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Story and Legend Library
Story and Legend Library
Fully Illustrated. Price 25. 6d. net each
STORIES OF RUSSIAN FOLK-LIFE. By Donald A.
WONDER TALES FROM THE GREEK AND ROMAN
MYTHS. By Gladys Davidson.
STORIES OF OLD RENOWN. Tales of KnighU and
Heroes. By Ascott R. Hops.
Great Achievements Series
Fully Illustrated. Price 2s. 6d. net each
THE AGE OF MACHINERY. By Alexander R. Hornb.
HEROES OF EUROPEAN NATIONS. By A. R. Hope
HEROINES OF EUROPEAN HISTORY. By A. R. Hope
HEROES OF EXPLORATION. By A. J. Kbr and C. H.
THE MASTERY OF THE AIR. By William J. Claxton.
MODERN WEAPONS OF WAR. By Land, Sea, and Air.
By Cyril Hall.
BLACKIE & SON, Ltd., LONDON. CLXSGOW. BOMBAY
DONALD A. MACKENZIE
AuAeTtf^iitmi ami Hmk Doit tjtkt Gnu War"
BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED
50 OLD BAILEY LONDON
GLASGOW AND BOMBAY
THE TEST OF WAR
THE LADY OF MOSCOW
MIKHAIL THE KRINGEL SELLER -
HOW LITTLE IVAN BECAME A TSAR
TSAR IVAN AND THE SCOTS SOLDIERS
THE MAN WHO FOUGHT THE WOLVES
THE OLD ORDER AND THE NEW -
List of Plates
Pbtrushka Holds thb Wolvbs at Bay - Frontis^c^
<* Maksim felt himself being lifted and cariubd
<* People came from all parts of Russia to gaze
UPON THE Princess" 64
KoKO AND Little Mikhail 80
« < One golden bgo each morning ', said little Ivan's
Sir Jerome Pays a Visit to the Scots Quarter in
Petrushka and Marya Start on the Journey to
*<*JUMP IN I* shouted the DRIVER TO PbTRUSHKA • - l6o
-•. . • '.
• -** ••* •••.
STORIES OF RUSSIAN
Russia is not only the largest but is also one
of the flattest countries in Europe. An impression
of its flatness is obtained from the statement that
the projected canal to connect the Baltic and Black
Seas would require only two locks, and yet be
deep enough for the greatest vessels afloat In
this vast and monotonous land, where even a
small hill seems imposing, the surface features are
all on a big scale. There are great stretches of
forest; the northern port of Archangel, for instance,
draws supplies of timber from a forest as large
as Ireland. There are immense marshes, wide
barren areas, great stretches of fine pasture land^
and of most fertile soil well cultivated.
Mighty rivers intersect the vast Russian plain.
Europe's longest river is the Volga, which has a
course of about 2400 miles, and pours its waters
into the Caspian Sea through some seventy mouths.
It is connected by canals with the Black, Baltic,
10- ■. •..-: Russian Folk- Life
•llantf rPjDlar- ^sas: .Steamers ply up and down it for
hundreds of miles, and it can be navigated by
barges to its source, a small lake situated to the
east of the low Valdai hills. The construction
of canals in connection with the rivers has done
much to promote the agricultural and other in-
dustries. Russia has within its borders over
icx>,ocx> miles of navigable water-ways.
There are sharp changes of climate in the
various areas and during the different seasons.
Over the greater part of the country the winter is
severe, and, of course, lasts longest in the north.
When the snow melts in the Valdai hills, which
form the chief watershed in Russia, the rivers are
flooded and overflow their banks, just as the Nile
overflows in Eg^pt, and large tracts of country lie
under water for several weeks. The summer is
hot and dry. At the northern port of Archangel,
for instance, where the sea is frozen over for six
months, the summer heat is much greater than
in Great Britain, and the fish-curers of Archangel
have to use refrigerators to store the fish. In
the southern agricultural districts the crops often
suffer from summer drought. This drawback,
however, is being gradually overcome by the con-
struction of irrigating canals, and it is calculated
that, eventually, when the Russian rivers are con-
trolled like the Nile, the annual yield of wheat
will be doubled, if not trebled.
Southern Russia is rich in agricultural land.
Northern Russia, a land of great forests, has poor
Introduction 1 1
thin soil, except along the rivers. A line drawn
across the country from the city of Kiev, on the
river Dnieper, to that of Kazan on the Volga,
will form roughly the border between the forest
area and the agricultural area. To the south-
east lie the sandy deserts and steppes round the
Caspian Sea, where the climate is too dry for
The Russians belong for the most part to that
branch of the human race which is known as
Slavonic. There are three main groups of Russian
Slavs, the people of Great Russia, the people of
White Russia, and the people of Little Russia.
These differ from one another in dialect, and to
a certain degree in appearance, just as the areas
they occupy have different characteristics.
Little Russia, about twice the size of France,
embraces chiefly the agricultural district of the
south. Kiev is its principal town. Its climate is,
on the whole, less extreme than in most other
parts of Russia, the winter being more genial
than in the central area. The inhabitants, some-
times called the " Black Russians *', are taller and
darker than those in the northern areas. They
include the Cossacks.
White Russia extends from the boundaries of
Poland in a north-eastern direction. It is a
thinly-populated land of marshes and forests.
Great Russia, which embraces the larger part
of central and eastern Russia, is entirely in the
forest zone. About two-thirds of the Slav popu-
12 Russian Folk-Life
lation inhabit it The people are^ fairer than
those of Little Russia, and they speak a distinct
dialect of the Russian language, which resembles
that of White Russia, but differs greatly from the
speech of Little Russia. The chief city of Great
Russia is Moscow, which was the capital of the
empire before Petrograd was built. The people
are the descendants of the old Muscovites, who
laid the foundation of Russia's greatness.
In addition to the Slavs, the population of
Russia also includes people of several other races.
The most important are: (i) the Lithuanians!
along the Baltic coast; (2) the Finns, in the north;
and (3) the Mongol Tartars, on the east There
are also large communities of Jews, and within
the Arctic circle there are tribes of Lapps owing
allegiance to the Tsar.
The history of Russia is practically the story of
how the Slavs have adapted themselves to the
local conditions of life, and have resisted and
overcome the invasions of aliens who have from
time to time atten^pted to conquer their country.
There are old legends which tell that the
ancestors of the Slavs were three brothers, named
RuSy Lech, and Cech. Each became a king and
founded the nations of the Russians, the Lechites
(the Poles), and the Czechs (the Slavs of Bohemia).
Scholars are not agreed as to the meaning of these
names. Some consider, for instance, that " Rus "
means "Red", and is, in origin, the same name as
Rufus. The northern Russians are of a reddish
fairness. Another theory is that " Rus " is a
Scandinavian tribal name, identical with the
Swedish **Hros". However this may be, from
the earliest times of which we have knowledge
the Slavs on the north of the Black Sea — that
is, in Little Russia — were known as the ** Rus ",
and, as has been stated, the inhabitants of this
area are darker than those of the north.
Russia was divided in ancient times into various
kingdoms. The first historic invaders came from
the north. These were the Norsemen, who were
called the Varagians or Varangians. Among these
conquerors was the famous Rurik (Roderick),
who was, according to later tradition, the founder
of the first Russian dynasty. The capital of the
northern kingdom was Novgorod, which means
New-burgh, a name that suggests the previous
existence of an old borough as an even more
ancient centre of government and trade.
The Varangians invaded the southern lands of
Little Russia, and overcame the petty kings of
Kiev in the ninth century. Thereafter Kiev
became the capital of all the states. United
under one ruler, the Russians then became very
powerful, and began to develop their commerce
and extend their boundaries.
The great trading centre in the south at the
time was Constantinople, the capital of the
Byzantine Empire. Against this city Oleg, the
successor of Rurik, led a strong force. His army
was transported down the river Dnieper to the
14 Russian Folk-Life
Black Sea in 2000 boats, in each of which were
40 men. The narrow strait of the Bosphorus
had been closed by floating booms and could not
be entered. Oleg, however, hit upon a plan to
reach the Sea of Marmora so as to strike direct
at Constantinople. He is said to have had his
ships mounted on wheels and drawn over the
narrow neck of land separating the Black Sea
from the Sea of Marmora. Constantinople was
unable to resist the attack which followed, and
the Byzantine Greeks paid a large indemnity to
the invaders to induce them to withdraw. They
also signed a treaty which gave the Russians
liberty to conduct trade with Constantinople.
Before leaving this city, Oleg fixed his shield
on the outer wall to signify that he had con-
One of the results of Russia's subsequent rela-
tions with Byzantium, which the Turks ultimately
conquered, was the spread of Christianity towards
the north. The old Slavs were pagans, and the
chief god they worshipped was called Perun, the
god of lightning. His statue was of wood, with a
silver face and a golden moustache.
In the reign of Vladimir the idols were de-
stroyed and the Russian people embraced Chris-
tianity. This was the dawn of a new era of
prosperity, and a beginning was made in building
great Christian churches, like the church of St
Sophia at Kiev, which was erected in 1037 and is
still an imposing edifice.
The Northerners, or Varangians, were ulti-
mately driven out of Russia and the power of
the Slavs became supreme. But the empire
was again broken up into petty kingdoms which
waged war against one another. Weakened by
these feuds, the capacity of the Russians to resist
invaders grew less and less.
Early in the thirteenth century great hordes of
Mongol Tartars began to pour out of Asia, re-
solved to conquer not only Russia but the whole
of Europe. Russia then became the protector of
Western civilization, for so great Was the resis-
tance it set up that the Mongolian Tartars found
it impossible to establish permanent sway in the
centre of Europe.
For between two and three centuries (1238-
1462) Russia herself remained under the Tartar
yoke. Her princes had to pay tribute to their over-
lords, who had imposed their will upon the various
states. During this period Moscow grew in extent
iand importance. In this city the aspirations of the
oppressed people were fostered and strengthened,
and it became in song and story a veritable Slav
Fairyland. Many legends arose regarding its
origin. Among these one of the most beautiful
is the story of Princess Peerless, the fair maiden
who was imprisoned in her own castle by the
terrible demon who sought her for his bride. It
is related in "The Lady of Moscow". This demon
seems to symbolize the Tartar overlord whose
dragon, or army, kept watch so as to prevent the
i6 Russian Folk-Life
Golden Knight from coming to the rescue of the
sorrowing princess. But ultimately the dragon
was overcome by the knight who wielded the
invisible club, which one is tempted to regard as
the symbol of the invisible bond of patriotism that
unites and strengthens a people, and the demon's
spell was then broken. After the chivalrous and
fearless knight married the princess, Moscow be-
came the seat of government
It was in Moscow that there arose a new
dynasty of native rulers, which included the
famous Tsars named Ivan (John). The Musco-
vites strove to achieve complete independence,
and it was by them that the Tartar power was
gradually shattered. Ivan III, known as Ivan
the Great, ultimately found himself strong enough
openly to defy the Tartars, and he refused to pay
further tribute. Thereafter the Mongols might
occasionally raid Russia, and even attack and
burn the capital, but they never succeeded in
conquering it again.
Among the folk legends surviving from this
period is the one related in "How Little Ivan
became a Tsar ". The first Ivan was reputed to
have been a poor lad, who set out on his travels
like Dick Whittington. On reaching Moscow he
was welcomed by the people, who were waiting
to hail the first comer as their Tsar.
The next story deals with Ivan IV, known
as, *' Ivan the Terrible", who was a contemporary
of Queen Elizabeth. This monarch, who did
much to consolidate the strength of Russia,
governed with great severity. He curbed the
power of those nobles, the Boyarin, who under
the Tartar regime had been invested with special
privileges. As they continually plotted against
Tsar Ivan, he lived in constant dread of revolu-
tion, and many were charged with treason and
put to death, not infrequendy after enduring
Ivan the Terrible was the first Tsar who estab-
lished friendly relations with England. He corre-
sponded with Queen Elizabeth, and, it is even
said, made her an offer of marriage. During his
reign English merchants settled in Russia, and
prospered greatly. Sir Jerome Horsey, the great
English traveller, relates in his writings that Ivan
employed as soldiers a number of Scottish adven-
turers, who had been taken prisoners in the wars
with Poland and Sweden. He rewarded them
generously for their services in the campaigns
against the Tartars of the Crimea, as is indicated
in the story, *'Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers",
in which use is made of Sir Jerome's interesting
narrative. It is due to this Englishman's inter-
vention that the Tsar availed himself of the assis-
tance of the fighting Scots.
When Ivan IV ascended the throne, the northern
province of Novgorod was an independent state.
Its inhabitants were governed by a prince, and
the leading citizens, who held an open-air Parlia-
ment which was summoned by ringing a bell. If
i8 Russian Folk-Life
the prince displeased the people, they promptly
deposed him and elected a successor. Often free
fights took place at meetings of the citizens. Ivan
went north with an army, and, taking possession
of Novgorod, included it in his empire.
The period which followed Ivan's death was a
disturbed one. Weak rulers sat on the throne,
and then the King of Poland endeavoured to
have himself declared Tsar. But the Russian
people rose in revolt, and the throne passed to a
grandson of the wife of Ivan the Terrible, a boy
prince named Michael. Thus, in 1610, began
the new dynasty of Romanoff. When Michael
grew up, he promoted learning and commerce,
and he attracted to Russia traders and scholars
and artisans from the other countries.
The most outstanding maker of modern Russia,
however, was Peter the Great, who flourished in
the eighteenth century. In the story related under
the title, **The Man who Fought the Wolves",
glimpses are afforded of the life and manners of his
time. Tsar Peter perceived that the future pros-
perity of his kingdom depended on the develop-
ment of sea trade and the founding of a navy.
Russia was until his time entirely an inland power,
and its commerce was ever at the mercy of other
states. Tsar Peter resolved to raise his country
to first rank among the nations of Europe by
developing its resources and organizing its trade
on land and sea*
Tq obtain knowledge of shipbuilding and navsil
subjects he not only travelled a great deal, but
also secured employment as an artisan in certain
shipbuilding yards in Holland and England. On
his return home he began to carry out the plans
he had made for the good of his country.
At the time Russia's chief rival on the Baltic
coast was Sweden, and its king resolved to do
his utmost to frustrate the designs of Tsar Peter.
A great war ensued, from which Peter, after en-
during severe reverses, emerged ultimately in
triumph, securing possession of part of Finland,
Livonia, and other lands on the Baltic. The way
was now clear for the development of Russia's
new policy. The Tsar caused the great city of
St. Petersburg (now called Petrograd) to be built,
and established shipbuilding yards and many other
industries. Everything he touched he changed.
He even reformed the Russian alphabet, when he
set up printing presses to produce newspapers and
books, including translations of foreign works of
learning. Under his wise and energetic rule
Russia made great and rapid progress; ere he
died, it had taken its place among the foremost
Powers of Europe. Probably no other country in
the world owes so much to the efforts of a single
Among the notable successors of Tsar Peter
was Queen Catherine the Great, a lady of great
intellectual gifts, who did much to promote learn-
ing and art, and carried out many reforms in the
interests of progress. She fpimdecj a i^umber pf
ao Russian Folk-Life
new towns, constructed roads and canals, and
helped to develdp trade and industries. During
her reign large tracts of the country were cleared
of trees and divided into farming colonies.
It is of interest to note at the present time that
during Queen Catherine's reign a third of Poland
was divided up between Austria, Germany, and
Russia. This kingdom had fallen into a helpless
condition, chiefly on account of internal dissen-
sions. Other divisions subsequently took place,
until in the end Poland ceased to exist as an
Since the days of Peter the Great and Catherine
the Great, Russia has steadily increased in extent
and in prosperity. At the middle of the eighteenth
century its population was about 14,000,000, but
before the nineteenth century came to a close the
empire included about 130,000,000 subjects. Its
chief extension has been to the east. The pre-
sent Tsar reigns over an empire which is about
eight times larger than that of Ivan the Terrible.
When we compare Russia with other countries
in Europe, we find many points of difference. It
must be recognized in the first place that it is
very large, and that large countries are more diffi-
cult to organize than small countries. Progress in
certain directions has consequently been slower.
Besides, the country as a whole is less capable of
intensive development than our own. Towns and
cities are not so numerous as in England, for in-
stance, and they are separated by wide <^i?taiices,
Withal, the people have a different outlook upon
life from ours. Russians prefer their own manners
and customs to those of other peoples ; they love
their own country with the same fervour as we do
ours ; and as the great war has shown, they are as
brave as they are loyal.
In private life the Russian Slavs are a people of
simple habits and unaffected manners. They are
very religious, and among the greatest buildings
in their country are the churches and cathedrals.
From the earliest times their outstanding character-
istics have been their piety, their hospitality, and
their respect for the authority of parents and
The Russian Slavs have always struggled for
liberty to live their own lives according to their
own ideals. An ancient writer has said of them :
**They are a dogged, laborious race, inured to
the scantiest food, and they regard as a pleasure
what is often a heavy burden to men of our time.
They face any privations for their beloved liberty,
and in spite of many reverses they are always
ready to fight again."
The organization of Russian national life has
grown from the family life. In the domestic circle
the father in ancient times was the supreme autho-
rity, the judge and lawgiver. When families lived
together and formed a grad or gorod (borough), a
leader was chosen who was the ** father" of the
social group. Similarly the Tsar is recognized,
as was his predecessors, as " the father " of all the
22 Russian Folk-Life
Russians, and is loved and honoured and obeyed
by his subjects, not only as head of the State, but
also as head of the Church. When a new law is
proclaimed in Russia, the people may be heard
repeating the old saying, *• It is the will of God
and the Tsar's decree".
This great nation has always had its supreme
dictator, and it owes its growth and prosperity
largely to those Tsars who, like Peter the Great,
devoted their lives to furthering its welfare. In
no other country in Europe, for instance, has a
large and important city been created by the
order of an individual ruler as was Petrograd by
the order of Tsar Peter. At the outbreak of the
great war the present Tsar gave a further example
of the supreme power that is wielded by the head
of the Russian state when he forbade the sale of
vodka throughout the empire. The people sub-
mitted at once to " the will of God and the Tsar's
In attempting to understand the social problems
of Russia, one must always bear in mind the char-
acter of the country, and the mode of life of the
great masses of the people. Land being abundant,
the Slavs in ancient times spread gradually over
wide areas with their herds and flocks. They
tilled their fields in a primitive manner, and when
these became exhausted, they migrated into new
territory to break in further virgin soil. The
general direction of such migrations has been to-
wards the east, and in the process of time the
Russians have spread themselves in colonies into
and over the plains of Siberia in Asia.
The expansion of the vigorous Russian race
across Siberia began in the reign of Ivan the
Terrible, when the western portion was conquered
by Yermak the Cossack. A constant drift of set-
tlers across the Ural mountains folio wed» but the
greater part of this region, which is four times
larger than European Russia, has been peopled
by refugees and political exiles. In the old days
when the proprietors held the power of life and
death over the serfs, they were wont to banish
offenders to a Siberian province. There the serfs
were allowed to possess themselves of land, but
had to remain in the district to which they were
assigned. The Government similarly banished
political prisoners, with their wives and families,
to the Siberian prairies, and many of the inhabi-
tants of to-day are descendants of these. Har-
dened convicts, however, have ever been kept
under control in the great prisons of this vast
The conditions of life in Siberia vary greatly.
In many parts there is a rich soil which yields
excellent crops, and large tracts are suitable for
grazing, but towards the north the country is
cold and desolate, able to sustain only a meagre
population who live as hunters, fur traders, and
fishermen. Over the greater part of Siberia the
summer is warm and genial, but the winter is
long and severe. Since the opening of the great
24 Russian Folk-Life
railway which terminates at Vladivostock, a port
on the Sea of Japan, the development of Siberian
trade has made great progress. Large quantities
of agricultural produce are exported annually. Of
late years Siberian dairy produce has reached
even these islands.
During the period of Tartar supremacy, the
country had been divided up into principalities,
and the peasants moved from one principality to
another as they desired when opportunity offered.
After the Tsars had freed Russia from the for-
eigners^ and all the principalities were united,
the nomadic habits of the people had to be held
in check. It was decreed that each estate should
maintain a certain proportion of peasants, so that
their owners might supply soldiers for the army.
The peasants were then prevented from moving
from place to place at their own free will, though
they still retained all their other ancient rights
In time, however, the proprietors increased their
hold over the peasants, who gradually became
serfs. The wealth of a proprietor came to be
reckoned by the number of these serfe on his
estate, and the custom arose of proprietors selling
serfs to one another.
The system of serfage was not confined to
Russia. It was, in fact, general throughout
Western Europe, but it lingered longer in Russia
Under good proprietors the rural serfs could
lead happy and useful lives. A family had a
house and a portion of land, a horse and cow
and some sheep. Instead of paying rent, the serf
performed a certain amount of work for the pro-
prietpr. When his sons grew up, they took his
place, and he could then devote his whole time to
his own affairs. If he required timber he received
it from the proprietor, and if he met with mis-
fortune by losing a cow or horse on account of
illness or accident, he usually received assistance
from the " father " of the estate, who, as judge,
also settled all disputes between serfs, and made
laws to suit local conditions. The old and frail
and the weakly were supported by the estate if
their relatives were unable to assist them. When,
as it sometimes happened, proprietors were cruel
and greedy, and became oppressors of the people,
the government of the Tsar stepped in and caused
reforms to be introduced. Occasionally proprietors
were deposed altogether for abusing their powers.
The development of commerce and the industries
which resulted from the reforms introduced by
Peter the Great exercised a great influence on the
serf condition. As the demand for free labour
increased, it became necessary to draw more and
more from the masses of the population in rural
areas. The emancipation of the serfs consequently
became a pressing necessity. Tsar Alexander I,
who reigned from 1801 till 1825, and Tsar Nicho-
las I, who succeeded him and reigned till 1855,
introduced reforms which improved their condition
26 Russian Folk-Life
and extended their privileges. Then Tsar Alex-
ander II abolished serfdom entirely in 1861. The
masses were thus set free at the command of the
" Little Father " of all the Russians, and there
was great rejoicing in consequence throughout the
length and breadth of the land. With personal
liberty, however, came new responsibilities, and
these were not welcomed everywhere. The land-
holding serfs were established as tenants of small
farms, who paid rent for the land they occupied,
instead of, as formerly, paying for it with labour;
or, they purchased their holdings with the assistance
of the State, which lent the money required on
easy terms. In bringing about these changes,
the great bulk of the proprietors did their utmost
to smooth over difficulties, and the freed serfs, when
they came to realize their new responsibilities,
displayed a spirit of patience and resolution which
is characteristically Russian. Over the country as
a whole a widespread desire was evinced by all
classes to solve the problems raised by the changed
conditions of life which were brought about by the
Tsar's great reform.
The story entitled "The Old Order and the
New " deals with the liberation of the serfs on a
typical Russian estate. Some of the workers
dreaded the change brought about by the Tsar s
edict as much as did the old-fashioned proprietor,
while others had an exaggerated notion of what
It will be seen from the examples griven that
great and sweeping social and political changes
in Russia have been brought about chiefly by its
rulers. The nation is, as has been said, like a great
family; and the Tsar, who is the *' Little Father",
calls the people **his children". All classes rever-
ence and obey the supreme ruler, who is the law-
giver and the judge. If they have grievances,
they expect the " Little Father" to remove them;
if social reforms become necessary owing to the
changed conditions of life, they expect him to
bring them about
In Russia reforms have never been introduced
as a result of what is known in the west as ** class
warfare ". The classes who owe allegiance to the
Tsar have never struggled against each other for
political rights or privileges. Class enmities are
almost entirely unknown, and the relations be-
tween the various classes are more intimate than
in any other nation in Europe, except Great
Britain. The aristocratic exclusiveness of the
German and Austrian nobility does not prevail in
the Tsar's domains, which enjoy a marked degree
of social freedom. The proprietor does not hold
himself alo6f from the peasant; in fact, some
rural proprietors live quite as simple lives as their
tenants. Many peasants who have shown marked
ability have risen to high official rank, and grown
richer and more influential than the representatives
of old families. In no country in Europe are the
grievances of the past more readily forgotten.
