about to miss his passage? . . ; 98
Three post-horses were harnessed to the Tarantass . : - 8I
The Tarantass left Perm in a cloud of dust : . . “s 86
‘* Here comes the storm!” . : . . . ° | “¢ go
He managed to master the horses. . : . : “¢ 94.
** Cries, brother! Listen !” . ; ; . “6 98
Travellers in distress . : . . ; : . ‘¢ 101

**You are not wounded, sister?” : . . ; ‘* 107
Xx LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Had not the Iemschik prudently retreated .
The energetic Frenchman had found a Taranfass
The arrival at Tioumen

‘¢ Defend yourself !”’

‘* For my country, and the F ather !”

‘* Be off, my friend!” ~~. : . . ; . .
She was dragged into one of the boats . , ’ .
‘*Do not speak !” thou art still too weak . :

** My son!” . . . . ; . ;

“‘Dost thou know that I can torture thee?”

A disagreeable ride : . . : . .

‘¢ Will you answer me a few questions?”

Michael Strogoff advances cautiously to, :
“Torches !’’ said he to himself :

Michael fired . ; . :

Michael’s horse struck in the side .

Two versts further a village . . ; : :
The house was entered by Tartar soldiers. °
Feofar’s tent overlooked the others . : . . :
** You are something of a doctor, then?” .
Sangarre was there . . : . ; . .

Ivan Ogareff entered and stood before the Emir
He took the letters and read them attentively

The girl was there to support her . . : .
It was necessary to follow the high road °

They came to drink in their turn . . .

** Begin !”’ said Ogareff . : . .

Raising the knout he struck Ogareff

This woman of Persian origin was wonderfully beautiful
** You shall die!” he said

‘**Look while you may!” _

Michael Strogoff was blind. ‘

‘* Are you there, Nadia?” he asked

‘*Tt is a cart, a young man is driving it”

‘‘She is very pretty,” said Nicholas :

ce

ce

6é

ce

66

6é

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6¢

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To face page 109

112
IIs
I2I
124
128
132
135
140
143
147
150
157
160
164.

170
174
179

189
194
195
200
205
227
210
214
220
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

x1

It was seven o’clock in the evening . . : . To face page 248

They were soon floating

Seizing the bridle with his strong hand

A hare crosses the road

The body was that of a Mujik .

The horse with his rider fell to the bottom of the cliff
Nadia looked at all these bodies

A head issued from the ground

Soon the body of Nicholas was laid in the grave

An old Baikal boatman took command

“Come !” said Nadia . : . : ; . .
The old boatman crouched down forward . . . °
Nadia crept in front of Michael . . . . .
Working night and day

Wassili Fedor

A man entered, he appeared to be exhausted with fatigue
He was everywhere received with cordial congratulations
A note fell into the hands of Sangarre

** At last !” said Ivan Ogareff

Lifted by an irresistible force the villain was dashed to the
ground, . : : - . : :

‘Who killed that man?” .
**Tt will be my joy to call you both my children”

THE MUTINEERS.

Don Orteva and Pablo

The mutiny breaks out

On the road to Mexico

The traveller’s unquiet sleep .

Martinez alarmed at the sight of a snake .

Death of the mutineer Martinez

€¢

ce

252
254
257
266
269
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276
280
284
289
292
300

306

349
351

359

3601
364
376

MICHAEL STROGOFE.



CHAPTER I.
A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE. °

“ SIRE, a fresh despatch.”

“Whence?”

“From Tomsk.”

“Ts the wire cut beyond that city?”

“Yes, sire, since yesterday.”

“Telegraph hourly to Tomsk, General, and let me ke
kept az courant of all that occurs.”

“ Sire, it shall be done,” answered General Kissoff.

These words were exchanged about two hours after
midnight, at the moment when the féte given at the New
Palace was at the height of its splendour.

During the whole evening the bands of the Préobra-
jensky and Paulowsky regiménts had played without
cessation polkas, mazurkas, schottisches, and waltzes from
among the choicest of their repertories. Innumerable
couples of dancers whirled through the magnificent saloons
of the palace, which stood at a few paces only from the
“old house of stones’”—in former days the scene of so
many terrible dramas, and the echoes of whose walls were
this night awakened by the gay strains of the musicians,

B
to

MICHAEL STROGOFF.



The grand-chamberlain of the court was, besides, well
seconded in his arduous and delicate duties. The grand-
dukes and their aides-de-camp, the chamberlains-in-waiting
and other officers of the palace, presided personally in the
arrangement of the dances. The grand-duchesses, covered
with diamonds, the ladies-in-waiting in their most exquisite
costumes, set the example to the wives of the military
and civil dignitaries of thé ancient “city of white stone.”
When, therefore, the signal for the “ polonaise ” resounded
through the saloons, and the guests of all ranks took part
in that measured promenade, which on occasions of this
kind has all the importance of a national dance, the min-
eled costumes, the sweeping robes adorned with lace, and
uniforms covered with orders, presented a scene of dazzling
and indescribable splendour, lighted by hundreds of lustres
multiplied tenfold by reflection in the numerous mirrors
adorning the walls. .

The grand saloon, the finest of all those contained in
the New Palace, formed to this procession of exalted per-
sonages and splendidly dressed women a frame worthy of
the magnificence they displayed. The rich ceiling, with
its gilding already softened by the touch of time, appeared
as if glittering with stars. The embroidered drapery of
the curtains and doors, falling in gorgeous folds, assumed
rich and varied hues, broken by the shadows of the heavy
masses of damask.

Through the panes of the vast semicircular bay-
windows the light, with which the saloons were filled,
shone forth with the brilliancy of a conflagration, vividly
illuminating the gloom in which for some hours the palace
had been shrouded. The attention of those of the guests
not taking part in the dancing was attracted by the con-
trast. Resting in the recesses of the windows, they could
discern, standing out dimly in the darkness, the vague
outlines of the countless towers, domes, and spires which
adorn the ancient city. Below the sculptured balconies
were visible numerous ‘sentries, pacing silently up and
down, their rifles, carried horizontally on the shoulder, and
A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE. 3
the spikes of their helmets glittering like flames in the
glare of light issuing from the palace. The steps also of
the patrols could be heard beating time on the stones
beneath with even more regularity than the feet of the
dancers on the floor of the saloons. From time to time
the watchword was repeated from post to post, and occa-
sionally the notes of a trumpet, mingling with the strains
of the orchestra, penetrated into their midst. Still farther
down, in front of the facade, dark masses obscured the rays
of light which proceeded from the windows of the New
Palace. These were boats descending the course of a
river, whose waters, faintly illumined by the twinkling
light of a few lamps, washed the lower portion of the
terraces.

The principal personage who has been mentioned, the
siver of the féte, and to whom General Kissoff had been
speaking in that tone of respect with which sovereigns
alone are usually addressed, wore the simple uniform of an
officer of chasseurs of the guard. This was not affectation
on his part, but the custom of a man who cared little for
dress, his contrasting strongly with the gorgeous cos-
tumes amid which he moved, encircled by his! escort of
Georgians, Cossacks, and Circassians—a brilliant band,
splendidly clad in the glittering uniforms of the Caucasus.

This personage, of lofty stature, affable demeanour,
and physiognomy calm, though bearing traces of anxiety,
moved from group to group, seldom speaking, and appear-
ine to pay but little attention either to the merriment of
the younger guests or the graver remarks of the exalted
dignitaries or members of the diplomatic corps who repre-
sented at the Russian court the principal governments of
Iurope. Two or three of these astute politicians—physiog-
nomists by virtue of their profession—failed not to detect
on the countenance of their host symptoms of’ disquietude,
the source of which eluded their penetration; but none
ventured to interrogate him on the subject.

It was evidently the intention of the officer of chasseurs
that his own anxieties should in no way cast a shade over
4. MICHAEL STROGOFF.

the festivities ; and, as he was one of those few personages
whom almost the population of a world in itself was wont
to obey, the gaiety of the ball was not for a moment
checked.

“Nevertheless, General Kissoff waited until the officer
to whom he had just communicated the despatch forwarded
from Tomsk should give him permission to withdraw ; but
the latter still remained silent. He had taken the tele-
gram, he had read it carefully, and his visage became even
more clouded than before. Involuntarily he sought the
hilt of his sword, and then passed his hand for an instant
before his eyes, as though, dazzled by the brilliancy of the
light, he wished to shade them, the better to see into the
recesses of his own mind.

“We are, then,’ he continued, after having drawn
General Kissoff aside towards a window, “ since yesterday
without intelligence from the Grand Duke?”

“Without any, sire ; and it is to be feared that shortly
despatches will no longer cross the Siberian frontier.”

“But have not the troops of the provinces of Amoor
and Irkutsk,'as those also of the Trans-Balkan territory,
received orders to march immediately upon Irkutsk ?”

“The orders were transmitted by the last telegram we
were able to send beyond Lake Baikal.”

“And the governments of Yeniseisk, Omsk, Semipola-
tinsk, and Tobolsk—are we still in direct communication
with them as before the insurrection ?”

“Yes, sire ; our despatches have reached them, and we
are assured at the present moment that the Tartars have
not advanced beyond the Irtish and the Obi.”

“And the traitor Ivan Ogareff, are there no tidings of
him?”

“None,” replied General Kissoff. “The head of the
police cannot state whether or not he has crossed the
frontier.”

“Let a description of him be immediately despatched
to Nijni-Novgorod, Perm, Ekaterenburg, Kasimov, Tiou-
men, Ishim, Omsk, Elamsk, Kalyvan, Tomsk, and to ail
A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE. 5

the telegraphic stations with which communication is yet
open.”

“Your majesty’s orders shall be instantly carried out,’
answered General Kissoff. |

“You will observe the strictest silence as to this.”

The General, having made a sign of respectful assent,
bowing low, mingled for a short time with the crowd, and
finally left the apartments without his departure being
remarked.

The officer remained absorbed in thought for a few
moments, when, recovering himself, he went among the
various groups formed in different parts of the saloon, his
countenance reassuming that calm aspect which had for an
instant been disturbed.

Nevertheless, the important occurrence which had occa-
casioned these rapidly exchanged words was not so un-
known as the officer of chasseurs of the guard and General
Kissoff had possibly supposed. It was not spoken of
officially, it is true, nor even officiously, since tongues were
not free; but a few exalted personages had been informed,
more or less exactly, of the events waich had taken placc
beyond the frontier. At any rate, that which was only
slightly known, that which was not matter of conversa-
tion even between members of the corps diplomatique, to
guests, distinguished by no uniform, no decoration, at this
reception in the New Palace, discussed in a low voice, and
“with apparently very correct information.

By what means, by the exercise of what acuteness had
these two ordinary mortals ascertained that which so many
persons of the highest rank and importance scarcely even
suspected? It is impossible to say. Had they the gifts
of foreknowledge and foresight? Did they possess a
supplementary sense, which enabled them to see beyond
that limited horizon which bounds all human gaze? Had
they obtained a peculiar power of divining the most
secret events? Was it owing to the habit, now become a
second nature, of living on information, and by informa-
tion, that their mental constitution had thus become
6 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

really transformed ? It was difficult to escape from this
conclusion.

Of these two men, the one was English, the other
French ; both were tall and thin, but the latter was sallow
as are the southern Provengals, while the former was ruddy
like a Lancashire gentleman. The Anglo-Norman, formal,
cold, grave, parsimonious of gestures and words, appearing
only to speak or gesticulate under the infiuence of a spring
operating at regular intervals. The Gaul, on the contrary,
lively and petulant, expressed himself with lips, eyes,
hands, all at once, having twenty different ways of ex-
plaining his thoughts, whereas his interlocutor s*emed
to have only one, immutably stereotyped on his brain.

The strong contrast they presented would at once
have struck the most superficial observer; but a physiog-
nomist, regarding them more closely, would have defined
their particular characteristics by saying, that if the
Frenchman was “all eyes,” the Englishman was “all ears.”

In fact, the visual apparatus of the one had been
singularly perfected by practice. The sensibility of its
retina must have been as instantaneous as that of those
conjurors who recognise a card merely by a rapid move-
ment in cutting the pack, or by the arrangement only of
marks invisible to others. The Frenchman indeed pos-
sessed in the highest degree what may be called “the
memory of the eye.”

The Englishman, on the contrary, appeared, especially
organised to listen and to hear. When his aural apparatus
had been once struck by the sound of a voice he could not
forget it, and after ten or even twenty years he would have
recognised it among a thousand. His ears, to be sure, had
not the power of moving as freely as those of animals who
are provided with large auditory flaps; but, since scientific
ren know that human ears possess, in fact, a very limited
power of movement, we should not be far wrong in
affirming that those of the said Englishman became erect,
and turned in all directions while endeavouring to gather
in the sounds, in a manner apparent only to the naturalist.
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A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE. 7
It must be observed that this perfection of sight and
hearing was of wonderful assistance to these two men in
their vocation, for the Englishman acted as correspondent
of the Daily Telegraph, and the Frenchman, as corres-
pondent of the..... of what newspaper, or of what
newspapers, he did not say; and when asked, he replied in
a jocular manner that he corresponded with “his cousin
Madeleine.” This Frenchman, however, beneath his care-
less surface, was wonderfully shrewd and sagacious. Even
while speaking at random, perhaps the better to hide his
desire to learn, he never forgot himself. His loquacity
even helped him to conceal his thoughts, and he was
perhaps even. more discreet than his confrére of the Dazly
Telegraph. Both were present at this féte given at the
New Palace on the night of the 15th of July in their
character of reporters, and for the greater edification of
their readers.

It is needless to say that these two men were devoted
to their mission in the world—that they delighted to throw
themselves in the track of the most unexpected intelligence
-—that nothing terrified or discouraged them from succeed-
ing—that they possessed the imperturbable sang-frord and
the genuine intrepidity of men of their calling. Enthu-
siastic jockeys in this steeplechase, this hunt after infor-
mation, they leaped hedges, crossed rivers, sprang over
fences, with the ardour of pure-blooded racers, who will run
“a good first” or die!

Their journals did not restrict them with regard to
money—the surest, the most rapid, the most perfect
element of information known to this day. It must also
be added, to their honour, that neither the one nor the
ether ever looked over or listened at the walls of private
life, and that they only exercised their vocation when
political or social interests were at stake. In a word, they
made what has been for :ome years called “the great
political and military reports.”

It will be seen, in following them, that they had
generally an independent mode of viewing events, and,
8 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



——— —-.

above all, their consequences, each having his own way of
observing and appreciating. The object to be obtained
being of adequate value, they never failed to expend the
money required. |

The French correspondent was named Alcide Jolivet.
Harry Blount was the name of the Englishman. They
had just met for the first time at this féte in the New
Palace, of which they had been ordered to give an account
in their papers. The dissimilarity of their characters,
added to a certain amount of jealousy, which generally
exists between rivals in the same calling, might have
rendered them but little sympathetic. However, they did
not avoid one another, but endeavoured rather to exchange
with each other the news of the day. They were two
sportsmen, after all, hunting on the same ground, in the
same preserves. ‘That which one missed might be advan-
tageously secured by the other, and it was to their interest
to meet and converse together.

This evening they were both on the look out; they felt,
in fact, that there was something in the air.

_ “Even should it be only a wildgoose chase,” said Alcide
Jolivet to himself, “it may be worth powder and shot.”

The two correspondents were therefore led to chat
together during the ball, a few minutes after the departure
of General Kissoff, and they began by cautiously sounding
each other.

“ Really, my dear sir, this little féte is charming!” said
-Alcide Jolivet pleasantly, thinking himself obliged to begin
the conversation with this eminently French phrase.

“JT have telegraphed already, ‘splendid!’” replied
Harry Blount calmly, employing the word specially de-
voted to expressing admiration.,by all subjects of the
United Kingdom.

“ Nevertheless,” added Alcide Jolivet, “I felt compelled
to remark to my cousin :

“Your cousin?” repeated Harry Blount in a tone of
surprise, interrupting his brother of the pen.

“Ves,” returned Alcide Jolivet, “my cousin Madelcine.


A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE, | 9

.... It is with her that I correspond, and she likes to be
quickly and well informed, does my cousin. .... I there-
fore remarked to her that, during this féte, a sort of cloud
had appeared to overshadow the sovereign’s brow.”

“To me, it seemed radiant,” replied Harry Blount, who
perhaps wished to conceal his real opinion on this topic.

“And, naturally, you made it ‘radiant,’ in the columns
of the Daily Telegraph.”

“Exactly.”

“Do you remember, Mr. Blount, what occurred at Zakret
in 1812?” |

“T remember it as well as if I had been there, sir,”
replied the English. correspondent.

“Then,” continued Alcide Jolivet, “you know that, in
the middle of a féte given in his honour, it was announced
to the Emperor Alexander that Napoleon had just crossed
the Niemen with the vanguard of the French army.
Nevertheless the Emperor did not leave the féte, and not-
withstanding the extreme gravity of intelligence which
might cost him his empire, he did not allow himself to
show more uneasiness ... .”

“Than our host exhibited when General Kissoff in-
formed him that the telegraphic wires had just been cut
between the frontier and the government of Irkutsk.”

“Ah! you are aware of that ?”

“Tam!”

“As regards myself, it would be difficult to avoid know-
ing it, since my last telegram reached Udinsk,” observed
Alcide Jolivet, with some satisfaction. ~

“And mine only as far as Krasnoiarsk,’ answered
Harry Blount, in a no less satisfied tone.

“Then you know also that orders have been sent to the
troops of Nilkolaevsk ?”

“T do, sir; and at the same time a telegram.was sent
to the Cossacks of the government of Tobolsk to concen-
trate their forces.”

“Nothing can be more true, Mr. Blount; I was equally
well acquainted with these measures, and you may be sure

‘
IO MICHAEL STROGOFF.
that my dear cousin shall know something of them to-
morrow.”

“Exactly as the readers of the Daily Telegraph: shall
know it also, M. Jolivet.”

“Well, when one sees all that is going on... .”

“ And when one hears all that is ‘Said oes

“ An interesting campaign to follow, Mr. Blount.”

“T shall follow it, M. Jolivet!”

“Then it is possible that we shall find ourselves on
ground less safe, perhaps, than the floor of this ball-room.”

“ Less safe, certainly, but ”

“But much less slippery,” added Alcide Jolivet, holding
up -his companion, just as the latter, drawing back, was
about to lose his equilibrium.

Thereupon the two correspondents separated, pleased
enough to know that the one had not stolen a march on
the other.

At that moment the doors of the rooms adjoining the
great reception saloon were thrown open, disclosing to view
several immense tables beautifully laid out, and groaning
under a profusion of valuable china and gold plate. On
the central table, reserved for the princes, princesses, and
members of the corps diplomatique, glittered an épergne
of inestimable price, brought from London, and around
this chef-d’ceuvre of chased gold, were reflected, under the
liznt of the lustres, a thousand pieces of the most beautiful
service which the manufactories of Sevres had ever pro-
duced.

The guests of the New Palace immediately began to
stream towards the supper-rooms.

At that moment, General Kissoff, who had just re-
entered, quickly approached the officer of chasseurs.

“Well?” asked the latter abruptly, as he had done the
former time. |

“ Telegrams pass Tomsk no longer, sire.”

“A courier this moment!”

The officer left the hall and entcred a large antechamber
adjoining.


Hie

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The Officer stepped out on a balcony to breathe.
(Page 11.)
A FETE AT THE NEW PALACE. 11

It was a cabinet with plain oak furniture, and situated
in an angle of the New Palace. Several pictures, amongst
others some by Horace Vernet, hung on the wall.

The officer hastily opened a window, as if he felt the
want of air, and stepped out on a balcony to breathe the
pure atmosphere of a lovely July night.

Beneath his eyes, bathed in moonlight, lay a fortified
inclosure, from which rose two cathedrals, three palaces,
and an arsenal. Around this inclosure could be seen three
distinct towns: Kitai-Gorod, Beloi-Gorod, Zemlianai-Gorod
—European, Tartar, or Chinese quarters of great extent,
commanded by towers, belfries, minarets, and the cupolas of
three hundred churches, with green domes, surmounted by
the silver cross. A little winding river here and there
reflected the rays of the moon. All this together formed
a curious mosaic of variously coloured houses, set in an
immense frame of ten leagues in circumference.

This river was the Moskowa; the town Moscow; the
fortified inclosure the Kremlin ; and the officer of chasseurs
of the guard, who, with folded ‘arms and thoughtful brow,
was listening dreamily to the sounds floating from the New
Palace over the old Muscovite city, was the Czar.
12 MICHAEL STROGOFF.





Ts

CHAPTER II.
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS.

THE Czar had not so suddenly left the ball-room of the
New Palace, when the féte he was giving to the civil and
military authorities and principal people of Moscow was at
the height of its brilliancy, without ample cause ; for he
hed just received information that serious events were
taking place beyond the frontiers of the Ural. It had
become evident that a formidable rebellion threatened to
wrest the Siberian provinces from the Russian crown.
Asiatic Russia, or Siberia, covers a superficial area of
1,790,208 square miles, and contains nearly two millions of
inhabitants. Extending from the Ural Mountains, which
separate it from Russia in Europe, to the shores of the
Pacific Ocean, it is bounded on the south by Turkestan and
the Chinese Empire; on the north by the Arctic Ocean,
from the Sea of Kara to Bchring’s Straits. It is divided
into several governments or provinces, those of Tobolsk,
Yeniseisk, Irkutsk, Omsk, and Yakutsk; contains two
districts, Okhotsk and Kamtschatka; and possesses two
countries, now under the Muscovite dominion—that of
the Kirghiz and that of the Tshouktshes. This immense
extent of steppes, which includes more than one hundred
and ten degrees from west to. east, is a land to which

both criminals arc transported and political offenders are
banished.
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS. 13

Two governor-generals represent the supreme authority
of the Czar over this vast country. One resides at Irkutsk,
the capital of Western Siberia. The River Tchouna, a
tributary of the Yenisei, separates the two Siberias.

No rail yet furrows these wide plains, some of which
are in reality extremely fertile. No iron ways lead from
those precious mines which make the Siberian soil far
richer below than above its surface. The traveller journeys
in summer in a kibick or telga ; in winter, in a sledge.

An electric telegraph, with a single wire more than
eight thousand versts * in length, alone affords communica-
tion between the western and eastern frontiers of Siberia,
On issuing from the Ural, it passes through Ekateren-
burg, Kasimov, Tioumen, Ishim, Omsk, Elamsk, Kalyvan
Tomsk, Krasnoiarsk, Nijni-Udinsk, Irkutsk, Verkne-Nert-
sckink, Strelink, Albazine, Blagowstenks, Radde, Orlom-
skaya, Alexandrowskoé, and Nikolaevsk ; and six roubles +
and nineteen copecks are paid for every word sent from
one end to the other. From Irkutsk there is a branch to
Kiatka, on the Mongolian frontier; and from thence, for
thirty copecks a word, the post conveys the despatches to
Pekin in a fortnight.

It was this wire, extending from Ekaterenburg to
Nikolaevsk, which had been cut, first beyond Tomsk, and
then between Tomsk.and Kalyvan.

This was the reason why the Czar, to the com-
munication made to him for the second time by General
Kissoff, had only answered by the words, “A courier this
moment!”

The Czar had remained motionless at the window for a
few moments, when the door was again opened. ‘The chief
of police appeared on the threshold.

“Tenter, General,’ said the Czar briefly, “ and tell me
all you know of Ivan Ogareff.”

* The verst contains 1165 yards.
+ The rouble (silver) is worth 3s. 2d. The copeck (copper) rather more
than a farthing.
14. MICHAEL STROGOFF.



“He is an extremely dangerous man, sir,” replied the
chief of police.

“He ranked as colonel, did he not?”

“Yes, sire.”

‘Was he an intelligent officer?”

“Very intelligent, but a man whose spirit it was
impossibie to subdue; and possessing an ambition which
stopped at nothing, he soon became involved in secret
intrigues, and it was then that he was degraded from his
rank by his Highness the Grand Duke, and exiled to
Siberia.”

“Tow long ago was that?”

“Two years since. Pardoned after six months of exile
by your majesty’s favour, he returned to Russia.”

“ And since that time, has he not revisited Siberia?”

“Yes, sire; but he voluntarily returned there,” replied
the chief of police, adding, and slightly lowering his voice,
“there was a time, sire, when zoe returned from Siberia.”

“Well, whilst I live, Siberia is and shall be a country
whence men caz return.”

The Czar had the right to utter these words with some
pride, for often, by his clemency, he had shown that
Russian justice knew how to pardon.

The head of the police did not reply to this obser-
vation, but it was evident that he did not approve of such
half-measures. According to his idea, a man who had
once passed the Ural Mountains in charge of policemen,
ought never again to cross them. Now, it was not thus
under the new reign, and the chief of police sincerely
deplored it. What! no banishment for life for other
crimes than those against social order! What! political
exiles returning from Tobolsk, from Yakutsk, from Ir-
kutsk! In truth, the chief of police, accustomed to the
despotic sentences of the ukase which formerly never par-
doned, could not understand this mode of governing. But
he was silent, waiting until the Czar should interrogate
him further.

The questions were not long in coming.
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(Page 15.)
RUSSIANS AND TARTARS. 15

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ee

“Did not Ivan Ogareff,’ asked the Czar, “return to
Russia a second time, after that journey through the
Siberian provinces, the object of which remains unknown?”

“He did.”

“ And have the police lost trace of him since ?”

“No, sire; for an offender only becomes really danger-
ous from the day he has received his pardon.”

The Czar frowned. Perhaps the chief of police feared
that he had gone rather, too far, though the stubbornness
of his ideas was at least equal to the boundless devotion he
felt for his master. But the Czar, disdaining to reply to
these indirect reproaches cast on his interior policy, con-
tinued his series of questions.

“Where was Ivan Ogareff last heard of 2?”

“Tn the province of Perm.”

“Tn what town?”

“At Perm itself.”

“What was he doing?”

“He appeared unoccupied, and there was nothing
suspicious in his conduct.”

“Then he was not under the surveillance cf the secret
police?”

“No, sire.”

“When did he leave Perm ?” .

“ About the month of March ?”

“Togo ...?”

“Where, is unknown.”

“And since that time, it is not known what has become
of him ?”

“No, sire; it is not known.”

“Well, then, I myself know,” answered the Czar. “I
have received anonymous communications which did not
pass through the police department; and, in the face of
events now taking place beyond the frontier, 1 have every
reason to believe that they are correct.”

“Do you mean, sire,” cried the chief of police, “ that
Ivan Ogareff has a hand in this Tartar rebellion ?”

“Indeed I do; and-I will now tell you something
16 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

which you are ignorant of. After leaving Perm, Ivan
Ogareff crossed the Ural mountains, entered Siberia, and
penetrated the Kirghiz steppes, and there endeavoured, not
without success, to foment rebellion amongst their nomadic
population. He then went so far south as free Turkestan ;
there, in the provinces of Bokhara, Khokhand, and Koon-
dooz, he found chiefs willing to pour their Tartar hordes
into Siberia, and excite a general rising in Asiatic Russia.
The storm has been silently gathering, but it has at last
burst like a thunder-clap, and now all means of communica-
tion between Eastern and Western Siberia have been
stopped. Moreover, Ivan Ogareff, thirsting for vengeance,
aims at the life of my brother! ”

The Czar had become excited whilst speaking, and now
paced up and down with hurried steps. The chief of police
said nothing, but he thought to himself that, during the
time when the emperors of Russia never pardoned an exile,
schemes such as those cf Ivan Ogareff could never have
been realized. A few moments passed, during which he
was silent, then approaching the Czar, who had thrown
himself into an armchair:

““Your majesty,” said he, “has of course given orders
that this rebellion may be suppressed as soon as possible ?”

“Yes,’ answered the Czar. “ The last telegram which
was able to reach Nijni-Udinsk would set in motion the
troops in the governments of Yenisei, Irkutsk, Yakutsk, as
well as those in the provinces of the Amoor and Lake
Baikal. At the same time, the regiments from Perm and
Nini-Novgorod, and the Cossacks from the frontier, are
advancing by forced marches towards the Ural Mountains ;
but, unfortunately, some weeks must pass before they can
attack the Tartars.”

“And your majesty’s brother, his Highness the Grand
Duke, is now isolated in the government of Irkutsk, and
is no longer in direct communication with Moscow ?”

“That is so.’

“But by the last despatches, he must. know what
measures have been taken by your majesty, and what he!p
‘

RUSSIANS AND TARTARS. 17

ee

= ee

he may expect from the governments nearest to that of
Irkutsk ?”

“He knows that,” answered the Czar; “but what he
does not know is, that Ivan Ogareff, as well as being a
rebel, is also playing the part of a traitor, and that in him
he has a personal and bitter enemy. It is to the Grand
Duke that Ivan Ogareff owes his first disgrace ; and what
is more serious is, that this man is not known to him.
Ivan Ogareff’s plan, therefore, is to go to Irkutsk, and,
under an assumed name, offer his services to the Grand
Duke. Then, after gaining his confidence, when the Tar-
tars have invested Irkutsk, he will betray the town, and
with it my brother, whose life is directly threatened. This
is what I have learned from my secret intelligence ; this is
what the Grand-Duke does not know ; and this is what he
must know!”

“Well, sire, an intelligent, courageous courier .. .”

“JT momentarily expect one.”

“And it is to be hoped he will be expeditious,” added
the chief of police; “ for, allow me to add, sire, that Siberia
is a favourable land for rebellions.”

“Do you mean to say, General, that the exiles would
make common cause with the rebels?” exclaimed the Czar,
indignant at the insinuation.

“Excuse me,: your majesty,” stammered the chief of
police, for that was really the idea suggested to him by his
uneasy and suspicious mind. |

“T believe in their patriotism,” returned the Czar.

“There are other offenders besides political exiles ‘in
Siberia,” said the:chief of police. _

“The criminals ?) Oh, General, I give those up to you!
They are the vilest, I grant, of the human race. They
belong to no country. But the insurrection, or rather the
rebellion, is not to oppose the emperor; it is raised-against
Russia, against the country which the exiles have not lost
all hope of again seeing—and which they will see again.
No, a Russian would never unite with a Tartar, to weaken,

were it only for an hour, the Muscovite power !”
| Cc
18 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

—_-



The Czar was right in trusting to the patriotism of
those whom his policy kept, for a time, at a distance.
Clemency, which was the foundation of his justice, when
he could himself direct its effects, the modifications he had
adopted with regard to applications for the formerly
terrible ukases, warranted the belief that he was not mis-
taken. But even without this powerful element of success
in regard to the Tartar rebellion, circumstances were not
the less very serious; for it was to be feared that a large
part of the Kirghiz population would join the rebels.

The Kirghiz are divided into three hordes, the greater,
the lesser, and the middle, and number nearly four hundred
thousand “ tents,’ or two million souls. Of the different
tribes some are independent and others recognize either
the sovereignty of Russia or that of the Khans of Khiva,
Khokhand, and Bokhara, the most formidable chiefs of
Turkestan. The middle horde, the richest, is also the
largest, and its encampments occupy all the space between
the rivers Sara Sou, Irtish, and the Upper Ishim, Lake
Saisang and Lake Aksakal. The greater horde, occupying
the countries situated to the east of the middle one,
extends as far as the governments of Omsk and Tobolsk.
Therefore, if the Kirghiz population should rise, it would be
the rebellion of Asiatic Russia, and the first thing would
be the separation of Siberia, to the east of the Yenisei.

It is true that these Kirghiz, mere novices in the art of
war, are rather nocturnal thieves and plunderers of cara-
vans than regular soldiers. As M. Levchine says, “a firm
front or a square of good infantry could repel ten times the
number of Kirghiz; and a single cannon might destroy a
frightful number.”

That may~be; but to do this it is necessary for the
square of good infantry to reach the rebellious country,
and the cannon to leave the arsenals of the Russian
provinces, perhaps two or three thousand versts distant.
Now, except by the direct .route from Ekaterenburg to
Irkutsk, the often. marshy steppes are not easily prac-
ticable, and some’ weeks must certainly pass before the
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Russian troops could be in a position to subdue the Tartar
hordes.

Omsk is the centre of that military organization of
Western Siberia which is intended to overawe the Kirghiz
population. Here are the bounds, more than once in-
fringed by the half-subdued nomads, and there was every
reason to believe that Omsk was already in danger. The
line of military stations, that is to say, those Cossack posts
which are ranged in echelon from Omsk to Semipolatinsk,
must have been broken in several places. Now, it was
to be feared that the “Grand Sultans,’ who govern: the
Kirghiz districts would either voluntarily accept, or invol-
untarily submit to, the dominion of Tartars, Mussulmen
like themselves, and that to the hate caused by the slavery
was not united the hate due to the antagonism of ihe
Greek and Mussulman religions. For some time, indeed,
the Tartars of Turkestan, and principally those from the
khanats of Bokhara, Khiva, Khokhand, and Koondooz,
endeavoured; by employing both force and persuasion, to
subdue the Kirghiz hordes to the Muscovite dominion.

A few words only with respect to these Tartars.

The Tartars belong more especially to two distinct
races, the Caucasian and Mongolian.

The Caucasian race, which, as Abel de Rémusat says,
“is regarded in Europe as the type of beauty in our
species, because all the nations in this part of the world
have sprung from it,” unites under the same denomination
the Turks and the natives of Persia.

The purely Mongolian race comprises the Mongols,
Manchoux, and Thibetans. .

The Tartars, who now threatened the Russian Empire,
belonged to the Caucasian race, and occupied Turkestan.
This immense country is divided into different states,
governed by Khans, and hence termed Khanats. The
principal khanats are those of Bokhara, Khokhand, Koon-
dooz, etc.

At this period, the most important and the most formi-
dable khanat was that of Bokhara. Russia had already
20 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



——___—

been several times at war with its chiefs, who, for their
own interests, had supported the independence of the
Kirghiz against the Muscovite dominion. The present
chief, Feofar-Khan, followed in the steps of his prede-
cessors.

The khanat of Bokhara extends from north to south,
between the thirty-seventh and forty-first parallels, and
from east to west between the sixty-first and sixty-sixth
degrees of longitude, that is to say, over a space of nearly
ten thousand square leagues.

This state has a population of two million five hundred
thousand inhabitants, an army of sixty thousand men,
trebled in time of war, and thirty thousand horsemen.
It is a rich country, with various animal, vegetable, and
mineral productions, and has been increased by the acces-
sion of the territories of Balkh, Aukoi, and Meitmaneh. It
possesses nineteen large towns. Bokhara, surrounded by a
wall measuring more than eight English miles, and flanked
with towers, a glorious city, made illustrious by Avicenna
and other learned men of the tenth century, is regarded as
the centre of Mussulman science, and ranks among the
most celebrated cities of Central Asia. Samarcand, which
contains the tomb of Tamerlane and the famous palace
where the blue stone is kept on which each new kahn must
seat himself on his accession, is defended by a very strong
citadel. Karschi, with its triple cordon, situated in an
oasis, surrounded by a marsh peopled with tortoises and
lizards, is almost impregnable. Is-chardjoui is defended
by a population of nearly twenty thousand souls.’ In
short, Katta-Kourgan, Nourata, Djizah, Paikande, Kara-
koul, Khouzar, etc., form a collection of towns of an almost
impregnable character. Protected by its mountains, and
jsolated by its steppes, the khanat of Bokhara is a most
formidable state; and Russia would need a large force to
subdue it.

The fierce and ambitious -Feofar now governed _ this
corner of Tartary. Relying on the other khans—prin-
cipally those of Khokhand and Koondooz, cruel and


RUSSIANS AND TARTARS. 21
rapacious warriors, all ready to join an enterprise so dear
to Tartar instincts—aided by the chiefs who ruled all the
hordes of Central Asia, he had placed himself at the head
of the rebellion of which Ivan Ogareff was the instigator.
This traitor, impelled by insane ambition as much as by
hate, had ordered the movement so as to intercept the
route to Siberia. Mad indeed he was, if he hoped to
attack the Muscovite Empire. Acting under his sugges-
tion, the Emir—which is the title taken by the khans of
Bokhara—had poured his hordes over the Russian frontier.
He invaded the government of Semipolatinsk, and the
Cossacks, who were only in small force there, had been
obliged to retire before him. He had advanced farther
than Lake Ballkhash, gaining over the Kirghiz population
in his way. Pillaging, ravaging, enrolling those who sub-
mitted, taking prisoners those who resisted, he marched
from one town to another, followed by those impedimenta
of Oriental sovereignty which may be called his household,
his wives and his slaves—all with the cool audacity of a
modern Ghengis-Khan. It was impossible to ascertain
where he now was; how far his soldiers bad marched
before the news of the rebellion reached Moscow ; or to
what part of Siberia the Russian troops had been forced
to retire. All communication was interrupted. Had the
wire between Kalyvan and Tomsk been cut by ‘Tartar
scouts, or had the Emir himself arrived at the Yeniseisk
provinces? Was all the lower part of Western Siberia in
a ferment? Had the rebellion already spread to the
eastern regions? No one could say. The only agent
which fears neither cold. nor heat, which can neither be
stopped by the rigours of winter nor the heat of summer,
and which flies with the rapidity of lightning—the electric
current—was prevented from traversing the steppes, and it
was no longer possible to warn the Grand Duke, shut up
in Irkutsk, of the danger threatening him from the treason
of Ivan Ogareff.

A courier only could supply the place of the interrupted
current. It would take this man some time to traverse the
22 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

five thousand two hundred versts between Moscow and
Irkutsk. To pass the ranks of the rebels and invaders he
must display almost superhuman courage and intelligence.
But with a clear head and a firm heart much can be done.

“ Shall I be able to find this head and heart ?” thought
the Czar,
( 23 )

CHAPTER III.
MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR.

THE door of the imperial cabinet was again opened and
General Kissoff was announced. :

“The courier?” inquired the Czar eagerly.

“ He is here, sire,” replied General Kissoff.

“Have you found a fitting man?”

“T will answer for him to your majesty.”

“ Has he been in the service of the Palace ?”

“Yes, sire.”

“You know him ?”

“Personally, and at various times he has fulfilled
difficult missions with success.”

“ Abroad ?”

“In Siberia itself.”

“Where does he come from ?”

“From Omsk. He is a Siberian.”

“ Has he coolness, intelligence, courage ?”

“Yes, sire ; he has all the qualities necessary to succeed,
even where others might possibly fail.”

“What is his age ?”

“Thirty.”

“Is he strong and vigorous ?”

“Sire, he can bear cold, hunger, thirst, fatigue, to the
very last extremities.”

“ He must have a frame of iron.”

“ Sire, he has.”
24 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“And a heart?”

“A heart of gold.”

“His name?”

“ Michael Strogoff.

“Ts he ready to set out?”

“He awaits your majesty’s orders in the guard-room.”

“ Let him come in,” said the Czar.

“In a few moments Michael Strogoff, the courier,
entered the imperial library.

Michael Strogoff was a tall, vigorous, broad-shouldered,
deep-chested man. His powerful head possessed the fine
features of the Caucasian race. His well-knit frame seemed
built for the performance of feats of strength. It would
have been a difficult task to move such a man against his
will, for when his feet were once planted on the ground, it
was as if they had taken root. As he doffed his Muscovite
cap, locks of ‘thick curly hair fell over his broad, massive
forehead. When his ordinarily pale face became at all
flushed, it arose solely from a more rapid action of the
heart, under the influence of a quicker circulation. His
eyes, of a deep blue, looked with clear, frank, firm gaze.
The slightly-contracted eyebrows indicated lofty heroism—
“the hero’s cool courage,” according to the definition of
the physiologist. He possessed a fine nose, with large
nostrils; and a well-shaped mouth, with the slightly-
projecting lips which denote a generous and noble heart.

Michael Strogoff had the temperament of the man of
action, who does not bite his nails or scratch his head in
doubt and indecision. Sparing of gestures as of words, he
always stood motionless like a soldier before his superior ;
but when he moved, his step showed a firmness, a freedom
of movement, which proved the confidence and vivacity of
his mind.

Michael Strogoff wore a handsome military uniform,
something resembling that of a light-cavalry officer in the
held—boots, spurs, half tightly-fitting trousers, brown
pelisse, trimmed with tur and ornamented with yellow
braid. On his breast ¢littered a cross and several medals.
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MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR. 25

Michael Strogoff belonged to the special corps of the
Czar’s couriers, ranking as an officer among those picked
men. His most discernible characteristic—particularly in
his walk, his face, in the whole man, and which the Czar
perceived at a glance—was, that he was “a fulfiller of
orders.” Hetherefore possessed one of the most serviceable
qualities in Russia—one which, as the celebrated novelist
Tourgueneff says, “will lead to the highest positions in the
Muscovite empire.”

In short, if any one could accomplish this journey from
Moscow to Irkutsk, across a rebellious country, surmount
obstacles, and brave perils of all sorts, Michael Strogoff was
the man.

A circumstance especially favourable to the success of
his plans was, that he was thoroughly acquainted with the
country which he was about to traverse, and understood its
different dialects—not only from having travelled there
before, but because he was of Siberian origin.

His father—old Peter Strogoff, dead ten years since—
inhabited the town of Omsk, situated in the government
of the same name; and his mother, Marfa Strogoff, lived

‘there still. There, amid the wild steppes of the provinces

of Omsk and Tobolsk, had the famous huntsman brought
up his son Michael to endure hardship. Peter Strogoff was
a huntsman by profession. Summer and winter—in the
burning heat, as well as when the cold was sometimes fifty
degrees below zero—he scoured the frozen plains, the
thickets of birch and larch, the pine forests ; setting traps ;
watching for small game with his gun, and for large game
with the spear or knife. The large game was nothing less
than the Siberian bear, a formidable and ferocious animal,
in size equalling its fellow of the frozen seas. Peter
Strogoff had killed more than thirty-nine bears—that is
to say, the fortieth had fallen under his blows; and,
according to Russian legends, most huntsmen who have
been lucky enough up to the thirty-ninth bear, have
succumbed to the fortieth.

Peter Strogoff had, however, passed the fatal number
26 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



without even a scratch. From that time, his son Michael,
aged eleven years, never failed to accompany him to the
hunt, carrying the ragatina, or spear, ready to come to the
aid of his father, who was armed only with the knife.
When he was fourteen, Michael Strogoff had killed his first
bear, quite alone—that was nothing ; but after stripping it
he dagged the gigantic animal's skin to his father’s house,
many versts distant, thus exhibiting remarkable strength in
a boy so young.

This style of life was of great benefit to him, and when
he arrived at manhood he could bear any amount of cold,
heat, hunger, thirst, or fatigue. Like the Yakout of the
northern countries, he was made of iron. He could go
four-and-twenty hours without eating, ten nights without
sleeping, and could make himself a shelter in the open
steppe where others would have been frozen to death.
Gifted with marvellous acuteness, guided by the instinct
of the Delaware of North America, over the white plain,
when every object is hidden in mist, or even in higher
latitudes, where the polar night is prolonged for many
days, he could find his way when others would have had
no idea whither to direct their steps. All his father’s
secrets were known to him. He had learnt to read almost
imperceptible signs—the forms of icicles, the appearance of
the small branches of trees, mists rising far away in the
horizon, vague sounds in the air, distant reports, the flight
of birds through the foggy atmosphere, a thousand circum-
stances which are so many words to those who can decipher
them. Moreover, tempered by snow like a Damascus blade
in the waters of Syria, he had a frame of iron, as General
Kissoff had said, and, what was no less true, a heart of
gold.

The only sentiment of love felt by Michael Strogoff was
that which he entertained for his mother, the aged Marfa,
who could never be induced to leave the house of the
Strogoffs, at Omsk, on the banks of the Irtish, where the
old huntsman and she had lived so long together. When
her son left her, he went away with a full heart, but promis-
MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR. 27
ing to come and see her whenever he could possibly do so ;
and this promise he had always religiously kept.

When Michael was twenty, it was decided that he
should enter the personal service of the Emperor of Russia,
in the corps of the couriers of the Czar. The hardy,
intelligent, zealous, well-conducted young Siberian first
distinguished himself especially, in a journey to the
Caucasus, through the midst of a difficult country, ravaged
by some restless successors of Schamyl; then later, in an
important mission to Petropolowski, in Kamtschatka, the
extreme limit of Asiatic Russia. During these long
journeys he displayed such marvellous coolness, pru-
dence, and courage, as to gain him the approbation and
protection of his chiefs, who rapidly advanced him in his
profession.

The furloughs which were his due after these distant
missions, although he might be separated from her by
thousands of versts, and winter had rendered the roads
almost impassable, he never failed to devote to his old
mother. Having been much employed in the south of the
empire, he had not seen old Marfa for three years—three
ages !—the first time in his life he had been so long absent
from her. Now, however, in a few days he would obtain
his furlough, and he had accordingly already made prepara-
tions for departure for Omsk, when the events which have
been related occurred. Michael Strogoff was therefore
introduced into the Czar’s presence in complete ignorance
of what the emperor expected from him.

The Czar fixed a penetrating look upon him without
uttering a word, whilst Michael stood perfectly motionless.

The Czar, apparently satisfied with his scrutiny, went
to his bureau, and, motioning to the chief of police to seat
himself, dictated in a low voice a letter of not more than a
few lines. |

The letter penned, the Czar re-read it attentively, then
signed it, preceding his name with the words “Ay¢ fo
sémou,” which, signifying “ So be it,” constitutes the decisive
formula of the Russian emperors.
28 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

The letter was then placed in an envelope, which was
sealed with the imperial arms.

The Czar, rising, told Michael Strogoff to draw near.

Michael advanced a few steps, and then stood motion-
less, ready to answer.

The Czar again looked him full in the face and their
eyes met. Then in an abrupt tone:

“Thy name?” he asked.

“ Michael Strogoff, sire.”

“Thy rank ?”

“Captain in the corps of couriers of the Czar.’

“Thou dost know Siberia ?”

“Tam a Siberian.”

“A native of ....?”

“Omsk, sire.”

“Hast thou relations there?”

“Ves, sire.”

“What relations ?”

“My old mother.”

The Czar suspended his questions for a moment. Then,
pointing to the letter which he held in his hand: .

“Here is a letter which I charge thee, Michael Strogoff,
to deliver into the hands of the “Grand Duke, and to no
other but him.”

‘“‘T will deliver it, sire.”

“The Grand Duke is at Irkutsk.”

“JT will go to Irkutsk.”

“ Thou wilt have to traverse a rebellious country, invaded
by Tartars, whose interest it will be to intercept this letter.”

“T will traverse it.”

“Above all, beware of the traitor, Ivan Ogareff, who
will perhaps meet thee on the way.”

“J will beware of him.”

“Wilt thou pass through Omsk ?”

“Sire, that is my route.”

“Tf thou dost see thy mother, there will be the risk of
being recognized. Thou must not see her!”

Michael Strogoff hesitated a moment.
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MICHAEL STROGOFF INTRODUCED TO THE CZAR. 29

“T will not see her,” said he.

“ Gwear to me that nothing will make thee acknowledge
who thou art, nor whither thou art going.”

“T swear it.”

“Michael Strogoff,’ continued the Czar, giving the letter
to the young courier, “take this letter; on it depends the
safety of all Siberia, and perhaps the life of my brother the
Grand Duke.” |

“This letter shall be delivered to his Highness the
Grand Duke.”

“Then thou wilt pass whatever happens?”

“JT shall pass, or they shall kill me.”

“T want thee to live.”

“T shall live, and I shall pass,’ answered Michael
Strogoff.

The Czar appeared satisfied with Strogoff’s calm and
simple answer.

“ “Go then, Michael Strogoff,” said he, “go for God, for
Russia, for my brother, and for myself!”

The courier, having saluted his sovereign, immediately
left the imperial cabinet, and, in a few minutes, the New
Palace.

“You made a good choice there, General,” said the Czar,

“JT think so, sire,” replied General Kissoff; “and your
majesty may be sure that Michael Strogoff will do all that

2 man can do.”
“ fle is indeed a man,

v)

said the Czar.
30 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

CHAPTER IV.
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD.

THE distance between Moscow and Irkutsk, about to be
traversed by Michael Strogoff, was five thousand two
hundred versts. Before the telegraph wire extended from
the Ural Mountains to the eastern frontier of Siberia, the
despatch service was performed by couriers, those who
travelled the most rapidly taking eighteen days to get from
Moscow to Irkutsk. But this was the exception, and the
journey through Asiatic Russia usually occupied from four
to five weeks, even though every available means of trans-
port was placed at the disposal of the Czar’s messengers.

Michael Strogoff was a man who feared neither frost nor
snow. He would have preferred travelling during the severe
winter season, in order that he might perform the whole
distance by sleighs. At that period of the year the diffi-
culties which all other means of locomotion present are
greatly diminished, the wide steppes being levelled by snow.
while there are no rivers to cross, but simply sheets of glass,
over which the sleigh glides rapidly and easily.

Perhaps certain natural phenomena are most to be feared
at that time, such as long-continuing and dense fogs, exces.
sive cold, fearfully heavy snow-storms, which sometimes
envelop whole caravans and cause their destruction. Hungry
wolves also roam over the plain in thousands. But it would
have been better for Michael Strogoff to face these risks;
for during the winter the Tartar invaders would have been
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. 31



stationed in the towns, their marauding bands would not be
overrunning the steppes, any movement of the troops would
have been impracticable, and he could consequently have
more easily performed his journey. But it was not in his
power to choose either his own weather or his own time.
Whatever were the circumstances, he must accept them and
set out.

Such were the difficulties which Michael Strogoff boldly
confronted and prepared to encounter.

In the first place, he must not travel as a courier of the
Czar usually would. No one must even suspect what he
really was. Spies swarm in a rebellious country; let him
be recognized, and his mission would be in danger. Also,
while supplying him with a large sum of money, which was
sufficient for his journey, and would facilitate it in some
measure, General Kissoff had not given him any document
notifying that he was on the Emperor’s service, which is the
Sesame par excellence. He contented himself with furnish-
ing him with a “ podorojna.”

This podorojna was made out in the name of Nicholas
Korpanoff, merchant, living at Irkutsk. It authorized
Nicholas Korpanoff to be accompanied if requisite by one
or more persons, and, moreover, it was, by special notifica-
tion, made available in the event of the Muscovite govern-
ment forbidding natives of any other countries to leave
Russia.

The podorojna is simply a permission to take post-
horses ; but Michael Strogoff was not to use it unless he
was sure that by so doing he would not excite suspicion
as to his mission, that is to say, whilst he was on European
territory. The consequence was that in Siberia, whilst
traversing the insurgent provinces, he would have no
power over the relays, either in the choice of horses in
preference to others, or in demanding conveyances for his
personal use; neither was Michael Strogoff to forget that
he was no longer a courier, but a plain merchant, Nicholas
Korpanoff, travelling from Moscow to Irkutsk, and, as such
exposed to all the impediments of an ordinary journey.
32 MICHAEL STROGOFF,

To pass unknown, more or less rapidly, but to pass
somehow or other, such were the directions he had
received.

Thirty years previously, the escort of a traveller of rank
consisted of not less than two hundred mounted Cossacks,
two hundred foot-soldiers, twenty-five Baskir horsemen,
three hundred camels, four hundred horses, twenty-five
waggons, two portable boats, and two pieces of cannon.
All this was requisite for a journey in Siberia.

Michael Strogoff, however, had neither cannon, nor
horsemen, nor foot-soldiers, nor beasts of burden. He
would travel in a carriage or on horseback, when he could ;
on foot, when he could not.

There would be no difficulty in getting over the first
fifteen hundred versts, the distance between Moscow and
the Russian frontier. Railroads, post-carriages, steam-
boats, relays of horses, were at every one’s disposal, and
consequently at the disposal of the courier of the Czar.

Accordingly, on the morning of the 16th of July,
having doffed his uniform, with a knapsack on his back,
dressed in the simple Russian costume—tightly-fitting tunic,
the traditional belt of the Moujik, wide trousers, gartered
at the knees, and high boots—Michael Strogoff arrived at
the station in time for the first train. He carried no arms,
openly at least, but under his belt was hidden a revolver
and in his pocket, one of those large knives, resembling
both a cutlass and a yataghan, with which a Siberian
hunter can so neatly disembowel a bear, without injuring
its precious fur.

A crowd of travellers had collected at the Moscow
station. The stations on the Russian railroads are much
used as places for meeting, not only by those who are
about to proceed by the train, but by friends who come to
see them off. It indeed resembles, from the variety of
characters assembled, a small news exchange.

The train in which Michael took his place was to set
him down at Nijni-Novgorod. There terminated, at that
time, the iron road which, uniting Moscow and St. Peters-


Michael Strogoff ensconced himself in his corner.

(Page 33)
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. 33
burg, will eventually continue to the Russian frontier. It
was a journey of about four hundred versts, and the train
would accomplish it in ten hours. Once arrived at Nijni-
Novgorod, Strogoff would, according to circumstances,
either take the land route or the steamer on the Volga,
so as to reach the Ural mountains as soon as possible.

Michael Strogoff ensconced himself in his corner, like a
worthy citizen whose affairs go well with him, and who
endeavours to kill time by sleep.

Nevertheless, as he was not alone in his compartment,
he slept with one eye open, and listened with both his
ears.

In fact, rumour of the rising of the Kirghiz hordes, and
of the Tartar invasion had transpired in some degree.
The occupants of the carriage, whom chance had made his
travelling companions, discussed the subject, though with
that caution which has become habitual among Russians,
who know that spies are ever on the watch for any
treasonable expressions which may be uttered.

These travellers, as well as the larger number of persons
in the train, were merchants on their way to the celebrated
fair of Nijni-Novgorod ;—a very mixed assembly, composed
of Jews, Turks, Cossacks, Russians, Georgians, Kalmucks,
and others, but nearly all speaking the national tongue.

They discussed the pros and cons of the serious events
which were taking place beyond the Ural, and those
merchants seemed to fear lest the government should be
led to take certain restrictive measures, especially in the
provinces bordering on the frontier—measures from which
trade woud certainly suffer.

It must be confessed that those selfish individuals
thought only of the war, that is to say, the suppression of
the revolt and the struggle against the invasion, from the
single point of view of their threatened interests. The
presence of a private soldier, clad in his uniform—and the
importance of a uniform in Russia is great—would have
certainly been enough to restrain the merchants’ tongues.

But in the compartment occupied by Michael Strogoff,
D
34 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

there was no one who could even be suspected of being a
military rman, and the Czar’s courier was not the person to
betray himself. He listened, then.

“They say that caravan teas are up,’ remarked a
Persian, known by his cap of Astrakhan fur, and his ample
brown robe, worn threadbare by use.

“Oh, there’s no fear of teas falling,” answered an old
Jew of sullen aspect. “Those in the market at Nijni-
Novgorod will be easily cleared off by the West; but,
unfortunately, it won’t be the same with Bokhara carpets.”

“What! are you expecting goods from Bokhara?”
asked the Persian.

“No, but from Samarcand, and that is even more
exposed. The idea of reckoning on the exports of a
country in which the khans are ina state of revolt from
Khiva to the Chinese frontier!”

“Well,” replied the Persian, “if the carpets do not
arrive, the drafts will not arrive either, I suppose.”

“And the profits, Father Abraham!” exclaimed the
little Jew, “do you reckon them as nothing ?”

“You are right,’ said another traveller; “goods from
Central Asia run a great risk of falling in the market, and
it will be the same with the Samarcand carpets as with the
wools, tallow, and shawls from the East.”

“Why, look out, little father,” said a Russian traveller,
in a bantering tone ; “you'll grease your shawls terribly if
you mix them up with your tallow’’

“That amuses you,” sharply answered the merchant,
who had little relish for that sort of joke.

“Well, if you tear you hair, or throw ashes on your
head,” replied the traveller, “will that change the course
of events? No; no more than the course of the Exchange.”

“One can easily see that you are not a merchant,”
observed the little Jew.

“Faith, no, worthy son of Abraham! I sell neither
hops, nor eider-down, nor honey, nor wax, nor hemp-seed,
nor salt meat, nor caviare, nor wood, nor wool, nor ribbons,
nor hemp, nor flax, nor morocco, nor furs... .”
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. 35

“But do you buy them?” asked the Persian, interrupt-
ing the traveller's list.

“As little as I can, and only for my own private use,”
answered the other, with a wink.

“ He’s a wag,” said the Jew to the Persian.

“Or a spy,” replied the other, lowering his voice. “ We
had better take care, and not speak more than necessary.
The police are not over-particular in these times, and you
never can know with whom you are travelling.”

In another corner of the compartment they were
speaking less of mercantile affairs, and more of the Tartar
invasion and its annoying consequences.

“ All the horses in Siberia will be requisitioned,” said
a traveller, “and communication between the different
provinces of Central Asia will become very difficult.”

“Ts it true,’ asked his neighbour, “that the Kirghiz of
the middle horde have made common cause with the
Tartars ?”

“So it is said,” answered the traveller, lowering his
voice ; “but who can flatter themselves that they know
anything really of what is going on in this country ?”

“T have heard speak of a concentration of troops on
the frontier. The Don Cossacks have already gathered
along the course of the Volga, and they are to be opposed
to the rebel Kirghiz.”

“Tf the Kirghiz descend the Irtish, the route to Irkutsk
will not be safe,” observed his neighbour. “ Besides, yester-
day I wanted to send a telegram to Krasnoiarsk, and it
could not be forwarded. It’s to be feared that before long
the Tartar columns will have isolated Eastern Siberia.”

“In short, little father,” continued the first speaker,
“these merchants have good reason for being uneasy
about their trade and transactions. After requisitioning
the horses, they will requisition the boats, carriages, every
means of transport, until the time will come when no one
will be allowed to take even one step throughout all the
empire.”

“T’m much afraid that the Nijni-Novgorod fair won’t
36 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

end 4s brilliantly as it has begun,” responded the other,
shaking his head. “But the safety and integrity of the
Russian territory before everything. Business is only
business.” :

If in this compartment the subject of conversation
varied but little—nor did it, indeed, in the other carriages
of the train—in all it might have been observed that the
talkers used much circumspection. When they did happen
to venture out of the region of facts, they never went so far
as to attempt to divine the intentions of the Muscovite
government, or even to criticise them.

This was especially remarked by a traveller in a carriage
at the front part of the train. ‘This person—evidently a
stranger—made good use of his eyes, and asked numberless
questions, to which he received only evasive answers.
Every minute leaning out of the window, which he would
keep down, to the great disgust of his fellow-travellers, he
lost nothing of the views to the right. He inquired the
names of the most insignificant places, their position, what
were their commerce, their manufactures, the number of
their inhabitants, the average mortality, etc., and all this
he wrote down in a note-book, already full of memoranda.

This was the correspondent Alcide Jolivet, and the
reason of his putting so many insignificant questions was,
that amongst the many answers he received, he hoped to
find some interesting fact “for his cousin.” But, naturally
enough, he was taken for a spy, and not a word treating of
the events of the day was uttered in his hearing.

Finding, therefore, that he could learn nothing in rela-
tion to the Tartar invasion, he wrote in his note-book:
“Travellers of great discretion. Very close as to political
matters.”

Whilst Alcide Jolivet noted down his impressions thus
minutely, his confrere, in the same train, travelling for the
same object, was devoting himself to the same work of
observation in another compartment. Neither of them
had seen each other that day at the Moscow station, and
they were each ignorant that the other had set out to visit
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. 37

the scene of the war. Harry Blount, speaking little, but
listening much, had not inspired his companions with the
suspicions which Alcide Jolivet had aroused. He was not
taken for a spy, and therefore his neighbours, without con-
straint, gossiped in his presence, allowing themselves even
to go farther than their natural caution would in most cases
have allowed them. The correspondent of the Dazly
Telegraph had thus an opportunity of observing how
much recent events pre-occupied the party of merchants
who were on their way to Nijni-Novgorod, and to what a
degree the commerce with Central Asia was threatened in
its transit.

He therefore did not hesitate fo note in his book this
perfectly correct observation :

“My fellow-travellers extremely anxious. Nothing is
talked of but war, and they speak of it, with a freedom
which is astonishing, as’ having broken out between the
Volga and the Vistula.”

The readers of the Daily Telegraph would not fail to be
as well informed as Alcide Jolivet’ s “ cousin.’

And moreover, as Harry Blount, seated at the left of
the train, only saw one part of the country, which was hilly,
without giving himself the trouble of looking at the right
side, which was composed of wide plains, he added, with
British assurance :

“ Country mountainous between Moscow and Wladimir.”

It was evident that the Russian government purposed
taking severe measures to guard against any serious
eventualities even in the interior of the empire. The
rebellion had not crossed the Siberian frontier, but evil
influences might be feared in the Volga provinces, so near
to the country of the Kirghiz.

The police had as yet found no traces of Ivan Ogareff.
It was not known whether the traitor, calling in the
foreigner to avenge his personal rancour, had rejoined
Feofar-Khan, or whether he was endeavouring to foment
a revolt in the government of Nijni-Novgorod, which at
this time of year contained a population of such diverse
—_——

38 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

elements. Perhaps among the Persians, Armenians, or
Kalmucks, who flocked to the great market, he had agents,
instructed to provoke a rising in the interior. All this was
possible, especially in such a country as Russia. In fact,
this vast empire, of 4,740,000 square miles in extent, does
not possess the homogeneousness of the states of Western
Europe. Amongst the many nations of which it is com-
posed, there exist necessarily many shades. The Russian
territory in Europe, Asia, and America extends from the
fifteenth degree east longitude, to the hundred and thirty-
third degree west longitude, or an extent of nearly two
hundred degrees ; and from the thirty-eighth south parallel
to the eighty-first north parallel, or forty-three degrees. It
contains more than seventy millions of inhabitants. In
it thirty different languages are spoken. ‘The Sclavonian
race predominates, no doubt, but there are besides
Russians, Poles, Lithuanians, Courlanders. Add to these,
Finns, Laplanders, Esthonians, several other northern
tribes with unpronounceable names, the Permiaks, the
Germans, the Greeks, the Tartars, the Caucasian tribes,
the Mongol, Kaimuck, Samoid, Kamtschatkan, and Aleu-
tian hordes, and one may understand that the unity of
so vast a state must have been difficult to maintain, and
that it could only have been the work of time, aided by
the wisdom of many successive rulers.

Be that as it may, Ivan Ogareff had hitherto managed
to escape all search, and very probably he might have
rejoined the Tartar army. But at every station where the
train stopped, inspectors came forward who scrutinized the
travellers and subjected them all to a minute examination,
as, by order of the superintendent of police, these officials
were seeking Ivan Ogareff. The government, in fact,
believed it to be certain that the traitor had not yet been
able to quit European Russia. If there appeared cause to
suspect any traveller, he was carried off to explain himself
at the police station, and in the meantime the train went
on its way, no person troubling himself about the un-
fortunate one Icft behind.
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FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. 39



With the Russian police, which is very arbitrary, it is
absolutely useless to argue. Military rank is conferred on
its employés, and they act in military fashion. How can
any one, moreover, help obeying, unhesitatingly, orders
which emanate from a monarch who has the right to
employ this formula at the head of his ukase :—“ We, by
the grace of God, Emperor and Autocrat of all the Russias,
of Moscow, Kiev, Wladimir, and Novgorod, Czar of Kasan
and Astrakhan, Czar of Poland, Czar of Siberia, Czar of
the Tauric Chersonese, Seignior of Pskov, Prince of
Smolensk, Lithuania, Volkynia, Podolia, and Finland,
Prince of Esthonia, Livonia, Courland, and of Semigallia,
of Bialystok, Karelia, Sougria, Perm, Viatka, Bulgaria, and
many other countries; Lord and Sovereign Prince of the
territory of Nijni-Novgorod, Tchemigoff, Riazan, Polotsk,
Rostov, Jaroslavl, Bielozersk, Oudoria, Obdoria, Kondinia,
Vitepsk, and of Mstislaf, Governor of the Hyperborean
Regions, Lord of the countries of Iveria, Kartalinia, Grou-
zinia, Kabardinia, and Armenia, Hereditary Lord and
Suzerain of the Scherkess princes, of those of the mountains,
and of others ; heir of Norway, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein,
Stormarn, Dittmarsen, and Oldenburg.” A powerful lord,
in truth, is he whose arms are an eagle with two heads,
holding a sceptre and a globe, surrounded by the escutcheons
of Novgorod, Wladimir, Kiev, Kasan, Astrakhan, and of
Siberia, and environed by the collar of the order of St.
Andrew, surmounted by a royal crown!

As to Michael Strogoff, his papers were in order, and
he was, consequently, free from all police supervision.

At the station of Wladimir the train stopped for
several minutes, which appeared sufficient to enable the
correspondent of the Dazly Telegraph to take a twofold
view, physical and moral, and to form a complete estimate
of this ancient capital of Russia.

At the Wladimir station fresh travellers entered the
train. Among others, a young girl, presented herself at
the door of the compartment occupied by Michael Strogoff.

A vacant place was found opposite the courier of the
40 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



Czar. The young girl took it, after placing by her side
a modest travelling-bag of red leather, which seemed to
constitute all her luggage. Then seating herself with
downcast eyes, not even glancing at the fellow-travellers
whom chance had given her, she prepared for a journey
which was still to last several hours.

Michael Strogoff could not help looking attentively at
his newly-arrived fellow-traveller. As she was so placed
as to travel with her back to the engine, he even offered
her his seat, which she might prefer to her own, but she
thanked him with a slight bend of her graceful neck.

The young girl appeared to be about sixteen or seven-
teen years of age. Her head, truly charming, was of the
purest Sclavonic type—slightly severe, and which would,
when a few summers should have passed over her, unfold
into beauty rather than mere prettiness. From beneath a
sort of kerchief which she wore on her head escaped in
profusion light golden hair. Her eyes were brown, soft,
and expressive of much sweetness of temper. ‘The nose
was straight, and attached to her pale and somewhat thin
cheeks by delicately mobile nostrils. The lips were finely
cut, but it seemed as if they had long since forgotten how
to smile.

The young traveller was tall and upright, as far as
could be judged of her figure from. the very simple and
ample pelisse that covered her. Although she was still
a very young girl in the literal sense of the term, the
development of her high forehead and clearly-cut features
gave the idea that she was the possessor of great moral
energy—a point which did not escape Michael Strogoff.
Evidently this young girl had already suffered in the past,
and the future doubtless did not present itself to her in
elowing colours ; but it was none the less certain that she
had known how to struggle still with the trials of life. Her
energy was evidently both prompt and persistent, and her
calmness unalterable, even under circumstances in which

a man would be likely to give way or lose his self.
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FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGOROD. Al

Such was the impression which she produced at first
sight. Michael Strogoff, being himself of an energetic
temperament, was naturally str uck by the character of her
physiognomy, and, while taking care not to cause her
annoyance by a too persistent gaze, he observed his neigh-
bour with no small interest. The costume of the young
traveller was both extremely simple and appropriate. She
was not rich—that could be easily seen; but not the
slightest mark of negligence was to be discerned in her
dress. All her luggage was contained in a leather bag
under lock and key, and which, for want of room, she held
on her lap.

She wore a long, dark pelisse, which was gracefully
adjusted at the neck by a blue tie. Under this pelisse,
a short skirt, also dark, fell over a robe which reached to
the ankles, and of which the lower edge was ornamented
with some simple embroidery. Half-boots of worked
leather, and thickly soled, as if chosen in the anticipation
of-a long journey, covered her small feet.

Michael Strogoff fancied that he recognized, by certain
details, the fashion of the costume of Livonia, and he
thought that his neighbour must be a native of the Baltic
provinces. | |

But whither was this young girl going, alone, at an age
when the fostering care of a father, or the protection of a
brother, are considered a matter of necessity? Had she
now come, after an already long journey, from the provinces
of Western Russia? Was she merely going to Nijni-Nov-
gorod, or was the end of her travels beyond the eastern
frontiers of the empire? Would some relation, some friend,
await her arrival by the train? Or was it not more
probable, on the contrary, that she would find herself as
much isolated in the town as she was in this compartment,
where no one—she must think—appeared to care for her?
[t was probable.

‘In fact, the effect of habits contracted in solitude was
clearly manifested in the bearing of the young girl. The
manner in which she entered the carriage and prepared
42 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



herself for the journey, the slight disturbance she caused
among those around her, the care she took not to incom-
mode or give trouble to any one, all showed that she was
accustomed to be alone, and to depend on herself only.

Michael Strogoff observed her with interest, but, himself
reserved, he sought no opportunity of accosting her, although
several hours must elapse before the arrival of the train at
Nijni-Novgorod.

Once only, when her neighbour—the merchant who had
jumbled together so imprudently in his remarks tallow and
shawls—being asleep, and threatening her with his great
head, which was swaying from one shoulder to the other,
Michael Strogoff awoke him somewhat roughly, and made
him understand that he must hold himself upright and ina
more convenient posture.

The merchant, rude enough by nature, grumbled some
words against “people who interfere with what does not
concern them,” but Michael Strogoff cast on him a glance
so stern that the sleeper leant on the opposite side, and
relieved the young traveller from his unpleasant vicinity.

The latter looked at the young man for an instant, and
mute and modest thanks were in that look.

But a circumstance occurred which gave Michael
Strogoff a just idea of the character of the maiden. Twelve
versts before arriving at the station of Nijni-Novgorod, at a
sharp curve of the iron way, the train experienced a very
violent shock. Then, for a minute, it ran on to the slope of
an embankment.

Travellers more or less shaken about, cries, confusion,
general disorder in the carriages—such was the effect at first
produced. It was to be feared that some serious accident
had happened. Consequently, even before the train had
stopped, the doors were opened, and the panic- stricken
passengers thought only of getting out of the carriages and
taking refuge on the line.

Michael Strogoff thought instantly of the young girl ;
but, while the passengers in her compartment were pre-
cipitating themselves outside, screaming and struggling, she
FROM MOSCOW TO NIJNI-NOVGORCD. 43



——-



had remained quietly in her piace, her face scarcely changed
by a slight pallor.

She waited—Michael Strogoff waited also.

She had not made any attempt to leave the carriage.
Nor did he move either.

Both remained quiet.

“A determined nature!” thought Michael Strogoff.

However, all danger had quickly disappeared. A
breakage of the coupling of the luggage-van had first
caused the shock to, and then the stoppage of, the train,
which in another instant would have been thrown from the
top of the embankment into a bog. There was an hour’s
delay. At last, the road being cleared, the train proceeded,
and. at half-past eight in the evening arrived at the station
of Nijni-Novgorod. |

Before any one could get out of the carriages, the
inspectors of police presented themselves at the doors and
examined the passengers.

- Michael Strogoff showed his podorojna, made out in the
name of Nicholas Korpanoff. He had consequently no
difficulty.

As to the other travellers in the compartment, all bound
for Nijni-Novgorod, their appearance, happily for them, was
in nowise suspicious.

The young girl in her turn, exhibited, not a passport,
since passports are no longer required in Russia, but a
permit indorsed with a private seal, and which seemed to
be of a special character. The inspector read the permit
with attention. Then, having attentively examined the
person whose description it contained ;

“You are from Riga?” he said.

“Yes,” replied the young girl.

“You are going to Irkutsk ?”

“Yes,”

“By what route?”

“By Perm.”

“Good!” replied the inspector. “Take care to have
your permit vzséd at the police station of Nijni-Novgorod.”
Al MICHAEL STROGOFF.
The young girl bent her head in token of assent.
Hearing these questions and replies, Michael Strogoff

experienced a mingled sentiment both of surprise and pity.

What! this young girl, alone, journeying to that far-off

Siberia, and at a time when, to its ordinary dangers, were

added all the perils of an invaded country and one in a state

of insurrection! How would she reach it? What would
become of her?

The inspection ended, the doors of the carriages were
then opened, but, before Michael Strogoff could move
towards her, the young Livonian, who had been the first to
descend, had disappeared in the crowd which thronged the
platforms of the railway station.


nh

i}
in



The Accident.


CHAPTER V.
TIE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS.