The feeling that union is strength prevails every-
28 Russian Folk-Life
where. That great level country could never
withstand the attacks of its enemies if the people
were not united by their love for their country,
and their allegiance to the ** Little Father ", who
loves and leads them alL
THE TEST OF WAR
Leo Lermontov was scarcely twenty, but looked
older. He stood over six feet in height, and had
broad shoulders and great muscles. His face was
tinged with the sadness that sometimes survives
from early hardships. Two deep lines crossed his
forehead, and his eyebrows sloped sideways over
his deep grey eyes, which one of his friends com-
pared to "watch-dogs peering from their kennels".
He was a ship carpenter by trade, and not only
skilled and conscientious, but of exceedingly regu-
lar habits. His employer regarded him as an
exemplary workman. He never took strong
liquors, remembering with bitterness that his
father, who had been a schoolmaster, became a
beggar through vodka drinking, and had gone to
an early grave. At the end of each week he
deposited a sum of money in a savings bank with
unfailing regularity. Because he always shaved
clean he was nicknamed **the Englishman" by
**Why don't you allow your beard to grow?"
he was asked one day. "Are you ashamed of
being a man?"
30 Russian Folk-Life
"A clean face is honourable; even a goat
has a beard/' Leo answered, quoting an old
Since his mother's death the young man had
lodged with Simon Glinka, the hardware mer-
chant, in a three -storied house on the outskirts
of Petrograd. This Glinka was a widower, and
had two sons, who presented a sharp contrast one
to another. Maksim, the eldest, was a lawyer's
clerk. He had a crafty face, with shifty grey
eyes speckled with white, a tilted nose with wide
nostrils, and a mouth that wore a sneer even when
he smiled; he kept his dark-brown moustache
closely cropped, and inclined to dress showily.
His younger brother, Nikolay, had been a student
until his health broke down. He was a slim, con-
sumptive lad of eighteen, with yellow curly hair,
soft blue eyes, a thin long nose, and a sensitive
mouth like a girl's. His father adored him, be-
cause he was the image of his dead mother, and
loved to satisfy his every whim. Nikolay 's am-
bition was to be a great poet like the immortal
Pushkin, the Byron of Russian literature. He
was an impulsive lad of many moods. Some-
times he was fretful and depressed for days on
end and spoke little, and sometimes he was
boisterous and cheerful, and darted about the
house, insisting on helping old Ulinka, the house-
keeper, who was very stout, asthmatic, and half-
deaf. When Nikolay's shrill laugh rang from
the kitghen, his father's face always brighten^cj
The Test of War 31
and his step seemed lighter as he entered the
little living-room of an evening. Leo, who ad-
mired the lad because he had great learning, was
also affected by his moods.
It was otherwise with Maksim. He jeered at
his brother, whether he was sad or merry. ** You
are a bookworm," he declared one evening. "You
feed on idle fancies, and live in a world of imps
and ghosts. One day you sulk like a child over
a broken toy because some heroine of romance
is in trouble; another day you trip about like a
dancing girl because she has been rescued by a
gallant knight No wonder you make yourself
ill. You should live like me in a real world, and
meet real people and see real things happening.
Poets and novelists write chiefly for women.
Busy men of the world have little need for them.
No man ever made money by following the teach-
ings of these miserable bookmakers."
**What about our ideals?" Nikolay protested.
** Is the purpose of life merely to make money .'^"
** Partly that," sneered Maksim, "and partly to
** Men who write books often make great for-
tunes," Leo remarked. "Some day Nikolay
may write so well that he will grow rich."
Maksim laughed dryly. " He's not like you,
Leo; he despises money -making. He would
rather be famous than wealthy."
"Yes, much rather," Nikolay agreed promptly.
"Why not be both?" sipped L?p. ''Yo\j 4«-
32 Russian Folk-Life
serve to be well paid for your work. Every day
you write a great deal, and I think your poetry
is quite as good as Pushkin's."
** Good or bad, it's not worth a kopeck in the
market," Maksim sneered. ** He wastes his time
all to no purpose."
Nikolay's face quivered. Tears stood in his
eyes, and without attempting to answer his
brother he left the room abruptly.
" How unsympathetic you are!" exclaimed Leo^
turning a hard face on the law clerk. ''What
pleasure does it give you to hurt your brother s
" Don't get angry, Leo," Maksim said mock-
ingly. **This is not a matter to fight about."
** I am not thinking about fighting."
** You always look as if you were. . . . Let us
have something to eat. Good food puts one in
a good temper."
Maksim had a ^reat contempt for Leo, because
he was poorly educated and possessed money
which he refused to spend.
'*Why do you hoard up your savings like a
miser?" he once asked the ship carpenter.
" Money was made to be spent."
**Yes," Leo answered slowly; '*but it can be
**What do you know about spending?" jeered
the clerk. ** You have no experience in that art.
If you could only realize the pleasure that is got
pyt gf life by tossing coins about, you would
The Test of War 33
wonder at yourself. I could spend more than
I manage to earn."
" That's nothing to boast about. Any fool can
spend. It takes a wise man to save."
** Some day I shall have luck. I almost made
a fortune at betting last week."
"But you didn't; you lost everything."
"Well, one must take risks. Some day my
chance will come. When I meet with good luck
I shall become rich at a bound."
Leo rubbed his chin with the palm of his right
hand. ** I never forget the old proverb," he re-
marked quiedy, "which says, 'Good luck vanishes
like our curls; bad luck lasts like our finger-nails'."
"You certainly never forget these old wives'
proverbs," exclaimed the clerk impatiendy.
"What's the good of them? They were invented
by ignorant people of another age. No wonder
you lead such a miserable existence, always toil-
ing away and never enjoying life."
" Black may be toil, but white is its price,"
answered Leo, with a faint smile, quoting another
While they were arguing in this manner Simon
Glinka, the hardware merchant, opened the door
sofdy. He stood for a few seconds, framed in
the doorway, gazing pensively at the young men
over his spectacles, a newspaper dangling from
his right hand. Although of medium height, he
looked smaller because he inclined to stoutness,
and his shoulders had grown so round that his
34 Russian Folk-Life
head seemed to be thrust too far forward; his
brown beard was turning white at the sides,
and his face was covered with numerous small
wrinkles that ran this way and that like creases
in crushed clothing; his bushy eyebrows cast a
shadow over his pondering grey eyes.
** Here's an end to all argument meantime," he
said at length in a low, tremulous voice, as he
walked into the centre of the room, raising the
newspaper before his face. ** We are on the very
brink of war. Only a miracle can avert it now."
** If the Tsar shows a stem front," Maksim
declared, ** Germany will sheathe the sword."
** Germany seems rather to be only too eager
to fight," sighed his father. "What a terrible
war it will be, too! Almost every nation will be
forced to take one side or another. Thousands
and thousands will be killed and thousands will
" Give me the paper," Maksim said impatiently.
"You always look on the dark side of things.
Let me see. ..."
He glanced down a column, and suddenly his
face grew very pale.
"So," he muttered, "the prospect is black in-
deed, ril be called up with the second-class
reserves, of course. Just my luck. You, Leo,
will be called up also."
Leo nodded his head gravely. "War is a
brutal thing," he said sofdy; "but we must obey
the will of God and the Tsar's decree."
The Test of War 35
" The poor will suffer terribly," moaned Glinka,
''and those who sell to the poor, as I do, must
** He who sweats in the field and prays to God
at home will never starve," Leo said, repeating
an old saying.
Maksim threw down the paper. " I must get
out-of-doors," he declared, "and hear what people
are saying of this."
"Do not be late to-night," urged his father;
"we shall be anxious to learn. any fresh news."
Maksim hurried through the streets towards
the centre of the city, his mind greatly agitated.
Knots of people were gathered at every comer
discussing the prospects of war. Wild rumours
were already on foot "The Germans have
crossed the frontier and are marching on War-
saw," some declared.
"The holy Russian land is large," Maksim
overheard one man exclaim; "God has chosen a
portion of it to be the graveyard of our enemies."
Many seemed eager to fight, and expressed
fears lest the Tsar should yield to blustering Ger-
many at the last moment But Maksim dreaded
war. He thought of the pleasures he would have
to give up and the hardships that confronted
him. Indeed, all his thoughts were concentrated
in himself What cared he for Russia or the
public good? If he had money at his disposal,
he told himself, he would leave Petrograd that
evening and escape to a foreign country. And
36 Russian Folk-Life
he thought it his misfortune to be possessed of
hardly a rouble. If he found no comfort in the
crowded streets, he found less at the clubs he was
in the habit of frequenting. Everyone seemed
convinced that war was inevitable. Before he
returned homeward he heard that mobilization
had already begun.
At a street comer he met Michael Poroshin,
a sharp-faced little man who was employed in a
" You are going home early to-night, Michael,"
** And so are you, Maksim," retorted his friend.
" And no wonder. Everything is upset with this
clamour about war. I have just come from the
office and feel tired. We have been very busy
"You surprise me, Michael. I should have
thought people would forget about hoarding money
at such a time."
'* They are not hoarding it, but drawing it.
Such a crowd we had in front of the counters.
Some wanted to withdraw every kopeck they pos-
" Ah," exclaimed Maksim, ** would I had a few
roubles to my credit! But I ani poorer than
Michael laughed dryly. "You should take a
lesson from Leo," he said, "he's an example to
all of us."
Maksim halted, laying his hand on his friend's
The Test of War 37
shoulder. *' Have you seen Leo this evening?"
Michael nodded with a sly smile. **I am not
supposed to answer such questions, of course."
** Did he draw much — a hundred roubles, say?"
** Much more," muttered the other with a shrug.
"Two hundred — three hundred?"
Michael glanced round about apprehensively.
Then he whispered slowly, *' Five hundred roubles
— not a kopeck less. What he wants to do with
all that money I can't even guess."
" Five hundred roubles — five hundred roubles!"
Maksim repeated hoarsely, staring blankly in his
They resumed their walk in silence, conversing
in low tones.
" I wonder what he intends doing," Michael
" Perhaps he's going abroad to escape mobili-
"If that were his intention he would have
drawn more," the bank clerk said.
" Has he really so much saved?" Maksim asked
"I'm not sure of the exact sum," answered
Michael cautiously, "but I know he has not
drawn everything — not nearly all he possesses.
So he can't be going away."
The conversation then turned to the prospects
of war, and after a time the friends separated.
Maksim did not go home at once. He walked
38 Russian Folk-Life
down a side street towards an open space to
think matters over. He wanted money, and was
tempted by Leo's hoard. So he resolved, if the
opportunity offered, to steal it and depart speedily
to a foreign country. Little did he care what
would be thought about him once he got clear
of Russia. Like all cowards he was extremely
selfish and thought of himself alone. What cared
he what became of others?
Now when Leo returned from the bank he
went straight to his little attic and placed his
money in his clothes-box, turning the key in the
lock. Then he hastened downstairs to chat with
Nikolay, who had been out walking by the river-
side, all alone, as was his wont. He found the
lad crouched up in the window-place, reading his
favourite Pushkin — the master poet of his native
"How can you sit reading poetry at such a
time, Nikolay?" Leo asked with a smile.
The dreamy lad looked up with bright eyes.
**Ah!" he exclaimed with rapture, "Aleksandr
Sergfyeevich Pushkin voices every mood of the
people whether in time of war or peace. Listen
to this :
Rise, one and all, O rise !
Russia's heroes with fearless eyes,
In countless numbers like the ocean's waves.
In battle frenzy 'gainst the foemen sweep;
Room will be found on Russia's plains to sleep,
And none will e'er forget their brethren's graves.
The Test of War 39
*' Yes, many must fall asleep ere victory will be
won," Leo said softly.
"It troubles me," Nikolay sighed, "that I
cannot go to battle. It is glorious to be a victor:
it is glorious to die a hero's death, fighting for
one's native land. If war breaks out, I. must sit
here and dream while others lay down their lives.
What a poor creature I am, Leo!"
" You will play your part too, Nikolay. You
shall sing songs about Russia's heroes so that
generations unborn may be moved to imitate
them as we try to imitate our forefathers."
" Ah! I know what you are thinking about
now, Leo. You remember Zhukovski's 'Minstrel
in the Russian Camp' which I read to you the
"Read it again, Nikolay. I'll understand it
better now," urged the carpenter.
The lad leapt to his feet and began to pace the
room with a book in his left hind. wWch he
glanced at only occasionally, and half-recited, half-
chanted, the stirring poem :
Now to the warriors of old time,
The strong in fight and glory!
These warriors and their deeds sublime
Are lost in distant story!
The grave hath gathered up their dust,
Their homes— the storm hath razed them;
Their helmets are devoured by rust,
And silent those that praised them :
But in their children live their fires.
We tread the land that bore them,
40 Russian Folk-Life
And see the shadows of their sires
With all their triumphs o'er them.
Verse after verse rolled off his tongue with
relish. Leo sat fascinated, looking and listen-
ing. He never could understand poetry except
when it came from Nikolay's lips. Then it stirred
'* Read on," he urged the lad when he had
finished the poem and sank into a comer. '' But
do not read more about war. Let us forget
all about war to-night. I would rather hear a
tale from Pushkin. I like to hear you read the
' Fountain ' poem."
Nikolay lit the lamp. He was in the mood
that evening to recite great verse. The war
excitement had roused his imagination. So he
opened a thick volume and began to roll off the
full-throated measures of the master poet in a
voice that rose and fell like the night wind in
a forest. Sometimes he sprawled in a chair;
sometimes he paced the room, declaiming like an
actor on the stage.
Maksim entered the house noiselessly as his
brother thus engaged himself, after peering
through a rent in the window-blind. He knew
Nikolay would continue reading for some time
longer, and was certain that Leo, who liked to
humour the young poet, must sooner or later fall
asleep. He had often found the carpenter snooz-
ing peacefully while the young poet read to him.
The Test of War 4t
"Now IS my opportunity," Maksim told himself
in the depths of his wicked heart, thinking of
Leo's roubles. He glanced towards the kitchen
to ascertain if Ulinka was still at work. It
pleased him mightily that the old woman dozed
in a chair, breathing heavily. He knew his father
would not return for another hour.
Removing his boots, he crept upstairs towards
Leo's attic, as noiselessly as a cat stalking a
mouse. He knew the exact place where the
clothes-box lay and went towards it. Grasping
the lid, he found it locked. Then he ran his
fingers towards the keyhole until he touched a
bunch of keys, which jingled slightly; in another
second he had opened the box and begun to
search it, without seeing aught, like a blind man.
His hand closed on a bag of gold ; he thrust it
into his pocket; then he found another and an-
other. His heart was beating loud and fast with
Closing down the lid of the box, he turned the
key in the lock; the sharp, metallic click seemed
to resound through the house. He tiptoed to
the stairhead and there stood trembling and listen-
ing in the growing dusk. None of the inmates
had been disturbed. Nikolay's voice continued
its droning sound in the little sitting-room below,
like a monk at his prayers. A clock ticked loudly
in the kitchen where old Ulinka snored wheezily
in her sleep. . . . Maksim began to descend
slowly, step by step, fearing to be discovered
4^ Russian Folk-Life
every moment. Once a board creaked beneath
him and he shuddered convulsively, a cold sweat
breaking out on his forehead; his heart knocked
loudly against his ribs as if his conscience sought
to give the alarm. He paused on the first land-
ing. . . . Nikolay's voice had struck a higher note
and he declaimed more rapidly.
" Curse him! he will wake Leo," Maksim
muttered inwardly. In desperation the clerk
forced himself onward and downward until at
length he reached the front door. He let himself
out softly and ran down the street, nor did he
pause to put on his boots until he had turned
a comer. Not a living soul was in sight He
had entered and left the house unobserved, and
now possessed a goodly sum of money.
Choosing a roundabout way to avoid meeting
his father he sped towards the centre of the city.
" I shall never return home again," he told him-
self But the thought gave him no pleasure.
Instead, it filled his heart with despair. An icy
blankness seemed to have suddenly enveloped his
" You will be caught and sent to prison," his
conscience whispered. You have robbed a friend
and dishonoured your father's house. Your crime
will break the old man's heart You are now a
criminal and an outcast."
Tortured by his thoughts, he entered a low
vodka shop and thrust himself through a noisy
crowd towards the counter. He thought vodka
The Test of War 43
would give him the courage of which he was in
In less than an hour later his father reached
home. Nikolay had ceased reading and sat con-
versing with his friend about the war once again.
" I shall miss you very much, Leo, if you are
called up to serve," the young poet declared.
'* I shall certainly be called up," answered the
other slowly and deliberately. " Perhaps I may
never return, who knows? Many must die. The
destined sheep cannot escape the wolf."
Glinka entered as he was speaking and sat
down with a sigh.
" Have you heard any further news?" Leo
"There are many rumours," said Glinka.
" One hardly knows what to believe and what not
to believe. But it seems certain that war is not
far off. . . . Where is Maksim?"
"He has not yet returned," Nikolay answered.
" Let us have supper," said the merchant
wearily. " Go and rouse up Ulinka, my son."
Nikolay sprang to his feet. " I shall make the
coffee myself It is time poor old Ulinka was in
bed." He left the room, closing the door behind
Leo drew his chair towards Glinka, and raising
his face began to speak. "We may not have
many more evenings together. Wide is the gate
leading to the battlefield, but narrow is the way
out of it Who knows whether one will return
44 Russian Folk-Life
again after bidding farewell. Listen to me. I
have something to tell you, Simon Glinka. To-
night I drew the bulk of my savings from the
bank, and they are in my box upstairs. I wish to
do something for Nikolay. He is not so robust
as the rest of us, and if war brings suffering he
may be in sore straits. Last winter he seemed
almost unable to endure the cold weather. With
this money — there are five hundred roubles in all
— ^he can be sent to the south, or to some foreign
country where the winter is mild and open."
Glinka was struck dumb with heartfelt grati-
tude. Tears welled to his eyes. He hung his
*' If five hundred roubles are not enough I can
give another hundred — ^all I possess." He rose
up and crossed the room. ** To-morrow we can
make arrangements. The doctor will give us
good advice. . . . You will allow me to do this
for Nikolay, won't you, Simon Glinka? For his
sake you dare not refuse."
" God will bless you, Leo. He will reward you.
Your heart has ears," the old man said at length,
his voice trembling with emotion. The thought
of the coming winter had kept him in constant
dread. He feared Nikolay would never survive
"Do not say a word to the lad about this,"
Leo went on. "Wait until I have gone. Just
say I helped a little. He is so proud: he might
refuse my money."
The Test of War 45
"I will pay you back some day, Leo Ler-
montov," muttered Glinka faintly. " I would fain
decline your offer, but cannot for Nikolay's sake.
May God reward you with his protection on the
"Hush! Nikolay is coming," Leo whispered.
** Say no more about this matter meantime."
The young lad entered carrying the coffee-pot,
which he laid on the table. '* I thought I would
never wake up Ulinka," he exclaimed laughingly,
** When at length she opened her eyes she thought
it was morning, and asked: 'Why have you
risen so early? The sun is not yet up. Has the
war begun so suddenly?'"
After supper Leo and Nikolay rose to go to
bed, but the merchant lit his pipe and said he
would wait for Maksim. " I have something to
say to him," he told the others.
A friend had told the merchant that his eldest
son had been overheard declaring in a vodka shop
he would rather flee from Russia than fight for
the Tsar. This troubled Simon Glinka greatly.
He dreaded such wild words might bring disgrace
and perhaps ruin to him at a time when all good
Russians had need to stand shoulder to shoulder
like true brothers. Besides, he regarded with
apprehension his son's growing habit of frequent-
ing vodka shops, and intended to admonish him
severely on that account.
His heart was heavy as he sat there pondering
over his sons. The one was wayward, and grow-
46 Russian Folk-Life
ing dissolute; the other, so dear to his heart,
seemed to be slipping away from him.
Suddenly he heard a noise on the stairs. In
another minute Leo entered the roonL His face
was pale and hard. He closed the door, and
advancing towards the old man said, in a low
" Maksim has been here and is gone.'*
Glinka rose to his feet " What do you mean,
Leo?" he gasped.
'* The five hundred roubles I drew for Nikolay
have been taken from my box," Leo answered.
" I found Maksim's handkerchief lying on the
As he spoke he threw a scented handkerchief
on the table.
Glinka swayed like a man suddenly wounded
in battle, and would have fallen had not Leo
grasped him in his strong arms.
Maksim found it impossible to leave Petrograd
by train. The ordinary railway traffic had been
suspended to permit the free and rapid movement
of troops. For three days and nights he con-
cealed himself in a gambling den and there lost
three hundred roubles at cards. Then he bribed
the skipper of a trading schooner to be allowed
to travel as a stowaway to Stockholm, with two of
his evil companions. But ere the vessel had left
the Gulf of Finland it was held up by one of the
Tsar's cruisers. An officer with half a dozen men
came on board, and the skipper was informed
The Test of War 47
that war had been declared A search was made
for stowaways of military age, and Maksim and
his companions were discovered and arrested
The schooner was then allowed to proceed.
In due course Maksim appeared before a court
martial, which inflicted a punishment He was
afterwards sent southward with a draft to join his
Several months went past, and Maksim took
part in much hard fighting. The discipline of
service and the perils and sufferings of warfare
wrought a wondrous change in him. Indeed, he
became a new man, and fought so bravely and
well that he was twice promoted. The thought
of his crime, however, ever remained a constant
source of pain to him. He prayed fervently for
forgiveness, and vowed that when war was over
he would do his utmost to repay to Leo the money
he had stolen.
Winter came on, and still the fighting waxed
fiercely as ever. Would it never come to an end
so that he might begin a new life at home and
secure his father's forgiveness and blessing?
He was wounded while fighting in Poland, and
after recovering in hospital, received orders to
join a new regiment which had been sent to
operate in Galicia.
Thus it came about that he took part in the
campaign against the Austrian forces on the
eastern slopes of the Carpathian Mountains.
48 Russian Folk-Life
Russia was once again knocking at the ** doors"
In the Dukla Pass the Tsar's brave soldiers
made fearless and persistent attacks through the
snow against the enemy, who occupied trenches
on steep inclines, which were protected by con-
fused and snow-concealed mazes of barbed wire.
Desperate deeds of valour were performed in
that desolate region. Many Austrian positions,
deemed impregnable by the defenders, were
assaulted and won. And although the sacrifice
of human lives was heavy, the Russian soldiers
were not a whit dismayed. Companies followed
companies of brave men up the snowy slopes and
were mowed down by machine-gun and rifle fire.
But they were followed by others until the defence
was overwhelmed step by step and from height
to height. Never before had such battles been
fought in the world as were waged on those
wintry hill-sides. The white wastes of snow were
broken and torn by unwearied feet and stained
with human blood.
One evening Maksim advanced with a force up
a slippery gully towards a strongly-held Austrian
trench. Bullets swept downwards like great hail-
stones, and brave men fell constantly and silently
iti the snow. At length only a remnant remained,
and all the officers had been killed or wounded.
The wearied survivors crept and huddled under
the shelter of an overhanging rock like sheep
seeking shelter from a snowstorm. They seemed
« • *
4 . » •
« -* • • •
The Test of War 49
resolved to wait until darkness came so as to
effect a safe retreat.
Then Maksim assumed command. He rallied
the men with brave words and urged them to
follow him and press onwards, so that they might
complete the task they had begun. They were
glad to follow him. It was better to die fighting
than to die in retreat So with high hearts and
renewed vigour they attacked and pressed home
until the position was won. The thin line of des-
perate men had broken through the entanglements
and carried the last trench that lay before them.
Maksim fell wounded in his hour of triumph, and
rolling down a steep incline, lay half-buried in the
snow behind a great boulder. Consciousness
immediately deserted him.
Reinforcements had been rushed forward, and
ere long they were resisting a fierce counter-
attack higher up the hill-side. The wounded lay
moaning and bleeding on the snowy slopes.
How long Maksim remained unconscious he
could never tell. When he awoke he felt himself
being lifted and carried away, while he endured
terrible agony from a wound in his right thigh.
Darkness came on as he was borne down the hill-
side, and he again lapsed into unconsciousness.
When he next opened his eyes he was lying on
a stretcher in a dimly-lighted wooden house, sur-
rounded by many other wounded soldiers. His
thigh had been placed in splinters and tightly
bandaged. Someone was bending over him and
50 Russian Folk-Life
holding a flask to his lips. He drank and felt
refreshed. Then he looked in the face of the
man and whispered, " Leo."
It was indeed Leo Lermontov, who had found
him lying in the snow and had carried him on his
shoulders to a place of safety.