N1JNI-NOVGOROD, Lower Nevgorod, situate at the junction
of the Volga and the Oka, is the chief town in the district
of thesame name. It was here that Michael Strogoff was
obliged to leave the railway, which at the time did not go
beyond that town. Thus, as he advanced, his travelling
would become first less speedy and then less safe.

Nijni-Novgorod, the fixed population of which is only
from thirty to thirty-five thousand inhabitants, contained at
that time more than three hundred thousand; that is to
say, the population was increased tenfold. This addition
was in consequence of the celebrated fair, which was held
within the walls for three weeks. Formerly Makariew had
the benefit of this concourse of traders, but since 1817 the
fair had been removed to Nijni-Novgorod.

The town, dreary enough at most times, then presented
a truly animated scene. Six different races of merchants,
European and Asiatic, were fraternising under the congenial
influence of trade.

ven at the late hour at which Michael Strogoff left the
platform, there was still a large number of people in the two
towns, separated by the stream of the Volga, which compose
Nijni-Novgorod, and the highest of which is built on a steep
rock, and is detended by one of those forts called in Russia
“krenil.”
46 | MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Had Michael Strogoff been obliged to stay at Nijni-
Novgorod, he would have had some trouble in finding an
hotel, or even an inn, to suit him. In the meantime, as he
had not to start immediately, for he was going to take a
steamer, he was compelled to look out for some lodging ;
but, before doing so, he wished to know exactly the hour at
which the steamboat would start. He went to the office of
the company whose boats plied between Nijni-Novgorod
and Perm. There, to his great annoyance, he found that
the Caucasus—for that was the boat’s name—did not start
for Perm till the following day at twelve o'clock. Seventeen
hours to wait! It was very vexatious to a man so pressed
for time. However, he resigned himself to circumstances,
for he never senselessly murmured. Besides, the fact was
that no telegue or tarantass, berlin or postchaise, nor horse
could take him more quickly either to Perm or Kasan. It
would be better, then, to wait for the steamer, a mode of
conveyance far more rapid than any other, and which would
enable him to regain lost time.

Here, then, was Michael Strogoff strolling through the
town and quietly looking out for some inn in which to pass
the night. However, he troubled himself little on this score,
and, but that hunger pressed him, he would probably have
wandered on till morning in the streets of Nijni-Novgorod.
He was looking for supper rather thana bed. But he found
both at the sign of the City of Constantinople. There,
the landlord offered him a fairly comfortable room, with
little furniture, it is true, but which was not without an
image of the Virgin, and portraits of a few saints framed in
yellow gauze. !

A goose filled with sour stuffing swimming in thick
cream, barley bread, some curds, powdered sugar mixed
with cinnamon, and a jug of kwass, the ordinary Russian
beer, were placed before him, and sufficed to satisfy his
hunger. He did justice to the meal, which was more than
could be said of his neighbour at table, who, having, in his
character of “old believer” of the sect of Raskalniks, made
the vow of abstinence, rejected the potatoes on the dish in
THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS. 47
front of him, and carefully refrained from putting sugar in
his tea.

His supper finished, Michael Strogoff, instead of going
up to his bedroom, again strolled out into the town. But,
although the long twilight yet lingered, the crowd was
already dispersing, the streets were gradually becoming
empty, and at length every one retired to his dwelling.

Why did not Michael Strogoff go quietly to bed, as
would have seemed more reasonable after a long railway
journey? Was he thinking of the young Livonian girl
who had for so many hours been his travelling companion ?
Having nothing better to do, he was thinking of her. Did
he fear that, lost in this busy city, she might be exposed
to insult? He feared so, and with good reason. Did he
hope to meet her, and, if need were, to afford her protection?
No. To meet would be difficult. As to protection—what
right had he——

“ Alone,” he said to himself, “alone, in the midst of
these wandering tribes! And yet the present dangers
are nothing compared to those she must undergo. Siberia!
Irkutsk! Iam about to dare all risks for Russia, for the
Czar, while she is about to do so—For whom ? For what?
She is authorized to cross the frontier! And the country
beyond is in revolt! The steppes are full of Tartar bands!”

Michael Strogoff stopped for an instant, and reflected.

“Without doubt,” thought he, “she must have deter-
mined on undertaking her journey before the invasion.
Perhaps she is even now ignorant of what is happening.
But no; that cannot be, for the merchants discussed before
her the disturbances in Siberia—and she did not seem
surprised. She did not even ask for an explanation. She
must have known it then, and, though knowing it, she is
still resolute. Poor girl! Her motive for the journey
must be urgent indeed! But though she may be brave—
and she certainly is so—her strength must fail her, and, to
say nothing of dangers and obstacles, she will be unable
to endure the fatigue of-such a journey. Never can she
pass Irkutsk !”
48 . MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Indulging in such reflections, Michael Strogoff wandered
on as chance led him; but, being well acquainted with the
town, he knew that he could, without difficulty, retrace his
steps.

Having strolled on for about an hour, he seated
himself on a bench against the wall of a large wooden
cottage, which stood, with many others, on a vast open
space.

He had scarcely been there five minutes when a hand
was laid heavily on his shoulder.

“What are you doing here?” roughly demanded a tall
and powerful man, who had approached unperceived.

“Tam resting,’ replied Michael Strogoff.

“Do you mean to stay all night on the bench?” asked
the man.

“Yes, if I feel inclined to do so,’ answered Michael
Strogoff, in a tone somewhat too sharp for the simple
merchant he wished to personate.

“Come forward, then, that I may see you,” said the
man.

Michael Strogoff, remembering that, above all things,
prudence was necessary, instinctively drew back.

“Tt*is not necessary,” he replied ; and he calmly stepped
back ten paces or so.

The man seemed, as Michael observed him well, to
have the look of a Bohemian, such as are met at fairs, and
with whom contact, either physical or moral, is unpleasant.
Then, as he looked more attentively through the dusk
which was coming on, he perceived, near the cottage, a
large caravan, the usual travelling dwelling of the Zingaris
or gipsies, who swarm in Russia wherever a few copecks
can be obtained.

As the gipsy took two or three steps forward, and was
about to interrogate Michael Strogoff more closely, the
door of the cottage was opened. He could just see a
woman, who advanced quickly, and in a language which
Michael Strogoff knew to be a mixture of the Mongol and
Siberian :
Hi
Hi

tt

aN
RH
A
{i

a Mi We
PANT (HH I R

Mh

—-—__ >

Ny

‘© What are you doing here?”



(Page 48.)
THE ‘TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS. 49

“ Another spy!” she said. “Let him alone, and come
to supper. The ‘ papluka’* is waiting for you.”

Michael Strogoff could not help smiling at the epithet
bestowed on him, dreading spies as he did above all things.

But in the same dialect, although his accent was very
different, the Bohemian replied in words which signify :

“You are right, Sangarre! Besides, we start to-morrow.”

“To-morrow?” repeated the woman in a tone of
surprise.

“Yes, Sangarre,” replied the Bohemian ; “to-morrow,
and the Father himself sends us—where we are going!”

Theréupon the man and woman entered the cottage,
and carefully closed the door.

“Good!” said Michael Strogoff, to himself; “if these
gipsies do not wish to be understood when they speak
before me, they had better use some other language.”

From his Siberian origin, and because he had passed
his childhood in the Steppes, Michael Strogoff, it has been
said, understood almost all the languages in usage from
Tartary to the Sea of Ice. As to.the exact signification
of the words exchanged between the gipsy and his com-
panion, he did not trouble his head. For why should it
interest him ? :

It was already late when he thought of returning to his
inn to take some repose. He followed, as he did so, the
course of the Volga, whose waters were almost hidden
under the countless number of boats floating on its bosom.

By the direction of the river he knew the spot which he
had just left. This collection of caravans and cottages
occupied the great square in which was held, year by year,
the principal market of Nijni-Novgorod, and this explained
the assemblage in the square of these mountebanks and
gipsies from all quarters of the world.

An hour after, Michael Strogoff was sleeping soundly
on one of those Russian beds which always seem so hard
to strangers, and on the morrow, the 17th of July, he awoke
at break of day.

*A kind of light cake.
50 MICHAEL STROGOFF. ~

He had still five hours to pass in Nijni-Novgorod ; it
seemed to.him an age. How was he to spend the morning
unless in wandering, as he had done the evening before,
through the streets? By the time he had finished his
breakfast, strapped up his bag, had his podorojna inspected
at the police office, he would have nothing to do but start.
But he was not a man to lie in bed after the sun had risen ;
so he rose, dressed himself, placed the letter with the
imperial arms on it carefully at the bottom of its usual
pocket within the lining of his coat, over which he fastened
his belt; he then closed his bag and threw it over his
shoulder. This done, he had no wish to return to the
City of Constantinople, and intending to breakfast on
the bank of the Volga near the wharf, he settled his bill
and left the inn. By way of precaution, Michael Strogofi
went first to the office of the steam-packet company, and
there made sure that the Caucasus would start at the
appointed hour. As he did so, the thought for the first
time struck him that, since the young Livonian girl was
going to Perm, it was very possible that her intention was
also to embark in the Caucasus, in which case he should
accompany her.

The town above with its kremlin, whose circumference
measures two versts, and which resembles that of Moscow,
was altogether abandoned. Even the governor did not
reside there. But if the town above was like a city of the
dead, the town below, at all events, was alive.

Michael Strogoff, having crossed the Volga on a bridge
of boats, guarded by mounted Cossacks, reached the square
where the evening before he had fallen in with the gipsy
camp. This was somewhat outside the town, where the
fair of Nijni-Novgorod was held, with which that of Leipzig
itself is not to be compared. In avast plain beyond the
Volga rose the temporary palace of the governor-general,
where by imperial orders that great functionary resided
during the whole of the fair, which, thanks to the people
who composed it, required an ever-watchful surveillance.

This plain was now covered with booths symmetrically
~< tlie

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i |

WASH
ee SA TE



The moving mass of human beings surging here and there.
(/age 51-)
THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS. 51

arranged in such a manner as to leave avenues broad
enough to allow the crowd to pass without a crush.

Each group of these booths, of all sizes and shapes,
formed a separate quarter particularly dedicated to some
special branch of commerce. There was the iron quarter,
the furriers’ quarter, the woollen quarter, the quarter of the
wood merchants, the weavers’ quarter, the dried fish
quarter, etc. Some booths were even built of fancy
materials, some of bricks of tea, others of masses of salt
meat—that is to say, of samples of the goods which the
owners thus announced were there to the purchasers—a
singular, and somewhat American, mode of advertisement.

In the avenues and long alleys there was already a
large assemblage of people—the sun, which had risen at
four o’clock, being well above the horizon— Russians, Sibe-
rians, Germans, Cossacks, Turcomans, Persians, Georgians,
Greeks, Turks, Hindoos, Chinese, an extraordinary mix-
ture of Europeans and Asiatics, talking, wrangling,
haranguing, and bargaining. Everything which can be
bought or sold seemed to be heaped up in this square.
Porters, horses, camels, asses, boats, caravans, every
description of conveyance that would serve for the trans-
port of merchandise had been accumulated on the fair-
ground. Furs, precious stones, silks, Cashmere shawls,
Turkey carpets, weapons from the Caucasus, gauzes from
Smyrna and Ispahan, Tiflis armour, caravan teas, European
bronzes, Swiss clocks, velvets and silks from Lyons,
English cottons, harness, fruits, vegetables, minerals from
the Ural, malachite, lapis-lazuli, spices, perfumes, medicinal
herbs, wood, tar, rope, horn, pumpkins, water-melons, etc.
—all the products of India, China, Persia, from the shores of
the Caspian and the Black Sea, from America and Europe,
were united at this corner of the globe.

It is scarcely possible truly to portray the moving mass
of human beings surging here and there, the excitement,
the confusion, the hubbub ; demonstrative as were the
natives and the inferior classes, they were completely out-
done by their visitors. There were merchants from Central
52 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



Asia, who had occupied a year in escorting their merchan-
dise across its vast plains, and who would not again see
their shops and counting-houses for another year to come.
In short, of such importance is this fair of Nijni-Novgorod,
that the sum total of its transactions amounts yearly to not
less than a hundred million roubles.* .

On one of the open spaces between the quarters of this
temporary city were numbers of mountebanks of every
description ; harlequins and acrobats, deafening the visitors
with the noise of their instruments and their vociferous
cries; gipsies from the mountains, telling fortunes to the
credulous fools who are ever to be found in such assem-
blies; Zingaris or Tsiganes—a name which the Russians
give to the gipsies who are the descendants of the ancient
Copts—singing their wildest melodies and dancing their
most original dances; comedians of foreign theatres, act-
ing Shakespeare, adapted to the taste of spectators who
crowded to witness them. In the long avenues the bear
showmen accompanied their four-footed dancers, mena-
geries resounded with the hoarse cries of animals under the
influence of the stinging whip or red-hot irons of the
tamer ; and, besides all these numberless performers, in the
middle of the central square, surrounded by a circle four
deep of enthusiastic amateurs, was a band of “ mariners of
the Volga,” sitting on the ground, as on the deck of their-
vessel, imitating the action of rowing, guided by the stick
of the master of the orchestra, the veritable helmsman of
this imaginary vessel !

A. whimsical and pleasing custom !

Suddenly, according to a time-honoured observance in
the fair of Nijni- Novgorod, above the heads of the vast con-
course a flock of birds was allowed to escape from the cages
in which they had been brought to the spot. In return
for a few copecks charitably offered by some good people,
the bird-fanciers opened the prison doors of their captives,
who flew out in hundreds, uttering their joyous notes.



# About 415,720,000 sterling.
——--

THE TWO ANNOUNCEMENTS. 53

It should here be mentioned that England and France,
at all events, were this year represented at the great fair of
Nijni-Novgorod by two of the most distinguished products
of modern civilisation, Messrs. Harry Blount and Alcide
Jolivet.

Alcide Jolivet, an optimist by nature, seemed to find
everything agreeable, and as by chance both lodging and
food were to his taste, he jotted down in his book some
memoranda particularly favourable to the town of Nijni-
Novgorod.

Harry Blount, on the contrary, having in vain hunted
for a supper, had been obliged to find a resting-place in
the open air. He therefore looked at it all from another
point of view, and was preparing an article of the most
withering character against a town in which the landlords
of the inns refused to receive travellers who only begged
leave to be flayed, “ morally and physically.”

Michael Strogoff, one hand in his pocket, the other
holding his cherry-stemmed pipe, appeared the most in-
different and least impatient of men; yet, from a certain
contraction of his eyebrows every now and then, a careful
observer would have perceived that he was burning to be off.

For about.two hours he had been walking about the
streets, only to find himself invariably at the fair again.
As he passed among the groups of buyers and sellers he
discovered that those who came from countries on the
confines of Asia manifested great uneasiness. Their trade
was visibly suffering from it.

Another symptom also was to be remarked. In Russia
military uniforms appear on every occasion. Soldiers are
wont to mix freely with the crowd, the police agents being
almost invariably aided by a number of Cossacks, who,
lance on shoulder, keep order in the crowd of three hundred
thousand strangers.

But on this occasion the soldiers, Cossacks and the rest,
did not put in an appearance at the great market. Doubt-
less, a sudden order to move having been foreseen, they
were restricted to their barracks. .
54. MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Nevertheless, though no soldiers were to be seen, it was
not so with their officers. Since the evening before, aides-
de-camp, leaving the governor's palace, galloped in every
direction. An unusual movement was going forward which
a serious state of affairs could alone account for. There
were innumerable couriers on the roads both to Wladimir
and to the Ural Mountains. ‘The exchange of telegraphic
despatches between Moscow and St. Petersburg was
incessant.

Michael Strogoff found himself in the central square
when the report spread that the head of police had been
summoned by a courier to the palace of the governor-
general. An important despatch from Moscow, it was
said, was the cause of it.

“The fair is to be closed,” said one.

“The regiment of Nijni-Novgorod has received the
route,’ declared another.

“They say that the Tartars menace Tomsk!”

“Here is the head of police!”” was shouted on every
side.

A loud clapping of hands was suddenly raised, which
subsided by degrees, and finally was succeeded by absolute
silence. The head of police arrived in the middle of the
central square, and it was seen by all that he held in his
hand a despatch.

Then, in a loud voice, he read the following announce-
ments :-—

“ By order of the Governor of Nijni-Novgorod.

“jst. All Russian subjects are forbidden to quit the
province upon any pretext whatsoever.

“2nd. All strangers of Asiatic origin are commanded to
leave the province within twenty-four hours.”
ies

ae 5

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— Pe
erence
ad
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— : Sa +/
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Then in a loud voice he read . . . .
(Page 54.)
( 55 )

CHAPTER VI.
BROTHER AND SISTER.

HOWEVER disastrous these measures might, prove to
private interests, they were, under the ciftcumstances,
perfectly justifiable.

- “All Russian subjects are forbidden to leave the
province ;” if Ivan Ogareff was still in the province, this
would at any rate prevent him, unless with the greatest
difficulty, from rejoining Feofar-Khan, and becoming a
very formidable lieutenant to the Tartar chief.

“All foreigners of Asiatic origin are ordered to leave
the province in four-and-twenty hours ;” this would send
off in a body all the traders from Central Asia, as well as
the bands of Bohemians, gipsies, etc., having more or less
sympathy with the Tartar or Mongolian populations, and
which had been collected together at the fair. So many
heads, so many spies—undoubtedly the state of affairs
required their expulsion.

It is easy to understand the effect produced by these
two thunder-claps bursting over a town like Nijni-
Novgorod, so densely crowded with visitors, and of which
the commerce so greatly surpassed that of all other places
in Russia. The natives, therefore, whom business called
beyond the Siberian frontier could not leave the province
for a time at least. The tenor of the first article of the
order was express; it admitted of no exception. All
56 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

private interests must yield to the public weal. As to the
second article of the proclamation, the order of expulsion
which it contained admitted of no evasion either. It only
concerned foreigners of Asiatic origin, but these could do
nothing but pack up their merchandise and go back the
way they came. As to the mountebanks, of which there
were a considerable number, and who had nearly a
thousand versts to go before they could reach the nearest
frontier, for them it was simply misery.

At first there rose against this unusual measure a
murmur of protestation, a cry of despair, but this was
quickly suppressed by the presence of the Cossacks and
agents of police.

Immediately, what might be called the exodus from the
immense plain began. ‘The awnings in front of the stalls
were folded up; the theatres were taken to pieces; the
song and the dance ceased; the shows were silent; the
fires were put out; the acrobats’ ropes were lowered ; the
old broken-winded horses of the travelling vans came back
from their sheds. Agents and soldiers with whip or stick
stimulated the tardy ones, and made nothing of pulling
down the tents even before the poor Bohemians had left
them. . |

Under these energetic measures the square of Nijni-
Novgorod would, it was evident, be entirely evacuated
before the evening, and to the tumult of the great fair
would succeed the silence of the desert.

It must again be repeated—for it was a necessary
aggravation of these severe measures—ihat to all those
nomads chiefly concerned in the order of expulsion even
the steppes of Siberia were forbidden, and they would be
obliged to hasten to the south of the Caspian Sea, either to
Persia, Turkey, or the plains of Turkestan. The post of
the Ural, and the mountains which form, as it were a
prolongation of the river along the Russian frontier, they
were not allowed to pass. They were therefore under the
necessity of travelling a thousand versts before they could
tread a free soil.
BROTHER AND SISTER, _ 57



Just as the reading of the proclamation by the head of
the police came to an end, an idea darted instinctively into
the mind of Michael Strogoff.

“What a singular coincidence,” thought he, “ between
this proclamation expelling all foreigners of Asiatic origin,
and the words exchanged last evening between those two
gipsies of the Zingari race. ‘The Father himself sends us
where we wish to go, that old man said. But ‘the Father’
is the emperor! He is never called anything else among
the people. How could those gipsies have foreseen the
measure taken against them? how could they have known
it beforehand, and where do they wish to go? Those are
suspicious people, and it seems to me that to them the
government proclamation must be more useful than
injurious.”

But these reflections, though certainly correct, were
completely dispelled by another which drove every other
thought out of Michael’s mind. He forgot the Zin-
garis, their suspicious words, the strange coincidence which
resulted from the proclamation. . . . The remembrance of
the young Livonian girl suddenly rushed into his mind.

“Poor child!” he thought to himself. “She cannot
now cross the frontier.”

In truth the young girl was from Riga; she was
Livonian, consequently Russian, and now could not leave
Russian territory! The permit which had been given her
before the new measures had been promulgated was
evidently no longer available. All the routes to Siberia
had just been pitilessly closed to her, and, whatever was
the motive which was taking her to Irkutsk, she was now
forbidden to go there.

This thought greatly occupied Michael Strogoff. He
said to himself, vaguely at first, that, without neglecting
anything of what was due to his important mission, it
would perhaps be possible for him to be of some use to this
brave girl; and this idea pleased him. Knowing how
serious were the dangers which he, an energetic and
vigorous man, would have personally to encounter through
58 - MICHAEL STROGOFF. -

a country of which however the roads were familiar, he
could not conceal from himself how infinitely greater they
would prove to a young unprotected girl. As she was
going to Irkutsk, she would be obliged to follow the same
road as himself, she would have to pass through the bands
of invaders, as he was about to attempt doing himself. If,
moreover, and according to all probability, she had at her
disposal only the resources necessary for a journey taken
under ordinary circumstances, how could she manage to
accomplish it under conditions which late events would
render not only perilous but expensive ?

“Well,” said he, “if she takes the route to Perm, it is
nearly impossible but that I shall fall in with her. Then, IJ
will watch over her without her suspecting it; and as she
appears to me as anxious as myself to reach Irkutsk, she
will cause me no delay.”

But one thought leads to another. Michael Strogoff
had till now reasoned on the supposition of doing a kind
action, of rendering a service; but now another idea
flashed into his brain, and the question presented itself
under quite a new aspect.

“The fact is,’ said he to himself, “that I have much
more need of her than she can have of me. Her presence
will be useful in drawing off suspicion from me. A man
travelling alone across the steppe, may be easily guessed to
be a courier of the Czar. If, on the contrary, this young
gir] accompanies me, I shall appear, in the eyes of all, the
Nicholas Korpanoff of my podorojua. Therefore, she must
accompany me. Therefore, ] must find her again at any
cost. It is not probable that since yesterday evening she
has been able to get a carriage and leave Nijni-Novgorod.
I must look for her. And may God guide me!”

Michael left the great square of Nijni-Novgorod, where
the tumult produced by the carrying out of the prescribed
measures had now reached its height. Recriminations
from the banished strangers, shouts from the agents and
Cossacks who were using them so brutally, together made
an indescribable uproar. The girl for whom he searched
We

i li i a)
ae

Pad
a!
a aN

vay
} ;









Then fallen, rather than seated, on a bench . . .
(Puge CG.)
BROTHER AND SISTER. 59

could not be there. It was nownine o'clock in the morning,
The steamboat did not start till twelve. Michael Strogoff
had therefore nearly two hours to employ in searching for
her whom he wished to make his travelling companion.

He crossed the Volga again and hunted through the
quarters on the other side, where the crowd was much less
considerable. He visited every road, both in the high and
low towns. He entered the churches, the natural refuge
for all who weep, for all who suffer. Nowhere did he meet
with the young Livonian.

“And yet,’ he repeated, “she could not have left
Nijni-Novgorod yet. We'll have another look.”

- Michael wandered about thus for two hours. He went
on without stopping, feeling no fatigue, but obeying the
potent instinct which allowed him no room for thought.
All was in vain.

It then occurred to him that perhaps the girl had not
fieard of the order—though this was improbable enough,
for such a thunder-clap could not have burst without being
heard by all. Evidently interested in knowing the smallest
news from Siberia, how could she be ignorant of the
measures taken by the governor, measures which concerned
her so directly ?

But, if she was ignorant of it, she would come in an
hour to the quay, and there some merciless agent would
brutally refuse her a passage! At any cost, he must see
her beforehand, and do what he could to enable her to avoid
such a repulse.

But all his endeavours were in vin, and he at length
almost despaired of finding her again.

It was now eleven-o’clock, and Michael, though under
any other circumstances it would have been useless, thought
of presenting his podorojna at the office of the head of
police. The proclamation evidently did not concern him,
since the emergency had been foreseen for him, but he
wished to make sure that nothing would hinder his de-
parture from the town.

Michael then returned to the other side of the Volga,
60 MICHAEL STROGOFF,



to the quarter in which was the office of the head of
police.

An immense crowd was collected there ; for though all
foreigners were ordered to quit the province, they had
notwithstanding to go through certain forms before they
could depart.

Without this precaution, some Russian more or less
implicated in the Tartar movement would have been able,
in a disguise, to pass the frontier—just those whom the
order wished to prevent going. ‘The strangers were sent
away, but still had to gain permission to go.

Mountebanks, gipsies, Tsignanes, Zingaris, mingled
with merchants from Persia, Turkey, India, Turkestan,
China, filled the court and offices of the police station:

Every one was in a hurry, for the means of transport
would be much sought after among this crowd of banished
people, and those who did not set about it soon ran a
great risk of not being able to leave the town in the pre-
scribed time, which would expose them to some brutal
treatment from the governor's agents.

Owing to the strength of his elbows Michael Strogoff
was able to cross the court. But to get into the office and
un to the clerk’s little window was a much more difficult
business. However, a word into an inspector’s ear and a
few judiciously given roubles were powerful enough to gain
him a passage.

The man, after taking him into the waiting-room, went
to call an upper clerk.

Michael Strogoff would not be long in making every-
thing right with the police and being free in his move-
ments.

Whilst waiting, he looked about him, and what did he
see? There, fallen, rather than seated, on a bench, was
a girl, prey to a silent despair, although her face could
scarcely be seen, the profile alone being visible against
the wall. | |

Michael Strogoff could not be mistaken. He instantly
recognised the young Livonian.
BROTHER AND SISTER. 61

Not knowing the governor’s orders, she had come to
the police office to get her pass signed. ... They had
refused to sign it. No doubt she was authorized to go to
Irkutsk, but the order was peremptory—it annulled all
previous authorizations, and the routes to Siberia were
ciosed to her.

Michael, delighted at having found her again, ap-
proached the girl.

She looked up for a moment and her face brightened
on recognizing her travelling companion, She instinctively
rose, and, like a drowning man who clutches at a spar,
she was about to ask his help. ...At that moment the
agent touched Michael on the shoulder.

“The head of police will see you,” he said.

“Good,” returned Michael. And without saying a
word to her for whom he had been searching all day,
without reassuring her by even a gesture, which might
cempromise eithcr her or himself, he followed the man
through the crowd. |

The young Livonian, seeing the only being to whom
she could look for help disappear, fell back again on her
bench. |

Three minutes had not passed before Michael Storgoff
reappeared, accompanied by the agent. In his hand he
held his podorojna, which threw open the roads to Siberia
for him. He again approached the young Livonian, and
holding out his hand :

“ Sister,’ said he.

She understood. She rose as if some sudden inspiration
prevented her from hesitating a moment. |

“ Sister,” repeated Michael Strogoff, “ we are authorized
to continue our journey to Irkutsk. Will you come ?”

“JT will follow you, brother,” replied the girl, putting
her hand into that of Michael Strogoff. And together
they left the police station,
62 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



CHAPTER VIL.
GOING DOWN THE VOLGA.

A LITTLE before mid-day, the steamboat’s bell drew to
the wharf on the Volga an unusually large concourse of
people, for not only were those about to embark who had
intended to go, but the many who were compelled to go
contrary to their wishes. The boilers of the Caucasus
were under full pressure; a slight smoke issued from its
chimney, whilst the end of the escape-pipe and the lids of
the valves were crowned with white vapour. It is needless
to say that the police kept a close watch over the departure
of the Caucasus, and showed themselves pitiless to those
travellers who did not satisfactorily answer their questions.

Numerous Cossacks came and went on the quay, ready
to assist the agents, but they had not to interfere, as no
one ventured to offer the slightest resistance to their orders.
Exactly at the hour the last clang of the bell sounded, the
warps were cast off, the powerful wheels of the steamboat
began to beat the water, and the Caucasus passed rapidly
between the two towns of which Nijni-Novgorod is
composed.

Michael Strogoff and the young Livonian had taken a
passage on board the Caucasus. Their embarkation was
made without any difficulty. As is known, the podorojua,
drawn up in the name of Nicholas Korpanoff, authorized
this merchant to be accompanied on his journey to Siberia.
GOING DOWN THE VOLGA. 63



They appeared, therefore, to be a brother and sister travel-
ling under the protection of the imperial police. Both, seated
together at the stern, gazed at the receding town, so dis-
turbed by the governor's order. Michael had as yet said
nothing to the girl, he had not even questioned her. He
waited until she should speak to him, when that was
necessary. She had been anxious to leave that town,
in which, but for the providential intervention of this
unexpected protector, she would have remained imprisoned.
She said nothing, but her looks spoke her thanks.

The Volga, the Rha of the ancients, is considered to be
the largest river in all Europe, and is not less than four
thousand versts in length. Its waters, rather unwholesome
in its upper part, are improved at Nijni-Novgorod by those
of the Oka, a rapid affluent, issuing from the central pro-
vinces of Russia.

The system of Russian canals and rivers has been justly
compared to a gigantic tree whose branches spread over
every part of the empire. The Volga forms the trunk of
this tree, and it has for roots seventy mouths opening into
the Caspian Sea. It is navigable as far as Rjef, a town in
the government of Tver, that is, along the greater part of
its course. :

The: steamboats plying between Perm and Nijni-
Novgorod rapidly perform the three hundred and _ fifty
versts which separate this town from the town of Kasan.
It is true that these boats have only to descend the Volga,
which adds nearly two miles of current per hour to their
own speed ; but on arriving at the confluence of the Kama,
a little below Kasan, they are obliged to quit the Volga for
the smaller river, up which they ascend to Perm. Powerful
as were her machines, the Cazcasus could not thus, after
entering the Kama, make against the current more than
sixteen versts an hour. Including an hour’s stoppage at
Kasan, the voyage from Nijni-Novgorod to Perm would
take from between sixty to sixty-two hours.

The steamer was very well arranged, and the passengers,
according to their condition or resources, occupied three
04. MICHAEL STROGOFF.



distinct classes on board. Michael Strogoff had taken care
to engage two first-class cabins, so that his young com-
panion might retire into hers and be quiet whenever she
liked. |

The Caucasus was loaded with passengers of every
description. A number of Asiatic traders had thought it
best to leave Nijni-Novgorod immediately. In that part
of the steamer reserved for the first-class might be seen
Armenians in long robes and a sort of mitre on their heads;
Jews, known by their conical caps; rich Chinese in their
traditional costume, a very wide blue, violet, or black robe,
open at front and at the back, and covered by a second
robe with wide sleeves, the cut of which recalls that of the
popes; Turks, wearing the national turban ; Hindoos, with
square caps, and a simple string for a girdle, some of whom,
more especially designated under the name of Shikarporis,
hold in their hands all the traffic of Central Asia; and,
lastly, Tartars, wearing boots, ornamented with many-
coloured braid, and the breast -a mass of embroidery.
All these merchants had been obliged to pile up their
numerous bales and chests in the hold and on the deck;
and the transport of their baggage would cost them dear,
for, according to the regulations, each person had only a
right to twenty pounds’ weight.

In the bows of the Caucasus were more numerous
groups of passengers, not only foreigners, but also Russians,
who were not forbidden by the order to go back to the
towns in the province.

There were mujiks with caps on their heads, and
wearing checked shirts under their wide pelisses ; peasants
of the Volga, with blue trousers stuffed into their boots,
rose-coloured cotton shirts, drawn in by a cord, felt caps;
a few women, habited in flowery-patterned cotton dresses,
gay-coloured aprons, and bright handkerchiefs on their
heads. These were principally third-class passengers,
who were, happily, not troubled by the prospect of a
long return voyage. In short, this part of the deck was
crowded. The cabin passengers did not venture among
GOING DOWN THE VOLGA. 65

these mixed groups, whose place was marked beyond the
paddle-boxes.

In the meantime the Caucasus was rapidly plying
her paddles between the banks of the Volga. She passed
numerous boats being towed up the stream, carrying all
sorts of merchandise to Nijni-Novgorod. Then passed
rafts of wood, as long as those interminable masses of
weed found in a part of the Atlantic known as the Sar-
gasso Sea, and barges loaded up to the gunwale, and
nearly sinking under water. A bootless voyage they were
making, since the fair had been abruptly broken up at its
outset.

- The waves caused by the steamer splashed on the
banks, covered with flocks of wild duck, who flew away
uttering deafening cries. A little farther, on the dry fields,
bordered with alders, willows, and aspens, were scattered a
few dark-red cows, flocks of brown-fleeced sheep, and herds
of black and white pigs of all sizes. Fields, sown with thin
buckwheat and rye, stretched away to a background of half-
cultivated hills, but offering no remarkable prospect. ‘The
pencil of an artist in quest of some picturesque scene would
have found nothing to reproduce in this monotonous land-
scape.

The Caucasus had been steaming on for about two
hours, when the young Livonian, addressing herself to
Michael Strogoff, said :

‘Are you going to Irkutsk, brother ?”’

“Yes, sister,” answered the young man. “ We are both
going the same way. Consequently, wherever I go, you
shall go.”

“To-morrow, brother, you shall know why I left the
shores of the Baltic to go beyond the Ural Mountains.”

“T ask you nothing, sister.”

“You shall know all,” replied the girl, with a faint smile.
“A sister should hide nothing from her brother. But I
cannot to-day... .. Fatigue and sorrow have broken me
down.”

“Will you go and rest in your cabin?” asked Michael.
F
66 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“Yes—yes ; and to-morrow

“ Come then——”

He hesitated to finish his sentence, as if he had wished
to end it by the name of his companion, of which he was
still ignorant.

“Nadia,” said she, holding out her hand.

“Come, Nadia,” answered Michael, “and make what
use you like of your brother Nicholas Korpanoff.” And
he led the girl to the cabin engaged for her off the saloon.

Michael Strogoff returned on deck, and eager for any
news which might bear on his journey, he mingled in the
groups of passengers, though without taking any part in
the conversation. Should he by any chance be questioned,
and obliged to reply, he would announce himself as the
merchant Nicholas Korpanoff, going back to the frontier
in the Caucasus, for he did not wish it to be suspected
that a special permission authorized him to travel to
Siberia.

The foreigners in the steamer could evidently speak of
nothing but the occurrences of the day, of the order and its
consequences. These poor people, scarcely recovered from
the fatigue of a journey across Central Asia, found them-
selves obliged to return, and if they did not give loud vent
to their anger and despair, it was because they dared not.
Fear, mingled with respect, restrained them. It was
possible that inspectors of police, charged with watching
the passengers, had secretly embarked on board the
Caucasus, and it was just as well to keep silence;
expulsion, after all, was a gcod deal preferable to im-
prisonment in a fortress. Therefore the men were either
silent, or remarks were exchanged with so much caution
that it was scarcely possible to get any useful information
from them.

Michael Strogoff thus could learn nothing here ; but if
miouths were often shut at his approach—for they did not
know him—his ears were soon struck by the sound of one
voice, which cared little whether it was heard or not.

The man with the hearty voice spoke Russian, but with




(Page 61.)

” said he,

‘¢ Sister,
GOING DOWN THE VOLGA. 67



a foreign accent; and the other speaker answered him more
reservedly in the same language, evidently, however, not his
native tongue.

“What,” said the first, “are you on board this boat,
too, my dear feliow; you whom [| met at the imperial
féte in Moscow, and just caught a glimpse of at Nijni-
Novgorod ?”’

“Yes, it’s me,” answered the second drily.

“Well, really, [ didn’t expect to be so closely followed

by you.”
“Tndeed! Iam not following you sir; I am preceding

”

you.
“.Precede! precede! Let us march abreast, keeping

step, like two soldiers on parade, and for the time, at least
let us agree, if you will, that one shail not pass the other.”

“On the contrary, I shall pass you.”

“We shall see that, when we are on the theatre of war ;
but till then, why, let us be travelling companions,
Later, we shall have both time and occasion to be
rivals.”

“ Enemies.”

“Enemies, if you like. There is a precision in your
words, my dear fellow, which is particularly agreeable to
me. One may always know what one has to look for,
with you.”

“What is the harm ?”

“No harm at all. So, in my turn, I will ask your
permission to state our respective situations,”

“ State away. ” |

“You are going to Perm—like me?”

“ Like you.’

“ And probably you will go from Perm to Ekaterenburg,
since that is the best and safest route by which to cross the
Ural Mountains ?”

“ Probably.”

“Once past the frontier, we shall be in Siberia, that is
to say, in the midst of the invasion.”

“We shall be there.”
68 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“Well! then, and only then, will be the time to say,
Each for himself, and God for——”

“For me.”

“For you, all by yourself! Very well! But since we
have a week of neutral days before us, and since it is very
certain that news will not shower down upon us on the
way, let us be friends until we become rivals again.” -

“ Enemies.” |

“Ves; that’s right, enemies. But till then, let us act
together, and not try and ruin each other. All the same,
I promise you to keep to myself all that I can see -

“ And I, all that I can hear.” |

“Ts that agreed ?”

“Tt is agreed.”

“Your hand ?”

“ Here it is.”

And the hand of the first speaker, that is to say, five
wide-open fingers, vigorously shook the two fingers coolly
extended by the other.

“ By the bye,” said the first, “I was able this morning to
telegraph the very words of the order to my cousin at
seventeen minutes past ten.” |

“And I sent it to the Dazly Telegraph at thirteen
minutes past ten.”

“ Bravo, Mr. Blount!”

“Very good, M. Jolivet.”

“T will try and match that !”

— © Tt will be difficult.”

“T can try, however.”

So saying, the French correspondent familiarly saluted
the Englishman, who bowed stiffly. The governor's
proclamation did not concern these two news-hunters, as
they were neither Russians nor foreigners of Asiatic origin.

They had set out, however, and being urged by the
same instinct, had left Nijni-Novgorod together. It was
natural that they should take the same means of transport,
and that they should follow the same route to the Siberian
steppes. Travelling companions, whether enemies or




GOING DOWN THE VOLGA. 69





friends, they had a week to pass together before “ the hunt
would be open.” And then success to the most expert!
Alcide Jolivet had made the first advances, and though
Harry Blount had accepted them, he had done so coldly.

That very day at dinner, however, the Frenchman,
open as ever, and even too loquacious, the Englishman
still silent and grave, were seen hobnobbing at the same
table, drinking genuine Cliquot, at six roubles the bottle,
made from the fresh sap of the birch-trees of the country.

On hearing Alcide Jolivet and Harry Blount chatting
away together, Michael Strogoff said to himself: ‘Those
are inquisitive and indiscreet fellows whom I shall probably
meet again on the way. It will be prudent for me to keep
them at a distance.”

The young Livonian did not come to dinner. She was
asleep in her cabin, and Michael did not like to awaken
her. It was evening before she reappeared on the deck
of the Caucasus.

The long twilight imparted a coolness to the atmosphere
eagerly enjoyed by the passengers after the stifling heat
of the day. As the evening advanced, the greater number
never even thought of going back to the saloon and cabins.
Stretched on the benches, they inhaled with delight the
slight breeze caused by the speed of the steamer. At this:
time of year, and under this latitude, the sky scarcely
darkened between sunset and dawn, and left the steersman
light enough to guide his steamer among the numerous
vessels going up or down the Volga.

Between eleven and two, however, the moon being new,
it was almost dark. Nearly all the passengers were then
asleep on the deck, and the silence was disturbed only by
the noise of the paddles striking the water at regular
intervals. Anxiety kept Michael Strogoff awake. He
walked’ up and down, but always in the stern of the
steamer. Once, however, he happened to pass the engine-
room. He then found himself, in the part reserved for
second and third-class passengers.

There, every one was lying asleep, not only on the
70 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

benches, but also on the bales, packages, and even the deck
itself. The men on watch above were standing about
on the forecastle. Two lights, one green, the other red,
hung over the starboard and port sides, and sent a few rays
along the steamboat’s bulwarks.

Some care was necessary not to tread on the sleepers,
who were lying about everywhere. They were - chiefly
mujiks, accustomed to hard couches, and quite satisfied
with the planks of the deck. But no doubt they would,
all the same, have soundly abused the clumsy fellow who
happened to rouse them with an accidental kick.

Michael Strogoff took care, therefore, not to disturb any
one. By going thus to the end of the boat, he had no
other idea but that of striving against sleep by a rather
longer walk. |

He reached the other part of the deck, and was already
climbing the forecastle ladder, when he heard some one
speaking near him. He stopped. ‘The voices appeared to
come from a group of passengers enveloped in cloaks and
wraps, so that it was impossible to recognize them in the
dark. But it sometimes happened that, when the steamer’s
chimney sent forth a plume of ruddy flames amongst the
volumes of smoke, the sparks seemed to fall amongst the
group as though thousands of spangles had been suddenly
illuminated. Michael was about to step up the ladder,
when a few words reached his ear, distinctly uttered in
that strange tongue which he had heard during the night at
the fair.

Instinctively he stopped to listen. Protected by the
shadow of the forecastle, he could not be perceived himself.
As to seeing the passengers who were talking, that was
impossible. He was obliged to confine ~ himself to
listening.

The first words exchanged were of no importance—to
him at least—but they allowed him to recognize the voices
of the man and woman whom he had heard at Nijni-
Novgorod. This, of course, made him redouble his
attention. It was, indeed, not at all impossible that the




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GOING DOWN THE VOLGA. 71

Tsiganes, a scrap of whose conversation he had overheard,
now banished with all their fellows, should be on board the
Caucasus.

And it was well for him that he listened, for he
distinctly heard this question and answer made in the
Tartar idiom : |

“Tt is said that a courier has set out from Moscow for
Irkutsk.”

“Tt is so said, Sangarre; but either this courier will
arrive too late, or he will not arrive at all.”

Michael Strogoff started involuntarily at this reply,
which concerned him so directly. He tried to see if the
man and woman who had just spoken were really those
whom he suspected, but the shadow was too deep, and he
could not succeed.

In a few moments Michael Strogoff had regained the
stern of the vessel without having been perceived, and,
taking a seat by himself, he buried his face in his hands.
It might have been supposed that he was asleep.

He was not asleep, however, and did not even think of
sleeping. He was reflecting on this, not without a lively
apprehension :

“Who is it knows of my departure, and who can have
any interest in knowing it?”
72 MICIIAEL STROGOFF.

TT A

CHAPTER VIIL
GOING UP THE KAMA.

THE next day, the 18th of July, at twenty minutes to seven
in the morning, the Caucasus reached the Kasan quay,
seven versts from the town. .

Kasan is situated at the confluence of the Volga and
Kasanka. It is an important chief town of the govern-
ment, and a Greek archbishopric, as well as the seat of a
university. The varied population consists of Tchermises,
Mordvrans, Tchouvacks, Volsalks, Vizoulitchaks, and
Tartars, the last-named race more especially preserving
the Asiatic character.

Although the town was at some distance from the
landing-place, a large crowd was collected on the quay.
They had come for news. The governor of the province
had published an order identical with that of his colleague
at Nijni-Novgorod. There might be seen Tartars dressed
in short-sleeved cafetans, and wearing pointed caps of
which the broad brims recalled those of the traditional
Pierrot. Others, wrapped in long great-coats, their heads
covered by little caps, looked like Polish Jews. Women,
their bodices glittering with tinsel, and heads surmounted
by a diadem in form of a crescent, conversed in various
groups.

Police officers, and a few Cossacks, lance in hand, kept
order among the crowd, and cleared the way both for the
GOING UP THE KAMA. 73



passengers who were disembarking and also for those who
were embarking on board the Caucasus, minutely examin-
ing both classes of travellers. The one were the Asiatics
who were being expelled; the other, a few families of
mujiks who were stopping at Kasan.

Michael Strogoff unconcernedly watched the bustle
which invariably occurs at all quays on the arrival of a
steam-vessel. The Cazcasus would stay at Kasan for an
hour, time enough tu renew her fuel.

Michael did not even think of landing. He was unwill-
ing to leave the young Livonian girl alone on board, as she
had not yet reappeared on deck.

The two journalists had risen at dawn, as all good
huntsmen should do. ‘They went on shore and mingled
with the crowd, each keeping to his own peculiar mode of
proceeding ; Harry Blount, sketching different types, or
noting some observation ; Alcide Jolivet contenting himself
with asking questions, confiding in his memory, which
never failed him.

There was a report, along all the eastern frontier of
Russia, that the insurrection and invasion had reached
considerable proportions. Communication between Siberia
and the empire was already extremely difficult. All this
Michael Strogoff heard, without leaving the deck of the
Caucasus, from the new arrivals.

This information could not but cause him great uneasi-
ness, and increase his wish of being beyond the Ural
Mountains, so as to judge for himself of the truth of these
rumours, and enable him to guard against any possible
contingency. He was thinking of seeking more direct
intelligence from some native of Kasan, when his attention
was suddenly diverted. |

Among the passengers who were leaving the Caucasus,
Michael recognized the troop of Tsiganes who, the day
before, had appeared in the Nijni-Novgorod fair. There,
on the deck of the steamboat were the old Bohemian and
the woman who had played the spy on him. With them,
and no doubt under their direction, landed about twenty
74 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

dancers and singers, from fifteen to twenty years of age,
wrapped in old cloaks, which covered their spangled
dresses.. These dresses, just then glancing in the first rays
of the sun, reminded Michael of the curious appearance
which he had observed during the night. It must have
been the glitter of those spangles in the bright flames
issuing suddenly from the steamboat’s funnel which had
attracted his attention.

“Evidently,” said Michael to himself, “this troop of
Tsiganes, after remaining below all day, crouched under
the forecastle during the night. Were these gipsies trying
to show themselves as little as possible? Such is not
according to the usual custom of their race.”

Michael Strogoff no longer doubted that the expressions
he had heard, which so clearly referred to him, had pro-
ceeded from this tawny group, and had been exchanged
between the old gipsy and the woman to whom he gave
the Mongolian name of Sangarre.

Michael involuntarily moved towards the gangway, as
the Bohemian troop was leaving the steamboat, not to
return to it again.

The old Bohemian was there, in a humble attitude,
little conformable with the effrontery natural to his race.
One would have said that he was endeavouring rather to
avoid attention than to attract it. His battered hat,
browned by the suns of every clime, was pulled forward
over his wrinkled face. His arched back was bent under
an old cloak, wrapped closely round him, notwithstanding
the heat. It would have been difficult, in this miserable
dress, to judge of either his size or face. Near him was
the Tsigane, Sangarre, a woman about thirty years old,
She was tall and well made, with olive complexion,
magnificent eyes, and golden hair, and carried herself to
perfection.

Many of the young dancers were remarkably pretty, all
possessing the clear-cut features of their race. These
‘T’siganes are generally very attractive, and more than one
of the great Russian nobles, who try to vie with the English
ni ipa
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As the Bohemian troop was leaving the steamboat. |
(Page 74)
GOING UP THE KAMA. 75



in eccentricity, has not hesitated to choose his wife from
among these gipsy girls. One of them was humming a
song of a strange rhythm; the first lines might be thus

rendered :—

66 Glitters brightly the gold
In my raven locks streaming,
Rich coral around
My graceful neck gleaming ;
Like a bird of the air,
Through the wide world I roam.”

The laughing girl no doubt continued her song, but
Michael Strogoff ceased to listen to it.

Indeed, it struck him just then that the Tsigane,
Sangarre, was regarding him with a peculiar gaze, as if she
wished to fix his features indelibly in her memory.

It was but for a few moments, when Sangarre herself
followed the old man and his troop, who had already left
the vessel.

“That's a bold gipsy,” said Michael to himself. ‘Could
she have recognized me as the man whom she saw at
Nijni-Novgorod? These confounded Tsiganes have the
eyes of acat! They can see in the dark ; and that woman
there might well know——”

Michael Strogoff was on the point of following Sangarre
and the gipsy band, but he stopped. .

“No,” thought he, « no unguarded proceedings. If I
were to stop that old fortune-teller and his companions my
incognito would run a risk of being discovered. Besides,
now they have landed, before they can pass the frontier I
shall be already beyond the Ural. I know that they may
take the route from Kasan to Ishim, but that affords no
resources to travellers, and besides a tarantass, drawn by
good Siberian horses, will always go faster than a gipsy
cart! Come, friend Korpanoff, make yourself easy.”

By this time the old man and Sangarre had disappeared
in the crowd.

Kasan is justly called the “Gate of Asia,” and con-
sidered as the centre of Siberian and Bokharian commerce,
for two roads begin here and lead across the Ural Moun-
76 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



tains. But Michael Strogoff had very judiciously chosen
the one by Perm, Ekaterenburg, and Tioumen. It is the
vreat stage-road, well supplied with relays kept at the
expense of the government, and is prolonged from Ishim
tu Irkutsk.

It is true that a second route—the one of which
Michael had just spoken—avoiding the slight detour by
Perm, also connects Kasan with Ishim, passing by
‘Telaburg, Menselinsk, Birsk, Glatsoust, then leaving
Europe, Tcheliabinsk, Chadrinsk, Kurgan.

It is perhaps shorter than the other, but this advantage
is much diminished by the absence of post-houses, the bad
roads, and the paucity of villages. Michael Strogoff was
right in being satisfied with the choice he had made, and
if, as appeared probable, the gipsies should follow the
second route from Kasan to Ishim, he had every chance of
arriving before them.

An hour afterwards the bell rang on board the
Caucasus, calling the new passengers, and recalling the
former ones. It was now seven o'clock in the morning.
The requisite fuel had been received on board. The whole
vessel began to vibrate from the effects J the steam. She
was ready to start.

Passengers going from Kasan to Perm were crowding
on the deck.

Just then Michael noticed that of the two reporters
Ilarry Blount alone had rejoined the steamer.

Was Alcide Jolivet about to miss his passage ?

But just as the ropes were being cast off, Alcide Jolivet
appeared, tearing along. The steamer was already sheering
off, the gangway bridge had been drawn on to the quay,
but Alcide Jolivet would not stick at such a little thing as
that, so, with a bound like a harlequin, he alighted on the
deck of the Caucasus almost into his rival’s arms.

“T thought the Caucasus was going without you,”
said the latter.

“Bah!” answered Jolivet, “I should soon have caught
you up again, by chartering a boat at my cousin’s expense,
GOING UP THE KAMA. 77



or by travelling post at twenty copecks a verst, and on
horseback. What could I do? It was so long away from
the quay to the telegraph office.”

“Have you been to the telegraph office?” asked Harry
Blount, biting his lips.

“That’s exactly where I have been!”
with his most amiable smile.

“ And is it still working to Kalyvan ?”

“That I don’t know, but I can assure you, for instance,
that it is working from Kasan to Paris.”

“You sent a despatch to your cousin ?”

“With enthusiasm.”

“You had learnt then °”

“Look here, little father, as the Russians say,” replied
Alcide Jolivet, “I’m a good fellow, and I don’t wish to
keep anything from you. The Tartars, with Feofar-Khan
at their head, have passed Semipolatinsk, and are descend-
ing the Irtish. Do what you like with that!”

What! such important news, and Harry Blount had
not known it; and his rival, who had probably learnt it
from some inhabitant of Kasan, had already transmitted
it to Paris. The English paper was distanced! Harry
Blount, crossing his hands behind his back, walked off and
seated himself in the stern of the steamboat without
uttering a word.

About ten o’clock in the morning, the young Livonian,
leaving her cabin, appeared on deck. Michael Strogoff
went forward and took her hand.

“ Look, sister!” said he, leading her to the bows of the
Caucasus.

The view was indeed well worth examining with some
attention.

The Caucasus had just then reached the soffluence of
the Volga and the Kama. There she would leave the
former river, after having descended it for more than four
hundred versts, to ascend the latter for four hundred and
sixty versts.

The Kama was here very wide, and its wooded banks

answered Jolivet,


78 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

lovely. A few white sails enlivened the sparkling water.
The horizon was closed by a line of hills covered with
aspens, alders, and sometimes large oaks.

But these beauties of nature could not distract the
thoughts of the young Livonian even for an instant. She
had left her hand in that of her companion, and socn
turning to him:

“ At what distance are we from Moscow ?” she asked.

“ Nine hundred versts,’ answered Michael.

“Nine hundred, out of seven thousand!” murmured
the girl.

The bell now announced the breakfast hour. Nadia
followed Michael Strogoff to the restaurant. She ate
little, and as a poor girl whose means are small would do.
Michael Strogoff thought it best to content himself with
the fare which satished his companion ; and in less than
twenty minutes Michael Strogoff and Nadia returned on
deck. There they seated themselves in the stern, and
without other preamble, Nadia, lowering her voice so as to
be heard by him alone, began:

“ Brother, I.am the daughter of an exile. My name
is Nadia Fedor. My mother died at Riga scarcely a
month ago, and I am going to Irkutsk to rejoin my father
and share his exile.”

“T too am going to Irkutsk,’ answered Michael, “and
J shall thank Heaven if it enables me to give Nadia Fedor
safe and sound into her father’s hands.”

“Thank you, brother,’ replied Nadia.

Michael Strogoff then added that he had obtained a
special fodorojna for Siberia, and that the Russian autho-
rities could in no way hinder his progress.

Nadia asked nothing more. She saw in this fortunate
meeting with Michael a means only of accelerating her
journey to her father.

“J had,” said she, “a permit which authorized me to
go to Irkutsk, but the order of the governor of Nijni-
Novgorod annulled that, and but for you, brother, I should
have been unable to leave the town, in which, without
doubt, I should have perished.”
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(Lage 76.)
GOING UP THE KAMA. 79



“ And dared you, alone, Nadia,” said Michael, “ attempt
to cross the steppes of Siberia?”

“The Tartar invasion was not known when I left Riga,”
replied the young girl. “It was only at Moscow that I
learnt that news.” ;

“And notwithstanding that, you continued your
journey ?” |

“Tt was my duty.”

This word showed the character of the courageous
girl.

She then spoke of her father, Wassili Fedor. He was
a much-esteemed physician at Riga. But his connection
with some secret society having been asserted, he received
orders to start for Irkutsk, and the police who brought
the order conducted him without delay beyond the frontier.

Wassili Fedor had but time to embrace his sick wife
and his daughter, so soon to be left alone, when, shedding
bitter tears, he was led away.

A year and a half after her husband’s departure,
Madame-Fedor died in the arms of her daughter, who was
thus left alone and almost penniless. Nadia Fedor then
asked, and easily obtained from the Russian government,
an authorization to join her father at Irkutsk. She wrote
and told him she was starting. She had barely enough
money for this long journey, and yet she did not hesitate
to undertake it. She would do what she could. God
would do the rest.

All this time the Caucasus went steaming up the river.
SO MICHAEL STROGOFF.



CHAPTER IX.
DAY AND NIGHT IN A TARANTASS.

THE next day, the 19th of July, the Caucasus reached
Perm, the last place at which she touched on the Kama.

The government of which Perm is the capital is one of
the largest in the Russian Empire, and, extending over the
Ural Mountains, encroaches on Siberian territory. Marble
quarries, mines of salt, platina, gold, and coal are worked
here on a large scale. Although Perm, by its situation, has
become an important town, it is by no means attractive,
being extremely muddy and dirty, and possessing no
resources. This want of comfort is of no consequence
to those going from Russia to Siberia, for they come from
the more civilized districts, and are supplied with all
necessaries; but to those arriving from the countries
of Central Asia, after a long and fatiguing journey, it
would no doubt be more satisfactory if the first European
town of the empire, situated on the Asiatic frontier, were
better supplied with stores.

At Perm the travellers resell their vehicles, more or less
damaged by the long journey across the plains of Siberia.
There, too, those passing from Europe to Asia purchase
carriages during the summer, and sleighs in the winter
season, before starting for a several months’ journey through
the steppes.

Michael Strogoff had already sketched out his pro-
gramme, so now he had nothing to do but execute it.
Ps errr ww ‘
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CAEL GN

tet coal
, Sk Aneta,

(Page 83.)



Three post horses were harnessed to the tarantass.
DAY AND NIGHT IN A TARANTASS. SI



A vehicle carrying the mail usually runs across the
Ural Mountains, but at the present time this, of course,
was discontinued. Even if it had not been so, Michael
Strogoff would not have taken it, as he wished to travel
as fast as possible, without depending on any one. He
wisely preferred to buy a carriage, and journey by stages,
stimulating the zeal of the postillions, or iemschiks, as they
are called, by well-applied ‘na vodkou,” or tips.

Unfortunately, in consequence of the measures taken
against foreigners of Asiatic origin, a large number of
travellers had already left Perm, and therefore conveyances
were extremely rare. Michael was obliged to content
himself with what had been rejected by others. As to
horses, as long as the Czar’s courier was not in Siberia,
he could exhibit his podorojna without danger, and the
postmasters would give him the preference. But, once out
of European Russia, he had to depend alone on the power
of his roubles.

But to what sort of a vehicle should he harness his
horses? To a telga or to a tarantass ?

The telga is nothing but an open four-wheeled cart,
made entirely of wood. Wheels, axles, pole-bolts, body,
shafts, are all furnished by neighbouring trees, and the
pieces of which the telga is composed are fastened.
together by means of strong rope. Nothing could be
more primitive, nothing could be less comfortable ; but,
on the other hand, should any accident happen on the way,
nothing could be more easily repaired. There is no want
of firs on the Russian frontier, and axle-trees grow naturally
in forests.

The post extraordinary, known by the name of “ perck-
ladnoi,” is made by means of the telga, as any road is good
enough for it. It must be confessed that sometimes the
ropes which fasten the concern together break, and whilst
the hinder part remains stuck in some bog, the fore-part
arrives at the post-house on two wheels; but this result is
considered as quite satisfactory.

Michael Strogoff would have been obliged to employ

G
82 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
a telea, if he had not been lucky enough to discover a
tarantass. :

It is to be hoped that the invention of Russian coach-
builders will devise some improvement in this last-named
vehicle. Springs are wanting in it as well as in the telga;
in the absence of iron, wood is not spared ; but its four
wheels, with eight or nine feet between them, assure a
certain equilibrium over the jolting rough roads. splash-board protects the travellers from the mud, and
a strong leathern hood, which may be pulled quite over
the occupiers, shelters them from the great heat and
violent storms of the summer. The tarantass is as solid
and as easy to repair as the telga, and is, moreover, less
addicted to leaving its hinder part in the middle of the
road.

It was not without careful search that Michael managed
to discover this tarantass, and there was probably not a
second to be found in all the town of Perm. Notwith-
standing that, he haggled long about the price, for form’s
sake, to act up to his part as Nicholas Korpanoff, a plain
merchant of Irkutsk. |

Nadia had followed her companion in his search after a
suitable vehicle. Although the object of each was different,
both were equally anxious to arrive, and consequently to
start. One would have said the same will animated them
both, .

“Sister,” said Michael, “I wish I could have found a
more comfortable conveyance for you.”

“Do. you say that to me, brother, when I would have
gone on foot, if need were, to rejoin my father ?”

“JT do not doubt your courage, Nadia, but there are
physical fatigues which a woman may be unable to
endure.”

“J shall endure them, whatever they may be,” replied
the girl. “Ifyou ever hear a complaint from my lips you
may leave me in the road, and continue your journey
alone.”

Half an hour later on, the podorojna being presenteu
Cr

DAY AND NIGHT IN A TARANTASS, 8



by Michael, three post-horses were harnessed to the taran-
tass. These animals, covered with long hair, were very like
long-legged bears. They were small, but spirited, being of
Siberian breed.

The way in which the iemschik had harnessed them
was thus: one, the largest, was secured between two long
shafts, on whose farther end was a hoop, called a “ douga,”
carrying tassels and bells; the two others were simply
fastened by ropes to the steps of the tarantass. This was
the complete harness, with mere strings for reins.

Neither Michael Strogoff nor the young Livonian girl
had any. baggage. The rapidity with which one wished to
make the journey, and the more than modest resources of
the other, prevented them from embarrassing themselves
with packages. It was a fortunate thing, under the cir-
cumstances, for the tarantass could not have carried both
baggage and travellers. It was only made for two persons,
without counting the iemschik, who kept his equilibrium on
his narrow seat in a marvellous manner.

The iemschik is changed at every relay. The man who
drove the tarantass during the first stage was, like his horses,
a Siberian, and no less shaggy than they; long hair, cut
square on the forehead, hat with a turned-up brim, red belt,
coat with crossed facings and buttons stamped with the
imperial cipher. The iemschik, on coming up with his
team, threw an inquisitive glance at the passengers of the
tarantass. No luggage !—and had there been, where in
the world could he have stowed it? Rather shabby in
appearance too. He looked contemptuous.

“Crows,” said he, without caring whether he was over-
heard or not ; “crows, at six copecks a verst!”

“No, eagles!” said Michael, who understood the
iemschik’s slang perfectly ; “eagles, do you hear, at nine
copecks a verst, and a tip besides.”

He was answered by a merry crack of the whip.

In the language of the Russian postillions the “ crow’
is the stingy or poor traveller, who at the post-houses only
pays two or three copecks a verst for the horses. The

’
84 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

——— ae



“eagle” is the traveller who does not mind expense, to
say nothing of liberal tips. Therefore the crow could not
claim to fly as rapidly as the imperial bird.

Nadia and Michael immediately took their places in
the tarantass. A small store of provisions was put in the
box, in case at any time they were delayed in reaching
the post-houses, which are very comfortably provided
under direction of the State. The hood was pulled up,
as it was insupportably hot, and at twelve o'clock the
tarantass, drawn by its three horses, left Perm in a cloud
of dust. :

The way in which the iemschik kept up the pace of his
team: would have certainly astonished travellers who, being
neither Russians nor Siberians, were not accustomed to
this sort of thing. The leader, rather larger than the
others, kept to a steady long trot, perfectly regular,
whether up or down hill. The two other horses seemed
to know no other pace than the gallop, though they per-
formed many an eccentric curvette as they went along.
The iemschik, however, never touched them, only urging
them on by startling cracks of his whip. But what epithets
he lavished on them, including the names of all the saints
in the calendar, when they behaved like docile and con-
scientious animals! . The string which served as reins
would have had no influence on the spirited beasts, but
the words “na pravo,” to the rizht, “na levo,”’ to the left,
pronounced in a guttural tone, were more effectual than
either bridie or snaffle.

And what amiable expressions, according to the cir-
cumstances !

“Go on, my doves!” the iemschik would say. “Go
on, pretty swallows! Fly, my little pigeons! Hold up
my cousin on the left! Gee up, my little father on the
right!”

But when the pace slackened, what insulting expressions,
instantly understood by the sensitive animals !

“Go on, you wretched snail! Confound you, you slug!
I'll roast you alive, you tortoise, you! ”
DAY AND NIGHT IN A TARANTASS, 85



Whether or not it was from this way of driving, which
requires the iemschiks to possess strong throats more than
muscular arms, the tarantass flew along at a rate of from
twelve to fourteen miles an hour.

Michael Strogoff was accustomed both to the sort of
vehicle and the mode of travelling. Neither jerks nor
jolts incommoded him. He knew that a Russian driver
never even tries to avoid either stones, ruts, bogs, fallen
trees; or trenches, which may happen to be in the road.
He was used to all that. His companion ran a risk of
being hurt by the violent jolts of the tarantass, but she
would not complain.

For a little while Nadia did not speak. Then
possessed with the one thought, that of reaching her
journey’s end:

“T have calculated that there are three hundred versts
between Perm and Ekaterenburgh, brother,’ said she.
“Am I right ?”

“You are quite right, Nadia,’ answered Michael ;
“and when we have reached Ekaterenburg, we shall be at
the foot of the Ural Mountains on the opposite side to
this.”

“ How long will it take to get across the mountains ?”

“ Forts y-eight hours, for we shall travel day and night.
I say day and night, Nadia,” added he, “for I cannot stop
even for a moment, and I must go on without rest towards
Irkutsk.”

“T shall not delay you, brother; no, not even for an
hour, and we will travel day and night.”

“Well then, Nadia, if the Tartar invasion has only left
the road open, we shall arrive in twenty days.”

“You have made this journey before?” asked Nadia.

“ Many times.”

“ During winter we should have gone more rapidly and
surely, should we not ?”

“Yes, especially with more rapidity, but you would
have suffered much from the frost and snow.”

“What matter! Winter is the friend of Russia.”
86 MICIIAEL STROGOFF.

“Ves, Nadia, but what a constitution any one must
have to endure such friendship! I have often seen the
temperature .in the Siberian steppes fall to more than
forty degrees below freezing point! I have felt, notwith-
standing my reindeer coat,* my heart growing chill, my
limbs stiffening, my feet freezing in triple woollen socks ;
I have seen my sleigh horses covered with a coating of ice,
their breath congealed at their nostrils. I have seen the
brandy in my flask change into hard stone, on which not
even my knife could make an impression. But my sleigh
flew like the wind. Not an obstacle on the plain, white
and level farther than the eye could reach. No rivers in
which one is obliged to look for a fordable passage. No
lakes which must be crossed in boats. MHard ice every-
where, the route open, the road sure. But at the price
of what suffering, Nadia, those alone could say, who have
never returned, but whose bodics have been covered up by
the snowstorm.”

“ However, you have returned, brother,” said Nadia. .

“Yes, but I am a Siberian, and, when quite a child, I
used to follow my father to the chase, and so became
inured to these hardships. But when you said to me,
Nadia, that winter would not have stopped you, that you
would have gone alone, ready to struggle against the
frightful inclemencies of the Siberian climate, I seemed
to see you lost in the snow and falling, never to rise
again.”

“How many times have you crossed the steppe in
winter?” asked the young Livonian.

“Three times, Nadia, when I was going to Omsk.”

“And what were you going to do at Omsk ?”

“See my mother, who was expecting me.”

“And I am gong to Irutsk, where my father expects
me. Jam taking him my mother’s last words. That is as
much as to tell you, brother, that nothing would have
prevented me from setting out.”

* This coat is called a ‘‘dakha ;” it is very light, and yet almost impervious
to the cold.


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Page 84

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DAY AND NIGHT IN A TARANTASS. 87

“You are a brave girl, Nadia,’ replied Michael. “God
Himself would have led you.” :

All day the tarantass was driven rapidly by the
iemschiks, who succeeded each other at every stage. The
eagles of the mountain would not have found their name
dishonoured by these “ eagles” of the highway. The high
price paid for each horse, and the tips dealt out so freely,
recommended the travellers in a special way. Perhaps the
postmasters thought it singular that, after the publication
of the order, a young man and his sister, evidently both
Russians, could travel freely across Siberia, which was
closed. to every one else, but their papers were ail ez régle
and they had the right to pass.

However, Michael Strogoff and Nadia were not the
only travellers on their way from Perm to Ekaterenburg.
At the first stages, the courier of the Czar had learnt that
a carriage preceded them, but, as there was no want of
horses, he did not trouble himself about that.

During the day, halts were made for food alone. At
the post-houses could be found lodging and _ provision.
Besides, if there was not an inn, the house of the Russian
peasant would have been no less hospitable. In the
villages, which are almost all alike, with, their white-wailed,
green-roofed chapels, the traveller might knock at any
door, and it would be opened to him. The moujik would
come out, smiling and extending his hand to his guest.
He would offer him bread and salt, the burning charcoal
would be put into the “samovar,’ and he would be made
quite at home. The family would turn out themselves
rather than that he should not have room. The stranger
is the relation of all. He is “ one sent by God.”

On arriving that evening Michael instinctively asked
the postmaster how many hours ago the carriage which
preceded them had passed that stage.

“Two hours ago, little father,” replied the postmaster,

“TJs it a berlin ”

“No, a telga,”

“How many travellers ?”
88 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



“Two.” :

“ And they are going fast ?”

“Eagles!”

“ Let them put the horses to as soon as possible.”

Michael and Nadia, resolved not to stop even for an
hour, travelled all night.

The weather continued fine, though the atmosphere
was heavy and gradually becoming charged with electricity.
Not a cloud was in the sky, but a sort of mist ascended
from the ground. It was to be hoped that a storm would
not burst whilst they were among the mountains, for there
it would be terrible. Being accustomed to read atmos-
pheric signs, Michael Strogoff knew that a struggle of the
elements was approaching.

The night passed without incident. Notwithstanding
the jolting of the tarantass, Nadia was able to sleep for
some hours. The hood was partly raised so as to give as
much air as there was in the stifling atmosphere.

Michael kept awake all night, mistrusting the iem-
schiks, who are only too ready to sleep at their posts,
and not an hour was lost at the relays, not an hour on
the road.

The next day, the 20th of July, at about eight o’clock
in the morning, they caught the first glimpse of the Ural
Mountains in the east. However, this important: chain
which separates Russia in Europe from Siberia was still at
a great distance, and they could not hope to reach it until
the end of the day. The passage of the mountains must
necessarily be performed during the next night.

The sky was very cloudy all day, and the temperature
was therefore more bearable, but the weather was very
threatening.

It would perhaps have been more prudent not to have
ascended the mountains during the night, and Michael
would not have done so, had he been permitted to wait ;
but when, at the last stage, the iemschik drew his attention

to a peal of thunder reverberating among the rocks, he
merely said :
DAY AND NIGIIT IN A TARANTASS. &9
“Ts a telga still before us?”
“Yes.”
‘ How long is it in advance?’
“Nearly an hour.”
“Forward, and a triple tip if we are at Ekaterenbur-
to-morrow morning.”
gO MICHAEL STROGOFF.

CHAPTER X.
A STORM IN THE URAL MOUNTAINS.

Tr1E Ural Mountains extend in a length of nearly three
thousand versts between Europe and Asia. Whether they
are called the Urals, which is the Tartar, or the Poyas,
which is the Russian name, they are correctly so termed ;
for these names signify “belt ” in both languages. Rising
on the shores of the Arctic Sea, they reach the borders of
the Caspian. Such was the barrier to be crossed by
Michael Strogoff before he could enter Siberian Russia,
and, as has been said, he acted wisely in taking the road
leading from Perm to Ekaterenburg, situated on the
eastern slope of the Ural Mountains. ‘This was the easiest
and surest route, as it was that of all the commerce of
Central Asia. The mountains could be crossed’ in one
night, if no accident happened. Unfortunately, thunder
muttering in the distance announced that a storm was at
hand. The electric tension was such that it could not be
dispersed without a tremendous explosion, which in the
peculiar state of the atmosphere would be very terrible.
Michael took care that his young companion should be
as well protected as possible. The hood, which might
have been easily blown away, was fastened more securely
with ropes, crossed above and at the back. The traces
were doubled, and, as an additional precaution, the nave-
boxes were stuffed with straw, as much to increase the
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(Page 94 )
A STORM IN THE URAL MOUNTAINS. . Qt





strength of the wheels as to lessen the jolting, unavoidable
on a dark night. Lastly, the fore and hinder parts,
connected. simply by the axles to the body of the tarantass,
were joined one to the other by a crossbar, fixed by means
of pins and screws. This bar took the place of the curved
bar which in berlins, suspended on the “swans-necks,”
fastens the two axles one to the other.

Nadia resumed her place in the cart, and Michael took
his seat beside her. Before the lowered hood hung two
leathern curtains, which would in some degree protect the
travellers against the wind and rain.

Two great lanterns, suspended on the left of the
iemschik’s seat, threw a pale glimmer scarcely sufficient to
light the way, but serving as warning lights to prevent any
other carriage from running into them.

It was well that all these precautions were taken, in
expectation of a rough night.

“Nadia, we are ready,” said Michael Strogoff.

“ Letus start,’ answered the young girl.

The order was given to the iemschik, and away rattled
the tarantass up the first slopes of the Ural Mountains.

It was eight o’clock, and darkness was coming on in
spite of the lengthened twilight of these latitudes. Masses
of vapour, as yet disturbed by no wind, hung in the vault
of heaven. Although they had no lateral motion, they
were evidently gradually approaching the earth. Some of
these clouds, emitting a lurid glare, enveloped the moun-
tains on descending, as if chased down by some upper
storm. The road led up towards these dense masses, and
should the clouds not soon resolve into rain, the fog
would be such that the tarantass would be unable to
advance without the danger of falling over some precipice.

~The Ural chain does not attain any very great height,
the highest summit not being more than five thousand feet.
Eternal snow is there unknown, and what is piled up by
the Siberian winter is soon melted by the summer sun.
Shrubs and trees grow to a considerable height. The iron
and copper mines, as well as those of precious stones, draw
92 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

a considerable number of workmen to that region. Also,
those villages termed “gavody ” are there met with pretty
frequently, and the road through the great passes is easily
practicable for post-carriages.

But what is easy enough in fine weather and broad
daylight, offers difficulties and perils when the elements
are engaged in fierce warfare, and the traveller is in the
midst of it. |

Michael Strogoff knew from former experience what a
storm in the mountains was, and perhaps this would be as
terrible as the snowstorms which burst forth with such
vehemence in the winter.

Rain was not yet falling, so Michael raised the leathern
curtains which protected the interior of the tarantass and
looked out, watching the sides of the road, peopled with
fantastic shadows, caused by the wavering light of the
lanterns.

Nadia, motionless, her arms folded, gazed forth also,
though without leaning forward, whilst her companion,
his body half out of the carriage, examined both sky and
earth.

The calmness of the atmosphere was very threatening,
the air being perfectly still. It was just as if Nature were
half stifled, and could no longer breathe ; her lungs, that
is to say those gloomy, dense clouds, not being able to
perform their functions. The silence would have been
complete but for the grindings of the wheels of the
tarantass over the road, the creaking of the axles and
boards, the snorting of the horses and the clattering of
their iron hoofs among the pebbles, sparks flying out on
every side. :

The road was perfectly deserted. The tarantass en-
countered neither pedestrians nor horsemen, nor a vehicle
of any description, in the narrow defiles of the Ural, on
this threatening night. Not even the fire of a charcoal-
burner was visible in the woods, not an encampment of
miners near the mines, not a hut among the brushwood.

Under these peculiar circumstances it might have been
A STORM IN THE URAL MOUNTAINS. 93

- OU



allowable to postpone the journey across the mountains
till the morning. Michael Strogoff, however, had not
hesitated, he had no right to stop, but then—and it began
to cause him some anxiety—what possible reason could
those travellers in the telga ahead have for being so im-
prudent ?

Michael remained thus on the look-out for some time.
About eleven o'clock lightning began to blaze continuously
in the sky. The shadows of huge pines at different
elevations appeared and disappeared in the rapid light.
Sometimes when the tarantass neared the side of the road,
deep gulfs, lit up by the flashes, could be seen yawning
beneath them. From time to time, on their vehicle giving
a worse lurch than usual, they knew that they were
crossing a bridge of roughly-hewn planks thrown over
some chasin, thunder appearing actually to be rumbling
below them. Besides this, a booming sound filled the air,
which increased as they mounted higher. With these
different noises rose the shouts and exclamations of the
iemschik, sometimes scolding, sometimes coaxing his poor
beasts, who were suffering more from the oppression of
the air than the roughness of the roads. Even the bells
on the shafts could no longer rouse them, and they
stumbled every instant.

“ At what time shall we reach the top of the ridge?”
asked Michael of the iemschik.

“ At one o'clock in the morning if we ever get there at
all,” replied he, with a shake of his head.

“Why, my friend, this will not be your first storm in
the mountains, will it ?”

“No, and pray God it may not be my last!”

“ Are you afraid?”

“No, I’m not afraid, but I repeat that I think you were
wrong in starting.”

“T should have been still more wrong had I stayed.”

“Hold up, my pigeons!” cried the iemschik; it was
his business to obey, not to’ question.

Just then a distant noise was heard, shrill whistling


94 MICHAEL STROGOFF.,

through the atmosphere, so calm a minute before. By the
light of a dazzling flash, almost immediately followed by
a tremendous clap of thunder, Michael could see huge
pines on a high peak, bending before the blast. The wind
was unchained, but as yet it was the upper air alone
which was disturbed. Successive crashes showed that
many of the old and lightly-rooted trees had been unable
to resist the burst of the hurricane. An avalanche of
shattered trunks swept across the road and dashed over
the precipice on the left, two hundred feet in front of the
tarantass. —

The horses stopped short.

“Get up, my pretty doves!” cried the iemschik, adding
the cracking of his whip to the rumbling of the thunder.

Michael took Nadia’s hand.

“ Are you asleep, sister ?”’ he asked.

“ No brother.”

“Be ready for anything ; here comes the storm!”

“Tam ready.”

Michael Strogoff had only just time to draw the
leathern curtains, when the storm was upon them.

The iemschik leapt from his seat and seized his horses’
heads, for terrible danger threatened the whole party.

The tarantass was at a standstill at a turning of the
road, down which swept the hurricane; it was absolutely
necessary to hold the animals’ heads to the wind, for if the
carriage was taken broadside it must infallibly capsize and
be dashed over the precipice. The frightened horses
reared, and their driver could not manage to quiet them.
His friendly expressions had been succeeded by the most
insuiting epithets. Nothing was of any use. The un-
fortunate animals, blinded by the lightning, terrified by
the incessant peals of thunder, rattling like artillery among
the rocks, threatened every instant to break their traces
and escape. The iemscnik had no longer any control over
his team.

At that moment Michael Strogoff threw himself from
the tarantass and rushed to his assistance. Endowed
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A STORM IN THE URAL MOUNTAINS. 95



with more than common strength, he managed, though
not without difficulty, to master the horses.

The storm now raged with redoubled fury. A perfect
avalanche of stones and trunks of trees began to roll
down the slope above them.

“We cannot stop here,” said Michael.

“We cannot stop anywhere,” returned the iemschik, all
his energies apparently overcome by terror. ‘‘ The storm
will soon send us to the bottom of the mountain, and that
by the shortest way.”

“Take you that horse, coward,” returned Michael, “ r I
look after this one.’

A fresh burst of the storm interrupted him. The
driver and he were obliged to crouch upon the ground to
avoid being blown down. but the carriage, notwithstand-
ing their efforts and those of the horses, was gradually
moving back, and had it not been stopped by the. trunk of
a tree, it would have been forced over the edge of the
precipice. —

“Do not be afraid, Nadia!” cried Michael Strogoff.

“T’m not afraid,’ replied the young Livonian, her voice
not betraying the slightest emotion.

The rumbling of “the thunder ceased for an instant, tue
terrible blast had swept past into the gorge below.

“Will you go back?” said the iemschik.

“No, we must go on! Once past this turning, we shall
have the shelter of the slope.”

‘“ But the horses won’t move!”

“Do as I do, and drag them on.”

“The storm will come back!”

“Do you mean to obey ?”

‘Do you order it?”

“The Father orders it!” answered Michael, for the
first time invoking the all-powerful name of the Empercr.

“Forward, my swallows!” cried the iemschik, seizing
one horse, while Michael did the same to the other.

Thus urged, the horses began to struggle onward.
They could no longer rear, and the middle horse not being
96 MICHAEL STROGOF?F.

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hamipered by the others, could keep in the centre of the
road. It was with the greatest difficulty that either men
or beasts could stand against the wind, and for every three
steps they took in advance, they lost one, and even two,
by being forced backwards. They slipped, they fell, they
got up again. The vehicle ran a great risk of being
smashed. If the hood had not been securely fastened,-it
would have been blown away long before this. Michael
Strogoff and the iemschik took more than two hours in
getting up this bit of road, only half a verst in length, so
directly exposed was it to the lashing of the storm. The
danger there was not only from the wind which battered
against the travellers, but from the avalanche of stones
and broken trunks which were hurtling through the air
above their heads.

Suddenly, during a flash of lightning, one of these
masses was seen crashing and rolling down the mountain
towards the tarantass.

The iemschik uttered a cry.

Michael Strogoff in vain brought his whip down on the
team, they refused to move.

But a few feet farther on, and the mass would pass
behind them ! |

Michael saw the tarantass struck, his companion
crushed ; he saw there was no time to drag her from the
vehicle.

Then, possessed in this hour of peril with superhuman
strength, he threw himself behind it, and planting his feet
on the ground, by main force placed it out of danger.

The enormous mass as it passed grazed his chest,
taking away his breath as though it had been a cannon-
ball, then crushing to powder the flints on the road, it
bounded into the abyss below.

“Oh, brother!” cried Nadia, who had seen it all by
the light of the flashes.

“Nadia |!’ replied Michael, “fear nothing!”

“Tt is not on my own account that I fear!”

“Gad is with us, sister!”
A STORM IN THE URAL MOUNTAINS. 97



“With me truly, brotlier, since He has sent thee in my
way!” murmured the young girl.

The impetus the tarantass had received was not to be
lost, and the tired horses once more moved forward.
Dragged, so to speak, by Michael and the iemschik, they
toiled on towards a narrow pass, lying north and south,
where they would be protected from the direct sweep of
the tempest.. At one end a hugh rock jutted out, round
the summit of which whirled an eddy. Behind the shelter
of the rock there was a comparative calm ; yet once within
the circumference of the cyclone, neither man nor beast
could resist its power.

Indeed, some firs which towered above this protection
were in a trice shorn of their tops, as though a gigantic
scythe had swept across them.

The storm was now at its height. The lightning filled
the defile, and the thunder “claps had become one con-
tinued peal. The ground, struck by the concussion,
trembled as though the whole Ural chain was shaken to
its foundations.

Happily, the tarantass could be so placed that the
storm might strike it obliquely. But the counter-currents,
directed towards it by the slope, could not be so well
avoided, and so violent were they that every instant it
seemed as though it would be dashed to pieces against the
rocks,

Nadia was obliged to leave her seat, and Michael, by
the light of one of the lanterns, discovered an excavation
bearing the marks of a miner’s pick, where the young girl
could rest in safety until they were once more ready to
make a start.

Just then—it was one o’clock in the morning—the rain
began to fall in torrents, and this in addition to the wind
made the storm truly frightful, without, however, extin-
guishing the lightning. To continue the journey at present
was utterly impossible. Besides, having reached this pass,
they had only to descend the slopes of the Ural Mountains,

and to descend now, with the road torn up by a thousand
H
93 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

mountain torrents, in these eddies of wind and rain, was
utter madness. ,

“To wait is indeed serious,’ said Michael, “but it must
certainly be done, to avoid still longer detentions. The
very violence of the storm makes me hope that it will not
last long. About three o'clock the day will begin to
break, and the descent, which we cannot risk in the dark,
we shall be able, if not with ease, at least without such
danger, to attempt after sunrise.”

“Let us wait, brother,” replied Nadia; “but if you
delay, let it not be to spare me fatigue or danger.”

“ Nadia, I know that you are ready to brave everything,
but, in exposing both of us, I risk more than my life, more
than yours, I am not fulfilling my task, that duty which
before everything else I must accomplish.”

“A duty!” murmured Nadia.

Just then a bright flash lit up the sky, and seemed, so
to speak, to volatilise the rain. Then a loud clap followed.
The air was filled with a sulphurous suffocating vapour,
and a clump of huge pines, struck by the electric fluid,
scarcely twenty feet from the tarantass, dared up like a
gigantic torch.

The iemschik was struck to the cround bya counter-
shock, but, regaining his feet, found himself happily unhurt.

Just as the last growlings of the thunder were lost in
the recesses of the mountain, Michael felt Nadia’s hand
pressing his, and he heard her whisper these words in his
ear:

“Cries, brether! Listen!”


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(Page 98
( 99 )



CHAPTER XI.
TRAVELLERS IN DISTRESS.

DURING the momentary lull which followed, shouts could
be distinctly heard from a person on the road farther on,
and at no great. distance from the tarantass. It was an
earnest appeal, evidently from some traveller in distress.

Michael listened attentively.

The iemschik also listened, but shook his head, as
thouch he thought it impossible to render any assistance.

“ They are travellers calling for help,” cried Nadia.

“They must expect nothing from us,” replied the
iemschik.

“Why not?” cried Michael. “ Ought not we to do for
them what they would do for us under similar circum-
stances ?”

“Surely you will not expose the carriage and the
horses!”

“T will go on foot,” replied Michael, interrupting the
iemschik.

“T will go, too, brother,” said the young girl.

“No, remain here, Nadia. The iemschik will stay with
you. I do not wish to leave him alone.”

“JT will stay,” replied Nadia.

“Whatever happens, do not leave this spot.”

“You will find me where I now am.”

Michael pressed her hand, and, turning the corner of
the slope, disappeared in the darkness.
100 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



”)

“Your brother is wrong,” said the iemschik.

“He is right,” replied Nadia simply. 7

Meanwhile Michael Strogoff strode rapidly on. If he
was in a great hurry to aid the travellers, he was also very
anxious to know who it was that had not been hindered
from starting by the storm, for he had no doubt that the
cries came from the telga, which had so long preceded the
tarantass.

The rain had stopped, but the storm was raging with
redoubled fury. The shouts, borne on the air, became
more and more distinct. Nothing was to be seen of the
pass in which Nadia had remained. The road wound
along, and the flashes showed only the slope above it.
The squalls, checked by the corners and turns of the road,
formed eddies highly dangerous, to pass which, without
being taken off his legs, Michael had to use his utmost
strength.

He soon perceived that the travellers whose shouts he
had heard were at no great distance. Even then, on
account of the darkness, Michael could not see them, yet
he heard distinctly their words.

This is what he heard, and what caused him some
surprise :

“ Are you coming back, blockhead ?”

“You shall have a taste of the knout at the next stage.”

“Do you hear, you devil's postillion! Hullo! Below
there!” |

“This is how a carriage takes you in this country!”

“Yes, this is what you call a telga!” |

“Oh, that abominable driver! He goes on and does
not appear to have discovered that he has left us behind!”

‘To deceive me, too! Me,an honourable Englishman!
I will make a complaint at the chancellor's office and have
the fellow hanged.”

This was said in a very angry tone, but Michael heard
the speaker suddenly interrupted by a burst of laughter
from his companion, who exclaimed :

“Well! this is a good joke, I must say.”


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(Page 100
TRAVELLERS IN DISTRESS. IOI

“You venture to laugh!” said the Briton angrily.

“Certainly, my dear confrere, and that most heartily.
‘Pon my word it is too good, I never saw anything to come
up to it.”

Just then a crashing clap of thunder re-echoed through
the defile, and then died away among the distant peaks.
When the sound of the last growl had ceased, the merry
voice went on:

“Yes, it undoubtedly is a good joke. This machine
certainly never came from France.”

“Nor from England,’ replied the other.

On the road, by the light of the flashes, Michael saw,
twenty yards from him, two travellers, seated side by side
in a most peculiar vehicle, the wheels of which were deeply
imbedded in the ruts formed in the road.

He approached them, the one grinning from ear to ear,
and the other gloomily contemplating his situation, and
recognized them as the two reporters who had been his
companions on board the Caucasus from Nijni-Novgorod
to Perm. |

“Good morning to you, sir,” cried the Frenchman.
“Delighted to see you here. Let me introduce you to my
intimate enemy, Mr. Blount.”

The English reporter bowed, and was about to introduce
in his turn his companion, Alcide Jolivet, in accordance
with the rules of society, when Michael interrupted him :

“Perfectly unnecessary, sir; we already know each
other, for we travelled together on the Volga.”

“ Ah, yes! exactly so! Mr——”

' “Nicholas Korpanoff, merchant, of Irkutsk,’ replied
Michael. “ But may I know what has happened which,
though a misfortune to your companion, amuses you so
much ?” - :

“ Certainly, Mr. Korpanoff,” replied Alcide. “ Fancy!
our driver has gone off with the front part of this confounded
carriage, and left us quietly seated in the back part! So
here we are in the worse half of a telga; no driver, no horses,
Is it not a joke?”
IO2 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

—_——_—_——



“No joke at all,” said the Englishman.

“Tndeed it is, my dear fellow. You do not know how
to look at the bright side of things.”

“ How, pray, are we to go on with our journey ?” asked
Harry Blount.

“That is the easiest thing in the world,” replied Alcide.
“Go and harness yourself to what remains of our cart; I will
take the reins, and call you my little pigeon, like a true
iemschik, and you will trot off like a real post-horse.”

“ Mr. Jolivet,” replied the Englishman, “this joking is
going too far, it passes all limits and ”

“Now do be quiet, my dear sir. When you are done
up, I will take your place; and call me a broken-winded
snail and faint-hearted tortoise if I don’t take you over the
ground at a rattling pace.”

Alcide said all this with such perfect good- humour that
Michael could not help smiling.

““ Gentlemen,” said he, “here i is a better plan. We have
now reached the highest ridge of the Ural chain, and thus
have merely to descend the slopes of the mountain. My
carriage is close by, only two hundred yards behind. I will
lend you one of my hores, harness it to the remains of the
telga, and to-morrow, if no accident metals us, we will arrive
together at Ekaterenburg ”

“That, Mr. Korpanoff,” said Alcide, “is indeed a
generous proposal.”

“Indeed, sir,’ replied Michael, “I would willingly offer
you places in my tarantass, but it will only hold two, and
my sister and I already fill it.”

“Really, sir,” answered Alcide, “with your horse and
our demi-telga my companion and I will go to the world’s
end.”

“Sir,” said Harry Blount, “we most willingly accept
your kind offer. And, as to that iemschik——”

“Oh! I assure you that you are not the first travellers
who have met with a similar misfortune,” replied Michael.

“ But why should not our driver come back? He knows
perfectly well that he has left us behind, wretch that he is!’


TRAVELLERS IN DISTRESS. 103

“He! He never suspected such a thing.”

“What! the fellow not know that he was leaving the
better half of his telga behind ?”

“Not a bit, and in all good faith is driving the fore part
into Ekaterenburg.”

“Did I not tell you that it was a good joke, confrere ?”
cried Alcide.

“Then, gentlemen, if you will follow me,” said Michael,
“we will return to my carriage, and——” -

“But the telga,” observed the Englisman.

“There is not the slightest fear that it will fly away, my
dear Blount!” exclaimed Alcide; “it has taken such good
root in the ground, that if it were left here until next spring
it would begin to. bud.”

“Come then, gentlemen,” said Michael Strogoff, “and
we will bring up the tarantass.”

The Frenchman and the Englishman, descending from
their seats, no longer the hinder one, since the front had
taken its departure, followed Michael.

Walking along, Alcide Jolivet chattered away as usual,
with his invariable good-humour.

“Faith, Mr. Korpanoff,” said he to Michael, ‘ you have
indeed got us out of a bad scrape.”

“T have only done, sir,’ replied Michael, “what any one
would have done in my place. If travellers did not help
one another, there might as well be no roads at all.”

“Well, sir, you have done us a good turn, and if you are
going farther in these steppes we may possibly meet again,
and--— ”

Alcide Jolivet did not put any direct question to Michael
as to where he was going, but the latter, not wishing it to
be suspected that he had anything to conceal, at once
replied :

“T am bound for Omsk, gentlemen.”

“Mr. Blount and J,” replied Alcide, “ go where danger
is certainly to be found, and without doubt news also.”

“To the invaded provinces ?” asked Michael with some
earnestness. :
104 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

+ ey



“Exactly so, Mr. Korpanoff; and we may possibly
meet there.” |

“Indeed, sir,” replied Michael, “I have little love for
cannon-balls or lance points, and am by nature too great
a lover of peace to venture where fighting is going on.”

“T am sorry, sir, extremely sorry ; we must only regret
that we shall separate so soon! But on leaving Ekateren-
burg it may be our fortunate fate to travel together, if only
for a few days?”

“Do you go on to Omsk?” asked Michael, after a
moment’s reflection.

“We know nothing as yet,’ replied Alcide; “ but we
shall certainly go as far as Ishim, and once there, our
movements must depend on circumstances.”

“Well then, gentlemen,’ said Michael, “we will be
fellow-travellers as far as Ishim.”

Michael would certainly have preferred to travel alone,
but he could not, without appearing at least singular, seek
to separate himself from the two reporters, who were taking
the same road that he was. Besides, since Alcide and his
companion intended to make some stay at Ishim, he thougLt
it rather convenient than otherwise to make that part of
the journey in their company.

Then in a perfectly indifferent tone he remarked :

“Do you know, with any degree of certainty, where this
Tartar invasion is?”

“ Indeed, sir,” replied Alcide, “we only know what they
said at Perm. .Feofar-Khan’s Tartars have invaded the
whole province of Semipolatinsk, and for some days, by
forced marches, they have been descending the course of
the Irtish. You must hurry if you wish to get to Omsk
before them.”

“Indeed I must,” replied Michael.

“Tt is reported also that Colonel Ogareff has succeeded
in passing the frontier in disguise, and that he will not be
slow in joining the Tartar chief in the revolted country.”

“But how do they know it?” asked Michael, whom this
news, more or less true, so directly concerned.
TRAVELLERS IN DISTRESS. | I05

“Oh! as these things are always known,” replied Alcide;
“it is in the air.”

“Then have you really reason to think that Colonel
Ogareff is in Siberia?”

“T myself have heard it said that he was to take the
road from Kasan to Ekaterenburg.”

“ Ah! you know that, Mr. Jolivet?” said Harry Blount,
roused from his silence.

“T knew it,’ replied Alcide.

“And do you know that he went disguised as a gipsy!"
asked Blount.

“Asa gipsy!” exclaimed Michael, almost involuntarily,
and he suddenly remembered the look of the old Bohemian
at Nijni-Novgorod, his voyage on board the Caucasus, and
his disembarking at Kasan.

“Just well enough to make a few remarks on the subject
ina letter to my cousin,” replied Alcide, smiling.
_“You lost no time at Kasan,” drily observed the
Englishman.

“No, my dear fellow! and while the Caucasus was
laying in her supply of fuel, I was employed in obtaining
a store of information.”

Michael no longer listened | to the repartee which Harry
Blount and Alcide exchanged. He was thinking of the
gipsy troupe, of the old Tsigane, whose face he had not
been able to see, and of the strange woman who accompanied
him, and then of the peculiar glance which she had cast at
him. As he was trying to recollect all the details, close by
he heard a pistol-shot.

“ Ali! forward, sirs!” cried he.

“Hullo!” said Alcide to himself, “this quiet merchant
who always avoids bullets is in a great hurry to go where
they are flying about just now!”

Quickly followed by Harry Blount, who was not a man
to be behind in danger, he dashed after Michael. In another
instant the three were opposite the projecting rock which
protected the tarantass at the turning of the road.

The clump of pines struck by the lightning was still
106 MICHAEL STROGOFF. -

burning. There was no one to be seen. However, Michael
was not mistaken, a report had certainly reached him.

Suddenly a dreadful growling was heard, and then
another report from close to the slope.

“A bear;” cried Michael, who could not mistake the
growling. “Nadia; Nadia!”

And then, drawing his cutlass from his belt, Michael
bounded round the buttress behind which the young girl
had promised to wait.

The pines, completely enveloped in flames, threw a
wild glare on the scene.

As Michael reached the tarantass, a huge animal
retreated towards him. .

It was a monstrous bear. The tempest had driven it
from the woods which bristle on the Ural slopes, and it
had come to seek refuge in this cave, doubtless its
habitual retreat, which Nadia then occupied.

Two of the horses, terrified at the presence of the
enormous creature, breaking their traces, had escaped, and
the iemschik, thinking only of his beasts, leaving Nadia
face to face with the bear, had gone in pursuit of them.

But the brave girl had not lost her presence of mind.
The animal, which had not at first seen her, was attacking
the remaining horse. Nadia, leaving the shelter in which
she had been crouching, had run to the carriage, taken one
of Michael's revolvers, and, advancing resolutely towards
the bear, had fired close to it.

The animal, slightly wounded in the shoulder, turned
on the girl, who rushed for protection behind the tarantass,
but then, seeing that the horse was attempting to break its
traces, and knowing that if it did so, and the others were
not recovered, their journey could not be continued, with
the most perfect coolness she again approached the bear,
and, as it raised its paws to strike her down, gave it the
contents of the second barrel.

This was the report which Michael had just heard. In
an instant he was on the spot. Another bound and he
was between the bear and the girl. His arm made one
Ipies,

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TRAVELLERS IN DISTRESS. 107



movement upwards, and the enormous beast, ripped up by
that terrible knife, fell to the ground a lifeless mass. He
had executed in splendid style the famous blow of the
Siberian hunters, who endeavour not to damage the
precious fur of the bear, which fetches a high price.

“You are not wounded, sister?” said Michael, springing
to the side of the young girl.

“No brother,” replied Nadia.

At that moment the two journalists came up. Alcide
seized the horse’s head, and, in an instant, his strong wrist
mastered it. His companion and he had seen Michael’s
rapid stroke.

“Bravo!” cried Alcide; “for a simple merchant, Mr.
Korpanoff, you handle the hunter’s knife in a most
masterly fashion.”

~ “Most masterly, indeed,” added Harry.

“Jn Siberia,” replied Michael, “we are obliged to do a
little of everything.”

“Alcide regarded him attentively.

Seen in the bright glare, his knife dripping with blood,
his tall figure, his determined air, his foot placed firmly on
the huge carcase, he was indeed worth looking at.

“A formidable fellow,” said Alicide to himself.

Then advancing respectfully, his hat in his hand, he
saluted the young girl.

Nadia bowed slightly.

Alcide turning towards his companion :

“The sister worthy of the brother!” said he. “Now,
were I a bear, I should not meddle with a couple at the
same time so brave and so charming.”

Harry Blount, perfectly upright, stood, hat in hand, at
some distance. His companion’s easy manners only
increased his usual stiffness.

At that moment the iemschik, who had succeeded in
recapturing his two horses, reappeared. He cast a
regretful glance at the magnificent animal lying on the
ground, loth to leave it to the birds of prey, and then
proceeded once more to harness his team.
108 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

—— —..

Michael acquainted him with the travellers’ situation,
and his intention of putting one of the horses at their
disposal. |

“As you please,” replied the iemschik. ‘“ Only, you
know, two carriages instead of one.”

“All right, my friend,” said Alcide, who understood the
insinuation, “ we will pay double.”

“Then gee up, my turtle-doves!”’ cried the iemschik.

Nadia again took her place in the tarantass. Michael
and his companions followed on foot.

It was three o'clock. The storm, now decreasing no
longer, swept with terrific violence across the defile. The
remainder of the ascent was rapidly performed.

When the first streaks of daybreak appeared the
tarantass had reached the telga, which was still con-
scientiously imbedded as far as the centre of the wheels.
Such being the case, it can be easily understood how a
sudden jerk would separate the front from the hinder part.
One of the side horses of the tarantass was harnessed by
means of cords to the remains of the telga, the re-
porters took their place on the seat of this singular
equipage, and the two carriages started off at the same
moment. ‘They had now only to descend the Ural slopes,
in doing which there was not the slightest difficulty.

Six hours afterwards the two vehicles, the tarantass
preceding the telga, arrived at Ekaterenburg, nothing
worthy of note having happened in the descent.

The first person the reporters perceived at the door of
the post-house was their iemschik, who appeared to be
waiting for them.

This worthy Russian had a fine open countenance, and,
without the slightest hesitation, he smilingly approached
the travellers, and, holding out his hand, in a quiet tone he
demanded the usual “ pour-boire.”

This very cool request roused Harry Blount’s ire to its
highest pitch, and had not the iemschik prudently
retreated, a straight-out blow of the fist, in true British
boxing style, would have paid him all his claims of “na
vodkou.”








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fad not the iemschik prudently retreated,
(Page 108.)
TRAVELLERS IN DISTRESS. TOQ

Alcide Jolivet, at this burst of anger, laughed as he had
never laughed before.

“ But the poor devil is quite right!” he cried. “ He is
perfectly right, my dear fellow. It is not his fault if we did
not know how to follow him!”

Then drawing several ccpecks from his pocket :

“Here my friend,’ said he, handing them to the
iemschik ; “take them. If you have not earned them,
that is not your fault.”

This redoubled Mr. Blount’s irritation. He even
began to speak of a lawsuit against the owner of the telga.

“A lawsuit in Russia, my dear fellow!” cried Alcide.
“Things must indeed change should it ever be brought to
a conclusion! Did you never hear the story of the wet-
nurse who claimed payment for twelve months’ nursing of
some poor little infant ?”

“T never heard it,” replied Harry Blount.

4°Then you do not know what that suckling had
become by the time judgment was given in favour of the
nurse?”

“What was he, pray ?”

“Colonel of the Imperial Guard ! ”

At this reply all burst into a laugh.

Alicide, enchanted with his own joke, drew out his note-
book, and in it wrote the following memorandum, destined
to figure in a forthcoming French and Russian dictionary :

“Telga, a Russian carriage with four wheels, that is,
when it starts; with two wheels, when it arrives at its
destination.”
I10 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

CHAPTER XII.
PROVOCATION.

EKATERENBURG, geographically, is an Asiatic city; for it
is situated beyond the Ural Mountains, on the farthest
eastern slopes of the chain. Nevertheless, it belongs to
the government of Perm; and, consequently, is included
in one of the great divisions of European Russia. It is as
though a morsel of Siberia lay in Russian jaws.

Neither Michael nor his companions were likely to
experience the slightest difficulty in obtaining means of
continuing their journey in so large a town as Ekateren-
burg. It was founded in 1723, and has since become a
place of considerable size, for in it is the chief mint of
the empire. There also are the headquarters of the
officials employed in the management of the mines. Thus
the town is the centre of an important district, abounding
in manufactories principally for the working and refining
of gold and platina.

Just now the population of Ekaterenburg had greatly
increased ; many Russians and Siberians, menaced by
the Tartar invasion, having collected there, driven from
those provinces already overrun by the hordes of Feofar-
Khan and the Kirgis country, which extends to the south-
west of the Irtych as far as the frontiers of Turkestan.

Thus, though it had been so troublesome a matter to
find horses and vehicles when going to Ekaterenburg, there
was no difficulty in leaving it ; for under present circum-
PKOVOCATION.

pox
~_—
—

stances few travellers cared to venture on the Siberian
roads.

So it happened that Blount and Alcide had not the
slightest trouble in replacing, by a sound telga, the famous
demi-carriage which had managed to take them to Ekater-
enburg. As to Michael, he retained his tarantass, which
was not much the worse for its journey across the Urals
and he had only to harness three good horses to it to take
him swiftly over the road to Irkutsk.

As far as Tioumen, and even up to Novo-Ziamskoé,
this road has slight inclines, which gentle undulations are
the first signs of the slopes of the Ural Mountains. But
after Novo- Zaimskoé begins the immense steppe which
extends almost as far as Krasnoiarsk, over a space of
seventeen hundred versts (about 1122 miles),

At Ichim, as we have said, the reporters intended to
stop, that is at about six hundred and thirty versts from
Ekaterenburg. There they intended to be guided by
circumstances as to their route across the invaded country,
either together or separately, according as their news-
hunting instinct set them on one track or another.

This road from Ekaterenburg to Ichim—which passes
through Irkutsk—was the only one which Michael could
take. But, as he did not run after news, and wished, on
the contrary, to avoid the country devastated by the
invaders, he determined to stop nowhere.

“Tam very happy to make part of my journey in your
company,” said he to his new companions, “but I must tell
you that J am most anxious to reach Omsk ; for my sister
and I are going to rejoin our mother. Who can say whether
we shall arrive before the Tartars reach the town! I must
therefore stop at the post-houses only long enough to change
horses, and must travel day and night.”

“That is exactly what we intend doing,” replied Blount.

“Good,” replied Michael; “ but do not lose an instant.
Buy or hire a carriage whose- ”

“Whose hind wheels,” added Alcide, “ are warranted to
arrive at the same time as its front wheels.”


{12 MICHAEL STROGOFS&

—_— —

Half an hour afterwards the energetic Frenchman had
found a tarantass as nearly as possible like Michael’s, and
in which he and his companion at once seated themselves.

Michael and Nadia once more took their places in their
carriage, and at twelve o’clock the two vehicles left the town
of Ekaterenburg together.

Nadia was at last in Siberia, on that long road which
led to Irkutsk. What must then have been the thouchts
of the young girl? Three strong swift horses were taking
her across that land of exile where her parent was con-
demned to live, for how long she knew not, and so far from
his native land. But she scarcely noticed those long steppes
over which the tarantass was rolling, and which at one time
she had despaired of ever seeing, for her eyes were gazing
at the horizon, beyond which she knew her banished father
was. She saw nothing of the country across which she
was travelling at the rate of fifteen versts an hour ; nothing
of these regions of Western Siberia, so different from those
of the east. Here, indeed, were few cultivated fields; the
soil was poor, at least at the surface, but in its bowels lay
hid quantities of iron, copper, platina, and gold. There
were, too, plenty of busy factories, but very few farms.
How can hands be found to cultivate the land, sow the
seed, and reap the harvest, when it pays better to burrow
beneath the earth? The pickaxe is everywhere at work ;
the spade nowhere. | |

However, Nadia’s thoughts sometimes left the provinces
of Lake Baikal, and returned to her present situation. Her
father’s image faded away, and was replaced by that of her
generous companion as he first appeared on the Vladimir
railroad. She recalled his attentions during that journey,
his arrival at the police-station, the hearty simplicity with
which he had called her sister, his kindness to her in the
descent of the Volga, and then all that he did for her on
that terrible night of the storm inthe Urals, when he saved
her life at the peril of his own.

Thus Nadia thought of Michael. She thanked God
for having given her such a gallant protector, a friend so
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(Page 112.)

renchman had found a tarantass,

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PROVOCATION. 113

generous and wise. She knew that she was safe with him,
under his protection. No brother could have done more
than he. All obstacles seemed cleared away; the per-
formance of her journey was but a matter of time.

Michael remained buried in thought. He also thanked
God for having brought about his meeting with Nadia,
which at the same time enabled him to do a good action,
and afforded him additional means for concealing his true
character. He delighted in the young girl’s calm intre-
pidity. Was she not indeed his sister? His feeling towards
his beautiful and brave companion was rather respect than
affection. He felt that hers was one of those pure and rare
hearts which are held by all in high esteem.

However, Michael’s dangers were now beginning, since
he had reached Siberian ground. If the reporters were
not mistaken, if Ivan Ogareff had really passed the frontier,
all his actions must be made with extreme caution. Things
were now altered; Tartar spies swarmed in the Siberian
provinces. His incognito once discovered, his character as
courier of the Czar known, there was an end of his journey,
and probably of his life. Michael felt now more than ever
the weight of his responsibility.

While such were the thoughts of those occupying the
first carriage, what was happening in the second? Nothing
out of the way. Alcide spoke in sentences ; Blount replied
by monosyllables. Each looked at everything in his own
light, and made notes of such incidents as occurred on the
journey—few and but slightly varied—while they crossed
the provinces of Western Siberia.

At each relay the reporters descended from their
carriage and found themselves with Michael. Except
when meals were to be taken at the post-houses, Nadia
did not leave the -tarantass. When obliged to breakfast
or dine, she sat at table, but was always very reserved,
and seldom joined in conversation.

Alcide, without going beyond the limits cf strict pro-
priety, showed that he was greatly struck by the young
girl. He admired the silent energy which she showed

I
IT4 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
in bearing all the fatigues of so long and difficult a
journey.

The forced stoppages were anything but agreeable to
Michael; so he hastened the departure at each relay,
roused the innkeepers, urged on the itemschiks, and ex-
pedited the harnessing of the tarantass. ‘Then the hurried
meal over—always much too hurried to agree with Blount,
who was a methodical eater—they started, and were driven
as eagles, for they paid like princes, and, as Alcide said, in
“Russian eagles.” *

It need scarcely be said that Blount did not trouble
himself about the girl at table. That gentleman was not
in the habit of doing two things at once. She was also
one of the few subjects of conversation which he did not
care to discuss with his companion.

Alcide having asked him, on one occasion, how old he
thought the girl :

“ ‘What girl?” he replied, quite seriously, half shutting
his eyes.

“Why, Nicholas Korpanoff’s sister.”

“Ts she his sister?”

“No; his grandmother!” replied Alcide, angry at his
indifference. “ What age should you consider her?”

“ Had I been present at her birth I-:might have known,”
replied Blount curtly.

The country they were then crossing was almost a
desert. The weather was fine, the sky partly clouded, the
temperature more supportable. Had the carriages only
possessed springs, the travellers would have had nothing
to complain of in the journey. They were travelling at
the same rate as post-berlins, and that is saying something
for their speed.

But very few of the Siberian peasants were to be seen
in the fields. These peasants are remarkable for their pale
grave faces, which a celebrated traveller has compared to
those of the Castilians, without the haughtiness of the

* A gold Russian coin, worth five roubles. A rouble is a silver coin worth
100 copecks, about three shillings.
|



=H «

20

A

(Page 115.)

The arrival at Tioumen.
PROVOCATION. 115
latter. Here and there some villages already deserted
indicated the approach of the ‘Tartar hordes. The
inhabitants, having driven off their flocks of sheep, their
camels, and their horses, were taking refuge in the plains of
the north. Some tribes of the wandering Kirgis, who
remained faithful, had transported their tents beyond the
Irtych and the Obi, to escape the depredations of the
invaders.

Happily, post travelling was as yet uninterrupted ; and
telegraphic communication could still be effected between
places connected with the wire. At each relay horses
were to be had on the usual conditions. At each tele-
graphic station the clerks, seated at their desks, transmitted
messages delivered to them, delaying for State despatches
alone.

Thus far, then, Michael’s journey had been accomplished
satisfactorily. The courier of the Czar had in no way
been impeded ; and, if he could only get on to Krasnoiarsk,
which was the farthest point attained by Feofar-Khan’s
Tartars, he knew that he could arrive at Irkutsk, before
them. The day after the two carriages had left Ekateren-
burg they reached the small town of Toulouguisk at
seven o'clock in the morning, having covered two hundred
and twenty versts, no event worthy of mention having
occurred. |

Half an hour was then devoted to dinner. This over,
the travellers once more started at a rate which the
promise of a certain number of copecks could alone ex-
plain. The same evening, the 22nd of July, they arrived
at Tioumen, sixty versts farther.

Tioumen, whose population is usually ten thousand
inhabitants, then contained double that number. ‘This,
the first industrial town established by the Kussians in
Siberia, in which may be seen a fine metal-refining factory
anda bell foundry, had never before presented such an
animated appearance. The correspondents immediately
went off after news. That brought by Siberian fugitives
from the seat of war was far from reassuring. They said,
116 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
amongst other things, that Feofar-Khan’s army was
rapidly approaching the valley of the Ichim, and they
confirmed the report that the Tartar chief was soon to be
joined by Colonel Ogareff, if he had not been so already.
Hence the conclusion naturally arrived at was that
operations would be pushed in Eastern Siberia with the
greatest activity.

On the other hand, it had been necessary to summon
the Russian troops from the European provinces of Russia
chiefly, but, being still at some distance, they could not
oppose the invasion. However, the Cossacks of the
government of Tobolsk had been advancing by forced
marches towards Tomsk,in the hope of cutting off the
Tartar columns. |

At eight o’clock in the evening, seventy-five versts
more having been accomplished by the two carriages, they
arrived at Yaloutorowsk.

Horses were rapidly changed, and on leaving the town
the river Tobol was passed in a ferry-boat. Its peaceful
waters rendered this operation easy ; it would, however,
have to be repeated more than once in the journey, and
probably under less favourable conditions.

At midnight, fifty-five versts farther, the town of Novo-
Saimsk was reached ; and the travellers now left behind
them the country broken by tree-covered hills, the last
remains of the Ural Mountains.

Here began the regular Siberian steppe which extends
to the neighbourhood of Krasnoiarsk. It is a boundless
plain, a vast grassy desert; earth and sky here form a
circle as distinct as that traced by a sweep of the com-
passes. ‘The steppe presents nothing to attract notice but
the long line of the telegraph posts, their wires vibrating
in the breeze like the strings of a-harp.. The road could
be distinguished from the rest of the plain only by the
clouds of fine dust which rose under the wheels of the
tarantass. Had it not been for this white riband, which
stretched away as far as the eye could reach, the travellers
might have thought themselves in a desert.
PROVOCATION. I17



Michael and his companions again pressed rapidly
forward across the steppe. ‘The horses, urged on by the
iemschik, seemed to fly over the ground, for there was not
the slightest obstacle to impede them. ‘The tarantass was
going straight for Ichim, where the two correspondents
intended to stop, if nothing happened to make them alter
their plans. |

Nearly two hundred versts separated Novo-Saimsk
from the town of Ichim, and before eight o’clock the next
evening the distance could and should be accomplished if
no time was lost. In the opinion of the iemschiks, should
the travellers not be great lords or high functionaries, they
were. worthy of being so, if it was only for their generosity
in the matter of “na vodkou.”

On the afternoon of the next day, the 23rd of July, the
two carriages were not more than thirty versts from Ichim.
Suddenly Michael caught sight of a carriage—scarcely
visible among the clouds of dust—preceding them along
the road. As his horses were evidently less fatigued than
those of the other traveller, he would not be long in over-
taking it. This was neither a tarantass nor a telga, but a
post-berlin, all over dust, and looking as if it had madea
long journey. The postillion was thrashing his horses with
all his might, and only kept them ata gallop by dint of
abuse and blows. The berlin had certainly not passed
through Novo-Saimsk, and could only have struck the
Irkutsk road by some less frequented route across the
steppe.

Our travellers’ first thought, on seeing this berlin, was
to get in front of it, and arrive first at the relay, so as to
make sure of fresh horses. They said a word to their
iemschiks, who soon brought them up with the berlin.

Michael Strogoff came up first.

As he passed a head was thrust out of the window of
the berlin.

He had not time to see what it was like, but as he
dashed by he distinctly heard this word, uttered in an
imperious tone:
118 MICHAEL STROGOFF,

_—_—_—_—__ SS ee se eee eee ee

“Stop!”

But they did not stop; on the contrary, the berlin was
soon distanced by the two tarantasses.

It now became a regular race ; for the horses of the
berlin—no doubt excited by the sight and pace of the
others—recovered their strength and kept up for some
minutes. The three carriages were hidden in a cloud of
dust. From this cloud issued the cracking of whips
mingled with excited shouts and exclamations of anger.

Nevertheless, the advantage remained with Michael
and his companions, which might be very important to
them if the relay was poorly provided with horses. Two
carriages were perhaps more than the postmaster could
provide for, at least in a short space of time.

Half an hour after the berlin was left far behind, look-
ing only a speck on the horizon of the steppe.

It was eight o’clock in the evening when the two
carriages arrived at the post-house in Ichim. |

The news was worse and worse with regard to the
invasion.

The town itself was menaced by the Tartar vanguard ;
and two days before the authorities had been obliged to
retreat to Tobolsk. There was not an officer nor a soldier
left in Ichim. ;

On arriving at the relay, Michael Strogoff immediately
asked for horses.

He had been fortunate in distancing the berlin.

Only three horses were in a fit state to be immediately
harnessed. The others had just come in worn out from a
long stage.

The postmaster gave the order to put to.

As the two correspondents intended to stop at Ichim,
they had not to trouble themselves to find means of trans-
port, and therefore had their carriage put away.

In ten minutes Michael was told that his tarantass was
ready to start.

“Good,” said he.

Then turning to the two reporters:
PROVOCATION. 119g



“Well, gentlemen, since you remain at Ichim, the time
is come for us to separate.”

“What, Mr. Korpanoff,” said Alcide Jolivet, “shall you
not stop even for an hour at Ichim?”

“No, sir; and I also wish to leave the post-house before
the arrival of the berlin which we distanced.”

“Are you afraid that the traveller will dispute the
horses with you?”

“T particularly wish to avoid any difficulty.”

“Then, Mr. Korpanoff,” said Jolivet, “it only remains
for us to thank you once more for the service you rendered
us, and for the pleasure we have had in travelling in your
company.” |
“It is possible that we shall meet you again in a few
days at Omsk,” added Blount.

“Tt is possible,’ answered Michael, “since I am going
straight there.”

“Well, I wish you a safe journey, Mr. Korpanoff,” said
Alcide, “and Heaven preserve you from telgas.”

The two reporters held out their hands to Michael with
the intention of cordially shaking his, when the sound of a
carriage was heard outside.

Almost immediately the door was flung open and a
man appeared. |

It was the traveller of the berlin, a military-looking
man, apparently about forty years of age, tall, robust in
figure, broad-shouldered, with a strongly-set head, and
thick moustaches meeting red whiskers. He wore a plain
uniform. A cavalry sabre hung at his side, and in his
hand he held a short-handled whip.

“Horses,” he demanded, with the air of a man ac-
customed to command.

“T have no more disposable horses,” answered the
postmaster, bowing.

“T must have some this moment.”

“Tt is impossible.”

“What are those horses which have just been harnessed
to the tarantass I saw at the door?”
120 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“They belong to this traveller,” answered the post:
master, pointing to Michael Strogoff. |

“Take them out!” said the traveller in‘a tone which
admitted of no reply.

Michael then advanced.

“These horses are engaged by me,” he said.

“What does that matter? I must have them. Come,
be quick ; I have no time to lose.” :

“JT have no time to lose either,” replied Michael,
endeavouring to be calm, but restraining himself with
difficulty.

Nadia was near him, calm also, but secretly uneasy at
a scene which it would have been better to avoid.

“Enough!” said the traveller.

Then, going up to the postmaster :

“Let the horses be taken out of the tarantass and
put into my berlin,” he exclaimed with a threatening
gesture.

The postmaster, much embarrassed, did not know
whom to obey, and looked at Michael, who evidently had
the right to resist the unjust demands of the traveller.

Michael hesitated an instant. He did not wish to
make use of his podorojua, which would have drawn atten-
tion to him, and he was most unwilling also, by giving up
his horses, to delay his journey, and yet it was important
not to engage in a struggle which might compromise his
mission.

The two reporters looked at him ready to support him
should he appeal to them.

“My horses will remain in my carriage,” said Michael,
but without raising his tone more than would be suitable
for a plain Irkutsk merchant.

The traveller advanced towards Michael and laid his
hand heavily on his shoulder.

“Ts it so?” he said in a rough voice. “You will not
give up your horses to me?”

“No,” answered Michael.

“Very well; then they shall belong to whichever of us










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(Pege 121.)
PROVOCATION. I2[



is able to start. Defend yourself, for I shall not spare
you!”

So saying, the traveller drew his sabre from its sheath,
and Nadia threw herself before Michael.

Blount and Alcide Jolivet advanced towards him.

“YT shall not fight,” said Michael quietly folding his
arms across his chest.

“You will not fight ?”

“No.”

“Not even after this?” exclaimed the traveller. And
before any one could prevent him, he struck Michael’s
shoulder with the handle of the whip. At this insu't
Michael turned deadiy pale. His hands moved con-
vulsively as if he would have knocked the brute down.
But by a tremendous effort he mastered himself. A duel!
it was more than a delay; it was perhaps the failure of his
mission. It would be better to lose some hours. Yes;
but to swallow this affront!

“Will you fight now, coward?” repeated the traveller,
adding coarseness to brutality.

“ No,” answered Michael, without moving, but looking
the other straight in the face.

“The horses this moment,” said the man, and left the
room.

The postmaster followed him, after shrugging his
shoulders and bestowing on Michael a glance of anything
but approbation.

The effect produced on the reporters by this incident
was not to Michael’s advantage. Their discomfiture was
visible. How could this strong young man allow himself
to be struck like that and not demand satisfaction for such
an insult? They contented themselves with bowing to
him and retired, Jolivet remarking to Harry Blount :

“T could not have believed that of a man who is so
skilful in finishing up Ural Mountain bears. Is it the case
that a man can “be courageous at one time and a coward
at another? It is quite incomprehensible.”

A moment afterwards the noise of wheels and the
I22 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

cracking of a whip showed that the berlin, drawn by the
tarantass’ horses, was driving rapidly away from the post-
house.

Nadia, unmoved, and Michael, still quivering, remained
alone in the room.

The courier of the Czar, his arms crossed over his chest,
was seated motionless as a statue. However, a colour,
which. could not have been the blush of shame, had
replaced the paleness on his manly countenance.

Nadia did not doubt that powerful reasons alone could
have allowed him to suffer so great a humiliation from
such a man. |

Then going up to him as he had come to her in the
police-station at Nijni-Novgorod :

“Your hand, brother,” said she.

And at the same time her hand, with an almost
maternal gesture, wiped away a tear which sprang to her
companion’s eye.
CHAPTER XIII.
DUTY BEFORE EVERYTHING,

NADIA, with the clear perception of a _ right-minded
woman, guessed that some secret motive directed all
Michael Strogoff’s actions; that he, for a reason unknown
to Her, did not belong to himself; that he had not the
power of doing what he desired ; and that in this instance
especially he had heroically sacrificed to duty even his
resentment at the gross injury he had received.

Nadia, therefore, asked no explanation from Michael.
Had not the hand which she had extended to him already
replied to all that he might have been able to tell her?

Michael remained silent all the evening. The post-
master not being able to supply them with fresh horses
until the next morning, a whole night must be passed at
the house. Nadia could profit by it to take some rest, and
a room was therefore prepared for her.

The young girl would no doubt have preferred not to
leave her companion, but she felt that he would rather be
alone, and she made ready to go to her room. |

Just as she was about to retire she could not refrain
from going up to Michael to say good-night.

“ Brother,” she whispered.

But he checked her with a gesture. The girl sighed
and left the room.

Michael Strogoff did not lie down. He could not have
124 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
slept even for an hour. The place on which he had been
struck by the brutal traveller felt like a burn.

“For my country and the Father,” he muttered as he
ended his evening prayer.

He especially felt a great wish to know who was the
man who had struck him, whence he came, and where he
was going. As to his face, the features of it were so deeply
engraven on his memory that he had no fear of ever
forgetting them.

Michael at last asked for the postmaster. The latter, a
Siberian of the old type, came directly, and looking rather
contemptuously at the young man, waited to be questioned.

“You belong to the country?” asked Michael.

“Yes.”

“Do you know that man who took my horses ?”

“No.”

“Tad you never seen him before?”

“ Never.”

“Who do you think he was?”

“A man who knows how to make himself obeyed.”

Michael fixed his piercing gaze upon the Siberian, but
the other did not quail before it.

“Do you dare to judge me?” exclaimed Michael.

“Yes,” answered the Siberian, “for there are some
things that even a plain merchant cannot receive without
returning.”

“ Blows ?” |

“Blows, young man. I am of an age and strength to
tell you so.”

Michael went up to the postmaster and laid his two
powerful hands on his shoulders.

Then in a peculiarly calm tone:

“Be off, my friend,” said he: “be off! I could kill
you.”

The postmaster understood this time.

“TI like him better for that,’ he muttered as he retired
without adding another word.

At eight o’clock the next morning, the 24th of July,
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DUTY BEFORE EVERYTHING. 125





three strong horses were harnessed to the tarantass,
Michael and Nadia took their places, and Ichim, with its
disagreeable remembrances, was soon left far behind.

At the different relays at which they stopped during
the day Strogoff ascertained that the berlin still preceded
them on the road to Irkutsk, and that the traveller, as
hurried as they were, never lost a minute in pursuing his
way across the steppe.

At four o’clock in the evening they reached Abatskaia,
seventy-five versts farther on, where the Ichim, one of the
principal affluents of the Irtych, had to be crossed.

This passage was rather more difficult than that of the

Tobol.. Indeed, the current of the Ichim was very rapid
just at that place. During the Siberian winter, the rivers
being all frozen to a thickness of several feet, they are
easily practicable, and the traveller even crosses them with-
out being aware of the fact, for their beds have disappeared
under the snowy sheet spread uniformly over the steppe;
but in summer the difficulties of crossing are sometimes
great.
_ In fact, two hours were taken up in making the passage
of the Ichim, which much exasperated Michael, especially
as the boatmen gave them alarming news of the Tartar
invasion.

This is what they said:

Some of Feofar-Khan’s scouts had already appeared
on both banks of the lower Ichim, in the southern parts of
the government of Tobolsk. Omsk was threatened. They
spoke of an engagement which had taken place between
the Siberian and Tartar troops on the frontier of the great
Kirghese horde—an engagement which had not been to
the advantage of the Russians, who were somewhat weak
in numbers in that direction. The troops had retreated
thence, and in consequence there had been a general
emigration of all the peasants of the province. The boat-
men spoke of horrible atrocities committed by the invaders
—pillage, theft, incendiarism, murder. Such was the
system of Tartar warfare.
126 MICHAEL STROGOFF.,

The people fled on all sides before Michael Feofar-
Khan. Michael Strogoff’s great fear was lest, in the
depopulation of the towns and hamlets, he should be
unable to obtain the means of transport. He was therefore
extremely anxious to reach Omsk. Perhaps on leaving
this town they would get the start of the Tartar scouts,
who were coming down the valley of the Irtych, and
would find the road open to Irkutsk.

Just at the place where the tarantass crossed the river
ended what is called, in military language, the “Ichim
chain ”’—a chain of towers, or little wooden forts, extending
from the southern frontier of Siberia for a distance of
nearly four hundred versts. Formerly these forts were
occupied by detatchments of Cossacks, and they protected
the country against the Kirghese, as well as against the
Tartars. But since the Muscovite Government had
believed these hordes reduced to absolute submission, they
had been abandoned, and now could not be used, just at
the time when they would have been most useful. Many
of these forts had been reduced to ashes; and the boat-
men even pointed out the smoke to Michael, rising in the
southern horizon, and showing the approach of the Tartar
advance-guard.

As soon as the ferryboat landed the tarantass and its
occupants on the right bank of the Ichim, the journey
across the steppe was resumed with all possible speed.

It was seven in the evening. The sky was cloudy.
Every now and then a shower of rain fell, which laid the
dust and much improved the roads. Michael Strogoff had
remained very silent from the time they left Ichim. He
was, however, always attentive to Nadia, helping her to
bear the fatigue of this long journey without break or
rest ; but the girl never complained. She longed to give
wings to the horses. Something told her that her com-
panion was even more anxious than herself to reach
Irkutsk ; and how many versts were still between!

It also occurred to her that if Omsk was entered by
the Tartars, Michael’s mother, who lived there, would be in
DUTY BEFORE EVERYTHING. 127



danger, about which her son would be very uneasy, and
that this was sufficient to explain his impatience to get
to her.

Nadia at last spoke to him of old Marfa, and of how
unprotected she would be in the midst of all these events. |

- “Have you received any news of your mother since
the beginning of the invasion ?” she asked.

“None, Nadia. The last letter my mother wrote to
me contained good news. Marfa is a brave and energetic
Siberian woman. Notwithstanding her age, she has pre-
served all her moral strength. She knows how to suffer.”

“JT shall see her, brother,” said Nadia quickly. “ Since
you give me the name of sister, I am Marfa’s daughter.”

And as Michael did not answer she added :

“Perhaps your mother has been able to leave Omsk ?”

“Tt is possible, Nadia,’ replied Michael; “and I hope
she may have reached Tobolsk. Marfa hates the Tartars.
She knows the steppe, and would have no fear in just
taking her staff and going down the banks of the Irtych.
There is not a spot in all the province unknown to her.
Many times has she travelled all over the country with my
father ; and many times I myself, when a mere child, have
accompanied them in their journeys across the Siberian
desert. Yes, Nadia, I trust that my. mother has left
Omsk.”

“ And when shall you see her ?”

“T shall see her—on my return.”

“Tf, however, your mother is still at Omsk, you will
be able to spare an hour to go to her?”

“T shall not go and see her.”

“You will not see her?”

“No, Nadia,” answered Michael, his chest heaving as
he felt that he could not go on replying to the girl’s
questions.

“You say no! Why, brother, if your mother is still
at Omsk, for what reason could you refuse to see her ? 7

“For what reason, Nadia? You ask me for what
reason,” exclaimed Michael, in so changed a voice that
128 MICHAEL STRUGOFF.

the young girl started. “For the same reason as that
which made me patient even to cowardice with the villain
who ”

He could not finish his sentence. |

“Calm yourself, brother,” said Nadia in a gentle voice.
“T only know one thing, or rather I do not know it, I feel
it. It is that all your conduct is now directed by the
sentiment of a duty more sacred—if there can be one—
than that which unites the son to the mother.”

Nadia was silent, and from that moment avoided every
subject which in any way touched on Michael's peculiar
situation. He had a secret motive which she must respect.
She respected it.

The next day, July 25th, at three o'clock in the
morning, the tarantass arrived at the post-house in Tiou-
kalmsk, having accomplished a distance of one hundred
and twenty versts since it had crossed the Ichim.

They rapidly changed horses. Here, however, for the
first time, the iemschik made difficulties about starting,
deciaring that detachments of Tartars were roving across
the steppe, and that travellers, horses, and carriages would
be a fine prize for such robbers.

Only by dint of a large bribe could Michael get. over
the unwillingness of the iemschik, for in this instance, as
in many others, he did not wish to show his podorojna.
The last ukase, having been transmitted by telegraph, was
known in the Siberian provinces ; and a. Russian specially
exempted from obeying these orders would certainly have
drawn public attention to himself—a thing above all to be
avoided by the Czar’s courier. As to the iemschik’s
hesitation, either the rascal traded on the traveller's
impatience or he really had good reason to fear some
misfortune.

However, at last the tarantass started, and made such
good way that by three in the afternoon it had reached
Koulatsinskoé, eighty versts farther on. An hour after
this it was on the banks of ths Irtych. Omsk was now
only twenty versts distant.


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(Page 124.)
DUTY BEFORE EVERYTHING. 129

The Irtych is a large river, and one of the principal
of those which flow towards the north of Asia. Rising
in the Atai Mountains, it flows from the south-east to the
north-west, and empties itself into the Obi, after a course
of nearly seven thousand versts.

At this time of year, when all the rivers of the Siberian
basin are much swollen, the waters of the Irtych were very
high. In consequence the current was changed to a
regular torrent, rendering the passage difficult enough.
A swimmer could not have crossed, however powerful a
one he might be ; and even in a ferryboat there would be
some danger.

But Michael and Nadia, determined to brave all perils
whatever they might be, did not dream of shrinking from
this one.

However, Michael proposed to his young companion
that he should cross first, embarking in the ferryboat with
the tarantass and horses, as he feared that the weight of
this load would render it less safe. After landing the
carriage on the opposite bank he would return and fetch
Nadia.

The girl refused. It would be the delay of an hour,
and she would not, for her safety alone, be the cause of it.

The embarkation was made not without difficulty, for
the banks were partly flooded and the boat could not get
in near enough.

However, after half an hour’s exertion, the boatmen
got the tarantass and the three horses on. board. Michael,
Nadia, and the iemschik embarked also, and they shoved
off. | :

For a few minutes all went well. A little way up the
river the current was broken by a long point projecting
from the bank, and forming an eddy easily crossed by the
boat. The two boatmen propelled their barge with long
poles, which they handled cleverly ; but as they gained
the middle of the stream it grew deeper and deeper, until
at last they could only just reach the bottom. The ends
ef the poles were only a foot above the water, which

K
i30 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

rendered their use difficult and insufficient. Michael and
Nadia, seated in the stern of the boat, and always in
dread of a delay, watched the boatmen with some un-
easiness.

“ Look out!” cried one of them to his comrade.

The shout was occasioned by the new direction the
boat was rapidly taking. It had got into the direct
current and was being swept down the river. By diligent
use of the poles, putting the ends in a series of notches
cut below the gunwale, the boatmen managed to keep
their craft against the stream, and slowly urged it in a
slanting direction towards the right bank.

They calculated on reaching it some five or six versts
below the landing place ; but, after all, that would not
matter so long as men and beasts could disembark without
accident. The two stout boatmen, stimulated moreover by
the promise of double fare, did not doubt of succeeding in
this difficult passage of the Irtych.

But they reckoned without an incident which they were
powerless to prevent, and neither their zeal. nor their
skilfulness could, under the circumstances, have done more.

The boat was in the middle of the current, at nearly
equal distances from either shore, and being carried down
at the rate of two versts an hour, when Michael, springing
to his feet, bent his gaze up the river.

Several boats, aided by oars as well as by the current,
were coming swiftly down upon them.

Michael's brow contracted,and an exclamation escaped
him.

“What is the matter?” asked the girl.

But before Michael had time to reply one of the boat-
men exclaimed in an accent of terror :

“The Tartars! the Tartars !”

There were indeed boats full of soldiers, and in a few
minutes they must reach the ferryboat, it being too heavily
laden to escape from them.

The terrified boatmen uttered exclamations of despair
and dropped their poles.
DUTY BEFORE EVERYTHING. 131

*Courage, my friends!” cried Michael; “courage!
Fifty roubles for you if we reach the right bank before the
boats overtake us.”

Incited by these words, the boatmen again worked
manfully but it soon became evident that they could not
escape the Tartars.

It was scarcely probable that they would pass without
attacking them. On the contrary, there was everything to
be feared from robbers such as thesc.

“Do not be afraid, Nadia,” said Michael; “but be ready
for anything.” |

“Tam ready,” replied Nadia.

“Even to throw yourself into the water when I tell
you ?”

“Whenever you tell me.”

“ Have confidence in me, Nadia.”

“T have, indeed!”

The Tartar boats were now only a hundred feet distant.
They carried a detachment of Bokharian soldiers, on their
way to reconnoitre round Omsk.

The ferryboat was still two lengths from the shore.
The boatmen redoubled their efforts. Michael! himself
seized a pole and wielded it with superhuman strength. If
he could land the tarantass and horses,.and dash off with.
them, there was some chance of escaping the Tartars, who
were not mounted.

But all their efforts were in vain.

“Saryn na kitchou!” shouted the soldiers from the
first boat.

Michael recognized the Tartar war-cry, which is usually
answered by lying flat on the ground.

As neither he nor the boatmen obeyed this injunction,
a volley was let fly amongst them, and two of the horses
were mortally wounded.

At the next moment a violent blow was felt. The
boats had run into the ferryboat.

“Come, Nadia!” cried Michael, ready to jump over-
board.
132 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

The girl was about to follow him, when a blow from a
lance struck him, and he was thrown into the water. The
current swept him away, his hand raised for an instant
above the waves, and then he disappeared.

Nadia uttered a cry, but before she had time to throw
herself after him she was seized and dragged into one of
the boats. ,

In a few minutes the boatmen were killed, the ferry-
boat left to drift away, whilst the Tartars continued to
descend the I[rtych.
























































































(Page 132

into one of the boats.

as dragged

She w
( 133)

CHAPTER XIV.
MOTHER AND SON.

OMSK is the official capital of Western Siberia. It is not
the most important city of the government of that naine,
for Tomsk has more inhabitants and is larger. But it is
at Omsk that the Governor-General of this the first half of
Asiatic Russia resides. |

Omsk, properly so called, is composed of two distinct
towns: one which is exclusively inhabited by the authori-
ties and officials ; the other more especially devoted to the
Siberian merchants, although, indeed, for the matter of
that, the town is of small commercial: importance.

This city has about 12,000 to 13,000 inhabitants. It is
defended by walls, flanked by bastions, but these fortifi-
cations are merely of earth, and could afford only in-
sufficient protection. The Tartars, who were well aware
of this fact, consequently tried at this period to carry
it by main force, and in this they succeeded, after an
investment of a few days.

The garrison of Omsk, reduced to two thousand men,
resisted valiantly. But overwhelmed by the troops of
the Emir, driven back, little by little, from the mercantile
portion of the place, they were compelled to take refuge in
the upper town.

It was there that the Governor-General, his officers, and
soldiers had entrenched themselves. After having crenel-
134 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

ated the houses and churches, they had made the upper
quarter of Omsk a kind of citadel, and hitherto they held
out well in this species of improvised “kreml,” but without
much hope of the promised succour. In fact, the Tartar
troops, who were descending the course of the Irtych,
received every day fresh reinforcements, and, what was
more serious, they were then led by an officer, a traitor to
his country, but a man of much note, and of an audacity
equal to any emergency.
_ This man was Colonel Ivan Ogareff.

Ivan Ogareff, terrible as any of the most savage Tartar
chieftains, was an educated soldier. Possessing on his
mother’s side, who was of ‘Asiatic origin, some Mongolian
blood, he delighted in deceptive strategy and the planning
of ambuscades, stopping short of nothing when he desired
to fathom some secret or to set some trap. Deceitful by
nature, he willingly had recourse to the vilest trickery ;
lying when occasion demanded, excelling in the adoption
of all disguises and in every species of deception. Further,
he was cruel, and had even acted asan executioner. Feofar-
Khan possessed in him a lieutenant well capable of second-
ing his designs in this savage war.

When Michael Strogoff arrived on the banks of the
Irtych, Ivan Ogareff was already master of Omsk, and was
pressing the siege of the upper quarter of the town all the
more eagerly because he must hasten to repair to Tomsk,
where the main body of the Tartar army had just been
concentrated.

Tomsk, in fact, had been taken by Feofar-Khan some
days previously, and it was thence that the invaders,
masters of Central Sibera, were to march upon Irkutsk.

Irkutsk was the real object of Ivan Ogareff. |

The plan of the traitor was to ingratiate himself with
the Grand Duke under a false name, to gain his confidence,
and in course of time to deliver into Tartar hands the
town and the Grand Duke himself.

With such a town, and such a hostage, all Asiatic
Siberia must necessarily fall into the hands of the invaders.


(Page 135.)

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ll too weak

**Do not speak! Thou art st
MOTHER AND SON. 135



Now it was well known that the Czar was acquainted
with this conspiracy, and it was for the purpose of baffl.ng
it that Michael Strogoff had been intrusted with the im-
portant missive of which he was the bearer. Hence, there-
fore, the very stringent instructions which had been given
to the young courier to pass zzcoguzto through the invaded
district. |

This mission. he had faithfully performed up to this
moment, but now could he carry it to a successful com-
pletion ?

The blow which had struck Michael Strogoff was not
mortal. By swimming in a manner by which he had
effectually concealed himself, he had reached the right
bank, where he fell exhausted among the bushes.

When he recovered his senses, he found himself in the
cabin of a mujik, who had picked him up and cared for
him, and to whom he owed his life. For how long a time
had he been the guest of this brave Siberian? He could
not guess. But when he opened his eyes he saw the hand-
some bearded face bending over him, and regarding him
with pitying eyes. He was about to ask where he was,
when the mujik, anticipating him, said—

“Do not speak, little father ; do not speak! Thou art
still too weak. I will tell thee where thou art and every-
thing that has passed since I brought thee to my cabin.”

And the mujik related to Michael Strogoff the different
incidents of the struggle which he had witnessed—the
attack upon the ferry by the Tartar boats, the pillage of
the tarantass, and the massacre of the boatmen.

But Michael Strogoff listened no longer, and slipping
his hand under his garment he felt the imperial letter still
secured in his breast.

He breathed a sigh of relief. But that was not all.

“ A young girl accompanied me,” said he,

“They have not killed her,” replied the mujik, antici-
pating the anxiety which he read in the eyes of his guest.
“They have carried her off in their boat, and have con-
tinued the descent of Irtych. It is only one prisoner
136 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

more to join so many others which they are taking to
Tomsk!”

Michael Strogoff was unable to reply. He pressed his
hand upon his heart to restrain its beating.

But, notwithstanding these many trials, the sentiment
of duty mastered his whole soul.

“Where am I?” asked he.

“Upon the right bank of the Irtych, only five versts
from Omsk,” replied the mujik.

“What wound can I have received which could have
thus prostrated me? It was not a gunshot wound ?”

“No; a lance-thrust in the head, now healing,”
replied the mujik. “ After a few days’ rest, little father,
thou wilt be able to proceed. Thou didst fall into the
river ; but the Tartars neither touched nor searched thee;
and thy purse is still in thy pocket.”

Michael Strogoff gripped the mujiks hand. Then,
recovering himself with a sudden effort, “ Friend,” said he,
“how long have I been in thy hut ?”

“Three days.”

“ Three days lost!”

“Three days hast thou lain unconscious.”

“ Hast thou a horse to sell me?”

“Thou wishest to go?”

“ At once.”

“JT have neither horse nor carriage, little father. Where
the Tartar has passed there remains nothing!”

“Well, I will go on foot to Omsk to find a horse.”

“ A few more hours of rest, and thou wilt be in a better
condition to pursue thy journey.”

“Not an hour!”

“Come now,” replied the mujik, recognizing the fact
that it was useless to struggle against the will of his guest,
“JT will guide thee myself. Besides,’ he added, “the
Russians are still in great force at Omsk, and thou couldst,
perhaps, pass unperceived.”

“Friend,” replied Michael Strogoff, “ Heaven reward
thee for all thou hast done for me!”
MOTITER AND SON. 137
“Reward! Only fools expect reward on earth,” replied
the mujik. |

Michael Strogoff went out of the hut. When he tried
to walk he was seized with such faintness that, without the
assistance of the mujik, he would have fallen ; but the fresh
air quickly revived him. He then felt the wound in his
head, the violence of which his fur cap had lessened. With
the energy which he possessed, he was not a man to suc-
cumb under such a trifle. Before his eyes lay a single goal
—far-distant Irkutsk. He must reach it! But he must
pass through Omsk without stopping there.

“God protect my mother and Nadia!” he murmured.
“T have no longer the right to think of them!”

Michael Strogoff and the mujik soon arrived in the
mercantile quarter of the lower town, and, although under
military occupation, they entered it without difficulty. The
surrounding earthwork had been destroyed in many places,
and there were the breaches through which the marauders
who followed the armies of Feofar-Khan had penetrated.

Within Omsk, in its streets and squares, the Tartar
soldiers swarmed like ants, but it was easy to see that a
hand of iron imposed upon them a discipline to which they
were but little accustomed. In fact, they walked nowhere
alone, but in armed groups, for the, purpose of defending
themselves against surprise.

In the chief square, transformed into a camp, guarded
by many sentries, 2009 Tartars bivouacked. The horses,
picketed but still saddled, were ready to start at the first
order. Omsk could only be a temporary halting-place for
this Tartar cavalry, which preferred the rich plains of
Eastern Siberia, where the towns were more wealthy,
the country more fertile, and, consequently, pillage more
profitable. .

Above the mercantile town rose the upper quarter,
which Ivan Ogareff, notwithstanding several assaults vigor-
ously made but bravely repelled, had not yet been able to
reduce. Upon its embattled walls floated the national
colours of Russia.
138 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



It was not without a legitimate pride that Michael
Strogoff and his guide, vowing fidelity, saluted them.

Michael Strogoff was perfectly acquainted with the
town of Omsk, and he took care to avoid those streets
which were much frequented. This was not from any fear
of being recognized. In the town his old mother only
could have called him by name, but he had sworn not to
see her, and he did not. Besides—and he wished it with
his whole heart—she might have fled into some quiet
portion of the steppe.

The mujik very fortunately knew a postmaster who, if
well paid, would not refuse at his request either to let or to
sell a carriage or horses. There remained the difficulty of
leaving the town, but the breaches in the fortifications
would, of course, facilitate his departure.

The mujik was accordingly conducting his guest
straight to the posting-house, when, in a narrow street,
Michael Strogoff, coming to a sudden stop, sprang behind
a jutting wall.

“What is the matter?” quickly asked the mujik, much
astonished at this sudden movement.

“Silence!” hastily replied Michael Strogoff, with his
finger on his lips.

At this moment a detachment debouched from the
principal square into the street which Michael Strogoff
and his companion had just been following.

At the head of the detachment, composed of twenty
horsemen, was an officer dressed in a very simple uniform.
Although he glanced rapidly from one side to the other he
could not have seen Michael Strogoff, owing to his preci-
pitous retreat.

The detachment went at full trot into the narrow
street. Neither the officer nor his escort concerned them-
selves about the inhabitants. Several unlucky ones had
scarcely time to make way for their passage. There were,
therefore, a few half-stifled cries, to which thrusts of the
lance gave an instant reply, and the street was immediately
cleared.
MOTHER AND SON. 139

ne



When the escort had disappeared, “Who is that
officer?” asked Michael Strogoff, returning towards the
muyjik.

And while putting the question his face was pale as
that of a corpse.

“Tt is Ivan Ogareff,” replied the Siberian, but in a deep
voice which breathed hatred.