'* Leo, Leo," he muttered huskily, " I have need
of your forgiveness. I stole your roubles and ran
away, and now you have saved my life."
"They were not my roubles," answered Leo
slowly; " I gave them to Nikolay, and you cannot
ask his forgiveness now, because he is dead."
Maksim wept, and Leo went out into the dark-
THE LADY OF MOSCOW
On the balcony of a Moscow hospital sat a
group of convalescent soldiers, who had been
wounded during the investment of Przemysl/
chatting and smoking in the warm sunshine.
Their dialects varied as much as their physical
characteristics for they hailed from various parts
of the Tsar s domains. Some were typical Slav
peasants, whose native villages lay scattered among
the marshes and forests of White Russia — broad-
shouldered men with dark flaxen hair and auburn
beards, deeply lined foreheads, and meditative
eyes set in cobwebs of wrinkles; others were of
the fairer and larger-limbed northern type from
the Baltic provinces — Lithuanians and Livonians
and Finns, while not a few were dark -haired,
brown-eyed, swarthy men from the fertile river
valleys of Little Russia. All except one, a
student who had volunteered for active service
on the outbreak of war, were strangers to Mos-
cow, and regarded with deep interest its busy
streets, roaring factories, and great buildings.
"In ancient days, before Petrograd was built
* Pronounced Pih^m'isl
52 Russian Folk-Life
by Peter the Great," the student said, ** this city
was the capital of all Russia. Yonder are the
royal palaces." He pointed towards the Kremlin,
the ancient citadel which juts out like a spear-
head in the centre of the city between the Moskwa
river and its tributary the Neglin, and is protected
by thick stone walls.
" Before the days of big cannon," he added,
"the Kremlin was impregnable." The soldiers
gazed in silence on the picturesque eminence, with
its congested mass of ponderous cathedrals and
palaces, its sublime domes and tapering spires.
" At which building," one of them asked, ** is
the Tsar Kolokol (the 'King of bells')?"
The student pointed towards the lofty tower
of Ivan Veliki, tipped with a bright gilded dome.
"At that one yonder," he smiled. "We must
visit it ere we return to the front."
"Often have I heard of it," a Livonian re-
marked. " They say its equal is not to be found
in the wide world."
"That is true enough," agreed the student
" I myself have once seen it. Round the rim it
measures sixty feet, and its height is that of four
men perched one above another."
" Had our fathers been heretics like the Prus-
sians," a Little Russian chimed in, "they would
have manufactured the ' King of guns ' instead
of the * King of bells*. But they were men of
peace and prayer." He crossed himself reve-
The Lady of Moscow 53
" One shell from Tsar Kolokol, were it a gun,
would shatter the whole Austrian army," stam-
mered a fair Livonian.
"And what a distance it would travel!" laughed
another. ** Perhaps it would reach Przemysl,
while the sound of it might be heard in Vienna."
"The sound of Tsar Kolokol reaches farther
than Vienna," commented the Little Russian,
"for it ascends to high Heaven."
"That is true indeed," sighed a deep -eyed
peasant beside him. " Heaven is far off, but
God is near."
"It took long centuries," the student went on,
" to erect all these buildings on the Kremlin. Parts
of the wall are nearly five hundred years old."
"Your knowledge is wonderful," remarked a
red -bearded peasant. " But it makes my head
ache. I would much prefer to hear your stories,
those you heard from your grandsire on winter
nights. Have you no more to tell?"
The student laughed. "There is a story
attached to every building on the Kremlin," he
answered, "but the most wonderful one I know
relates how Moscow became a city."
"That must be a very old tale, my friend,"
declared a wrinkled peasant, drawing his chair
closer to the student
"What does it matter how old it is, if it is a
good story?" another urged with a smile.
" It is both old and good," the student said.
" I heard it in my boyhood from the lips of the
54 Russian Folk-Life
wise old woman who nursed me after my mother
"God rest her soul!" exclaimed the Little
Russian. *' Let her voice speak from your lips
The student laid down his pipe, and then pro-
ceeded to relate the story as follows : —
Once upon a time the only building which
stood on the Kremlin was a stately castle, in
which dwelt the Princess Peerless with twelve
fair maidens who were her attendants. There
were no streets and no houses where there are
now so many, because Moscow had not come into
being. The Kremlin was surrounded by a great
and pathless forest.
This Princess Peerless was as beautiful as the
stately moon of summer, and her voice had the
sweetness of a bird's song on^ a dewy evening.
A strange power dwelt in her tender eyes. Those
she looked upon with favour were stirred by feel-
ings of deep joy, but those she glanced at in
wrath were immediately transformed into blocks
When the Princess grew into young woman-
hood, and hunters who visited the forest beheld
her, the fame of her beauty was spread far and
wide. Then large numbers of people came from
all parts of Russia to gaze upon her. Even
princes and noblemen came, and they vied one
with another to win the heart of that fair lady,
but she refused them all.
The Lady of Moscow 55
Then one bold prince plotted to seize Princess
Peeriess by force. He came through the forest
with a strong army. In bright array his soldiers
marched towards the Kremlin, their banners flying
and their trumpets blowing, but the Princess
looked out from a castle window and gazed upon
them with anger. Suddenly a deep silence fell
upon the forest, for the whole army was trans-
formed into blocks of ice.
After this it came about that the Demon King
of the Underworld awoke from sleep and went
forth to look upon all the princes and princesses
and all the kings and queens that held sway over
mankind. One night, when the calm moon rode
high and fair, he looked down upon Princess
Peerless, who lay fast asleep surrounded by her
twelve maidens. A smile lingered on her lips;
rosy were her cheeks, and her forehead gleamed
like ivory. She was dreaming a beautiful dream,
and saw coming nigh to her a noble young
knight, clad in golden armour and horsed on a
prancing steed. In her heart she loved him
dearly. His eyes were clear and grey like placid
sea waters sparkling in sunshine.
The Demon gazed long at the sleeping Prin-
cess and fell deeply in love with her. Thereafter
he transformed himself into comely human shape,
and appeared on the Kremlin among her wooers.
It was well that he had no knowledge of her
dream, else he would have worn golden armour.
He knelt before the Princess; he vowed he
56 Russian Folk-Life
loved her, and besought her to be his bride.
But, like the others, he was sent away. The
Princess had taken a silent vow that she would
wed no other than the unknown golden knight,
whom she had beheld in her ^resLtn.
The Demon was angry. He vowed that he
would carry off Princess Peerless by force, but
she was given knowledge that he was possessed
of great power, and prepared to thwart his de-
sign. She assembled together all the warriors
on the Kremlin, and they entered into her service
with glad hearts. They surrounded the castle
to protect the fair lady; but when the Demon
came nigh, he blew his poisonous breath towards
them, and they all fell down in a magic swoon.
The twelve fair handmaidens were overcome
also. Indeed, none within the castle, or on the
Kftemlin and near it, escaped the warriors' fate
save the Princess alone. She went to a high
window and looked forth, and when the Demon
came in sight, she gazed at him angrily, and he
was immediately transformed into a block of ice.
Then she sat down and wept
The Demon, however, was not easily thwarted.
He wrought a counter spell and resumed his
wonted form. Then he began to make prepara-
tions to protect himself against the terrible glances
of the Princess, and, at the same time, prevent
her from escaping. He erected a wall of iron
round the castle, and at the gate he chained a
fierce dragon with twelve heads, so that none
The Lady of Moscow 57
could enter or depart without his knowledge and
consent. The dragon kept watch constantly.
One by one its heads fell asleep during the night,
and one by one they awoke during the day; but
when the last head closed its eyes, those of the
first opened wide. It could not, therefore, be
attacked unawares. The life of the monster was
in its heads. These must needs be all cut off
ere it could be killed
The Demon smiled, well content He knew
that the glance of the Princess could not pene-
trate iron, and that no human being was able to
overcome the dragon in combat. In his evil heart
he decided to keep the Princess confined in soli-
tude, within the castle, until she consented to be
his bride. Every day he called to her, saying:
" Promise you will be mine, and I will set you
free. Marry me and become Queen of the U nder-
world." But the Princess Peerless refused to
answer. She sat at the high window and wept
while he spoke, and then turned away to wander
through the lone and silent castle in which all her
maidens lay in dreamless magic sleep.
The days went past and the weeks, until three
months were fulfilled. No joy ever entered her
heart, except when she thought of the fair hero
who had appeared before her in her dream,
clad in golden armour and horsed on a pranc-
One day, as she sat gazing at the sky, a white
cloud went flitting past She took up her harp
58 Russian Folk-Life
and, playing a sweet melody, sang out of her lonely
O flying cloud in the blue above,
As white and bright as the woodland dove —
Now tarry and hear, now tarry and hear;
O hast thou seen the knight I love?
O where is he,
My love most dear?
Doth he think of me?
Will he e'er come near?
O flying cloud in the blue above,
As white and bright as the woodland dove.
The cloud heard and made answer, singing:
O voice I hear.
So sweet and clear,
Mine eyes are blind —
O ask the wind
That searcheth ever far and near,
Beautiful voice I hear.
The Princess was disconsolate. But while she
sat musing alone, a gentle wind fluttered round a
fair company of white snowdrops that had sprung
into life. Then she sang to wind :
wind so happy, wind so free,
Alone am I; O pity me,
1 sorrow in captivity.
Now tarry and hear, now tarry and hear.
O hast thou seen my love most dear?
Doth he think of me? Will he e'er come near?
O wind so happy, wind so free.
Alone am I; O pity me.
The Lady of Moscow 59
Softly the wind made answer in song:
High and low
Through the world I go,
All viewless, and no face I know.
O ask the stars
That from the skies
Look on the world
Like a million eyes.
The Princess waited until night came on. Then
she sang to the stars :
O stars that shine all bright and clear.
Mine eyes are dimmed with tear on tear.
O wilt thou pity me and hear?
O hast thou seen my love most dear?
Doth he think of me? Will he e'er come near?
S weedy the stars made answer:
O ask the moon that roves all night,
And o'er the dim world sheds her light
She knoweth more than do the stars
Of men and women and love and wars.
When the Moon arose, the Princess sang:
O Moon, thy face is calm and fair,
And mine is furrowed in despair —
Now tarry and hear, now tarry and hear.
O hast thou seen my knight most dear,
The golden knight I love so well? —
Doth he think of me? Will he e'er come near?
Beautiful Moon, oh! hear and tell
6o Russian Folk-Life
The Moon heard and made answer, singing
Alas! O Princess fair,
Who weepest in despair,
By me thy knight hath ne'er beholden been.
Tarry till night is done,
Then ask the rising Sun —
To whom all things are known, by whom all men are seen.
All night long the Princess sat waiting until
dawn broke and the Sun arose. Then she sang:
O Sun, behold my grie(
And give my heart relief —
Now tarry and hear; now tarry and hear.
O hast thou seen my knight
In armour golden bright?
Doth he think of me? Will he e'er come near?
I moan, I sigh,
Alone am I.
When the Sun heard this song of sorrow, he
sang with bird-like voice, quivering with hope
O sigh no more
" Alone am I '^ . . •
For he, thine own,
Thy love, comes nigh.
With gladness sound
Thy harp and sing,
For he hath found
The golden ring.
For ages long,
In deeps profound.
The Lady of Moscow 6i
Hath lain the ring
That he hath found
He seeks thee now
Afar and wide;
He vows that thou
Wilt be his bride.
An army strong
He leadeth here —
The Demon laughs
And knows no fear.
For with his breath
He can lay low
In deadly swoon
The strongest foe.
Bui tremble not,
Nor be dismayed,
For to thy Prince
1 11 give mine aid.
And sigh no more
"Alone am I*' . . .
Be of good cheer,
Thy knight comes nigh,
Who loves thee well —
That morning the Golden Knight, horsed on
a prancing steed, was leading his strong army
through a river valley towards the Kremlin. He
thought of Princess Peerless now with joy and
now with sorrow. Thrice he had beheld her in
his dreams. In the first dream she sat among
her maidens, and seemed as beautiful as the moon
surrounded by pale white stars; in the second
(jrcam b^ saw the Demon, who byilt round her
62 Russian Folk-Life
castle a wall of iron, while she sat at her high
window weeping tears of woe ; in the third dream
he gazed in her deep eyes that were dreaming of
him alone. The Knight rode on, musing over his
The Sun rose high, and when he beheld the
Golden Knight, spoke to him and said: " It is use-
less for you to lead an army against the Demon.
Send all your soldiers home again, and your fiery
steed also, and go forth yourself alone to rescue
the Princess. She cannot be set free until the
Demon is slain, and he cannot be slain in battle.
You alone among all men can accomplish his fall.
Listen to me, and do as I counsel you, so that all
may be well."
''As you advise me, so shall I do, and that
right gladly," the Golden Knight made answer.
When he had spoken thus he flung his golden
ring into the river, and commanded his soldiers
to march homeward, leaving him alone without
steed, or companion, or any weapon. The army
marched up the valley and vanished from sight.
Said the Sun: "You must slay the Demon, so
that the Princess may be set free. He cannot be
struck down until you have obtained secret know-
ledge regarding him. You must, therefore, visit
that wise old woman, the Yaga. She will in-
struct you as to what should be done. But first
of all you must find the magic horse that will
carry you to her distant dwelling. Turn eastward
now, and walk on foot until you reach the great
The Lady of Moscow 63
plain. In the middle of that plain there grow
three stately oak-trees, and close to the oak-trees
you will find an iron door which opens to an
underground mansion. Inside the mansion the
horse waits for you, and beside the horse hangs
the invisible club that will carry out your com-
The Sun bade the Golden Knight farewell,
and he then rose up to set out on his lonely
journey. At first there were doubts in his heart
He knew not what mysterious perils awaited him,
and sometimes, as he walked on, he wished that
his brave soldiers were at hand and within call.
Over mountains he went and across broad valleys,
and sometimes he was delayed while searching for
the ford of a broad stream. He kept pressing
eastward day after day until seven days had gone
past. Then on the eighth day he reached the
great plain, and saw before him three giant oaks
whose branches rose almost to the clouds.
Towards these giant oaks he walked with hasty
steps, and soon found the iron door which leads
to the underground mansion. He opened the
door and beheld a flight of steps twisting down-
ward in deepening shadow. Fearlessly he de-
scended until he came to another door, which he
opened also. Thick darkness then confronted
him, and he faltered. But suddenly his heart
was uplifted to hear from afar off the neighing of
a horse. He pressed onward through a narrow
passage, groping his way with hands outstretched
64 Russian Folk-Life
until he reached another iron door. This door he
opened likewise, and resumed his journey through
night -black corridors which were silent as the
tomb. In all he met with twelve doors, each
of which he flung wide. When he had passed
through the last door of all, he found himself in
the chamber in which the horse was bound fast.
A dim light burned there, and as soon as he
entered, the horse sprang up and broke free from
the twelve chains with which a magician had
bound him long ages before. Then it spoke to
the Golden Knight and said : " For many un-
counted years 1 have waited for you, my de-
liverer. Now know that I am at your service.
Leap upon my back, and stretch forth your hand
and seize the invisible club which hangs beside
me. This club will carry out whatever command
you give in combat, and return again to your hand
when you call upon it. Let us hasten forth from
this dismal place. My heart is panting for the
sunlight. Whither shall I carry you? I will
hasten speedily to whatever place you name."
Seated on the horse's back, the Prince returned
to the surface of the great plain. Then he said
to the wise animal: "Carry me towards the dwell-
ing of the Yaga."
The horse immediately sprang forward and
rose high in the air. Treading the clouds and
speeding like the wind, it went on all day long
without pausing until the sun began to sink low
in the west Then it descended tp the earth,
The Lady of Moscow 65
and entered a thick forest of great oak-trees, in
the middle of which the Yaga has her dwelling.
It hastened fearlessly through the shadows. Deep
silence brooded all around. No wind whispered
there, nor stream raised its voice; no bird sang,
and no insect caused a sound. There was, indeed,
no sign of life anywhere, and day was fast fading
In the middle of this strange and awesome
forest the Golden Knight beheld the dwelling of
the Yaga. It was a feather-thatched hut perched
on birds' legs, and it turned round and round con-
tinually, now this way and now that, so as to
prevent anyone who approached it from entering
by the door.
The Golden Knight muttered a secret spell and
spoke, saying: "O hut, hear and obey. Turn
round with the door towards me and your back
to the shadows and stand still."
The hut turned round as he commanded it and
stood still. Then he walked through the door,
and beheld the old Yaga sitting alone in the
middle of the one chamber within. She looked
up and exclaimed: "No mortal has ever entered
my dwelling before. Why have you come hither,
O Golden knight.?"
"Foolish Yaga," answered the Knight, "it is
not seemly that you should ask questions before
you make offer to me of hospitality."
The old woman at once rose up and prepared
a meal for him. Then he sat down and ate and
66 Russian Folk-Life
drank and took his rest Thereafter he informed
her why he had taken the perilous journey to-
wards her dwelling, and she said: '*The task
which lies before you is dangerous and difficult.
But I will inform you how the Demon can be
overcome. You must visit the Isle of Immor-
tality, which is situated in the midst of the ocean.
On that island there is an oak, and beneath the
oak is an iron chest Inside the chest is a
hare, and under the hare a duck, and under the
duck an egg. The life of the Demon is in this
egg; when it is broken before him he will fall
Next morning the Golden Knight set forth to
find the egg. He rode on the back of the magic
horse until he reached the seashore. Then he
dismounted and wondered what next he should
While he stood musing on the point of a rocky
headland, he saw a great fish which had been
caught in a net " Set me free, 6 Golden
Knight," the fish exclaimed, "and I will remem-
ber you in time of need."
The Knight shook the net, and thus assisted
the fish to escape, and it disappeared through
the depths. He stood there gazing across the
waters, wondering how he could contrive to reach
the Isle of Immortality. His heart was filled
with sadness and despair, but the magic horse
spoke to him and said: "Why do you linger
here, and why is your face wrinkled with grief?"
The Lady of Moscow 67
"Alas!" the Knight made answer, *'how can I
be otherwise than sorrowful? I cannot cross the
ocean to reach the Isle of Immortality."
Said the horse: *'Leap upon my back, and I
will carry you to that distant isle. But be careful
and grasp the reins tightly, lest you should fall
The Knight mounted the magic steed, which
immediately plunged into the sea. It swam very
swiftly, raising great billows, and tossing the
spray to right and to left. The brave Knight
held the reins tightly, and in time was borne
safely to the shore of the far-distant isle.
As soon as he climbed the strand he looked
round about him with eyes of wonder. Then he
beheld a great oak which grew in the middle of
the island and walked towards it. Suddenly he
felt himself endowed with great strength, and,
grasping the oak, pulled it up by the roots and
flung it aside. As he did so, the tree moaned
like a beast in pain.
In the hole left by the tree the Knight found
an iron box. As soon as he raised the lid a hare
leapt forth, and he turned to look at it Then a
duck came out and flew through the air, grasping
the egg between its webbed toes. The Knight
desired above all things to obtain this egg, which
contained the life of the giant. So he drew his
bow and shot a swift arrow which went through
the duck. The egg fell into the sea and was lost.
Perceiving this the Prince began to utter cries
68 Russian Folk-Life
of sorrow, for well he knew that if he could not
recover the egg, Princess Peerless must remain a
prisoner in that lonely castle which the Demon
had surrounded with a wall of iron. His heart
sank within him, and he ran down to the point of
a headland and gazed across the waves. Then
suddenly the fish which he had rescued from the
net rose up and spoke, saying: "Why do you
sorrow thus, O Golden Knight? I have not for-
gotten the service you rendered me. What can I
do for your sake?"
" Find me the egg which fell into the sea when
I shot the duck," the Knight cried out eagerly.
The fish at once dived, and ere long appeared
again with the egg in its mouth. Then glad of
heart was the Golden Knight. He seized the
egg, but ere he could thank the fish it vanished
again in the midst of the waters.
Having thus obtained power over the Demon,
the Knight leapt on his horse's back, and bade it
carry him to the lonely castle in which dwelt Prin-
cess Peerless whom he loved.
The horse crossed the sea, and when it reached
dry land it rose high in the air like a bird and
flew swiftly. Then it made its way towards the
place where Moscow now stands, and in time the
Knight found himself close to the castle on the
Kremlin. He gazed on the iron wall which en-
closed the palace and walked round it until he
came to the gate. Beside the gate crouched the
fierce dragon. Six of its heads were asleep and
The Lady of Moscow 69
six remained awake, keeping watch lest anyone
should venture nigh.
The Golden Knight stood gazing at the monster
with wonder but unafraid. Then he bade his
invisible club to attack it. The club at once flew
from his hand and began to smite the dragon so
furiously that its six sleeping heads awoke.
Suffering great pain the monster leapt from side
to side, and shrank back, and darted forward,
attempting to avoid the blows. Its four-and-
twenty eyes meanwhile glanced in all directions
looking for the assailant, while from the twelve
mouths darted forth twelve fiery tongues. But
still the blows rained down upon it, and each blow
was like a thunderbolt. At length the dragon
became so angry that its heads commenced to
quarrel one with another. In the end it was
seized with madness and tore itself to pieces, so
that it expired.
The Knight called back his invisible club, and
walked through the iron gate towards the castle.
He was met by the Princess, who came forth to
greet him, her eyes sparkling with love and joy.
" You have slain the dragon," she said softly,
** but a greater task still awaits you. The cruel
Demon is coming nigh even now. He will en-
deavour to poison you with his breath, so be care-
ful how you approach him. Alas! if you are
slain, my heart will be broken, and I will fling
myself over yonder steep into the Moskwa river."
Said the Golden Knight: '* Beautiful Princess
lo Russian Folk-Life
Peerless, have no fear. The Demon is in my
power. This tgg, which I hold in my hand, con-
tains his life. I could have slain him ere now,
but I desire first to punish him for the wrong he
has done against you."
As he spoke the heavy footsteps of the Demon
were heard approaching through the forest Trees
fell down before him and snapped like twigs as
he stepped upon them.
The Golden Knight spoke to his invisible club,
and said, " Go and smite the Demon."
As he commanded, so did the club do. It
flew through the air and smote the Demon heavily
and long. None but he could have sustained
such an attack, for he had great strength. He
looked to right and to left, behind him and before,
and he gazed upward and towards the ground,
wondering whence came the blows that he stag-
gered beneath. Nothing could he see. Soon he
began to howl with terror and pain. He ran
forward towards the palace as if to find shelter
there. But the Golden Knight went out to meet
The Demon paused and exclaimed, "Ah! you
are the enemy who is causing me all this pain, are
*' I have come to slay you," answered the
Prince, ''because of the evil you have done, and
chiefly because you have caused Princess Peerless
to sorrow greatly."
The Demon heard in silence, and prepared to
The Lady of Moscow 71
blow his poisonous breath towards the rescuer of
the Princess. But ere he could do so, the Golden
Knight crushed the egg which he held in his
hand. The yolk dropped upon the ground, and
immediately the Demon fell dead.
Then everything underwent a sudden change.
The sun came out from behind dark clouds and
shone brightly. Birds that had long been silent
broke into song throughout the forest The iron
wall vanished like morning mist, and human
voices were heard on every side, for all those who
had been cast down in a swoon, awoke and re-
sumed their various duties again. Towards the
Princess came her twelve maidens, and she wept
to hear their voices once again.
There were great rejoicings in the castle when
the Golden Knight and Princess Peerless were
married. They lived happily together for long
years. There was less sorrow than there had
been in the world after the Demon of the Under-
world had been slain.
All the people who were liberated from the
spells cast upon them by the Demon elected to
remain near to the castle on the Kremlin. They
acknowledged the Golden Knight as their Tsar,
and the Princess Peerless as Tsarina, and they
made a clearance in the forest where they built
the first houses of the city of Moscow, which was
named after the Moskwa river. In time Moscow
became the capital of the great Kingdom of Mus-
kovy, from which modern Russia has grown.
MIKHAIL THE KRINGEL SELLER
One sunny forenoon in early summer Little
Mikhail stood at a street corner in a riverside
suburb of Petrograd with a basket tray full of
fancy cakes of white bread, called Kringels, sus-
pended from his neck. He was a tall slim boy,
not more than twelve years old, with pale pinched
cheeks, large grey eyes, and clustering chestnut
hair. ** Kringels, fresh kringels," he kept shout-
ing; ** who'll buy, who'll buy?"
Vendors old and young made the narrow streets
resound with their cries. Some darted hither and
thither jostling passers-by, pausing now and again
as they scanned high windows, expecting signals
from customers. Others ranged themselves along
the footpaths, sitting or standing beside their little
stocks of merchandise. '* Pots and pans — dishes
of all sorts," a woman called from the doorway
of an empty house on the steps of which she had
arranged her wares. *' Green onions and cucum-
ber," shouted a little old man with a harsh voice.
** Matches and pipes," droned another, while a
ragged girl cried, ** Needles and pins, buttons and
thread," in a sing-song manner that the barefooted
children amused themselves by imitating.
Mikhail the Kringel Seller 73
Housewives paused to bargain with the vendors,
sometimes arguing with them and sometimes
gossiping. The clamour of human voices was
occasionally drowned by the rattling of wagons
passing to and from the dockyards.
"Kringels, fresh kringels; who'll buy?" shouted
Little Mikhail, his shrill voice rising above the
confused clamour of the street.
'* When I was young," remarked a vendor who
sold cheap jewellery and brightly-coloured cotton
handkerchiefs, '' I could shout as lustily as the
kringel boy. Now I croak like a black crow by
The woman who sold earthenware pots shook
her head. '* Poor Mikhail!" she sighed, he must
keep on shouting like that because Red Koko is
" Is Red Koko his father?"
"No; the boy is an orphan. Koko's daugh-
ter tells me she has cared for him since he
was three years old, and he calls her 'Little
"He must be some relative, surely," suggested
the vendor of jewellery and handkerchiefs.
" No one here knows," the woman said. "He
does not resemble either Koko or his daughter.
When he came to Petrograd about ten years ago
he spoke the White Russian dialect, and knew
some foreign words, like the children of rich
people. There is some mystery about that boy,"
the woman added. "Although he is so gentle
74 Russian Folk-Life
and attentive to his work, Red Koko is very
harsh to him."
While the vendors were thus discussing Mikhail,
he was approached by a little dark woman, carry-
ing a fresh supply of kringels, which she herself
** That is Red Koko's daughter," explained the
seller of earthenware pots and plates.
** Kringels, fresh kringels; who'll buy?" the boy
•'You look tired, Mikhail," Koko's daughter
whispered; "does your head pain you still?"
** Not so much now, little mother," answered
the boy. •* But I wish it were night-time, so
that I might return home. The hours pass very
*' Have you seen my father?" she whispered
anxiously. "If I thought he were not near, I
would take your place for a time, so that you
might lie down and rest yourself."
" He is in Pavlov's vodka shop," the lad an-
swered wearily; "he will return here again before
The woman sighed heavily. " He'll take all
the money from you, of course, as he always does.
Give me a few kopecks, Mikhail, so that I may
buy liver for you, else you will get nothing to eat
for supper except black bread."
The boy thrust a few coins into her hand, and
then, glancing over his shoulder, whispered:
" Hasten away, little mother. I see him coming."
Mikhail the Kringel Seller 75
The woman drew her shawl over her head and
went down a narrow twisting lane, walking quickly.
She was soon lost to sight
In another moment a heavy hand suddenly
clutched Mikhail's right arm.
"Why are you not shouting, son of a frog?"
asked a gruff voice. Mikhail looked up and be-
held the angry face of the man who was known
as " Red Koko ". He had thick red hair and a
red beard, a squat nose, and bleary blue eyes.
" Kringels, fresh kringels; who 11 buy.^" the lad
'* Can't you shout louder?" growled Koko, tight-
ening his grip on the boy's arm until he squirmed
" Kringels, fresh kringels — oh! o— h!" the little
"Why do you torture the boy so?" exclaimed
the woman who sold earthenware. " You are a
cruel man, Koko; and some day the police will
Koko took no notice of her remark. "Give
me all the money you have made," he said to
The lad counted twenty -three kopecks into
Koko's outstretched hand.
" Haven't you more?" growled the man. " You
are Sf)ending your time here to little purpose. I
must keep a closer eye on you. Shout loud and
press people to buy. If you don't, I shall thrash
you to-night again."
76 Russian Folk-Life
He turned away, swaying unsteadily, while the
boy resumed shouting, " Kringels, fresh kringels!"
** Does Koko beat you often?" asked the woman
who sold earthenware.
" I hide from him when he comes home," an-
swered the boy. " Besides, he is often so drunk
that he can't strike one."
** Still, he does manage to beat you sometimes."
"Yes, and heavily, too; he is so strong."
" God will punish him one day for his wicked-
ness," sighed the woman.
" Kringels, fresh kringels; who'll buy?" Mikhail
called. Koko was watching him from a distance,
smiling grimly and stroking his beard. He was
prompted by feelings of revenge to ill-use the
boy. " Mikhail's father," he muttered to himself,
" used to treat me badly. Several times he had
me punished by the justices. At length he com-
pelled me to leave my native village. Little does
he think now that I have his son in my power
and am able to make him suffer even more than I
Koko had been a tenant of a small holding on
the estate of Mikhail's father in White Russia.
He was an indolent man of evil habits, much
addicted to stealing, who had himself to blame
for the misfortunes of which he complained. His
fellow-villagers disliked him, and had many times
pleaded with the land steward to have him put
For a few months after having been forced to
Mikhail the Kringel Seller 77
leave his native place, Koko lived in Moscow.
Then he resolved to go northward to Petrograd,
where he hoped to obtain remunerative work at
the docks. Before leaving, however, he conceived
a wicked plot to avenge himself on Mikhail's
father by setting fire to his corn-stacks when the
harvest had been gathered in. Accordingly he
walked one day towards the village, which lay
twenty miles distant from Moscow, and concealed
himself in a wood on the bank of a stream which
flows into Moskwa river, there to wait until dark*
ness came on.
That evening, as it chanced. Little Mikhail was
taken for a walk through the trees by his faithful
old nurse, Masha. He had slept heavily during
the sultry afternoon, and, the air having grown
fresh and cool, he raced about in high glee, making
the wood resound with his shouts and laughter.
Masha hobbled about and scolded him frequently
for running away from her. Suddenly he darted
towards the stream, and while trying to find a
new hiding-place, so as to tease the old nurse, fell
over the bank into a swirling pool. He was at
once carried away by the current round a mass
of jutting rock which caused the stream to twist
abruptly and increase its speed.
Koko was lying on the other side of the rock
under a clump of bushes, brooding over his wrongs.
He heard the splash of the falling child, and crept
out on a ledge to ascertain what had happened.
Seeing Little Mikhail floating past, he stretched
78 Russian Folk-Life
out his right hand and lifted him, dripping like
a wet sponge, out of the water, thus saving his
life. The little fellow had been stunned by the
fall and sudden immersion, and was quite uncon-
scious. Koko turned him over to empty his mouth
of water, and observing that he began to breathe
freely again, laid him down on the soft turf.
Meanwhile Masha had run towards the river
bank, and, sliding down the bank, waded towards
the pool on which the child's cap still floated,
having been caught by the branch of a fallen tree.
She advanced boldly until almost beyond her
depth, only to discover to her horror that Little
Mikhail had vanished. Half-crazed with grief,
she left the water, and scrambling up the bank,
ran towards her master's house for assistance,
uttering cries of distress. On her way she met
the child's mother, and falling on her knees, cried
out brokenly: "Little Mikhail is in the black
pool" Then she swooned and fell prostrate.
Koko's first impulse was to restore the boy to
his parents. For a moment he stood with folded
arms, gazing at the little inert form stretched out
on the turf. But his thoughts returned again to
his wrongs, and he remembered with bitterness
the empty cottage which his father had built, and
the hostility shown him by the landlord, the land
steward, and people of the village. *' No one has
observed what I have done," he muttered. " No
one suspects that I am here. I shall carry this
child away* His father will mourn the loss of his
Mikhail the Kringel Seller 79
only son more deeply than he would the loss of
a few stacks of com."
Smiling a cunning smile, the peasant then
stripped off the child's blouse and cast it into the
stream, so as to mislead those who would come to
search for the body. Then he took Little Mikhail
in his arms and hastened towards a deep and
unfrequented part of the wood. There he un-
dressed the child, and wrapping him in his own
warm sheepskin coat, gathered a few handfuls of
twigs and lit a fire, so as to dry the wet clothing.
In time the boy revived and opened his eyes.
He stared with mute wonder in the face of the
rough peasant, who was nursing him tenderly,
and then lisped faintly, " Masha — I want my
Koko laid the child down near the fire and
answered: "I shall carry you to Masha when I
have dried your clothes. Do not cry out or the
wild beasts will catch you. Just listen to them."
Little Mikhail heard the distant cries of the
men and women who were running up and down
the banks of the stream searching for his body in
the gathering darkness. He began to shake with
fear, and lay watching Koko drying his little gar-
ments by holding them over the crackling twigs.
Ere long he fell asleep. When he awoke morn-
ing had dawned. He found himself in a strange
room, in which sat Koko and his daughter, drink-
ing tea. Koko had carried him all the way to
Moscow under cover of night
8o Russian Folk-Life
'* They think Mikhail is drowned," the peasant
told his daughter. ** To-morrow we shall set out
for Petrograd and take him with us."
•* If the police discover what you have done,"
the young woman said, **you will be sent to
"What does it matter where I go now?"
growled Koko. ** Outside my native village one
place is the same as another to me."
" The police would arrest me also," wailed the
"No one saw me with the child. Besides,
have I not saved his life?"
Next day Koko and his daughter set out for
Petrograd, taking Little Mikhail with them. The
boy's parents believed that he was dead.
Years went past and still Koko kept his secret
" As long as J live," he vowed, " Mikhail must
work for me. I don't care what happens to him
" Kringels, fresh kringels!" shouted the poor
lost lad on that early summer day, while Koko
watched him from across the street
At noon the work&rs streamed from the docks
and made purchases from the vendors. Mikhail
sold many kringels during the meal hour, which
passed quickly. Then the street emptied itself,
and vendors settled down to gossip and snooze
along the footpaths. It had grown very warm.
Dogs crouched in the shadows of high buildings
and snapped lazily at passing flies.
« • •
* • * • w «
Mikhail the Kringel Seller 8i
Just as a puff of wind sometimes stirs a warm
and silent wood and makes the leaves rustle
merrily, so was the sleepy street suddenly
awakened to animation by the appearance of
strangers. The curiosity of the vendors was
aroused, and their tongues began to chatter.
**Who are these? Look, do you see them?"
said one to another along the footway. "They
are coming this way. What can have taken them
Men yawned and rubbed their eyes; women
rose up and gathered in little groups, whispering
and nodding their heads.
An elderly lady, accompanied by a uniformed
nurse, came walking slowly down the street It
was an unusual thing to see such a visitor in
that poor quarter; all the grand folks drove in
their carriages when they chanced to visit the
The vendors wondered who this lady could be
and why she had come near. Although her hair
was white as new-fallen snow, she did not seem
old. There was a softness and tenderness in her
beautiful face which attracted everyone; her eyes
were grey and dreamy, and her lips moved con-
stantly as if she were whispering something to
Women curtsied to her as she drew near, and
now and again she smiled sweetly in acknowledg-
ment. A stout woman lifted up her little son in
her arms, whispering: "See the beautiful lady,
82 Russian Folk-Life
Ivanovitch." The child sucked his thumb and
looked wonderlngly. Pausing for a moment, the
lady spoke to the mother in a sad, sweet voice.
** May your boy be a blessing to you," she said.
** Never let him go near the river. I had once a
little boy of mine own, but alas! he was drowned."
Tears streamed down her cheeks and she turned
**Poor dear lady," whispered a Jewess, *'her
mind is crazed with her loss."
**The rich have their sorrows as well as the
poor," remarked a frail old man.
** Her face is saintly and fair," the stout woman
said. "She spoke out of her heart when she
prayed that little Ivanovitch would be a blessing
Mikhail saw Koko peering from the doorway
of a vodka shop, and resumed shouting:
•• Kringels, sweet kringels — who'll buy?"
The lady turned towards him with a smile.
•*I like your face," she said sofdy. **What
beautiful eyes you have! What is your name,
** Mikhail," answered the boy.
"How strange!" the lady exclaimed. "That
was the name of my own little boy. Had he
lived he would be nearly as old as you are,
Mikhail. What is your age?"
" Twelve years."
" My Mikhail would be twelve too were he alive.
You look much older, son of my heart. Why do
Mikhail the Kringel Seller 83
you have to sell these kringels in the street? Are
your parents very poor?"
"My parents are dead," the boy answered.
*' How sad!" sighed the lady. "If you should
ever happen to be near Moscow, come to see me
at my country house. I will show you where my
Little Mikhail was drowned. I cannot yet realize
he is dead. Sometimes I see him in my dreams,
wandering about the streets of a strange town,
weeping while he searches for me. His eyes
were large and grey like yoiirs, but he had fairer
hair and his cheeks were plump and red. Will
you promise to come and see me some day? Ill
love you because your name is Mikhail."
"God be merciful to her!" whispered the
woman who sold hardware. " Her heart is
broken with grief for her son."
" Let us move on, madam," the nurse said
softly. " It is time we returned to the carriage."
The lady stroked Mikhail's head, gazing at
him through her tears. " Will you sell me some
kringels?" she asked. "How much must I pay
you for all those on the tray?"
" Fifteen kopecks, madam," answered the boy,
who blushed deeply, because the other vendors
were watching and listening.
The lady drew a silver rouble from her purse.
"Take this, Mikhail,'* she said, "and eat all the
kringels yourself ... Now your cheeks are rosy
and beautiful. You are more like my lost Mikhail
^han before. My dear boy was taken away fron^
84 Russian Folk-Life
me by God, and I have not been happy since.
But ah! we shall meet again some day in His good
She began to weep bitterly, and allowed the
nurse to lead her away from the kringel seller,
who was really her own lost son. It was a
strange meeting after long years of separation.
Nor was it to be wondered at that neither recog-
nized the other.
Koko, who stared with wide eyes through the
window of a vodka shop, realized what had taken
place. He knew that the strange lady was
Mikhail's mother, and feared to venture forth lest
she would remember his face, and perhaps ask
him uncomfortable questions. Not until she had
disappeared did he leave his hiding-place and
cross the street
"What did the lady say to you?" he asked
Mikhail in a low, unsteady voice.
The boy drew the silver rouble from his pocket
and answered, " She gave me that."
Koko took the coin, and stared at it stupidly
as he turned it over in the palm of his right
*' But what did she say?" he blurted out, turn-
ing his eyes upon the boy, who answered: **She
told me I resembled her son who was drowned,
and that his name was Mikhail also."
** What has brought her here?" Koko growled.
*' She dreams "
" What?" exclaimed Koko \n a horrified voicp^,
Mikhail the Kringel Seller 85
" She dreams her dead child is wandering about
die streets of a strange town," said Mikhail
The woman who sold hardware had crept near,
and heard every word that was spoken. Koko's
strange manner aroused her curiosity.
"She dreams, does she.*^" Koko muttered, tug-
ging his beard.
*' Visions come in dreams, and visions are from
God," remarked the woman, repeating the saying
of a holy man.
Koko glanced at her with startled eyes, and
then asked Mikhail: *' Did the lady say she would
Before the boy could answer, the hardware
woman spoke, saying: *'She thinks Mikhail is
like her lost son, and has asked him to go and
visit her at her country house, which is near
Moscow. Anyone could see that the boy has
attracted her. She will certainly return again.
Perhaps she wants to adopt him. . . . What makes
you afraid, Red Koko?"
The man had turned suddenly very pale, and
shook like an aspen leaf. Observing this, the
woman grew more bold.
"Whose son is Mikhail?" she asked sharply.
" God knows what secret you are hiding in your
heart. Red Koko, and He will punish you if
you have done wrong. You speak the dialect of
White Russia, as does the dear lady who has just
gone away. Why are you troubled so much
about her? Why "
86 Russian Folk-Life
Koko made no answer. He turned away
abruptly, and went towards the docks with hast-
**When next the lady comes I shall speak to
her," said the vendor of hardware to herself as
she returned to the door-steps on which she had
arranged her wares. " I shall tell her that Koko
ill-uses the boy, and that he is afraid of her for
some reason or other. Perhaps she knows some-
thing about him."
When Mikhail returned home that evening he
told Koko's daughter about the lady with the
pale, sad face, who had spoken to him regarding
her lost child, and presented him with a silver
rouble. "Perhaps she will come again, little
mother," he sighed as he crouched in a corner,
his elbows on his knees and his hands pressed
against his aching brow. ** Her voice was like
sweet music. I felt I had seen her somewhere a
long time ago — ^perhaps I saw her in a dream."
Koko's daughter trembled. She felt certain
the strange lady was Mikhail's mother. ** Does
your head pain you still, Mikhail?" she asked in
a low voice.
** Yes, very much," answered the boy. " I feel
I cannot eat anything. I will lie down and try
" My poor boy, you have wearied yourself to-
day. Lie down and sleep a little," Koko's
daughter urged him tenderly, with tears in her
Mikhail the Kringel Seller 87
** Do not let your father strike me to-night,"
Mikhail pleaded, as he stretched himself on a
heap of straw which was covered by a ragged
" Have I not always been kind to you,
Mikhail?" Koko's daughter asked in a trembling
voice as she drew a rug over him.
"Yes, yes, little mother; always kind."
She kissed his forehead. "You won't forget
that. If the great lady comes to take you away,
she will make you rich. Promise me you will tell
her I have cared for you lovingly ever since you
were a little child."
** Had my mother — my real mother — soft eyes
like the great lady's?" asked the boy.
" Your mother had indeed beautiful eyes."
"Ah! why did she die?" Mikhail sighed deeply.
"Are you weeping for me, little mother?"
" For you and for myself," answered Koko's
daughter. " It will break my heart if you are
taken away from me."
" Perhaps the lady will take you also. Who
His voice had grown faint, and he soon fell
asleep. The woman sat beside him weeping, and
waiting for her father. But Koko did not return
home that night He had found a hiding-place
somewhere near the docks, and waited an oppor-
tunity to escape from Petrograd to some distant
place where no one would know him.
Next morning Mikhail went to sell kringels as
88 Russian Folk-Life
usual at his accustomed place. He looked paler
than usual, and his voice had grown thin and
*'The kringel boy is unwell," one vendor re-
marked to another.
"If the lady comes to-day," said the woman
who sold hardware, *' I shall speak to her about
Koko. But where is Koko to-day.*^"
Mikhail's eyes searched the street for him in
vain. "Kringels, fresh kringels," he shouted;
•* who'll buy, wholl buy?"
"It will be very hot to-day again," growled a
heavy man who carried a baJe of goods on his
shoulders, and stood resting himself against the
wall beside a group of vendors.
"To-morrow Til seek the country highways,"
a pedlar said with a yawn. " I am weary of the
city life, and long to see green woods again.
The air is thick here; one could cleave it with
"Ah! she is coming again," exclaimed a stout
" Who is coming?" another asked.
"The lady who blessed my little Ivanovitch
yesterday and spoke to Mikhail, the kringel seller."
Vendors rose up to watch her drawing near,
walking slowly beside her nurse. What was
going to happen? Would she take Mikhail away
with her? Everyone grew excited and curious.
"Where can Red Koko be?" asked one of the
Mikhail the Kringel Seller 89
"If the lady gives Mikhail another silver
rouble," a woman remarked, ** Koko will soon
make appearance. Rest assured he is not far
"What is wrong with Mikhail?" exclaimed a
Jewess in a startled voice.
"He is ill," the stout woman said, and turned
at once to hasten towards the boy, who had
suddenly fainted on the foot-path. His face was
ashen pale and his chin sank on his breast: the
tray tilted sideways and all the kringels were
scattered on the ground. A crowd had gathered
round him when the lady drew near.
"Alas I madam. Little Mikhail has fainted,"
the Jewess informed her.
" Stand apart! let him have fresh air," said the
nurse as she pressed forward.
" Poor boy! poor boy!" exclaimed the lady in
a broken voice. "He has neither mother nor
father to care for him."
The woman who sold hardware had taken the
fainting boy in her arms, kneeling on the foot-
path, while the nurse unloosed his shirt Another
woman was sprinkling water from an earthen-
ware pot on his white, pinched face.
"Stand apart!" the nurse repeated. Reluc-
tantly the crowd of vendors drew back.
Mikhail began to revive, and, opening his
eyes, saw the face of the sad lady, who was bend-
ing over him. He smiled faintly.
"Poor boy! poor boy!" she kept repeating.
90 Russian Folk-Life
Dipping her handkerchief in the pot of water, she
damped his forehead and cheeks. Then suddenly
she uttered an exclamation of surprise.
" Look, look!" she cried, addressing the nurse.
"There is a little brown mole above his collar-
bone. My Little Mikhail had a mole there also."
She clutched the boy convulsively in her
arms. "My Little Mikhail has come to life
again," she exclaimed.
"Hush! madam," urged the nurse. "Do not
excite yourself. This is but a poor woman's
" He is none other than your own child," ex-
claimed a woman excitedly.
Everyone looked round. It was Koko's
daughter who had spoken.
" How do you know?" asked the nurse.
" My father rescued Mikhail from drowning
and carried him away. Oh! I am not to blame.
I have been kind to the boy, and I love him
"This is Red Koko's daughter," explained the
woman who sold hardware. " She has cared for
the boy since he was three years old."
" 1 remember Red Koko," the lady said. " He
was a wicked man."
" Mothers-are you indeed my own mother?"
asked Mikhail, raising himself up.
"My child, my long-lost child!" sobbed the
lady, clasping him in her arms and kissing him
again and again.
Mikhail the Kringel Seller 91
The nurse, who remained cool and collected in
that excited group, whispered to one of the male
vendors, requesting him to fetch their carriage,
which was waiting in an adjoining street Then
she spoke to Koko's daughter, asking, " Do you
know this lady's name?"
**She is Madam Dolgoruk, and her husband
is General Vasfli Petr6vich Kantemfr," that poor
young woman answered with agitation. ** May
God forgive my father for the sin he has com-
mitted in stealing Little Mikhail from his parents!"
**The boy must indeed be Madam's lost son.
How wonderful!" someone exclaimed.
"Wonders are worked by God every day of
our lives," remarked an old man.
** Madam's prayers have been heard and an-
swered," the stout woman said softly as she
In a few minutes the carriage drove up.
"You will come with me, my son, my son," the
lady whispered, embracing Mikhail tenderly. She
seemed to be in dread lest he might be taken
away from her again.
" Let Koko's daughter come also," pleaded the
" Yes, yes," his mother assented. " Whatever
you wish shall be done, my own boy, my sweet
Koko's daughter hesitated to enter the carriage.
"You had better accompany us," whispered the
nurse. " The General will wish to hear what
92 Russian Folk-Life
you have to say. Do not wait until the police
come for you."
Pale and trembling, the young woman obeyed,
and in another minute the carriage rolled out of
The vendors broke up into little groups, talk-
ing with animation over what had taken place.
"What think you?" exclaimed the woman who
sold hardware. ** The kringel boy is the son of
rich parents. He was stolen by Red Koko."
"Where is Red Koko?" asked another vendor.
"He has run away," a little old man asserted.
" The police will find him and he will be sent
to Siberia," declared another.
"We shall miss Litde Mikhail," said the
Jewess. " He had a sweet voice and gentle
"Although Koko used him ill," the stout
woman sighed, "God watched over him. He is
merciful to all, rich and poor, and in His good
time He guided the mother to her lost child."
"Did the lady not say she had seen Mikhail
in her dreams?" exclaimed the woman who sold
hardware. "And did I not say yesterday that
visions come in dreams and visions are from God?
So I heard a holy man once declare, and now his
words have come true."
Red Koko was never again seen in the river-
side suburb. His daughter, however, returned
one day to bid farewell to the vendors, and to
distribute gifts of money among them from
Mikhail the Kringel Seller 93
Mikhairs mother. ** Mikhail has been very ill,"
she told them, "and is going south to Moscow
to-morrow. His mother has taken me into her
service, and I will accompany her and Mikhail
to her country house, which is near to my native
*' She has forgiven you, then," said the woman
who sold hardware.
"God has restored her to her right mind
again," Koko's daughter made answer, "and her
heart is full of forgiveness. She will not even
have my father punished."