“He!” cried Michael Strogoff, from whom the word
escaped with an accent of fury which he could not conquer.

He had just recognized in this officer the traveller who
had struck him at the posting-house of Ichim. And,
although he had only caught a glimpse of him, it burst
upon his mind, at the same time, that this traveller was
the old Zingari whose words he had overheard in the
market-place of Nijni-Novgorod.

Michael Strogoff was not mistaken. The two men
were one and the same. It was under the garb of a
Zingari, mingling with the band of Sangarre, that Ivan
Ogareff had been able to leave the town of Nijni-Nov-
gorod, where he had gone to seek amongst the numerous
strangers which the fair had gathered from Central Asia
the confidants whom he had associated in the accomplish-
ment of his accursed task. Sangarre and his Zingari,
veritable paid spies, were absolutely. devoted to him. It
was he who, during the night, on the fair-ground had
uttered that singular sentence, of which Michael Strogoff
could not understand the sense; it was he who was
voyaging on board the Caucasus, with the whole of the
Bohemian band; it was he who, by this other route, from
Kasan to Ichim, across the Urals, had reached Omsk,
where now he held supreme authority.

Ivan Ogareff had been barely three days at Omsk, and
had it not been for their fatal meeting at Ichim, and for
the event which had detained him three days on the banks
of the Irtych, Michael Strogoff would have evidently beaten
him on the way to Irkutsk.

And who knows how many misfortunes would have
been avoided in the future! In any case—and now more
I40 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

———



than ever—Michael Strogoff must avoid Ivan Ogareff, and
contrive not to be seen. When the moment of encountering
him face to face should arrive, he knew how to meet it,
even should the traitor be master of the whole of Siberia.

The mujik and Michael resumed their way and arrived
at the posting-house. To leave Omsk by one of the
breaches would not be difficult after nightfall. As for
purchasing a carriage to replace the tarantass, that was
impossible There were none to be let or sold. But what
want had Michael Strogoff now for a carriage? Was he
not alone, alas? A horse would suffice him; and, very
fortunately, a horse could be had. It was an animal of
mettle, capable of enduring much fatigue, and Michael
Strogoff, accomplished horseman as he was, could make
good use of it.

The horse cost a high price, and a few moments later
Michael was ready to start.

It was then four o’clock in the afternoon.

Michael Strogoff, compelled to wait till nightfall, in
order to pass the fortifications, but not desiring to show
himself in the streets of Omsk, remained in the posting-
house, and there partook of food. ©

There was a great crowd in the public room, it being
the resort of numbers of the anxious inhabitants, who at
this eventful period collected there to obtain news. They
were talking of the expected arrival of a corps of Musco-
vite troops, not at Omsk, but at Tomsk—a corps intended
to recapture that town from the Tartars of Feofar-Khan.

Michael Strogoff lent an attentive ear to all that was
said, but took no part in the conversation.

Suddenly’ a cry made him tremble, a cry which pene-
trated to the depths of his soul, and these two words, so to
speak, rushed into his ear:

“My son!”

His mother, the old woman Marfa, was before him!
Trembling, she smiled upon him. She stretched forth her
arms to him.

Michael Strogoff arose. He was about to throw him-
self——
TT



‘*My Son!”
(Page 140.)
MOTHER AND SON. I4!I

The thought of duty, the serious danger for his mother
and himself in this unfortunate meeting, suddenly stopped
him, and such was his command over himself that not a
muscle of his face moved.

There were twenty people in the public room. Among
them were, perhaps, spies, and was it not known in the
town that the son of Marfa Strogoff belonged to the corps
of the couriers of the Czar?

Michael Strogoff did not move.

“Michael !” cried his mother.

“Who are you, my good lady?” Michael Strogoff
stammered, unable to speak in his usual firm tone.

“Who am I, thou askest! Dost thou no longer know
thy mother?”

“You are mistaken,” coldly replied Michael Strogoff.
‘A resemblance deceives you.”

The old Marfa went up to him, and, looking straight
int6 his eyes, said,

“Thou art not the son of Peter and Marfa Strogoff?”

Michael Strogoff would have given his life to have
locked his mother in his arms; but if he yielded it was all
over with him, with her, with his mission, with his oath!
Completely master of himseif, he closed his eyes, in order
not to see the inexpressible anguish which agitated the
revered countenance of his mother. He drew back his
hands, in order not to touch those trembling hands which
sought him.

“T do not know in truth what it is you say, my good
woman,” he replied, stepping back.

“Michael!” again cried his aged mother.

“My name is not Michael. I never was your son! [|
am Nicolas Kopanoff, a merchant at Irkutsk.”

And suddenly he left the public room, whilst for the
last time the words reéchoed,

“My son! my son!”

Michael Strogoff, by a desperate effort, had gone. He
did not see his old mother, who had fallen back almost
inanimate upon a bench. But when the postmaster
142 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

- —_—

hastened to assist her, the aged woman raised herself.
Suddenly a thought occurred to her. She denied by her
son! It was not possible. As for being herself deceived,
and taking another for him, equally impossible. It was
certainly her son whom she had just seen; and if he had
not recognized her it was because he would not, it was
because he ought not, it was because he had some cogent
reasons for acting thus! And then, her mother’s feelings
arising within her, she had only one thought—“ Can_I,
unwittingly, have ruined him ?”

“T am mad,” she said to her interrogators. “ My eyes
have.deceived me! This young man is not my child. He
had not his voice. Let us think no more of it ; if we do I
shall end by finding him everywhere.”

Less than ten minutes afterwards a Tartar officer
appeared in the posting-house.

“Marfa Strogoff?” he asked.

“Tt is I,” replied the old woman, in a tone so calm, and
with a face so tranquil, that those who had witnessed the
meeting with her son would not have known her.

“ Come,” said the officer.

Marfa Strogoff, with firm step, followed the Tartar
officer and left the posting-house.

Some moments afterwards Marfa Strogoff found herself
in the chief square and in the presence of Ivan Ogareff, to
whom all the details of this scene had been immediately
reported.

Ivan Ogareff, suspecting the truth, interrogated the old
Siberian woman.

“Thy name?” he asked in a rough voice.

“Marfa Strogoff.”

“Thou hast a son ?”

“Yes.”

“ He is a courier of the Czar?”

“Ves.”

“ Where is he: >”

“ At Moscow.”

“Thou hast no news of him?”


‘¢Dost thou know that I can torture thee?” . .

(Page 143.)
MOTHER AND SON, 143

“No news.”

“Since how long ?”

“ Since two months.” |

“Who, then, was that young man whom thou didst call
thy son a few moments ago at the posting-house ?”

“A young Siberian whom I took for him,” replied Marfa
Strogoff. “This is the tenth man in whom I have thought
I recognized my son since the town has been so full of
strangers. I think I see him everywhere.”

“So this young man was not Michael Strogoff ?”

“Tt was not Michael Strogoff.”

“Dost thou know, old woman, that I can torture thee
until thou avowest the truth ?”

“T have spoken the truth, and torture will not cause me
to alter my words in any way.”

“This Siberian was not Michael Strogoff?” asked a
second time Ivan Ogareff. |

“No, it was not he,” replied a second time Marfa
Strogoff. “Do you think that for anything-in the world
I would deny a son whom God has given me ?”

Ivan Ogareff regarded with. an evil eye the old woman
who braved him to the face. -He did not doubt but that
she had recognized her son in this young Siberian. Now
if this son had first renounced his mother, and if his mother
renounced him in her turn, it could occur only from the
most weighty motive.

Ivan Ogareff had therefore no doubt that the pretended
Nicolas Kopanoff was Michael Strogoff, courier of the
Czar, seeking concealment under a false name, and charged
with some mission which it would have been important for
him to know. He therefore at once gave orders for his
pursuit. Then, |

“Let this woman be conducted to Tomsk,” he said,
returning towards Marfa Strogoff.

And, whilst the soldiers brutally dragged her along, he
added between his tecth,

“When the moment arrives I shall know how to make
her speak, this old sorceress ! ”
144 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

CHAPTER XV.
THE MARSHES OF THE BARABA.

IT was fortunate that Michael Strogoff had left the posting-
house so promptly. The orders of Ivan Ogareff had been
immediately transmitted to all the approaches of the city,
and a full. description of Michael sent to all the various
commandants, in order to prevent his departure from
Omsk. But he had already passed through one of the
breaches in the fortifications ; his horse was galloping over
the steppe, and, not having been immediately pursued, the
chances of escape were in his favour.

It was on the 20th of July, at eight o’clock in the
evening, that Michael Strogoff had left “Omsk. This town
is situated about halfway between Moscow and Irkutsk,
where it was necessary that he should arrive within ten
days if he wished to get ahead of the Tartar columns. It
was evident that the unlucky chance which had brought
him into the presence of his mother had betrayed his
incognito. Ivan Ogareff was no longer ignorant of the fact
that a courier of the Czar had just passed Omsk, taking
the direction of Irkutsk. The despatches which this courier
bore must have been of immense importance. Michael
Strogoff knew, therefore, that every effort would be made
to capture him.

But what he did not know, and could not know, was
that Marfa Strogoff was in the hands of Ivan Ogareff, and
THE MARSHES OF THE BARABA. 145

that she was about to atone, perhaps with her life, for that
natural exhibition of her feelings which she had been unable
to restrain when she suddenly found herself in the presence
of her son. And it was fortunate that he was ignorant of
it. Could he have withstood this fresh trial ?

Michael Strogoff urged on his horse, imbuing him with
all his own feverish impatience, requiring of him one thing
only, namely, to bear him rapidly to the next posting-house,
where he could be exchanged for a quicker conveyance.

At midnight he had cleared seventy versts, and halted
at the station of Koulikovo. But there, as he had feared,
he found neither horses nor carriages. Several Tartar
detachments had passed along the highway of the steppe.
Everything had been stolen or requisitioned both in the
villages and in the posting-houses. It was with difficulty
that Michael Strogoff was even able to obtain some refresh-
ment for his horse and himself.

“It was of great importance, therefore, to spare his horse,
for he could not tell when or how he might be able to replace
it. Desiring, however, to put the greatest possible distance
between himself and the horsemen whom Ivan Ogareff had
no doubt despached in pursuit, he resolved to push on.
After one hour's rest he resumed his course across the
steppe. | | ;

Hitherto the weather had been propitious for the journey
of the courier of the Czar. The temperature was endurable.
The nights at this time of the year are very short, and as
they are lighted by the moon shining through the clouds,
the route over the steppe is practicable. Michael Strogoff,
moreover, was a man certain of his road and devoid of
doubt or hesitation, and in spite of the melancholy thoughts
which possessed him he had preserved his clearness of
mind, and made for his destined point as though it were
visible upon the horizon. When he did halt for a moment
at some turn of the road it was to breathe his horse. Now
he would dismount to ease his steed for a moment, and
again he would place his ear to the ground to listen for the
sound of galloping horses upon the steppe. Nothing

L
146 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
having occurred to arouse his suspicions, he resumed his
Way.

Ah, if all this Siberian country could only have been
invaded by the Polar summer day, that permanent day
during which darkness is unknown! ‘This was indeed to
be desired, in order that it could be traversed with more
safety. :

On the 30th of July, at nine o’clock in the morning,
Michael Strogoff passed through the station of Touroumoff
and entered the swampy district of the Baraba.

There, for a distance of three hundred versts, the natural
obstacles would be extremely great. He knew this, but he
also knew that he would certainly surmount them.

These vast marshes of the Baraba, lying between the
sixtieth and fifty-second parallels, form the reservoir to all
the rain-water which finds no outlet either towards the Obi
or towards the Irtych. The soil of this vast depression is
entirely argillaceous, and therefore impermeable, so that
the waters remain there and make of it a region very
difficult to cross during the hot season.

There, however, lies the way to Irkutsk, and it is in the
midst of ponds, pools, lakes, and swamps, from which the
sun draws poisonous exhalations, that the road winds,
and entails upon the traveller the greatest fatigue ana
danger. ;

In the winter, when everything is frozen over, when
snow has levelled the ground and condensed the miasmatic
exhalaticns, sledges glide easily and with impunity over
the hardened crust of the Baraba. Hunters then frequent
this game-abounding district for the taking of martens,
sables, and those valuable foxes whose fur is in so much
demand. But during summer the swamps again become
miry and pestilential, and, when the waters are at too high
a level, even impassable. |

Michael Strogoff spurred his horse into the midst of a
grassy prairie, differing greatly from the close-cropped sod
of the steppe, upon which immense Siberian herds are
exclusively nourished. This was no longer a boundless
































(Page 148.)

by these venomous insects,

or
>

s horse stun

‘hael Strogoff’

li.

\
THE MARSHES OF THE BARABA. 147
steppe, but a sort of immense copse of arborescent vegeta-
tion.

The grass was there about five or six feet in height, and
had made room for swamp-plants, to which the dampness
of the place, assisted by the heat of summer, had given
giant proportions. These were principally canes and
rushes, which formed a tangled network, an impenetrable
undergrowth, sprinkled everywhere with a thousand flowers
remarkable for the brightness of their colour, among which
shone the lily and the iris, whose perfume mingled with the
tepid exudations which arose from the soil.

Michael Strogoff, galloping amongst this undergrowth of
cane, was no longer visible from the swamps which bordered
the road. The tall grass rose above him, and his track was
indicated only by the flight of innumerable aquatic birds,
which rose from the side of the road and dispersed into the
air in screaming flocks.

The way, however, was clearly traceable. Now it would
lie straight between the dense thicket of marsh-plants ;
again it would follow the winding shores of vast pools,
some of which, several versts in length and_ breadth,
deserve the name of lakes. In other localities the stag-
nant waters through which the road lay had been avoided,
not by bridges, but by tottering platforms ballasted with
thick layers of clay, and whose joists shook like a too
weak plank thrown across an abyss. Some of these plat-
forms extended over a space of two or three hundred feet,
and on more than one occasion travellers by tarantass,
especially ladies, have when crossing on them experienced
a nausea similar to sea-sickness.

Michael Strogoff, whether the soil beneath his feet was
solid or whether it sank under him, galloped on without
halt, leaping the space between the rotten joists ; but how-
ever fast they travelled the horse and the horseman were
unable to escape from the sting of the two-winged insects
which infest this marshy country.

Travellers who are obliged to cross the Baraba during
the summer take care to provide themselves with masks o1
148 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



horse-hair, to which is attached a coat of mail of very fine
wire, which covers their shoulders. Notwithstanding these
precautions, there are few who come out of these marshes
without having their faces, necks, and hands covered with
red spots. The atmosphere there seems to bristle with
fine needles, and: one would almost say that a knight’s
armour would not protect him against the darts of these
dipterals. It is a dreary region, which man dearly disputes
with ¢2pule@, gnats, mosquitos, horse-flies, and millions of
microscopic insects which are not visible to the naked eye;
but, although they are not seen, they make themselves felt
by their intolerable stinging, to which the most callous
Siberian hunters have never been able to inure themselves.

Michael Strogoff’s horse, stung by these venomous
insects, sprang forward as if the rowels of a thousand
spurs had pierced his flanks. Mad with rage, he tore
along over verst after verst with the speed of an express
train, lashing his sides with his tail, seeking by the rapidity
of his pace an alleviation of his torture.

It required as good a horseman as Michael. Strogoff
not to be thrown by the plungings of his horse, and the
sudden stops and bounds which he made to escape from
the stings of his persecutors. Having become insensible,
so to speak, to physical suffering, as though he had been
under the influence of a permanent anzsthetic, possessed
only with the one desire to arrive at his destination at
whatever cost, he saw during this mad race only one thing
—that the road flew rapidly behind him.

Who would have thought that this district of the
Baraba, so unhealthy during the summer, could have
afforded an asylum for human. beings ?

It was so, however. Several Siberian hamlets appeared
from time to time among the giant canes. Men, women,
children, and old men, clad in the skins of beasts, their
faces covered with hardened blisters of skin, pastured their
poor herds of sheep. In order to preserve the animals
from the attack of the insects, they drove them to the
leeward of fires of green wood, which were kept burning
THE MARSHES OF THE BARABA. 149
night and day, and the pungent smoke of which floated
over the vast swamp. |

When Michael Strogoff perceived that his horse, tired
out, was on the point of succumbing, he halted at one of
these wretched hamlets, and there, forgetting his own
fatigue, he himself rubbed the wounds of the poor animal
with hot grease according to the Siberian custom ; then he
eave him a good feed ; and it was only after he had well
eroomed and provided for him that he thought of himself,
and recruited his strength by a hasty meal of bread and
meat and a glass of kwass. One hour afterwards, or at the
most two, he resumed with all speed the interminable road
to Irkutsk.

Thirty versts were thus traversed from Touroumoff,
and on the 30th of July, at four o’clock in the afternoon,
Michael Strogoff, insensible of every fatigue, arrived at
Elamsk, |

A'here it became necessary to give a night’s rest to his
horse. The brave animal could no longer have continued
the journey. .

At Elamsk, as indeed elsewhere, there existed no
means of transport,—for the same reasons as at the
previous villages, neither carriages nor horses were to be
had. : .

Klamsk, a little town which the Tartars had not yet
visited, was almost entirely depopulated, for it could be
easily invaded from the south, and with difficulty succoured
from the north. Post-relays, police-stations, and the
government-house had consequently been abandoned. by
order, and both the authorities and the inhabitants had
retired to Kamsk, in the midst of the Baraba.

Michael Strogoff resigned himself therefore to pass the
night at Elamsk, to give his horse twelve hours’ rest. He
recalled the instructions which had been given to him at
Moscow—to cross Siberia zzcognito, to arrive at Irkutsk,
but not to sacrifice success to the rapidity of the journey:
and consequently it was necessary that he should husband
the sole means of transport which remained to him.
150 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

On the morrow, Michael Strogoff left Elamsk at the
moment when the first Tartar scouts were signalled ten
versts behind upon the road to the Baraba, and he plunged
again into the swampy region. The road was level, which
made it easy, but very tortuous, and therefore long. It
was impossible, moreover, to leave it, and to strike a
straight line across that impassable network of pools and
bogs.

On the next day, the Ist of August, one hundred and
twenty versts further, Michael Strogoff arrived at mid-day
at the town of Spaskoé, and at two o’clock he halted at
Pokrowskoé.

His horse, jaded since his departure from Elamsk,
could not have taken a single step more.

There Michael Strogoff was again compelled to lose,
for necessary rest, the end of that day and the entire night ;
but starting again on the following morning, and still
traversing the semi-inundated soil, on the 2nd of August,
at four o’clock in the afternoon, after a stage of seventy-
five versts, he reached Kamsk.

The country had changed. This little village of Kamsk
lies, like an island, habitable and healthy, in the midst of
the uninhabitable district. It is situated in the very centre
of the Baraba. ‘The emigration caused by the Tartar
invasion had not yet depopulated this little town of
Kamsk. Its inhabitants probably fancied themselves safe
in the centre of the Baraba, whence at least they thought
ney would have time to flee if they were directly
menaced,

Michael Strogoff, although exceedingly anxious for
news, could ascertain nothing at this place. It would have
been rather to him that the Governor: would have ad-
dressed himself had he known who the pretended merchant
of Irkutsk really was. Kamsk, in fact, by its very situation
seemed to be outside the Siberian world and the grave
events which troubled it.

Besides, Michael Strogoff showed himself little, if at all.
To be unperceived was not now enough for him: he
‘Will you answer me a few questions ?”’



|

|

——.
<7 >>

(Page 156.)
THE MARSHES OF THE BARABA. 151
would have wished to be invisible. The experience of the
past made him more and more circumspect in the present
and the future. Therefore he secluded himself, and not
caring to traverse the strects of the village, he would not
even leave the inn at which he had halted.

Michael Strogoff could have found a carriage at Kamsk,
and replaced by a more convenient conveyance the horse
which had borne him from Omsk. But, after mature
reflection, he feared that the purchase of a tarantass would
have attracted attention to him, and although he might
well have passed through the line now occupied by the
Tartars which divided Siberia, almost following the valley
of the Irtych, he would not risk the chance of awakening
suspicion.

Moreover, for the difficult passage of the Baraba, for
the flight across the marsh, in a case where some danger
might threaten him too directly, to escape horsemen sent
in pfirsuit, to throw himself if necessary even into the
densest cane-brake, a horse would no doubt be of more
value than a carriage. Later on, beyond Tomsk, or even
Krasnoiarsk, in some important centre of Western Siberia,
Michael Strogoff would see what it might be best to do.

As for his horse, he did not even think of exchanging
him for another animal. He had become accustomed to
this brave creature. He knew to what extent he could
rely upon him. In buying him at Omsk he had been
lucky, and in taking him to the postmaster the generous
mujik had rendered him a great service. Besides, if
Michael Strogoff had already become attached to his horse,
the horse himself seemed to become inured, by degrees, to
the fatigue of such a journey, and provided that he got
several hours of repose daily, his rider might hope that he
would carry him beyond the invaded provinces.

So, during the evening and night of the 2nd of August,
Michael Strogoff remained confined to his inn, at the
entrance of the town ; which was little frequented and out
of the way of the importunate and curious.

Exhausted with fatigue, he went to bed after having
[52 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

seen that his horse lacked nothing; but his sleep was
broken. What he had seen since his departure from
Moscow showed him the importance of his mission. The
rising was an extremely serious one, and the treachery of
Ogareff made it still more formidable. And when his eyes
fell upon the letter bearing upon it the authority of the
imperial seal—the letter which, no doubt, contained the
remedy for so many evils, the safety of all this war-
ravaged country—Michael Strogoff felt within himself a
fierce desire to dash on across the steppe, to accomplish
the distance which separated him from Irkutsk as the crow
would fly it, to be an eagle that he might overtop all
obstacles, to be a hurricane that he might sweep through
the air at a hundred versts an hour, and to be at last face
to face with the Grand Duke, and to exclaim: ‘“ Your
highness, from his Majesty the Czar!”

On the next morning at six o’clock, Michael Strogoff
started off again, with the intention of making in that day
the eighty versts which separated Kamsk from the hamlet
of Oubinsk. Beyond a radius of twenty versts he came
again upon the swampy Baraba which in many places was
without any appearance of dry land, the soil being often

covered by a foot of water. The road was therefore found

~=
'

with difficulty, but thanks to his extreme prudence this
part of the journey was signalised by no incident whatever.

Michael Strogoff having arrived at Oubinsk gave his
horse a whole night’s rest, for he wished on the next day
to accomplish the hundred versts which lie between
Oubinsk and Ikoulskoé without halting. He started there-
fore at dawn ; but unfortunately the soil of the Baraba in
this neighbourhood was more detestable than ever.

In fact, between Oubinsk and Kamakore the very
heavy rains of some previous weeks were retained by this
shallow depression as in a water-tight bowl. ‘There was,
for a long distance, no break in the succession of swamps,
pools, and lakes. One of these lakes—large enough to
warrant its geographical nomenclature—Tchang, Chinese
in name, had to be coasted for more than twenty versts,
TIIE MARSHES OF THE BARADA. 153





and this with the greatest difficulty. Hence certain delays
occurred, which all the impatience of Michael Strogoff could
not avoid. He had been well advised in not taking a
carriage at Kamsk, for his horse passed places which would
have been impracticable for a conveyance on wheels.

In the evening, at nine o'clock, Michael Strogoff arrived
at Ikoulskoé, and halted there over-night. In this remote
village of the Baraba news of the war was utterly wanting.
From its situation, this part of the province, lying in the
fork formed by the two Tartar columns which had bifur-
cated, one upon Omsk and the other upon Tomsk, had
hitherto escaped the horrors of the invasion.

But the natural obstacles were now about to disappear,
for, if he experienced no delay, Michael Strogoff should on
the morrow be free of the Baraba. He would find a
practicable road when he had traversed the one hundred
and twenty-five versts which still separated him from
Kolyvan. |

Arrived at that important town he would then be about
the same distance from Tomsk. Hewould then be guided
by circumstances, and very probably he would decide to go
around that town, which, if the news were true, was occupied
by Feofar-Khan.

But if the small towns of Ikoulskoé and Karguinsk,
which he passed on the next day, were comparatively
quiet, owing to their position in the Baraba, where the
Tartar columns would have manceuvred with difficulty,
was it not to be dreaded that, upon the right banks of the
Obi, Michael Strogoff would have much more to fear from
man? It was probable. However, should it become
necessary, he would-not hesitate to abandon the beaten
path to Irkutsk. To journey then across the steppe he
would, no doubt, run the risk of finding himself without
supplies. There would be, in fact, no longer a well-marked
road. Still, there must be no hesitation.

Finally, towards half-past three in the afternoon, after
having passed the station of Kargatsk, Michael Strogoff
left the last depressions of the Baraba, and the dry and
154 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



hard soil of Siberia rang out once more beneath his horse's
hoofs.

He had left Moscow on the 15th of July. Therefore on
this day, the 5th of August, including more than scventy
hours lost on the banks of the Irtych, twenty days had
gone by since his departure.

Fifteen hundred versts still separated him from Irkutsk.
( 155°)

CHAPTER XVi.
A FINAL EFFORT. |

MICHAEL’S fear of meeting the Tartars in the plains
beyond the Baraba was by no means ungrounded. The
fields, trodden down by horses’ hoofs, afforded but too
clear evidence that their hordes had passed that way; the
same, indeed, might be said of these barbarians that has
been said of the Turks, “Where the Turk goes, no grass
grows.” :

Michael saw at once that in traversing this country the
ereatest precaution was necessary. Wreaths of smoke
curling upwards on the horizon showed that huts and
hamlets were still burning. Had these been fired by the
advance guard, or had the Emir’s army already advanced
beyond the boundaries of the province? Was Feofar-
Khan himself in the government of Yeniseisk ? Michael
could settle on no line of action until these questions were
answered. Was the country so deserted that he could
not discover a single Siberian to enlighten him on these
points ?

Michael rode on for two versts without meeting a
human being on the road. He looked carefully on both
sides for some house which had not been deserted. Every
one was tenantless.

One hut, however, which he could just see between the
trees, was still smoking. As he approached he perceived,
at some yards from the ruins of the building, an old man
156 MICHAEL STROGOFF,

surrounded by weeping children. A woman still young,
evidently his daughter and the mother of the poor children,
kneeling on the ground, was gazing on the scene of deso-
lation. She had at her breast a baby but a few months
old ; shortly she would have not even that nourishment
to give it. Ruin and desolation were all around!

Michael approached the old man.

“Will you answer me a few questions ?” he askcd.

~ © Speak,” replied the old man.

“ Have the Tartars passed this way ?”

“Yes; for my house is in flames.”

“Was it an army or a detachment ?”

“An army; for, as far as your eye can reach, our fields
are laid waste.”

“ Commanded by the Emir ?”

“By the Emir; for the Obi’s waters are red.”

“Has Feofar-Khan entered Tomsk ?”

“ He has.”

—{Do you know whether the Tartars have entered
Kolyvan ?”

“No; for Kolyvan does not yet burn.”

“ Thanks, fricnd. Can I do anything for you and
yours ?”

“ Nothing.”

“ Good-bye.”

“ Farewell.”

And Michael, having presented five-and-twenty roubles
to the unfortunate woman, who had not even strength to
thank him, putting spurs to his horse, once more set
forward.

One thing he knew: he must not pass through Tomsk.
To go to Kolyvan, which the Tartars had not yet reached,
was possible. Yes, that is what he must do; there he
must prepare himself for another long stage. There was
nothing for it but, having crossed the Obi, to take the
Irkutsk road and avoid Tomsk.

This new route decided on, Michael must not delay an
instant. Nor did he, but, putting his horse into a steady
howe

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Michael Strogoff advances cautiously.

(Page 157.)
A FINAL EFFORT. — 157

gallop, he took the road towards the left bank of the Obi,
which was still forty versts distant. Would there be a
ferry-boat there, or should he, finding that the Tartars had
destroyed all the boats on the river, be obliged to swim
across?

As to his horse, it was by this time pretty well worn
out, and Michael intended to make it perform this stage
only, and then to exchange it for a fresh one at Kolyvan,
Kolyvan would’ be like a fresh starting-point, for on
leaving that town his journey would take a new form. So
long as he traversed a devastated country the difficulties
must be very great; but if, having avoided Tomsk, he
could resume the road to Irkutsk across the province of
Yeniseisk, which was not yet laid waste, he would finish
his journey in a few days.

Night came on, bringing with it refreshing coolness
after the heat of the day. At midnight the steppe was
profoundly dark. The wind having completely fallen at
sunset, left the air perfectly still. The sound of the horse’s
hoofs alone was heard on the road, except when, every
now and then, its master spoke a few encouraging words,
In such darkness as this great care was necessary lest he
should leave the road, bordered by pools and streams,
tributaries of the Obi. .

Michael therefore advanced as quickly as was con-
sistent with safety.* He trusted no less to the excellence
of his eyes, which penetrated the gloom, than to the well-
proved sagacity of his horse.

Just as Michael dismounted to discover the exact
direction of the road, he seemed to hear a confused mur-
muring sound from the west. It was like the noise of
horses’ hoofs at some distance on the parched ground.

Michael listened attentively, putting his ear to the
ground,

“It is a detachment of cavalry coming by the road
from Omsk,” he said to himself. “They are marching
very quickly, for the noise is increasing. Are they
Russians or Tartars ?”
158 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Michael again listened.

“Yes,” said he, “they are at a sharp trot. In ten
minutes they will be here. My horse cannot outstrip them.
If they are Russians I will join them ; if Tartars I must
avoid them. But how? Where can [ hide in this steppe?”

Michael gave a look round, and, his eye penetrating
the darkness, discovered a confused mass at a hundred
paces before him on the left of the road.

“There is a copse!” he exclaimed. “To take refuge
there is perhaps to run the risk of being caught, if they are
in search of me; but I have no choice.”

In a few moments Michael, dragging his horse by the
bridle, reached a little larch-wood, through which the road
lay. Beyond this it was destitute of trees, and wound
among bogs and pools, separated by dwarfed bushes,
whins, and heather. ‘The ground on either side was quite
impracticable, and the detachment must necessarily pass
through the yrood. They were pursuing the high road to
Irkutsk. Plunging in about forty feet, he was stopped by
a stream running under the brushwood. But the shadow
was so deep that Michael ran no risk of being seen, unless
the wood should be carefully searched. He therefore
led his horse to the stream and fastened him to a tree,
returning to the edge of the road to listen and ascertain
with what sort of people he had to do.

Michael had scarcely taken up his position behind a
‘croup of larches when a confused light appeared, above
which glared brighter lights waving about in the shadow.

“Torches!” said he to himself.

And he drew quickly back, gliding like a savage into
the thickest part of the underwood.

As they approached the wood the horses’ pace was
slackened. ‘The horsemen were probably lighting up the
road with the intention of examining every turn.

Michael feared this, and instinctively drew near to the
bank of the streai, ready to plunge in if necessary.

Arrived at the top of the wood, the detachment halted.
The horsemen dismounted. There were about fifty. A
A FINAL EFFORT. 159



dozen of them carried torches, lighting up the road for
some distance.

By watching their preparations Michael found to his
joy that the detachment were not thinking of visiting the
copse, but only bivouacking near, to rest their horses and
allow the men to take some refreshment.

The horses were soon unsaddled, and began to graze on
the thick grass which carpeted the ground. The men
meantime stretched themselves by the side of the road,
and partook of the provisions they produced from their
knapsacks.

Michael’s self-possession had never deserted him, and
creeping amongst the high grass he endeavoured not only
to examine the new-comers, but to hear what they said.
It was a detachment from Omsk, composed of Usbeck
horsemen, a race of the Mongolian type, who are very
numerous in Tartary. These men, well built, above the
medium height, rough, and wild-featured, wore on their
heads the “talpak,” or black sheep-skin cap, and on their
feet yellow high-heeled boots with turned-up toes, like the
shoes of the Middle Ages. Their tunics, of calico padded
with raw cotton, were close-fitting, and confined at the
waist by a leathern belt braided with red. They were
armed defensively with a shield, and offensively with a
curved sword, a long cutlass, and a flintlock musket slung
at the saddle-bow. From their shoulders hung gay-coloured
cloaks.

The horses, which were feeding at liberty at the edge
of the wood, were, like their masters, of the Usbeck race.
They could be perfectly seen by the light the torches threw
under the branches of the larches. These animals are
rather smaller than the Turcomanian horses, but are
possessed of remarkable strength, and know no other pace
than the gallop.

This detachment was commanded by a “ pendja-
baschi ;” that is to say, a commander of fifty men, having
under him a “deh-baschi,” or simple commander of ten
men. These two officers wore helmets and half coats-of-
160 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

mail; little trumpets fastened to their saddle-bows were
the distinctive signs of their rank.

The pendja-baschi had been obliged to let his men rest,
fatigued with a long stage. He and the second officer,
smoking “beng,” the leaf of the hemp which forms the
base of the “haschisch,’ used so generally by Asiatics,
strolled up and down the wood, so that Michael, without
being seen, cculd catch and understand their conversation,
which was spoken in the Tartar language.

Michael’s attention was singularly excited by the very
first words they uttered.

In fact it was of him they were speaking.

“This courier cannot be much in advance of us,” said
the pendja-baschi; “and, on the other hand, it is absolutely
impossible that he can have followed any other route than
that of the Baraba.” |

“Who knows if he has left Omsk?” replied the deh-
baschi. “ Perhaps he is still hidden in some house in the
town.”

“That is to be wished, certainly. Colonel Ogareff
would have no fear then that the despatches of which this
courier is evidently the bearer should ever reach their
destination.”

“They say that he is a native, a Siberian,’ resumed
the deh-baschi. “If so, he must be well acquainted with
the country, and it is possible that he has left the Irkutsk
road, depending on rejoining it later.”

“ But then we should be in advance of him,” answered
the pendja-baschi ; “for we left Omsk within an hour after
his departure, and have since followed the shortest road
with all the speed of which our horses are capable. He has
therefore either remained in Omsk, or we shall arrive at
Tomsk before him, so as to cut off his retreat; and in
either case he will not reach Irkutsk.”

“A rugged woman, that old Siberian, who is evidently
his mother,” said the deh-baschi.

At this remark Michael’s heart beat violently.

“Yes,” answered the pendja-baschi. “She stuck to it
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**Torches !”’ said he to h

(Page 158.)
A FINAL EFFORT. 161
well that the pretended merchant was not her son, but it
was too late. Colonel Ogareff was not to be taken in;
and, as he said, he will know how to make the old witch
speak when the time comes.” |

These words were so many dagger-thrusts for Michael.
He was known to be a courier of the Czar! A detach-
ment of horsemen on his track could not fail to cut him
off. And, worst of all, his mother was in the hands of the
Tartars, and the cruel Ogareff had undertaken to make
her speak when he wished !

Michael well knew that the brave Siberian would not
speak, and that she would sacrifice her life for him.

Michael had fancied that he could not hate Ivan
Ogareff more than he had hated him up to this moment,
and yet afresh tide of hate now rose in his heart. The
wretch who had betrayed his country now threatened to
torture his mother.

The conversation between the two officers continued,
and Michael understood that an engagement was imminent
in the neighbourhood of Kolyvan, between the Muscovite
troops coming from the north and the Tartars. A small
Russian force of two thousand men, reported to have
reached the lower course of the Obi, were advancing by
forced marches towards Tomsk. If such was the case,
this force, which would soon find itself engaged with the
main body of Feofar-Khan’s army, would be inevitably
overwhelmed, and the Irkutsk road would be in the entire
possession of the invaders.

As to himself, Michael learnt, by some words from the
pendja-baschi, that a price was set on his head, and that
orders had been given to take him, dead or alive.

It was necessary, therefore, to get the start of the
Usbeck horsemen on the Irkutsk road, and put the Obi
between himself and them. But to do that, he must
escape before the camp was broken up.

His determination taken, Michael prepared to execute it,

Indeed, the halt would not be prolonged, and the
pendja-baschi did not intend to give his men more than an

M
162 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

hour's rest, although their horses could not have been
changed for fresh ones since Omsk, and must be as much
fatigued, and for the same reasons, as that of Michael
Strogoff. )

There was not a moment to lose. It was within an
hour of morning. It was needful to profit by the darkness,
which would be soon dispersed by the dawn, to leave the
little wood and dash along the road ; but although night
favoured it, the success of such a flight appeared to be
almost impossible.

Not wishing to do anything at random, Michael took
time for reflection, carefully weighing the chances for
and against him, so as to have the best in his hand.

Irom the situation of the place the result was this—
that he could not escape through the back of the wood;
the stream which bordered it being not only deep, but very
wide and muddy. Great furze-bushes, too, rendered it
absolutely impassable. Beneath this thick water was a
slimy bog, on which the foot could not rest. Besides,
beyond the stream the bushes covering the ground would
have ‘offered great difficulties to a rapid flight. The alarm
once given, Michael, pursued and hemmed in, must
inevitably fall into the hands of the Tartar horsemen.

There was only one way open, the high-road. To
endeavour to reach it by creeping round the edge of the
wood, without attracting attention, accomplish a quarter
of a verst without being seen, and then fo gallop at head-
long speed, required all the remaining strength and energy
of his noble steed. Too probably it would fall dead on
reaching the banks of the Obi, when, either by boat or by
swimming, should other means of transport fail, he must
cross this important river. Such was what Michael had
before him. .

His energy and courage increased in sight of danger.

His life, his mission, the honour of his country, perhaps
the safety of his mother, were at stake. He could not
hesitate.

There was not anothcr moment to be lost. Already
A FINAL EFFORT. 163



there was a slight movement among the men of the detach-
ment. A few horsemen were strolling up and down the
road in front of the wood. The rest were still lying at the
foot of the trees, but their horses were gradually collecting
towards the centre of the wood.

Michael had at first thought of seizing one of these
horses, but he recollected that, of course, they would be as
faticued as his own. It was better to trust to his own
brave steed, which had already rendered him such im-
portant service. The good animal, hidden behind a thicket,
had escaped the sight of the Usbecks. They, besides, had
not penetrated so far into the wood.

Michael crawled up to his horse through the grass, and
found him lying down. He patted and spoke gently to
him, and managed to raise him without noise.

Fortunately enough, the torches were entirely con-
sumed, and now went out, the darkness being still pro-
found, at least under shelter of the larches. After
replacing the bit, Michael looked to his girths and stirrups,
and began to lead his horse quietly away by the bridle.
The intelligent animal, as if he understood what was
required of him, followed his master without even making
the least neigh.

However, a few Usbeck horses raised their heads, and
began to wander towards the edge of the wood.

Michael held his revolver in his right hand, ready to
blow out the brains of the first Tartar who should approach
him. But happily the alarm was not given, and he was
able to gain the angle made by the wood to the right
where it joined the road.

To avoid being seen, Michael’s intention was not to
mount until the last moment, and only after turning a
corner some two hundred feet from the wood. Unfortu-
nately, just at the moment that he was issuing from the
wood, an Usbeck’s horse, scenting him, neighed and began
to trot along the road.

His- master ran to catch him, and seeing a shadowy
form moving in the dim light, “ Look out !”’ he shouted.
164 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

At the cry, all the men of the bivouac jumped up, and
ran to seize their horses.

Michael could only leap on his steed, and gallop
away.

The two officers of the detachment urged on their men
to follow.

But Michael was already in the saddle.

At that moment he heard a report, and felt a ball pass
throvgh his tunic.

Without turning his head, without replying, he spurred
on, and, clearing the brushwood with a tremendous bound,
he galloped at fuli speed in the direction of the Obi.

The Usbeck’s horses being unsaddled gave him a small
start of them, but they could not be long in setting off in
pursuit of him ; and indeed in less than two minutes after
he left the wood he heard the tramp of several horses
which were gradually gaining on him. |

Day was now beginning to break, and objects at some
distance were becoming visible.

Michael turned his head, and perceived a horseman
rapidly approaching him. |

It was the deh-baschi. Being better mounted, this
officer had distanced his detachment, and threatened to
come up with the fugitive.

Without drawing rein, Michael extended his revolver,
and took a moment’s aim. The Usbeck officer, hit in the
breast, rolled on the ground.

But the other horsemen followed him closely, and
without waiting to assist the deh-baschi, exciting each
other by their shouts, digging their spurs into their horses’
sides, they gradually diminished the distance between
themselves and Michael.

For half an hour only was the latter able to keep out
of range of the Tartars, but he well knew that his horse
was becoming weaker, and dreaded every instant that he
would stumble never to rise again.

It was now light, although the sun had not yet risen
above the horizon.
|

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Michael fired.

(Page 164.)
A FINAL EFFORT. 165

—_



Two versts distant could be seen a pale line bordered
by a few trees.

This was the Obi, which flows from the south-west to
the north-east, the surface almost level with the ground, its
bed being but the steppe itself.

Several times shots were fired at Michael, but without
hitting him, and several times too he discharged his
revolver on those of the soldiers who pressed him too
closely. Each time an Usbeck rolled on the ground, midst
cries of rage from his companions.

But this pursuit could only terminate to Michael’s dis-
advantage. His horse was almost exhausted, and yet he
managed to bring him to the bank of the river.

The Usbeck detachment was now not more than fifty
paces behind him.

The Obi was deserted—not a boat of any description
which could take him over the water!

“Courage, my brave horse!” cried Michael. “Come!
A last effort !”

And he plunged into the river, which here was half
a verst in width. |

It would have been difficult to stand against the
current—indeed, Michael’s horse could get no footing. He
must therefore swim across the river, although it was
rapid as a torrent. Even to attempt it showed Michael’s
marvellous courage.

The soldiers had reached the bank, but hesitated to
plunge in.

At that moment the pendja-baschi seized his musket
and took aim at Michael, whom he could see in the middle
of the stream. The shot was fired, and Michael’s horse,
struck in the side, was borne away by the current.

His master, speedily disentangling himself from his
stirrups, struck out boldly for the shore. In the midst of
a hailstorm of balls he managed to reach the opposite side,

and disappeared in the rushes which covered that bank of
the Obi. :
166 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

CHAPTER XVII.
THE RIVALS.

MICHAEL was now in comparative safety, though his situa-
tion was still terrible.

Now that the faithful animal who had so bravely borne
him had met his death in the waters of the river, how was
he to continue his journey ?

He was on foot, without provisions, in a country devas-
tated by the invasion, overrun by the Emir’s scouts, and
still at a considerable distance from the place he was
striving to reach.

“ By Heaven, I will get there!” he exclaimed, in reply
to all the reasons for faltering. “God will protect our
sacred Russia.”

Michael was out of reach of the Usbeck horsemen.
They had not dared to pursue him through the river, and
must besides have thought he was drowned, for after his
disappearance beneath the water they had seen nothing
more of him.

But Michael, creeping up among the gigantic rushes,
had reached a higher part of the bank, though not without
difficulty, for the thick mud deposited by the overflowing
of the water made it slippery in the extreme.

Once more on solid ground Michael stopped to con-
sider what he should do next. He wished to avoid Tomsk,
now occupied by the Tartar troops. Nevertheless, he must


Michael’s horse struck in the side.
; (Page 165.)
THE RIVALS. | 167

—, - a - Oe
_—- = _—— a —

reach some town, or at least a post-house, where he could
procure a horse. A horse once found, he would throw him-
self out of the beaten track, and not again take to the
Irkutsk road until in the neighbourhood of Krasnoiarsk.
From that place, if he were quick, he hoped to find the way
still open, and he intended to go through the Lake Baikal
provinces in a south-easterly direction.

Michael began by going eastward.

By following the course of the Obi two versts further,
a picturesque little town lying on a small hill is reached.
A few churches, with Byzantine cupolas coloured green
and gold, stand up against the grey sky.

This is Kolyvan, where the officers and people em-
ployed at Kamsk and other towns take refuge during
the summer from the unhealthy climate of the Baraba.
According to the latest news obtained by the Czar’s
courier, Kolyvan could not be yet in the hands of the
invaders. The Tartar troops, divided into two columns,
had marched to the left on Omsk, to the right on Tomsk,
neglecting the intermediate country.

Michael Strogoff’s plan was simply this—to reach
Kolyvan before the arrival of the Usbeck horsemen, who
would ascend the left bank of the Obi. There, even if he
had to pay ten times more than they were worth, he would
procure clothes and a horse, and resume the road to
Irkutsk across the southern steppe.

It was now three o'clock in the morning. The neigh-
bourhood of Kolyvan was very still, and appeared to have
been totally abandoned. The country population had evi-
dently fled to the northwards, to the province of Yeniseisk,
dreading the invasion, which they could not resist.

Michael was walking at a rapid pace towards Kolyvan
when distant firing struck his ear. He stopped, and clearly
distinguished the dull roar of artillery, and above it a crisp
rattle which could not be mistaken.

“It is cannon and musketry!” said he. “The little
Russian body is engaged with the Tartar army! Pray
Heaven that I may arrive at Kolyvan before them!”
168 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Michael was not mistaken. ‘The firing became gradu-
ally louder, and soon to the left of Kolyvan a mist collected
on the horizon—not smoke, but those great white clouds
produced by discharges of artillery. |

The Usbeck horsemen had stopped on the left of the
Obi, to await the result of the battle.

On this side Michael had nothing to fear as he hastened
towards the town. |

In the mean while the firing increased, and became
sensibly nearer. It was no longer a confused roar, but
distinct reports. At the same time the smoke partially
cleared, and it became evident that the combatants were
rapidly moving southwards. It appeared that Kolyvan
was to be attacked on the north side. But would the
Russians defend it against the Tartar troops, and would
they endeavour to retake it from the soldiers of Feofar-
Khan? It being impossible to decide this point, Michael
became greatly perplexed.

He was not more than half a verst from Kolyvan when
he observed flames shooting up among the houses of the
town, and the steeple of a church fell in the midst of clouds
of smoke and fire.

Was the struggle, then, in Kolyvan? Michael was
compelled to think so. It was evident that Russians and
Tartars were fighting in the streets of the town. Was
this a time to seek refuge there ? Would he not run a risk
of being taken prisoner? Should he succeed in escaping
from Kolyvan, as he had escaped from Omsk? All these
contingencies presented themselves to his mind. He
hesitated and stopped a moment. Would it not be better
to try, even on foot, to reach some small town, such as
Diachinks or another, and there procure a horse at any
price? This was the only thing to be done; and Michael,
leaving the banks of the Obi, went forward to the right of
Kolyvan. |

The firing had now increased in violence. Flames
soon sprang up on the left of the town. Fire was devour-
ing one entire quarter of Kolyvan.
THE RIVALS. 169

_——



Michael was running on across the steppe endeavouring
to gain the covert of some trees when a detachment of
Tartar cavalry appeared on the right.

He dared not continue in that direction. The horse-
men advanced rapidly towards the town, and it would
have been difficult to escape them.

Suddenly, in a thick clump of trees, he saw an isolated
house, which it would be possible to reach before he was
perceived.

Michael had no choice but to run there, hide himself
and ask or take something to recruit his strength, for he
was exhausted with hunger and fatigue.

He accordingly ran on towards this house, still about
half a verst distant. As he approached, he could see that
it was a telegraph office. Two wires left it in westerly and
easterly directions, and a third went towards Kolyvan.

It was to be supposed that under the circumstances
this station ‘was abandoned ; but even if it was, Michael
could take refuge there, and wait till nightfall, if necessary,
to again set out across the steppe covered with Tartar
scouts. |

Michael ran up to the door and pushed it open.

A single person was in the room whence the telegraphic
messages were despatched,

This was a Clerk, calm, phlegmatic, indifferent to all that
was passing outside. Faithful to his post, he waited
behind his little wicket until the public claimed his
services,

Michael ran up to him, and in a voice broken by
fatigue, “What do you know 2?” he asked.

“ Nothing,” answered the clerk, smiling.

“ Are the Russians and Tartars engaged ?”

“They say so.”

“But who are the victors ?”

“T don’t know.”

Such calmness, such indifference, in the midst of these
terrible events, was scarcely credible.

“And is not the wire cut?” said Michael.
170 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

ae eee
— — ———



“Ttis cut between Kolyvan and Krasnoiarsk, but it is
still working between Kolyvan and the Russian frontier.”

“For the government ?”

“For the government, when it thinks proper. For the
public, when they pay. Ten copecks a word, whenever
you like, sir!”

Michael was about to reply to this strange clerk that he
had no message to send, that he only implored a little
bread and water, when the door of the house was again
thrown open.

Thinking that it was invaded by Tartars, Michael
made ready to leap out of the window, when two men orily
entered the room who had nothing of the Tartar soldier
about them.

One of them held a despatch, written in pencil, in his
hand, and, passing the other, he hurried up to the wicket of
the imperturbable clerk. ©

In these two men Michael recognized with astonishment,
which every one will understand, two personages of whom
he was not thinking at all, and whom he had never ex-
pected to see again.

They were the two reporters, Harry Blount and Alcide
Jolivet, no longer travelling companions, but rivals,
enemies, now that they were working on the field of
battle. |

They had left Ichim only a few hours after the
departure of Michael Strogoff, and they had arrived
at Kolyvan before him, by following the same road, in
consequence of his losing three days on the banks of
the Irtych.

And now, after being both present at the engagement
between the Russians and Tartars before the town, they
had left just as the struggle broke out in the streets, and
ran to the telegraph-office, so as to send off their rival
despatches to Europe, and forestall each other in their
report of events. |

Michael stood aside in the shadow, and without being
secn himself he could see and hear all that was going on,
|

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Two versts further, a village.

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(Page 167
THE RIVALS. 171

He would now hear interesting news, and would find out
whether or not he could enter Kolyvan.

Blount, having distanced his companion, took possession
of the wicket, whilst Alcide Jolivet, contrary to his usual
habit, stamped with impatience.

a“ Ten copecks a word,” said the clerk, as he took the
despatch.

Blount deposited a pile of roubles on the shelf, whilst
his rival looked on with a sort of stupefaction.

“Good,” said the clerk. |

And with the greatest coolness in the world he began
to telegraph the following despatch :

8* Daily Telegraph, London.

‘From Kolyvan, Government of Omsk, Siberia, 6th August.
“Engagement between Russian and Tartar troops.”
The reading was in a distinct voice, so that Michael

heard all that the English correspondent was sending to
his paper.

“Russian troops repulsed with great loss. Tartars
entered Kolyvan to-day.”

These words ended the despatch.

“My turn now,’ cried Alcide J olivet, anxious to send
off his despatch, addressed to his cousin in the Faubourg
Montmartre.

But that was not Blount’s idea, who did not intend to
give up the wicket, but have it in his power to send off the
news just as the events occurred. He would therefore not
make way for his companion.

“But you have finished!” exclaimed Jolivet.

“T have not finished,” returned Harry Blount, quietly.

And he proceeded to write some sentences, which he
handed in to the clerk, who read out in his calm voice—

*¢ John Gilpin was a citizen
Of credit and renown ;
A train-band captain eke was he
Of famous London town.”

Harry Blount was telegraphing some verses learned in

his childhood, in order to employ the time, and not give up
172 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



his place to his rival. It would perhaps cost his paper
some thousands of roubles, but it would be the first
informed. France could wait.

Jolivet’s fury may be imagined, though under any other
circumstances he would have thought it fair warfare. He
even endeavoured to force the clerk to take his despatch in
preference to that of his rival.

“Tt is that gentleman’s right,’ answered the clerk
coolly, pointing to Blount, and smiling in the most amiable
manner.

And he continued faithfully to transmit to the Dazly
Telegraph the well-known verses of the poet Cowper.

Whilst he was working Blount walked to the window
and, his field-glass to his eyes, watched all that was going
on in the neighbourhood of Kolyvan, so as to complete his
information.

In a few minutes he resumed his place at the wicket,
and added to his telegram—

“Two churches are in flames. The fire appears to gain
on the right.

‘John Gilpin’s spouse said to her dear,
**Though wedded we have been
These twice ten tedious years, yet we
No holiday have seen.” ’ ”

Alcide Jolivet would have liked just to strangle the
honourable correspondent of the Dazly Telegraph.

He again interrupted the clerk, who, quite unmoved,
merely replied—

“It is his right, sir, it is his right—at ten copecks a
word.”

And he telegraphed the following news, just brought
him by Blount—

“ Kussian fugitives are escaping from the town.

‘ Away went Gilpin—who but he?
His fame soon spread around :
*¢ He carries weight! he rides a race!
’Tis for a.thousand pound !”’?”

And Blount turned round with a quizzical look at his

rival,
THE RIVALS. 173

Alcide Jolivet fumed.

In the mean while Harry Blount had returned to the
window, but this time, his attention being no doubt
diverted by the interest of the scene before him, he pro-
longed his absence too long. ‘Therefore, when the clerk
had finished telegraphing the last lines dictated by Blount,
Alcide Jolivet noiselessly took his place at the wicket, and,
just as his rival had done, after quietly depositing a respect-
able pile of roubles on the shelf, he delivered his despatch,
which the clerk read aloud—

** Madeleine Jolivet, 10, Faubourg Montmartre, Paris.
** From Kolyvan, Government of Omsk, Siberia, 6th August.

“Fugitives are escaping from the town. Russians
defeated. Fiercely pursued by the Tartar cavalry.”

And as Harry Blount returned he heard Jolivet com-
pleting his telegram by singing in a mocking tone—

“Tl est un petit homme,
+ Tout habillé de gris,
Dans Paris !”

Imitating his rival, Alcide Jolivet had used a merry
refrain of Béranger.

“Hallo!” said Harry Blount.

“Just so,” answered Jolivet.

In the mean time the situation of Kolyvan was.alarming
in the extreme. The battle was raging nearer, and the
firing was incessant.

At that moment the telegraph-house shook to its
foundations.

A shell had made a hole in the wall, and a cloud of
dust filled the office.

Alcide was just finishing writing these lines—

** Joufflu comme une pomme,

_ Qui, sans un sou comptant ”



But to stop, dart on the shell, seize it in both hands, throw
it out of the window, and return to the wicket, was only
the affair of a moment.

Five seconds later the shell burst outside.
174 MICIIAEL STROGOFF,



But continuing to draw up his telegram with the
sreatest possible coolness, Alcide wrote—

“A six-inch shell has just blown up the wall of the
telegraph-office. Expecting a few more of the same size.”

Michael Strogoff had no doubt that the Russians were
driven out of Kolyvan. His last resource was to set out
across the southern steppe.

Just then renewed firing broke out close to the tele-
graph-house, and a perfect shower of bullets smashed all
the glass in the windows.

Harty Blount fell to the ground wounded in the
shoulder.

Jolivet, even at such a moment, was about to add this
postscript to his despatch—

“Harry Blount, correspondent of the Dazly Telegraph,
has fallen at my side struck by a shot from a volley
of——” when the imperturbable clerk said calmly—

“Sir, the wire has broken.”

And, leaving his wicket, he quietly took his hat, brushed
it round with his sleeve, and, still smiling, disappeared
through a little door which Michael had not before per-
ceived.

The house was surrounded by Tartar soldiers, and
neither Michael nor the reporters could effect their retreat.

Alcide Jolivet, his useless despatch in his hand, had
run to Blount, stretched on the ground, and had bravely
lifted him on his shoulders, with the intention of flying
with him. He was too late!

Both were prisoners; and, at the same time, Michael,
taken unawares as he was about to leap from the window,
fell into the hands of the Tartars]
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PART If.
( 177 )



CHAPTER f.
A TARTAR CAMP,

AT a day’s march from. Kolyvan, several versts beyond the
town of Diachinks, stretches a wide plain, planted here
and there with great trees, principally pines and cedars.
This part of the steppe is usually occupied during the
warm season by Siberian shepherds, who there feed their
numerous flocks. But now it might have been searched
in vain for one of its nomad inhabitants. Not that the
plain was deserted. On the contrary, it presented a most
animated appearance. |
There stood the Tartar tents ; there Feofar-Khan, the
terrible Emir of Bokhara, was encamped; and there on
the following day, the 7th of August, were brought the
prisoners taken at Kolyvan after the annihilation of the
Kussian force, which had vainly attempted to oppose the
progress of the invaders. Of the two thousand men who
had engaged with the two columns of the enemy, the bases
of which rested on Tomsk and Omsk, only a few hundred
remained. Thus events were going badly, and the
imperial government appeared to have lost its power
beyond the frontiers of the Ural—for a time at least, for
the Russians could not fail eventually to defeat the savage
hordes of the invaders. But in the mean time the invasion
had reached the centre of Siberia, and it was spreading
through the revolted country both to the eastern and the
N
178 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

western provinces. If the troops of the Amoor and the
province uf Takutsk did not arrive in time to occupy it,
this capital of Asiatic Russia, being insufficiently garri-
soned, would fall into the hands of the Tartars, and before
it could be retaken the Grand Duke, brother of the
Emperor, would be sacrificed to the vengeance of Ivan
Ogareff.

What had become of Michael Strogoff? Had he
broken down under the weight of so many trials? Did he
consider himself conquered by the series of disasters which,
since the adventure of I[chim, had increased in magnitude?
Did he think his cause lost? that his mission had failed ?
that his orders could no longer be obeyed?

Michael was one of those men who never give in while
life exists. He was yet alive; he still had the imperial
letter safe about him; his disguise had been undiscovered.
He was included amongst the numerous prisoners whom
the Tartars were dragging with them like cattle ; but by
approaching Tomsk he was at the same time drawing
nearer to Irkutsk. Besides, he was still in front of Ivan
Ogareff.

“T will get there!” he repeated to himself.

Since the affair of Kolyvan all the powers of his mind
were concentrated on one object—to become free!> How
should he escape from the Emir’s soldiers? When the
time came he would see.

Feofar’s camp presented a magnificent spectacle.

Numberless tents, of skin, felt, or silk, glistened in the
rays of the sun. The lofty plumes which surmounted
their conical tops waved amidst banners, flags, and
pennons of every colour. The richest of these tents
belonged to the Seides and Khodjas, who are the principal
personages of the khanat. A special pavilion, ornamented
with a horse’s tail issuing from a sheaf of red and white
sticks artistically interlaced, indicated the. high rank of
these Tartar chiefs. Then in the distance rose several
thousand of the Turcoman tents, called: “karaoy,” which
had been carried on the backs of camels.
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A TARTAR CAMP. 179

The camp contained at least a hundred and fifty
thousand soldiers, as many foot as horse soldiers, collected
ander the name of Alamanes. Amongst them, and as the
principal types of Turkestan, would have been directly
remarked the Tadjiks, from their regular features, white
skin, tall forms, and black eyes and hair; they formed the
bulk of the Tartar army, and of them the khanats of
Khokhand and Koundouge had furnished a contingent
nearly equal to that of Bokhara. With the Tadjiks were
mingled specimens of different races who either reside in
Turkestan or whose native countries border on it. There
were Usbecks, red-bearded, small in stature, similar to
those who had pursued Michael. Here were Kirghiz, with
flat faces like the Kalmucks, dressed in coats of mail:
some carried the lance, bows, and arrows of Asiatic
manufacture; some the sabre, a matchlock gun, and the
“tschakane,” a little short-handled axe, the wounds from
which invariably prove fatal. There were Mongols—of
middle height, with black hair plaited into pigtails, which
hung down their backs ; round faces, swarthy complexions,
lively deep-set eyes, scanty beards—dressed in blue nan-
keen trimmed with black plush, sword-belts-of leather with
silver buckles, boots gaily braided, and silk caps edged
with fur and three ribbons fluttering behind. Brown-
skinned Afghans too might have been seen. ‘ Arabs,
having the primitive type of the beautiful Semitic races ;
and Turcomans, with eyes which looked as if they had lost
the pupil,—all enrolled under the Emir’s flag, the flag of
incendiaries and devastators.

Among these free soldiers were a certain number of
slave soldiers, principally Persians, commanded by officers
of the same nation, and they were certainly not the least
esteemed of Feofar-Khan’s army.

If to this list are added the Jews, who acted as servants,
their robes confined with a cord, and wearing on their
heads instead of the turban, which is forbidden them, little
caps of dark cloth; if with these groups are mingled some
hundreds of “kalenders,” a sort of religious mendicants,
180 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

——- -



clothed in rags, covered by a leopard skin, some idea may
be formed of the enormous agglomerations of different
tribes included under the general denomination of the
Tartar army.

Fifty thousand of these soldiers were mounted, and the
horses were not less varied than the men. Among these
animals, fastened by tens to two cords fixed parallel to
each other, the tail knotted, the croup covered with a net
of black silk, might be remarked the Turcomans, with
slight legs, long bodies, glossy hair, and noble of look; the
Usbecks, which are fine beasts ; the Khokhandians, which
carry, besides their masters, two tents and a cooking
apparatus ; the Kirghiz, with glossy coats, from the banks
of the river Emba, where they are taken with the “arcane,”
the Tartar lasso; and many others of mixed breeds of
inferior quality. |

The beasts of burden might be counted by thousands.
There were camels of small size, but well made, with long
hair, and thick mane falling on their necks, docile, and
more easy to harness than the dromedary called “ nars,”
with a hump and reddish curly hair. To these must be
added vast numbers of donkeys, which are good workers ;
their flesh being also much esteemed, and forming part of
the Tartars’ food.

Over this.immense collection of men, animals, and
tents, large clumps of cedars and pines threw a cool shade,
broken here and there by the sun’s rays.

Nothing could be more romantic than this picture, in
delineating which the most skilful artist would have
exhausted all the colours of his palette.

When the prisoners taken at Kolyvan arrived before
the tents of Feofar and the great dignitaries of the khanat,
the drums beat and the trumpets sounded. With these
formidable sounds were mingled the sharp musket-shots
and the deeper reports of the cannon, four or six of which
composed the artillery of the Emir. Feofar’s camp was
purely military. What might be called his domestic
establishment, his harem, and those of his allies, were at
A TARTAR CAMP. 181

ooo * —— —_$—



Tomsk, now in the hands of the Tartars. When the camp
broke up, Tomsk would become the Emir’s residence until
the time when he should exchange it for the capital of
Eastern Siberia.

Feofar’s tent overlooked the others. Draped in large
folds of a brilliant silk looped with golden cords and
tassels, surmounted by tall plumes which waved in the
wind like fans, it occupied the centre of a wide clearing,
sheltered by a grove of magnificent birch and pine trees.
Before this tent, on a japanned table inlaid with precious
stones, was placed the sacred book of the Koran, its pages
being of thin gold-leaf delicately engraved. Above floated
the Tartar flag, quartered with the Emir’s arms.

In a semicircle round the clearing stood the tents of the
ereat functionaries of Bokhara. There resided the chief of
the stables, who has the right to follow the Emir on horse-
pack even into the court of his palace; the grand falconer ;
the “ housch-begui,” bearer of the royal seal; the “toptschi-
baschi,” grand master of the artillery ; the “khodja,” chief
of the council, who receives the prince’s kiss, and may
present himself before him with his girdle untied; the
“scheikh-oul-islam,” chief of the Ulemas, representing the
priests ; the “ cazi-askev,’ who in the Emir’s absence
settles all disputes raised among the soldiers ; and lastly,
the chief of the astrologers, whose great business is to
consult the stars every time the Khan thinks of changing
his quarters. |

When the prisoners were brought into the camp, the
Emir was in his tent. He did not show himself. This
was fortunate, no doubt. A sign, a word from him might
have been the signal for some bloody execution. But he
intrenched himself in that isolation which constitutes in
part the majesty of Eastern kings. He who does not
show himself is admired, and,-above all, feared.

As to the prisoners, they were to be penned up in some
enclosure, where, ill-treated, poorly fed, and exposed to all
the inclemencies of the weather, they would await Feofar’s
pleasure.
182 MICHAEL STROGOFF,



The most docile and patient of them all was un-
doubtedly Michael Strogoff. He allowed himself to be
led,-for they were leading him where he wished to go, and
under conditions of safety which free he could not have
found on the road from Kolyvan to Tomsk. To escape
before reaching that town was to risk again falling into the
hands of the scouts, w'10 were scouring the steppe. The
most eastern line occupied by the Tartar columns was not
situated beyond the eighty-fifth meridian, which passes
through Tomsk. This meridian once passed, Michael
considered that he should be beyond the hostile zones,
that he could traverse Genisci without danger, and gain
Krasnoiarsk before Feofar-Khan had invaded the province.

“Once at Tomsk,” he repeated to himself, to repress
some feelings of impatience which he could not entirely
master, “in a few minutes I should be beyond the out-
posts ; and twelve hours gained on Feofar, twelve hours on
Ogareff, that would be enough to give me a start of them
to Irkutsk.”

The thing that Michael dreaded more than everything
else was the presence of Ivan Ogareff in the Tartar camp.
Besides the danger of being recognised, he felt, by a sort
of instinct, that this was the traitor whom it was especially
necessary to precede. He understood too that the union
of Ogareff’s troops with those of Feofar would complete
the invading army, and that the junction once effected, the
army would march ez masse on the capital of Eastern
Siberia. All his apprehensions, therefore, came from this
quarter, and he dreaded every instant to hear some flourish
of trumpets, announcing the arrival of the lieutenant of the
Kmir.

To this was added the thought of his mother, of Nadia,
—the one a prisoner at Omsk ; the other dragged on board
the Irtych boats, and no doubt a captive, as Marfa Strogoft
was. He could do nothing for them. Should he ever see
them again? .

At this question, to which he dared not reply, his heart
sank very low.
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A TARTAR CAMP. 183

At the same time with Michael Strogoff and so many
other prisoners Harry Blount and Alcide Jolivet had also
been taken to the Tartar camp. Their former travelling
companion, captured like them at the telegraph-office,
knew that they were penned up with him in the enclosure,
guarded by numerous sentinels, but- he did not wish to
accost them. It mattered little to him, at this time
especially, what they might think of him since the affair at
Ichim. Besides, he desired to be alone, that he might act
alone, if necessary. He therefore held himself aloof from
his former acquaintances.

From the moment that Harry Blount had fallen by his
side, Jolivet had not ceased his attentions to him. Durinz
the journey from Kolyvan to the camp—that is to say, for
several hours—Blount, by leaning on his companion’s arm,
had been enabled to follow the rest of the prisoners. He
tried to make known that he was a British subject ; but it
had no effect_on the barbarians, who only replied by prods
with a lance or sword. The correspondent of the Daily
Telesraph was, therefore, obliged to submit to the common
lot, resolving to protest later, and obtain satisfaction for
such treatment. But the journey was not the less dis-
agreeable to him, for his wound caused him much pain,
and without Alcide Jolivet’s assistance he might never
have reached the camp. |

Jolivet, whose practical philosophy never abandoned
him, had physically and morally strengthened his com-
panion by every means in his power. His first care, when
they found themselves definitely established in the en-
closure, was to examine Blount’s wound. Having managed
carefully to draw off his coat, he found that the shoulder
had been only grazed by the shot.

“This is nothing,” he said. “A mere scratch! After
two or three dressings, my dear fellow, you will be all to
rights.” |

“But these dressings ?” asked Blount.

“T will make them for you myself.”

“Then you are something of a doctor?”
184 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“ All Frenchmen are something of doctors.”

And on this affirmation Alcide, tearing his handker-
chief, made lint of one piece, bandages of the other, took
some water from a well dug in the middle of the en-
closure, bathed the wound, which happily was not serious,
and skilfully placed the wet rag on Harry Blount’s
shoulder. |

“T treat you with water,” he said. “This liquid is the
most efficacious sedative known for the treatment of
wounds, and is the most employed now. Doctors have
taken six thousand years to discover that! Yes, six thou-
sand years in round numbers! ”

“T thank you, M. Jolivet,’ answered Harry, stretching
himself on a bed of dry leaves, which his companion had
arranged for him in the shade of a birch-tree.

“Bah! that’s nothing! You would do as much fo1
me.”

“T am not quite so sure,” said Blount candidly.

“Nonsense, stupid! All English are generous.”

“Doubtless ; but the French ?”

“Well, the French—they are brutes, if you like! But
what redeems them is that they are French. Say nothing
more about that, or rather, if you will take my advice,
say nothing more at all. Rest is absolutely necessary for.
you.”

But Harry Blount had no wish to be silent. If the
wound, in prudence, required rest, the correspondent of
the Daily Telegraph was not a man to indulge himself.

f “M. Jolivet,” he asked, “do you think that our last
‘ despatches have been able to pass the Russian frontier?”

“Why not?” answered Alcide. “By this time you
may be sure that my beloved cousin knows all about the
affair at Kolyvan.”

“How many copies does your cousin work off of her
despatches ?” asked Blount, for the first time putting this’
question direct to his companion.

“Well,” answered Alcide, laughing, “my cousin is a
very discreet person, who does not like to be talked about,
A TARTAR CAMP. 185
and who would be in despair if she troubled the sleep of
which you are in need.”

“T don’t wish to sleep,’ replied the Englishman.
“What will your cousin think of the affairs of Russia?”

“That they seem for the time in a bad way. But, bah!
the Muscovite government is powerful ; it cannot be really
uneasy at an invasion of barbarians, and Siberia will not
be lost.” | |

“Too much ambition has lost the greatest empires,”
answered Blount, who was not exempt from a certain
English jealousy with regard to Russian pretensions in
Central Asia.

“QO, do not let us talk politics,” cried Jolivet. “It is
forbidden by the faculty. Nothing can be worse for
wounds in the shoulder—unless it was to put you to sleep.”

“Let us, then, talk of what we ought to do,” replied
Blount. “M. Jolivet, I have no intention at all of re-
maining a prisoner to these Tartars for an indefinite time.”

“Nor I either, by Jove!”

“We will escape on the first opportunity ?”

“Yes, if there is no other way of regaining our
liberty.” |

“Do you know of any other?” asked Blount, looking
at his companion.

“Certainly. We are not belligerents; we are neutral,
and we will claim our freedom.”

“From that brute of a Feofar-Khan ?”

“No; he would not understand,’ answered Jolivet ;
“but from his lieutenant, Ivan Ogareff.”

“ He is a villain.”

“No doubt ; but the villain is a Russian. He knows
that it does not do to trifle with the rights of men, and he
has no interest to retain us; on the contrary. But to ask
a favour of that gentleman does not quite suit my taste.”

“But that gentleman is not in the camp, or at least I
have not seen him here,” observed Blount.

“He will come. He will not fail to do that. He must
join the Emir. Siberia is cut in two now, and very
180 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
certainly Feofar’s army is only waiting for him to advance
on Irkutsk.”

“ And once free, what shall we do?”

“ Once free, we will continue our campaign, and follow
the Tartars, until the time comes when we can make our
way into the Russian camp. We must not give up the
game. No, indeed; we have only just begun. Ywit,
friend, have already had the honour of being wounded it:
the service of the Dazly Telegraph, whilst I—I have as yet
suffered nothing in my cousin’s service. Well, weli!
Good,’ murmured Alcide Jolivet; “there he is asleep. A
few hours’ sleep and a few cold-water compresses are ail
that are required to set an Englishman on his legs again.
These fellows are made of cast iron.”

And whilst Harry Blount rested, Alcide watched near
him, after having drawn out his note-book, which he loaded
with notes, determined besides to share them with his
companion, for the greater satisfaction of the readers of
the Dazly Telegraph. Events had united them one with
the other. They were no longer jealous of each other.
So, then, the thing that Michael Strogoff dreaded above
everything was the most lively desire of the two corres-
pondents. Ivan Ogareff’s arrival would evidently be of use
to them, for, their quality of English and French corres-
pondents once known, nothing could be more probable
than that they would be set at liberty. The Emir’s
lieutenant would know how to make Feofar hear reason,
though he would otherwise not have failed to treat ‘the
correspondents as ordinary spies. Blount and Jolivet’s
interest was, therefore, contrary to that of Michael. The
latter well understood the situation, and it was one reason,
added to many others, which prevented him from ap-
proaching his former travelling companions. He there-
fore managed so as not to be seen by them.

Four days passed thus without the state of things being
in anywise altered. The prisoners heard no talk of the
breaking up of the Tartar camp. They were strictly
guarded. It would have been impossible for them to pass
A TARTAR CAMP. 187
the cordon of foot and horse soldiers, which watched them
night and day. As to the food which was given them it
was barely sufficient. Twice in the twenty-four hours
they were thrown a piece of the intestines of goats grilled
on the coals, or a few bits of that cheese called “ kroute,”
made of sour ewe’s milk, and which, soaked in mare’s milk,
forms the Kirghiz dish, commonly called “koumyss.”
And this was all. It may be added that the weather had
become detestable. There were considerable atmospheric
commotions, bringing squalls mingled with rain. The
unfortunate prisoners, destitute of shelter, had to bear all
the inclemencies of the weather, nor was there the slightest
alleviation to their misery. Several wounded women and
children died, and the prisoners were themselves compelled
to dig graves for the bodies of those whom their jailers
would not even take the trouble to bury.

During this trying period Alcide Jolivet and Michael
Strogoff worked hard, each in the portions of the enclosure
in which they found themselves. Healthy and vigorous,
they suffered less than so many others, and could better
endure the hardships to which they were exposed. By
their advice, and the assistance they rendered, they were
of the greatest possible use to their suffering and despairing
fellow-captives.

Was this state of things to last? Would Feofar-Khan,
satisfied with his first success, wait some time before
marching on Irkutsk? Such, it was to be feared, would
be the case. But it was not so. The event so much
wished for by Jolivet and Blount, so much dreaded by
Michael, occurred on the morning of the 12th of August.

On that day the trumpets sounded, the drums beat,
the cannon roared. A huge cloud of dust swept along
the road from Kolyvan. Ivan Ogareff, followed by several
thousand men, made his entry into the Tartar camp.
188 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

a LLL LLL LLL

CHAPTER II.
CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE.

IVAN OGAREFF was bringing up the main body of the
army to the Emir. The cavalry and infantry now under
him had formed part of the column which had taken
Omsk. Ogareff, not having been able to reduce the high
town, in which, it must be remembered, the governor and
garrison had sought refuge, had decided to pass on, not
wishing to delay operations which ought to lead to the
conquest of Eastern Siberia.

He therefore left a sufficient garrison in Omsk, and,
reinforcing himself ez vou~e with the conquerors of Koly-
van, joined Feofar’s army.

Ivan Ogareff’s soldiers halted at the outposts of the
camp. They received no orders to bivouac. Their chief’s
plan, doubtless, was not to halt there, but to press on and
reach Tomsk in the shortest possible time, it being an
important town, naturally intended to become the centre
of future operations.

Besides his solders, Ogareff was bringing a convoy of
Russian and Siberian prisoners, captured either at Omsk
or Kolyvan. These unhappy creatures were not led to
the enclosure—already too crowded—but were forced to
remain at the outposts without shelter, almost without
nourishment. What fate was Feofar-Khan reserving. for
these unfortunates ? Would he imprison them in Tomsk,
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CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE. 189

or would some bloody execution, familiar to the Tartar
chiefs, remove them when they were found too inconve-
nient ? This was the secret of the capricious Emir.

This army had not come from Omsk and Kolyvan
without bringing in its train the usual crowd of beggars,
freebooters, pedlars, and gipsies, which compose the rear-
guard of an army on the march.

All these people. lived on the country traversed, and
left little of. anything behind them. There was, therefore,
a necessity for pushing forward, if only to secure provi-
sions for the troops. The whole region between Ichim
and the Obi, now completely devastated, no longer offered
any resources. The Tartars left a desert behind them,
which the Russians could not cross without difficulty.

Conspicuous among the gipsies who had hastened
from the western provinces was the Tsigane troop, which
had accompanied Michael Strogoff as far as Perm. San-
garre was there. This fierce spy, the tool of Ivan Ogareff,
had not deserted her master. We have seen them both
laying their plots in Russia itself, in the government of
Nijni-Novgorod. After crossing the Urals, they had been
separated for a: few days only. Ogareff had travelled
rapidly to Ichim, whilst Sangarre and her band had
proceeded to Omsk by the southern part of the province.

It may. be easily understood how useful this woman
was to Ogareff. With her gipsy-band she could penetrate
anywhere, hearing and reporting everything. Ivan Ogareff
was kept acquainted with all that was going on in the
very heart of the invaded provinces. There were a
hundred eyes, a hundred ears, always open in his service.
Besides, he paid liberally for this espionage, from which
he derived so much advantage.

Once Sangarre, being implicated in a very serious
affair, had been saved by the Russian officer. She never
forgot what she owed him, and had devoted herself to his
service body and soul.

When Ivan Ogareff entered on the path of treason, he
saw at once how he might turn this woman to account.
190 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



Whatever order he might give her, Sangarre would exe-
cute it. An inexplicable instinct, more powerful still than
that of gratitude, had urged her to make herself the slave
of the traitor to whom “she was attached since the very
beginning of his exile in Siberia.

Confidante and accomplice, Sangarre, without country,
without family, had been delighted to put her vagabond
life to the service of the invaders thrown by Ogareff on
Siberia. To the wonderful cunning natural to her race
she added a wild energy, which knew neither forgiveness
nor pity. She was a savage worthy to share the wigwam
of an Apache or the hut of an Andaman.

Since her arrival at Omsk, where she had rejoined him
with her Tsiganes, Sangarre had not again .Jeft Ogareff.
The circumstance that Michael and Marfa Strogoff had
met was known to her. She knew and shared Ogareff’s
fears concerning the journey of a courier of the Czar.
tilaving Marfa Strogoff in her power, she would have been
the woman to torture her with all the refinement of a Red-
Skin in order to wrest her secret from her. But the hour
had not yet come in which Ogareff wished the old Sibe-
rian to speak. Sangarre had to wait, and she waited,
without losing sight of her whom she was watching,
observing her slightest gestures, her slightest words, endea-
vouring to catch the word “son” escaping from her lips,
but as yet always baffled by Marfa’s taciturnity.

At the first flourish of the trumpets several officers of
high rank, followed by a brilliant escort of Usbeck horse-
men, moved to the front of the camp to receive Ivan
Ogareff.

Arrived in his presence, they paid him the greatest
respect, and invited him to accompany them to Feofar-
Khan’s tent.

Imperturbable as usual, Ogareff replied coldly to the
deference paid to him. He was plainly dressed ; but, from
a sort of impudent bravado, he still wore the uniform of
a Russian officer.

As he was about to ride on to pass the enceinte of the
CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE. IOI



camp, Sangarre, passing among the officers of the escort,
approached and remained motionless before him.

“ Nothing ?” asked Ivan Ogareff.

“ Nothing.”

“ Have patience.”

“Ts the time approaching when you will force the old
woman to speak ?”

“Tt is approaching, Sangarre.”

“When will the old woman speak ?”

“When we reach Tomsk.”

“ And we shall be there ”

“Tn three days.”

A strange gleam shot from Sangarre’s great black
eyes, and she retired with a calm step. Ogareff pressed
his spurs into his horse’s flanks, and, followed by his staff
of Tartar officers, rode towards the Emir’s tent.

Feofar-Khan was: expecting his lieutenant. The
council, composed of the bearer of the royal seal, the
khodja, and some high officers, had taken their places in
the tent.

Ivan Ogareff dismounted, entered, and stood before
the Emir. |

Feofar-Khan was a man of forty, tall, rather pale, of
a fierce countenance, and eyes with an evil expression. A
curly black beard flowed over his chest. With his war
costume, coat of mail of gold and silver, cross-belt glis-
tening with precious stones, scabbard curved like a yata-
ghan and set with sparkling gems, boots with golden
spurs, helmet ornamented with an aigrette of brilliant dia-
monds, Feofar presented an aspect rather strange than
imposing for a Tartar Sardanapalus, an undisputed sove-
reign, who directs at his pleasure the life and fortune
of his subjects--whose power is unlimited, and to whom
at Bokhara, by special privilege, the title of Emir is
given.

When Ivan Ogareff appeared, the great dignitaries
remained seated on their gold-embroidered cushions; but
Feotar rose from a rich divan which occupied the back


192 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

part of the tent, the ground being hidden under the thick
velvet-pile of a Bokharian carpet.

The Emir approached Ogareff and gave him a kiss, the
meaning of which he could not mistake. ‘This kiss made
the lieutenant chief of the council, and placed him tempor-
arily above the khodja.

- Then Feofar, addressing himself to Ivan Ogareff,

“T have no need to question you,” said he; “speak,
Ivan. You will find here ears very ready to listen to
you.” |

“ Takhsir,” * answered Ogareff, “this is what I have to
make known to you.”

Ivan Ogareff spoke in the Tartar language, giving to
his phrases the emphatic turn which distinguishes the
language of.the Orientals.

“Takhsir, this is not the time for unnecessary words.
What I have done at the head of your. troops, you know.
The lines of the Ichim and the Irtych are now in our
power; and the Turcoman horsemen can bathe their
horses in the now Tartar waters. The Kirghiz hordes rose
at the voice of Feofar-Khan, and the principal Siberian
route from Ichim to Tomsk belongs to you. You can
therefore push on your troops as well towards the east,
where the sun rises, as towards the west, where he sets.”

“ And if I march with the sun?” asked the Emir, who
listened without his countenance betraying any of his
thoughts.

“To march with the sun,” answered Ogareff, “is to
throw yourself towards Europe; it is to conquer .rapidly
the Siberian provinces of Tobolsk as far as the Ural
mountains.”

“And if I go to meet this luminary of the heavens ?”

“It is to subdue to the Tartar dominion, with Irkutsk,
the richest countries of Central Asia.”

“But the armies of the Sultan of St. Petersburg ?”

* This form of address is the equivalent to the ‘* sire” which is used to the
Sultans of Bokhara.


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Ivan Ogareff enter
CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE. 193
said Feofar-Khan, designating the Emperor of Russia by
this strange title.

“You have nothing to fear from them, either from the
east or from the west,” replied Ivan Ogareff. “ The inva-
sion has been sudden ; and before the Russian army can
succour them, Irkutsk or Tobolsk will have fallen into
your power. The Czar’s troops have been overwhelmed
at Kolyvan, as they will be everywhere where yours meet
them.” :

“ And what advice does your devotion to the Tartar
cause suggest?” asked the Emir, after a few moments’
silence.

“My advice,” answered Ivan Ogareff quickly, “is to
march to meet-the sun. It is to give the grass of the
eastern steppes to the Turcoman horses to consume. It
is to take Irkutsk, the capital of the eastern provinces, and
with it a hostage, the possession of whom is worth a whole
country. In the place of the Czar, the Grand Duke his
brother must fall into your hands.”

This was the great result aimed at by Ivan Ogareff.
To listen to him, one would have taken him for one of the
cruel descendants of Stepan Razine, the celebrated pirate
who ravaged Southern Russia in the eighteenth century.
To seize the Grand Duke, murder him pitilessly, would
fully satisfy his hatred. Besides, with the capture of
Irkutsk, all Eastern Siberia would pass under the Tartar
dominion.

“Tt shall be thus, Ivan,” replied Feofar.

“What are your orders, Takhsir ?”

“To-day our head-quarters shall be removed to
Tomsk.”

Ogareff bowed, and, followed by the housch-bégui, he
retired to execute the Emir’s orders.

As he was about to mount his horse, to return to the
outposts, a tumult broke out at some distance, in the part
of the camp reserved for the prisoners. Shouts were heard,
and two or-three shots fired. Perhaps it was an attempt
at revolt or escape, which must be summarily suppressed.

O
194 MICIIAEL STROGOFF.

Ivan Ogareff and the housch-bégui walked forward a
few steps, and almost immediately two men, whom the
soldiers had not been able to keep back, appeared before
them.

The housch-bégui, without more information, made a
sign which was an order for death, and the heads of the
two prisoners would have rolled on the ground had not
Ogareff uttered a few words which arrested the sword
already raised aloft.

The Russian had perceived that these prisoners were
‘strangers, and he ordered them to be brought up to
him.

They were Harry Blount and Alcide Jolivet.

On Ogareff’s arrival in the camp, they had demanded
to be conducted to his presence. The soldiers had refused.
In consequence, a struggle, an attempt at flight, shots fired
which happily missed the two correspondents, but their
execution would not have been long delayed, if it had not
been for the intervention of the Emir’s lieutenant.

The latter observed the prisoners for some moments,
they being absolutely unknown to him. They had been
present at that scene in the post-house at Ichim, in which
Michael Strogoff had been struck by Ogareff; but the
brutal traveller had paid no attention to the persons then
collected in the common room.

Blount and Jolivet, on the contrary, recognised him
at once, and the latter said in a low voice, “Hullo! It
seems that Colonel Ogareff and the rude personage of
Ichim are one!” .

Then he added in his companion’s ear,

“Explain our affair, Blount. You will do mea service.
This Russian colonel in the midst of a Tartar camp dis-
gusts me; and although, thanks to him, my head is still
on my shoulders, my eyes would exhibit my feelings were
I to attempt to look him in the face.”

So saying, Alcide Jolivet assumed a look of complete
and haughty indifference.

Whether or not Ivan Ogareff perceived that the pri-








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CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE. 195
soner’s attitude was insulting towards him, he did not let
it appear.

“Who are you, gentlemen?” he asked in Russian, in
a cold tone, but free from its usual rudeness.

“Two correspondents of English and French news-
papers,” replied Blount laconically.

“You have, doubtless, papers which will establish your
identity ?”

“ Here are letters which accredit us in Russia, from the
English and French chancellor’s office.”

Ivan Ogareff took the letters which Blount held out to
him, and read them attentively. Then,

“Vou ask,’ said he, “the authorisation to follow our
military operations in Siberia ?”

“We ask to be free, that is all,” answered the English
correspondent dryly.

“You are so, gentlemen,” answered Ogareff; “and I[
shall be curious to read your articles in the Dazly Tele-
graph.” -

“Sir,” replied Harry Blount, with the most imper-
turbable coolness, “it is sixpence a number, including
postage.” —

And thereupon Blount returned to his companion, who
appeared to approve completely of his replies.

Ivan Ogareff, without frowning, mounted his horse, and
going to the head of his escort, soon disappeared in a
cloud of dust.

“Well, Monsieur Jolivet, what do you think of Colonel
Ivan Ogareff, general-in-chief of the Tartar troops ?” asked
Blount.

“J think, my dear friend,” replied Alcide, smiling,
“that the housch-bégui made a very graceful gesture when
he gave the order for our heads to be cut off.”

Whatever was the motive which led Ogareff to act
thus in regard to the two correspondents, they were free
and could rove at their pleasure over the scene of war.
Their intention was not to leave it. The sort of antipathy
which formerly they had entertained for each other had
196 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

——————





given place to a sincere friendship. Circumstances having
brought them together, they no longer thought of separat-
ing. The petty questions of rivalry were for ever ex-
tinguished. Harry Blount could never forget what he
owed his companion, who, on the other hand, never tried
to remind him of it. This friendship too assisted the
reporting operations, and was thus to the advantage of
their readers. f

“ And now,” asked Blount, “ what shall we do with our
liberty ?”

“Take advantage of it, of course,” replied Alcide, “and
go quietly to Tomsk to see what is going on there.”

“Until the time—very near, I hope—when we may
rejoin some Russian regiment ?”

“As you say, my dear Blount, it won’t do to Tartarise
ourselves too much. The best side is that of the most
civilised army, and it is evident that the people of Central
Asia will have everything to lose and absolutely nothing
to gain from this invasion, while the Russians will soon
repulse them. It is only a matter of time.”

The arrival of Ivan Ogareff, which had given Jolivet
and Blount their liberty, was to Michael Strogoff, on the
contrary, a serious danger. Should chance bring the
Czar’s courier into Ogareff’s presence, the latter could not
fail to recognise in him the traveller whom he had so
brutally treated at the Ichim post-house, and although
Michael had not replied to the insult as he would have
done under any other circumstances, attention would be
drawn to him, and at once the accomplishment of his
plans would be rendered more difficult. |

This was the unpleasant side of the business. A favour-
able result of his arrival, however, was the order which was
given to raise the camp that very day, and remove the
head-quarters to Tomsk. '

This was the accomplishment of Michael’s most fervent
desire. His intention, as has been said, was to reach
Tomsk concealed amongst the other prisoners; that is to
say, without any risk of falling into the hands of the scouts
CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE, 197

who swarmed about the. approaches to this important
town. However, in consequence of the arrival of Ivan
Ogareff, and in the fear of being recognized by him, he
questioned whether it would not be better to give up his
first plan and attempt to escape during the journey.

Michael would, no doubt, have kept to the latter plan
had he not learnt that Feofar-Khan and Ivan Ogaretf had
already set out for the town at the head of some thousands
of horesmen.

“T will wait, then,” said he to himself; “at least, unless
some exceptional opportunity for escape occurs. The
adverse chances are numerous on this side of Tomsk,
while beyond the favourable increase, since I shall in a
few hours have passed the most advanced Tartar posts to
the east. Still three days of patience, and may God
aid me!”

It was indeed a journey of three days which the
prisoners, under the guard of a numerous detachment of
Tartars, were to°make across the steppe. A hundred and
fifty versts lay between the camp and the town—an easy
march for the Emir’s soldiers, who wanted for nothing, but
a wretched journey for these unhappy people, enfeebled by
privations. More than one corpse would show the road
they had traversed.

It was at two o'clock in the afternoon, on the'12th of
August, under a hot sun and cloudless sky, that the
toptschi-baschi gave the order to start.

Alcide and Blount, having bought horses, had already
taken the road to Tomsk, where events were to reunite the
principal personages of this story.

Amongst the prisoners brought by Ivan Ogareff to the
Tartar camp was an old woman, whose taciturnity seemed
to keep her apart from all those who shared her fate. Not
a murmur issued from her lips. She was like a statue of
grief. This woman was more strictly guarded than any
one else, and, without her appearing to notice or even to
suspect, was constantly watched by the Tsigane Sangarre.
Notwithstanding her age she was compelled to follow the


198 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
convoy of prisoners on foot, without any alleviation of her
suffering.

However, a kind Providence had placed near her a
courageous, kind-hearted being to comfort and assist her.
Amongst her companions in misfortune a young girl,
remarkable for her beauty and a taciturnity equal to that
of the Siberian, seemed to have given herself the task of
watching over her. No words had been exchanged
between the two captives, but the girl was always found at
the old woman’s side just when her help was useful. At
first the mute assistance of the stranger was not accepted
without some mistrust. Gradually, however, the young
girl’s clear glance, her reserve, and the mysterious sym-
pathy which draws together those who are in misfortune,
thawed Mar‘a Strogoff’s coldness.

Nadia—for it was she—was thus able, without knowing
it, to render to the mother those attentions which she had
herself received from the son. Her instinctive kindness
had doubly inspired her. In devoting herself to her
service, Nadia secured to her youth and beauty the pro-
tection afforded by the age of the old prisoner.

On the crowd of unhappy people, embittered by suffer-
ings, this silent pair—one seeming to be the grandmother,
the other the grand-daughter—imposed a sort of respect.

After being carried off by the Tartar scouts on the
Irtych, Nadia had been taken to Omsk. Kept prisoner in
the town, she shared the fate of all those captured by
Ivan Ogareff, and consequently that of Marfa Strogoff.

If Nadia had been less energetic, she would have
succumbed to this double blow. The interruption to her
journey, the death of Michael, made her both desperate
and excited. Divided, perhaps for ever, from her father,
after so many happy efforts had brought them nearer
together, and, to crown her grief, separated from the
intrepid companion whom God seemed to have placed
in her way to lead her, at the same time and with the
same blow she had lost all. The image of Michael
Strogoff, struck before her eyes with a lance and dis-
CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE. 199

appearing beneath the waters of the Irtych, never left her
thoughts.

Could such a man have died thus? For whom was
God reserving His miracles if this good man, whom a
noble object was urging onwards, had been allowed to
perish so miserably? Then anger would prevail over
erief. The scene of the affront so strangely borne by her
companion at the Ichim relay returned to her memory.
Her blood boiled at the recollection.

“Who will avenge him who can no longer avenge
himself ?” she said.

And in her heart she cried,

“May it be I!”

If before his death Michael had confided his secret to
her, woman, aye girl though she was, she might have been
able to carry to a successful conclusion the interrupted
task of that brother whom God had so soon taken from
her.

Absorbed in these thoughts, it can be understood how
Nadia could remain insensible to the miseries even of her
captivity.

Thus chance had united her to Marfa Strogoff without
her having the least suspicion of who she was. How
could she imagine that this old woman, a prisoner like
herself, was the mother of her companion, whom she only
knew as the merchant Nicholas Korpanoff? And on the
other hand, how could Marfa guess that a bond of grati-
tude connected this young stranger with her son ?

The thing that first struck Nadia in Marfa Strogoff
was the similarity in the way in which each bore her hard
fate. This stoicism of the old woman under the daily
hardships, this contempt of bodily suffering, could only be
caused by a moral grief equal to her own. So Nadia
thought ; and she was not mistaken. It was an instinctive
sympathy for that part of her misery which Marfa did not
show which first drew Nadia towards her. This way of
bearing her sorrow went to the proud heart of the young
gir, She did not offer her services; she gave them.
ZOO MICHAEL STROGOFF.
Marfa had neither to refuse nor accept them. In the
difficult parts of the journey, the girl was there to support
her. When the provisions were given out, the old woman
would not have moved, but Nadia shared her small portion
with her; and thus this painful journey was performed.
Thanks to her young companion, Marfa Strogoff was able
to follow the soldiers who guarded the prisoners without
being fastened to a saddle-bow, as were many other un-
fortunate wretches, and thus dragged along this road of
sorrow.

“May God reward you, my daughter, for what you
have done for my old age!” said Marfa Strogoff once,
and for some time these were the only words exchanged
between the two unfortunate beings.

During these few days, which to them appeared like
centuries, it would seem that the old woman and the girl
would have been led to speak of their situation. But
Marfa Strogoff, from a caution which may be easily under-
stood, never spoke about herself except with the greatest
brevity. She never made the smallest allusion to her son,
nor to the unfortunate meeting.

Nadia also, if not completely silent, spoke little.

However, one day her heart overflowed, and she told
without concealing anything all the events which had
occurred from her departure from Wladimir to the death
of Nicholas Korpanoff. All that her young companion told
intensely interested the old Siberian.

“Nicholas Korpanoff!” said she. “Tell: me again
about this Nicholas. I know only one man, one alone,
among all the youth of the time in whom such conduct
would not have astonished me. Nicholas Korpanoff! Was
that really his name? Are you sure of it, my daughter ?”

“Why should he have deceived me in this,” replicd
Nadia, “ when he deceived me in no other way ?”

Moved, however, by a kind of presentiment, Marfa
Strogoff put questions upon questions to Nadia.

“You told me he was fearless, my daughter. You
have proved that he l:as been so,” said she.
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CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE. 201

“Yes, fearless indeed!” replied Nadia.

“Tt was just what: my son would have done,” said
Marfa to herself.

Then she resumed,

“Did you not say that nothing stopped him, nothing
astonished him ; that he was so gentle in his strength that
you had a sister as well as a brother in him, and that he
watched over you like a mother ?”

“Yes, yes,” said Nadia. “ Brother, sister, mother—he
has been all to me!”

“And defended you like a lion?”

“A lion indeed!” replied Nadia. “Yes; a lion, a
hero!”

“My son, my son!” thought the old Siberian. “ But
you said, however, that he bore a terrible insult at that
post-house in Ichim ?” !

“ He did bear it,” answered Nadia, looking down.

“He bore it!” murmured Marfa, shuddering.

“Mother, mother,” cried Nadia, “do not blame him !
He had a secret, a secret of which God alone is as yet the
judge!” |

“ And,” said Marfa, raising her head and looking at
Nadia as though she would read the depths of her heart,
“in that hour of humiliation did you not despise this
Nicholas Korpanoff ?”

“YT admired without understanding him,” replied the
girl. “I never felt him more worthy of respect.”

The old woman was silent for a minute.

“Was he tall?” she asked.

“Very tall.”

“ And very handsome, was he not? Come, speak, my
daughter.”

“He was very handsome,” replied Nadia, blushing.

“It was my son! I tell you it was my son!” ex-
claimed the old woman, embracing Nadia. :

“Your son!” said Nadia amazed, “ your son!”

“Come,” said Marfa; “let us get to the bottom of
this, my child: Your companion, your friend, your pro-
202 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



tector had a mother. Did he never speak to you of his
mother?”

“Of his mother?” said Nadia. “ He spoke to me of
his mother as I spoke to him of my father—often, always.
He adored her.” |

“Nadia, Nadia, you have just told me about my ow:
son,” said the old woman.

And she added impetuously,

“Was he not going to see this mother, whom you say
he loved, on his way through Omsk ?”

“No,” answered Nadia, “no, he was not.”

“Not!” cried Marfa. “You dare to tell me not!”

“Tsay so: but it remains to me to tell you that from
motives which outweighed everything else, motives which
I do not know, I understand that Nicholas Korpanoff had
to traverse the country completely in secret. To him it
was a question of life and death, and still more, a question
of duty and honour.”

“Duty, indeed, imperious duty,” said the old Siberian,
“of those who sacrifice everything, for the accomplish-
ment of which they refuse everything; even the joy of
ceiving a kiss, perhaps the last, to his old mother. All that
you do not know, Nadi
I now know. You have made me understand everything.
But the light which you have thrown on the mysteries of
my heart, I cannot return on yours. Since my son has
not told you his secret, [ must keep it for him. Forgive
me, Nadia; I can never repay what you have done for
me.”

“ Mother, I ask you nothing,” replied Nadia.

All was thus explained to the old Siberian, all, even
the inexplicable conduct of her son with regard to herseif
in the inn at Omsk, in presence of the witnesses of their
meeting. There was no doubt that the young girl’s com-
panion was Michael Strogoff, and that a secret mission,
some important despatch to be carried across the invaded
country, obliged him to con:eal his quality of the Czar’s
couric.


CORRESPONDENTS IN TROUBLE. 205

“ Ah, my brave boy!” thought Marfa. “No, I will not
betray you, and tortures shall not wrest from me the
avowal that it was you whom I saw at Omsk.”

Marfa could with a word have paid Nadia for all her
devotion to her. She could have told her that her com-
panion, Nicholas Korpanoff, or rather Michael Strogoff, had
not perished in the waters of the Irtych, since it was some
days after that incident that she had met him, that she
had spoken to him. |

But she restrained herself, she was silent, and contented
herself with saying,

“Hope, my child! Misfortune will not overwhelm
you. You will see your father again; I feel it; and per-
haps he who gave you the name of sister is not dead.
God cannot have allowed your brave companion to perish.
Hope, my child, hope! Doas Ido. The mourning which
I wear is not yet for my sen.”


204 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

. i a i OO soe

CHAPTER III.
BLOW FOR BLOW.

SUCH were now the relative situations of Marfa Strogoff
and Nadia. All was understood by the old Siberian, and
though the young girl was ignorant that her much-regretted
companion still lived, she at least knew his relationship to
her whom she had made her mother; and she thanked
God for having given her the joy of taking the place of the
son whom the prisoner had lost.

But what neither of them could know was that Michael,
having been captured at Kolyvan, was in the same convoy
and was on his way to Tomsk with them. :

The prisoners brought by Ivan Ogareff had been added
to those already kept. by the Emir in the Tartar camp.
These unfortunate people, consisting of Russians, Siberians,
soldiers and civilians, numbered some thousands, and
formed a column which extended over several versts.
Some among them being considered dangerous were hand-
cuffed and fastened to-a long chain. There were, too,
women and children, many of the latter suspended to the
pommels of the saddles, while the former were dragged.
mercilessly along the road on foot, or driven forward as if
they were animals. ‘The horsemen escorting the prisoners
compelled them to maintain a certain order, and there
were no laggards with the exception of those who fell never
to rise again.
























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BLOW FOR BLOW. 205
In consequence of this arrangement, Michael Strogoff,
marching in the first ranks of those who had left the
Tartar camp—that is to say, among the Kolyvan prisoners
—was unable to mingle with the prisoners who had
arrived after him from Omsk. He had therefore no sus-
picion that his mother and Nadia were present in the
convoy, nor did they suppose that he was among those in
front. This journey from the camp to Tomsk, performed
under the lashes and spear-points of the soldiers, proved
fatal to many, and terrible to all. The prisoners travelled
across the steppe, over a road made still more dusty by
the passage of the Emir and his vanguard.

Orders had been given to march rapidly. The short
halts were rare.. The hundred and fifty versts under a
burning sky seemed interminable, though they were per-
formed as rapidly as possible.

The country, which extends from the right of the
Obi to the base of the spur detached from the Sayanok
mountains is véry sterile. Only a few stunted and burnt-
up shrubs here and there break the monotony of the
immense plain. There was no cultivation, for there was
no water; and it was water that the prisoners, parched by
their painful march, most needed. To find a stream they
must have diverged fifty versts eastward, to the very foot
of the spur which divides the waters between the basins of
the Obi and Genisei.

There flows the Tom, a little affluent of the Obi, which
passes near Tomsk before losing itself in one of the great

“ynorthern arteries. There water would have been abundant,
.the steppe less arid, the heat less severe. But the strictes:
orders had been given to the commanders of the convoy to

reach Tomsk by the shortest way, for the Emir was much
afraid of being taken in the flank and cut off by some
Russian column descending from the northern provinces.
Now the Siberian high-road did not lie along the banks of
the Tom, at least in the part between Kolyvan and a little
village called Zabediero, and it was necessary to follow the
high-road.
206 MICHAEL STROGOFF.





It is useless to dwell upon the sufferings of the unhappy
prisoners. Many hundreds fell on the steppe, where their
bodies would lie until winter, when the wolves would
devour the remnants of their bones.

As Nadia helped the old Siberian, so in the same way
did Michael render to his more feeble companions in mis-
fortune such services as his situation allowed. He en-
couraged some, supported others, going to and fro, until a
prick from a soldier’s lance obliged him to resume the
place which had been assigned him in the ranks.

Why did he not endeavour to escape ?

The reason was that he had now quite determined not
to venture until the steppe was safe for him. He was
resolved in his idea of going as far as Tomsk “at the
Emir’s expense,” and indeed he was right. As he observed
the numerous detachments which scoured the plain on the
convoy’s flanks, now to the south, now to the north, it was
evident that before he could have gone two versts he must
have been recaptured. The Tartar horsemen swarmed—it
actually appeared as if they sprang from the earth—like
insects which a thunderstorm brings to the surface of the
sround, Flight under these conditions would have been
extremely difficult, if not impossible. The soldiers of the
escort dispiayed excessive vigilance, for they would have
paid for the slightest carelessness with their heads. |

At nightfall of the 15th of August, the convoy reached
the little village of Zabediero, thirty versts from Tomsk.
Here the road j joins the Tom.

The prisoners’ first movement would have been to rush
into the river, but they were not allowed to leave the ranks
until the halt had been organised. Although the current
of the Tom was just now like a torrent, it might have
favoured the flight of some bold or desperate man, and the
strictest measures of vigilance were taken. Boats, requi-
sitioned at Zabediero, were brought up to the Tom and
formed a line of obstacles impossible to pass. As to the
encampment on the outskirts of the village, it was guarded
by a cordon of sentinels.
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BLOW FOR BLOW. 207

Michael Strogoff, who now naturally thought of escape,
saw, after carefully surveying the situation, that under
these conditions it was perfectly impossible ; so, not wish-
ing to compromise himself, he waited.

The prisoners were to encamp for the whole night on
the banks of the Tom, for the Emir had put off the
entrance of his troops into Tomsk. It had been decided
that a military féte should mark the inauguration of thie
Tartar head-quarters in this important city. Jeofar-Khan
already occupied the fortress, but the bulk of his ariny
bivouacked under its walls, waiting until the time came for
them to make a solemn entry.

Ivan Ogareff left the Emir at Tomsk, where both had
arrived the evening before, and returned to the camp at
Zabediero. From here he was to start the next day with
the rear-guard of the Tartar army. A house had been
arranged for him in which to pass the night. At sunrise
horse and foot soldiers were to proceed to Tomsk, where
the Emir wished to receive them with the pomp usual to
Asiatic sovereigns. As soon as the halt was organised,
the prisoners, worn out with their three days’ journey, and
suffering from burning thirst, could drink and take a little
rest. The sun had already set, when Nadia, supporting
Marfa Strogoff, reached the banks of the Tom. They had
not till then been able to get through those who crowded
the banks, but at last they came to drink in their turn.

The old woman bent over the clear stream, and Nadia,
plunging in her hand, carried it to Marfa’s lips. Then she
refreshed herself. They found new life in these welcome
waters.

Suddenly Nadia started up ; an involuntary cry escaped
her.

Michael Strogoff was there, a few steps from her. It
was he. The dying rays of the sun fell upon him.

At Nadia’s cry Michael started. But he had sufficient
command over himself not to utter a word by which he
might have been compromised. And yet, when he saw
Nadia, he also recognised his mother.
208 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

——_—— ae

Feeling he could not long keep master of himself at
this unexpected meeting, he covered his eyes with his
hands and walked quickly away.

Nadia’s impulse was to run after him, but the old
Siberian murmured in her ear,

“Stay, my daughter !”

“Tt is he!” replied Nadia, choking with emotion.
“ He lives, mother! It is he!” |

“Tt is my son,” answered Marfa, “it is Michael Strogoff,
and you see that I do not make a step towards him!
lmitate me, my daughter.”

Michael had just experienced the most violent emotion
which a man can feel. His mother and Nadia were there!

The two prisoners who were always together in his
heart, God had brought them together in this common
misfortune. Did Nadia know who he was? Yes, for he
had seen Marfa’s gesture, holding her back as she was
about to rush towards him. Marfa, then, had understood
all, and kept his secret.

During that night, Michael was twenty times on the
point of looking for and joining his mother; but he knew
that he must resist the longing he felt to take her in his
arms, and once more press the hand of his young com-
panion. The least imprudence might be fatal. .He had
besides sworn not to see his mother—he would not see
her voluntarily. Once at Tomsk, since he could not
escape this very night, he would set off across the steppe
without having even embraced the two beings in whom all
the happiness of his life was centred, and whom he should
leave exposed to so many perils.

Michael hoped that this fresh meeting at the Zabediero
camp would have no disastrous consequences either to
his mother or to himself. But he did not know that part
of this scene, although it passed so rapidly, had been
observed by Sangarre, Ogareff’s spy. |

The Tsigane was there, a few paces off, on the bank,
as usual, watching the old Siberian woman, without being
in the least suspected by her. She had not caught sight
BLOW FOR BLOW. - 209

of Michael, for he disappeared before she had time to
look round ; but the mother’s gesture as she kept back
Nadia had not escaped her, and the look in Marfa’s eyes
told her all.

It was now beyond doubt that Marfa Strogoff’s son,
the Czar’s courier, was at this moment in Zabediero, among
Ivan Ogareff’s prisoners.

Sangarre did not know him, but she knew that he was
there. She did not then attempt to discover him, for
it would have been impossible in the dark and the immense
crowd,

As for again watching Nadia and Marfa Strogoff, that
was equally useless. It was evident that the two women
would keep on their guard, and it would be impossible to
overhear anything of a nature to compromise the courier
of the Czar. The Tsigane’s first thought was to tell
Ivan Ogareff. She therefore immediately left the encamp-
ment. |

A quarter of an hour after, she reached Zabediero,
and was shown into the house occupied by the Emir’s
lieutenant. |

Ogareff received the Tsigane directly.

“What have you to tell me, Sangarre ?” he asked.

“Marfa Strogoff’s son is in'the encampment,” answered
Sangarre. |

“ A prisoner?”

“ A prisoner.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Ogareff, “I shall know ”

“You will know nothing, Ivan,’ replied the Tsigane ;
“for you do not even know him by sight.”

“But you know him ; you have seen him, Sangarre ? ”

“JT have not seen him; but his mother betrayed
herself by a gesture, which told me everything.”

“Are you not mistaken?”

“T am not mistaken.”

“You know the importance which I attach to the
apprehension of this courier,” said Ivan Ogareff. “If the
letter which he has brought from Moscow reaches Irkutsk,

P


210 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



if it is given to the Grand Duke, the Grand Duke will be
on his guard, and I shall not be able to get at him. I
must have that letter at any price. Now you come to tell
me that the bearer of this letter is in my power. [I repeat,
Sangarre, are you not mistaken ?”

Ogareff spoke with great animation. His emotion
showed the extreme importance he attached to the
possession of this letter. Sangarre was not at all put
out by the urgency with which Ogareff repeated his
question.

“T am not mistaken, Ivan,” she said.

“But, Sangarre, there are thousands of prisoners in
the camp; and you say that you do not know Michael
Strogoff.”

“No,” answered the Tsigane, with a look of savage joy,
‘“T do not know him; but his mother knows him. Ivan,
we must make his mother speak.” :

“To-morrow she shall speak!” cried Ogareff. So
saying, he extended his hand to the Tsigane, who kissed
it; for there is nothing servile in this act of respect, it
being usual among the Northern races.

Sangarre returned to the camp. She found out Nadia
and Marfa Strogoff, and passed the night in watching
them. Although worn out with fatigue, the old woman
and the girl did not sleep. Their great anxiety kept them
awake. Michael was living, but a prisoner as they were.
Did Ogareff know him, or if he did not, would he not
soon find him out? Nadia was occupied by the one thought
that he whom she had thought dead still lived. But
Marfa saw further into the future: and, although she did
not care what became of herself, she had every reason to
fear for her son.

Sangarre, under cover of the night, had crept near the
two women, and remained there several hours listening.
She heard nothing. From an instinctive feeling of pru-
dence not a word was exchanged between Nadia and
Marfa Strogoff. The next day, the 16th of August, about
ten in the morning, trumpet-calls resounded throughout
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BLOW FOR BLOW. 211

the encampment. The Tartar soldiers were almost im-
mediately under arms. -

Ivan Ogareff, having left Zabediero, arrived, sur-
rounded by a large staff of Tartar officers. His face was
more clouded than usual, and his knitted brow gave signs
of latent wrath which was waiting only for an occasion to
break forth.

Michael Strogoff, hidden in a group of prisoners, saw
this man pass. Hehad a presentiment that some cata-
strophe was imminent; for Ivan Ogareff knew now that
Marfa was the mother of Michael Strogoff, captain in the
corps of the Czar’s couriers.

Ivan Ogareff, having reached the centre of the camp,
dismounted, and his escort cleared a large circle round
him. |
Just then Sangarre approached him, and said,

“T have no news for you, Ivan.”

Ivan Ogareff’s only reply was to give an order to one
of his officers. "

Then the ranks of prisoners were brutally hurried up
by the soldiers. The unfortunate people, driven on with
whips, or pushed on with the butt-ends ofthe lances,
kept rising again in haste, and arranged themselves round
the camp. A strong guard of soldiers, both foot and
horse, drawn up behind, rendered escape impossible. —

Silence then ensued, and, on a sign from Ivan Ogareff,
Sangarre advanced towards the group, in the midst of
which stood Marfa.

The old Siberian saw her companion. She knew what
was going to happen. A scornful smile passed over her
face. Then leaning towards Nadia, she said in a low tone,

“You know me no longer, my daughter. Whatever
may happen, and however hard this trial my be, not a
word, not a sign. It concerns him, and not me.”

At that moment Sangarre, having regarded her for an
instant, put her hand on her shoulder.

“What do you want with me?” said Marfa.

“Come!” replied Sangarre.
212 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

And, pushing the old Siberian before her, she took
her before Ivan Ogareff, in the middle of the cleared
ground.

Michael cast down his eyes that their angry flashings
might not appear.

Marfa, standing before Ivan Ogareff, drew herself up,
crossed her arms on her breast, and waited.

“You are Marfa Strogoff?” asked Ogareff.

“Yes,” replied the old Siberian calmly.

“Do you retract what you said to me when, three days
ago, I interrogated you at Omsk ?”

“No!”

“Then you do not know that your son, Michael
Strogoff, courier of the Czar, has passed through Omsk ?”

“T do not know it.”

“And the man in whom you thought you recognised
your son, was not he, was not he your son?”

“He was not my son.”

“And since then you have not seen him amongst the
prisoners?”

“No.”

“And if he were pointed out, would you recognise
him ?”

“No.”

On this reply, which showed a determined resolution to
acknowledge nothing, a murmur was heard amongst the
crowd.

Ogareff could not restrain a threatening gesture.

“Listen,” said he to Marfa, “your son is here, and you
shall immediately point him out to me.”

“No.”

“All these men, taken at Omsk and Kolyvan, will
defile before you; and if you do not show me Michael
Strogoff, you shall receive as many blows of the knout as
men shall have passed before you.”

Ivan Ogareff saw that, whatever might be his threats,
whatever might be the tortures to which he submitted her,
the indomitable Siberian would not speak. To discover
~BLOW FOR BLOW. | 213

the courier of the Czar, he counted, then, not on her, but
on Michael himscif. He did not believe it possible that,
when mother and son were in each other’s presence, some
involuntary movement would not betray him. Of course,
had he only wished to seize the imperial letter, he would
simply have. given orders to search all the prisoners ; but
Michael might have destroyed the letter, having learnt its
contents; and if he were not recognised, if he were to
reach Irkutsk, all Ivan Ogareff’s plans would be baffled.
It was thus not only the letter which the traitor must have,
but the bearer himself.

Nadia had heard all, and she now knew who was
Michael Strogoff, and why he had wished to cross, without
being recognised, the invaded provinces of Siberia.

On an order from Ivan Ogareff the prisoners defiled,
one by one, past Marfa, who remained immovable as a
statue, and whose face expressed only perfect indifference.

Her son was among the last. When in his turn he
passed before his mother, Nadia shut her eyes that she
might not see him.

Michael was to all appearance unmoved, but the palm
of his hand bled under his nails, which were pressed into
them.

Ivan Ogareff was baffled by mother and son.

Sangarre, close to him, said one word only,

“The knout!”

“Yes,” cried Ogareff, who could no longer restrain
himself; “the knout for this wretched old woman—the
knout to the death !”

A Tartar soldier bearing this terrible instrument of
torture approached Marfa.

The knout is composed of a certain number of leathern
thongs, at the end of which are attached pieces of twisted
iron wire. It is reckoned that a sentence to one hundred
and twenty blows.of this whip is equivalent to a sentence
of death.

Marfa knew it, but she knew also that no torture would
make her speak, and that she was sacrificing her life.
214 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Marfa, seized by two soldiers, was forced on her knees
on the ground. Her dress torn off left her back bare. A
sabre was placed before her breast, at a few inches’ distance
only. Directly she bent beneath her suffering, her breast
was pierced by the sharp steel.

The Tartar drew himself up.

He waited.

“Begin!” said Ogareff.

The whip whistled through the air.

But before it fell a powerful hand stopped the Tartar’s
arm.

Michael was there. He had leapt forward at this
horrible scene. If at the relay at [chim he had restrained
himself when Ogareff’s whip had struck him, here before
his mother, who was about to be struck, he could not
inaster himself.

Ivan Ogareff had succeeded.

“Michael Strogoff!” cried he.

Then advancing,

“ Ah, the man of Ichim ?”

“ Himself!” said Michael.

And raising the knout he struck Ogareff across the face.

“ Blow for blow!” said he.

“Well repaid!” cried a voice, happily concealed by the
tumult.

Twenty soldiers threw themselves on Michael, and in
another instant he would have been slain. |

But Ogareff, who on being struck had uttered a cry of
rage and pain, stopped them.

“This man is reserved for the Emir’s judgment,” said
he. “Search him!”

The letter with the imperial arms was found in
Michael’s bosom ; he had not had time to destroy it; it
was handed to Ogareff

The voice which had pronounced the words, “ Well
repaid!” was that of no other than Alcide Jolivet. His
companion and he staying at the camp of Zabediero were
present at the scene.
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BLOW FOR BLOW. 215



“Pardieu !” said he to Blount, “these are rough folk,
these Northern people. Acknowledge that we owe our
travelling companion a good turn. Korpanoff or Strogoff
is worthy of it. Oh, that was fine retaliation for the little
affair at Ichim.”

“Yes, retaliation truly,” replied Blount ; “but Strogoff
isa dead man. I suspect that, for his own interest at all
events, it would have been better had he not possessed
quite so lively a recollection of the event.”

“ And let his mother perish under the knout ?”

“Do you think that either she or his sister will be a
bit better off from this outbreak of his?”

“T do not know or think anything except that I should
have done much the same in his position,” replied Alcide.
“What a scar the Colonel has received! Bah! one must
boil over sometimes. We should have had water in our
veins instead of blood had it been incumbent on us to be
always and everywhere unmoved to wrath.”

“A neat little incident for our journals,’ observed
Blount, “if only Ivan Ogareff would let us know the
contents of that letter.”

Ivan Ogareff, when he had stanched the blood which
was trickling down his face, had broken the seal. He read
and re-read the letter deliberately, as if he was determined
to discover everything it contained. |

Then having ordered that Michael, carefully bound
and guarded, should be carried on to Tomsk with the other
prisoners, he took command of the troops at Zabediero,
and, amid the deafening noise of drums and trumpets, he
marched.towards the town where the Emir awaited him.
216 MICHAEL STROGOFF.





CHAPTER IV.
THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY.

Tomsk, founded in 1604, nearly in the heart of the
Siberian provinces, is one of the most important towns in
Asiatic Russia. Tobolsk, situated above the sixtieth
parallel; Irkutsk, built beyond the hundredth meridian,—
have seen Tomsk increase at their expense.

And yet Tomsk, as has been said, is not the capital
of this important province. It is at Omsk that the
Governor-General of the province and the official world
reside. But Tomsk is the most considerable town of that
territory, bounded by the Altai mountains, a range which
extends to the Chinese frontier of the Khalkas country.
Down the slopes of these mountains to the valley of the
Tom, platina, gold, silver, copper, and _ auriferous-lead
succeed each other. The country being rich, the town is
so likewise, for it is in the centre of fruitful mines. In
the luxury of its houses, its arrangements, and its equipages,
it might rival the greatest European capitals. It is a city
of millionaires, enriched by the spade and pick-axe, and
though it has not the honour of being the residence of the
Czar’s representative, it can boast of including in the first
rank of its notables the chief of the merchants of the
town, the principal grantees of the imperial government’s
mines.

Formerly Tomsk was thought to be at the end of the
THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY. 217
world. It was a long journey for those who wished to go
there. Now it is a mere walk where the road is not
trampled over by the feet of invaders. Soon, even a
railway will be constructed which will unite it with Perm,
by crossing the Urals.

Is Tomsk a pretty town? It must be confessed that
travellers are not agreed on this point.

Madame de Bourboulon, who stopped there a few days
during her journey from Shanghai to Moscow, calls it an
unpicturesque locality. According to her, it is but an
insignificant town, with old houses of stone and _ brick,
narrow streets—differing much from those which are
usually found in great Siberian cities—dirty quarters,
crowded chiefly with Tartars, and in which are swarms of
quiet drunkards, “ whose drunkenness even is apathetic as
with all the nations of the North.”

_ The traveller Henry Russel-Killough is positive in his
admiration of Tomsk. Is this because he saw in mid-
winter, under its snowy mantle, the town which Madame
de Bourboulon only visited during the summer? It is
possible, and confirms the opinion that certain cold
countries can only be appreciated in the cold season, as
certain hot countries in the hot season.

However this may be, Mr. Russel-Killough says posi-
tively that Tomsk is not only the prettiest town in Siberia,
but is one of the prettiest towns in the world ; its houses
adorned with columns and peristyles, its wooden side-paths,
its wide and regular streets, and its fifteen magnificent
churches reflected in the waters of the Tom, larger than
any river in France. —

The truth is something between these two opinions.
Tomsk, which contains twenty-five thousand inhabitants,
is picturesquely built on a long hill, the slope of which is
somewhat steep.

But even the prettiest town in the world would become
ugly when occupied by invaders. °

Who would wish to admire it then? Defended by a
few battalions of foot Cossacks, who resided permanently
218 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

there, it had not been able to resist the attack of the Emir’s
columns. A part of the population, of Tartar origin, had
given a friendly reception to these hordes—Tartars, like
themselves—and, for the time, Tomsk seemed to be no
more Siberian than if it had been transported into the
middle of the Khanats of Khokhand or Bokhara.

At Tomsk the Emir was to receive his victorious
troops. A festival, with songs and dances, followed by
some noisy orgies, was to be given in their honour.

The place chosen with Asiatic taste for this ceremony
was a wide plateau situated on a part of the hill over-
looking, at some hundred feet distance, the course of the
Tom. The long perspective of elegant mansions and
churches with their green cupolas, the windings of the
river, the whole scene bathed in warm mists, appeared as
it were in a frame formed by groups of pines and gigantic
cedars.

To the left of the plateau, a brilliant scene representing
a palace of strange architecture—no doubt some specimen
of the Bokharian monuments, half Moorish, half Tartar—
had been temporarily erected on wide terraces. Above the
palace and the minarets with which it bristled, among the
high branches of the trees which shaded the plateau, tame
storks, brought from Bokhara with the Tartar army, flew
about in thousands.

The terraces had been reserved for the Emir’s court,
the Khans his allies, the great dignitaries of the Khanats,
and the harems of each of these Turkestan sovereigns,

Of these sultanas, who are for the most part merely
slaves bought in the markets of Transcaucasia and Persia,
some had their faces uncovered, and others wore a veil
which concealed their features. All were dressed with
great magnificence. Handsome pelisses with short sleeves
allowed the bare arms to be seen, loaded with bracelets
connected by chains of precious stones, and the little
hands, the finger-nails being tinted with the juice of the
henna. Some of these pelisses were made of silk, fine as
a spider's web; others of a flexible “aladja,” which is a
THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY. 219

narrow-striped texture of cotton; and at the least move-
ment they made that rustle so agreeable in the ears of an
Oriental. Under this first garment were brocaded petti-
coats, covering the silken trousers, which were fastened a
little above neat boots, well shaped and embroidered with
pearls. Some of the women whose features were not con-
cealed by veils might have been admired for their long
plaited hair, escaping from beneath their various coloured
turbans, their splendid eyes, their magnificent teeth, their
dazzling complexions, heightened by the blackness of the
eyebrows, connected by a slight line, and the eyelashes
touched with a little black-lead.

At the foot of the terraces, gay with standards and
~pennons, watched the Emir’s own guards, armed with
curved sabres, daggers in their belts, and lances six feet
long in their hands. A few of these Tartars carried white
sticks, others enormous halberds ornamented with tufts of
gold and silver thread.

All around over this vast plateau, as far as the steep
slopes, the bases of which were washed by the Tom, was
massed a crowd composed of all the native elements of
Central Asia. Usbecks were there, with their tall caps of
black sheepskin, their red beards, their grey eyes, and their
“arkalouk,’ a sort of tunic cut in the Tartar fashion.
There thronged Turcomans, dressed in the ‘national
costume—wide trousers of a bright colour, with vest and
mantle woven of camel’s-nair ; red caps, conical or wide ;
high boots of Russian leather; and sabre knife hung at
the waist by a thong. There, near their masters, appeared
the Turcoman women, their hair lengthened by cords of
goats-hair; the chemisette open under the “ djouba,”
striped with blue, purple, and green; the legs laced with
coloured bands, crossing each other to the leathern clog.
There, too—as if all the Russian-Chinese frontier had
risen at the Emir’s voice—might be seen Mandchoux, faces
shaven, matted hair, long robes, sash confining the silken
skirt at the waist, and oval caps of crimson satin,. with
black border and red fringe; and with them splendid
220 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

specimens of the women of Mandchouria, wearing coquettish
head-dresses of artificial flowers, kept in their places by
gold pins and butterflies lightly laid on their black hair.
Lastly, Mongols, Bokharians, Persians, and Turkestan-
Chinese completed the crowd invited to the Tartar festival.

Siberians alone were wanting in this reception of the
invaders. Those who had not been able to fly were
confined to their houses, in dread of the pillage which
Feofar-Khan would perhaps order to worthily terminate
this triumphal ceremony.

At four o’clock the Emir made his entry. into the
square, greeted by a flourish of trumpets, the rolling
sound of the big drums, salvoes of artillery and musketry.

Feofar mounted his favourite horse, which carried on
its head an aigrette of diamonds. The Emir still wore his
uniform.

He was accompanied by a numerous staff, and beside
him walked the Khans of Khokhand and Koundouge and
the grand dignitaries of the Khanats,

At the same moment appeared on the terrace the
chief of Feofar’s wives, the queen, if this title may be
given to the sultana of the states of Bokhara. But, queen
or slave, this woman of Persian origin was wonderfully
beautiful. Contrary to the Mahometan custom, and no
doubt by some caprice of the Emir, she had her face
uncovered. Her hair, divided into four plaits, fell over
her dazzling white shoulders, scarcely concealed by a veil
of silk worked in gold, which fell from the back of a cap
studded with gems of the highest value. Under her blue-
silk petticoat, striped with a darker shade, fell the “ zir-
djameh” of silken gauze, and above the sash lay the
“pirahn” of the same texture, sloping gracefully to the
neck. But from the head to the little feet, incased in
Persian slippers, such was the profusion of jewels—gold
beads strung on silver threads, chaplets of turquoises,
“firouzehs” from the celebrated mines of Elbourz, neck-
laces of cornelians, agates, emeralds, opals, and sapphires—
that her dress seemed to be literally made of precious
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(Page 220.)
THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY. 221

stones. The thousands of diamonds which sparkled on
her neck, arms, hands, at her waist, and at her feet might
have been valued at almost countless millions of roubles.

The Emir and the Khans dismounted, as did the
dignitaries who escorted them. All entered a magnificent
tent erected on the centre of the first terrace. Before
the tent, as usual, the Koran was laid on the sacred
table.

Feofar’s lieutenant did not make them wait, and before
five o’clock the trumpets announced his arrival.

Ivan Ogareff—the Scarred Cheek, as he was already
nick-named—this time wearing the uniform of a Tartar
officer, dismounted before the Emir’s tent. He was ac-
companied by a party of soldiers from the camp at
Zabediero, who ranged up at the sides of the square, in
the middle of which a place for the sports was reserved. A
large scar could be distinctly seen cut obliquely across
the traitor’s face.

Ogareff presented his principal officers to the Emir,
who, without departing from the coldness which composed
the main part of his dignity, received them in a way
which satisfied them that they stood well in the good
graces of their chief.

At least so thought Harry Blount and Alcide Jolivet,
the two inseparables, now associated together in the chase
after news. After leaving Zabediero, they had proceeded
rapidly to Tomsk. The plan they had agreed upon was
to leave the Tartars as soon as possible, and to join a
Russian regiment, and, if they could, to go with them to
Irkutsk. All that they had seen of the invasion, its
burnings, its pillages, its murders, had perfectly sickened
them, and they longed to be among the ranks of the
Siberian army. |

However, Jolivet had told his companion that he could
not leave Tomsk without making a sketch of the triumphal
entry of the Tartar troops, if it was only to satisfy his
cousin's curiosity, so Harry Blount had agreed to stay a
few hours; but the same evening they both intended to
222 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

take the road to Irkutsk, and being well mounted hoped to
distance the Emir’s scouts.

Alcide and Blount mingled therefore in the crowd, so
as to lose no detail of a festival which ought to supply
them with a hundred good lines for an article. They
admired the magnificence of Feofar-Khan, his wives, his
officers, his guards, and all the Eastern pomp, of which the
ceremonies of Europe can give not the least idea. But
they turned away with disgust when Ivan Ogareff presented
himself before the Emir, and waited with some impatience
for the amusements to begin.

“You see, my dear Blount,” said Alcide, “we have
come too soon, like honest citizens who like to get their
money’s worth. All this is before the curtain rises, and
it would have been better taste to arrive only for the
ballet.”

“What ballet?” asked Blount.

“The compulsory ballet, to be sure. But see, the
curtain is going to rise.” oe

Alcide Jolivet spoke as if he had been at the Opera,
and taking his glass from its case, he prepared, with the
air of a connoisseur, “to examine the first act of Feofar’s
company.” |

But a painful ceremony was to precede the sports. In
fact, the triumph of the vanquisher could not be complete
without the public humiliation of the vanquished. This
was why several hundreds of prisoners were brought under
the soldiers’ whips. They were destined to march past
Feofar-Khan and his allies before being crammed with
their companions into the prisons in the town.

In the first ranks “of these prisoners figured Michael
Strogoff. As Ogareff had ordered, he was _ specially
cuarded by a file of soldiers. His mother and Nadia
were there also.

The old Siberian, although energetic enough when her
own safety was in question, was frightfully pale. She
expected some terrible scene. It was not without reason
that her son had been brought before the Emir. She
THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY. . 223
therefore trembled for him. Ivan Ogareff was not a man
to forgive having been struck in public by the knout, and
his vengeance would be merciless. Some frightful punish-
ment familiar to the barbarians of Central Asia would, no
doubt, be inflicted on Michael. Ogareff had protected him
against the soldiers because he well knew what would
happen by reserving him forthe justice of the Emir.

The mother and son had not been able to speak to-
gether since the terrible scene in the camp at Zabedievo.
They had been pitilessly kept apart—a bitter aggravation
of their misery, for it would have been some consolation
to have been together during these days of captivity.
Marfa longed to ask her son’s pardon for the harm she had
unintentionally done him, for she reproached herself with
not having commanded her maternal feelings. If she had
restrained herself in that post-house at Omsk, when she
found herself face to face with him, Michael would have
passed unrecognised, and all these misfortunes would
have been avoided.

Michael, on his side, thought that if his mother was
there, if Ogareff had brought her with him, it was to
make her suffer with the sight of his own punishment, or
perhaps some frightful death was reserved for her as well
as for himself.

As to Nadia, she only asked herself how she could save
them both, how come to the aid of son and mother. As
yet she could only wonder, but she felt instinctively that
she must above everything avoid drawing attention upon
herself, that she must conceal herself, make herself insigni-
ficant. Perhaps she might at least gnaw through the
meshes which imprisoned the lion. At any rate if any
opportunity was given her she would seize upon it, and
sacrifice herself, if need be, for the son of Marfa Strogoff.

In the mean time the greater part of the prisoners
were passing before the Emir, and as they passed each
was obliged to prostrate himself, with his forehead in the
dust, in token of servitude. Slavery begins by humiliation.
When the unfortunate people were too slow in bending,
224 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

the rough hands of their guards threw them violently to
the ground.

Alcide Jolivet and his companion could not witness
such a sight without feeling indignant.

“Tt is cowardly—let us go,” said Alcide.

“ No,” answered Blount ; “ we must see it all.”

“See it all!—ah!” cried Alcide suddenly, grasping his
companion’s arm.

“ What is the matter with you ?” asked the latter.

“Look, Blount; it is she!”

“What she ?”

“The sister of our travelling companion—alone, and a
prisoner! We must save her.”

“Calm yourself,” replied Blount coolly. “ Any inter-
ference on our part in behalf of the young girl would be
worse than useless.”

Alcide Jolivet, who had been about to rush forward,
stopped, and Nadia—who had .not perceived them, her
features being half hidden by her hair—passed in her
turn before the Emir without attracting his attention.

However, after Nadia came Marfa Strogoff; and as
she did not throw herself quickly in the dust, the guards
brutally pushed her.

She fell.

Her son struggled so violently that the soldiers who
were guarding him could scarcely hold him back.

But the old woman rose, and they were about to drag
her on, when Ogareff interposed, saying—

“Let that woman stay!”

As to Nadia, she happily regained the crowd of
prisoners. Ivan Ogareff had taken no notice of her.

Michael was then led before the Emir, and there he
remained standing, without casting down his eyes.

“Your forehead to the ground!” exclaimed Ivan
Ogareff.

“No!” answered Michael.

Two soldiers endeavoured to make him bend, but they
were themselves laid on the ground by a buffet from the
young man’s fist.
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THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY. 225



Ogareff approached Michael.

“You shall die!” he said.

“T can die,” answered Michael fiercely; “but your
traitors face, Ivan, will not the less carry for ever the
infamous brand of the knout?”

At this reply Ivan Ogareff became perfectly livid.

“Who is this prisoner?” asked the Emir, in a tone of
voice terrible from its very calmness.

“ A Russian spy,” answered Ogareff.

In asserting that Michael was a spy he knew that the
sentence pronounced against him would be terrible.

Michael had stepped up to Ogareff.

The soldiers stopped him.

The Emir made a sign at which all the crowd bent low
their heads. Then he pointed with his hand to the Koran,
which was brought him. He opened the sacred book and
placed his finger on one of its pages.

It was chance, or rather, according to the ideas of
these Orientals, God Himself who was about to decide the
fate of Michael Strogoff. The people of Central Asia
give the name of “fal” to this practice. After having
interpreted the sense of the verse touched by the judge’s
finger, they apply the sentence whatever it may be.

The Emir had let his finger rest on the page of the
Koran. The chief of the Ulemas then approached, and
read in a loud voice a verse which ended with these
words—

“And he will no more see the things of this earth.”

“Russian spy!” exclaimed Feofar Khan in a voice
trembling with fury, “you have come to see what is going
on in the Tartar camp. Then look while you may.”
226 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

TT

CHAPTER V.
“LOOK WHILE YOU MAY!”

MICHAEL was held before the Emir’s throne, at the foot of
the terrace, his hands bound behind his back. His mother,
overcome at last by mental and physical torture, had sunk
to the ground, daring neither to look nor listen.

“Look while you may,” exclaimed Feofar Khan,
stretching his arm towards Michael in a threatening
manner.

Doubtless Ivan Ogareff, being well acquainted with
Tartar customs, had taken in the full meaning of these
words, for his lips curled for an instant in a cruel smile;
he then took his place by Feofar Khan.

A trumpet call was heard. ‘This was the signal for the
amusements to begin.

“ Here comes the ballet,” said Alcide to Blount ; “ but,
contrary to our customs, these barbarians give it before
the drama.”

Michael had been commanded to look at everything.
He looked.

A troop of dancers poured into the open space
before the Emir’s tent. Different Tartar instruments, the
‘“doutare,” a long-handled guitar, made of mulberry wood,
with two strings of twisted silk tuned in fours; the
“kobize,” a kind of violoncello, partly open at the back,
strung with horse-hair, and played with a bow; the “ tschi-
“TOOK WHILE YOU MAY!” 227

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byzga,” a long reed flute ; wind instruments, tom-toms,
tambourines, united with the deep voices of the singers,
formed a strange harmony. Added to this were the strains
of an aerial orchestra, composed of a dozen kites, which,
fastened by strings to their centres, resounded in the
breeze like A£olian harps.

Then the dances began.

The performers were all of Persian origin; they were
no longer slaves, but exercised their profession at liberty.
Formerly they figured officially in the ceremonies at th>
court of Teheran, but since the accession of the reigning
family, banished or treated with contempt, they had been
compelled to seek their fortune elsewhere. ‘They wore the
national costume,-and were adorned with a profusion of
jewels. Little triangles of gold, studded with jewels,
elittered in their ears. Circles of silver, marked with
black, surrounded their necks and legs; pendants, richly
ornamented with pearls, turquoises, and _ cornelians,
glistened at the“end of their long braids of hair. The
belt which encircled the waist was fastened by a bright
buckle. |

These performers gracefully executed various dances,
sometimes alone, sometimes in groups. Their faces were
uncovered, but from time to time they threw a light veil
over their heads, and a gauze cloud passed over their
bright eyes as smoke over a starry sky. Some of these
Persians wore leathern belts embroidered with pearls,
from which hung little triangular bags, with the points
downwards, which they opened at a certain moment.
From these bags, embroidered with golden filagree, they
drew long narrow bands of scarlet silk, on which were
braided verses of the Koran. These bands, which they
held between them, formed a belt under which the other
dancers darted ; and, as they passed each verse, following
the precept it contained, they either prostrated them.
selves on the earth or lightly bounded upwards, as though
to take a place among the houris of Mohammed’s heaven.

But what was remarkable, and what struck Alcide,
228 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



was that the Persians appeared rather indolent than
fiery. Their passion had deserted them, and, by the kind
of dances as well as by their execution, they recalled
rather the calm and self-possessed nauch girls of India
than the impassioned dancers of Egypt.

When this was over, a stern voice was heard saying—

“ Look while you may!”

The man who repeated the Emir’s words—a tall spare
Tartar—was he who carried out the sentences of Feofar
Khan against offenders. He had taken his place behind
Michael, holding in his hand a broad curved sabre, one of
those Damascene blades which are forged by the cele-
brated armourers of Karschi or Hissar.

Behind him guards were carrying a tripod supporting
a chafing-dish filled with live coals. No smoke arose from
this, but a light vapour surrounded it, due to the incine-
ration of a certain aromatic and resinous substance which
had been thrown on the surface.

_. The Persians were succeeded by another party of
dancers, whom Michael immediately recognized.

The journalists also appeared to recognize them, for
Blount said to his companion—

“These are the Tsiganes of Nijni-Novgorod.”

“No doubt of it,’ cried Alcide. “ Their eyes, I
imagine, bring more money to these spies than their legs.”

In putting them down as agents in the Emir’s service,
Alcide Jolivet was, by all accounts, not mistaken.

In the first rank of the Tsiganes, Sangarre appeared,
superb in her strange and picturesque costume, which set
off still further her remarkable beauty.

Sangarre did not dance, but she stood as a statue in
the midst of the performers, whose style of dancing was
a combination of that of all those countries through which
their race. had passed—-Turkey, Bohemia, Egypt, Italy,
and Spain. They were enlivened by the sound of cymbals,
which clashed on their arms, and by the hollow sounds
of the “ daires”—a sort of tambourine played with the
fingers,
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“LOOK WHILE YOU MAY!” 229

Sangarre, holding one of these daires, which she played
between her hands, encouraged this troupe of veritable
corybantes.

A young Tsigane, of about fifteen years of age, then
advanced. He held in his hand a “doutare,” the strings of
which he made to vibrate by a simple movement of the
nails. He sung. During the singing of each couplet, of
very peculiar rhythm, a dancer took her position by him
and remained there immovable, listening to him ; but each
time that the burden came from the lips of the young
singer, she resumed her dance, dinning in his ears with her
daire, and deafening him with the clashing of her cymbals.
Then, after the last chorus, the remainder surrounded the
Tsigane in the windings of their dance.

At that moment a shower of gold fell from the hands
of the Emir and his train, and from the hands of his officers
of all ranks; to the noise which the pieces made as they
struck the cymbals of the dancers, being added the last
murmurs of the doutares and tambourines.

“ Lavish as robbers,” said Alcide in the ear of his com-
panion. And in fact it was the result of plunder which
was falling; for, with the Tartar tomans and sequins,
rained also Russian ducats and roubles,

Then silence followed for an instant, and the voice of
the executioner, who laid his hand on Michael’s shoulder,
once more pronounced the words, which this repetition
rendered more and more sinister—

“Look while you may !”

But this time Alcide observed that the executioner no
longer held the sabre bare in his hand.

Meanwhile the sun had sunk behind the horizon. A
semi-obscurity began to envelop the plain. ‘The mass
of cedars and pines became blacker and blacker, and
the waters of the Tom, totally obscured in the distance,
mingled with the approaching shadows.

But at that instant several hundreds of slaves, bearing
lighted torches, entered the square. Led by Sangarre,
Tsiganes and Persians reappeared before the Emir’s
230 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
throne, and showed off, by the contrast, their dances of
styles so different. The instruments of the Tartar orchestra
sounded forth in harmony still more savage, accompanied
by the guttural cries of-the singers. The kites, which had
fallen to the ground, once more winged their way into the
sky, each bearing a parti-coloured lantern, and under a
fresher breeze their harps vibrated with intenser sound in
the midst of the aerial illumination.

Then a squadron of Tartars, in their brilliant uniforms,
mingled in the dances, whose wild fury was increasing
rapidly, and then began a performance which produced a
very strange effect.

Soldiers now came on the ground, armed with bare
sabres and long pistols, and, as they executed dances, they
tnade the air re-echo with the sudden detonations of their
tire-arms, which immediately set going the rumbling of
the tambourines, and grumblings of the daires, and the
enashing of doutares.

Their arms, covered with a coloured powder of some
metallic ingredient, after the Chinese fashion, threw long
jets—red, green, and blue—so ‘that the groups of dancers
seemed to be in the midst of fireworks. In some respects,
this performance recalled the military dance of the
ancients, which took place in the midst of naked: swords
and daggers, and it is possible that tradition has handed
it down to the people of Central Asia; but this Tartar
dance was rendered yet more fantastic by the coloured
fire, which wound, serpent-like, above the dancers, whose
dresses seemed to be embroidered with fiery hems. It
was like a kaleidoscope of sparks, whose infinite combina-
tions varied at each movement of the dancers.

Though it may be thought that a Parisian reporter
would be perfectly hardened to any scenic effect, which
our modern ideas have carried so far, yet Alcide Jolivet
could not restrain a slight movement of the head, which
at home, between the Boulevard Montmartre and La
Madeleine would have said— Very fair, very fair.”

Then, suddenly, at a signal, all the lights of the fantasia
“LOOK WHILE YOU MAY!” 231



were extinguished, the dances ceased, and the performers
disappeared. The ceremony was over, and the torches
alone lighted up the plateau, which a few instants before
had been so brilliantly illuminated. |

On a sign from the Emir, Michael. was led into the
middle of the square.

“Blount,” said Alcide to his companion, “are you
going to see the end of all this?”

“ “No, ‘that I am not,” replied Blount.

“The readers of the Dazly Telegraph are, I hope, not
very eager for the details of an execution a la mode
Tartare?”

“No more than your cousin !”

“Poor fellow!” added Alcide, as he watched Michael.
“That valiant soldier should have fallen on the field of
battle !”

“Can we do nothing to save him ?” said Blount.

“ Nothing!”

The reporters recalled Michael’s generous conduct
towards them; they knew now through what trials he
must have passed, ever obedient to his duty; and in the
midst of these Tartars, to whom pity is unknown, they
could do nothing for him.

Having little desire to be present at the torture re-
served for the unfortunate man, they returned to the
town.

An hour later, they were on the road to Irkutsk, for
it was among the Russians that they intended to follow
what Alcide called, by anticipation, “the campaign of
revenge.”

Meantime, Michael was standing ready, his eyes return-
ing the Emir’s haughty glance, while his countenance
assumed an expression of intense scorn whenever he cast
his looks on Ivan Ogareff. He was prepared to die, yet
not a single sign of weakness escaped him.

The spectators, waiting around the square, as well as
Feofar Khan’s body-guard, to whom this execution was
only one of the attractions, were eagerly expecting it.
232 MICHAEL STROGOFF.,
Then, their curiosity satisfied, they would rush off to enjoy
the pleasures of intoxication. |

The Emir made a sign. Michael, thrust forward by his
cuards, took his place at the foot of the terrace, and then,
in the Tartar language, which he understood, Feofar said
to him—

“You came to see our goings out and comings in,
Russian spy. You have seen for the last time. In an
instant your eyes will be for ever shut to the light of
day.”

Michael’s fate was to be not death, but blindness;
loss of sight, more terrible perhaps than loss of life. The
unhappy man was condemned to be blinded.

However, on hearing the Emir’s sentence, Michael’s
heart did not grow faint. He remained unmoved, his eyes
wide open, as though he wished to concentrate his whole
life into one last look. To entreat pity from these savage
men would be useless, besides, it would be unworthy of
him. He did not even think of it. His thoughts were con-
densed on his mission, which had apparently so completely
failed ; on his mother, on Nadia, whom he should never more
see! But he let no sign appear of the emotion which he felt.

Then, a feeling of vengeance to be accomplished came
over him. ;

“Ivan,” said he, in a menacing voice, “Ivan the Traitor,
the last menace of my eyes shall be for you!”

Ivan Ogareff shrugged his shoulders.

But Michael was mistaken. He was not to be looking
at Ivan when his eyes were put out.

Marfa Strogoff stood before him.

“My mother!” cried he. “Yes! yes! my last glance
shall be for you, and not for this wretch! Stay there,
before me! Now I see once more your well-beloved face !
Now shall my eyes close as they rest upon it... !”