"And is Mikhail very happy?" asked the stout
" Happy indeed," Koko's daughter sighed.
" Had his mother not found him, he would
assuredly have died. She has nursed him back
to life again."
" When my son Ivanovitch is old enough," de-
clared the stout woman, "he will sell kringels,
like Little Mikhail. Never shall I forget the
sweet lady who blessed my boy, and her dear
son who lived amongst us all these years."
HOW LITTLE IVAN BECAME
A cobbler's son in Vladimir had been sent to a
school by a rich lady who desired him to become
a priest. His father took great pride in the boy,
and cleared a corner of his shop where he might
sit in quietness to pursue his studies undisturbed
by the rest of the children, Like all other shoe-
makers he knew many old stories, and, believing
these would increase his son's knowledge, he was
wont to relate them to him as he patched and
stitched the boots that his customers left to be
"What are you reading about to-day?" he
asked his son, who was poring over a book in
" The history of Ivan the Terrible, Father.
He was a great Tsar, who did much to make
Russia rich and powerful."
" Does your book tell you how many Tsars
called Ivan sat on the imperial throne?"
"No, Father; were there more than one?"
'* I have heard it told, my son, that five Ivans
in all ruled over the country. This information I
bad from a wise and learned priest Of three q(
How Little Ivan became a Tsar 95
them I know little or nothing, but I know some-
thing of two. One was Ivan called the Terrible,
of whom you are reading, and the other was the
first Ivan of all. This first Ivan reigned in the
days when the Tartars oppressed the people of
our country, and plundered them without mercy.
He delivered the whole land from the Tartar
"He must have been a mighty Tsar, in-
'* And yet, when he was a boy, he lived the life
of a beggar. The Tartars sought to slay him
soon after he was born, but his nurse exchanged
him for the child of a poor woman who lived
in this ancient city, while her own child was
reared as a Prince in Moscow. Would you
like to hear the story of how little Ivan became
" Indeed I would. Father," exclaimed the
" Then come here and sit beside me," said the
shoemaker, **so that your knowledge may be
The cobbler then related the legend which the
peasants of many generations had interwoven
with the memory of the fourteenth-century Tsar,
Ivan I, who founded a new dynasty which en-
dured for nearly a century and a half. Here I
set it down as it was afterwards retold by the
cobbler's son, when he grew up to be a village
priest in bis native province,
96 Russian Folk-Life
Little Ivan was a comely boy, who lived in a
hut on the outskirts of Vladimir with his father
and mother, who were very poor. He had bright
eyes and a noble brow, and the rich people smiled
to him, being attracted by his countenance, al-
though he went about in rags. In summer-time
he fared well, for he was given alms by many,
but in winter when food became scarce the boy
felt glad if he was able to procure one meal a day.
He learned how to be contented with little. Once
his father came home from the town, on a cold
and bitter evening, with a small loaf of black
bread. It was all the food he could purchase
that day. He cut it into three portions, one for
his wife, one for little Ivan, and one for himself.
Then he sat down before the fire to enjoy the
warmth, for he had wandered about through the
cold streets since early morning.
Now there crouched behind the stove in that
poor hut a grim spirit, named Krutschina, which
signifies **the Sorrowful One". She watched the
man munching slowly, and suddenly stretched out
her grisly black hand and snatched away his
portion of black bread. Then she shrank back
again into her hiding-place.
**Alas!" cried the hungry man, making obei-
sance to the spirit, " restore to me my black bread,
else I will die of hunger."
Said the spirit, " Having devoured it, I cannot
grant your request But I will give you instead
« • « •
• t • •
• * * • ^
• » »
• » • »
• • .
•> • »
• * • •
. • .
^ 1 s * •
. - r ■ *
• «. "• •
< . > t
How Little Ivan became a Tsar 97
a duck, which will lay a golden egg every morn-
** So be it, Krutschina," the poor man an-
swered. ** Thinking of the duck and its golden
egg, I will go to bed forgetting my hunger.
But tell me, first, where I will find this wonderful
Said the spirit, "When you go towards the
town to-morrow, you will see a pond. In the
pond there will be a duck; seize the duck and
hasten home with it."
** Very well, Krutschina," the man said ; ** I will
do as you advise me." Then he went to bed,
and having overcome the pangs of hunger with a
strong will, fell fast asleep.
At dawn next morning he rose and left his hut
to hasten towards the town. To his great joy he
soon found that the spirit had spoken truly. He
beheld a pond, and in the pond a duck. So he
seized the bird at once and returned home with
Little Ivan clapped his hands with joy when he
beheld the duck, which the man handed to his
wife, saying, " May it lay an egg soon! We have
need of gold."
"May it be our salvation!" the poor woman
exclaimed. As she spoke, she placed the bird in
a basket and covered it over carefully with a
When an hour had elapsed, she lifted up the
duck and found that it had laid a golden egg.
98 Russian Folk-Life
Great was her joy. She called her husband and
little Ivan, who had gone outside to chop wood,
and they hastened to her side. The boy clapped
his hands with joy, his eyes meanwhile sparkling
like moonlit water.
"One golden egg each morning," his mother
said. " Such is our good fortune now."
The poor man was feeling hungry. He said
nothing but " Give it to me." He thrust the egg
into his bosom and hastened towards the town.
A merchant, to whom he showed it, paid him
down, without hesitation, a hundred roubles,
which he lifted up without excitement, as if he
was accustomed to handling large sums of money.
Then he made his way to the market-place and
purchased a goodly quantity of provisions. Little
Ivan danced with joy to see his father returning
from the town, carrying food in abundance for the
Next morning the duck laid another golden
egg. The man did not hasten to the town with
it. He thought he would wait for a week so that
the worth of this wonderful bird might be tested.
It did not fail or disappoint him. With each new
day came a new egg^ and the owner of the duck
soon found himself wealthy. He kept his secret,
and his wife and son never revealed the source of
the family fortune either. After disposing of
several eggs the man built a large house, which
he furnished exceedingly well. Then he pur-
chased a shop and began to trade with profit
How Little Ivan became a Tsar 99
As time went on, little Ivan's father grew very
rich; but he seemed never to be satisfied. The
more gold he made the more he desired to make.
He rubbed his hands gleefully every time he
thought of the duck which laid a golden egg each
One day when he was away from home, an
inquisitive clerk employed at the shop called at
his house. The duck had just laid a golden egg,
and he saw his employer's wife lifting it out of the
basket Ere she realized fully what she had
done, she revealed to this young man the secret
of her husband's wealth. The clerk was greatly
astonished. He lifted up the bird and examined
it with much interest Under one of the wings
he observed gold letters, which read —
TAe Man who Eats this Duck will
become a Tsar.
He placed the bird down on the floor at once,
and said nothing regarding his discovery. Well he
knew that neither his employer nor his wife could
" You must not tell my husband that you have
seen the duck," the woman pleaded.
The clerk shook his head. '* I will promise
nothing," said he.
" Keep the secret I have revealed," she urged
softly, "and I will give you much gold."
Said the clerk : " Because you have told me all
loo Russian Folk-Life
about the bird, you have broken a magic spell.
It will never lay another golden egg.'*
The woman believed him. ** Do not tell my
husband," she repeated. " I will reward you for
your silence. Fortunately we have enough wealth
to last us all our days. Besides, my husband
makes much money in trading. He will not miss
the golden eggs now."
Said the clerk: ** Very well. I promise not to
confess against you. But he will discover the
truth all the same, for when he returns home to-
morrow the duck will inform him of what has
The woman began to weep. " Alas!" she cried,
" I fear to meet my husband. What can I do?"
Said the clerk: "The only thing you can do
now is to kill the duck."
" But what explanation can I give to my husband
for killing this wonderful bird?" she wailed.
Said the clerk: " Kill it and cook it, and I will
eat it. The magic of the bird will thus pass to
me, and I will be able to bewitch your husband
and cause him to forget that he ever possessed
a duck which laid golden eggs."
Like a child, the woman did as this cunning
fellow advised her. She slew the duck, plucked
and cleaned it, and thrust it into the oven. Then
the clerk said: "I will return to the shop now.
Come with me and pay over the money you
promised. Then I will eat this duck and proceed
at once to bewitch your husband."
How Little Ivan became*: ft :Tsar .191: •
** • • • • » "• •
The woman said: **Very:*w^, f J^fet'i©: ggft: .•;.
done with the business as quickly as' possible*.*'
As she spoke she threw a cloak over her
shoulders and hurried out of the house with the
Little Ivan had risen early that morning to go
skating on the frozen river. He returned home
sooner than usual, feeling very hungry, and began
to search through the house for food. Opening
the oven, he saw the duck roasting and smacked
his lips. " How lucky I am!" he exclaimed. *' I
will have a rare feast before mother returns."
When the duck was thoroughly cooked he
pulled it out, placed it on a large plate, and sat
down at a table to devour it. He never tasted
sweeter food in his life. The more he ate the
more he desired to eat, and he went on eating
until nothing was left but the bones. Then he
leapt up gladly, and seizing his skates returned
to the frozen river again.
In time his mother returned home. She laid
out a table and then went to the kitchen to obtain
the duck. To her horror, she discovered that it
had been eaten up.
The clerk arrived a few minutes later. When
he learned what had occurred he became very
angry, and exclaimed: "You have cheated me,
false woman! You have eaten the duck yourself.
Now nothing can save you from your husband's
He left the house at once. ** Although I cannot
•?»2. •. .• : : J^iu^sian Folk-Life
/. :be-a>'7^f/* htf- said to himself, "I am now a
"wealthy mari,*'for tliat foolish woman has allowed
me to become possessed of the greater portion of
her husband's ready money. I shall leave this
town at once and go and live in a foreign country."
When Little Ivan's father came home next day
he looked round the house, saying, ** Where is
His wife followed him. *' I do not know," she
kept repeating. Little Ivan amused himself that
morning building a snow house in the back yard.
His father called to him: ** Have you seen the
duck? I cannot find it anywhere."
The boy ran towards his parents and said:
" Yesterday I returned from skating, feeling very
hungry. I could have eaten an ox. I opened
the oven and found a roasted duck, which I pulled
out and devoured, leaving nothing but the bones.
But whether or not it was the duck you are search-
ing for I cannot tell."
His father flew into a sudden passion, and not
only whipped the boy, but turned him out of the
house. Then he scolded his wife, who wept bitter
tears. Afterwards he went to his shop, and dis-
covered that the clerk had ruined him and fled
away. He caused a search to be made for the
scoundrel, and after several days had gone past
was informed that his dishonest servant had been
robbed and slain by a band of fierce thieves, who
infested a forest about two hundred versts from
How Little Ivan became a Tsar 103
So it came about that this man who had owned
the magic duck, which brought him good fortune,
became very poor again. He returned to the
little hut in which he had been wont to dwell, and
there he mourned the loss of his foster-son, whom
he had sent away in his wrath.
Little Ivan had gone on a long journey. After
he left his home he walked onward until he reached
a village five versts south of Vladimir. There he
met an old woman, who spoke to him, saying:
"Why are you weeping so bitterly? You are
young and strong, and should be happy indeed."
"Alas!" answered the lad, "I have been sent
away from home for eating a duck which laid
every day a golden egg.''
" You have done a great wrong," the old woman
told him, "and it is now your duty to repay the
loss which you have caused. My advice to you
is to travel southward until you reach Moscow,
the capital of the next kingdom. Enter through
the gate and accept the first offer which is made
" Very well," answered the lad, " I shall do as
you advise me."
The old woman turned towards the east, and
Little Ivan took the road leading southward.
For nine days the lad wandered on and on, and
each day he grew more weary. By night he
slept in the houses of peasants, and more than
one kindly woman begged of him to take rest
beneath her roof for a few days, fearing he would
I04 Russian Folk-Life
grow faint and die by the roadside. On the tenth
day, however, his wanderings came to an end.
At eventide he drew near to Moscow and entered
through the northern gate. A great crowd of
people lined the main thoroughfare, and when
they beheld Little Ivan they raised shouts of
joy and cried:
" Here comes our Tsar! Long live our
The lad was greatly astonished. Soldiers
gathered round him, and then the chief citizens
came forward, and, having knelt before him and
kissed his hands, they led him towards the royal
palace on the Kremlin. Crowds thronged all the
streets that Little Ivan passed through, and they
shouted words of loyal welcome. The lad gazed
about him with wonder, but he could not help
smiling and bowing to see so many kindly and
happy faces. The more he smiled the more
delighted the people became.
When he reached the palace, Little Ivan was
informed by a high official that the old Tsar had
died some days previously. He left no heir, and
the people quarrelled among themselves as to
who should be selected to reign over them. At
length they decided to proclaim as their Tsar the
first stranger who entered the northern gate of
the city. Everyone was delighted to find that a
comely lad with bright eyes and a noble brow
How Little Ivan became a Tsar 105
chanced to visit their capital. In their hearts
they were all firmly convinced that he would grow
up to be a wise and just ruler, who would devote
his life for the good of the people.
Little Ivan was taken to a private chamber,
where servants washed him and attired him in
royal robes. Afterwards he followed the officers
of state to the throne-room, where the crown was
placed on his head. When this ceremony was
completed, he walked out on the balcony of the
palace before the eyes of the citizens who had
assembled in the square beneath. Little Ivan
looked every inch a king, and many voices
" Long live our noble Tsar! Long live
OUR NOBLE Tsar!"
It seemed for a time to the lad that he must
be dreaming. But he realized at length his good
fortune, and when he did so, he thought of his
father and mother. He felt that he could not
live happily unless they were beside him, so he
called before him a gallant knight whose name
was Luga, and spoke to him, saying: **Go to
my native country, which is Vladimir, and salute
the Tsar. Say I greet him, and desire above all
things that peace should prevail between my king-
dom and his. Ask him to favour me by permitting
my father and mother to come here and dwell in
my palace, because my heart yearns for them."
io6 Russian Folk-Life
The knight bowed before the new Tsar, and
hastened to obey his command. Before a month
had gone past he returned to the palace with
Ivan's father and mother, who wondered greatly
why they were ordered to appear before the
mighty ruler of Muskovy. They were conducted
to the throne-room, and to their great astonish-
ment beheld their Ivan sitting on the throne, clad
in rich robes, and wearing a dazzling crown upon
Said Ivan: ** Father, you turned me away from
your home. Now I have brought you to mine.
Promise me that you and my mother will dwell
here with me for the rest of your days."
The old man was overcome with joy, and
wept glad tears, as did his wife also. Ivan de-
scended from the throne and kissed them both.
Then he bade his servants to bring them royal
garments, so that they might be fittingly attired
to sit at his royal table.
Ivan grew up to be a wise and powerful ruler.
He acquired such great wealth that he was sur-
named **Kalita" (**the Purse"). Not only did
he reign over Muskovy, but also in time over
Novgorod, which had been long years without a
Tsar, and over Vladimir, the Tsar of which had
been driven from his throne by the Tartars be-
cause of his folly and greed, and became an
outcast among men.
When Ivan had established order and peace
throughout the united principalities of his great
How Little Ivan became a Tsar 107
kingdom, he did his utmost to promote trade by
founding many fairs and marts, which yielded
imperial duties and enriched the state. Many
merchants came from foreign countries in Europe
and Asia, and Russia became a vast market-
place. A great and good Tsar was the first
Ivan. His name will live for ever.
TSAR IVAN AND THE SCOTS
I. A Friend in Need
It was a cold and silent November night in
the year of grace 1581, or, as the Russians then
reckoned it,^ the year 7089, "from the creation
of the world". The moon began to rise over
Moscow through a purple haze, swollen and
dulled, and of the colour of molten copper.
Superstitious men and women watched it with
solemn eyes, fearing it foretold the approach of
some new calamity, so prone were they to look
for omens of evil. Nor did their hearts grow
lighter when at length it climbed the naked
heaven and shone forth as clear as burnished
The capital of Muskovy then seemed fairer
than by day. Much of the squalor was concealed
in shadow, and the thin coating of snow which
had whitened roofs and battlements and frozen
streets, lay sparkling and pure in the soft moon-
light. High above the ridge of the Kremlin the
gilded Cathedral domes flashed in radiant splen-
dour, but made no appeal to the hearts of the
^ The Julian Calendar was introduced by Peter the Great.
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 109
oppressed citizens, for nigh to the stately Church
of the Assumption and the great Cathedral of
Michael the Archangel frowned the grim and
massive palace of Ivan the Terrible, the tyran-
nical Tsar who had declared to his subjects: "I
am your god as God is mine. My throne is sur-
rounded by archangels as is the throne of God,"
That gloomy royal abode was still kept astir
like an uneasy conscience. The courtyard flared
with torches, and lights twinkled from a hundred
windows, while monks and courtiers and warriors
jostled each other in its long corridors, continually
passing to and fro. In a bleak chamber, gfuarded
by lynx-eyed sentinels, Ivan Gronze sat apart, a
wild-eyed old man, fretting with suppressed rage
and suspicion as he received the secret reports
of his dreaded spies and informers, who slandered
the innocent if they could not discover the guilty.
Although a fierce tyrant, the Tsar was at heart
a coward. He trusted no one, and dreaded
hourly that some fawning official would become
his assassin. So he kept spies, to follow spies
and informers to watch informers. In the black
dungeons beneath the palace his manacled victims
starved and shivered miserably, awaiting torture
and slow death.
Wraiths of cold mist, that had risen from the
Moscow and Neglin rivers, crawled over stone
battlements and across the maze of shoulder-
ing roofs around the royal palace, assuming
strange, distorted shapes in the moonlight. It
no Russian Folk-Life
seemed that night as if the ghosts of murdered
princes and boyarins^ were returning to haunt
lonely chambers, in which they had aforetime
feasted and whispered treason, surrounded by the
spies of the Tsar.
Adjoining the Kremlin, with its quaint and
bold array of spires and domes of Eastern and
Western design, the walled -in Katai Gorod
(china city) drowsed in shadow, its bazaars and
markets deserted and silent, its river gate shut
and strongly guarded. These two fortified en-
closures were buffered on all sides, save the
Moscow river front, by the bulging and mis-
named Byelo Gorod (white city), in shape resem-
bling a chinless human skull, which was sur-
rounded by thick and high earthen ramparts;
sentinels were posted at its five iron-bound oaken
gates, which had been closed at sunset In this,
the main part of the capital, were broad squares
and long streets, in which commodious mansions
shouldered wretched hovels that were cramped,
overcrowded, and evil - smelling. This way and
that ran narrow, twisting lanes, through which no
stranger dared to venture even in daylight Few
houses had stone walls, most were built of timber ;
the homes of the poorest people were but shape-
less heaps of dried mud and clay. Here and
there throughout the city appeared wide, open
spaces covered over with the charred remains of
^A class like the English feudal barons. Also rendered in English
*«boyars" and "boyards".
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers m
numerous dwellings that had been burned down
when Moscow was attacked by a Tartar army
ten years previously.
Beyond the outer ramparts of the capital lay
the unprotected slobadas (suburbs). In these
dwelt all foreigners and heretics, many of whom
seemed to enjoy more comfort and prosperity than
the masses in the White City, for among such
"out -dwellers" were prosperous merchants and
traders, who hailed from countries as far apart as
Persia and England, Sweden and Italy. In the
north-western quarter, known as Nemetskaya
Slobada (**the dumb suburb"), because its occu-
pants were unable to speak the Russian language,
were hundreds of disconsolate Scots and a few
Englishmen, who had been taken prisoners in the
wars with Poland and Sweden. They had built
for themselves a number of stone houses, as if
they expected their sojourn to be prolonged.
These were of characteristic Scots design, with
stone stairways outside the walls; some fronted
the street, others shouldered it with their gables,
while not a few had their doors at the back, which
were reached through narrow arched courts.
Sandy Wood surveyed one of the litde streets
in the moonlight and wagged his head, chuckling
to himself ** One might think he was in Crail,"
he muttered. ** We must call this * Fife Street ',
if the Tsar has no objections."
He was a small wiry man with a scrubby
grey beard, a thick short nose, and shrewd eyes,
112 Russian Folk-Life
one of which kept opening and shutting when
he began to speak; his blue bonnet was worn
tilted sideways on his head. During his lifetime
he had followed various occupations. He had
been a stone-mason, a sailor, a trader, and a
soldier of fortune ; now he acted as chief architect
of the Scots quarter of the **dumb suburb" of
A tall, red-bearded man approached with soft
footsteps from behind and laid a hand on his
shoulder. "Sandy Wood," he muttered in a
grave, deep voice, "youVe the very man I've
been looking for."
"That's yourself, Jeamy Lingett, is it?" said
Sandy. " See here — have you ever noticed this?"
He nudged his friend gleefully, and pointed down
the street. "Does yon comer house no' remind
you o' Bob Keith's at the west end o' the town o'
" It does that," drawled the other. " Man, I
thought it looked familiar."
"That house on your left there is as like as
can be to the one I was born in," the little man
went on. "All that's wanted now to complete
it is a brier hedge* and honeysuckle at the gable.
Ah! if ye came from Crail, like me, Jeamy,
man, ye'd ken every house in this bonnie wee
" Doubtless, Sandy, doubtless. But I ken few
folk in Crail other than Bob Keith and your own
relatives, often as I've been in the town. But
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 113
we'll have a chat about Crail some other night.
What I want to see ye about now is o' most
serious importance. This morning who should
come to pay me his respects but a braw English
gentleman, to name Sir Jerome Horsey. He's
a great traveller in foreign lands, and is held in
good favour by the Tsar himself. * You will not
always be kept in this place under durance,' says
he, * if I can help it I'll plead for you if such be
your will,' says he, 'before his Majesty, so that
he may be pleased to employ you all in his ser-
vice, and spare such maintenance as you sorely
need.' What think ye o' that now, Sandy, my
"He would just waste his breath to speak on
our account up yonder," the little man answered,
nudging his head in the direction of the Kremlin.
**We need expect but small mercy at the hands
o' Ivan the Terrible."
**Ye never can tell, Sandy; ye never can tell.
Sir Jerome is a fair-spoken gentleman, and has
no motive to serve other than becomes any good
**0' his motives I'll say naught I wish him
well, for I'm no' a man who despises the English,
having lived among them a few years like one o'
their own race. But this I will say. He must
needs be cautious in approaching the terrible
Tsar, else he'll get a share o' what was once
given to a messenger from Poland who brought
him a letter from some noble exile or other."
114 Russian Folk-Life
"I've never heard o' that, man. Tell me about
•*When ye pick up some Russian speech, as
I've done, ye'U hear more of Ivan Gronzie
than maybe ye'll care about I've heard it
said that when this messenger stood up before
him, the Tsar stuck his iron-tipped staff, which
he keeps as sharp as a spear-point, through the
poor fellow's right foot, and says he, leering
wickedly, * Read oot what's written there,' says
he ; and he left the staff sticking in the foot until
the long letter was read to the very end."
** Monstrous, monstrous !" groaned J eamy Lingett.
"On another occasion," resumed Sandy, **he
had a messenger from the King o' Sweden
thrown naked into his wild bears' den. No later
than yesterday, man, he turned these very bears
loose in the White City, and sat jeering, at a
palace window, to see the people scampering away
like sheep from foxes. Ah, J eamy, don't speak
about favours from Ivan Gronzie to me!"
"Still," protested the other, "Sir Jerome told
me he knows how to get at the right side o' him."
" The right side o' a man who murdered his
own son in a fit of passion?" exclaimed Sandy in-
credulously. " Man, man, I'm wondering to hear
" Come up-by to my house," Lingett said, "and
speak to Sir Jerome yourself. He's promised to
return to-night to talk matters o'er with two or
three o' us. A friend who comes to offer a help-
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 115
ing hand in a country like this is a friend worth
having. Man, he's even promised to get the Tsar
to let us build a kirk for our use."
"Weel, that was wise-like," Sandy answered
musingly, as he walked round the square with his
friend. "I'm keen to try my hand at building a
kirk. I've been thinking that o'er in my mind
more than once o' late."
** I'm sure, I'm sure; a kirk's much needed here."
" I'd like to build one like St. Giles of Edin-
burgh, in which I've sat in my day under John
Knox, who's dead and gone these nine years back
— God rest his soul! But that would be a big
job. I'll just have to give ye a second Reformed
Kirk o' Crail. It will be the best I can do for the
**Ah! here comes none other than Sir Jerome
himself," Lingett exclaimed, as he was about to
open his house door.