The old woman, without uttering a word, advanced.

“Take that woman away!” said Ivan.

Two soldiers were about to seize her, but she stepped
back and remained standing a few paces from Michael.
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“LOOK WHILE YOU MAY!” 233

The executioner appeared. This time, he held his
sabre bare in his hand, and this sabre he had just drawn
from the chafing-dish on which the perfumed coals burned,
where he had brought it to a white heat.

Michael was going to be blinded in the Tartar fashion,
with a hot blade passed before his eyes!

Michael did not attempt to resist. Nothing existed
before his eyes but his mother, whom his eyes seemed to
devour. All his life was in that last look.

Marfa Strogoff, her eyes open wide, her arms extended
towards where he stood, was gazing at him.

The incandescent blade passed before Michael’s eyes.

A despairing cry was heard. His aged mother fell
senseless to the ground.

Michael Strogoff was blind.

His orders executed, the Emir retired with his train.
There remained in the square only Ivan Ogareff and the
torch bearers.

Did the wretch intend to insult his victim yet further,
and yet to give him a parting blow?

Ivan Ogareff slowly approached Michael, who, feeling
him coming, drew himself up. Ivan drew from his pocket
the Imperial letter, he opened it, and with supreme irony
he held it up before the sightless eyes of the Czar’s courier,
saying— | .

“Read, now, Michael Strogoff, read, and go and repeat
at Irkutsk what you have read. The true Courier of the
Czar is Ivan Ogareff.”

This said, the traitor thrust the letter into his breast.
Then, without looking round he left the square, followed
by the torch-bearers.

Michael was left alone, at a few paces from his mother,
lying lifeless, perhaps dead.

He heard in the distance cries and songs, the varied
noises of a wild debauch. Tomsk, illuminated, glittered
and gleamed like a city ex féte.

Michael listened. ‘The square was silent and deserted.

He went, groping his way, towards the place where his
234 MICHAEL STROGOFIF.

mother had fallen. He found her with his hand, he bent
over her, he put his face close to hers, he listened for the
beating of her heart. Then he murmured a few words.

Did Marfa still live,and did she hear her son’s words?
Whether she did so or not, she made not the slightest
movement.’ :

Michael kissed her forehead and her white locks. He
then raised himself, and, groping with his foot, trying
to stretch out his hand to guide himself, he walked by
degrees to the edge of the square.

Suddenly Nadia appeared.

She walked straight to her companion. A knife in her
hand cut the cords which bound Michael’s arms.

The blind man knew not who had freed him, for Nadia
had not spoken a word.

But this done:

“ Brother!” said she.

“ Nadia!” murmured Michael, “ Nadia!”

“Come, brother,” replied Nadia, “use my eyes whilst
yours sleep. I will lead you to Irkutsk.”
( 235 )

CHAPTER VI.
A FRIEND ON THE HIGHWAY.

HALF an hour afterwards, Michael and Nadia had left
Tomsk.

Many others of the prisoners were that night able to
escape from the Tartars, for officers and soldiers, all more
or less intoxicated, had unconsciously relaxed the vigilant
suard which they had hitherto maintained both at the
camp of Labediero and while on the march. Nadia, after
having been carried off with the other priscners, had been
able to escape and return to the square, at the moment
when Michael was led before the Emir. ‘There, mingling
with the crowd, she had witnessed the terrible scene. Not
a cry escaped her when the scorching blade passed before
her companion’s eyes. She kept, by her strength of will,
mute and motionless. A providential inspiration bade her
restrain herself and retain her liberty that she might lead
Marfa’s son to that goal which he had sworn to reach.
Her heart for an instant ceased to beat when the aged
Siberian woman fell senseless to the ground, but one
thought restored to her her former energy. “I will be the
blind man’s dog,” said she.

On Ogareff’s departure, Nadia had concealed herself in
the shade. She had waited till the crowd left the square.
Michael, abandoned as a wretched being. from whom
nothing was to be feared, was alone. She saw. him draw
236 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

himself towards his mother, bend over her, kiss her fore-
head, then rise and grope his way in flight.

A few instants later, she and he, hand in hand, had
descended the steep slope, when, after having followed
the high banks of the Tom to the furthest extremity of
the town, they happily found a breach in the inclosure.

The road to Irkutsk was the only one which penetrated
towards the east. It could not be mistaken. It was
possible that on the morrow, after some hours of carousal,
the scouts of the Emir, once more scattering over the
steppes, might cut off all communication. It was of the
greatest importance therefore to get in advance of them,
to reach Krasnoiarsk before they could, which town was
five hundred versts from Tomsk, so that they might net be
compelled to leave the highroad sooner.than they possibly
could help. How could Nadia bear the fatigues of that
night, from the 1oth to the 17th of August? How could
she have found strength for so long a stage? How could
her feet, bleeding under that forced march, have carried
her thither ? It is almost incomprehensible. But it is
none the less true that on the next morning, twelve hours
after their departure from Tomsk, Michael and she reached
the town of Semilowskoé, after a journey of fifty versts.

Michael had not uttered a single word. It. was not
Nadia who held his hand, it was he who held that of his
companion during the whole of that night ; but, thanks to
that trembling little hand which guided him, he had walked
at his ordinary pace.

Semilowskoé was almost entirely abandoned. The
inhabitants, fearing the Tartars, had fled to the province of
Yeniseisk. Not more than two or three houses were still
occupied. All that the town contained, useful or precious,
had been carried off in waggons.

However, Nadia was obliged to make a halt of a few
hours. They both required food and rest.

The young girl led her companion to the extremity of
the town. There they found an empty house, the door
wide open. A rickety wooden bench: stood in the middle
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(Page 237.)
A FRIEND ON THE HIGHWAY. 237
of the room, near the high stove which is to be found in
all Siberian houses. They silently seated themselves.
Nadia gazed in her companion’s face as she had never
before gazed. ‘There was more than gratitude, more than
pity, in that look. Could Michael have seen her, he would
have read in that sweet desolate gaze a world of devotion
and tenderness.

The eyelids of the blind man, made red by the heated
blade, fell half over his eyes. The pupils seemed to be
singularly enlarged. The rich blue of the iris was darker
than formerly. ‘The eyelashes and eyebrows were partly
burnt, but in appearance, at least, the old penetrating look
appeared to have undergone no change. If he could no
longer see, if his blindness was complete, it was because
the sensibility of the retina and optic nerve was radically
destroyed by the fierce heat of the steel. |

Then Michael stretched out his hands,

“ Are you there, Nadia?” he asked.

“Yes,” replied the young girl; “I am close to you, and
I wili not go away from you, Michael.”

At his name, pronounced by Nadia for the first time, a
thrill passed through Michael’s frame. He perceived that
his companion knew all, who he was, what ties bound him
to Marfa. |

“ Nadia,” replied he, “ we must separate !”

“We separate? How so, Michael ?”

“T must not be an obstacle to your journey! Your
father is waiting for you at Irkutsk! You must rejoin
your father !”

“My father would curse me, Michael, were I to abandon
you now, after all you have done for me!”

“Nadia, Nadia,” replied Michael, “you should think
only of your father! ”

“Michael,” replied Nadia, “you have more need of me
than my father. Do you mean to give up going to
Irkutsk ?”

“ Never!” cried Michael, ina tone which plainly shewed
that none of his energy was gone.
238 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“ But you have not the letter!”

“That letter of which Ivan Ogareff robbed me!...
Well! I shall manage without it, Nadia! They have
treated me asaspy! I-will act asa spy! I will go and
repeat at Irkutsk .all I have seen, all I have heard; I
swear it by Heaven above! The traitor shall meet me
one day face to face! But I must arrive at Irkutsk before
him.”

“ And yet you speak of our separating, Michael ?”

“Nadia, the wretches have taken everything from
me!”

“T have some roubles still, and my eyes! I can see
for you, Michael; and I will lead you thither, where you
could not go alone!”

“ And how shall we go?”

“On foot.”

“ And how shall we live?”

“By begging.”

“ Let us start, Nadia.”

“Come, Michael.”

The two young people no longer kept the names
“brother” and “sister.” In their common misfortune, they
felt still closer united. They left the house after an hour’s
repose. Nadia had procured in the town some morsels of
“tchornekhleb,” a sort of barley bread, and a little mead,
called “meod” in Russia. This had cost her nothing, for
she had already begun her plan of begging. The bread
and mead had in some degree appeased Michael’s hunger
and thirst. Nadia gave him the lion’s share of this scanty
ineal. He eat the pieces of bread his companion gave
him, drank from the gourd she held to his lips.

“Are you eating, Nadia?” he asked several times.

“Yes, Michael,” invariably replied the young girl, who
contented herself with what her companion left. -

Michael and Nadia quitted Semilowskoé, and once
more set out on the laborious road to Irkutsk. The girl
bore up ina marvellous way against fatigue. Had Michael
seen her, perhaps he would not have had the courage to
A FRIEND ON THE HIGHWAY. 239

go on. But Nadia never complained, and Michael, hear-
ing no sigh, walked at a speed he was unable to repress.
And why? Did he still expect to keep before the Tartars?
He was on foot, without money; he was blind, and
if Nadia, his only guide, were to be separated from him,
he could only lie down by the side of the road and
there perish miserably. But if, on the other hand, by
energetic perseverance he could reach Krasnoiarsk, all was
perhaps not lost, since the governor, to whom he would
make himself known, would not hesitate to give him the
means of reaching Irkutsk.

Michael walked on, speaking little, absorbed in his own
thoughts. He held Nadia’s hand. The two were in in-
cessant communication. It seemed to them that they had
no need of words to exchange their thoughts. From time
to time Michael said :

“ Speak to me, Nadia.”

“Why should I, Michael? We are thinking together !”
the young girl would reply, and contrived that her voice
should not betray her extreme fatigue.

But sometimes, as if her heart had ceased to beat for
an instant, her limbs tottered, her steps flagged, her arms
fell to her sides, she dropped behind. Michael then
stopped, he fixed his eyes on the poor girl, as though he
would try to pierce the gloom which surrounded him ; his
breast heaved ; then, supporting his companion more than
before, he started on afresh.

However, amidst these continual miseries, a fortunate
circumstance on that day occurred which it appeared likely
would considerably mitigate their fatigues. They had
been walking from Semilowskoé for two hours when
Michael stopped.

“Ts there no one on the road?” he asked.

“ Not a single soul,” replied Nadia.

“Do you not hear some noise behind us? If they are
Tartars we must hide. Keep a good look-out ! ”

“Wait, Michael!” replied Nadia, going back a few
steps to where the road turned to the right.
240 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Michael waited alone for a minute, listening attentively.

Nadia returned almost immediately and said:

“Tt is acart. A young man is leading it.

“Ts he alone?”

“ Alone.”

Michael hesitated an instant. Should he hide? or should
he, on the contrary, try to find a place in the vehicle, if not
for himself, at least for her? For himself, he would be
quite content to lay one hand on the cart, to push it if
necessary, for his legs showed no sign of failing him ; but
he felt sure that Nadia, compelled to wall ever since they
crossed the Obi, that is, for eight days, must be almost
exhausted.

He waited.

The cart was soon at the corner of the road. It wasa
very dilapidated vehicle, known in the country as a kibitka,
just capable of holding three persons.

Usually the kibitka is drawn by three horses, but this
had but one, a beast with long hair and a very long tail. It
was of the Mongol breed, known for strength and courage.

A young man was leading it, with a dog beside him.

Nadia saw at once that the young man was Russian ;
his face was phlegmatic, but pleasant, and at once inspired
confidence. He did not appear to be in the slightest
hurry ; he was not walking fast that he might spare his
horse, and, to look at him, it would not have been believed
that he was following a road which might at any instant
be swarming with Tartars.

Nadia, holding Michael by the hand, made way for the
vehicle.

The kibitka stopped, and the driver smilingly looked at
the young girl.

“And where are you going to in this fashion?” he
asked, opening wide his great honest eyes.

At the sound of his voice, Michael said to himself that
he had heard it before. And it was satisfactory to him to
recognise the driver of the kibitka, for his brow at once
cleared.
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(Page 240.)
A FRIEND ON THE HIGHWAY. 241

—————



“Well, where are you going?” repeated the young
man, addressing himself more directly to Michael.

“We are going to Irkutsk,” he replied.

“Oh! little father, you do not know that there are still
versts and versts between you and Irkutsk ?”

“T know it.”

“ And you are going on foot ?”

“On foot.”

“You, well! but the young lady ?”

“ She is my sister,” said Michael, who judged it prudent
to give again this name to Nadia.

a Yes, your sister, little father! But, believe me, she
will never be able to get to Irkutsk!”

“Friend,’ returned Michael, approaching him, “ the
Tartars have robbed us of everything, and I have not a
kopeck to offer you; but if you will take my sister with
you, I will follow your cart on foot ; I will run when neces-
sary, I will not delay you an hour!”

“ Brother,” “exclaimed Nadia, “I will not... I will
not! ... Sir, my brother is blind!”

“Blind!” repeated the young man, much moved.

“The Tartars have burnt out his eyes!” replied Nadia,
extending her hands, as if imploring pity.

“Burnt out his eyes! Oh! poor little father! I am
going to Krasnoiarsk. Well, why should not you and
your sister mount in the kibitka? By sitting a little close,
it will hold us all three. Besides, my dog will not refuse
to go on foot; only I don’t go fast, so as to spare my
horse.”

“Friend, what is your name?” asked Michael. .

“My name is Nicholas Pigassof.”

“Tt is a name that I will never forget,” said Michael.

“Well, jump up, little blind father. Your sister will be
beside you, in the bottom of the cart; I sit in front to
drive. There is plenty of good birch bark and barley
straw in the bottom ; it’s like a nest. Come, Serko, make
room!”

The dog jumped down without more telling. He was

R

f
242 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

an animal of the Siberian race, grey hair, of medium size,
with an honest big head, just made to pat, and he, more-
over, appeared to be much attached to his master.

In a moment more, Michael and Nadia were seated in
the kibitka. Michael held out his hands as if to feel for
those of Nicholas Pigassof.

“You wish to shake my hands!” said Nicholas.
“There they are, little father! shake them as long as it
will give you any pleasure.”

The kibitka moved on; the horse, which Nicholas
never touched with the whip, ambled along. Though
Michael did not gain in speed, at least some fatigue was
spared to Nadia.

Such was the exhaustion of the young girl, that, rocked
by the monotonous movement of the kibitka, she soon fell
into a sleep, its soundness proving her complete prostra-
tion. Michael and Nicholas laid her on the straw as com-
fortably as possible. The compassionate young man was
greatly moved, and if a tear did not escape from Michael’s
eyes, it was because the red-hot iron had dried up the last!

“She is very pretty,” said Nicholas.

“Yes,” replied Michael.

“They try to be strong, little father, they are brave,
but they are weak after all, these dear little things! Have
you come from far ?”

“Very far.”

“Poor young people! It must have hurt you very
much when they burnt your eyes!” :

“Very much,’ answered Michael, turning towards
Nicholas as if he could see him. :

“Did you not weep ?”

“Yes.”

“T should have wept too. To think that one could
never again see those one loves. But they can see you,
however ; that’s perhaps some consolation !”

“Yes, perhaps. Tell me, my friend,’ continued
Michael, “have you never seen me anywhere before ?”

“You, little father? No, never.”
A FRIEND ON THE HIGHWAY. 243

“The sound of your voice is not unknown to me.”

“Why!” returned Nicholas, smiling, “he knows the
sound of my voice! Perhaps you ask me that to find out
where I come from. Oh! I am going to tell you. I come
from Kolyvan.” | :

“From Kolyvan?” repeated Michael. “Then it was
there I met you; you were in the telegraph office ?”

“That may be,” replied Nicholas. “I was stationed
there. I was the clerk in charge of the messages.”

“And you stayed at your post un to the last moment?”

“Why, it’s just at that moment that one ought to be
there!”

“Tt was the day on which an Englishman and a
Frenchman were disputing, roubles in hand, for the place
at your wicket, and when the Englishman telegraphed some
poetry.”

“That is possible, little father, but I do not remember
it.”

“What ! yot do not remember it ?”

“T never read the despatches which I send. My duty
being to forget them, the shortest way is not to know them
at all.” |

This reply showed Nicholas Pigassof’s character. In
the meanwhile the kibitka pursued its way, at a pace which
Michael longed to render more rapid. But Nicholas and
his horse were accustomed to a pace which neither of them
would like to alter. The horse went.for two hours and
rested one—so on, day and night. During the halts the
horse grazed, the travellers eat in company with the faith-
ful Serko. The kibitka was provisioned for at least twenty
persons, and Nicholas generously placed his supplies at the
disposal of his two guests, whom he believed to be brother
and sister.

After a day’s rest, Nadia recovered some strength.
Nicholas took the best possible care of her. The journey
was being made under tolerable circumstances, slowly
certainly,-but surely. It sometimes happened that during
the night, Nicholas, although driving, fell asleep, and snored
244 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

with a clearness which showed the calmness of his con-
science. Perhaps then, by looking close, Michael’s hand
might have been seen feeling for the reins, and giving the
horse a more rapid pace, to the great astonishment of
Serko, who however said nothing. The trot was exchanged
for the amble as soon as Nicholas awoke, but the kibitka
had not the less gained some versts.

Thus they passed the river Ichirnsk, the villages of
Ichisnokoé, Berikylokoé, Kuskoé, the river Mariinsk, the
village of the same name, Bogostowskoé, and, lastly, the
Ichoula, a little stream which divides Western from Eastern
Siberia. The road now lay sometimes across wide moors,
which extended as far as the eye could reach, sometimes
through thick forests of firs, of which they thought they
should never get to the end.

Everywhere was a desert; the villages were almost
entirely abandoned. The peasants had fled beyond the
Genis_i, hoping that this wide river would perhaps stop
the Tartars. :

On the 22nd of August, the kibitka entered the town
of Atchinsk, three hundred and eighty versts from Tomsk.
A hundred and twenty versts still lay between them and
Krasnotarsk.

No incident had marked the journey. For the six days
during which they had been together, Nicholas, Michael,
and Nadia had remained the same, the one in his un-
changeable calm, the other two, uneasy, and thinking of
the time when their companion would leave them.

Michael saw the country through which they travelled
with the eyes of Nicholas and the young girl. In turns,
they each described to him the scenes they passed. He
knew whether he was in a forest or on a plain, whether a
hut was on the steppe, or whether any Siberian was in
sight. Nicholas was never silent, he loved to talk, and,
from his peculiar way of viewing things, his friends were
amused by his conversation.

One day, Michael asked him what sort of weather it
was. |
A FRIEND ON THE HIGHWAY. 245

“ Fine enough, little father,” he answered, “but we are
in the last days of summer ; the autumn is short in Siberia,
and soon we shall feel the first winter frosts. Perhaps the
Tartars will think of going into winter quarters during the
bad season.

Michael Strogoff shook his head with a doubtful air.

“You do not think so, little father?” resumed Nicholas.
“You think that they will march on to Irkutsk ?”

“T fear so,” replied Michael.

“Ves ... youare right; they have with them a bad
man, who will not let them loiter on the way. You have
heard speak of Ivan Ogareff?”

“ Yes.”

“You know that it is not right to betray one’s country!”

“No... itis not right...” answered Michael, who
wished to remain unmoved.

“Little father,” continued Nicholas, “it seems to me
that you are not half indignant enough when Ivan Ogareff
is spoken of. “Your Russian heart ought to leap when his
name is uttered.”

“Believe me, my friend, I hate him more than you can
ever hate him,” said Michael.

“Tt is not possible,” replied Nicholas ; “no, it is not
possible! When I think of Ivan Ogareff of the harm
which he is doing to our sacred Russia, I get into such a
rage that if I could get hold of him——”

“Tf you could get hold of him, friend?”

“T think I should kill him.”

“And I, I am sure of it,” returned Michael quictly.
246 | MICHAEL STROGOFF.

CHAPTER VII.
THE PASSAGE OF THE YENISEL

AT nightfall, on the 25th of August, the kibitka came in
sight of Krasnoiarsk. The journey from Tomsk had taken
eight days. If it had not been accomplished as rapidly as
it might, it was because Nicholas had slept little. Con-
sequently, it was impossible to increase his horse’s pace,
though in other hands, the journey would not have taken
sixty hours.

Happily, there was no longer any fear of Tartars. Not
a scout had appeared on the road over which the kibitka
had just travelled. This was strange enough, and evidently
some serious cause had prevented the Emir’s troops from
marching without delay upon Irkutsk. Something had
occurred. A new Russian corps, hastily raised in the gov-
ernment of Yeniseisk, had marched to Tomsk to endeavour
to retake the town. But, being too weak to withstand the
Emir’s troops, now concentrated there, they had been forced
to effect aretreat. Feofar-Khan, including his own soldiers,
and those of the Khanats of Khokhand and Koundouze, had
now under his command two hundred and fifty thousand
men, to which the Russian government could not as yet
oppose a sufficient force. The invasion, could not, therefore
be immediately stopped, and the whole Tartar army might
at once march upon Irkutsk. |

The battle of Tomsk was on the 22nd of August, though
this Michael did not know, but it explained why the van-


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(Page 242.)
THE PASSAGE OF THE YENISEI. 247

guard of the Emir’s army had not appeared at Krasnoiarsk
by the 25th.

However, though Michael Strogoff could not know the
events which had occurred since his departure, he at least
knew this: that he was several days in advance of the
Tartars, and that he need not despair of reaching before
them the town of Irkutsk, still eight hundred and fifty
versts distant.

Besides, at Krasnoiarsk, of which the population is
about twelve thousand souls, he depended upon obtaining
some means of transport. Since Nicholas Pigassof was to
stop in that town, it would be necessary to replace him by
a guide, and to change the kibitka for another more rapid
vehicle. Michael, after having addressed himself to the
governor of the town, and established his identity and quality
as Courier of the Czar—which would be easy—doubted
not that he would be enabled to get to Irkutsk in the
shortest possible time. Hewould thank the good Nicholas
Pigassof, and set out immediately with Nadia, for he did
not wish to leave her until he had placed her in her father’s
arms. Though Nicholas had resolved to stop at Kras-
noiarsk, it was only as he said, “on condition of finding
employment there.”

In fact, this model clerk, after having stayed to the last
minute at his post in Kolyvan, was endeavouring to again
place himself at the disposal of the government.

“Why should I receive a salary which I have not
earned ?” he would say.

In the event of his services not being required at Kras-
noiarsk, which it was. expected would be still in tele-
graphic communication with Irkutsk, he proposed to go to
Oudinsk, or even to the capital of Siberia itself. In the
latter case, he would continue to travel with the brother
and sister; and where would they find a surer guide, or a
more devoted friend?

The kibitka was now only half averst from Krasnoiarsk.
The numerous wooden crosses which are erected at the
approaches to the town, could be seen to the right and left
248 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

ee



of the road. It was seven in the evening; the outline of
the churches and of the houses built on the high bank of
the Yenisei were clearly defined against the evening sky,
and the waters of the river reflected them in the twilight.

The kibitka stopped.

“ Where are we, sister?” asked Michael.

“ Half a verst from the first houses,” replied Nadia.

“Can the town be asleep?” observed Michael. “ Not
a sound strikes my ear.”

‘“‘And I cannot see the slightest light, nor even smoke
mounting into the air,’ added Nadia.

“What a queer town!” said Nicholas. “ They make no
noise in it, and go to bed uncommonly early!”

A presentiment of impending misfortune passed ‘across
Michael’s heart. He had not said to Nadia that he had
placed all his hopes on Krasnoiarsk, where he expected to
find the means of safely finishing his journey. He much
feared that his anticipations would again be disappointed.

But Nadia had guessed his thoughts, although she
could not understand why her companion should be so
anxious to reach Irkutsk, now that the Imperial letter was
gone. She one day said something of the sort to him.

“T have sworn to go to Irkutsk,” he contented himself
with replying.

But to accomplish his mission, it was necessary that at
Krasnoiarsk he should find some more rapid mode of
locomotion.

“Well, friend,” said he to Nicholas, “why are we not
going on?”

‘Because I am afraid of waking up the inhabitants of
the town with the noise of my carriage!”

And with a light fleck of the whip, Nicholas put his
horse in motion. Serko uttered a few short barks, and the
kibitka rolled along the road towards Krasnoiarsk.

Ten minutes after they entered the High Street.

Krasnoiarsk was deserted ; there was no longer an Athe-
nian in this “ Northern Athens,” as Madame de Bourboulon
has called it. Not one of their dashing equipages swept












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(Page 248.)
THE PASSAGE OF THE YENISEI. 249

through the wide clean streets. Not a pedestrian en-
livened the footpaths raised at the bases of the magnifi-
cent wooden houses, of monumental aspect ! Not a Siberian
belle, dressed in the last French fashion, promenaded the
beautiful park, cleared in a forest of birch-trees, which
stretches away to the banks of the Yenisei! The great
bell of the cathedral was dumb; the chimes of the churches
were silent, and it is uncommon for a Russian town not
to be filled with the sound of its bells. But here was
complete desolation. There was no longer a living being
in this town, lately so lively !

The last telegram sent from the Czar’s cabinet, before
the rupture of the wire, had ordered the governor, the
garrison, the inhabitants, whoever they might be, to leave
Krasnoiarsk, to carry with them any articles of value, or
which might be of use to the Tartars, and to take refuge at
Irkutsk. The same injunction was given to all the villages
of the province. It was the intention of the Muscovite
government to lay the country desert before the invaders.
No one thought for an instant of disputing these orders.
They were executed, and this was the reason why not a
single human being remained in Krasnoiarsk.

Michael Strogoff, Nadia, and Nicholas passed silently
through the streets of the town. They felt half-stupefied.
They themselves made the only sound to be heard in this
dead city. Michael allowed nothing of what he felt to
appear, but he inwardly raged against the bad luck which
pursued him, his hopes being again disappointed.

“Alack, alack!” cried Nicholas, “I shall never get any
employment in this desert! ”

“Friend,” said Nadia, “you must go on with us to
Irkutsk.”

“T must indeed!” replied Nicholas. “ The wire is no
doubt still working between Oudinsk and Irkutsk, and
there... Shall we start, little father ?”

“Let us wait till to-morrow,” answered Michael.

“You are right,” said Nicholas. “ We have the Yenesei
to cross, and need light to see our way there!”
250 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“To see!” murmured Nadia, thinking of her blind
companion.

Nicholas heard her, and turning to Michael—

“ Forgive me, little father,” said he. “Alas! night and
day, it is true, are all the same to you!”

“Do not reproach yourself, friend,’ replied Michael,
pressing his hand over his eyes. “ With you for a guide I
can still act. Take a few hours’ repose. Nadia must rest
too. To-morrow we will recommence our journey !”

Michael and his friends had not to search long fora
place of rest. The first house, the door of which they
pushed open, was empty, as well as all the others. Nothing
could be found within but a few heaps of leaves. For want
of better fodder the horse had to content himself with this
scanty nourishment. The provisions of the kibitka were
not yet exhausted, so each had a share. Then, after
having knelt before a small picture of the Panaghia, hung
on the wall, and still lighted up by a flickering lamp,
Nicholas and the young girl slept, whilst Michael, over
whom sleep had no influence, watched.

Before daybreak the next morning, the 26th of August,
the horse was drawing the kibitka through the forest of
birch trees towards the banks of the Yeniset.

Michael was in much anxiety. How was he to cross
the river, if, as was probable, all boats had been destroyed
to retard the Tartars’ march? He knew the Yenisei,
having already crossed it several times. He knew that its
width was considerable, that its currents were strong in the
double bed which it has hollowed for itself between the
islands. Under ordinary circumstances, by means of boats
specially built for the conveyance of travellers, carriages,
and horses, the passage of the Yeniset takes about three
hours, and then it is with extreme difficulty that the boats
reach the opposite bank. Now, in the absence of any
ferry, how was the kibitka to get from one bank to the
other ?

Day was breaking when the kibitka reached the left
bank, where one of the wide alleys of the park ended.
THE PASSAGE OF THE YENISEI. 251

They were about a hundred feet above the course of the
Yenisei, and could therefore survey the whole of its wide
course.

“Do you see a boat ?” asked Michael, casting his eyes
eagerly about from one side to the other, mechanically, no
doubt, as if he could really see.

“Tt is scarcely light yet, brother,” replied Nadia.
“The fog is still thick, and we cannot see the water.”

“ But I hear it roaring,” said Michael.

Indeed, from the fog issued a dull roaring sound. The
waters being high rushed down with tumultuous violence.
All three waited until the misty curtain should rise. The
sun was ascending rapidly above the horizon, and his rays
would not be long in dispersing the vapours.

“ Well?” asked Michael.

“The fog is beginning to roll away, brother,” replied
Nadia, “ and it will soon be clear.”

“Then ydu do not see the surface of the water yet,
sister 2?”

“Not yet.” | |

“Tave patience, little father,” said Nicholas. “ All this
will soon disappear. Look! here comes the breeze! It is
driving away the fog. The trees on the opposite hills are
already appearing. It is sweeping, flying away. The
kindly rays of the sun have condensed all that mass of
mist. Ah! how beautiful it is, my poor fellow, and how
unfortunate that you cannot see such a lovely sight!”

“ Do you see a boat?” asked Michael.

“T see nothing of the sort,” answered Nicholas.

“Look well, friend, on this and the opposite bank, as
far as your eye can reach. A boat, a raft, a birch-bark
Canoe?”

Nicholas and Nadia, grasping the bushes on the edge
of the cliff, bent over the water.

The view they thus obtained was extensive. At this
place the Yenisei is not less than a verst and a half in
width, and forms two arms, of unequal size, through which
the waters flow swiftly. Between these arms lie several
252 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

islands, covered with alders, willows, and poplars, looking.
like verdant ships, anchored in the river. Beyond rise
the high hills of the Eastern shore, crowned with forests,
whose tops were then empurpled with light. The Yenisei
stretched on either side as far as the eye could reach.
The beautiful panorama lay before them for a distance of
fifty versts.

But not a boat was to be seen, either on the left or the
right bank, or on the islcts. All had been taken away
or destroyed, according to order. Unless the Tartars
should bring with them, from the south, the materials for
building a bridge of boats, their march towards Irkutsk
would certainly be stopped for some time by this barrier,
the Yeniset.

“JT remember,” said Michael, “that higher up, on the
outskirts of Krasnoiarsk, there is a little quay. There
the boats touch. Friend, let us go up the river, and see if
some boat has not been forgotten on the bank.”

Nadia seized Michael’s hand and started off at a rapid
pace in the direction indicated. If only a boat or a barge
large enough to hold the kibitka could: be found, or even
one that would carry just themselves, Michael would not
hesitate to attempt the passage!

Twenty minutes after, all three had reached the little
quay, with houses on each side quite down to the water's
edge. It was like a village standing beyond the town of
Krasnoiarsk. |

But not a boat was on the shore, not a barge at the
little wharf, nothing even of which a raft could be made
large enough to carry three people.

Michael questioned Nicholas, and the latter made the
discouraging reply that the crossing of the river appeared
to him to be absolutely impracticable.

“We shall cross!” answered Michael.

The search was continued. They examined the houses
on the shore, abandoned like all the rest of Krasnoiarsk.
They had merely to push open the doors and enter. The
cottages were evidently those of poor people, and quite


Tue horse drew it nto the water, and they were soon both floating,
(Page 254.)
THE PASSAGE OF THE YENISEI. 253



empty. Nicholas visited one, Nadia entered another, and
even Michael went here and there and felt about, hoping
to light upon some article that might be useful.

Nicholas and the girl had each fruitlessly rummaged
these cottages and were about to give up the search, when
they heard themselves called.

Both ran to the bank and saw Michael standing on the
threshold of a door.

“Come!” he exclaimed.

Nicholas and Nadia went towards him and followed him
into the cottage.

“What are these?” asked Michael, touching several
objects piled up in a corner.

“They are leathern bottles,” answered Nicholas, “and
not less than half a dozen of them!”

“ Are they full? ...”

“Yes, full of koumyss. We have found them very
opportunely to renew our provisions!”

“Koumyss” is a drink made of mare’s or camel’s milk,
and is very sustaining, and even intoxicating; so that
Nicholas and his companions could not but congratulate
themselves on the discovery.

“Put one aside,” said Michael, “but empty all the
others.”

“ Directly, little father.”

“These will help us to cross the Yeniset.”

“And the raft ?”

“Will be the kibitka itself, which is light enough to float.
Besides, we will sustain it, as well as the horse, with these
bottles.”

“Well thought of, little father,’ exclaimed Nicholas,
“and by God's help we will get safely over ... though
perhaps not in a straight line, for the current is rapid !”

“What does that matter?” replied Michael. “Let us get
across first, and we shall soon find out the road to Irkutsk
on the other side of the river.”

“To work, then,” said Nicholas, beginning to empty the
bottles and carry them to the kibitka. °
254 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

One full of koumyss was reserved, and the rest, care-
fully fastened up, being previously filled with air, were
used to form a floating apparatus. Two bottles were
fastened to the horse’s sides to support it in the water.
Two others were attached to the shafts in order to keep
them on a level with the body of the machine, thus trans-
formed into a raft.

This work was soon finished.

“Vou will not be afraid, Nadia ?” asked Micizael.

“No, brother,” answered the girl.

“And you, friend ?”

“T!” cried Nicholas. “Iam now going to have one of
my dreams realized—that of sailing in a cart.”

At the spot where they were now standing, the bank
sloped, and was suitable for the launching of the kibitka.
The horse drew it into the water, and they were soon both
floating. As to Serko, he was swimming bravely.

The three passengers, seated in the vehicle, had with
due precaution taken off their shoes and stockings; but,
thanks to the bottles, the water did not even come over
their ankles. Michael held the reins, and, according to
Nicholas’s directions, guided the animal obliquely, but
cautiously, so as not to exhaust him by struggling against
the current. So long as the kibitka went with the current
all was easy, and in a few minutes it had passed the quays
of Krasnoiarsk. It drifted northwards, and it was soon
evident that it would only reach the opposite bank far
below the town. But that mattered little. The crossing
of the Yenisei would have been made without great diffi-
culty, even on this imperfect apparatus, had the current
been more regular; but, unfortunately, there were whirl-
pools in numbers, and soon the kibitka, notwithstanding
all Michael’s efforts, was irresistibly drawn into one of
these tumultuous spots.

There the danger was great. The kibitka no longer
drifted, but spun rapidly round, inclining towards the
centre of the eddy, like-a rider in a circus. The horse
-ould scarcely keep his head above water, and ran a great
a

vu



Seizing the bridle with his strong hand . . . ,
(Page 255.)
THE PASSAGE OF THE YENISEI. 255

risk of being suffocated. Serko had been obliged to take
refuge in the carriage.

Michael knew what was happening. He felt himself
drawn round in a gradually narrowing line, from which
they could not get free. How he longed to see, to be
better able to avoid this peril.... but that was no
longer possible.

Nadia was silent, her hands clinging to the sides of the
cart, supporting her in the jerks of the machine, which was
inclining more and more towards the centre of depression.

And Nicholas, did he not understand the gravity of the
situation? Was it with him phlegm or contempt of
danger, courage or indifference? Was his life valueless in
his eyes, and, according to the Eastern expression, “an
hotel for five days,” which, whether one is willing or not,
must be left the sixth? At any rate, the smile on his rosy
face never faded for an instant.

The kibitka was thus in the whirlpool, and the horse
was nearly exhausted, when, all at once; Michael, throwing
off such of his garments as might impede him, jumped into
the water; then, seizing with a strong hand the bridle of
the terrified horse, he gave him such an impulse that he
managed to struggle out of the circle, and getting again
into the current, the kibitka drifted along with renewed
speed. | |

“ Hurrah!” exclaimed Nicholas.

Two hours only after leaving the wharf, the kibitka
had crossed the widest arm of the river, and had landed on
an island more than six versts below the starting point.

There the horse drew the cart on to the bank, and an
hour’s rest was given to the courageous animal; then the
island having been crossed under the shade of its magnifi-
cent birches, the kibitka found itself on the shore of the
smallest arm of the Yeniset.

This passage was much easier; no whirlpools broke
the course of the river in this second bed ; but the current
was so rapid that the kibitka only reached the opposite
side five versts below. They had drifted eleven versts in all.
256 : MICHAEL STROGOFF.

’ These great Siberian rivers, across which no_ bridges
have as yet been thrown, are serious obstacles to the
facility of communication. All had been more or less
unfortunate to Michael Strogoff. On the Irtyche, the
boat which carried him and Nadia had been attacked
by Tartars. _On the Obi, after his horse had been struck
by a bullet, he had only by a miracle escaped from the
horsemen who were pursuing him. In fact, this passage of
the Yeniset had been performed the least disastrously.

“That would not have been so amusing,’ exclaimed
Nicholas, rubbing his hands, as they disembarked on the
right bank of the river, “if it had not been so difficult.”

“That which has only been difficult to us, friend,”
answered Michael, “will, perhaps, be impossible to the
Tartars.”
i

i

a



A hare crossed our road,

(Page 261.)
( 257 )



CHAPTER VIII.
A HARE CROSSES THE ROAD.

MICHAEL STROGOFF might at last hope that the road to
Irkutsk was clear. He had distanced the Tartars, now
detained at Tomsk, and when the Emir’s soldiers should
arrive at Krasnoiarsk they would find only a deserted
town. There being no immediate communication between
the two banks of the Yenisei, a delay of some days would
be caused until a bridge of boats could be established,
and to accomplish this would be a difficult. undertaking.

xor the first time since the encounter with Ivan Ogareff
at Omsk, the Courier of the Czar felt less uneasy, and
began to hope that no fresh obstacle would arise to delay
his progress. |

The kibitka, after descending obliquely towards the
south-west for fifteen versts, found and continued the long
path traced across the steppe.

The road was good, for the part of it which extends
between Krasnoiarsk and Irkutsk is considered the best in
the whole journey ; fewer jolts for travellers, large trees to
shade them from the heat of the sun, sometimes forests of
pines or cedars covering an extent of a hundred versts. It
was no longer the wide steppe with limitless horizon ; but
the rich country was empty. Everywhere they came upon
deserted villages. The Siberian peasantry had vanished.

It was a desert, but, as has been said, a desert by order of
the Czar, |
258 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

_ The weather was fine, but the air, which cooled during
the night, took some time to get warm again. Indeed
it was now near September, and in this high region
the days were sensibly shortening. Autumn here lasts but
a very little while, although this part of Siberian territory is
not situated above the fifty-fifth parallel, which is the same
as Edinburgh and Copenhagen. However, winter succeeds
summer almost unexpectedly. These winters of Asiatic
Russia may be said to be precocious, considering that
during them the thermometer falls until the mercury is
frozen nearly 42 degrees below zero, and that 20 degrees
below zero is considered a supportable temperature.

The weather favoured our travellers. It was neither
stormy nor rainy. The heat was moderate, the nights
cool. The health of Nadia and Michael was good, and
since leaving Tomsk they had gradually recovered from
their past fatigues.

As to Nicholas Pigassof, he had never been better in
his life. To him this journey was a trip, an agreeable
excursion in which he employed his enforced holiday.

“ Decidedly,” said he, “this is pleasanter than sitting
twelve hours a day, perched on a stool, working the
manipulator !”

Michael had managed to get Nicholas to make his horse
quicken his pace. ‘To obtain this result, he had confided
to Nicholas that Nadia and he were on their way to join
their father, exiled at Irkutsk, and that they were very
anxious to get there. Certainly, it would not do to over-
work the horse, for very probably they would not be able
to exchange him for another ; but by giving him frequent
rests—every fifteen versts, for instance—sixty versts in
twenty-four hours could easily be accomplished. Besides,
the animal was strong, and of a race calculated to endure
great fatigue. He was in no want of rich pasturage along
the road, the grass being thick and abundant. Therefore,
_ it was possible to demand an increase of work from him.

Nicholas gave in to all these reasons. He was much
moved at the situation of these two young people, going to
A HARE CROSSES THE ROAD. 259

share their father’s exile. Nothing had ever appeared so
touching to him. Then, with what a smile he said to
Nadia :

“Divine goodness! what joy will Mr. Korpanoff feel,
when his eyes behold you, when his arms open to receive
you! If I go to Irkutsk—and that appears very probable
now—will you permit me to be present at that interview !
You will, will you not ?”’

Then, striking his forehead :

“But, I forgot, what grief too when he sees that his
poor son is blind! Ah! everything is mingled in this
world!”

However, the result of all this was that the kibitka
went faster, and, according to Michael’s calculations, now
made ten to twelve versts an hour.

On the 28th of August, our travellers passed the town
of Balaisk, eighty versts from Krasnoiarsk, and on the 29th
that of Ribinsk, forty versts from Balaisk.

The next day, five and thirty versts beyond that, they
arrived at Kamsk, a larger place, watered by the river of
the same name, a little affluent of the Yenisei, which rises
in the Sayanok Mountains. It is not an important town,
but its wooden houses are picturesquely grouped round a
square, overlooked by the tall steeple of its cathedral, of
which the gilded cross glitters in the sun.

Houses empty, church deserted! Not a relay to be
found, not an inn inhabited! Nota horse in the stables !
Not even a cat or a dog in the place! ‘The orders of the
Muscovite government had been executed with absolute
strictness. All that could not be carried away had been
destroyed. |

On leaving Kamsk, Michael told Nadia and Nicholas
that they would find only one small town of any impor-
tance, Nijni-Oudinsk, between that and Irkutsk. Nicholas
replied that he knew there was a telegraph station in that
town; therefore if Nijni-Oudinsk was abandoned like
KKamsk, he would be obliged to seek some occupation in
the capital of Eastern Siberia.
260 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



The kibitka could ford, without getting any damage,
the little river which flows across the road beyond Kamsk.
Between the Yeniset and one of its great tributaries, the
Angara, which waters Irkutsk, there was nothing to be
feared from any stoppage caused by a river, unless it was
the Dinka. But the journey would not be much delayed
even by this. -

From Kamsk to the next town was a long stage, nearly
a hundred and thirty versts. It is needless to say that
the regulation halts were observed, “ without which,” said
Nicholas, “they might have drawn upon themselves a just
complaint on the part of the horse.” It had been agreed
with the brave animal that he should rest every fifteen
versts, and when a contract is made, even with an animal,
justice demands that the terms of it should be kept to.

After crossing the little river Biriousa, the kibitka
reached Biriousensk on the morning of the 4th of Sep-
tember.

There, very fortunately, for Nicholas saw that his pro-
visions. were becoming exhausted, he found in an oven a
dozen “ pogatchas,” a kind of cake prepared with sheep’s
fat and a large supply of plain boiled rice. This increase
was very opportune, for something would soon have been
needed to replace the koumyss with which the kibitka had
been stored at Krasnoiarsk.

After a halt, the journey was continued in the afternoon.
The distance to Irkutsk was not now more than five
hundred versts. ‘There was not a sign of the Tartar van-
guard.

Michael Strogoff had some grounds for hoping that his
journey would not be again delayed, and that in eight
days, or at most ten, he would be in the presence of the
Grand Duke.

On leaving Biriousinsk, a hare ran across the road,
thirty feet in front of the kibitka.

“Ah!” exclaimed Nicholas.

“What is the matter, friend?” asked Michael quickly,
like a blind man whom the least sound arouses.
A HARE CROSSES THE ROAD. 261
“Did you not see? .. .” said Nicholas, whose bright
face had became suddenly clouded.

Then he added:

“Ah! no! you could not see, and it’s lucky for you,
little father!”

“ But I saw nothing,” said Nadia.

“So much the better! So much the better! ButI...
Isaw! ...”

“What was it then ?”” asked Michael.

“ A hare crossing our road!” answered Nicholas.

In Russia, when a hare crosses the path of a traveller,
the popular belief is that it is the sign of approaching
evil.

Nicholas, superstitious like the greater number of
Russians, had stopped the kibitka.

Michael understood his companion’s hesitation, although
he in no way shared his credulity as to hares passing, and
he endeavoured to reassure him. |

“There is nothing to fear, friend,” said he.

“Nothing for you, nor for her, I know, little father,”
answered Nicholas, “ but for me!”

“Ttis my fate,” he continued.

And he put his horse in motion again.

However, in spite of these forebodings the day passed
without any accident.

At twelve o'clock the next day, the 6th of September,
the kibitka halted in the village of Alsalevok, which was
as deserted as all the surrounding country.

There, on a doorstep, Nadia found two of those strong-
bladed knives used by Siberian hunters. She gave one to
Michael, who concealed it among his clothes, and kept the
other herself. They were now not more than seventy-five
versts from Nijni-Oudinsk. .

Nicholas had not recovered his usual spirits. The ill-
omen had affected him more than could have been believed,
and he who formerly was never half an hour without
speaking, now fell into long reveries from which Nadia
found it difficult to arouse him. His moody state may be
262 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

accounted for when it is recollected that he was a man
belonging to those northern races whose superstitious
ancestors have been the founders of the Hyperborean
mythology. |

On leaving Ekaterinburg, the Irkutsk road runs almost
parallel with the fifty-fifth degree of latitude, but from
Biriousinsk it proceeds south-east, so as to slope across the
hundredth meridian. It takes the shortest way to reach
the Siberian capital by crossing the Sayansk Mountains.
These mountains are themselves but part of the great
Altai chain, which are visible at a distance of two hundred
versts.

The kibitka rolled swiftly along the road. Yes, swiftly!
Nicholas no longer thought of being so careful of his horse,
and was as anxious to arrive at his journey’s end as
Michael himself. Notwithstanding his fatalism, and
though resigned, he would not believe himself in safety
until within the walls of Irkutsk. Many Russians would
have thought as he did, and more than one would have
turned his horse and gone back again, after a hare had
crossed his path.

However, some observations made by him, the justice
of which was proved by Nadia transmitting them to
Michael, made them fear that their trials were not yet
over.

Though the land from Krasnoiarsk had been respected
in its natural productions, its forests now bore trace of fire
and steel; the fields on each side of the road had been
devastated, and it was evident that some large body of
men had passed that way.

Thirty versts before Nijni-Oudinsk, the indications of
recent devastation could not be mistaken, and it was
impossible to attribute them to others than the Tartars.

Indeed, it was not only that the fields were trampled
by horses’ feet, and that trees were cut down. The few
houses scattered along the road were not only empty,
some had been partly demolished, others half burnt down.
The marks of bullets could be seen on their walls.
A HARE CROSSES THE ROAD. 263



Michael’s anxiety may be imagined. He could no
longer doubt that a party of Tartars had recently passed
that way, and yet it was impossible that they could be the
Emir’s soldiers, for they could not have passed without
being seen. But then, who were these new invaders, and
by what out-of-the-way path across the steppe had they
been able to join the highroad to Irkutsk? With what
new enemies was the Czar’s courier now to meet ?

Michael did not communicate his apprehensions either
to Nicholas or Nadia, not wishing to make them uneasy.
Besides, he had resolved to continue his way, as long as no
insurmountable obstacle stopped him. Later, he would
see what it was best to do.

During the ensuing day, the recent passage of a large
body of foot and horse became more and more apparent.
Smoke was seen above the horizon.. The kibitka advanced
cautiously. Several houses in deserted villages still burned,
and they certainly could not have been set on fire more
than four and twenty hours before.

At last, during the day, on the 8th of September, the
kibitka stopped suddenly. The horse refused to advance.
Serko barked furiously.

“What is the matter?” asked Michael.

“A corpse!” replied Nicholas, who had leapt out of
the kibitka.

The body was that of a moujik, horribly mutilated, and
already cold.

Nicholas crossed himself. Then, aided by Michael, he
carried the body to the side of the road. He would have
liked to give it decent burial, that the wild beasts of the
steppe might not feast on the miserable remains, but
Michael could not allow him the time.

“Come, friend, come!” he exclaimed, “ we must not
delay, even for an hour!”

And the kibitka was driven on.

Besides, if Nicholas had wished to render the last duties
to all the dead bodies they were now to meet with on the
Siberian highroad, he would have had enough to do! As
264 . MICHAEL STROGOFF.

they approached Nijni-Oudinsk, they were found by
twenties, stretched on the ground.

It was, however, necessary to follow this road until it
was manifestly impossible to do so longer without falling
into the hands of the invaders. The road they were following
could not be abandoned, and yet the signs of devastation
and ruin increased at every village they passed through.
All these hamlets, whose names showed that they had
been founded by Polish exiles, had been given up to the
horrors of pillage and fire. The blood of the victims was
not yet dry. As to gaining further information about the
terrible events which had occurred, that was impossible.
There was not a living being left to tell the tale.

About four o'clock in the afternoon of this day,
Nicholas caught sight of the tall steeples of the churches
of Nijni-Oudinsk. Thick vapours, which could not have
been clouds, were floating around them.

Nicholas and Nadia looked, and communicated the
result of their observations to Michael. They must make
up their minds what to do. If the town was abandoned,
they could pass through without risk, but if, by some inex-
plicable manceuvre, the Tartars occupied it, they must at
every cost avoid the place. |
~ Advance cautiously,” said Michael, “but advance!”

A verst was soon traversed. |

“Those are not clouds, that is smoke!” exclaimed
Nadia. “Brother, they are burning the town!”

It was, indeed, only too plain. Flashes of light ap-
peared in the midst of the vapour. It became thicker
and thicker as it mounted upwards. ‘There were no fugi-
tives, however. The incendiaries had probably found the
town deserted and had set fire to it. But were they
Tartars who had done this? They might be Russians,
obeying the orders of the Grand Duke. Had the govern-
ment of the Czar determined that from Krasnoiarsk, from
the Yenisei, not a town, not a village should offer a refuge
to the Emir’s soldiers? What was Michael Strogoff to
do ?—should he stop, or should he continue his journey ?
A HARE CROSSES THE ROAD. 205
He was undecided. However, having weighed the pros
and cons, he thought that whatever might be the difficulties
of a journey across the steppe without a beaten path, he
ought not to risk falling a second time into the hands of
the Tartars. He was just proposing to Nicholas to leave
the road, and, unless absolutely necessary, not resume it
until Nijni-Oudinsk had been passed, when a: shot was
heard on their right. A ball whistled, and the horse of the
kibitka fell dead, shot through the head.

At the same moment, a dozen horsemen dashed for-
ward, and the kibitki was surrounded.

Before they knew where they were, Michael, Nadia,
and Nicholas were prisoners, and were being dragged
rapidly towards Nijni-Oudinsk.

Michael, in this second attack, had lost none of his
presence of mind. Being unable to see his enemies, he
had not thought of defending himself. Even had he pos-
sessed the yse of his eyes, he would not have attempted
it. The consequences would have been his death and that
of his companions. But, though he could not see, he could
listen and understand what was said.

From their language he found that these soldiers were
Tartars, and from their words, that they preceded the in-
vading army. |

In short, what Michael learnt from the talk at the
present moment, as well as from the scraps of conversation
he overheard later, was this :—

These men were not under the direct orders of the
Emir, who was now detained beyond the Yenisei. They
made part of a third column, chiefly composed of Tartars
from the khanats of Khokand and Koondooz, with which
Feofar's army was to effect a junction in the neighbourhood
of Irkutsk.

By Ivan Ogareff’s advice, and in order to assure the
success of the invasion in the Eastern provinces, this
column, after crossing the frontier of the government of
Semipalatinsk and passing to the south of Lake Balkhash,
had skirted the base of the Altai Mountains. Pillaging
266 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

and ravaging under the leadership of an officer of the
Khan of Koondooz, it had reached the upper course of
the Yenisei. There, guessing what had been done at
Krasnoiarsk by order of the Czar, and to facilitate the
passage of the river to the Emir’s troops, this officer had
launched a flotilla of boats, which, either as barges or by
affording materials for a bridge, would enable Feofar to
cross and resume the road to Irkutsk. Having done this,
it had descended the valley of the Yenisei and struck the
road on a level with Alsalevsk. From this little town
began the frightful course of ruin which forms the chief
part of Tartar warfare. Nijni-Oudinsk had shared the
common fate, and the Tartars, to the number of fifty
thousand, had already quitted it to take up a position
before Irkutsk. Before long, they would be reinforced by
the Emir’s troops.

Such was the state of affairs at this date, most serious
for this isolated part of Eastern Siberia, and for the com-
paratively few defenders of its capital.

All this Michael learnt ;—the arrival before Irkutsk of
a third column of Tartars, and the approaching junction
of the Emir and Ivan Ogareff with the bulk of their troops.
Consequently, the investment of Irkutsk, and after that,
its surrender, would only be an affair of time, perhaps of a
very short time.

It can be imagined with what thoughts Michael’s mind
was now occupied! Who could have been astonished had
he, in his present situation, lost all hope and all courage ?
Nothing of the sort, however ; his lips muttered no other
words than these—

“T will get there!”

Half an hour after the attack of the Tartar horsemen,
Michael Strogoff, Nadia, and Nicholas entered Nijni-
Oudinsk. The faithful dog followed them, though at a
distance. They could not stay in the town, as it was in
flames, and about to be left by the last of the marauders.

The prisoners were therefore thrown on horses and
hurried away; Nicholas resigned as usual, Nadia, her faith
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(Page 266.)
A HARE CROSSES THE ROAD. 267
in Michael unshaken, and Michael himself, apparently
indifferent, but ready to seize any opportunity of escaping.

The Tartars were not long in perceiving that one of
their prisoners was blind, and their natural barbarity led
them to make game of their unfortunate victim. They
were travelling fast. Michael’s horse, having no one to
guide him, often started aside, and so made confusion
among the ranks. This drew on his rider such abuse and
brutality as wrung Nadia’s heart, and filled Nicholas with
indignation. But what could they do? They could not
speak the Tartar language, and their assistance was merci-
lessly refused.

Soon it occurred to these men, in a refinement of cruelty,
to exchange the horse Michael was riding for one which
was blind. The motive of the change was explained by a
remark which Michael overheard— |

“Perhaps that Russian can see, after all!”

Thus was passed sixty versts from Nijni-Oudinsk,
through the villages of Tatan and Chibarlinskoé. Michael
had been placed on this horse, and the reins ironically put
into his hand. Then, by dint of lashing, throwing stones,
and shouting, the animal was urged into a gallop.

The horse, not being guided by his rider, blind as him-
self, sometimes ran into a tree, sometimes went quite off
the road—in consequence, collisions and falls, which might
have been extremely dangerous.

Michael did not complain. Not a murmur escaped
him. When his horse fell, he waited until it got up. It
was, indeed, soon assisted up, and the cruel fun continued.

At sight of this wicked treatment, Nicholas could not
contain himself ; he endeavoured to go to his friend’s aid.
He was prevented, and treated brutally.

This game would have been prolonged, to the Tartars’
great amusement, had not a serious accident put an end
to it. |

On the 1oth of September the blind horse ran away,
and made straight for a pit, some thirty or forty feet deep,
at the side of the road.
268 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Nicholas tried to go after him. He was held back.
The horse, having no guide, fell with his rider to the bottom
of the cliff.

Nicholas and Nadia uttered a piercing cry! .... They
believed that their unfortunate companion had been killed
in the fall !

However, when they went to his assistance, it was found
that Michael, having been able to throw himself out of the
saddle, was unhurt, but the miserable horse had two legs
broken, and was quite useless.

He was left there to die without being put out of his
suffering, and Michael, fastened to a Tartar’s saddle, was
obliged to follow the detachment on foot.

Even now, not a protest, not a complaint! He marched
with a rapid step, scarcely drawn by the cord which tied
him. He was still “the Man of Iron,’ of whom General
Kissoff had spoken to the Czar!

The next day, the 11th of September, the detachment
passed through the village of Chibarlinskoé. Here an
incident occurred which had serious consequences,

It was nightfall: The Tartar horsemen, having halted,
were more or less intoxicated. They were about to start.

Nadia, who till then, by a miracle, had been respect-
fully treated by the soldiers, was insulted by one of.them.

Michael could not see the insult, nor the insulter, but
Nicholas saw for him. |

Then, quietly, without thinking, without perhaps know-
ing what he was doing, Nicholas walked straight up to the
man, and, before the latter could make the least movement
to stop him, had seized a pistol from his holster and dis-
charged it full at his bresst.

The officer in command of the detachment hastened up
on hearing the report.

The soldiers would have cut the unfortunate Nicholas
to pieces, but at a sign from their officer, he was bound in-
stead, placed across a horse, and the detachment galloped
off.

The rope which fastened Michael, gnawed through by




The horse with his rider fell to the bottom of the cliff.
; 2 (Page 268.)
A HARE CROSSES THE ROAD. 269

him, broke by the sudden start of the horse, and the half-
tipsy rider galloped on without perceiving that his prisoner
had escaped. |

Michael and Nadia found themselves alone on the
road.
270 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



CHAPTER IX.
IN THE STEPPE,

MICHAEL STROGOFF and Nadia were once more as free as
they had been in the journey from Perm to the banks of
the Irtych. But how the conditions under which they
travelled were altered! Then, a comfortable tarantass, fresh
horses, well-kept post-horses assured the rapidity of th2ir
journey. Now they were on foot ; it was utterly impossible
to procure any other means of locomotion, they were with-
out resources, not knowing how to obtain the commonest
necessaries, and they had still four hundred versts to go!
Moreover, Michael could now only see with Nadia’s eyes.

As to the friend whom chance had given them, they
had just lost him, and fearful might be his fate. Michael
had thrown himself down under the brushwood at the
side of the road. Nadia stood beside him, waiting for the
word from him to continue the march.

It was ten o'clock. The sun had more than three
hours before disappeared below the horizon. There was
not a house, not a hut in sight. The last of the Tartars
was lost in the distance. Michael and Nadia were quite
alone.

“What will they do with our friend?” exclaimed the
girl, “Poor Nicholas! Our meeting will have been fatal
to him!”

Michael made no response.
IN TITE STEPPE. 271

“ Michael,” continued Nadia, “do you not know. that
he defended you when you were the Tartars’ sport; that
he risked his life for me?” |

Michael was still silent. Motionless, his face buried in
his hands ; of what was he thinking? Perhaps, although
he did not answer, he heard Nadia speak.

Yes! he heard her, for when the young girl added—

“\Where shall I lead you, Michael ?”

“To Irkutsk!” he replied.

“ By the highroad ?”

“Yes, Nadia.”

Michael was still the same man who had sworn, what-
ever happened, to accomplish his object. To follow the
highroad, was certainly to go the shortest way. If the
vanguard of Feofar-Khan’s troops appeared, it would then
be time to strike across the country.

Nadia took Michael’s hand, and they started.

The next morning, the 12th of September, twenty
versts further, they made a short halt in the village of
Joulounovskoé. It was burnt and deserted. All night
Nadia had tried to see if the body of Nicholas had not
been left on the road, but it was in vain that she looked
among the ruins, and searched among the dead. Till then,
he seemed to have been spared. But might they not be
reserving him for some cruel torture on their arrival in the
camp at Irkutsk.

Nadia, exhausted with hunger, from which her com-
panion was also suffering terribly, was fortunate enough to
find in one of the houses a quantity of dried meat and
“ soukharis,” pieces of bread, which, dried by evaporation,
preserve their nutritive qualities for an indefinite time.

Michael and the girl loaded themselves with as much
as they could carry. They had thus a supply of food for
several days, and as to water, there would be no want of
that in a district rendered fertile by the numerous little
affluents of the Angara.

They continued their journey. Michael walked with a
firm step, and only slackened his pace for his companion’s
272 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

sake. Nadia, not wishing to retard him, obliged herself to
walk. Happily, he could not see to what a miserable state
fatigue had reduced her.

However, Michael guessed it.

“You are quite done up, poor child,” he said some-
times.

“No,” she would reply.

“When you can no longer walk, I will carry you,
Nadia.” |

“Yes, Michael.”

During this day they came to the little river Oka, but
it was fordable, and they had no difficulty in crossing.

The sky was cloudy and the temperature moderate.
There was some fear that the rain might come on, which
would much have increased their misery. A few showers
fell, but they did not last.

They went on as before, hand in hand, speaking little,
Nadia looking about on every side; twice a day they
halted. Six hours of the night were given to sleep. Ina
few huts Nadia again found a little mutton, which is so
common in this country that it is sold at two copecks and
a half a pound.

But, contrary to Michael’s hopes, there was not a single
beast of burden in the country; horses, camels—all had
been either killed or carried off. They must still continue
to plod on across this weary steppe on foot.

The third Tartar column, on its way to Irkutsk, had
left plain traces of its course: here a dead horse, there an
abandoned cart. The bodies of unfortunate Siberians lay
along the road, principally at the entrances to villages.
Nadia, overcoming her repugnance, looked at all these

In fact, the danger lay, not before, but behind. The
advance guard of the Emir’s army, commanded by Ivan
Ogareff, might at any moment appear. The boats sent
down the lower Yenisei must by this time have reached
Krasnoiarsk and been made use of. The road was there-
fore open to the invaders. No Russian force could be




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IN THE STEPPE. 273
opposed to them between Krasnoiarsk and Lake Baikal,
Michael therefore expected before long the appearance of.
the Tartar scouts.

At each halt, Nadia climbed some hill and looked
anxiously to the Westward, but as yet no cloud of dust had
signalled the approach of a troop of horse.

Then the march was resumed; and when Michael felt
that he was dragging poor Nadia forward too rapidly, he
went at a slower pace. They spoke little, and only of
Nicholas. The young girl recalled all that this companion
of a few days had done for them.

In answering, Michael tried to give Nadia some hope
of which he did not feel a spark himself, for he well knew
that the unfortunate fellow would not escape death.

One day Michael said to the girl—

“You never speak to me of my mother, Nadia.”

His mother! Nadia had never wished to do so. Why
renew his grief? Was not the old Siberian dead? Had
not her son given the last kiss to her corpse stretched on
the plain of Tomsk?

“ Speak to me of her, Nadia,” said Michael. “ Speak—
you will please me.” |

And then Nadia did what she had not done before.
She told all that had passed between Marfa and herself
since their meeting at Omsk, wh're they had seen each
other for the first time. She said how an inexplicable
instinct had led her towards the old prisoner without
knowing who she was, what care she had bestowed on her,
and what encouragement she had received in return. At
that time Michael Strogoff had been to her but Nicholas
Korpanoff.

“Whom I ought always to have been,” replied Michael,
his brow darkening.

Then later he added—

“T have broken my oath, Nadia. I had sworn not to
see my mother!” )

“But you did not try to see her, Michael,’ replied

Nadia. “Chance alone brought you into her presence.”
T
274 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“JT had sworn, whatever might happen, not to betray
myself.”

“Michael, Michael! at sight of the lash raised upon
Marfa, could you refrain? No! No oath could prevent
a son from succouring his mother!”

“T have broken my oath, Nadia,” returned Michael.
“ May God and the Father pardon me!”

“ Michael,” resumed the girl, “ I have a question to ask
you. Do not answer it if you think you ought not.
Nothing from you would vex me.”

“Speak, Nadia.”

“Why, now that the Czar’s letter has been taken from
you, are you so anxious to reach Irkutsk ?”

Michael tightly pressed his companion’s hand, but he
did not answer.

“Did you know the contents of that letter before you
left Moscow ?.”

“No, I did not know.”

“Must I think, Michael, that the wish alone to place
me in my father’s hands draws you towards Irkutsk ?”

“No, Nadia,” replied Michael, gravely. “I should
deceive you if I allowed you to believe that it was so. I
go where duty orders me to go. As to taking you to
Irkutsk, is it not you, Nadia, who are now taking me
there? Do I not see with your eyes; and is it not your
hand that guides me? Have you not repaid a hundred-
fold the help which I was able to give you at first? Ido
not know if fate will cease to go against us; but the day
on which you thank me for having placed you in your
father’s hands, I in my turn will thank you for having led
me to Irkutsk.”

“Poor Michael!” answered Nadia, with emotion. ‘ Do
not speak so. That is not the answer to my question.
Michael, why, now, are you in such haste to reach
Irkutsk ?”

“Because I must be there before Ivan Ogareff,” ex-
claimed Michael.

“Even now?”
IN THE STEPPE. 275



“Even now, and I will be there, too!”

In uttering these last words, Michael did not speak
solely through hatred to the traitor. But Nadia under-
stood that her companion had not told, or could not tell,
her all.

On the 15th of September, three days later, the two
reached the village of Kouitounskoé, seventy versts from
Youlounovskoé. The young girl suffered dreadfully. Her
aching feet could scarcely support her; but she fought,
she struggled, against her weariness, and her only thought
was this—

“Since he cannot see me, I will go on till I drop.”

There were no obstacles on this part of the journey, no
danger either since the departure of the Tartars, only much
fatigue.

For three days it continued thus. It was plain that
the third invading column was advancing rapidly in the
East ; that could be seen by the ruins which they left after
them—the cold cinders and the already decomposing
corpses.

There was nothing to be seen in the West ; the Emir’s
advance-guard had not yet appeared. Michael began to
consider the various reasons which might have caused this
delay. Was a sufficient force of Russians directly mena-
cing Tomsk or Krasnoiarsk? Did the third column,
isolated from the others, run a risk of being cut off? If
this was the case, it would be easy for the Grand Duke to
defend Irkutsk, and any time gained against an invasion
was a step towards repulsing it.

Michael sometimes let his thoughts run on these hopes,
but he soon saw their improbability, and felt that the
preservation of the Grand Duke depended alone on him.

Sixty versts separate Kouitounskoé from Kimilteiskoé,
a little village situated at a short distance from the Dinka,
a tributary of the Angara. Michael thought with some
apprehension of the obstacle which this affluent placed in
his way. There was not the remotest chance of finding
anything like a boat, and he remembered (having already
276 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

crossed it in happier times) when it was difficult to ford.
But this once crossed, no other river interrupted the road
to Irkutsk, two hundred and thirty versts from thence.

It would only'take three days to reach Kimilteiskoé.
Nadia dragged herself along. Whatever might be her
moral energy, her physical strength would soon fail her.
Michael knew it only too well.

If he had not been blind, Nadia would have said to
him— |

“Go, Michael, leave me in some hut! Reach Irkutsk !
Accomplish your mission! See my father! Tell him
where lam! Tell him that I wait for him, and you both
will know where to find me! Start! Iam not afraid! I
will hide myself from the Tartars! I will take care of
myself for him, for you! Go, Michael! I can go no
farther! .. .”

Many times Nadia was obliged to stop. Michael then
took her in his arms and, having no longer to think of her
fatigue, walked more rapidly and with his indefatigable step.

On the 18th of September, at ten in the evening,
Kimilteiskoé was at last entered. From the top of a hill,
Nadia saw in the horizon a long light line. It was the
Dinka. A few lightning flashes were reflected in the
water ; summer lightning, without thunder.

Nadia led her companion through the ruined village.
The cinders were quite cold. The last of the Tartars had
passed through at least five or six days before.

Arrived at the outskirts of the village, Nadia sank
down on a stone bench.

“ Shall we make a halt?” asked Michael.

“It is night, Michael,” answered Nadia. “Do you not
want to rest a few hours?”

“J would rather have crossed the Dinka,” replied
Michael, “I should like to put that between us and the
Iemir’s advance-guard. But you can scarcely drag yourself
along, my poor Nadia!”

“Come, Michael,” returned Nadia, seizing her com-
panion’s hand and drawing him forward.
|



(Page 278.1

A head issued from the ground
IN THE STEPPE. 277

Two or three versts further the Dinka flowed across the
Irkutsk road. The young girl wished to attempt this last
effort asked by her companion. She found her way by the
light from the flashes. They were then crossing a bound-
less desert, in the midst of which was lost the little river.
Not a tree nor a hillock broke the flatness. Not a breath
disturbed the atmosphere, whose calmness would allow the
slightest sound to travel an immense distance.

Suddenly, Michael and Nadia stopped, as if their feet
had been caught in some crevice in the ground.

The barking of a dog came across the steppe.

“Do you hear?” said Nadia.

Then a mournful cry succeeded it—a despairing cry,
like the last appeal of a human being about to die.

“Nicholas! Nicholas!” cried the girl, feeling a fore-
boding of evil.

Michael, who was listening, shook his head.

“ Come, Michael, come,” said Nadia.

And she who just now was dragging herself with
difficulty along, suddenly recovered strength, under violent
excitement.

“We have left the road,” said Michael, feeling that he
was treading. no longer on powdery soil but on short grass.

“Ves....wemust!....” returned Nadia. “It was
there, on the right, from which the cry came!”

In a few minutes they were not more than half a verst
from the river.

A second bark was heard, but, although more feeble, it
was certainly nearer.

Nadia stopped.

“Yes!” said Michael. “It is Serko barking!.. He
has followed his master !”

“Nicholas!” called the girl.

Her cry was unanswered.

A few birds of prey alone rose and disappeared in
the sky.

Michael listened. Nadia gazed over the plain illumined
now and again with electric light, but she saw nothing.
278 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

And yet a voice was again raised, this time murmuring
in a plaintive tone, “Michael! ....”

Then a dog, all bloody, bounded up to Nadia.

It was, Serko!

Nicholas could not be far off! He alone could have
murmured the name of Michael! Where washe? Nadia
had no strength to call again.

Michael, crawling on the ground, felt about with his
hands.

Suddenly Serko uttered a fresh bark and darted
towards a gigantic bird which had swooped down.

It was a vulture. When Serko ran towards it, it rose,
but, returning to the charge, it struck the dog. The latter
leapt up at it.... A blow from the formidable beak
alighted on his head, and this time Serko fell back lifeless
on the ground.

At the same moment a cry of horror escaped Nadia.

“There... there!” she exclaimed.

A head issued from the ground! She had stumbled
against it in the darkness.

Nadia fell on her knees beside it.

Nicholas, buried up to his neck, according to the
atrocious Tartar custom, had been left in the steppe to die
of hunger and thirst, and perhaps by the teeth of wolves or
the beaks of birds of prey!

Frightful torture for the victim imprisoned in the
ground—the earth pressed down so that he cannot move,
his arms bound to his body like those of a corpse in its
coffin!. The miserable wretch, living in the mould of clay
from which he is powerless to break out, can only long for
the death which is so slow in coming!

There the Tartars had buried their prisoner three days
before! ... For three days, Nicholas waited for the help
which now came too late!

The vultures had caught sight of the head on a level
with the ground, and for some hours the dog had been
defending his master against these ferocious birds!

Michael dug at the ground with his knife to release
his friend!
IN THE STEPPE. 279

—————



The eyes of Nicholas, which till then had been closed,
opened.

He recognized Michael and Nadia. Then—

“ Farewell, my friends!” he murmured. “Iam glad to
have seen you again! Pray forme!...”

These words were his last.

Michael continued to dig, though the ground, having
been tightly rammed down, was as hard as a stone, and he
managed at last to get out the body of the unhappy man.
He listened if his heart was still beating. . . . It was still!

He wished to bury him, that he might not be left ex-
posed on the steppe; and the hole into which Nicholas had
been placed when living, he enlarged, so that he might
be laid in it—dead! The faithful Serko was laid by his
master. .

At that moment, a noise was heard on the road, about
half a verst distant.

Michael Strogoff listened.

It was evidently a detachment of horse advancing
towards the Dinka.

“ Nadia, Nadia!” he said in a low voice.

Nadia, who was kneeling in prayer, arose.

“ Look, look!” said he.

“The Tartars !’’ she whispered.

It was indeed the Emir’s advance-guard,. passing
rapidly along the road to Irkutsk.

“They shall not prevent me from burying him!” said
Michael.

And he continued his work.

_Soon, the body of Nicholas, the hands crossed on the
breast, was laid in the grave. Michael and Nadia, kneeling,
prayed a last time for the poor fellow, inoffensive and good,
who had paid for his devotion towards them with his life.

“And now,” said Michael, as he threw in the earth,
“the wolves of the steppe will not devour him.”

Then he shook his fist at the troop of horsemen who
were passing. ‘

“Forward, Nadia!” he said.
280 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Michael could not follow the road, now occupied by
the Tartars. He must cross the steppe and turn to Ir-
kutsk. He had not now to trouble himself about crossing
the Dinka.