Sandy Wood turned round and saw riding to-
wards him in the moonlight a dignified English
gentleman, followed by two mounted soldiers of
the Tsar, who acted as an escort.
" Ha! Well met, Jeamy Lingett," Sir Jerome
exclaimed with genial voice, dismounting nimbly.
"Who is your friend? — a fellow-countryman, or I
"Sandy Wood is the name he's kent by. Sir
Jerome," Lingett answered, "and a good man and
true ye'U find him."
" And Scots to the marrow 0' his bones," Sandy
ii6 Russian Folk-Life
added, doffing his bonnet ''I'm a Scot who is
ever well pleased to meet an Englishman face to
** A fellow of good wit, I'll warrant you," laughed
Sir Jerome. ** But I've not come hither this night
to fight old battles. Let us enter your house,
good Master Lingett, if such be your will."
" I bid you kindly welcome, sir," Lingett said,
with a bow, as he thrust open the door.
Sir Jerome bowed in return, and having in-
structed the soldiers to await his pleasure, walked
through the low doorway, followed by the two
" Be seated, sir," Lingett said courteously, draw-
ing a rough wooden chair in front of a log fire.
" I will go round and gather a few more lads to
meet with your Honour."
** Let only one of my own countrymen come
hither," Sir Jerome remarked. **The presence
of Englishmen among you troubles you greatly."
** They might be in worse company," said Sandy
Wood somewhat dryly.
" That I grant, my friend," Sir Jerome answered
with a smile. " I make no reflection on any good
Scotsman among you." Then his face grew grave
again as he resumed : " What troubles me greatly
is that the Tsar may be enraged to discover Eng-
lishmen among his enemies, and revenge himself
by seizing the goods and treasure of certain of
our merchants here who owe allegfiance to Queen
Elizabeth, For & smaller office, His Majesty,
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 117
some eight years ago, did confiscate many thou-
sand pounds* worth of cloth, silk, wax, fur, and
other merchandise from an English agent, one
Thomas Glover, and then did banish him and his
dear wife empty out of this land,"
"Well, well; worry no more about the matter,
Sir Jerome," said Sandy Wood. ** Your country-
men are believed to be Scots, and Scots they may
remain until they can return safely again to their
"And may they feel highly honoured thereat!"
smiled Jerome with twinkling eyes.
" Having myself been called an Englishman in
foreign parts, where I've done gallant service with
sword and hand gun," Sandy declared with a
characteristic chuckle, "and having thus honoured
the country o' good Queen Bess, we can call quits.
Sir Jerome, if a few subjects o* Her Majesty must
be let to pass themselves off here as Scots to save
certain o' their countrymen from misfortune."
Sir Jerome bowed, and Lingett turned away to
summon other prisoners to the conference. The
genial knight chatted meanwhile with Sandy.
" You have travelled much. Master Wood. No
doubt, like many of your countrymen, you know
more of the Continent than of England."
" I've traversed England from Carlisle to Lon-
don in my day, and met with many a kindness,
sir, at the hands of your countrymen. I've found
them better than they're' called north o' the
ii8 Russian Folk-Life
** It pleases me to hear you say so. What, I
pray you, was the occasion of your visit to
"It was my misfortune, sir, to show my native
land a pair o' clean heels. You'll understand I
belong to the Reformed Kirk, and Ive sat under
John Knox in my day, I have that Every time
I heard him preach I said to myself: * With every
word you say, reverend sir, I agree and will hold
by/ . . . But I'm a man o' contrary thoughts, and
have aye kept a soft place in my heart for our
own Queen Mary, poor dear lady! Chancing to
be in Glasgow when she was trying to hold her
own against her son's friends, I fought on her side
at the battle o' Langside. . . . We were scattered
like chaff before the wind, and I fled to England
with others that followed her; and no' being a
man of any account, was let go scot-free there, as
the saying is. From London I crossed to Hol-
land, and then made my way to Sweden, where
I took arms to fight against the Russians, finding
nothing better to do. In a skirmish I was taken
prisoner with the rest o' the lads. So that's how
I've wandered all the way from Glasgow to
Moskwa, where ye find me now."
" Lingett tells me that you are making yourself
"That's so; as far as it'3 possible here. I've
shown the lads how to build a few stone houses
to keep them from dying o' weariness and
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 119
•* And you wander about freely, too. When I
called this forenoon Lingett could not find you
anywhere. Have you ventured to enter the
White City without leave of the Tsar? To do
so is a perilous undertaking, I warn you."
" I've been out and in now and then, but it's
no' a place with much attraction to a man who
has seen better. Most o' the time I'm away from
here I spend on the Moskwa river."
" Fishing, I suppose?"
**What else?" Sandy cocked his head side-
ways and folded his arms. " Fishing, as you
say," he chuckled, "but no' for fish, for I can't
endure these Russian fish at all."
" And what fish you ? I pray you to tell me,"
asked Sir Jerome with a smile.
"Silver and gold— rings, brooches, ear-rings,
crucifixes, and such -like," Sandy explained.
" There's a fortune in that river for a man who
can work a drag-net, I tell ye. As you'll maybe
ken, thousands and thousands o' the Moskwa folk
were drowned in the river when the Tartars came
and set the city on fire. They fled from their
houses with all their valuables, and pressed through
the streets in. crowds like sheep without a shep-
herd, the Tsar Ivan having taken flight, and those
that did not drown themselves of their own free
will were forced o'er the river bank."
" It was a lamentable spectacle," Sir Jerome
said; "and has been fully described to me by
eye-witnesses. Men and women were wedged fast
I20 Russian Folk-Life
in the streets trying to reach the gates, and some
began to walk over the heads of others until dire
confusion reigned and large numbers were trodden
to death. How many thousands perished by fire,
in the press, and by drowning has never been
righdy computed. I've heard it said the victims
"God pity us all!" murmured Sandy. "No
wonder the river bed is strewn with human bones
and valuables. You should come with me some
day when I'm working my drag-net and see
what's to be seen for yourself"
" I have already dragged there as you have
done, and was somewhat the better for the fish-
ing," Sir Jerome said laughingly. " But here
come our friends."
Lingett entered the house, followed by seven
men, each of whom he introduced to the knight,
beginning with his countryman, " Roger Wyatt,
late of London city."
"Wyatt won't do for a prisoner who is sup-
posed to be a Scot," Sandy Wood chuckled, " we
must call him Mac Watt."
"This," Lingett said, as the next man ad-
vanced, " is Master Alastair Grigor, a Highland
"As we know well," Sandy said, "because he
talks the Gaelic language in his sleep and sings
doleful songs in it when he's longing for bonnie
Lingett gave the names of the others as
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 121
"Andrew Lermont, Gilbert Keith, and Willie
"They're very poor masons," was Sandys
comment, "but good fighters one and all"
Sir Jerome bade all the prisoners be seated,
and spoke, saying: "I have come here, as my
friend and yours, good Master Lingett will have
stated, with great concern regarding your wel-
fare. Being conversant and familiar in the Tsar's
Court, I would fain plead for favours on your
behalf. If that you are so willing, I will en-
deavour to procure for you abundance of food
and clothing and other favours, and also per-
mission to build a church, so that you may meet
for divine service each Sabbath day, and to pro-
cure a learned and preaching minister after your
Lutheran profession. But first I must ask you
to allow me to inform the Tsar that you are
willing to serve him on the battlefield, as you are
well fitted to do, being soldiers of fortune. I
am fully confident that you would display great
valour against His Majesty's enemies."
"Are you willing, lads, to serve the Tsar, so
that we may be relieved of our misfortunes in
this sad place.**" asked Lingett in a solemn voice.
" You can count on me for one," declared Sandy
Wood. "Although I'm getting old, I'd like to
strike a blow against those Krim Tartars,^ who
burned old Moskwa and massacred thousands o'
men, women, and bairns."
^ Tartars of the Crimea.-
122 Russian Folk-Life
"We are all ready and willing," declared the
other Scots, **and speak also for our fellows."
"And you, my friend, Mr. MacWyatt?" Sir
Jerome asked with a pleasing bow.
" For myself and my countrymen, I offer ready
assent," answered Wyatt
"We're all of one mind when there's fighting
to be done," declared Sandy Wood.
"His Majesty, Tsar Ivan, will find us all at
his service," Lingett assured Sir Jerome, "if so
be it he needs our help against his enemies, but
we'd rather be sent against the Krim Tartars
than against Poles or Swedes, in whose armies
are many of our own countrymen."
Sir Jerome bowed again. " Meanwhile," he
said, taking farewell, " I counsel you to behave
well and show courtesy and friendship to all
Russians, so that no bad feeling may be raised
up against you. May you soon have less cause
to be doleful, and to mourn, as you now do, the
loss of goods, friends, and country! I pray God
to bless you, and bid you all good night."
11. The "New Demons '*
After leaving the Scots, Sir Jerome, mightily
pleased with himself, rode towards a spacious
mansion in the north-eastern slobada, where he
met with Mr. John Logan, the agent of an Eng-
lish trading company which had obtained special
privileges from the Tsar.
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 123
"Ah! Sir Jerome, and have you found these
adventurers willing to follow your advice?" Logan
asked with unconcealed anxiety.
** Fear you not on their account," Sir Jerome
assured him. " By my troth! they are valiant
fellows, anxious indeed to serve the Tsar if so he
desires, being aweary of their sad condition."
Then he related aJl that had passed, praising
Jeamy Lingett whom they had chosen as their
leader and dwelling with amusement on Sandy
Wood's sayings and doings. "If that knave had
the power, and sufficient length of days withal,"
Sir Jerome laughed, "he would transform Mus-
kovy into a second Scotland."
" I greatly fear," sighed Logan, " that the
Tsar will suspect our motive in this matter, and,
refusing the services of these men, wreak his
vengeance upon us, because a few Englishmen
are among the Scots prisoners, by confiscating
goods and money. We have observed signs of
his growing displeasure of late."
Sir Jerome shrugged his shoulders impatiently.
" Be not surfeited with doubts, gopd Master
Logan," he urged. " Methinks I guess what
runs in your mind. You have heard that our
noble lady Queen Elizabeth, whom God protect
and prosper, has refused with due courtesy to
become the eighth wife of Ivan Gronzie. You
expect him on that account to be ready to perse-
cute you on slight provocation. I grant it is
possible. But he is not likely to know now that
124 Russian Folk-Life
any of these prisoners are our countrymen. Be-
sides, I have good cause for believing that His
Majesty inclines well to favour England in
*' Glad indeed would I be to think so. But I
do not share your optimism^ Sir Jerome."
•*What I tell you must be kept secret," the
Knight whispered. **Were you to repeat my
words to the merchants here, you might receive
the close and unwelcome attention of the Tsar's
spies, and perhaps suffer loss of liberty. As you
know well, the Tsar lives in constant dread of
revolution. Like a good general, who ever pre-
pares for retreat even when advancing victori-
ously, he has solicited from Queen Elizabeth a
promise to grant him an asylum in England
should his ung^teful subjects render it neces-
sary for him to abdicate. His wish has been
granted in a solemn and binding treaty by Her
Majesty, whereat he is* well pleased."
Logan uttered an exclamation of surprise.
"Revolution," he declared, ** would bring ruin
to my company. Alas! I pray that it is not
**Who knows, good Master Pessimist," Sir
Jerome answered somewhat testily, "but revolu-
tion might cause you to prosper greatly.^ But
I do not apprehend such a development. The
spirit of Muskovy is too severely crushed, and
there does not remain alive in these melancholy
times a serious opponent to His Majesty, who.
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 125
although he liveth in constant fear, daily dis-
covers treasons real and imaginary, and spends
much time in torturing and execution. The first
great change likely to occur is his death, for he
grows exceedingly frail, and is much comforted
to be attended by Dr. Robert Jacobs of London,
who at his request has been sent to him by
Queen Elizabeth, for which further favour he is
disposed to harbour as much gratitude as is
possible in such a man."
Logan seemed somewhat reassured. " I pray
that success may attend your efforts. Sir Jerome,"
he said. ** Still, my mind will not feel at ease
until you have secured some definite promise
from the Tsar regarding the prisoners. I dread
the wrath of Ivan Gronzie. He is a difficult man
to conciliate, living as he does in an atmosphere of
treachery and suspicion, and cunning withal, as he
has need to be. May he not suspect your motive
in this matter and bring ruin to our hopes! "
IIL How the Tartars were Confounded
On the following forenoon Sir Jerome Horsey
was granted an audience with the Tsar in a small
private apartment of the palace. There was no
one else present save Dr. Jacobs, who was a
sharp-featured, black-bearded man, with immobile
face and brown inscrutable eyes.
The English Knight found that His Majesty
had changed greatly sinc^ last be bad seen
126 Russian Folk-Life
him. His body was shrunken and bent, and
although his face seemed more ferocious than
ever it was shrivelled prematurely and deathly
pale ; his ears and lips were tinged with blue and
his breathing had become laboured; his eyes
moved restlessly, casting furtive glances hither
and thither as if he entertained fear of sudden
attack; he had grown almost completely bald,
and a few rugged grey patches were all that
remained of his once luxuriant beard.
" I sleep badly," he complained querulously in
answer to Sir Jerome's courteous enquiry regard-
ing his health. ** Evil dreams torment me; they
are produced by my magic-working enemies. Yet
I pray daily for the welfare of the souls of such
as have been found guilty of treasonable plottings
and transferred to the judgment place of the
Eternal, there to answer for their sins. Withal,
I concern myself greatly regarding the affairs of
state, constant wars against hostile nations, and
the welfare of my poor people. My health has
consequently suffered greatly. I have grown old
before my time."
Having thus delivered himself, the Tsar asked
Sir Jerome many questions regarding his travels
and also about England, in which country he took
a keen and special interest. A passing reference
to the Scots enabled the diplomatic Knight to
say something regarding the prisoners in the
" Dumb Suburb".
Tsar Ivan frowned darkly. "These Scots", he
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 127
exclaimed with angry voice, **are among my
deadliest and most persistent enemies. Of them I
have complained to Queen Elizabeth, that eminent
lady, who promises much but does little, so that in
return for the favours I have conferred upon her
rich merchants, she might undertake to hold them
in check. But she has answered that those Scots
who reach my empire enter it through Sweden
and Poland, and are therefore beyond her control.
She has, however, many war-ships, as sundry
travellers have informed me. Can she not, there-
fore, prevent the Scots from crossing the seas
over which her sway is complete? But I have
been told also that she cares not to offend them,
as a union between the nations of England and
Scotland is pending, if not already accomplished
Sir Jerome was startled by this sudden out-
burst, but, preserving perfect self-control, made
answer, saying: "Your Majesty, these Scots have
proved even more troublesome to England than
to Muskovy. For centuries they have waged
warfare against my countrymen, raiding and pil-
laging prosperous districts and destroying what
they could not carry away. They dwell in remote
parts among barren hills and on storm-lashed
coasts, and thus protected by nature have defied
the might of our arms. Their poor circumstances
and hardy manners of life have stirred in them a
spirit of adventure, and since the strengthening of
England's defences, many have crossed the seas to
128 Russian Folk-Life
seek fortunes in distant lands as traders and mer-
cenary soldiers. These Scots, your Majesty, are
indeed a nation of adventurous and warlike
peoples, and, as I know well from what I have
observed in my travels, are ever ready to serve
any Christian prince in return for good mainten-
ance and pay. This your Majesty may prove,"
Sir Jerome added with a shrug of his shoulders,
"if it pleases you to grant the dearest wish of
those prisoners in the * Dumb Suburb ' by em-
ploying them and providing clothing and arms,
so that they may display their valour against your
mortal enemies, the Krim Tartars. Since enter-
ing Muskovy, they have learned to hate fiercely
these barbarians, having obtained knowledge re-
garding their methods of warfare, their oppres-
sions and their burnings, and their hatred of
Ivan Gronzie grunted impatiently, tapping his
bony fingers on a small table beside him.
** But what of this union between your nation
and that of the Scots .^" he asked in querulous
" It has not yet been accomplished, your
Majesty; nor is it imminent When it comes,
however, the result may prove pleasing to you,
for the Scots will then find it profitable, as do my
countrymen, to win your good graces by exem-
plary conduct and faithful dealing."
The Tsar moved restlessly in his chair, his face
betraying conflicting emotions, After a silence
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 129
of many minutes' duration he remarked, as if
speaking to himself, " I have need of valiant
soldiers." He tugged his beard and cast furtive
glances now and again at Sir Jerome, who pre-
served a placid and respectful demeanour, having
spoken as one entirely disinterested and sincerely
anxious to smooth the Tsar's difficulties in dealing
with his enemies.
At length Ivan gave his decision, half-heartedly
it might be, but yet not without evidence that he
had been impressed by the courtly Knight's infor-
mation and suggestions: ''I will consider this
matter", he said, "more fully at a later time.
That the Scots are valiant I know full well, and
it may be wise to dispose of them in a manner
which will prove profitable to my empire if that
they can be trusted, for no punishment I may
inflict, as experience has shown, seems sufficient to
deter their nation from giving aid to my enemies
west and north, who show me no gratitude for
protecting them against Tartar inroads. Were I
to ally myself with these barbarians, our joint
armies could achieve the conquest of the whole
He paused, for a recurring fit of wrath caused
him to breathe with difficulty.
" I thank you, Sir Jerome Horsey," he con-
tinued after an interval, " for what you have told
me regarding these Scots prisoners. But how
comes it that you are so well acquainted with
their intentions and desires?"
130 Russian Folk-Life
A cunning smile overspread his face, as, grasp-
ing the arms of his chair, he bent forward, gazing
keenly in the Knight's face.
" Your Majesty," Sir Jerome answered promptly
and blandly, ** I heard such good reports from
English merchants who enjoy your favour and
hospitality, regarding your treatment of these
Scots, that I paid them a visit It is my desire
to convey to Queen Elizabeth a full and accurate
account of your leniency and compassion towards
them, and by doing so to thwart in their ill inten-
tions those who endeavour to poison her heart
against your Majesty."
The Tsar smiled icily and seemed satisfied.
"I have trusted you before. Sir Jerome," he said,
** and proved your veracity. Why, then, should I
not trust you again .^ When you return to Eng-
land, convey my greetings to your exalted Queen,
and say it would become her to convey my inten-
tion to the Scots King regarding these prisoners,
so that he may show me some gratitude by pre-
venting his subjects from giving aid to my
most jealous and ungrateful enemies."
Sir Jerome bowed. "With your Majesty's
permission," said he, " I would fain visit these
Scots prisoners once again, so that I may counsel
them to be faithful and obedient to your com-
"So be it," Tsar Ivan grunted, as he rose
abruptly to signify that the interview had come to
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 131
Sir Jerome rode in high spirits towards the
" Dumb Suburb " through a haze of falling snow,
and intimated to Lingett that His Majesty was
impressed favourably by the prisoners' offer of
military service. He then hastened to meet with
Mr. Logan, the English agent, who expressed
great satisfaction because the Tsar had made no
remark regarding the few Englishmen among the
Ere Sir Jerome departed /towards the coast,
so as to obtain a passage homeward in an
English vessel, he learned/with satisfaction that
the Tsar had arranged to iSupply the prisoners in
the **Dumb Suburb" wim daily allowances of
food and drink, and with\ clothing, horses, and
fodder, swords, hand-guns, ^nd pistols.
Jeamy Lingett came to bid him farewell.
"Well long remember your kindness, sir," he
exclaimed, **and will consider it an honour to
prove to you, in God's good time, that you have
earned our gratitude, and, as we hope also will be
the case, the gratitude also of Tsar Ivan Gronzie.
Our lads, whom you found poor enough and sad
enough, are now cheerful and well favoured.
They long, one and all, to strike a blow against
the heathenish Krim Tartars, who have dealt
sorely indeed with the Russian peasantry in their
** I have written His Majesty," Sir Jerome said
in parting, ** advising him to grant you permission
to build a church."
132 Russian Folk-Life
"God will reward you for that," Lingett ex-
claimed with fervour. " May He protect you on
your journey, and bring you back safely to us in
His good time!"
Not until summer had smoothed the seas and
made beautiful hill and plain once again did Sir
Jerome Horsey return to Moscow. Being the
bearer of a private letter from Queen Elizabeth
to the Tsar, and sundry other documents of great
import, he tarried nowhere on his way, but rode
straight to the royal palace accompanied by armed
men who had been sent to meet him.
He found Tsar Ivan in better health and good
spirits. The royal letter seemed to please him
mightily. Having read it twice over, he turned
to Sir Jerome and said, ** Doubtless you have
heard of the doings of these Scots, my faithful
** Rumours have reached me, your Majesty,"
Sir Jerome answered, ** and these are of favour-
able character. I trust they are well founded."
** My gratitude to you is unbounded, Sir
Jerome," exclaimed His Majesty with some
warmth. ** But for your advice I should never
have employed these valiant soldiers. They have
stricken a sore and staggering blow against my
worst enemies, the Krim Tartars. Twelve hun-
dred Scots, armed with pistols and hand-guns,
have done better than twelve thousand Russians
with short bows and arrows. When, in battle,
Tsar Ivan and the Scots Soldiers 133
the Tartar hosts saw their horses falling before
invisible bullets, and their ranks mowed down
like barley by a sickle, they stared with terror at
the Scots and cried out, * Away, away with those
new demons and their thundering puffs!' and then
broke and fled in dire confusion."
The Tsar gurgled a hollow laugh in his throat,
and repeated over and over again what the
affrighted Krim Tartars had exclaimed.
** By my soul," he declared, ** these new demons
of mine will receive fitting reward,"
That evening Sir Jerome visited the '* Dumb
Suburb" and met with Lingett, who had been
promoted to the rank of General, and Sandy
Wood, who still bubbled over with pawky humour.
" What think ye o' Jeamy Lingett.^" he chuckled.
"He's now a Russian general, and is getting a
braw estate to himself, although his father was
just a plain sailorman in Aberdeen, and he himself
never anything above the skipper o* a leaky sloop.
There's Lermont, too, and Highland Grigor.
They both hacked out long lanes through the
Tartar army, so they're getting estates as well as
Jeamy Lingett In time they'll a' three have
coughs and sneezes after their names, and be kent
among the big folk as Lingettovitch, Grigorvitch,
Lermontov, and "
"And what of yourself, good Master Wood.^
Have you won a sneeze or a cough?" smiled
" No, and I want neither the one or the other,"
134 Russian Folk-Life
Sandy made answer, " Vm taking my pay-
ment in good red gold and white silver. Being
old and near by wi' it, IVe got permission to
return home to bonnie Scodand, but I'm no' going
to leave the lads until the new kirk is finished."
"So you have secured permission to build a
** We have that, Sir Jerome, thanks to yourself,
and we'll ne'er forget ye for all your kindness to
us. If you've nothing better to do, come down
by and see our bonnie wee kirk. It's as like as
can be the Reformed Kirk in my native town
THE MAN WHO FOUGHT THE
I. The Plot
Snow was falling thinly in the gathering dark-
ness on a chilly evening of eariy winter in the
year 1716, when a traveller, who rode a great
black horse, drew up before a small village inn
on the highway which leads from St. Petersburg
(Petrograd) to Moscow. Dismounting with a
sigh of relief, he shook himself like a dog when it
leaps from a pool, to get rid of the sheets of snow
that enveloped his shoulders and neck. He was
a nimble man of medium stature and muscular
build, with kindly brown eyes that relieved the
stem lines of face; icicles clung to his pointed
black beard, and his eyebrows were white with
"Welcome home again, Petrushka Petrovitch!"
exclaimed the stout and jovial innkeeper who
greeted him pleasantly at the doorway. "What
a stranger you are! It is good to see you once
more in your native village, where the memory of
your saintly father, the priest, is still held in
"I thank you, Aleksyey Nikolaevitch," the
136 Russian Folk-Life
traveller answered quietly. A groom came for-
ward to lead his panting horse to the stables, and
the traveller entered the inn stamping his feet,
which were benumbed with cold.
"Whence come you, Petrushka?" asked the
innkeeper, whose small grey eyes twinkled with
** From St Petersburg."
** The great new city with the half-foreign name!
Travellers tell me that * burg * is the German word
Petrushka threw off his fur coat " I need food
and drink," he said, **and would sleep here to-
" My daughter Sonya will feed you well. Sit
down beside the stove. You are half-frozen. . . .