Nadia could not move, but she could see for him. He
took her in his arms and went on towards the South-west of
the province.

More than two hundred versts still remained to be
traversed. How was the distance to be performed ?. Should
they not succumb to such fatigue? On what were they to
live on the way? By what superhuman energy were they
to pass the slopes of the Sayansk Mountains? Neither he
nor Nadia could answer this!

And yet, twelve days after, on the 2nd of October, at
six oclock in the evening, a wide sheet of water lay at
Michael Strogoff’s feet.

It was Lake Baikal.
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in the grave.

Soon the body of Nicholas was lai

(Page 279.)
( 281 )

CHAPTER X.
BAIKAL AND ANGARA.

LAKE BAIKAL is situated seventeen hundred fect above
the level of the sea. Its length is about nine hundred
versts, its breadth one hundred. Its depth is not known.
Madame de Bourboulon states that, according to the boat-
men, it likes to be spoken of as “Madam Sea.” If it is
called “ Sir Lake,” it immediately lashes itself into fury.
However, it is reported and believed by the Siberians that
a Russian is never drowned in it.

This immense basin of fresh water, fed by more than
three hundred rivers, is surrounded by magnificent volcanic
mountains. It has no other outlet than the Angara, which
after passing Irkutsk throws itself into the Yenisei, a little
above the town of Yeniseisk. As to the mountains which
encase it, they form a branch of the Toungouzes, and are
derived from the vast system of the Altai.

Even now the cold began to be felt. In this territory,
subject to peculiar climatical conditions, the autumn
appears to be absorbed in the precocious winter. It was
now the beginning of October. The sun set at five o'clock
in the evening, and during the long nights the temperature
feil to zero. The first snows, which would last till summer,
already whitened the summits of the neighbouring hills.

During the Siberian winter this inland sea is frozen
over to a thickness of several feet, and is cut up by the
sleighs of couriers and caravans.
282 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Either because there are people who are so wanting
in politeness as to call it “Sir Lake,” or for some more
meteorological reason, Lake Baikal is subject to violent
tempests. Its waves, short like those of all inland seas,
are much feared by the rafts, prahms, and steamboats,
which furrow it during the summer.

It was the South-west point of the lake which Michael
had now reached, carrying Nadia, whose whole life, so to
speak, was concentrated in her eyes. But what could these
two expect, in this wild region, if it was not to die of ex-
haustion and famine? And yet, what remained of the
long journey of six thousand versts for the Czar’s courier
to reach his end? Nothing but sixty versts on the shore
of the lake up to the mouth of the Angara, and eighty
versts from the mouth of the Angara to Irkutsk; in all,a
hundred and forty versts, or three days’ journey for a strong
healthy man, even on foot.

Could Michael Strogoff still be that man ?

Heaven, no doubt, did not wish to put him to this trial.
The fatality which had hitherto pursued his steps seemed
for a time to spare him. This end of the Baikal, this part
of the steppe, which he believed to be a desert, which it
usualiy is, was not so now.

About fifty people were collected at the angle formed
by the South-west point of the lake.

Nadia immediately caught sight of this group, when
Michael, carrying her in his arms, issued from the moun-
tain pass.

The girl feared for a moment that it was a Tartar
detachment, sent to beat the shores of the Baikal, in which
case flight would have been impossible to them both.

But Nadia was soon reassured on this point.

“Russians !” she exclaimed.

And with this last effort, her eyes closed and her head
fell on Michael’s breast.

But they had been seen, and some of these Russians,
running to them, led the blind man and the girl to a little
point at which was moored a raft.
BAIKAL AND ANGARA, 283

The raft was just going to start.

These Russians were fugitives of different conditions,
whom the same interest had united at this point of Lake
Baikal. Driven back by the Tartar scouts, they hoped to
obtain a refuge at Irkutsk, but not being able to get there
by land, the invaders having taken up a position on the
two banks of the Angara, they hoped to reach it by
descending the river which flows through that town.

Their plan made Michael’s heart leap ; a last chance
was before him, but he had strength to conceal this,
wishing to keep his incognito more strictly than ever.

The fugitives’ plan was very simple. A current in the
lake runs along by the upper bank to the mouth of the
Angara; this current they hoped to utilise, and with its
assistance to reach the outlet of Lake Baikal. From this
point to Irkutsk, the rapid waters of the river would bear
them along at a rate of from ten to twelve versts an hour.
In a day and a half they might hope to be in sight of the
town.

No kind of boat was to be found; they had been
obliged to make one; a raft, or rather a float of wood,
similar to those which usually are drifted down Siberian
rivers, was constructed. A forest of firs, growing on the
bank, had supplied the necessary materials ; the trunks,
fastened together with osiers, made a platform on which a
hundred people could have easily found room.

On board this raft Michael and Nadia were taken. The
girl had returned to herself; some food was given to her
as well as to her companion. Then, lying on a bed of
leaves, she soon fell into a deep sleep.

To those who questioned him, Michael Strogoff said
nothing of what had taken place at Tomsk. He gave
himself out as an inhabitant of Krasnoiarsk, who had not
been able to get to Irkutsk before the Emir’s troops
arrived on the left bank of the Dinka, and he added that,
very probably, the bulk of the Tartar forces had taken up
a position before the Siberian capital.

There was not a moment to be lost ; besides, the cold
284 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

was becoming more and more severe. During the night
the temperature fell below zero ; ice was already forming
on the surface of the Baikal. Although the raft managed
to pass easily over the lake, it might not be so easy between
the banks of the Angara, should pieces of ice be found to
block up its course.

For all these reasons, it was necessary that the fugitives
should start without delay.

t eight in the evening the moorings were cast off, and
the raft drifted in the current along the shore. It was
steered by means of long poles, under the management of
several muscular moujiks.

An old Baikal boatman took command of the raft. He
was a man of sixty-five, browned by the sun, and lake
breezes. A thick white beard flowed over his chest ; a fur
cap covered his head ; his aspect was grave and austere.
His large great-coat, fastened in at the waist, reached down
to his heels. This taciturn old fellow was seated in the
stern, and issued his commands by gestures, not uttering
ten words in ten hours. Besides, the chief work consisted
in keeping the raft in the current, which ran along the
shore, without drifting out into the open.

It has been already said that Russians of all conditions
had found a place on the raft. Indeed, to the poor
moujiks, the women, old men, and children, were joined
two or three pilgrims, surprised on their journey by the
invasion ; a few monks, anda papa. ‘The pilgrims carried
a staff, a gourd hung at the belt, and they chanted psalms
ina plaintive voice : one came from the Ukraine, another
from the Yellow Sea, and a third from the Finland pro-
vinces. This last, who was an aged man, carried at his
waist a little padlocked collecting-box, as if it had been
hung at a church door. Of all that he collected during
his long and fatiguing pilgrimage, nothing was for himself;
he did not even possess the key of the box, which would
only be opened on his return.

The monks came from the North of the Empire. Three
months before they had left the town of Archangel, which
























~ An old Baikal boatman took command.

(Page 2&4.)
BAIKAL AND ANGARA. 285

some travellers justly believe to have the appearance of an
Eastern city. They had visited the sacred islands near the
coast of Carelia, the convent of Solovetsk, the convent of
Troitsa, those of Saint Antony and Saint Theodosia, at
Kiev, the old favourite of the Jagellons, the monastery of
Simeonof at Moscow, that of Kazan, as well as the church
of the Old Believers, and they were now on their way to
Irkutsk, wearing the robe, the cowl, and the clothes of serge.

As to the papa, he was a plain village priest, one of the
six hundred thousand popular pastors which the Russian
Empire contains. He was clothed as miserably as the
moujiks, not being above them in social position ; in fact,
labouring like a peasant on his plot of ground; baptising,
marrying, burying. He had been able to protect his wife
and children from the brutality of the Tartars by sending
them away into the Northern provinces. He himself had
stayed in his parish up to the last moment; then he was
obliged to fly, and, the Irkutsk road being stopped, had
come to Lake Baikal.

These priests, grouped in the forward part of the raft,
prayed at regular intervals, raising their voices in the silent
night, and at the end of each sentence of their prayer, the
“ Slava Bogu,’ Glory to God! issued from their lips.

No incident took place during the night. Nadia re-
mained in a sort of stupor, and Michael watched beside
her; sleep only overtook him at long intervals, and even
then his brain did not rest. At break of day, the raft,
delayed by a strong breeze, which counteracted the course
of the current, was still forty versts from the mouth of the
Angara. It seemed probable that the fugitives could not
reach it before three or four o’clock in the evening. ‘This
did not trouble them ; on the contrary, for they would then
descend the river during the night, and the darkness would
also favour their entrance into Irkutsk.

The only anxiety exhibited at times by the old boat-
man was concerning the formation of ice on the surface of
the water. The night had been excessively cold ; pieces
of ice could be seen drifting towards the West. Nothing
286 MICHAEL STROGOFF,

was to be dreaded from these, since they could not drift
into the Angara, having already passed the mouth; but
pieces from the Eastern end of the lake might be drawn by
the current between the banks of the river; this would
cause difficulty, possibly delay, and perhaps even an insur-
mountable obstacle which would stop the raft.

Michael therefore took immense interest in ascertaining
what was the state of the lake, and whether any large
number of ice blocks appeared. Nadia being now awake,
he questioned her often, and she gave him an account of
all that was going on.

Whilst the blocks were thus drifting, curious phenomena
were taking place on the surface of the Baikal. Magnifi-
cent jets from springs of boiling water, shot up from some
of those artesian wells which Nature has bored in the very
bed of the lake. These jets rose to a great height and
spread out in vapour, which was illuminated by the solar
rays, and almost immediately condensed by the cold. This
curious sight would have assuredly amazed a tourist travel-
ling in peaceful times and sailing for pleasure on this
Siberian sea. |

At four in the evening, the mouth of the Angara was
signalled by the old boatman, between the high granite
rocks of the shore. On the right bank could be seen the
little port of Livenitchnaia, its church, and its few houses
built on the bank.

But the serious thing was that the ice blocks from the
East were already drifting between the banks of the Angara,
and consequently were descending towards Irkutsk. How-
ever, their number was not yet great enough to obstruct
the course of the raft, nor the co!d great enough to increase
their number.

The raft arrived at the little port and there stopped.

The old boatman wished to put into the harbour for an
hour, in order to make some necessary repairs.

The trunks threatened to separate, and it was important
to fasten them more securely together to resist the rapid
current of the Angara.,
BAIKAL AND ANGARA. 287

During the fine season, the port of Livenitchnaia is
a station for the embarkation or disembarkation of voyagers
across Lake Baikal, either on their way to Kiakhta, the last
town on the Russo-Chinese frontier, or when they are
returning.

It is therefore much frequented by the steamboats and
all the little coasters of the lake.

But Livenitchnaia was abandoned. Its inhabitants
had fled for fear of being exposed to the depredations of
the Tartars, who were now-overrunning both banks of the
Angara. They had sent to Irkutsk the flotilla of boats
and barges which usually wintered in their harbour, and,
supplied with all that they could carry, they had taken
refuge in time in the capital of Eastern Siberia.

The old boatman did not expect to receive any fresh
fugitives at Livenitchnaia, and yet, the moment the raft
touched, two passengers, issuing from a deserted house,
ran as fast as they could towards the beach.

Nadia, seated on the raft, was abstractedly gazing at
the shore. |

A cry was about to escape her. She seized Michael's
hand, who at that moment raised his head.

“What is the matter Nadia?” he asked.

“ Our two travelling companions, Michael.”

“The Frenchman and the Englishman whom we met
in the defiles of the Ural ?”

“Yes.”

Michael started, for the strict incognito which he wished
to keep ran a risk of being betrayed.

Indeed, it was no longer as Nicholas Korpanoff that
Jolivet and Blount would now see him, but as the true
Michael Strogoff, Courier of the Czar. The two corres-
pondents had already met him twice since their separation
at the Ichim post-house—the first time at the Zabediero
camp, when he laid open Ivan Ogareff’s face with the
knout; the second time at Tomsk, when he was condemned
by the Emir. They therefore knew who he was and what
depended on him.
288 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Michael rapidly made up his mind.

“Nadia,” said he, “when the Frenchman and the
Englishman step on board, ask them to come to me!”

It was, in fact, Harry Blount and Alcide Jolivet, whom,
not chance, but the course of events had brought to the
port of Livenitchnaia, as it had brought Michael Strogoff.

As we know, after having been present at the entry of
the Tartars into Tomsk, they had departed before the
savage execution which terminated the féte. They had
therefore never suspected that their former travelling
companion had not been put to death, and they were
ignorant that he had been only blinded by order of the
Emir.

Having procured horses they had left Tomsk the same
evening, with the fixed determination of henceforward
dating their letters from the Russian camp of Eastern
Siberia.

Jolivet and Blount proceeded by forced marches to-
wards Irkutsk. They hoped to distance Feofar-Khan, and
would certainly have done so, had it not been for the
unexpected apparition of the third column, come from the
South, up the valley of the Yenisei. They had been cut off,
as had been Michael, before being able even to reach the
Dinka, and had been obliged to go back to Lake Batkal.

When they reached Livenitchnaia, they found the port
already deserted. It was impossible on this side either
for them to enter Irkutsk, now invested by the Tartar
army. They had been in the place for three days in much
perplexity, when the raft arrived.

The fugitives’ plan was now explained to them.

There was certainly a chance that they might be able
to pass under cover of the night, and penetrate into Irkutsk.
They resolved to make the attempt.

Alcide directly communicated with the old boatman,
and asked a passage for himself and his companion, offering
to pay anything he demanded, whatever it might be.

“No one pays here,’ replied the old man gravely;
“everyone risks his life, that is all!”
eee)

TRL

; ad my ry, ;
Hi ;; mi

tale yf



‘“Come,” said Nadia,
(Page 289.'
BAIKAL AND ANGARA. 289

The two ccerrespondents came on board, and Nadia saw
them take their places in the fore part of the raft.

Harry Blount was still the reserved Englishman, who
had scarcely addressed a word to her during the whole
passage over the Ural Mountains.

Alcide Jolivet seemed to be rather more grave ‘than
usual, and it may be acknowledged that his gravity was
justified by the circumstances.

Jolivet had, as has been said, taken his seat on the raft,
when he felt a hand laid on his arm.

Turning, he recognized Nadia, the sister of the man
who was no longer Nicholas Korpanoff, but Michael
Strogoff, Courier of the Czar.

He was about to make an exclamation of surprise
when he saw the young girl lay her finger on her lips.

“Come,” said Nadia.

And with a careless air, Alcide rose and followed her,
making a sign to Blount to accompany him.

But if the surprise of the correspondents had been
great at meeting Nadia on the raft it was boundless
when they perceived Michael Strogoff, whom they had
believed to be no longer living.

Michael had not moved at their approach. Jolivet
turned towards the girl.

“ He does not see you, gentlemen,” said Nadia. “The
Tartars have burnt out his eyes! My poor brother is
blind!”

A feeling of lively compassion exhibited itself on the
faces of Blount and his companion.

In a moment they were seated beside Michael, pressing
his hand and waiting until he spoke to them.

“Gentlemen,” said Michael, in a low voice, “ you ought
not to know who J am, nor what I am come to do in
Siberia. I ask you to keep my secret. Will you promise
me to do so?”

“On my honour,” answered Jolivet.

“On my word as a gentleman,” added Blount.

“ Good, gentlemen.”
U
290 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“Can we be of any use to you?” asked Harry Blount.
“Could we not help you to accomplish your task ?”

“T prefer to act alone,’ replied Michael.

“But those blackguards have destroyed your sight,”
said Alcide.

“T have Nadia, and her eyes are enough for me!”

In half an hour the raft left the little port of Live-
nitchnaia, and entered the river. It was five in the evening
and getting dusk. The night promised to be dark and
very cold also, for the temperature was already below zero.

Alcide and Blount, though they had promised to keep
Michael’s secret, did not, however, leave him. They talked
in a low voice, and the blind man, adding what they told
him to what he already knew, was able to form an exact
idea of the state of things.

It was certain that the Tartars had actually invested
Irkutsk, and that the three columns had effected a junction.
There was no doubt that the Emir and Ivan Ogareff were
before the capital.

But why did the Czar’s courier exhibit such haste to
get there, now that the Imperial letter could no longer be
given by him to the Grand Duke, and when he did not
even know the contents of it? Alcide Jolivet and Blount
could not understand it any more than, Nadia had done.

No one spoke of the past, except when Jolivet thought
it his duty to say to Michael—

“We owe you some apology for not shaking hands
with you when we separated at Ichim.”

“No, you had reason to think me a coward!”

“At any rate,’ added the Frenchman, “you knouted
the face of that villain finely, and he will carry the mark
of it for a long time!”

“No, not a long time!” replied Michael quietly.

Ilalf an hour after leaving Livenitchnaia, Blount and
his companion were acquainted with the cruel trials through
which Michael and his companion had successively passed.
They could not but heartily admire his energy, which was
only equalled by the young girl’s devotion. ‘Their opinion
BAIKAL AND ANGARA. 291
of Michael was exactly what the Czar had expressed at
Moscow: “Indeed, this is a Man!”

The raft swiftly threaded its way among the blocks of
ice which were carried along in the current of the Angara.
A moving panorama was displayed on both sides of the
river, and, by an optical illusion, it appeared as if it
was the raft which was motionless before a succession of
picturesque scenes. Here were high granite cliffs, there
wild gorges, down which rushed a torrent; sometimes
appeared a clearing with a still smoking village, then thick
pine forests blazing. But though the Tartars had left
their traces on all sides, they themselves were not to be
seen as yet, for they were more especially massed at the
approaches to Irkutsk.

All this time the pilgrims were repeating their prayers
aloud, and the old boatman, shoving away the blocks of
ice which pressed too near them, imperturbably steered the
raft in the middle of the rapid current of the Angara,
292 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

CHAPTER XI.
BETWEEN TWO BANKS.

By eight in the evening, the country, as the state of the
sky had foretold, was enveloped in complete darkness. The
moon being new had not yet risen. From the middle of the
river the banks were invisible. ‘The cliffs were confounded
with the heavy, low-hanging clouds. At intervals a puff of
wind came from the east, but it soon died away in the
narrow valley of the Angara.

The darkness could not fail to favour in a considerable
degree the plans of the fugitives. Indeed, although the
Tartar outposts must have been drawn up on both banks,
the raft had a good chance of passing unperceived. It was
not likely either that the besiegers would have barred the
river above Irkutsk, since they knew that the Russians
could not expect any help from the south of the province.
Besides this, before long Nature would herself establish a
barrier, by cementing with frost the blocks of ice accumu-
lated between the two banks.

Perfect silence now reigned on board the raft.

The voices of the pilgrims were no longer heard. They
still prayed, but their prayer was but a murmur, which
could not reach as far as either bank. The fugitives lay
flat on the platform, so that the raft was scarcely above the
level of the water. The old boatman crouched down for-
ward among his men, solely occupied in keeping off the


The old boatman crouched down forward among his men,
(Page 292.)
BETWEEN TWO BANKS. 293

ice blocks, a manceuvre which was performed without
noise.
The drifting of the ice was a favourable circumstance
so long as it did not offer an insurmountable obstacle to
the passage of the raft. If that object had been alone on
the water, it would have run a risk of being seen, even in
the darkness, but, as it was, it was confounded with these
moving masses, of all shapes and sizes, and the tumult
caused by the crashing of the blocks against each other
concealed likewise any suspicious noises.

There was a sharp frost. The fugitives suffered cruelly,
having no other shelter than a few branches of birch. They
cowered down together, endeavouring to keep each other
warm, the temperature being now ten degrees below freez-
ing point. The wind, though slight, having passed over
the snow-clad mountains of the east, pierced them through
and through.

Michael and Nadia, lying in the afterpart of the raft,
bore this increase of suffering without complaint. Jolivet
and Blount, placed near them, stood these first assaults of
the Siberian winter as well as they could. No one now
spoke, even in a low voice. Their situation entirely ab-
sorbed them. At any moment an incident might occur, a
danger, a catastrophe even, from which they might not
escape unscathed. | .

For a man who hoped soon to accomplish his mission,
Michael was singularly calm. Even in the gravest con-
junctures, his energy had never abandoned him. He
already saw the moment when he would be at last allowed
to think of his mother, of Nadia, of himself! He now only
dreaded one final and unhappy chance; this was, that the
raft might be completely barred by ice before reaching
Irkutsk. He thought but of this, determined beforehand,
if necessary, to attempt some bold stroke.

Restored by a few hours’ rest, Nadia had regained the
physical energy which misery had sometimes overcome,
although without ever having shaken her moral energy.
She thought, too, that if Michael had to make ary fresh
204 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

effort to attain his end, she must be there to guide him.
But in proportion as she drew nearer to Irkutsk, the image
of her father rose more and more clearly before her mind.
She saw him in the invested town, far from those he loved,
but, as she never doubted, struggling against the invaders
with all the spirit of his patriotism. In a few hours, if
Heaven favoured them, she would be in his arms, giving
him her mother’s last words, and nothing should ‘ever
separate them again. If the term of Wassili Fedor's exile
should never come to an end, his daughter would remain
exiled with him. Then, by a natural transition, she came
back to him who would have enabled her to see her father
once more, to that generous companion, that “ brother,”
who, the Tartars driven back, would retake the road to
Moscow, whom she would perhaps never meet again !

As to Alcide Jolivet and Harry Blount, they had one
and the same thought, which was, that the situation was
extremely dramatic, and that, well worked up, it would
furnish a most deeply interesting article. The Englishman
thought of the readers of the Dazly Telegraph, and the
Frenchman of those of his Cousin Madeleine. At heart,
both were not without feeling some emotion. |

“Well, so much the better!” thought Alcide Jolivet,
“to move others, one must be moved one’s self! I believe
there is some celebrated verse on the subject, but hang me
if I can recollect it!”

And with his well-practised eyes he endeavoured to
pierce the gloom which enveloped the river.

However, every now and then a burst of light dispel-
ling the darkness for a time, exhibited the banks under
some fantastic aspect—either a forest on fire, or a still
burning village, a sinister reproduction of the daylight
scenes, with the contrast of the night. The Angara was
occasionally illuminated from one bank to the other. The
blocks of ice formed so many mirrors, which, reflecting the
flames on every point and in every colour, were whirled
along by the caprice of the current. The raft passed
unperceived in the midst of these floating masses,
BETWEEN TWO BANKS. 295

The danger was not at these points.

But a peril of another nature menaced the fugitives’
One that they could not foresee, and, above all, one that
they could not avoid. Chance discovered it to Alcide
jolivet in this way :—Lying at the right side of the raft,
he let his hand hang over into the water. Suddenly he
was surprised by the impression made on it by contact
with the surface of the current. It seemed to be of a slimy
consistency, as if it had been made of mineral oil.

Alcide, aiding his touch by his sense of smelling, could
not be mistaken. It was really a layer of liquid naphtha,
floating on the surface of the river and flowing with it!

Was the raft really floating on this substance, which
is in the highest degree combustible? Where had this
naphtha come from? Was it a natural phenomenon taking
place on the surface of the Angara, or was it to serve as an
engine of destruction, put in motion by the Tartars? Did
they intend to carry conflagration into Irkutsk by means
which the laws of war could never justify between civilized
nations? |

Such were the questions which Alcide asked himself,
but he thought it best to-make this incident known only to
Harry Blount, and they both agreed in not alarming their
companions by revealing to them this new danger.

It is known that the soil of Central Asia is like a
sponge impregnated with liquid hydrogen. |

At the port of Bakou, on the Persian frontier, in the
peninsula of Abcheron, on the Caspian Sea, in Asia Minor,
in China, on the Yuen-Kiang, in the Burman Empire,
springs of mineral oil rise in thousands to the surface of
the ground. It is an “oil country,” similar to the one
which bears this name in North America. .

During certain religious festivals, principally at the
port of Bakou, the natives, who are fire-worshippers, throw
liquid naphtha on the surface of the sea, which buoys it up,
its density being inferior to that of water. Then at night-
fall, when a layer of mineral oil is thus spread over the
Caspian, they light it, and exhibit the matchless spectacle
296 MICHAEL STROGOFF. |
of an ocean of fire undulating and breaking into waves
under the breeze.

But what is only a sign of rejoicing at Bakou, might
prove a fearful disaster on the waters of the Angara.
Whether it was set on fire by malevolence or imprudence,
in the twinkling of an eye a conflagration might spread
beyond Irkutsk.

On board the raft no imprudence was to be feared ; but
everything was to be dreaded from the conflagrations on
both banks of the Angara, for should a lighted straw or
even a spark blow into the water, it would inevitably set
the whole current of naphtha in a blaze.

The apprehensions of Jolivet and Blount may be better
understood than described. Would it not be prudent, in
consequence of this new danger, to land on one of the
banks and wait there? they asked each other.

“ At any rate,” said Alcide, “whatever the danger may
be, I know some one who will not land!”

He alluded to Michael Strogoff.

In the mean time, on glided the raft among the masses
of ice, which were gradually getting closer and closer
together.

Up till then, no Tartar detachment had been seen,
which showed that the raft was not abreast of the outposts.
At about ten o’clock, however, Harry Blount caught sight
of a number of black objects moving on the ice blocks.
Springing from one to the other, they rapidly approached.

“Tartars!” he thought.

And creeping up to the old boatman, he pointed out to
him the suspicious objects.

The old man looked attentively.

“They are only wolves!” said he. “I like them better
than Tartars. But we must defend ourselves, and without
noise ! ”

The fugitives would indeed have to defend themselves
against these ferocious beasts, whom hunger and cold had
sent roaming through the province. They had smelt out
the raft, and would soon attack it. The fugitives must
BETWEEN TWO BANKS. 297



struggle, but without using firearms, for they could not
now be far from the Tartar posts.

The women and children were collected in the middle
of the raft, and the men, some armed with poles, others
with their knives, but the most part with sticks, stood
prepared to repulse their assailants. They did not make
a sound, but the howls of the wolves filled the air.

Michael did not wish to remain inactive. He lay down
at the side attacked by the savage pack. He drew his
knife, and every time that a wolf passed within his reach,
his hand found out the way to plunge his weapon into its
throat. Neither were Jolivet and Blount idle, but fought
bravely with the brutes. Their companions gallantly
seconded them. The battle was carried on in silence,
although many of the fugitives received severe bites.

The struggle did not appear as if it would soon termi-
nate. The pack was being continually reinforced from the
right bank of the Angara.

“This will never be finished !” said Alcide, brandishing
his dagger, red with blood.

In fact, half an hour after the commencement of the
attack, the wolves were still coming in hundreds across
the ice.

The exhausted fugitives were evidently getting weaker.
The fight was going against them. At that moment, a
group of ten huge wolves, raging with hunger, their eyes
glowing in the darkness like red-hot coals, sprang on to
the raft. Jolivet and his companion threw themselves into
the midst of the fierce beasts, and Michael was finding his
way towards them, when a sudden change took place.

In a few moments, the wolves had deserted not only
the raft, but also the ice on the river. All the black bodies
dispersed, and it was soon certain that they had in all
haste regained the shore.

- Wolves, like other beasts of prey, require darkness
for their proceedings, and at that moment a bright light
illuminated the entire river.

It was the blaze of an immense fire. The whole of the
298 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

small town of Poshkavsk was burning. The Tartars were
indeed there, finishing their work. From this point, they
occupied both banks beyond Irkutsk. The fugitives had
by this time reached the dangerous part of their voyage,
and they were still thirty versts from the capital.

It was now half-past eleven. The raft continued to
glide on amongst the ice, with which it was quite mingled,
but gleams of light sometimes fell upon it. The fugitives
stretched on the platform did not permit themselves to
make a movement by which they might be betrayed.

The conflagration was going on with frightful rapidity.
The houses, built of fir-wood, blazed like torches—a
hundred and fifty flaming at once. With the crackling of
the fire was mingled the yells of the Tartars. The old
boatman, getting a foothold on a near piece of ice, managed
to shove the raft towards the right bank, by doing which a
distance of from three to four hundred feet divided it from
the flames of Poshkavsk.

Nevertheless, the fugitives, lighted every now and then
by the glare, would have been undoubtedly perceived had
not the incendiaries been too much occupied in their work
of destruction. | | |

It may be imagined what were the apprehensions of
Jolivet and Blount, when they thought of the combustible
liquid on which the raft floated.

Sparks flew in millions from the houses, which re-
sembled so many glowing furnaces, They rose among the
volumes of smoke to a height of five or six hundred feet.
On the right bank, the trees and cliffs exposed to the fire
looked as if they likewise were burning.. A spark falling
on the surface of the Angara would be sufficient to spread
the flames along the current, and to carry disaster from
one bank to the other. The result of this would in a short
time be the destruction of the raft and of all those which
it carried. |

But, happily, the breeze did not blow from that side.
It came from the east, and drove the flames towards the
left. It was just possible that the fugitives would escape
this danger.
BETWEEN TWO BANKS. 299

The blazing town was at last passed. Little by little
the glare grew dimmer, the crackling became fainter, and
the flames at last disappeared behind the high cliffs which
arose at an abrupt turn of the river.

By this time it was nearly midnight. The deep gloom
again threw its protecting shadows over the raft. The
Tartars were there, going to and fro near the river. They
could not be seen, but they could be heard. The fires of
the outposts burned brightly.

In the mean time it had become necessary to steer more
carefully among the blocks of ice.

The old boatman stood up, and the moujiks resumed
their poles. They had plenty of work, the management of
the raft becoming more and more difficult as the river was
further obstructed.

Michael Strogoff had crept forward.

Alcide Jolivet followed him.

Both listened to what the old boatman and his men
were saying.

“ Look out on the right!”

“There are blocks drifting on to us on the left!”

“Fend! fend off with your boat-hook !”

“ Before an hour is past we shall be stopped ... .!”

“Tf it is God’s will!” answered the old man. “Against
His will there is nothing to be done.”

“You hear them,” said Alcide.

“Yes,” replied Michael, “but God is with us!”

The situation became more and more serious. Should
the raft be stopped, not only would the fugitives not reach
Irkutsk, but they would be obliged to leave their floating
platform, for it would be very soon smashed to pieces in
the ice. The osier ropes would break, the fir trunks torn
asunder would drift under the hard crust, and the unhappy
people would have no refuge but the ice blocks themselves.
Then, when day came, they would be seen by the Tartars,
and massacred without mercy!

Michael returned to the spot where Nadia was waiting
for him. He approached the girl, took her hand, and put
300 MICHAEL STROGOFT.

_

to her the invariable question: * Nadia, are you ready?”
to which she replied as usual—

“T am ready!”

Fora few versts more the raft continued to drift
amongst the floating ice. Should the river narrow, it
would soon form an impassable barrier.. Already they
seemed to drift slower. Every moment they encountered
severe shocks or were compelled to make detours; now,
to avoid running foul of a block, there to enter a channel, of
which it was necessary to take advantage. At length the
stoppages became still more alarming. There were only a
few more hours of night. Could the fugitives not reach
Irkutsk by five o’clock in the morning, they must lose all
hope of ever getting there at all.

At half-past one, notwithstanding all efforts, the raft
came up against a thick barrier and stuck fast. The ice,
which was drifting down behind it, pressed it still closer,
and kept it motionless, as though it had been stranded.

At this spot the Angara narrowed, it being half its
usual breadth. This was the cause of the accumulation of
ice, which became gradually soldered together, under the
double influence of the increased pressure and of the cold,
of which the intensity was redoubled. Five hundred feet
beyond, the river widened again, and the blocks, gradually
detaching themselves from the floe, continued to drift
towards Irkutsk. It was probable that had the banks not
narrowed, the barrier would not have formed, and the raft
would have been able to continue its course with the cur-
rent. But the misfortune was irreparable, and the fugitives
were compelled to give up all hope of attaining their object.

Had they possessed the tools usually employed by
whalers to cut channels through the ice-fields—had they
been able to get through to where the river widened—they
might have been saved. But they had not a saw, not a
pickaxe ; they had nothing which was capable of making
the least incision in the ice, made as hard as granite by the
excessive frost.

What were they to do?
in front of Michael

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(Page 301.)

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BETWEEN TWO BANKS. 301



At that moment several shots on the right bank startled
the unhappy fugitives, A shower of balls fell on the raft.
The devoted passengers had been seen. Immediately
afterwards shots were heard fired from the left bank. The
fugitives, taken between two fires, became the mark of the
Tartar sharpshooters. Several were wounded, although in
the darkness it was only by chance that they were hit.

“Come, Nadia,” whispered Michael in the young girl’s
ear.

Without making a single remark, “ready for anything,”
Nadia took Michael’s hand.

“We must cross the barrier,’ he said in a low tone.
“ Guide me, but let no one see us leave the raft.”

Nadia obeyed. Michael and she glided rapidly over
the floe in the obscurity, only broken now and again by
the flashes from the muskets.

Nadia crept along in front of Michael. The shot fell
around them like a tempest of hail, and pattered on the
ice. Their hands were soon covered with blood from the
sharp and rugged ice over which they clambered, but still
on they went.

In ten minutes, the other side of the barrier was
reached. There the waters of the Angara again flowed
freely. Several pieces of ice, detached gradually from the
floe, were swept along in the current down towards the
town.

Nadia guessed what Michael wished to attempt. One
of the blocks was only held on by a narrow strip.

“Come,” said Nadia.

And the two crouched down together on the piece of
ice, which their weight immediately detached from the floe.

It began to drift. The river widened, the way was

open.
Michael and Nadia heard the shots, the « cries of distress,
the yells of the Tartars..... Then, little by little, the

sounds of agony and of ferocious joy grew faint in the
distance.
“Our poor companions!” murmured Nadia.
5302 MICHAEL STROGOFF,



For half an hour the current hurried along the block of
ice which bore Michael and Nadia. They feared every
moment that it would g.ve way beneath them. Swept
along in the middle of the current, it was unnecessary to
give it an oblique direction until they drew near the quays
of Irkutsk. |

Michael, his teeth tight set, his ear on the strain, did
not utter a word. Never had he been so near his object.
He felt that he was about to attain it... .!

Towards two in the morning a double row of lights
elittered on the dark horizon in which were confounded
the two banks of the Angara.

On the right hand were the lights of Irkutsk; on the
left, the fires of the Tartar camp.

Michael Strogoff was not more than half a verst from
the town.

“At last!” he murmured.

But suddenly Nadia uttered a cry.

At the cry Michael stood up on the ice, which was
wavering. His hand was extended up the Angara. His
face, on which a bluish light cast a peculiar hue, became
almost fearful to look at, and then, as if his eyes had been
opened to the bright blaze—

“Ah!” he exclaimed, “then Heaven itself is against
us!”
( 303 )

CHAPTER XII.
IRKUTSK.

IRKUTSK, the capital of Eastern Siberia, is a populous
town, containing, in ordinary times, thirty thousand inhabi-
tants. On the right side of the Angara rises a hill, on
which are built numerous churches, a lofty cathedral, and
the dwellings of its inhabitants disposed in picturesque
disorder.

Seen at a distance, from the top of the mountain
which rises at about twenty versts off along the Siberian
highroad, this town, with its cupolas, its bell-towers, its
steeples slender as minarets, its domes like pot-bellied
Chinese jars, presents something of an oriental aspect.
But this similarity vanishes as soon as the traveller enters.

The town, half Byzantine, half Chinese, becomes Euro-
pean as soon as he sees its macadamized roads, bordered
with pavements, traversed by canals, planted with gigantic
birches, its houses of brick and wood, some of which have
several stories, the numerous equipages which drive along,
not only tarantasses and telgas but broughams and coaches;
lastly, its numerous inhabitants far advanced in the progress
of civilization, and to whom the latest Paris fashions are
not unknown.

Being the refuge for all the Siberians of the province,
Irkutsk was at this time very full. Stores of every kind
had been collected in abundance. Irkutsk is the emporium
304 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

of the innumerable kinds of merchandise which are ex-
changed between China, Central Asia, and Europe. The
authorities had therefore no fear with regard to admitting
the peasants of the vatley of the Angara, Mongol-Khalkas,
Toongoozes, Bowets, and leaving a desert between the
invaders and the town.

Irkutsk is the residence of the governor-general of
Eastern Siberia. Below him acts a civil governor, in whose
hands is concentrated the administration of the province;
a head of police, who has much to do in a town where
exiles abound; and, lastly, a mayor, chief of the merchants,
and a person of some importance, from his immense
fortune and the influence which he exercises over the
people under him.

The garrison of Irkutsk was at that time composed
of an infantry regiment of Cossacks, consisting of two
thousand men, and a body of police wearing helmets and
blue uniforms laced with silver.

Besides, as has been said, in consequence of the events
which had occurred, the brother of the.Czar had been shut
up in the town since the beginning of the invasion.

A journey of political importance had taken the Grand
Duke to these distant provinces of Central Asia.

After passing through the principal Siberian cities, the
Grand Duke, who travelled ex militaire rather than ex
prince, without any parade, accompanied by his officers,
and escorted by a regiment of Cossacks, arrived in the
Trans-Baikalcine provinces. Nikolaevsk, the last Russian
town situated on the shore of the Sea of Okhotsk, had
been honoured by a visit from him. — .

Arrived on the confines of the immense Muscovite
Impire, the Grand Duke was returning towards Irkutsk,
from which place he intended to retake the road to Moscow,
when, sudden as a thunder clap, came the news of the
invasion.

He hastened to the capital, but only reached it just
before communication with Russia had been interrupted.
There was time to receive only a few telegrams from St.
IRKUTSK. 305

Petersburg and Moscow, and with difficulty to answer them
before the wire was cut, under circumstances already related.

Irkutsk was isolated from the rest of the world.

The Grand Duke had now only to prepare for resistance,
and this he did with that determination and coolness
of which, under other circumstances, he had given incon-
testable proofs.

The news of the taking of Ichim, Omsk, and Tomsk,
successively reached Irkutsk.

It was necessary at any price to save the capital of
Siberia. Reinforcements could not be expected for some
time. The few troops scattered about in the provinces of
the Amoor and in the government of Yakutsk could not
arrive in sufficiently large numbers to arrest the progress
of the Tartar columns. Since therefore it was impossible
for Irkutsk to escape an investment, the most important
thing to be done was to put the town in a state to sustain
a siege of some duration.

The preparations were begun on the day Tomsk fell
into the hdnds of the Tartars. At the same time with this
last news, the Grand Duke heard that the Emir of Bokhara
and the allied Khans were directing the invasion in person,
but what he did not know was, that the lieutenant of these
barbarous chiefs was Ivan Ogareff, a Russian officer whom
he had himself reduced to the ranks, but with whose person
he was not acquainted. |

First of all, as we have seen, the inhabitants of the
province of Irkutsk were compelled to abandon the towns
and villages. Those who did not take refuge in the capital
had to retire beyond Lake Baikal, a district to which the
invasion would probably not extend its ravages. The
harvests of corn and fodder were collected and stored up in
the town, and Irkutsk, the last bulwark of the Muscovite
power in the Far East, was put in a condition to resist the
enemy for a lengthened period.

Irkutsk, founded in 1611, is situated at the confluence
of the Irkut and the Angara, on the right bank of the

latter river. Two wooden bridges, built on piles, and
X
306 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

arranged so as to draw up for the purposes of navigation,
connected the town with its suburbs on the left bank. On
this side, defence was easy. The suburbs were abandoned,
the bridges destroyed. The Angara being here very wide,
it would: not be possible to pass it under the fire of the
besieged.

But the river might be crossed both above and below the
town, and consequently, Irkutsk ran a risk of being attacked
on its East side, on which there was no wall to protect it.

The whole population were immediately set to work on
the fortifications. They laboured day and night. The
Grand Duke observed with satisfaction the zeal exhibited
by the people in the work, and whom ere long he would
find equally courageous in the defence. Soldiers, merchants,
exiles, peasants, all devoted themselves to the common
safety. A week before the Tartars appeared on the
Angara, earth-works had been raised. A fosse, flooded by
the waters of the Angara, was dug between the scarp
and counterscarp. The town could not now be taken by a
coup de main. It must be invested and besieged.

The third Tartar column—the one which came up the
valley of the Yenisei on the 24th of September—appeared
in sight of Irkutsk. It immediately occupied the deserted
suburbs, every building in which had been destroyed so as
not to impede the fire of the Grand Duke’s guns, unfort-
unately but few in number and of small calibre.

The Tartar troops as they arrived organised a camp on
the bank of the Angara, whilst waiting the arrival of the
two other columns, commanded by the Emir and his allies.

The junction of these different bodies was effected on
the 25th of September, in the Angara camp, and the whole
of the invading army, except the garrisons left in the
principal conquered towns, was concentrated under the
command of Feofar-Khan.

The passage of the Angara in front of Irkutsk having
been regarded by Ogareff as impracticable, a strong body of
troops crossed, several versts up the river, by means of
bridges formed with boats.


(Page 306.)

Work was kept up day and night.
IRKUTSK. 307

a



The Grand Duke did not attempt to oppose the enemy
in their passage. He could only impede, not prevent it,
having no field-artillery at his disposal, and he therefore
remained in Irkutsk.

The Tartars now occupied the right bank of the river ;
then, advancing towards the town, they burnt, in passing,
the summer-house of the governor-general, and at last
having entirely invested Irkutsk, took up their positions
for the siege.

Ivan Ogareff, who was a clever engineer, was perfectly
competent to direct a regular siege ; but he did not possess
the materials for operating rapidly. He was disappointed
too in the chief object of all his efforts—the surprise of
“Irkutsk.

Things had turned out differently to what his calcu-
lations had led him to expect. First, the march of the
Tartar. army was delayed by the battle of Tomsk; and
secondly, the preparations for the defence were made far
more rapidly than he had supposed would be the case ;
these two things had been enough to balk his plans. He
was now under the necessity of instituting a regular siege
of the town. ,

However, by his suggestion, the Emir twice attempted
the capture of the place, at the cost of a large sacrifice of
men. He threw soldiers on the earth-works which
presented any weak point; but these two assaults were
repulsed with the greatest courage. The Grand Duke and
his officers did not spare themselves on this occasion.
They appeared in person; they led the civil population to
the ramparts. Citizens and peasants both did their duty.

At the second attack, the Tartars managed to force one
of the gates. A fight took place at the head of Bolchaia
Street, two versts long, which abuts on the banks of the
Angara. But the Cossacks, the police, the citizens, united
in so fierce a resistance that the: Tartars were compelled to
withdraw.

Ivan Ogareff then thought of obtaining by stratagem
what he could not gain by force.
308 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

We have said that his plan was to penetrate into the
town, to make his way to the Grand Duke, to gain his
confidence, and, when the time came, to give up the gates
to the besiegers ; and, that done, to wreak his vengeance
on the brother of the Czar.

The Tsigane Sangarre, who had accompanied him to
the Angara camp, urged him to put this plan in execution.

Indeed, it was necessary to act without delay.

The Russian troops from the government of Yakutsk
were advancing towards Irkutsk. They had concentrated
on the upper course of the Lena, and were marching up its
valley. In six days they would arrive. Therefore, before
six days had passed, Irkutsk must be betrayed.

Ivan Ogareff hesitated no longer.

One evening, the 2nd of October, a council of war was
held in the grand saloon of the palace of the governor-
general. It was there the Grand Duke resided.

This palace, standing at the end of Bolchaia Street,
overlooked the river for some distance. From the windows
of its principal fagade could be seen the camp of the Tartars,
and had they possessed guns of a wider range than those
they had brought with them, they would have rendered the
palace uninhabitable. |

The Grand Duke, General Voranzoff, the governor of the
town, and the chief of the merchants, with several officers,
had collected to determine upon various proposals.

“Gentlemen,” said the Grand Duke, “ you know our
situation exactly. I have the firm hope that we shall be
able to hold out until the arrival of the Yakutsk troops.
We shall then be able to drive off these barbarian hordes,
and it will not be my fault if they do not pay dearly for
this invasion of the Muscovite territory.”

“Your Highness knows that all the population of
Irkutsk may be relied on,” said General Voranzoff.

“Yes, general,” replied the Grand Duke, “and I do
justice to their patriotism. Thanks to God, they have not
yet been subjected to the horrors of epidemic and famine,
and I have reason to hope that they will escape them ; but
IRKUTSK. 309
I cannot admire their courage on the ramparts enough.
You hear my words, Sir Merchant, and I beg you to repeat
such to them.”

“T thank your Highness in the name of the town,”
answered the merchant chief. “May I ask you what is the
most distant date when we may expect the relieving army?”

“Six days at most, sir,” replied the Grand Duke. “A
brave and clever messenger managed this morning to get
into the town, and he told me that fifty thousand Russians
under General Kisselef, are advancing by forced marches.
Two days ago, they were on the banks of the Lena, at
Kirensk, and now, neither frost nor snow will keep them
back. Fifty thousand good men, taking the Tartars on
the flank, will soon set us free.”

“T will add,” said the chief of the merchants, “that we
shall be ready to execute your orders, any day that your
Highness may command a sortie.”

“Good, sir,” replied the Grand Duke. “ Wait till the
heads of the relieving columns appear on the heights, and
we will speedily crush these invaders.”

Then turning to General Voranzoff—

“To-morrow,” said he, “‘ we will visit the works on the
tight bank. Ice is drifting down the Angara, which will
not be long in freezing, and in that case the Tartars might
perhaps cross.” |

“Will your Highness allow me to make an observa-
tion?” said the chief of the merchants.

“Do so, sir.”

“T have more than once seen the temperature fall to
thirty and forty degrees below zero, and the Angara has
still carried down drifting ice without entirely freezing.
This is no doubt owing to the swiftness of its current. If
therefore the Tartars have no other means of crossing the
river, I can assure your Highness that they will not enter
Irkutsk in that way,”

The governor-general confirmed this assertion.

“It is a fortunate circumstance,” responded the Grand
Duke. “ Nevertheless, we must hold ourselves ready for
any emergency.”
310 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

He then, turning towards the head of the police, asked,
“ Have you nothing to say to me, sir?”

“T have to make known to your Highness,” answered
the head of police, “a petition which is addressed to you
through me.”

‘“ Addressed by .. .?”

“By the Siberian exiles, whom, as your Highness
knows, are in the town to the number of five hundred.”

The political exiles, distributed over the province, had
been collected in.Irkutsk from the beginning of the inva-
sion, They had obeyed the order to rally in the town, and
leave the villages where they exercised their different
professions, some doctors, some professors, either at the
Gymnasium, or at the Japanese School, or at the School
of Navigation. The Grand Duke, trusting like the Czar in
their patriotism, had armed them, and they had thoroughly
proved their bravery.

“What do the exiles ask ?” said the Grand Duke.

“They ask the consent of your Highness,” answered
the head of police, “to their forming a special corps and
being placed in the front of the first sortie.”

“Yes,” replied the Grand Duke with an emotion which
he did not seek to hide, ‘‘ these exiles are Russians, and it
is their right to fight for their country!”

“T believe I may assure your Highness,” said the
governor-general, “that you will not have any better
scldiers.”

“But they must have a chief,” said the Grand Duke,
“who will he be?”

“They wish to recommend to your Highness,” said the
head of police, “ one of their number, who has distinguished
himself on several occasions.”

“Ts he a Russian ?”

“Yes, a Russian from the Baltic provinces.”

“His name... .?”

“Ts Wassili Fedor.”

This exile was Nadia’s father.

Wassili Fedor, as we have aiready said, followed his
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IRKUTSK. - 311



profession of a medical man in Irkutsk. He was clever
and charitable, and also possessed the greatest courage
and most sincere patriotism. All the time which he did
not devote to the sick he employed in organising the
defence. It was he who had united his companions in
exile in the common cause. The exiles, till then mingled
with the population, had behaved in such a way as to draw
on themselves the attention of the Grand Duke. In
several sorties, they had paid with their blood their debt
to holy Russia—holy as they believe, and adored by her
children! Wassili Fedor had behaved heroically ; his
name had been mentioned several times, but he never asked
either thanks or favours, and when the exiles of Irkutsk
thought of forming themselves into a special corps, he
was ignorant of their having any intention of choosing
him for their captain.

When the head of police mentioned this name, the
Grand Duke answered that it was not unknown to him.

“Indeed,” remarked General Voranzoff, “ Wassili Fedor
is a man of worth and courage. His influence over his
companions has always been very great.”

“ How long has he been at Irkutsk?” asked the Grand
Duke.

_ “For two years.”

“ And his conduct... .?”

“His conduct,” answered the head of police, “is that
of a man obedient to the special laws which govern him.”

“General,” said the Grand Duke, “General, be good
enough to present him to me immediately.”

The orders of the Grand Duke were obeyed, and
before half an hour had passed, Wassili Fedor was intro-
duced into his presence.

He was a man of forty years or more, tall, of a stern
and sad countenance. One felt that his whole life was
summed up in one single word—strife—and that he had
striven and suffered. His features bore a marked resem-
blance to those of his daughter, Nadia Fedor.

This Tartar invasion had severely wounded him in his
312 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

tenderest affections, and ruined the hope of the father,
exiled eight thousand versts from his native town. A
Ictter had apprised him of the death of his wife, and at
the same time of the departure of his daughter, who had
obtained from the government an authorisation to join
him at Irkutsk.

Nadia must have left Riga on the roth of July. The
invasion had begun on the 15th of July; if at that time
Nadia had passed the frontier, what could have become of
her in the midst of the invaders? The anxiety of the
unhappy father may be supposed when, from that time, he
had no further news of his daughter.

Wassili Fedor entered the presence of the Grand Duke,
bowed, and waited to be questioned.

“Wassili Fedor,” said the Grand Duke, “your com-
panions in exile have asked to be allowed to form a select
corps. They are not ignorant that in this corps they must
make up their minds to be killed to the last man ?”

“ They are not ignorant of it,” replied Fedor.

“ They wish to have you for their captain.”

“JT, your Highness ?”

“Do you consent to be placed at their head ?”

“Yes, if it is for the good of Russia.”

“Captain Fedor,” said the Grand Duke, “ you are no
longer an exile.”

“Thanks, your Highness, but can I command those
who are so still?”

“They are so no longer!”

The brother of the Czar had granted a pardon to all
his companions in exile, now his companions in arms!

Wassili Fedor wrung, with emotion, the hand which the
Grand Duke held out to him, and retired.

The latter, then turning to his officers—

“The Czar will not refuse to ratify that pardon,” said
he, smiling; “we need heroes to defend the capital of
Siberia, and I have just made some.”

This pardon, so generously accorded to the exiles of
Irkutsk, was indeed an act of real justice and sound policy.
IRKUTSK. 313

It was now night. Through the windows of the palace
burned the fires of the Tartar camp, flickering beyond the
Angara. Down the river drifted numerous blocks of ice,
some of which stuck on the piles of the old bridges ; others
were swept along by the current with great rapidity. It
was evident, as the merchant had observed, that it would
be very difficult for the Angara to freeze all over. The
defenders of Irkutsk had not to dread being attacked on
that side.

Ten o'clock had just struck. “The Grand Duke was
about to dismiss his officers and retire to his own apart-
ments, when a tumult was heard outside the palace.

Almost immediately the door was thrown open, an
aide-de-camp appeared, and advancing towards the Grand
Duke-—

“Your Highness,” said he, “a courier from the Czar!”
314 MICHAEL STRUGOFY.

CHAPTER XIIL
THE CZAR’S COURIER.

ALL the members of the council simultaneously started
forward. A courier from the Czar arrived in Irkutsk!
Had these officers for a moment considered the improba-
bility of this fact, they would certainly not have credited
what they heard.

The Grand Duke advanced quickly to his aide-de-
camp.

“This courier!” he exclaimed.

A man entered. He appeared exhausted with fatigue.
He wore the dress of a Siberian peasant, worn into tatters,
and exhibiting several shot-holes. A Muscovite cap was
on his head. His face was disfigured by a recently-healed
scar. The man had evidently had a long and painful
journey ; his shoes being in a state which showed that he
had been obliged to make part of it on foot.

“His Highness the Grand Duke?” he said as he
entered.

The Grand Duke went up to him.

“ You are a courier from the Czar?” he asked.

“Yes, your Highness.”

“You come... ?”

“From Moscow.”

“You left Moscow... ?”

“On the 15th of July.”
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A man entered. He appeared to be exhausted with fati
THE CZAR’S COURIER. 315

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“Your name?”

“Michael Strogoff.”

It was Ivan Osareff He had taken the designation of
the man whom he believed that he had rendered powerless.
Neither the Grand Duke nor any one knew him in Irkutsk,
and he had not even to disguise his features. As he was
in a position to prove his pretended identity, no one could
have any reason for doubting him. He came, therefore,
sustained by his iron will, to hasten by treason and assassi-
nation the great object of the invasion.

After Ogareff had replied, the Grand Duke signed to
all his officers to withdraw.

He and the false Michael Strogoff remained alone in
the saloon.

The Grand Duke looked at Ivan Ogareff for some
moments with extreme attention. Then said he, “On the
15th of July you were at Moscow?”

“Yes, your Highness ; and on the night of the r4th I
saw His Majesty the Czar at the New Palace.”

“Have you a letter from the Czar?”

“ Here it is.”

And Ivan Ogareff handed to the Grand Duke the
Imperial letter, reduced to almost microscopic dimensions.

“Was the letter given you in this state?” asked the
Grand Duke. :

“No, your Highness, but I was obliged to tear the
envelope, the better to hide it from the Emir s soldiers.”

“Were you taken prisoner by the Tartars?”

“Yes, your Highness, I was their prisoner for several
days,” answered Ogareff. ‘Such was the reason that,
having left Moscow on the 15th of July, as the date of
that letter shows, I only reached Irkutsk on the 2nd of
October, after travelling seventy-nine days.”

The Grand Duke took the letter. He unfolded it and
recognized the Czar’s signature, preceded by the decisive
formula, written by his brothers hand. There was ‘no
possible doubt of the authenticity of this letter, nor of the
identity of the courier. Though Ogareff’s countenance
316 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

had at first inspired the Grand Duke with some distrust,
he let nothing of it appear, and it soon vanished.

The Grand Duke remained for a few minutes without
speaking. He read the letter slowly, so as to take in its
meaning fully.

“ Michael Strogoff, do you know the contents of this
letter?” he asked.

“Yes, your Highness. I might have been obliged to
destroy it, to prevent its falling into the hands of the
Tartars, and should such have been the case, I wished to
be able to bring the contents of it to your Highness.”

“You know that this letter enjoins us all to die, rather
than give up the town ?”

“T know it.”

“You know also that it informs me of the movements
of the troops which have combined to stop the invasion ?”
- “Yes, your Highness, but these movements have not
succeeded.”

“What do you mean?”

“T mean that Ichim, Omsk, Tomsk, to speak only of
the more jmportant towns of the two Siberias, have been
‘successively occupied by the soldiers of Feofar-Khan.”

“ But there has been fighting ? Have not our Cossacks
met the Tartars?” |

“ Several times, your Highness.”

“ And they were repulsed ?”

“They were not in sufficient force to oppose the enemy.”

“Where did the encounters of which you speak take
place ?”

“ At Kolyvan, at Tomsk. .. .”

Until now, Ogareff had only spoken the truth, but, in
the hope of troubling the defenders of Irkutsk by ex-
aggerating the advantages gained by the Emir’s troops, he
added—

“And a third time before Krasnoiarsk.”

“And what of this last engagement .. .?” asked the
Grand Duke, through whose compressed ‘lips the words
could scarcely pass.
THE CZAR’S COURIER. 317

————





“Tt was more than an engagement, your Highness,”
answered Ogareff; “it was a battle.”

“A battle?”

“Twenty thousand Russians, from the frontier pro-
vinces and the government of Tobolsk, engaged with a
hundred and fifty thousand TYartars, and, notwithstanding
their courage, were overwhelmed.”

“You lie!” exclaimed the Grand Duke, endeavouring
in vain‘to curb his passion.

“T speak the truth, your Highness,” replied Ivan
Ogareff coldly. “I was present at the battle of Kras-
noiarsk, and it was there I was made prisoner! ”

The Grand Duke grew calmer, and by a significant
gesture he gave Ogareff to understand that he did not
doubt his veracity.

“What day did this battle of Krasnoiarsk take place?”
he asked. |

“On the 2nd of September.”

“ And now all the Tartar troops are concentrated around
Irkutsk ?”

“All” |

“ And you estimate them... ?”

“ At about four hundred thousand men.”

- Another exaggeration of Ogareff’s in the estimate of
the Tartar army, with the same object as before in
view.

“And I must not expect any help from the West
provinces ?” asked the Grand Duke.

“None, your Highness, at any rate before the end of
the winter.”

“Well, hear this, Michael Strogoff. Though I must
expect no help either from the East or from the West, even
were these barbarians six hundred thousand strong, I will
never give up Irkutsk !”

Ogareff’s evil eye slightly contracted. The traitor
thought to himself that the brother of the Czar did not
reckon the result of treason.

The Grand Duke, who was of a nervous temperament,
318 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

had great difficulty in keeping calm whilst hearing this
disastrous news. Hewalked to and fro in the room, under
the gaze of Ogareff, who eyed him as a victim reserved for
his vengeance. He stopped at the windows, he looked
forth at the fires in the Tartar camp, he listened to the
various noises which, for the most part, were occasioned
by the crashing of the ice-blocks drifting down the
Angara. :

A quarter of an hour passed without his putting any
more questions. Then taking up the letter, he re-read a
passage and said:

“You know, Michael Strogoff, that in this letter I am
warned ofa traitor, of whom I must beware?”

“Yes, your Highness.”

“ He will try to enter Irkutsk in disguise ; gain my con-
fidence, and when the time comes, betray the town to the
Tartars.”

“T know all that, your Highness, and I know also that
Ivan Ogareff has sworn to revenge himself personally on
the Czar’s brother.”

“Why?”

“It is said that the officer in question was condemned
by the Grand Duke to a humiliating degradation.”

“Yes ... T remember... . But it is a proof that the
villain, who could afterwards serve against his country and
head an invasion of barbarians, deserved it.”

“His Majesty the Czar,” said Ogareff, “was particularly
anxious that you should be warned of the criminal projects
of Ivan Ogareff against your person.”

“Yes ; of that the letter informs me.”

“And His Majesty himself spoke to me of it, telling me
that in my journey across Siberia, I was above all things
to beware of the traitor.”

“Did you meet with him ?”

“Yes, your Highness, after the battle of Krasnoiarsk.
If he had only guessed that I was the bearer of a letter
addressed to your Highness, in which his plans were re-
vealed, I should not have got off so easily.”
THE CZAR’S COURIER. 319

“No; you would have been lost!” replied the Grand
Duke. “And how did you manage to escape ?”

“ By throwing myself into the Irtyche.”

“ And how did you enter Irkutsk ?”

“Under cover of a sortie, which was made this evening
to repulse a Tartar detachment. I mingled with the de-
fenders of the town, made myself known, and was immedi-
ately conducted before your Highness.”

“Good, Michael Strogoff,’ answered the Grand Duke.
“You have shown courage and zeal in your difficult mission.
I will not forget you. Have you any favour to ask of
me ?”

“None; unless it is to be allowed to fight at the side
of your Highness,” replied Ogareff. |

“So be it, Strogoff. I attach you from to-day to my
person, and you shall be lodged in the palace.”

“ And if according to his intention, Ivan Ogareff should
present himself to your Highness underafalsename. . . ?”

“We will unmask him, thanks to you, who know him,
and I will make him die under the knout.. Go!”

Ivan Ogareff gave a military salute, not forgetting that
he was captain of the corps of couriers of the Czar, and
retired. |

- Ogareff had so far played his unworthy part with suc-
cess. The Grand Duke’s full and entire confidence had
been accorded him. He could now betray it whenever it
suited him. He would inhabit the very palace. He would
be in the secret of all the operations for the defence of the
town. He thus held the situation in his hand, as it were.
No one in Irkutsk knew him, no one could snatch off his
mask. He resolved therefore to set to work without
delay.

Indeed, time pressed. The town must be given up
before the arrival of the Russians from the North and East,
and that was only a question of a few days. The Tartars
once masters of Irkutsk, it would not be easy to take it
again from them. At any rate, even if they were obliged
to abandon it later, they would not do so before they had
320 MICHAEL STROGOFF.



utterly destroyed it, and before the head of the Grand
Duke had rolled at the feet of Feofar-Khan.

Ivan Ogareff, having every facility for seeing, observing,
and acting, “occupied himself the next day with. visiting the
ramparts. He was everywhere received with cordial con-
gratulations from officers, soldiers, and citizens. To them
this courier from the Czar was a link which connected
them with the empire.

-Ogareff recounted, with an assurance which never failed,
numerous fictitious events of his journey. Then, with the
cunning for which he was noted, without dwelling too
much on it at first, he spoke of the gravity of the situation,
exaggerating the success of the Tartars and the numbers of
the barbarian forces, as he had when speaking to the Grand
Duke. According to him, the expected succours would be
insufficient, if ever they arrived at all, and it was to be
feared that a battle fought under the walls of Irkutsk
would be as fatal as the battles of Kolyvan, Tomsk, and
Krasnoiarsk.

Ogareff was not too free in these insinuations. He
wished to allow them to sink gradually into the minds of
the defenders of Irkutsk. He pretended only to answer
with reluctance when much pressed with questions. He
always added that they must fight to the last man, and
blow up the town rather than yield! |

These false statements would have done more harm
had it been possible ; but the garrison and the population
of Irkutsk were too patriotic to let themselves be moved.
Of all the soldiers and citizens shut up in this town,
isolated at the extremity of the Asiatic world, not one
dreamed of even speaking of a capitulation. The con-
tempt of the Russians for these barbarians was boundless.

No one suspected the odious part played by Ivan
Ogareff; no one guessed that the pretended courier of the
Czar was a traitor. It occurred very naturally that on his
arrival in Irkutsk, a frequent intercourse was established
between Ogareff and one of the bravest defenders of the
town, Wassili Fedor. We know what anxiety this un-








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THE CZAR’s COURIER. 321



happy father suffered. If his daughter, Nadia Fedor, had
left Russia on the date fixed by the last letter he had
received from Riga, what had become of her? Was she
still trying to cross the invaded provinces, or had she long
since been taken prisoner? The only alleviation to Wassili
Fedor’s anxiety was when he could obtain an opportunity
of engaging in battle with the Tartars—opportunities which
came too seldom for his taste.

When, therefore, Wassili Fedor heard of the unexpected
arrival of a courier from the Czar, he had a hope that he
might gain information from him of his daughter. It
was probably but a chimerical hope, but he dwelt upon it.
Had not this courier been himself a prisoner, as perhaps
Nadia now was? |

Wassili Fedor sought out Ogareff, who seized the
opportunity of forming an intimacy with the captain. Did
the renegade expect to turn this circumstance to account ?
Did he judge all men by himself? Did he believe that
a Russian, even though a political exile, could be base
enough to betray his country ?

However that might be, Ogareff replied with cleverly
feigned warmth to the advances made to him by Nadia’s
father. The very evening the pretended courier arrived,
Wassili Fedor went to the governor-general’s palace and,
acquainting Ogareff with the circumstances under which
his daughter must have left European Russia, told him all
his uneasiness about her.

Ivan Ogareff did not know Nadia, although he had
met her at Ichim on the day she was there with Michael
Strogoff; but then, he had not paid more attention to her
than to the two reporters, who at the same time were in
the post-house ; he therefore could give Wassili Fedor no
news of his daughter. :

“But at what time,’ asked Ogareff, “must your
daughter have left the Russian territory ?”

“ About the same time that you did,” replied Wassili
Fedor.

“T left Moscow on the 15th July.”
322 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“Nadia must also have quitted Moscow at that time.
Her letter told me so expressly.”

“She was in Moscow on the 15th of July?” asked

Ogareff.
“Ves, certainly, by that date.”
“Well! ... .” answered Ogareff.
Then he continued :
“But no, Jam mistaken..... I was confusing dates.

Unfortunately, it is too probable that your daughter
must have passed the frontier, and you can only have one
hope, that she stopped on learning the news of the Tartar
invasion !”

The father’s head fell! He knew Nadia, and he knew
too well that nothing would have prevented her from
setting out.

Ivan Ogareff had just committed gratuitously an act of
real cruelty. With a word he might have reassured Fedor.
Although Nadia had passed the frontier under circum-
stances with which we are acquainted, Wassili Fedor, by
comparing the date on which his daughter would have
been at Nijni-Novgorod, and the date of the proclamation
which forbade any one to leave it, would no doubt have
concluded thus: that Nadia had not been exposed to the
dangers of the invasion, and that she was still, in spite of
herself, in the European territory of the Empire.

Ivan Ogareff, obedient to his nature, that of a man
who was never touched by the sufferings of others, might
have said that word..... He did not say it.

Wassili Fedor retired with his heart broken. In that
interview his last hope was crushed. |

During the two following days, the 3rd and 4th of
October, the Grand Duke often spoke to the pretended
Michael Strogoff, and mad2 him repeat all that he had
heard in the Imperial Cabin2t of the New Palace. Ogareff,
prepared for all these questions, replied without the least
hesitation. He intentionally did not conceal that the Czar’s
government had been utterly surprised by the invasion,
that the insurrection had beocn prepared in the greatest
THE CZAR’S COURIER. 323
possidle secrecy, that the Tartars were already masters of
the line of the Obi when the news reached Moscow, and
lastly, that none of the necessary preparations were com-
pleted in the Russian provinces for sending into Siberia
the troops requisite for repulsing the invaders.

{van Ogareff, being entirely free in his movements,
began to study Irkutsk, the state of its fortifications, their
weak points, so as to profit subsequently by his observa-
tions, in the event of being prevented by some occurrence
from consummating his act of treason. He examined
particularly the Bolchaia Gate, the one he wished to deliver
up.

Twice in the evening he came upon the glacis of this
gate. He walked up and down, without fear of being
discovered by the besiegers, whose nearest posts were at
least a mile from the ramparts. He knew therefore that
he was exposed to no danger from them, and he fancied
that he was recognized by no one, till he caught sight
of a shadow gliding along at the foot of the earth-
works,

Sangarre had come at the risk of her life for the pur-
pose of endeavouring to put herself in communication with
Ivan Ogareff.

For two days the besieged had enjoyed a tranquillity
to which the Tartars had not accustomed them since the
commencement of the investment.

This was by Ogareff's orders. Feofar- Khan’s lieutenant
wished that all attempts to take the town by force should
be suspended. Since, therefore, his arrival in Irkutsk, the
guns had been silent. Perhaps, also, at least so he hoped,
the watchfulness of the besieged would relax. At any
rate, several thousand Tartars were kept in readincss at
the outposts, to attack the gate, deserted, as Orgareff antici-
pated that it would be, by its defenders, whenever he should
summon the besiegers to the assault.

This he could not now delay in doing. All must be
over by the time that the Russian troops should come in
sight of Irkutsk. Ogareff’s arrangements were made, and
324 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

on this evening a note fell from the top of the earthworks
into Sangarre’s hands.

On the next day, that is to say during the hours of
darkness from the 5th to the 6th of October, at two
o'clock in the morning, Ivan Ogareff had resolved to
deliver up Irkutsk.
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CHAPTER XIV.
THE NIGHT OF THE FIFTH OF OCTOBER.

IVAN OGAREFF’S plan had been contrived with the greatest
care, and except for some unforeseen accident he believed
that it must succeed. It was of importance that the
Bolchaia Gate should be free when he gave it up. The
attention of the besieged was therefore to be drawn to
another part of the town. A diversion was agreed upon
with the Emir.

This diversion was to be effected on the suburban side
of Irkutsk, up and down the river, on its right bank. The
attack on these two points was to be conducted in earnest,
and at the same time a feigned attempt at crossing the
Angara on the left bank was to be made. The Bolchaia
Gate would be probably deserted, so much the more be-
cause on this side the Tartar outposts having drawn
back, would appear to have broken up.

It was the 5th of October. In four and twenty hours,
the capital of Eastern Siberia would be in the hands of the
Emir, and the Grand Duke in the power of Ivan Ogareff.

During the day, an unusual stir was going on in the
Angara camp. From the windows of the palace and the
houses on the right bank, important preparations on the
opposite shore could be distinctly seen. Numerous
Tartar detachments were converging towards the camp,
and from hour to hour reinforced the Emir’s troops. ‘These
326 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

movements, intended to deceive the besieged, were con-
ducted in the most open manner possible before their
eyes. = :

Ogareff had not concealed from the Grand Duke that
an attack on this side was to be feared. He knew, he said,
that an assault was to be made, both above and below the
town, and he counselled the Duke to reinforce the two more
directly threatened points.

These preparations were carried out in order to support
the advice given by Ogareff, which he was most urgent
should be taken into consideration. Accordingly, after a
council of war had been held in the palace, orders were
issued to concentrate the defence on the right bank of the
Angara and at the two ends of the town, where the earth-
works protected the river.

This was exactly what Ogareff wished. He did not
expect that the Bolchaia Gate would be left entirely
without defenders, but that there would only be a small
number. Besides, Ogareff meant to give such importance
to the diversion, that the Grand Duke would be obliged to
oppose it with all his available forces.

In fact, an occurrence of exceptional gravity, designed by
Ogareff, was to afford its powerful aid to the accomplish-
ment of his design. Even had Irkutsk not been attacked
but on the distant point of the Bolchaia Gate and the
right bank of the river, this occurrence would be sufficient
to attract the whole mass of defenders exactly to the spot
to which Ogareff wished to draw them. His purpose was
at the same time to produce so frightful a catastrophe
that terror must inevitably overwhelm the hearts of the
besieged.

There was every chance that the gate, left free at the
time appointed, would be clear for the entrance of the
thousands of Tartars now concealed under cover of the
thick forest to the East.

All day the garrison and population of Irkutsk were
on the alert. The measures to repel an attack on the
points hitherto unassailed had been taken. The Grand
THE NIGHT OF THE FIFTH OF OCTOBER. 327

Duke and General Voranzoff visited the posts, strengthened
by their orders. Wassili Fedor’s corps occupied the North
of the town, but with orders to throw themselves where
the danger was greatest. The right bank of the Angara
had been protected with the few guns possessed by the
defenders. With these measures, taken in time, thanks to
the advice so opportunely given by Ivan Ogareff, there
was good reason to hope that the expected attack would
be repulsed. In that case the Tartars, momentarily dis-
couraged, would no doubt not make another attempt
against the town for several days. Now the troops ex-
pected by the Grand Duke might arrive at any hour. The
safety or the loss of Irkutsk hung only by a thread.

On this day, the sun which had risen at twenty minutes
to six, set at forty minutes past five, having traced its
diurnal arc for eleven hours above the horizon. The
twilight would struggle with the night for another two
hours. Then it would be intensely dark, for the sky was
cloudy, and there would be no moon.

This gloom would favour the plans of Ivan Ogareff.

For a few days already a sharp frost had given warning
of the approaching rigour of the Siberian winter, and this
evening it was especially severe. The soldiers posted on
the right bank of the Angara, obliged to conceal their
position, had lighted no fires. They suffered cruelly from
the low temperature. A few feet below them, the ice in
large masses drifted down the current. All day these
masses had been seen passing rapidly between the two
banks.

This had been considered by the Grand Duke and his
officers as a fortunate circumstance. |

Should the channel of the Angara continue to be
thus obstructed, the passage must be impracticable. The
Tartars could use neither rafts nor boats. As to supposing
that they could cross the river on the ice, that was not
possible. The newly-frozen plain could not bear the
weight of an assaulting column.

But this circumstance, as it appeared favourable to the
328 MICHAEL STROGOFF.
defenders of Irkutsk, Ogareff might have regretted. He
did not do so, however !

The traitor knew well that the Tartars would not try
to pass the Angara, and that, on its side at least, their
attempt was only a feint.

About ten in the evening, however, the state of the
river sensibly improved, to the great surprise of the
besieged and still more to their disadvantage. The
passage, till then impracticable, became all at once possible.
The bed of the Angara was clear. The blocks of ice,
which had for some days drifted past in large numbers,
disappeared down the current, and five or six only now
occupied the space between the banks. They no longer
presented even the same structure as those formed under
ordinary conditions and by the influence of a regular
frost. .They were simple pieces, torn off from some. ice-
field, smooth, and not rising in rugged lumps.

The Russian officers reported this change in the’state
of the river to the Grand Duke. They suggested that
this change was probably caused by the circumstance that
in some narrower part of the Angara, the blocks had accu-
mulated so as to form a barrier.

We know that such was the case.

The passage of the Angara- was thus open to the
besiegers. There was greater reason than ever for the
Russians to be on their guard.

Up to midnight nothing had occurred. On the Eastern
side, beyond the Bolchaia Gate, all was quiet. Not a
glimmer was seen in the dense forest, which appeared con-
founded on the horizon with the masses of clouds hanging
low down in the sky.

Lights flitting to and fro in the Angara camp, showed
that a considerable movement was taking place.

From a verst above and below the point where the
scarp met the river’s bank, came a dull murmur, proving
that the Tartars were on foot, expecting some signal.

An hour passed. Nothing new.

The bell of the Irkutsk cathedral was about to strike
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st !*? said Ivan Ogareff.

‘6 At la
THE NIGHT OF THE FIFTH OF OCTOBER. 329

two o’clock in the morning, and not a movement amongst
the besiegers had yet shown that they were about to com-
mence the assault.

The Grand Duke and his officers began to suspect that
they had been mistaken. Had it really been the Tartars’
plan to surprise the town? The preceding nights had not
been nearly so quiet—musketry rattling from the outposts,
shells whistling through the air ; and this time, nothing.

The Grand Duke, General Voranzoff, and their aide-de-
camps, waited, ready to give their orders, according to
circumstances.

We have said that Ogareff occupied a room in the
palace. It was a large chamber on the ground floor, its
windows opening on a side terrace. By taking a few steps
along this terrace, a view of the river could be obtained.

Profound darkness reigned in the room. Ogareff stood
by a window, awaiting the hour to act. ‘The signal, of
course, could come from him alone. This signal once
given, when the greater part of the defenders of Irkutsk
would be summoned to the points openly attacked, his
plan was to leave the palace and hurry to the accomplish-
ment of his work. :

He now crouched in the shadow of the recess, like a
wild beast ready to spring on its prey.

A few minutes before two o’clock, the Grand Duke
desired that Michael Strogoff—which was the only name
they could give to Ivan Ogareff—should be brought to
him. An aide-de-camp came to the room, the door of
which was closed. Hecalled....

Ogareff, motionless near the window, and invisible in
the shade, took good care not to answer.

The Grand Duke was therefore informed that the
Czar’s courier was not at that moment in the palace.

Two o’clock struck. Now was the time to cause the
diversion agreed upon with the Tartars, waiting for the
assault.

Ivan Ogareff opened the window and stationed himself
at the North angle of the side terrace.
330 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Below him flowed the waters of the Angara, roaring as
they dashed round the broken piles. Ogareff took a
match from his pocket, struck it and lighted a small bunch
of tow, impregnated with priming powder, which he threw
into the river....

It was by the orders of Ivan Ogareff that the torrents
of mineral oil had been thrown on the surface of the
Angara !

There are numerous naphtha springs above Irkutsk, on
the right bank, between the suburb of Poshkavsk and the
town. Ogareff had resolved to employ this terrible means
to carry fire into Irkutsk. He therefore took possession of
the immense reservoirs which contained the combustible
liquid. It was only necessary to demolish a piece of wall
in order to allow it to flow out in a vast stream.

This had been done that night, a few hours previously,
and this was the reason that the raft which carried the
true Courier of the Czar, Nadia, and the fugitives, floated
on a current of mineral oil. Through the breaches in these
reservoirs of enormous dimensions rushed the naphtha in
torrents, and, following the inclination of the ground, it
spread over the surface of the river, where its density
allowed it to float.

This was the way Ivan Ogareff carried on warfare!
Allied with Tartars, he acted like a Tartar, and against his
own countrymen !

The tow had been thrown on the waters of the Angara.
In an instant, with electrical rapidity, as if the current had
been of alcohol, the whole river was in a blaze above and
below the town. Columns of blue flames ran between the
two banks. Volumes of vapour curled up above. The
few pieces of ice which still drifted were seized by the
burning liquid, and melted like wax on the top of a fur-
nace, the evaporated water escaping to the air in shrill
hisses.

At the same moment, firing broke out on the North
and South of the town. The enemy’s batteries discharged
their guns at random. Several thousand Tartars rushed
THE NIGHT OF THE FIFTH OF OCTOBER. 331

to the assault of the earth-works. The houses on the bank,
built of wood, took fire in every direction. A bright light
dissipated the darkness of the night.

“ At last!” said Ivan Ogareff.

And he had good reason for congratulating himself.
The diversion which he had planned was terrible. The
defenders of Irkutsk found themselves between the attack
of the Tartars and the fearful effects of fire. The bells
rang, and all the able-bodied of the population ran, some
towards the points attacked, and others towards the houses
in the grasp of the flames, which it seemed too probable
would ere long envelop the whole town. .

The Gate of Bolchaia was nearly free. Only a very
small guard had been left there. And by the traitor’s
suggestion, and in order that the event might be expiained
apart from him and from political hate, this small guard
had been chosen from the little band of exiles.

Ogareff re-entered his room, now brilliantly lighted
by the flames from the Angara; then he made ready to
go out. .

But scarcely had he opened the door, when a woman
rushed into the room, her clothes drenched, her hair in
disorder.

“Sangarre!” exclaimed Ogareff, in the first moment
of surprise, and not supposing that it could be any other
woman than the gipsy.

It was not Sangarre; it was Nadia!

At the moment when, floating on the ice, the girl had
uttered a cry on seeing the fire spreading along the cur-
rent, Michael Strogoff had seized her in his arms, and
plunged with her into the river itself to seek a refuge in its
depths from the flames. The block which bore them was
then not more than thirty fathoms fromthe first quay
below Irkutsk.

Swimming beneath the water, Michael managed to get
a footing with Nadia on the quay.

Michael Strogoff had reached his journey’s end! He
was in Irkutsk !
332 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“To the governor’s palace!” said he to Nadia.

In less then ten minutes, they arrived at the entrance
to the palace. Long tongues of flame from the Angara
licked its walls, but were powerless to set it on fire.

Beyond, the houses on the bank were in a blaze.

The palace being open to all, Michael and Nadia
entered without difficulty. In the general confusion, no one
remarked them, although their garments were dripping.

A crowd of officers coming for orders, and of soldiers
running to execute them, filled the great hall on the ground
floor. There, in a sudden eddy of the confused multitude,
Michael and the young girl were separated from each
other.

Nadia ran distracted through the passages, calling her
companion, and asking to be taken to the Grand Duke.

A door into a room flooded with light opened before
her. She entered, and found herself suddenly face to face
with the man whom she had met at Ichim, whom she had
seen at Tomsk; face to face with the one whose villainous
hand would an instant later betray the town!

“Tvan Ogareff!” she cried.

On hearing his name pronounced, the wretch started.
His real name known, all his plans would be balked.
There was but one thing to be done; to kill the person
who had just uttered it.

Ogareff darted at Nadia; but the girl, a knife in her
hand, retreated against the wall, determined to defend her-
self. |

“Tvan Ogareff!” again cried Nadia, knowing well that
so detested a name would soon bring her help.

“Ah! Be silent!” hissed out the traitor between his
clenched teeth.

“Tyan Ogareff!” exclaimed a third time the brave
young girl, in a voice to which hate had added ten-fold
strength. : |

Mad with fury, Ogareff, drawing a dagger from his belt,
again rushed at Nadia and compelled her to retreat into a
corner of the room.


Lifted by an irresistible force the villain was dashed to the ground.
(Page 333-)
THE NIGHT OF THE FIFTH OF OCTOBER. 333

Her last hope appeared gone, when the villain, suddenly
lifted by an irresistible force, was dashed to the ground.

“Michael!” cried Nadia.

It was Michael Strogoff.

Michael had heard Nadia’s call. Guided by her voice,
he had just in time reached Ivan Ogareff’s room, and
entered by the open door.

“Fear nothing, Nadia,” said he, placing himself between
her and Ogareff. —
traitor is armed! ... Hecansee!...”

Ogareff. rose, and, thinking he had an immeasurable
advantage over the blind man, threw himself on him.

But with one hand, the blind man grasped the arm of
his enemy, seized his weapon, and hurled him again to the
ground.

Pale with rage and shame, Ogareff remembered that he
wore a sword. He drew it from its scabbard, and returned
a second time to the charge.

Michael Strogoff also knew him.

A blind man! Ogareff had only to deal with a blind
man!. Hewas more than a match for him!

Nadia, terrified at the danger which threatened her
companion in so unequal a struggle, ran to the door calling
for help! | .

“Close the door, Nadia!” said Michael. “ Call no one,
and leave me alone! The Czar’s courier has nothing to
fear to-day from this villain! Let him come on, if ho
dares! J am ready for him.”

In the mean time, Ogareff, gathering himself together
like a tiger about to spring, uttered not a word. The noise
of his footsteps, his very breathing, he endeavoured to con-
ceal from the ear of the blind man. His object was to strike
before his opponent was aware of his approach, to strike
him with a deadly blow. The traitor did not think of
fighting, but assassinating the man whose name he had
stolen.

Nadia, terrified and at the same time confident, watched
334 —C MICHAEL STROGOFF.

this terrible scene with involuntary admiration. Michael’s
calm bearing seemed to have inspired her. Michael’s sole
weapon was his Siberian knife. He did not see his adver-
sary armed with a sword, it is true; but Heaven’s support
seemed to be afforded him. How, almost without stirring,
did he always face the point of the sword ?

Ivan Ogareff watched his strange adversary with visible
anxiety. His superhuman calm had an effect upon him.
In vain, appealing to his reason, did he tell himself that in
so unequal a combat all the advantages were on his side.
The immobility of the blind man froze him. He had
settled on the place where he would strike, his victim. .
He had fixed upon it! ... What, then,: hindered him
from putting an end to his blind antagonist ?

At last, with a spring he drove his sword full at
Michael’s breast.

An imperceptible movement of the blind man’s knife
turned aside the blow. Michael had not been touched,
and coolly he awaited a second attack.

Cold drops stood on Ogareff’s brow. He drew back a
step, then again leaped forward. But as had the first, this
second attempt failed. The knife had simply parried the
blow from the traitor’s useless sword.

Mad with rage and terror before this living statue, he
gazed into the wide-open eyes of the blind man. Those
eyes—which seemed to pierce to the bottom of his soul, and
yet which did not, could not, See exercised a sort of dread-
ful fascination over him.

All at once, Ogareff uttered a cry. A sudden light
flashed across his brain.

“He sees!” he exclaimed, “he sees! ...

And like a wild beast trying to retreat into its den,
step by step, terrified, he drew back to the end of the room.

Then the statue became animated, the blind man walked
straight up to Ivan Ogareff, and placing himself right
before him—

“Yes, I see!” said he. “I see the mark of the knout
which I gave you, traitor and coward! I see the place

99
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on

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WIS



an ?”? he asked.

‘Who killed that m

(Pa ze 335.)
THE NIGHT OF THE FIFTIL OF OCTCBER. 335

—_—_— -—.



where I am about to strike you! Defend your life! It is
a duel I deign to offer you! My knife against your
sword !”

“He sees!” said Nadia. “Gracious Heaven, is it
possible !”’

Ogareff felt that he was lost. But mustering all his
courage, he sprang forward on his impassible adversary.
The two blades crossed, but at a touch from Michael’s knife,
wielded in the hand of the Siberian hunter, the sword flew
in splinters, and the wretch, stabbed to the heart, fell
lifeless on the ground.

At the same moment, the door was thrown open. The
Grand Duke, accompanied by some of his officers, appeared
on the threshold.

The Grand Duke advanced. In the body lying on the
sround, he recognized the man whom he believed to be the
Czar’s courier.

Then, in a threatening voice—- -

“Who killed that man?” he asked.

“T.” replied Michael. |

One of the officers put a pistol to his temple, ready
to’ fire. | |

“Your name?” asked the Grand Duke, before giving
the order for his brains to be blown out.

“Your Highness,” answered Michael, “ask me rather
the name of the man who lies at ‘your feet!”

“That man, I know him! He is a servant of my
brother! He is the Czar’s courier!”

“That man, your Highness, is not a courier of the Czar!
Ife is Ivan Ogareff !”

“Tvan Ogareff!” exclaimed the Grand Duke.

“Yes, Ivan the Traitor!”

“ But who are you, then?”

“Michael Strogoff !”
336 MICIIAEL STROGOFF.

ns

CHAPTER XV.
CONCLUSION.

MICHAEL STROGOFF was not, had never been, blind. A
purely human phenomenon, at the same time moral and
physical, had neutralized the action of the incandescent
blade which Feofar’s executioner had passed before his
eyes.

It may be remembered, that at the moment of the
execution, Marfa Strogoff was present, stretching out her
hands towards her son. Michael gazed at her as a son
would gaze at his mother when it is for the last time.
The tears, which his pride in vain endeavoured to subdue,
welling up from his heart, gathered under his eyelids, and
volatilizing on the cornea, had saved his sight. The
vapour formed by his tears interposing between the
glowing sabre and his eyeballs, had been sufficient to
annihilate the action of the heat. A similar effect is pro-
duced, when a workman smelter, after dipping his hand in
vapour, can with impunity hold it over a stream of melted
iron.

Michael had immediately understood the danger in
which he would be placed should he make known his
secret to any one. He at once saw, on the other hand,
that he might make use of his supposed blindness for the
accomplishment of his designs. Because it was believed
that he was blind, he would be allowed to go free. He
CONCLUSION. 337
must therefore be blind, blind to all, even to Nadia, blind
everywhere, and not a gesture at any moment must let the
truth be suspected. His resolution was taken. He must
risk his life even to afford to all he might meet the proof
of his want of sight. We know how perfectly he acted the
part he had determined on.

His mother alone knew the truth, and he had whispered
it to her in Tomsk itself, when bending over her in the
dark he covered her with kisses.

When Ogareff had in his cruel irony held the Imperial
letter before the eyes which he believed were destroyed,
Michael had been able to read, and had read the letter
which disclosed the odious plans of the traitor. This was
the reason of the wonderful resolution he exhibited during
the second part of his journey. This was the reason of
his unalterable longing to reach Irkutsk, so as to perform
his mission by word of mouth. He knew that the town
would be betrayed! He knew that the life of the Grand
Duke was threatened! The safety of the Czar’s brother
and of Siberia was in his hands.

This story was told in a few words to the Grand Duke,
and Michael repeated also—and with what emotion !—the
part Nadia had taken in these events.

“Who is this girl ?” asked the Grand Duke.

“The daughter of the exile, Wassili Fedor,” replied
Michael. |

“The daughter of Captain Fedor,’ said the Grand
Duke, “has ceased to be the daughter of an exile. There
are no longer exiles in Irkutsk.”

Nadia, less strong in joy than she had been in grief,
fell on her knees before the Grand Duke, who raised her
with one hand, while he extended the other to Michael.

An hour after, Nadia was in her father’s arms.

Michael Strogoff, Nadia, and Wassili Iedor were
united. This was the height of happiness to them all.

The Tartars had been repulsed in their double attack
on the town. Wassili Fedor, with his little band, had
driven back the first assailants who presented themselves


338 MICIIACL STROGOFF.

— ——— --—

at the Bolchaia Gate, expecting to find it open for them,
and which, by an instinctive feeling, often arising from
sound judgment, he had determined to remain at and
defend.

At the same time as the Tartars were driven back the
besieged had mastcred the fire. The liquid naphtha having
rapidly burnt to the surface of the water, the flames did
not go beyond the houses on the shore, and left the other
quarters of the town uninjured.

Before daybreak the troops of Feofar-Khan had re-
treated into their camp, leaving a large number of dead on
and below the ramparts.

Among the dead was the gipsy Sangarre, who had
vainly endeavoured to join Ivan Ogareff.

For two days the besiegers attempted no fresh assault.
They were discouraged by the death of Ogareff. This
man was the mainspring of the invasion, and he alone, by
his plots long since contrived, had had sufficient influence
over the khans and their hordes to bring them to the
conquest of Asiatic Russia.

However, the defenders of. Irkutsk kept on their guard,
and the investment still continued; but on the 7th of
October, at daybreak, cannon boomed out from the heights
around Irkutsk. ;

It was the succouring army under the command of
General Kisselef, and it was thus that he made known his
welcome arrival to the Grand Duke.

The Tartars did not wait to be attacked. Not daring
to run the risk of a battle under the walls of Irkutsk, they
immediately broke up the Angara camp.

Irkutsk was at last relieved.

With the first Russian soldiers, two of Michael’s friends
entered the city. They were the inseparable Blount and
Jolivet. On gaining the right bank of the Angara by
means of the icy barrier, they had escaped, as had the
other fugitives, before the flames had reached their raft.
This had been noted by Alcide Jolivet in his book in this
way :—
CONCLUSION. 339

“Ran a narrow chance of being finished up like a
lemon in a bowl of punch!”

Their joy was great on finding Nadia and Michael safe
and sound; above all, when they learnt that their brave
companion was not blind. Harry Blount inscribed this
observation :— |

“ Red-hot iron is insufficient in some cases to destroy
the sensibility of the optic nerve.”

Then the two correspondents, settled for a time in
Irkutsk, busied themselves in putting the notes and
impressions of their journey in order. Thence were sent to
London and Paris two interesting articles relative to the
Tartar invasion, and which—a rare thing—did not contradict
each other even on the least important points.

The remainder of the campaign was unfortunate to the
Emir and his allies. This invasion, futile as all which
attack the Russian Colossus must be, was very fatal to them.
They soon found themselves cut off by the Czar’s troops,
who retook in succession all the conquered towns. Besides
this, the winter was terrible, and, decimated by the cold,
only a small part of these hordes returned to the steppes
of Tartary.

The Irkutsk road, by) way of the Ural Mountains, was
now open. The Grand Duke was anxious to return to
Moscow, but he delayed his journey to be present at a
touching ceremony, which took place a few days after the
entry of the Russian troops.

Michael Strogoff sought Nadia, and in her father’s
presence said to her—

“Nadia, my sister still, when you left Riga to come to
Irkutsk, did you leave it with any other regret than that
for your mother ?”

“No,” replied Nadia, “none of any sort whatever.”

“Then, nothing of your heart remains there?”

“ Nothing, brother.”

“Then, Nadia, ” said Michael, «J think that God, in
allowing us to meet, and to go through so many severe
trials together, must have meant us to be united tor ever.”
x

340 MICHAEL STROGOFF.

“Ah!” said Nadia, falling into Michael’s arms. Then
turning towards Wassili Fedor—

“My father,” said she, blushing.

“Nadia,” said Captain Fedor, “it will be my joy to call
you both my children!”

The marriage ceremony took place in Irkutsk cathe-
dral. Though simple in its detail, it was unusually brilliant
in consequence of the presence of the whole. civil and
military population, who wished to show their deep grati-
tude to the two young people, whose Odyssey had already
become legendary.

Jolivet and Blount very naturally assisted at this mar-
riage, of which they wished to give an account to their
readers.

“And doesn’t it make you wish to imitate them?”
asked Alcide of his friend.

“Pooh!” said Blount. “ Now if I had a cousin like
you—— 3)

“My cousin isn’t to be married!” answered Alcide,
laughing.

“ So much the better,” returned Blount, “for they speak
of difficulties arising between London and Pekin. Have
you no wish to go and see what is going on there?”

“ By Jove, my dear Blount!” exclaimed Alcide Jolivet,
“T was just going to make the same proposal to you.’

And that was how the two inseparables set off for China.

A few days after the ceremony, Michael and Nadia
Strogoff, accompanied by Wassili Fedor, took the route to
Europe. The road so full of suffering when going, was a
road of joy in returning. They travelled swiftly, in one
of those sleighs which glide like an express train across
the frozen steppes of Siberia.

However, when they reached the banks of the Dinka,
just before Birskoé, they stopped for a while.

Michael found the place where he had buried poor
Nicholas. A cross was erected there, and Nadia prayed a
last time on the grave of the humble and heroic friend,
whom neither of them would ever forget.
FA

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(Page 340.)

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CONCLUSION. 341

At Omsk, old Marfa awaited them in the little house
of the Strogoffs. She clasped passionately in her arms
the girl whom in her heart she had already a hundred
times called “daughter.” The brave old Siberian, on that
day, had the right to recognize her son and say she was
proud of him. :

After a few days passed at Omsk, Michael and Nadia
entered Europe, and, Wassili Fedor settling down in St.
Petersburg, neither his son nor his daughter had any occa-
sion to leave him, except to go and see their old mother.

The young courier was received by the Czar, who
attached him specially to his own person, and gave him
the Cross of St. George. |

In the course of time, Michael Strogoff reached a high
station in the Empire. But it is not the history of his
success, but the history of his trials, which deserves to be
related
THE MUTINEERS.



A ROMANCE OF MEXICO.
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Don Orteva and Pablo.
(Page 349.)
THE MUTINEERS-



CHAPTER I.
FROM THE ISLE OF GUAJAN TO ACAPULCO.

ON the 18th of October, 1825, the Asza, a high-built
Spanish ship, and the Cozstanzia, a brig of eighteen guns,
cast anchor off the island of Guajan, one of the Mariannas.

The crews of these vessels, badly-fed, ill-paid, and
harassed with fatigue during the six months occupied by
their passage from Spain, had been secretly plotting a
mutiny. | .

The spirit of insubordination more especially exhibited
itself on board the Constanzia, commanded by Captain
Don Orteva, a man of iron will, whom nothing could bend.
The brig had been impeded in her progress by several
serious accidents, so unforeseen that they could alone, it
was evident, have been caused by intentional malice. The
Asia, commanded by Don Roque de Guzuarte, had been
compelled consequently to put into port with her. One
night the compass was broken, no one knew how; on
another the shrouds of the foremast gave way as if they



* This tale, under the title of ‘A Mexican Drama,” formed one of a
collection written before the publication by the author of his ‘‘ Six Weeks
im a Balloon.”
346 | THE MUTINEERS.

had been cut, and the mast with all its rigging fell over the
side. Lastly, during important manceuvres, on two occa-
sions the rudder-ropes broke in the most unaccountable
manner.

The island of Guajan, as is the case with all the
Mariannas, is under the government of the Captain-General
ot the Philippines. The Spaniards consequently found
themselves at home in the port, and were able speedily to
repair the damages their vessels had received. While they
were thus compelled to remain at anchor, Don Orteva
informed Don Roque of the mutinous spirit which he had
observed on board the brig, and the two captains agreed
to be on their guard, and to redouble their vigilance.

Don Orteva had especially to keep an eye on two
men of his crew—his lieutenant Martinez and José the
captain of the maintop. Lieutenant Martinez, who had
already compromised his character as an officer by joining
in the cabals of the forecastle, had in consequence been
several times under arrest, and during his imprisonment,
the midshipman Pablo had done duty as lieutenant of the
Constanzia.

As to the seaman José, he was a contemptible fellow,
who was only influenced by love of gold. He was, how-
ever, Closely watched by the honest boatswain Jacopo, in
whom Don Orteva placed the fullest confidence.

Young Pablo was one of those gallant natures whose
generosity prompts them to dare anything. He was an
orphan who, saved and brought up by Captain Orteva,
would readily have given his life for that of his benefactor.

In frequent long conversations with Jacopo, Pablo had
been led by the openness of his nature, and in the warmth
of his heart, to speak of the filial affection he bore Don
Orteva, and honest Jacopo heartily shook hands with him
to show his sympathy. Don Orteva had thus consequently
two devoted men on whom he could entirely depend. But
what could all three do against the ill-feeling of a lawless
crew? While they endeavoured day and night to over-
come the unruly spirit of the men, Martinez, José, and the
FROM THE ISLE OF GUAJAN TO ACAPULCO. 347

other sailors, became more and more determined to carry
out their mutinous projects.

The evening before they were to set sail, Lieutenant
Martinez went to a low tavern at Guajan, where he met
several petty officers, and about twenty of the seamen of
both ships.

“ Comrades!” exclaimed Martinez, “thanks to the
accidents which so opportunely happened, the ship and
the brig were compelled to put into port, and I have been
enabled to come here that I might consult secretly with
you!”

“Bravo!” replied the party of men, with one voice.

“Speak, lieutenant,’ exclaimed several of the sailors,
“and let us hear your plans.”

“This is my scheme,” answered Martinez. “ As soon
as we shall have made ourselves masters of the two vessels,
we will steer a course for the coast of Mexico. You must
know that the new Confederation possesses no ships of
war ; she will, therefore, be eager to buy our ships without
asking questions, and not only shall we regularly receive
our pay for the future, but the price we obtain for the ships
will be fairly divided among us.”

“ Agreed !””

“And what shall be the signal for acting in concert on
board the two ships ?” asked José the topman.

“A rocket fired from the Asza,’ answered Martinez ;
“that shall be the moment for action. We are ten to one,
and the officers of the ship and the brig will be made
prisoners before they will have time to know what is
happening.” |

“When shall we look out for the signal?” asked one
of the boatswain’s mates of the Constanzia.

“In a few days hence, when we shall be off the island
of Mindanao.”

“ But the Mexicans, will they not receive our ships with
cannon shots?” inquired José in a hesitating tone. “If I
mistake not, the Confederation has issued a.decree to pro-
hibit any Spanish ships from entering her harbours, and
348 THE MUTINEERS.



—_—

instead of gold it will be iron and lead they will be sending
on board us!”

“Don’t trouble yourself about that, José. We will let
them know who we are from a distance,’ answered
Martinez. .

“ How is that to be done?”

“ By hoisting the Mexican colours at the gaffs of our
ships;” and saying this, Lieutenant Martinez displayed
before the eyes of the mutineers, a green, white, and red
flag.

The ‘exhibition of this emblem of Mexican independ-
ence was received with gloomy silence.

“Do you already regret the flag of Spain?” cried the
lieutenant, in a mocking tone. “ Very well, let those who
feel such regrets at once separate from us, and pleasantly
continue the voyage under the orders of Captain Don
Roque, or Commander Don Orteva. As for us, who do
not wish any longer to obey them, we shall soon find the
means of rendering them helpless.

“We'll stick by you,” cried the whole party with one
accord.

“Comrades,” replied Martinez, “the commanders
calculate on being able, by means of the trade winds, to
steer a course for Sunda, but we will show them that it is
possible to beat up against the easterly winds of the
Pacific Ocean.”

The seamen who had been present at this secret meet-
ing then separated, and by different routes regained their
respective ships. The next morning at daybreak the Asza
and the Conzstanzia weighed anchor, and, leaving the island
to the south-west, steered a course for New Holland.
Lieutenant Martinez had returned to his duty, but, accord-
ing to the orders of Captain Orteva, he was closely
watched.

During this time Don Orteva was sadly troubled with
sinister forebodings. He was well aware how completely
fallen was the Spanish navy; that insubordination had
greatly contributed to its destruction. On the other hand
FROM THE ISLE OF GUAJAN TO ACAPULCO. 349



his patriotism would not allow him to reflect calmly on the
successive reverses which had overtaken his country, to
which, as it seemed to him, the revolt of the Mexican
States had put the finishing stroke. He was frequently in
the habit of conversing with the midshipman Pablo on
these serious matters, and he especially took a satisfaction
in talking to him of the former supremacy of the Spanish
navy in every part of the ocean.

“My boy,” said he one day, “we have no longer
discipline among our sailors. There are, especially, signs
of mutiny on board this vessel; and it is possible—indeed
I have a foreboding—that some abominable treason will
deprive me of life! But you will avenge me, will you not?
You will at the same time avenge Spain; for will not the
blow which strikes me, be really aimed at her ?”

“T swear it, Captain Orteva!” answered Pablo.

“Do not make yourself the enemy of any one on
board the brig, but remember when the day comes, my
boy—that unhappy time—the best mode of serving one’s
country is first to watch, and then to chastise, the wretched
beings who would betray her.”

“J promise you that I will die!” answered the mid-
shipman, “yes, that I will die, should it be necessary, to
punish the traitors !”

Three days had passed since the vessels had left the
Mariannas. The Constansia sailed with yards squared
before a brisk breeze. The brig, with her low, gracefu,
hull, light rigging, and raking masts, bounded over the
seas which covered with foam her eight six-pounde:
carronades.

“Ten knots, lieutenant,” said the midshipman Pablo,
one evening to Martinez. “If we continue thus to spin
along with the wind right aft, our passage will not be a
long one.”

“Grant that it may be so! We have gone through
sufferings enough to make us wish to see the end o!
them.”

The seaman José, who was at that moment close
350 THE MUTINEERS.
to the quarterdeck, heard the words uttered by the
lieutenant.

“We ought before long to have the land in sight,” ex-
claimed Martinez in a loud voice.

“The island of Mindanao,’ answered the midshipman.
“We have reached, indeed, a hundred and forty degrees of
west longitude, and the eighth of north latitude, and if I
am not mistaken, that island is about ”

“A hundred and forty degrees, thirty-nine minutes
west longitude, and seven degrees latitude,” quickly replied
Martinez.

José looked up, and, having made a slight sign to Mar-
tinez, he hurried forward.

“Ts it not your middle watch, Pablo?” asked Martinez.

“Yes, lieutenant.”

“Tt is now but six o’clock. I will not detain you.”

Pablo went below.

Martinez remained alone on the poop and turned his
eyes towards the Asza, which was sailing to leeward of the
brig.

The evening was magnificent, and presaged one of
those lovely nights in the tropics which are both fresh and
calm.

The lieutenant endeavoured to ascertain in the gloom
who were the men on watch. He recognized José and
those sailors with whom he had held the meeting at the
island of Guajan.

Martinez immediately approached the man at the helm.
He spoke two words to him in a low voice, and that was
all, But it might have been observed that the helm was
put a little more a-weather than before, so that the brig
sensibly drew nearer the larger ship.

Contrary to the usual custom on board ship, Martinez
paced up and down on the lee side, in order that he might
obtain an uninterrupted view of the Aszz. Restless and
agitated, he kept turning a speaking-trumpet round and
round iri his hand.

Suddenly a report was heard on board the ship.


FROM THE ISLE OF GUAJAN TO ACAPULCO. 35!



At this signal Martinez leaped on to the hammock-
nettings, and in a loud voice—

“All hands on deck!” he cried. “Brail up the
courses !”

At that moment Don Orteva, followed by his officers,
came out of his cabin, and addressing himself to the
lieutenant—

“Why was that order given?”

Martinez, without answering, sprang down from the
hammock-nettings, and ran to the forecastle.

“Down with the helm!” he shouted out. “Brace the
yards to port! Quick—haul away! Let fly the jib-
sheet !”

At this moment some fresh reports were heard from on
board the Asza.

The crew obeyed the orders of the lieutenant, and the
brig coming quickly to the wind hove to under her fore
top-sail.

Don Orteva, turning to the few men who remained
near him—

“Stand by me, my brave lads!” he cried.

And advancing towards Martinez—

“ Seize that officer!” he exclaimed.

“Death to the commander!” replied Martinez.

~ Pablo and two officers drew their swords and held their
pistols in their hands. Some seamen, led by Jacopo, were
rushing to their support, but, quickly stopped by the muti-
neers, were disarmed and rendered incapable of giving
assistance.

The marines and the crew, drawn up across the entire
width of the deck, advanced towards their officers. The
men who had remained staunch to their duty, driven into
a corner of the poop, had but one course to take—it was
to throw themselves on the mutineers. |

Don Orteva pointed the muzzle of his pistol at Mar-
tinez. |

At that moment a rocket was seen to rise from the
deck of the Asza.
352 THE MUTINEERS.

ete



———

“Our friends have succeeded !” cried Martinez.

The bullet from Don Orteva’s pistol was lost in space.

This scene did not last long. The captain crossed
swords with the lieutenant, but, overwhelmed by numbers
and severely wounded, he was borne to the deck. His
officers in a few seconds were compelled to share his fate.

Blue lights were now let off in the rigging of the brig,
and replied to by others from the Asza. The mutiny had
at the same moment broken out and proved triumphant
on board the ship.

Lieutenant Martinez was master of the Cozstanzia,
and his prisoners were thrust pell mell into the main
cabin.

But with the sight of blood the ferocious passions of
the crew burst forth. It was not enough for them to have
conquered; they thirsted for the blood of those they had
overcome.

“To the yard-arm with them!” shouted several of the
most savage.

“Trice them up, trice them up! Dead men tell no
tales!”

Lieutenant Martinez, at the head of these blood-thirsty
mutineers, was rushing towards the main cabin, but the
rest of the crew strongly objected to so eruel a massacre,
and the officers were saved.

“Bring Don Orteva up on deck,” cried Martinez,

His orders were obeyed.

“Orteva,” said Martinez, “I command these two vessels.
Don Roque is, as you are, my prisoner. To-morrow, we
shall abandon you both ona desert shore; we shall then
direct our course towards the coast of Mexico, and these
ships will be given up to the Republican Government.”

“Traitor!” answered Don Orteva.

“Set the courses! Trim sails! Secure this man on
ihe poop!” :

He pointed to Don Orteva. The seamen obeyed his
orders.

“Let the others be cast into the hold! Forward!
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FROM THE ISLE OF GUAJAN TO ACAPULCO. 353

Be smart, my lads! Down with the helm! Raise tacks
and sheets!”

The manceuvre was rapidly performed. Captain Don
Orteva in the mean time was placed on the lee side of the
brig, concealed by the mainsail. While there he was
heard to shout out to his lieutenant, “Oh, you scoundrel !
You base traitor!”

Martinez, losing all control over himself, leaped on the
pocp with an axe in his hand. Being prevented from
reaching the captain, with a single vigorous stroke he
cut the main sheet. The main boom, forced violently by
the wind, struck the hapless Don Orteva on the head, and
he fell lifeless on the deck.

A cry of horror rose from the crew of the brig.

“His death was accidental!” exclaimed Lieutenant
Martinez. ‘“ Heave the body overboard !”

His orders as usual were obeyed.

The two vessels, keeping close together, ran towards the
coast of Mexico.

The next morning an island was seen abeam. The
boats of the Asza and Constanzia were lowered, and the
officers, with the exception of the midshipman Pablo and
Jacopo the boatswain, who had both submitted to Martinez,
were landed on its desert shore. But a few days subse-
quently they were all happily taken off by an English
whaler and conveyed to Manilla.

How could it possibly have happened that Pablo and
Jacopo could have joined the mutineers? It is necessary
to wait before forming an opinion on the subject.

Some weeks after the events which have been described,
the two vessels anchored in the Bay of Monterey, on the
coast of Old California. Martinez, going on shore, informed
the military governor of the port of his intentions. He
offered to carry to Mexico the two Spanish vessels with
their stores and guns, and to place their crews at the
command of the Confederation. In return, all he asked
was that the Mexican government should pay the whole of

the wages due to them since e they quitted Spain.
2A
354 TIIE MUTINEERS.

In reply to these overtures, the governor said that he had
not sufficient authority to treat with him. He recommended
Martinez to sail for Mexico, where he could himself easily
settle the matter. The lieutenant followed this advice, and
leaving the Asza at Monterey, after a month devoted to
pleasure on shore, he again sailed in the Constanzia.
Pablo, Jacopo, and José formed part of the crew of the
brig, which, with a fair wind under all sail, made the best of
her way for the port of Acapulco,
( 355 j

CHAPTER II.
FROM ACAPULCO TO CIGUALAN,

OF the four ports which Mexico possesses on the side of
the Pacific Ocean, namely, San Blas, Zacatula, Tehuantepec,
and Acapulco, the last offers the greatest accommodation to
shipping. The town, it is true, is badly built and unhealthy,
but the anchorage is secure, and the harbour can easily
contain a hundred vessels. Lofty cliffs shelter the ships
at anchor from every wind, and form so tranquil a basin,
that a stranger arriving by land looks down upon what he
may suppose to be a lake surrounded by mountains.

Acapulco was at this time protected by three forts
flanking it on the right side, while the entrance was de-
fended by a battery of seven guns which could, when
necessary, cross their fire at a right angle with those of
Fort San Diogo. That fort, armed with thirty pieces of
artillery, completely commanded the harbour, and would
inevitably have sent to the bottom any craft which might
have attempted to force an entrance into the port.

The town had therefore nothing to fear, notwith-
standing which, a universal panic seized the inhabitants
three months after the events which have just been
related.

It happened thus: A ship was signalled approaching
the port. So completely did the people of Acapulco
doubt the intentions of the stranger, that nothing would
350 THE MUTINEERS.

make them believe that she came as a friend. That which
the new Confederation mostly feared, and not without
reason, was to be again brought under the dominion of
Spain. This was because, notwithstanding that a treaty
of commerce had been signed with Great Britain, and a
chargé a@ affaires had arrived from London, which court
had acknowledged the Republic, the Mexican Government
did not possess a single ship to protect their coast. How-
ever that might be, thé strange vessel was evidently some
hardy adventurer, which the north-westerly gales, blustering
on their shores fromthe autumnal equinox to the spring,
had probably driven hither with shivered canvas.

If this was not the case, the people of Acapulco could
not tell what to think, and at all events they were making
every possible preparation to resist the expected attack of
the stranger, when the suspicious vessel ran up to her
peak the flag of Mexican independence!

Having got to about half cannon-shot from the port,
the Constanzia, whose name could be clearly read on her
counter, suddenly came to an anchor, her sails were furled,
and a boat, which was at once lowered, pulled rapidly
towards the harbour.

Lieutenant Martinez, having disembarked from her, pro-
ceeded at once to the governor, to whom he explained the
circumstances which brought him to the place. The latter
highly approved of the resolution taken by the lieutenant
to join the Mexicans, and assured him that General
Guadalupe, President of the Confederation, would cer-
tainly agree to purchase the two vessels. |

No sooner was the news known in the town than the
people broke out into transports of joy. The whole popu-
lation turned out to admire the first vessel of the Mexican
navy, and saw in their new possession, with this proof of
the disorganization prevailing in the Spanish service, the
means of more completely defeating all fresh attempts
which might be made by their former oppressors to over-
come them.

Martinez returned on board the brig. Some hours
FROM ACAPULCO TO CIGUALAN. 357

afterwards the Cozstanzia was anchored in the port, and
her crew were quartered among the inhabitants of
Acapulco.

When, however, Martinez called over the roll of his
followers, neither Pablo nor Jacopo answered to their
names. They had both disappeared !

One of the principal characteristics of Mexico is the
height and extent of the plateau of which it occupies the
centre. The chain of the Cordilléras, under the general
name of the Andes, traverses the whole of South America,
furrows Guatemala, and as it approaches Mexico is divided
into two branches, which run parallel on both sides of the
territory. Now these two branches are but the sides of the
vast plateau of Anahuac, elevated two thousand five hun-
dred feet above the neighbouring oceans. This succession
of plains, far more extended and not less uniform than
those of Peru and New Granada, occupies about three-fifths
of the country. The Cordillera, on entering the ancient
government of Mexico, takes the name of the “ Sierra
Madre,” and at.the heights where are situated the towns
of San Miguel and Guanascato, after being divided into
three branches, it loses itself at the twenty-seventh degree
of north latitude. |

Between the port of Acapulco and the city of Mexico,
about eighty leagues distant from each other, the heights
are less rugged, and the declivities less abrupt than between
Mexico and Vera Cruz. After leaving behind the granite,
which is seen in the ranges bordering the Pacific Ocean,
and among which is embosomed’ the town of Acapulco,
the traveller encounters only rocks of porphyry, from which
the industry of man obtains gypsum, basalt, native lime-
stone, tin, copper, iron, silver, and gold. Now precisely on
the road from Acapulco to Mexico, where may be seen
vegetation of a most peculiar character, whether remarked
by them or not, two horsemen were riding close alongside
each other a few days after the Constanza had come to an
anchor in the harbour of the former place.

The horsemen were Martinez and José. ‘The sailor
358 THE MUTINEERS.

was well acquainted with the road. He had on numerous
occasions climbed the mountains of Anahuac. So well
did he know it, that although an Indian guide had offered
his services they had been declined. Mounted on excellent
horses, the two adventurers rapidly directed their course
towards the capital of Mexico.

After two hours of a quick trot, which prevented them
from conversing, the two horsemen pulled rein.

“ Avast, lieutenant!” cried José, quite out of breath.
“T would rather ride for a couple of hours on the main-
royal during a gale of wind from the north-west, than go
on at this rate on the back of my brute of a horse.”

“We must push on!” replied Martinez. “You know
the road well, José? You know it, I hope?”

“As well as you know that between Cadiz and Vera
Cruz, and we have not to encounter either the storms of
the Gulf, nor the bars of Taspin or pantander—Dut not
so fast.”

“Let us, on the contrary, go faster!” replied Martinez,
sticking his spurs into his horse’s flanks. “I have my
doubts about this disappearance of Pablo and Jacopo. Can
they mean to make the bargain for themselves, and rob us
of our shares?”

“By St. Jago! they won’t be very far wrong there,”
sulkily replied the seaman. “ It will ‘be a case of thieves
robbing thieves, such as we are.’

“ How many days will it take us to reach Mexico: a”

“Four or five, lieutenant—a mere walk; but not so
fast ; you surely see what a steep hill there is before us.”

In reality they had reached the first slopes which form
the sides of the mountains rising above the wide plains.

“Our horses are not shod,” said the seaman, pulling up,

“and their. hoofs will soon be worn out on these granite
rocks, but after all, do not let us abuse the soil; there is
gold below us, and because we travel over that selfsame
soil, lieutenant, we should not take it into our heads to
abuse it!”

The two travellers had surmounted a slight eminence




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thickly shaded by fan palms, with here and there various
other umbrageous trees. At their feet stretched out a vast
cultivated plain, and all the luxuriance of tropical vegeta-
tion was presented to their eyes. On the left, a forest of
mahogany trees extended across the horizon. The flexible
branches of elegant pepper trees were gently moved by
the warm breezes which came across the Pacific Ocean.

Fields of sugar-cane covered the country. Magnificent
plantations of cotton silently waved their plumes of grey
silk, Here and there bright-coloured convolvuluses hung
in festoons from the branches of the trees, with indigo,
cocoa trees, and forests of logwood and guiac. Here,
too, were seen all the varied floral productions of the
tropics. Dahlias, azaleas, sunflowers, enamelled with
their beautiful tints this wonderful country, which is the
most fertile in the whole Mexican territory. Yes! the
whole face of this beautiful country seemed to sparkle under
the bright rays of the sun cast across it. But alas!
exposed to this tropical heat, and in the midst of all this
beauty, the unhappy inhabitants are often writhing in the
grasp of yellow fever. It is for this reason that large
tracks are left uninhabited and desert, without movement
and without sound.

“What is that cone which rises before us in the
horizon?” asked Martinez of José.

“Tt is the cone of La Brea. It is but slightly elevated
above the plain,’ answered the seaman contemptuously.

This cone is the first important peak of the mountainous
chain of the Cordilleras.

“Tet us push on,” exclaimed Martinez, setting the
example. “ Our horses come from the farms of Southern
Mexico, and in their journeys across the Savannahs they
are unaccustomed to these inequalities in the ground. Let
us profit therefore by the evenness of the road, and make
the best of our way out of these vast solitudes, which are
not formed to put us in good spirits.”

“Does Lieutenant Martinez feel any remorse?” asked
José, shrugging his shoulders.
360 THE MUTINEERS.

“Remorse! No.”

Martinez fell back into perfect silence, and the two
travellers made their steeds move on at arapid trot. They
at length reached the cone of La Brea, which though sur-
rounded by abrupt heights and steep precipices, neverthe-
less differs very greatly from the Sierra Mad-ze with its
unfathomable abysses.

Before attempting to descend, the two horsemen pulled
up to rest their horses. | .

The sun had sunk beneath the horizon when Martinez and
his companion reached the village of Cigualan. The village
is composed of a few huts inhabited by poor Indians, who
are generally known as tame Indians—that is to say,
they cultivate the soil. These aboriginal inhabitants are
generally very idle, because they have nothing to do but
to gather in the wealth with which the fertile earth so pro-
digally supplies them. Their noted sloth distinguishes
them especially from the Indians who live on the higher
plateaus, whom necessity renders industrious, and from
those wandering tribes of the north who live on robbery
and rapine, and who never have any settled habitation.

The two Spaniards were received with but scant
hospitality in this village. The Indians recognized them
as belonging to the nation of their ancient oppressors, and
showed themselves but little inclined to render them assist-
ance. This was in consequence of the fact, that two other
travellers had a short time before passed through the
village, and had laid violent hands on the small amount of
available food which they could discover.

The lieutenant and his comrade paid no attention to
these circumstances, which indeed appeared to them
nothing extraordinary.

Martinez and José were glad enough to take shelter in
a small hovel, where the natives spread for their repast a
stewed sheep’s-head, which was cooked in the following
manner: They dug a hole in the earth, in which, after
having filled with burning wood and some stones cf a nature
to retain the heat, they allowed the combustible materials
Sa:

FROM ACAPULCO TO CIGUALAN. 361
to remain until they were reduced to ashes. They then
placed on the burning embers, without any other prepara-
tion, the meat wrapped in aromatic leaves. On the top of
all, branches were placed, which were hermetically covered
in with earth.

In a wonderfully short time the food was ready, and
the travellers dined, as men do after a long journey, with
sharp appetites.

The repast finished, they stretched themselves on the
eround with their daggers in their hands; they then, not-
withstanding the hardness of their couches, and the inces-
sant biting of the musquitos, overcome by fatigue, quickly
fell asleep.

During the night Martinez frequently started up and,
in am agitated voice, repeated the names of Jacopo and
Pablo, whose disappearance so completely occupied his
mind,
362 THE MUTINEERS.



CHAPTER III.
CIGUALAN TO TASCO.

THE next morning at daybreak, the horses were saddled
and bridled. ‘The travellers, taking a worn-away — path
which wound like a serpent before them, directed their
course towards the east, where the sun was just then seen
ascending above the mountain tops.

Their journey commenced under favourable auspices.
But for the taciturnity of the lieutenant, which contrasted
greatly with the good-humour of the seaman, they might
have been mistaken for the most honest people in the
world. |

The ground continued to rise more and more before
them. The vast plateau of Chilpanzingo, which enjoys
the most beautiful climate of Mexico, in a short time
began to appear spread out before them at the extreme
limits of the horizon. This district, which belongs to the
temperate regions, is situated ten thousand feet above the
level of the sea. It knows neither the heat of the lower
country, nor the cold of the more elevated ground. But
leaving this oasis on their right, the two Spaniards reached
the small village of San Pedro, and after stopping there
three hours, they recommenced their journey, directing
their course towards the little town of Tutila-del-rio.

“Where shall we sleep to-night?” inquired Martinez.

“At Tasco,” answered José. “A large town, lieu-
tenant, compared to this insignificant hamlet.”
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CIGUALAN TO TASCO. 363

“Shall we find a good inn there?”

“Yes, and under a beautiful sky in a lovely climate.
The sun there is much less hot than on the margin of the
sea, and it is from thence that continuing to ascend we
shall arrive gradually, and almost without perceiving it, to
be frozen on the lofty shoulders of Popocatepetl.”

“When shall we get over the mountains, Jose ?”

“By to-morrow evening, lieutenant, and from their
summit—although too far off it is true—we shall perceive
the end of our journey, that golden town of Mexico. Da
you know what I am thinking of, lieutenant ?”

Martinez did not reply.

“JT ask myself what can have become of the officers of
the ship and brig which we abandoned on the desert
island.” |

Martinez trembled. “I do not know,” he answered
sullenly.

“T most heartily hope that all those great persons have
died of hunger,” continued José, “or perhaps when we
landed them, some of them may have tumbled into the
sea, and ‘there is on those shores a kind of shark—the
Tintorea, who never lets. anybody escape him. Holy
Mary! should Captain Don Orteva have come to life
he may have the chance of being swallowed up by a
fish. But, happily, his head was struck by the main-
boom, and by the noise it made must have been completely
crushed.”

“ Hold your tongue!” replied Martinez.

The sailor rode on with closed mouth. “See what
curious scruples this man has,” said José to himself; he
then added in his usual voice, “On my return I shall settle
down in this charming country of Mexico, where one can
enjoy, without stint, these beautiful ananas and bananas,
and where one can eat off plates of gold and silver.”

“Was it for this you mutinied ?” asked Martinez.

“Why not, lieutenant ? it was an affair of dollars.”

“Ah!” exclaimed Martinez with disgust.

“ And you, why did you mutiny ?” inquired José.
564 THE MUTINEERS.

“TI! It was an affair of wounded honour. The lieu-
tenant wished to be revenged on his captain.

“Ah!” exclaimed José with contempt.

There was not much difference between these two men
whatever were their motives.

“Hold!” cried Martinez, pulling up short, “what do I
see down there?”

José rode towards the edge of the cliff. “I can see
no one,” he replied. .

“T saw a man suddenly disappear,” repeated Martinez.

“Tmagination!”

“T did see him,” replied the iieutenant impatiently.

“Very well, look for him at your leisure,’ and José
continued to ride on.

Martinez proceeded towards a clump of mangroves, the
branches of which, taking root as they touched the ground,
formed an impenetrable thicket.

The lieutenant dismounted. It was a perfect solitude.
Suddenly he perceived a spiral form moving about in the
shade. It was a small species of serpent, the head held
fast under a piece of rock, while the hinder part twisted
about as if it had been galvanized.

“There has been some one here,” cried the lieutenant.

Martinez, guilty and superstitious, looked around in
every direction. He began to tremble. ©

“Who, who can they be?” he murmured.

“Well! what is the matter?” asked José, who had now
rejoined him.

“Tt is nothing,’ answered Martinez : ; “let us go on.’

The travellers now took their way ‘along the banks of
the Mexala, a small stream which falls into the river
Balsas, whose course they followed upwards. In a short
time some wreaths of smoke betrayed the presence of the
natives, and the little town of Tutila-del-rio appeared. But
the Spaniards, being in a hurry to reach Tasco before
night, quitted it after a few moments’ rest.

The road now rose very abruptly, so much so that they
could not make their animals go out of a walk. Here and
CIGUALAN. TO TASCO. 365



there olive plantations appeared on the sides of the hills,
and a considerable change was observed in this region,
both in the temperature and vegetation.

The evening soon came on. Martinez followed some
paces behind his guide José, and the latter, not without
difficulty, found his way in the midst of the increasing
darkness.

Looking out for a practicable path, swearing now at a
stump against which he ran, now at the branch of a tree
which struck him, threatening to put out the excellent
cigar he was smoking, the lieutenant let his horse follow
that of his companion. Useless remorse agitated him,
and he gave himself up to the melancholy forebodings
with which he was oppressed.

The night had now completely set in. The travellers
pushed forward. They traversed, without stopping, the
little villages of Contepec and Iguala, and at length arrived
at the town of Tasco.

José had told the truth; it was a large city compared to
the wretched villages at which they had before stopped.
An inn was found in the chief street, and, having giver
up their horses to a stable boy, they entered the principa!
room, where a long and narrow table was covered for a
meal, :

The Spaniards took their places, the one opposite the
other, and commenced devouring a repast which might
have been considered. delicious by native palates, but which
hunger alone could have rendered even bearable to those
of Europeans. It consisted of pieces of chicken swimming
in a sauce of green pepper ; dishes of rice mixed with red
pepper and saffron ; an old cock stuffed with olives; dried
grapes, cresses, and onions; pumpkin puddings and cab-
bages; the whole accompanied by tortillas, a species of
cake half cooked on an iron plate. After this repast, they
were served with some wretchedly bad liquor.

Notwithstanding, little as they relished their food, their
hunger was satisfied, and fatigue made even Martinez and
José sleep until an hour after sunrise the next morning.
366 THE MUTINEERS.

CHAPTER IV.
TASCO TO CUERNAVACA.

THE lieutenant was the first to awake.

“Let us start, José,” he cried out.

The seaman stretched out his arms.

“What road shall we take?” asked Martinez.

“By my faith, I know two, lieutenant.”

“Which are they?”

“One which passes near Zacualican, Tenancingo, and
Toluca. From Toluca to Mexico is the best road when
one has surmounted the Sierre Madre.”

“And the other ?”

“The other leads us a little further to the west, but
then we shall pass near the beautiful mountains of Popo-
catepetl and Icetacihualt. It is the most easy road, but it
is the least frequented ; a pleasant walk of about fifteen
leagues or so, on a gentle incline.” |

“Let us go by the longest road and start at once,” said
Martinez. ‘“ Where shall we sleep to-night ?”

“Sailing about a dozen knots or so, at Cuernavaca,”
answered the seaman.

The two Spaniards hastened to the stable, ordered
their horses to be saddled, filled their saddle-bags with
cakes of maize, grenadas, and dried meat, for among the
mountains they would run a great risk of finding nothing
to eat. The bill paid, they mounted their beasts and took
the road to the right.
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TASCO TO CUERNAVACA. 367

For the first time they perceived the oak, a tree of good
augury, for the sickly emanations of the lower plateaus
never rise above its roots. On these plains, situated five
thousand metres above the level of the sea, the productions
introduced since the Conquest are seen growing amidst
the indigenous vegetation. Fields of corn spread out over
its fertile expanse, on which grow likewise all the European
cereals. The trees of Asia and Europe intermingle their
foliage; the flowers of the East enamel the carpet of ver-
dure, amongst which violets, corn-flowers, verbenas, and
the daisy of the temperate zones are seen. Considerable
numbers of resinous shrubs are scattered over the country,
and the air is perfumed by the odour of vanilla, which
protects by its shade the plants most requiring moisture.

Here the two travellers found themselves comfortable
in a temperature less by twenty or twenty-two: degrees
than that of the zones of Xalapa and Chilpanzingo, which
are comprised under the denomination of the temperate
regions.

Martinez and his companion, having now proceeded
higher and higher over the plateau of Anahuac, crossed
the vast barriers which form the plain of Mexico.

“Oh!” cried José, “ here we have reached the first of
three torrents which we must cross.”

Indeed, a river appeared running deep among the rocks
at the feet of the travellers.

“On my last journey, this torrent was dry,” said José.
“Follow me, lieutenant.”

They both descended by a tolerably easy path cut in
the rock itself. _

“This is one of them,” said José.

“Are the others equally practicable?” the lieutenant
asked.

“ Equally,” replied José. “ During the season when it
rains they are torrents. They throw themselves into the little
river Ixtolucca, which we shall find among the mountains.”

“ Have we nothing to fear among these solitudes ?”

“Nothing, excepting it may be a Mexican dagger !”
368 THE MUTINEERS.

“That is true,” answered Martinez, “the Indians of
these elevated regions are still attached to the use of the
dagger.” : |

“Yes, indeed,” replied the seaman, laughing. “What
a number of words they have to designate their favourite
arm—estoge, verdugo, puna, anchillo, beldoque, navaja.
The names come as quickly to their lips as the dagger
does to their hands. Very well! so much the better.
Holy Mary! at least we shall not have -to fear those in-
visible balls from long carbines. I do not know anything
more provoking than not to be able to discover the wretch
who has killed one!”

“Who are the Indians who inhabit these mountains ?”
asked Martinez.

“ Indeed, lieutenant, who can count the different races
which have multiplied so rapidly in this El Dorado of
Mexico? Just consider the various crosses, which I have
studied so carefully, with the intention I have formed of
some day making an advantageous marriage. We here
find the Mestisa, born of a Spaniard and an Indian
woman ; the Castisa, of a Castisain woman and a Spaniard;
the Mulatto, of a Spanish woman and a Negro; the
Monisque, born of a Mulatto woman and a Spaniard;
the Albino, of a Monisque woman and a Spaniard; the
Tintinclaire, of a Tornatras man and a Spanish woman ;
the Lovo, born of an Indian woman and a Negro; the
Caribujo, of an Indian woman and a Lovo; the Barsino,
born of a Coyote and a Mulatto woman ; the Grifo, born of
a Negress and a Lovo; the Albarazado, born of a Coyate
and an Indian woman; the Chanesa, born of a Métis and
an Indian man; the Mechino, born of a Lovo and a
Coyote!”

José spoke the truth; the mixture of races in this
country causes wonderful difficulties to anthropological
students. Notwithstanding this learned conversation of
the seaman, Martinez continually fell again into his pre-
vious taciturnity : he indeed sometimes pushed on ahead
of his companion, whose presence seemed to annoy him.
TASCO TO CUERNAVACA. 369

—



In a short time two other torrents crossed the road
before them. The lieutenant pulled up at the first, disap-
pointed on seeing that its bed was dry, for he had reckoned
on watering his horse at it.

“ Here we are, in a fix, lieutenant, without food and
without water!” exclaimed José. “Never mind; follow
me. We will look among these rocks and cliffs for the
tree which is called the ‘ ahuehuelt,’ which advantageously
takes the place of the wisps of straw which decorate the
fronts of inns. Under its shade one can always enjoy a
cool draught, and, in a word, it is not only what some call
water, but it is the wine of the desert.”

The horsemen hunted about, and before long discovered
the tree in question, but the promised fountain had been
emptied, and they discovered it must have been visited
only a short time previously.

“Tt is singular,” observed José.

“It is indeed szzgular,” said Martinez, growing pale.
“ Let us push forward.”

The travellers did not exchange another word until
they reached the straggling village of Cacahuimilchan.
Here, having hastily replenished their saddle-bags, they
directed their course towards Cuernavaca, which appeared
before them in the east.

The country now assumed an extremely rugged aspect.
Gigantic peaks rose up before them, their basaltic sum-
mits stopping the clouds wafted by the winds from the
Pacific. Doubling a large rock there appeared high above
them the Fort of Cochicalcho, built by the ancient Mexicans
on a spot elevated nineteen thousand feet above the sea.
The travellers directed their course towards the base of
this vast cone, which was crowned by tottering rocks ana
crumbling ruins.

After having dismounted and fastened their horses to
the trunk of a tree, Martinez and José, wishing to ascertain
the direction of their road, climbed up to the summit of
the cone, assisted by the ruggedness of the sides.

Night now coming on made the outline of objects
2B
379 THE MUTINEERS.

appear very indistinct, and assume the most fantastic
forms. The old fort did not ill resemble an enormous
bison, crouching down its head immovable; but as Mar-
tinez looked at the figure, his disordered imagination made
him fancy that he saw the body of the monstrous animal
move. He did not, however, say anything lest he should
lay himself open to the railleries of the unscrupulous José.
The latter hastily made his way’ round a part of the hill,
and after he had disappeared for some time behind some
broken fragments, he summoned his companion with the
loudness of his “ Saint Iagos!” and “ Saint Marias!”

All of a sudden, an enormous night-bird, uttering a
hoarse shriek, slowly rose on its outstretched wings.

Martinez stopped short ; a vast mass of rock was seen
to shake about thirty feet above him, then a portion of the
mass became detached, and, shattering everything in its
passage with the rapidity of a cannon-ball, came crashing
downwards, and was engulfed in the abyss below. |

“Santa Maria!” cried the seaman. “ Hallo, lieutenant,
what has happened ?”

“José!”

“ Here!”

The two Spaniards rejoined each other.

“What a fearful avalanche descended on us!” exclaimed
the seaman. .

Martinez followed him without saying a word, and the
two soon regained the lower plateau.

Here a large furrow marked the passage of the rock. °

“Santa Maria!” exclaimed José. ‘Look here! Our
two horses have disappeared—crushed dead !”

“Tt is too true!” said Martinez.

“ See here!”

The tree to which the two animals had been fastened
had been indeed carried away with them.

“If we had been under it!” philosophically observed
the seaman, with a shrug of his shoulder.

Martinez was seized with a violent feeling of terror.

“The serpent!—the fountain!—the avalanche!” he
murmured. .
TASCO TO CUERNAVACA. 371

Then he turned his haggard eyes on José.

“ How is it that you do not speak to me of Captain
Orteva?” he cried, his lips contracted with anger.

José drew back.

“Oh, do not talk nonsense, lieutenant! Let us give
the finishing stroke to our poor steeds, and then push
on. It will not do to stop here while the old mountain is
combing her hair.” |

The two Spaniards proceeded on their road without
saying a word, and in the middle of the night they arrived
at Cuernavaca; but it was impossible to procure horses,
and the next morning they directed their course towards
the mountain of Popocatepctl.
372 THE MUTINEERS.



CHAPTER V.
FROM CUERNAVACA TO POPOCATEPETL.

THE temperature was cold and the country was devoid
of vegetation. These inaccessible heights belonged to the
icy zones, known as the cold territory. Already the fir
trees of the foggy regions showed their withered outlines
among the last oaks of these lofty elevations, and springs
became more and more rare among the rugged rocks,
consisting chiefly of porphyry and granite.

After six long hours the lieutenant and his companion
began to drag themselves forward with difficulty, tearing
their hands against rough masses of rock, and cutting their
feet on the sharp stones in their path. At length fatigue
compelled them to sit down. José occupied himself in
preparing something to eat.

“What a cursed idea not to have taken the ordinary
road !” he murmured.

They both, however, hoped to find at Aracopistla—a vil-
lage completely shut in among the mountains—the means
of transport to enable them to reach the end of their
journey. But, after all, they might deceive themselves,
and meet with the same want of accommodation and
hospitality which they had encountered at Cuernavaca.
They must, however, at all events, get there.

They now saw before them the immense cone of
Popocatepetl, its height so vast that the eye becomes lost
FROM CUERNAVACA TO POPOCATEPETL. 373
in the clouds in endeavouring to find the summit of the
mountain.

The road was fearfully parched and dry; on every
side fathomless precipices were to be seen in the sides
of the mountains, and rocks appeared ready to fall on
the heads of the travellers. To regain the chief road it
was necessary to cross a portion of these mountains at a
height of five thousand four hundred feet, near a rock
known by the Indians as the “smoking rock,” for it still
exhibits signs of recent volcanic action. Dark chasms
yawned on every side.. Since the last journey of the
seaman José, some fresh outbreaks had completely
changed the appearance of these solitudes, so that he
could not recognize them ; thus he completely lost himself
among the inaccessible cliffs. He stopped to listen to
some rumbling sounds which came issuing forth here and
there from the cliffs.

Already the sun had gone down, and the massing of
thick clouds in the sky rendered the atmosphere more and
more obscure, and threatened a storm with a deluge of rain,
an event of frequent occurrence in these lofty regions,
where the elevation of the earth accelerates the evapo.
ration of water. Every kind of vegetation had disappeare:
from these rocks, the summits of which are lost in eterna:
snows.. \

“T can do no more!” at length cried José, sinking to
the ground with fatigue.

“Push on!” cried Lieutenant Martinez with feverish
impatience.

_ Some claps of thunder reverberated amid the gorges of
Popoeatepetl.

““Now may Satan take me, for I may count myself
among the lost souls!”

“ Rise up and push on,” roughly exclaimed Martinez.

He compelled José to get up, and the sailor stumbled
forward.

“ And not a human being to guide us,” murmured José.

“So much the better,” observed the lieutenant gruffly.
374 THE MUTINEERS.

“You do not know, then, that every year a thousand
murders are committed in Mexico, and how many in the
environs nobody can calculate!” said José.

“So much the better,” answered Martinez.

Large drops of rain began to fall here and there on the
rocks around them, brightened by the last fading light in
the sky.

“The points we lately saw so clearly around us, where
are they now?” asked the lieutenant.

“Mexico is on the left, Puebla on the right,” replied
José, “if we.could see anything, but nothing can now be
distinguished.”

It became fearfully dark.

“ Before us should be the mountain of Icetacihualt,
and in the ravine at its base a good road ; but what if we
should not reach it!”

“Push on!” cried the lieutenant.

José spoke the truth. The plateau of Mexico is shut
in by an immense barrier of mountains at its base. Itisa
vast oval basin, eight hundred leagues in length, and
twelve hundred in width, and sixty-seven in circumference,
surrounded by lofty heights, among which are to be dis-
tinguished, in the south-west, Popocatepetl and Icetacihualt.

Once having arrived at the top of this barrier, the
traveller finds no difficulty in descending to the plateau
of Anahuac, when, in proceeding towards the north, he
finds the road most beautiful as far as Mexico. He pro-
ceeds amidst long avenues of elms and poplars, and
admires the cypresses planted by the kings of the Astec
dynasty, and the schinus resembling the weeping willows
of the west. Here and there cultivated fields and flower-
gardens diversify the scene, while apple, pear, and cherry-
trees grow in luxuriance under a sky which makes the air
of these high terraces dry and rarefied.

The thunder claps were now repeated with extreme
violence among the mountains. The rain and the wind,
which had hitherto been silent, increased the loudness of
the echces. |
FROM CUERNAVACA TO POPOCATEPETL. 375

Jose went swearing on at every step. Lieutenant
Martinez, pale and silent, gazed with sinister looks at his
companion, whom he regarded as an accomplice he would
gladly get rid of.

Suddenly a flash of lightning illuminated the obscurity.
The seaman and the lieutenant were on the edge of an
abyss.

Martinez hurried up to José, and after the last clap of
thunder he said to him—

“José, I am afraid!”

“Do you dread the storm ?”

“T do not dread the storm in the sky, José; but I fear
the storm which agitates my breast !”

“Oh, you are still thinking of Don Orteva! Come on,
lieutenant! you make me laugh,” answered José. He,
however, did not laugh, as Martinez surveyed him with his
haggard eyes.

A terrible clap of thunder burst over them.

“Hold your tongue! hold your tongue!” cried Mar-
tinez, who appeared to be no longer master of himself.

“The night is a favourable one for preaching to me!”
replied the seaman. “If you have any fear, lieutenant,
shut up your eyes and your ears.”

“Tt seems to. me,” cried Martinez, “that I see the
captain — Don Orteva—with his head crushed there,
there!”

A dark shadow, illuminated the next moment by a
flash of lightning, arose within twenty feet of the lieutenant
anil his companion.

At the same instant José saw close to him Martinez,
his countenance pale and distorted with passion, his hand
grasping a dagger.

“What is there!” he cried out.

A flash of lightning environed them both.

“What! Kill me!” cried José.

A corpse the next moment occupied the place of the
speaker! Martinez fled in the midst of the tempest, his
bloody weapon in his hand.
376 THE MUTINEERS.



A few moments afterwards two men hung over the
dead body of the seaman, saying—

“This is one of them!”

Martinez fled like a madman across the dark solitudes ;
his head uncovered, regardless of the rain, which came
down in torrents.

“Kill me! kill me!” he shrieked out, stumbling over
the slippery rocks.

Suddenly he heard a hoarse sound in the depths be-
neath his feet.

He stopped, knowing that it was the roaring of a
torrent. ;

It was the little river Ixtolucca, which rushed on five
hundred feet below him.

Some paces off, over the torrent, was thrown a bridge
formed of ropes. It was secured on both sides by some
piles driven into the rock. The bridge oscillated in the
wind like a thread extended in space.

Clinging to the ropes, Martinez made his way across
the bridge, and by a great effort he reached the opposite
bank.

There, a shadow rose before him.

Martinez retreated, without saying a word, towards the
bank he had just left.

There, another human form appeared. »

Martinez fell upon his knees in the middle of the
bridge, his hands clasped in despair.

“Martinez, Iam Pablo!” said a voice.

“ Martinez, I am Jacopo!” said another voice.

“You are a traitor! You shall die!”

“You area murderer! You shall die!”

Two loud blows were heard, the piles which secured
the ropes at the extremity of the bridge fell beneath the
axe.

A horrible shriek rent the air, and Martinez, his hands
extended, was precipitated into the abyss.

A league higher up, the midshipman and the boatswain


Death of the mutineer Martinez.

(Page 376 )
FROM CUERNAVACA TO POPOCATEPETL. 377

— -—_—_ —_ —-- -—



rejoined each other, after having passed by a ford the
river Ixtolucca.

“T have avenged Don Orteva!” said Jacopo.

“And I,” replied Pablo, “have avenged Spain!”

In this way the navy of the Mexican Confederation had
its origin.

The two Spanish ships, delivered up by the traitors,
were taken possession of by the new Republic, and became
the nucleus of that small fleet which fought unsuccessfully,
for Texas and California, against the fleet of the United
States of America.

THE END.
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JULES VERNE’S WORKS.

THE AUTHORIZED EDITIONS.

From Messrs. J. Hetzel & Co.

PARIS, LE I® JUILLET, 1876,
18 Rue Facob.
Messieurs. SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & Câ„¢
LiBrRAIRES Epireurs, BRoADwAy, NEw York, U. S.

En reponse & votre demande nous certifions par suite de nos
traités avec MM. Sampson Low, Marston, Low & Searle, Editeurs,
188 Fleet St., Londres, dans lequels nous agissons comme propriétaires
exclusifs des ceuvres de Jules Verne, nous avons autorisés ces messieurs,
a exclusion de tous autres, & publier en Amerique les ouvrages suivant,
de cet auteur:

VincT MILLE LIEUVES Sous LES MERs.
ADVENTURES DE TROIS RUSSES ET DE TROIS ANGLAIS.
DE LA TERRE A LA LUNE.
AUTOUR DE LA LUNE.
_ PAYS DES FORURES.

Le Tour DU MONDE EN 8o Jours.

UNE VILLE FLOTTANTE.

LILE MYSTERIEUSE.

MICHEL STROGOFF,

Et que par suite de cette cession, MM. Sampson Low & Ci*- de
Londres, ont seul le droit d’autoriser la vente des clichés de ces
ouvrages dans les Etats Unis.

Veuillez agréer, Messieurs, nos salutations empressés,

J. HETZEL er Câ„¢

From Sampson Low, Marston & Co.

188 FLEET STREET,
London, E. C., Fuly 3d, 1876.
Messrs. SCRIBNER, ARMSTRONG & Co.,
New York.

Dear Sirs: We hereby beg to certify, that, in accordance with:
the rights ceded to us by MM. Hetzel & Co., we have sold to you
the translations and illustrations of the following works by ules
Verne, viz.:

I. MERIDIANA; OR, ADVENTURES OF THREE RUSSIANS AND
THREE ENGLISHMEN.

2. FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON AND A TRIP ROUND IT,

3. A FLOATING CITY AND THE BLOCKADE RUNNERS,

4. THE MysTerious ISLAND.

5. MICHAEL STROGOFF.

Yours, very truly,
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON & CO.

* THE JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH is published by
Scribner, Armstrong & Co., by direct arrangement with MM. Hetzel
& Co.
RUSSIA IN THE EAST.
Wour Feady =

TURKISTAN :

Notes of a Journey in 1873, in the Russian Province cf
Turkistan, the Khanates of Khokan and Bokhara,
and Provinces of Kuldja.

By EUGENE SCHUYLER, Ph. D.,

Formerly Secretary of the American Legation at St. Petersburg, now
Consul-General at Constantinople.

————__ >
CRITICISMS OF THE FOREIGN PRESS.

From the London Times.

‘¢Mr. Schuyler will be ranked among the most acomplished of living travelers.
Many parts of his bcok will be found of interest, even by the most exacting of
general readers; and, as a whole, it is incomparably the most valuable record
of Central Asia which has been published in this country.’’

From the London News.

‘¢Even those who care little or nothing for geographical problems or for political
controversies, will find quite enough to instruct and amuse them in Mr. Schuyler’s
chiar, descriptive sketches of society and sccenes......... It may be said that
Mr. Schuyler was permitted to see what no foreigner before him had a chance of
seing, and that he came to the task of observation with a training such as very few



foreigners could boast of.’’
From the London Atheneum.
‘*This most accurate and interesting book, which will long remain the standard
English work on Central Asia.”
Irom the London Literary World,
‘His book is of permanent interest as the result of a painful travel in far-distant

lands and points, whether of race, or climate, or politics. A special importance at-
taches to it at the present time. ....... There is a mine of wealth in these

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Trvo vols. Svo. With three Maps, and numerous Illustra-
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