Ah! you are a fortunate man, Petrushka. You
have acquired much learning. You have also
seen St. Petersburg. I hear the new capital
is the most wonderful city in the world. Some
day I must pay it a visit"
Petrushka smiled. ** You have grown stouter,
my friend," he said. ** Hard travelling in this
weather would reduce your weight"
" Tell me something of which I have no know-
ledge," laughed the innkeeper. ** Tell me about
St Petersburg. They say it grows like a mush-
" The streets are now lit with lamps each night,
just like Paris. What do you think of that,
Fighting the Wolves 137
"Wonderful! wonderful! It must be a sight
indeed. But on stormy nights the lamps will all
be blown out."
** Lanterns protect them, and they burn well in
all weathers. You have no idea how cheerful
they look. Withal, they are a great convenience.
One can move about the streets now as safely by
night as by day."
"Nor have any fear of thieves, eh?"
" None whatever. Besides, the new Imperial
police officers are everywhere — hundreds of them."
"There is one here, Petrushka — in your own
peaceable native village. Think of that! He
stalks about as if he were the Tsar himself. When
he enters my inn, you might think it belonged to
him. But do not let us speak about him. The
thought of the fellow makes my gorge rise. What
about the Tsar himself.^ Have you seen him of
"His face is as familiar to me as is your own.
One meets him everywhere in St Petersburg. . . .
But what delays Sonya? Has she forgotten me?
I am as hungry as a wolf, my friend."
"Sonya, Sonya," called die innkeeper, "have
you fallen asleep?"
" I am coming, father," the girl made answer
pleasantly as she bustled into the room, carrying
a steaming bowl of soup and a loaf of bread which
she set down on a table. Petrushka at once
began to partake heartily of the first meal he had
had since early morning.
138 Russian Folk-Life
"I have been told," the innkeeper said from
beside the stove, ''that the Tsar has been given
new tides by the Senate. He is now called * Peter
the Great*. A Tsar who has built a great new
city which bears his own name is worthy indeed
of being called ' Great'."
** He has also been declared * Emperor of all
Russia' and 'Father of his country*," added
Petrushka over his soup.
" There has never been such a Tsar," the inn-
keeper went on. "Still, although he is called
•Father of his country', many think he inclines
too much to favour foreigners and to imitate
foreign manners and customs. Most of his great
officials are foreigners. . . . Are you still in the
service of the foreig^n general, Petrushka? I
cannot remember his curious name."
"General Gordon," Petrushka reminded him.
" Yes, yes, Gordon — a name that trips on one's
tongue! No doubt he has good cause to be loyal to
Tsar Peter. He has grown wealthy in Russia.
No doubt he loves Russia much better now than
his native land."
Sonya entered with a plate of meat, which
Petrushka proceeded to devour with relish.
" Where is General Gordon at present?" asked
" Fighting in Poland," Petrushka answered.
" But don't imagine, Aleksyey, that he remains in
Russia because he desires to. . . . Shut the door,"
he added in a whisper, " I have something to tell
Fighting the Wolves 139
you in secret regarding him— the something which
brings me here this evening."
The innkeeper closed the door. ** Come and
sit beside me," Petrushka said.
Aleksyey dearly loved a secret, and smiled
expectantly as he drew in a chair, sat down, placed
his elbows on the table, and propped his chin on
his folded hands.
" General Gordon," Petrushka explained, " has
long desired to return to his native land."
* * Where is that land ? What name does it bear ? "
"It is a great island in the west One part is
called Scotland and the other part is called Eng-
"An island with two names. How strange 1"
"The Tsar has forbidden my master to leave
Russia, and he remains in the royal service much
against his will."
" You astonish me! Ah! this is news indeed."
" The General would have returned home long
since had he but himself to consider. It is not
difficult for any man to escape from Russia. But
he has a wife and a family. He cannot go away
and leave them behind. The Tsar would thrust
them in prison so as to compel him to return."
" Peter is a hard taskmaster. I have heard
that said of him. "
"Listen to me, Aleksyey Nikolaevitch. You
are my kinsman and I need your aid. Promise
to help me in the task I have undertaken. You
will be well rewarded, I assure yoa"
I40 Russian Folk-Life
The innkeeper's eyes sparkled with satisfaction.
He loved a secret, as has been said, but what he
loved most of all was money. He seemed to hear
the clinking of gold in Petrushka's voice.
" If it is safe to help you, I shall help you, my
friend," he said, rubbing his hands together glee-
" The General, as I told you," Petrushka went
on, ''is at present in Poland. He has no desire
to return to Russia. If his wife can leave Moscow
with her three daughters and join him in Poland,
my master will proceed to Dantzig and take ship
to his native land."
** I cannot see how I can help you in this matter,
Petrushka," exclaimed the innkeeper, with a ring
of disappointment in his voice. ** Moscow lies
many versts distant from here, as you well know. "
'* Be patient and listen," Petrushka said. ** You
probably do not know that one of the General's
daughters is at present residing in your neigh-
bourhood. She is the guest of Colonel Maykov's
wife. I wish you to send Sonya to bring her
here to me to-morrow morning. For this service
I will pay you two golden roubles."
The innkeeper pondered for a moment Then
he said: "What if I get into trouble with the
police over the matter.*^ . How can I rid myself
of blame if I am asked awkward questions.*^" His
face wrinkled with anxiety.
" I will give Sonya a letter to deliver to the
General's daughter, iti which she will be asked to
Fighting the Wolves 141
come here, so that I may hand her an important
package," explained Petrushka.
"What do you intend to do after she comes
"Ask no more questions, Aleksyey Nikolae-
vitch, for the less you know the less you will have
to answer for. AH you need ever say is that I
came here as a traveller, and gave you a letter to
deliver to General Gordon's daughter."
The innkeeper nodded his head, but made no
response. His lips were pursed and hard.
" Must I go myself?" Petrushka asked impa-
tiently. "Are two golden roubles as naught to
"Say four roubles, and perhaps I may take
the risk "
"Well, ril say three," Petrushka answered.
He rose to his feet, having finished his meal.
" If you ask for more, Aleksyey Nikolaevitch, I
must go outside and find someone else who is
willing to do this service for a few kopecks."
" Don't be so impatient, Petrushka. Sit down.
You must not leave my house to-night. It is now
fully three years since we have met, and I have
often longed for your company."
" First of all, let this matter be settled,"
Petrushka insisted. "Will you send Sonya with
the letter on payment of three golden roubles?"
** You are a hard man, but I will not reproach
you. Sonya will deliver the letter as you de-
142 Russian Folk-Life
Aleksyey spoke as if he felt he was making the
worst of a bargain.
The two men shook hands to confirm the
agreement ** Now make yourself comfortable,
Petrushka," the innkeeper said softly. ** Tell me
all about your travels and all about the great new
city of St Petersburg. I can't understand why
your master wants to live on an island instead of
at Tsar Peter's great Court"
" I said he was fighting in Poland at present,"
** But wars don't last for ever. When victories
are won, great generals return to the capital to
be honoured and made rich by the Tsar."
Petrushka shrugged his shoulders. ** My master
would prefer to fight his own country's batdes.
There is trouble brewing for the island kingdom
in these days."
** How much you know, my friend! Living
here in a village, I never hear aught of foreign
countries. What has gone wrong in this island
with two names?"
" It is a long story."
"What of that? The night is young as yet
I am curious to hear why the General desires
to leave Russia."
" I will tell you as much as I know. . . . You
have heard about Spain?"
" That is the country that lies beyond France.
Oh yes! I have heard about it Indeed, I once
saw a Spaniard He was a very dark man, with
Fighting the Wolves 143
flashing black eyes, and he spoke Russian vilely,"
**Well, Cardinal Alberoni, prime minister of
King Philip of Spain, has been plotting with
Baron Goertz, of Sweden, to form a great alliance
against the island kingdom. Baron Goertz is en-
deavouring to bring about a reconciliation between
King Charles of Sweden and Tsar Peter, so as to
form a great alliance with purpose to overthrow
the English king, whose name is George, and
bring France under the control of Spain."
" Why should Tsar Peter trouble himself about
the island ruler?"
"Well you may ask. It seems that another
prince claims the right to reign over the island
kingdom. He has many followers, who are called
Jacobites. Some of them, indeed, are in Tsar
"And is General Gordon one of these Jacobites.^"
" No. He owns allegiance to King George.
From what I have heard, he desires to return
home, being a valiant and accomplished soldier,
to take part in the great war if it ever breaks out"
" Supposing Tsar Peter supports the rival
prince of the island kingdom, your master will
then fight against our country, eh?"
"It is unlikely the Tsar will interfere in this
matter. The islanders have a strong navy. In-
deed, they are supreme on the seas. No single
Power would dare to oppose them. That is why
the Swedes and the Spaniards desire to obtain
help from the Tsar."
144 Russian Folk-Life
•* Let them fight their own battles, say I. Why
should Russia help Sweden? Are we not at war
with the Swedes at present?"
"We are. Tsar Peter has no greater rival
than King Charles of Sweden. Baron Goertz,
however, is endeavouring to arrange a peace
betwixt our country and his own. He proposes
that the Tsar should then seize part of Prussia,
and that King Charles should take possession
"How did you come to know all this,
" I have heard my master speak of the great
conspiracy. He desires to hasten to his native
land, so as to warn King George of the peril
which threatens him."
" It is but natural that he should think first of
his own country. May he achieve his purpose,
Petrushka! He is a most excellent man. Each
time he came here he placed in my hand a golden
rouble. Besides, he has been a good master to
you, my friend."
" I am ready to lay down my life in his service,"
Petrushka answered. " If it is God's will, I shall
accompany him to the island kingdom to strike a
blow against the Jacobites, who are his enemies."
"Hush, Petrushka!" exclaimed the innkeeper.
" Do not gpeak so loud. The police-officer may
be listening at the door. Let us talk of other
matters. What you have told me fills my head
with confusion. I would rather hear about the
• •• •
« * • •
• • *•
• t • • «
• •• « •
I » • •
• •• •
Fighting the Wolves 145
great new city of St. Petersburg, the streets of
which are lit with bright lamps every night."
Petrushka smiled, and called for kvass. Then
he proceeded to satisfy the innkeeper's curiosity
regarding Tsar Peter's great new capital, telling
of its wonderful buildings and wide streets, its
shops and factories and shipbuilding yards, and
of the skilled foreign workmen who were instruct-
ing Russians how to build large ships for war and
trade. He then related many anecdotes regarding
Tsar Peter's visits to foreign countries.
"At Saardam, in Holland," Petrushka said,
"he went about in disguise, and, assuming the
name of Peter Timmerman, hired himself as a
workman to a shipbuilder, and lived on the wages
he earned in a most wretched hovel."
"What folly!" exclaimed the innkeeper. "It
was not seemly that a Tsar should live like a
" Tsar Peter desired to learn the art on which
he hoped to found Russia's future greatness.
Afterwards he went to England, where King
William presented him with a beautiful yacht,
which I have myself seen. In the island kingdom
he worked also in a dockyard until he became
skilled in the craft of shipbuilding. Then he
applied himself to the study of various trades and
manufactures in which the island people have
great skill. Ere he returned to Russia he visited
Germany and Austria and Italy. No living man
has travelled more than Tsar Peter."
146 Russian Folk-Life
It was long after midnight before Petrushka
had ceased talking, and he and the innkeeper,
yawning heavily, bade each other good night and
went to bed.
II. How Marya was Carried Away
Early next forenoon Sonya, who had set out
from the inn immediately after breakfast, returned
from Colonel Maykov's house, bringing Marya, the
Generals daughter, with her. The girl was slim
and fair-haired, with rosy cheeks and soft blue
"How you have grown, Marya!" Petrushka
exclaimed. ''It is pleasant to see you once again.
I have brought you a birthday present from your
father. How old are you now?"
" Fourteen years," answered Marya, whose eyes
sparkled when Petrushka handed her a package
containing an English doll.
"You must not open the package until you
return to Colonel Maykov's house," Petrushka
" How kind of you to bring it to mel" ex-
claimed the girl.
The man smiled and patted her cheeks. Then
turning to a groom he said : " Bring my horse
from the stable. I must depart at once."
"Oh! not at once, ^ surely," protested Marya.
"Madame Maykov has asked me to invite you
to her house. She desires to speak with you on
Fighting the Wolves 147
'a matter of great importance*. These are the
very words she used."
" I have to hasten back to St. Petersburg as
quickly as possible," Petrushka said " But I
must tarry here a little if Madame Maykov bids
me to visit her. She may have some message
which she desires me to carry to her husband.
Will I take you back on horseback, Marya?
You can sit up behind me on the saddle."
"That will be delightful," answered the girl,
little suspecting Petrushka's intention, for he had
planned to carry her away to the next post
station where he could hire a sledge and con-
vey her to Moscow.
Having paid his bill to the innkeeper, Petrushka
leapt into the saddle, and then leaning over lifted
up Marya, who sat behind him clasping her arms
about his waist
" I shall bid you farewell when you return,"
the innkeeper said.
" So be it," answered Petrushka with a smile,
as, tossing a coin to the groom, he urged his
horse onward and rode away.
When he had ridden a little over a verst, he
reached the roadway leading to Colonel Maykov's
house, but turned his horse towards the right.
"You are taking the wrong road," Marya said
with a laugh.
"Hold on tightly," answered Petrushka. " We
will ride on to the next post station. You must
b<j in Moscow tQ-morrow morning, for your mother
148 Russian Folk-Life
and sisters are to leave at once for Poland to join
" But I should first bid good-bye to Madame
Maykov," Marya pleaded.
" She must not know you are leaving, little
girl. I am carrying out your father's orders.
We must escape from Russia at once, else your
mother and your sisters and you yourself may be
thrust into prison."
"Into prison ? Why "
" Hush! I will explain everything later. The
post station is only five versts farther on."
It was a gloomy cheerless day. As the road
opened out from a tree-clad valley lying between
low hills, and turned to cross a wide barren plain
with frozen marshes, the icy wind confronted them
in full blast as if the tempest doors of the north
had been suddenly flung open. Soon Marya's
teeth began to chatter, and at length she com-
plained, in a broken voice, that she was unable
to endure the journey. Petrushka drew rein and
slipped down from the saddle.
" Be brave, little girl," he said cheerfully.
** Remember you are a soldier's daughter."
He lifted Marya from her uncomfortable seat,
intending to make her walk for a short distance.
"Why, your hands are like ice," he exclaimed
with concern. " You are not sufficiently clad for
this rough journey. It was foolish of me not to
think of that sooner. Never mind. I shall wrap
you up and you will feel quite comfprt^ljl^,"
Fighting the Wolves 149
Divesting himself of his fur coat he threw it
over the girls shoulders and kootted the long
sleeves in front
" Don't you feel warm now?" he asked.
**Oh, yes! You are very kind, Petrushka.
But what about yourself?"
** I am accustomed to rough it," he laughed as
he lifted her into the saddle again. ** I think
you had better sit in front now. What a big
bundle you make — just like a birthday doll
wrapped up in a skin package!"
The girl laughed merrily, and Petrushka
mounted his horse again and set it trotting along
the highway at a goodly pace.
At the post station, which was reached early in
the afternoon, Petrushka hired horses and a car-
riage, being unable to obtain a sledge. Then he
took Marya to the inn, and there they both par-
took of a warm meal.
Having purchased a heavy rug, he returned to
the post station with the girl, and lifted her into
the carriage as soon as the horses had been
"How far distant is the next station?" he asked
" Not more than eight versts, master," was the
answer. ** But our progress will be slow, I fear.
Much snow lies on the roads and the frost has
made it hard and slippery in places."
" Drive as swiftly as possible," Petrushka urged
him. " You will be well rewarded, my friend."
ISO Russian Folk-Life
The journey was a slow and arduous one. The
horses seemed afraid to run fast They were
constantly tripping on the frozen ruts where the
snow lay thinnest, and at those parts which were
made difficult by piled -up wreaths of soft snow
they laboured heavily at a slow pace.
It was late in the afternoon when the next
post station was reached.
Petrushka at once leapt from the carriage and
hastened into the office of the Post Commissary.
" Have you a sledge for hire?" he asked
"There is an excellent sledge here," was the
answer. "You can have it to-morrow morning."
•* I shall require it in another hour," Petrushka
said, "and also fresh horses. I must hasten on
and reach Moscow to-night."
"That is impossible," the Post Commissary
grunted. " I have only two horses, a brown and
a grey, and they were engaged this morning.
Would you grudge the animals their natural rest?"
"And look at the sky," broke in the driver.
"We'll have more snow before very long."
" I cannot tarry here," Petrushka declared im-
patiently. " Do you think I am travelling for
pleasure? I will pay double rates for the horses.
Let them be well fed before we start."
" The road is not only difficult but dangerous,"
protested the Commissary. " Last night a sledge
was chased by wolves not many versts distant
Fighting the Wolves 151
"Wolves?" exclaimed the driver, turning pale*
Petrushka laughed hoarsely. " I have heard
such stories before. Travellers who spend much
time at the inns always blame the wolves for their
delays. We have no need to fear wolves even if
we meet them. I have a hand -gun and two
pistols. Wolves are easily scared away by fire-
arms. Besides, I shoot well."
He drew a purse of gold from his pocket and
made the coins jingle.
" That is sweet music," smiled the Commissary.
** I shall pay you the full value of the horses,"
Petrushka said in a low voice. " Surely you will
hire them now."
*' Take the child to the inn. Give her hot tea
to drink," growled the Commissary. '* The horses
will be ready in an hour."
He turned away and hastened towards the
"Master, what about me?" asked the driver.
*' I have need of something to drink, too."
Petrushka thrust forty kopecks in the man's
outstretched hand. "When we reach Moscow,"
he whispered, " you will receive a gold rouble for
serving me so well."
The driver grinned. " Do not let the Com-
missary hear that," he whispered back. "He
might talk about it. There are men in this village
who are more to be feared than wolves."
152 Russian Folk-Life
III. The Race to Moscow
Petrushka lifted Marya from the carriage and
carried her to the inn. The little girl was pale
and dispirited, but when she was taken into a
warm room and placed beside the stove a flush
came to her cheeks and she began to smile. A
woman brought her a dish of hot tea, and she
sipped it greedily.
" Beyond this place the roads are smooth,"
Petrushka said, **and we shall travel swiftly."
"The sledge will fly like a bird, little lady,"
smiled the woman. " You are sure to fall asleep.
I wish I could go to Moscow with you. It is
a great and wonderful city."
" My mother is in Moscow," Marya said.
"How happy she will be when she sees you,
"And I shall be happy, too."
Petrushka rose to leave the inn. " I shall return
for you very soon," he told the girl. Then he
nodded to the driver and the two men went out
They found the Commissary in the stables.
" The horses have had warm food," he said, "and
seem fresh again. But do not drive them too
hard. I have placed a small axe in the sledge.
You may require it if there are wolves about."
"It is hardly necessary," answered Petrushka.
" I can trust to my fire-arms."
Fighting the Wolves 153
The driver crossed himself. ** We are in God's
hands," he said.
** Still, it would be safer if you waited until
morning," remarked a groom.
Petrushka hastened towards the inn and returned
carrying Marya in his arms.
"Stand aside!" he exclaimed impatiently as he
elbowed his way through the little crowd which
had collected round the sledge. He propped up
the little girl comfortably in the seat. She was
so well wrapped round with coat and rugs that
she could scarcely move. The Commissary ob-
served that Petrushka was insufficiently clad for
travelling by night in such cold weather.
"You will need your heavy coat," he urged.
** It is foolishness on your part not to wear it.
Have you no fear of frost-bite?"
•* None whatever," answered the other with a
smile. " I never feel the cold. Besides," he
added in a whisper, ** if there are really wolves on
the road, Til be all the more able to deal with
them as I am."
The Commissary shook his head doubtfully, but
ere he could utter another word of warning the
driver whipped up his horses. Petrushka shouted
a cheery farewell as the sledge glided away.
** The man is mad," growled a groom. " If we
ever look upon him in life again I shall be greatly
"May God protect the little girl!" muttered
the Commissary, turning away.
154 Russian Folk-Life
The sledge went skimming smoothly along the
narrow highway, the horses* hoofs pattering with
little sound on the snow and the bells tinkling
merrily in the frosty air. Soon the driver began
to drone an old song, and the horses twitched
back their ears constantly as if the sound of his
voice gave them pleasure. A yellow streak of
evening light appeared in the western sky, and
overhead the crescent of the new moon seemed
to be a silver sledge racing across wastes of snowy
** We are going to have a pleasant journey to
Moscow, litde Marya," Petrushka said.
The girl smiled faintly. "I am very tired,"
was her answer.
•' But you are comfortable now, I am sure."
"Yes, very. . . . Why don't you put on your
thick fur coat? I really don't require it. The
rugs will keep me quite warm."
"And you are not a bit afraid either, eh?"
" Not when you are beside me, Petrushka. The
wonmn in the inn said we might be attacked by
wolves. You will shoot them if they come, won't
** It was wrong of the woman to try and frighten
you," Petrushka said with a frown. " Of course
I shall shoot any wolves that dare to come near us.
Have no fear of them. . . . Listen to the driver s
song. The bells seem all to be ringing in tune."
Marya's eyes glowed with pleasure, and
Petrushka began to tell her a fairy story about
Fighting the Wolves 155
a princess who was once carried through the air
in a golden car drawn by wild geese. She
listened with delight as the sledge sped onward
along the level highway. The story was a long
one, and when Petrushka had finished it had
grown dark. They were passing through a forest,
and th6 gaunt leafless trees, laden with snow,
stretched out their branches on either side like
g^ant hands which were trying to clutch at passers-
by. An icy wind began to blow out of the north,
and tossed into the sledge the flakes of snow which
were loosened by the horses' hoofs. Marya grew
more afraid, and when she spoke her voice
" Do you feel cold?" asked Petrushka softly.
"No, I •am not cold," the girl made answer,
"but I am just a little afraid."
"We shall soon leave the forest," the man
assured her. "It comes to an end about two
versts farther on."
Petrushka's voice sounded hollow and strange
^ the darkness. From the trees came curious
snapping noises as the wind rushed past them
through spaces which had been cleared by peasants.
A sense of loneliness pervaded the night. The
driver had ceased to sing. Now and again he
spoke to the horses, urging them to speed faster.
At length the awesome forest was left behind.
Then the crescent moon came out from behind a
thick bank of cloud and lit up the wide solitary
plain, across which the road ran like a long
156 Russian Folk-Life
narrow ribbon. Suddenly Marya uttered a faint
scream. **What is wrong with your left ear?"
she asked Petrushka. ** It is terribly swollen."
The man raised a hand and touched his ear.
It seemed hard as a piece of wood.
" Frost-bite," he muttered.
*• Put on your thick fur coat," urged Marya.
Petrushka laughed a forced laugh. ''Oh! it is
nothing," he said gaily. " One can cure a frost-
bite very easily."
As he spoke he gathered a handful of the snow
which had collected in the sledge and rubbed it
vigorously against his ear.
*' Snow is a certain cure for frost-bite," he told
the girl. '* Draw your veil down over your face.
The cold wind may nip you as well." '
Marya did as he suggested. " Can't you cover
your own face, too?" she asked. "Wrap this rug
round your shoulders."
Petrushka continued to rub the frost-bitten ear,
until a shout from the driver caused him to leap
to his feet The horses were snorting excitedly,
and the sledge rocked from side to side like a boat
tossed by angry billows.
"Keep the horses running straight ahead!"
Petrushka called to the driver, who was scoiding
and taunting them as if they were rowdy children.
"What is wrong?" asked Marya, leaning forward
and clutching Petrushka s right arm.
Ere he could answer, a piercing howl rose
through the keen night air.
Fighting the Wolves 157
"Wolves! wolves!" screamed the affrighted
"Hush! Do not be afraid," Petrushka said
softly and firmly. "If you cry out like that, you
will only encourage them. Til soon scare off the
cowardly brutes. They are afraid of fire-arms."
It was all the driver could do to keep control of
his horses. The poor animals had been suddenly
thrown into a state of alarm. On a little emi-
nence at a bend of the road, about fifty yards
in front of them, stood a great, long-legged wolf,
sharply outlined against the snow, and howling
fiercely. It was the scout of a hungry pack, which
was scouring a forest near at hand in search of
food. Petrushka and the driver realized that their
only hope was to drive past this animal before its
fellows came up and attacked in force.
The horses reared and faltered, and despite the
efforts of the driver ultimately came to a stand-
still, snorting and trembling with fear. Petrushka
leapt from the sledge and ran forward towards
the wolf. Then, kneeling in the snow, he took
steady aim with his hand -gun and fired. The
wolf was struck and fell over on the snow, yelping
In another minute the horses were racing for-
ward again. Petrushka leapt into the sledge when
it reached him, and sat down beside Marya, who
was sobbing with terror.
" Do not weep, little girl," he said softly. '* I
h^v§ killed ^he wQlf, Th? hprses ^e OQw scamper-
158 Russian Folk-Life
ing along at a fine speed We shall escape all
** Won't the other wolves follow us?" she asked
"They will wait to devour the one I shot,"
answered Petrushka. '* We shall thus gain time.
The horses know now that the wolves are behind
us. How splendidly they run!"
The driver was sitting bolt upright on his seat,
shouting lustily to encourage the horses.
Marya, who had dried her eyes, was somewhat
reassured by the coolness displayed by Pet-
"Do you think the wolves have gone away.^"
she asked him as, kneeling on the seat, he peered
anxiously over the back of the sledge. He turned
round to answer her, but before he could speak
an affrighted scream escaped her lips.
"What is wrong with your nose?" she asked.
Petrushka's nose was gfrotesquely swollen, and
imparted to his face a fearsome aspect.
" Frost-bite," he groaned, seizing another hand-
ful of snow and rubbing his nose vigorously.
The driver glanced round. " God preserve us!"
he shouted; "they are coming on now." Once
again the horses had begun to show signs of
alarm, and it was as much as he could do to keep
them in control.
Petrushka stood up on the seat as if defying,
by a great effort of will, the full force of the icy
wind Once again th^ howling of a wolf ca.mc
Fighting the Wolves 159
through the night. The pack was following a
new leader, in full chase after the sledge.
Marya moaned fitfully, while the horses broke
into a gallop which was sure to exhaust them
sooner or later. The yelping and howling of the
wolves sounded fiercer and louder as they drew
Petrushka watched the dark forms growing
larger and larger, and raised his gun to fire when
they came within range. He took little thought
for himself, although he realized that by neglect-
ing the frost-bite he would probably be disfigured
for life by loss of nose and ear. His sole concern
was to protect Marya, who had been committed
to his care.
The little girl had swooned with terror, and lay
back on the seat. Petrushka bent over her for a
second, and adjusted a rug so as to enable her to
breathe more freely. Then he seized his gun
again. In another minute he fired, and then
grasped a pistol and fired a second time. Two
wolves rolled over in the snow, and the pack
faltered to tear them to pieces and devour their
flesh. Petrushka at once reloaded his fire-arms.
Shout as he might, the driver was unable to
control his horses.
"Can't you keep them in hand?" shouted
"The grey horse has gone quite mad," the
driver answered, tugging the reins furiously. " He
will upset the sledge at the first bridge."
i6o Russian Folk-Life
" Will I shoot him?" asked Petrushka.
" Are you mad? The wolves "
"It would delay them. Before they could de-
vour the horse we might reach shelter. How far
off is Moscow?"
" Ten versts. But there is a village half that
distance from here."
Petrushka climbed over the sledge to the driver's
"Well sacrifice the grey horse," he said,
shouldering his gun and discharging it The
animal at once reared madly, and then fell heavily
forward, bringing the other horse to a standstill.
For a minute it seemed as if the sledge would be
upset But the driver saved the situation by
causing the brown horse to swerve sharply. Then
he leapt out, grasping the axe in his hand, and
with a few deft blows cut the harness which
attached the fallen animal to the sledge. Mean-
while Petrushka had run forward and was holding
the brown horse by the head.
Once again the howling of the wolves grew
louder and nearer. There was no time to be lost
The driver sprang forward and backed the brown
horse, until he was able to get the sledge slewed
round and drawn past the grey, which was strug-
gling convulsively in the snow.
"Jump in!" he shouted to Petrushka.
He clapped the brown horse on the neck, spoke
to it softly, and then ran back to his seat
"Fly like the wind!" he called tp the panting
W C W t V
V ^ V ** t-
Fighting the Wolves i6i
animal, cracking his whip excitedly. ** We'll reach
the village yet"
The horse darted forward just as Petrushka fired
at the wolves with gun and pistols at close range.
Three animals fell sprawling in the snow.
"They won't trouble us now for a time," he
shouted to the driver. " What a gorge we have
left for them!"
The driver made no answer. He kept cracking
his whip and shouting to the brown horse, which
ran steadily, but was already showing signs of
Petrushka knelt beside Marya and rubbed snow
on her white face. Soon she opened her eyes
and sighed deeply. ** Have the wolves gone
away.^" were her first words.
**We have left them far behind," answered
Petrushka. ** Before long we shall reach a place
The sledge went on smoothly for a time. Then
the driver began to show signs of anxiety.
** Ah, would you?" he shouted excitedly to the
horse. " Get on! Lively there! If you tarry the
wolves will get us."
The brown horse was slowing up, panting
** What a feed of corn is waiting for you!" the
driver called to the horse. *' Do you hear me?"
He cracked his whip impatiently.
" Let him walk a bit," Petrushka said, standing
up behind the driver.
i62 Russian Folk-Life
"There is a bridge not far off," answered the
driver, "and a verst beyond it is the village. When
we cross the bridge I shall feel safe."
The horse began to walk, with head drooping
listlessly, and the driver turned round to speak to
"You are badly frost-bitten," he said. "You
will have good cause to remember this night's
The words had scarcely left his lips when the
horse, scenting danger once again, broke into a
sharp trot, with head erect and ears shifting
"They are coming now!" exclaimed the driver,
tightening his hold on the reins. He knew full
well the horse had scented the approaching pack.
"What does the driver say.^" Marya asked, as
Petrushka clutched his gun and stood up on the
seat. " Are the wolves still chasing us?"
The man made no answer. But Marya was not
long left in doubt as to what was happening. The
shrill yelps of the bloodthirsty animals came up
the wind, sounding fiercer and more awesome
"Now for the bridge!" shouted the driver to
Petrushka. "Hold on!"
He whipped up the brown horse, so as to take
the bridge at a run. But the road was badly cut
up as it descended to the river bank, and the
sledge rocked violently. The horse, which was
straining every muscle, seemed to realize in-
Fighting the Wolves 163
stinctively that once the bridge was crossed the
chances of escape would increase.
" Steady! Steady!" bawled the driver excitedly,
as the animal reached the hollow that lay between
the level highway and the bridge. In another
minute the sledge was tilting over like a listing
boat, and seemed in danger of being upset But
it was righted as abruptly with a rough jolt, and
then ran smoothly over the bridge. On the other
side it plunged and rocked again, and almost came
to a standstill. Petrushka leapt out, and running
forward grasped the reins behind the horse's
mouth, and led the snorting animal up the steep
bank in safety.
"Jump in!" exclaimed the driver impatiently.
"You will need your fire-arms presently."
"Give me the axe," Petrushka said. "I will
keep the wolves back until you reach the village."
"Are you mad.*^" shouted the other. "You
will be torn to pieces in a few minutes if you
wait there. Jump in!"
The howling of the wolves sounded nearer at
"Give me the axe!" Petrushka repeated in a
peremptory voice. "Then drive on as fast as
possible and send help. Til keep the brutes at
bay. If I perish, convey Marya to Moscow.
She has my purse, and will reward you gener-
The driver threw the axe from the sledge and
cracked his whip.
i64 Russian Folk-Life
"Farewell, Marya!" Petrushka shouted as the
sledge skimmed past him. An affrighted scream
was the only answer he received.
•* Do not be afraid, little one," shouted the
driver without turning his head " You will soon
be safe in a comfortable inn."
Petrushka climbed the parapet of the bridge
to await the wolves. He had perceived that at
this point the pack would be unable to cross the
frozen river, because the banks were so steep and
slippery, without making a wide detour. They
must needs scamper over the bridge if they were
to catch up the sledge before it reached the village.
So he had made up his mind suddenly to hold
them back until Marya's escape was assured, and
to sacrifice his life for her sake if needs be.
His pistols were thrust in his pockets, and the
axe was dangling from his belt as he stood np
with his gun at his shoulder waiting for the
wolves. Nor had he long to wait The leading
wolf scampered up noiselessly, and paused for a
second, glancing to right and left Then it
bounded on to the bridge. Petrushka fired, and
the animal dropped dead with a bullet through
its brain. He reloaded his gun, and had just
removed the ramrod after packing down the
charge when the wolves came up. The yelping
animals sprang at once on the body of the leader
and fought over it But one leapt forward to-
wards Petrushka. He fired at once, and wounded
it so severely that it turned and ran back, howling
Fighting the Wolves 165
with pain. Other wolves which came up attacked
it, maddened by the smell of blood, and ere long
had stripped the flesh from its bones.
Petrushka began to tremble, partly with excite-
ment and partly because he was suffering from
the effects of frost-bite. He dreaded that he
would collapse before the sledge reached the
village, so he cast aside his gun and seized his
pistols. In another minute he fired twice in suc-
cession into the midst of the scrambling wolves.
For a short interval it seemed as if the animals
would be scared away. But ere he could reload
his pistols a great grey wolf, leaping towards him,
made a frantic effort to drag him down. Petrushka
seized the axe and struck a fierce blow, which
caused the animal to drop dead beneath him.
But its attack had encouraged the others, and
several rushed forward to close with him, snarling
with bared teeth. A brief and desperate struggle
followed. Petrushka was bold as a lion, but his
strength was fast ebbing away, and when one
of the animals succeeded in scrambling up the
parapet and came bounding towards him, he
swung his axe round to strike a blow, but over-
balanced himself and fell with a crash on the
frozen river beneath.
But the brave Petrushka did not die in vain.
The sledge reached the village before the terrible
fight came to an end, and several men rushed out
from the inn when they heard the harness bells
jingling in the night air.
i66 Russian Folk-Life
" Have you seen wolves on the road?" one
called to the driver as he drew near.
"Yes, yes; and a man is keeping them back
on the bridge," the driver answered, hoarse with
excitement and horror, as he drew up his horse.
" Hasten to his aid! There is no time to be lost,"
he urged them.
••Wolves, wolves!" cried the men in chorus,
running towards the inn to obtain fire-arms, and
let loose the hounds that were kept to scare
Ere many minutes had elapsed half a dozen
brave fellows went scampering along the road
towards the bridge, each armed with a brace of
pistols. Several great hounds went barking
loudly in front of them. Then two men mounted
on horses galloped past the sledge.
•* Petrushka's life may yet be saved," the driver
said soothingly to Marya as he lifted her out of
the sledge and carried her into the inn.
When the rescuers reached the bridge they
found that the wolves had fled away, having
scented danger. They at once made search for
Petrushka, and at length discovered him lying
dead on the surface of the frozen river.
••God rest his soul!" an old man exclaimed
piously. •* He died to save others."
•• Look! look!" exclaimed another. " He has
been badly frost-bitten. How dreadfully his face
••He must have known his end was near," the
Fighting the Wolves 167
old man remarked. " But his last thoughts were
not for himself. He sacrificed the little portion
of life that remained for him so that the child
might escape a dreadful death. Let us return,
brother, taking the corpse of this good man with
The fate of Petrushka was hidden from Marya
until the morning. She wept copiously when she
was informed of his death. The women at the
inn did their utmost to comfort her. and one of
them accompanied her to Moscow, where she was
delivered safely into the arms of her mother.
The driver was rewarded liberally for his services.
Two days later Mrs. Gordon and her girls
crossed the frontier into Poland, and were con-
veyed to a village where the General awaited
The war-worn soldier embraced each one
affectionately. Then he asked, ** But where is
Marya related all that had taken place.
" He was faithful unto death!" exclaimed
General Gordon, with tears in his eyes. "A
braver man never died on a battlefield. He
sacrificed himself doing his duty, like a true
Russian and a true Christian."
THE OLD ORDER AND THE NEW
I. The Shadow of Serfdom
" Has our master gone quite mad?" cried the
peasant's wife. ** He cannot mean what he
** Yes, little mother, indeed he does," lamented
Peter, her youngest son, ** he has arranged to sell
us with a portion of his estate because he is in
sore need of money."
"In need of money?" repeated the woman.
"Who ever heard of such foolishness? Why,
Nicholas Ivanovitch Gogol is one of the richest
noblemen in Russia."
"It is said," her son explained, "that his two
sons, Pavel and Dimitri, have almost ruined him.
These young army officers gamble continually.
Some must lose that others may win."
"Do not speak about them; their names are
hateful in my ears," moaned the peasant's wife.
" They have brought sorrow to their parents, and
now they bring sorrow to me."
" Yes, indeed," Peter said, "they are to blame
for all this. Well, what must be, must be."
" Oh! do not speak like that," his mother cried.
The Old Order and the New 169
** Something must be done to prevent this ca-
lamity. It will kill me, and it will kill your poor
old father. Oh! it cannot be true that my children
are to be taken from me."
"Alas! it is only too true. I have brought a
Moscow Gazette with me," her son told her, draw-
ing a folded newspaper from his belt. *' Listen to
this, little mother."
Then he began to read the advertisement, miss-
ing the opening part which referred to the portion
of the estate which was offered for sale :
** 'To be sold with the said portion of this estate
— An excellent clerk, who can play on a musical
instrument ' "
"That is yourself, Peter," his mother inter-
rupted. "Alas! why were you ever taught to
read and write?"
" * Also a well-trained coachman, strong and
" Ivan — your brother Ivan," the woman ex-
claimed; "will he sell my first-born also.*^"
" *And a girl of seventeen, accustomed to all
kinds of housework and a good needlewoman *"
"Little Sasha as well!" sobbed the broken-
hearted mother. "Oh! cannot she be spared?
What of Rurik — is his name not there?"
" No," her son answered sadly, "all that follows
"*Also, fourteen strong labourers and several
Dutch cows.' So, you see, Rurik is left to you,
170 Russian Folk-Life
** But you and Ivan and Sasha are to be sold
with the labourers. No, no, it cannot be ; it must
not be," the woman protested. " I shall go and
see the Master myself this very evening, and
plead with him on my bended knees. Nicholas
Ivanovitch is not a cruel man. He will listen to
me with pity. I know he will."
Peter made a hopeless gesture. " You might
as well appeal to a tree-stump as appeal to
Nicholas Ivanovitch Gogol. His mind is made
up. Besides, his sons* creditors are threatening
to bring ruin and disgrace to the family if their
debts are not settled without delay."
" Come and speak to your father, little Peter,"
his mother urged. " He will tell you, as I tell
you, that this sale cannot possibly take place. I
know it can't I feel it in my heart, and my
heart never deceives me."
Paul, the old peasant, was very deaf. He was
grinding corn in the barn when his son entered,
with the Moscow Gazette crumpled up in his right
" Little Peter tells me," his wife shouted, ** that
the sale is mentioned in the newspaper."
The peasant looked up with a pale, blank face,
his eyes moving so quickly from one to another
that he seemed to speak with them, so full were
they of meaning.
** Peter and Ivan and Sasha are to be sold with
fourteen labourers and some Dutch cows on the
eastern portion of the estate," his wife bawled
The Old Order and the New 171
in his ear; ''that is what the newspaper says."
Paul rose to his feet and drew a hand across
his perspiring brow.
** It is not true," he muttered in a low, deep
voice. ** Our good master would never think of
selling my family. Such a thing never happened
before. My ancestors have served his ancestors
for many generations. Our people have grown
up here like the trees in the forest"
** We must go together and talk with Nicholas
Ivanovitch this very evening," his wife urged.
**As you will," the peasant drawled. "But it
is hardly necessary. What has put this foolish-
ness into your head.*^"
" Mother, Mother! Where are you, Mother.^"
cried a girl's voice outside the barn.
**Ah! it is little Sasha," the woman exclaimed
with agitation, hastening from her husband's side.
The girl embraced her mother convulsively and
sobbed in her arms.
** I have run out to speak with you, little
mother," she said; "our master and mistress are
asleep after dinner. But I could not sleep, think-
ing of the sale. Oh, alas, my heart will break!"
" Come into the house, little Sasha, my own,"
whispered her mother. " Do not let your father
see you. He does not understand — he cannot
believe it is true; nor do I."
"My mistress told me I would be sold next
month," the girl sobbed. " She said also that a
great lady in Jaroslav had already written to ask
172 Russian Folk-Life
about me. What am I to do, Mother? I cannot
leave you and father and the boys. If I am taken
away, I may never see any of you again — never
again. Oh, think of that!"
•'This evening," her mother told her, **your
father and I will go before our master and pre-
vail upon him to spare us this great sorrow. So
be comforted, my child, we'll arrange something
better for you. See if we don't"
It was then that Rurik came upon them all of a
sudden as he scampered round the house. His
cheeks were flushed ; his eyes danced in his head
'* Well, this is great news," he panted excitedly.
" I won't sleep to-night I'm sure I won't"
** What has happened now, my son.^" his mother
asked in a low, nervous voice.
"Everyone is free. Do you understand?
Everyone, I tell you. We can now go where we
like, do what we like, and no one will dare inter-
fere. The Tsar has said it Long live the Tsar!
He is the Little Father of all his people."
•* Are you mad, boy?" his mother cried. " Has
the misfortune which threatens us all turned your
"Down in the village," Rurik went on, "the
peasants are shouting and dancing with joy. A
newspaper, in which the Tsar's decree has been
printed, is in the hands of the priest^ I heard it
> Serfdom was abolished in Russia by a manifesto of Tsar Alexander II,
in 1861. It had prevailed at one time all over Europe.
The Old Order and the New 173
read myself. What it all meant I cannot tell you,
but one man asked the priest, * Are all the serfs
free, now?* and he answered quite plainly, *Yes,
my children, you are all free. Long live the
Peter had joined the group ere his brother
ceased speaking, and his mother turned to him,
saying, ** What think you of this? Do you under-
**For days past there have been strange
rumours abroad," Peter told her, **but I paid
little heed to them. But if what Rurik says is
true, then "
" Of course, it is true. We are all free," Rurik
urged. " Everyone says so."
A confused clamour of voices reached their
ears, and looking round, they beheld, with sur-
prise, a crowd of peasants, who had left their
work, hurrying towards them.
" Long live the Tsar!" they were shouting.
'* He has released us from bondage as He re-
leased the captives in Babylon."
" Where are you going now?" Peter asked their
leader, Ivan Ivanovitch, a stout, loud-voiced man
with a large mouth which he seemed incapable
of closing; when he ceased to speak it gaped
wide and he breathed through it.
"We are all going to speak with Nicholas
Ivanovitch Gogol," Ivan boasted.
"It is early yet. He will not receive you
before sundown," said Peter.
174 Russian Folk-Life
" He will have to speak with us, and at once,
too," Ivan persisted. ** Does the Tsar not de-
clare that we are free? Being free, we can
select our own time to approach Nicholas Ivano-
vitch Gogol. He cannot inflict punishments upon
us now. Come with us, Maria, and bring old
**Yes, yes, I shall certainly go with you,"
Maria answered. ** But all you say must be fully
explained to my husband, else he will refuse to
leave his work. He is grinding corn."
She turned towards the barn, and the others
went with her. ** Can my children be sold now.^"
she asked suddenly.
**Sold?" laughed Ivan Ivanovitch, rolling his
eyes and twisting his face. " Don't you under-
stand how matters stand now? Why, we are all
free — free as the birds of the forest. We can
go whither we will."
** But I wish to remain here," Maria persisted.
" I want my children to remain also. What if
our master should send us away? Can he do
so? Answer me that"
She had paused, and stood facing Ivan Ivano-
vitch. Her lips trembled and her hands shook.
Silence fell upon the peasants. The idea of
being sent away had never occurred to most of
them, but Ivan laughed again. ** Merry times
are in store for us," he declared. ** I intend
going to the great fair at Nijni-Novgorod, where
a man can earn sufficient money in a month to
The Old Order and the New 175
last him for the rest of the year. Ilia here was
once in Moscow and wants to reside there, and
Jacob speaks of going to Kiev. No doubt, your
sons will wander hither and thither, like the rest,
Maria," he added.
The woman began to smooth her hair. " I
wish for nothing better than that my children
should remain here always," she said. ** But let
us speak to my husband. He is the wisest man
on the estate. He thinks all day long, and is
fit to be a judge."
"Did you ever hear such a woman?" puffed
Ivan. ** She's always boasting about her hus-
band's wisdom. But there are others quite as
wise as he is."
Paul looked up with surprise when the little
crowd entered his barn. ** What has happened.*^"
he asked. " Why have you left your work?"
Ivan Ivanovitch went towards him and bawled
into his ear all he had told Maria. " Now," said
he, **come with us to speak before Nicholas
** Not until sundown," Paul answered. " Would
you have me neglect my work? Who ever heard
of such a thing? Besides, our master would not
receive us until the proper time. He has his
duties to attend to just as we have."
"Very well. You are a stubborn man, Paul.
Have your own way with it," bawled Ivan Ivano-
vitch. " But be warned in time. When you go
to meet the master after sunset this evening he
176 Russian Folk-Life
may not be able to see you. Ha! ha! think of
** What do you mean?" Paul asked.
"A fierce spirit has broken out among our
friends," Ivan said darkly. "There are old
scores to be wiped out One never knows what
"Ah!" Paul ejaculated, looking very grave.
" Perhaps, after all, I had better go with you."
"Now you are talking sense," said Ivan; "I
thought I would move you."
Maria then spoke to her husband, saying,
"Our master has done a wickedness in trying
to sell our children."
" Say no more," Paul urged. "If wrong has
been done, God will punish the guilty. A serf
cannot be the judgfe of his master. He that
judges is higher than those who are judged."
"That may have been true once," declared
Ivan, " but everything has changed now that we
are free. . . . Well, well, good people, let us
hasten to speak with the master. You see even
Paul is coming with us."
" What is going to happen?" asked Maria with
" Leave everything to me," Ivan remarked
"Will you plead with Nicholas Ivanovitch on
behalf of my children?"
"Oh! dear me, listen to the woman," Ivan
laughed " She cannot understand yet. Come
The Old Order and the New 177
along, all of you, and you will hear me speak.
This day will not be readily forgotten. How I
shall enjoy seeing our master trembling in his
shoes when I tell him what I think! Follow
me, my friends, follow me!"
He threw back his head and uttered a great
shout Paul heard it and looked up quickly with
wide eyes. ** I shall walk beside you, Ivan
Ivanovitch," he said, taking the arm of the boast-
11. The Serfs Set Free
Nicholas Ivanovitch Gogol, the proprietor, was
a heavy-featured man with sleepy grey eyes and
a closely-cropped beard. He lived an easy, lazy
life, as had done his fathers before him, year in and
year out, attending languidly to the business of
his estate, on which there were more serfs than
it was capable of sustaining. Each day he re-
ceived reports from his oversmen, who saw that
the routine work on the farm and in the forest
was carried out, and once or twice a week drove
round the fields on horseback to keep his eye on
the oversmen. At midday he dined and then
slept for two hours, as did also his wife and the
house servants. Then he drank a great quantity
of hot tea and attended to his accounts. In the
evening he sat in front of his house to hear com-
plaints regarding the serfs and order punishments,
to settle disputes between families, or to scold
178 Russian Folk-Life
wives who were careless regarding their husbands*
comforts or the care of their children. He was
at once an employer, judge, and father of all his
people, and his word was law. Being at heart
a kindly man, he was invariably just and reason-
able, and his serfs regarded him as indeed a good
master. They could not leave his estate without
his permission, and he paid them no wages, but
those who were industrious and honest were
rewarded with holdings of land, which were ex-
tended if well worked, and they were allowed to
keep stock, paying in lieu of rent portions of their
crops and produce. The younger men engaged
in farm-work and wood-cutting, while certain
of the peasants practised trades. Sometimes
Nicholas sent an intelligent youth to Novgorod
to be educated, and to receive a training in busi-
ness. Such a one was Peter, son of Paul the
peasant, who was engaged chiefly in clerical work.
Life on the estate continued with little change
until the proprietor's two sons became army
officers. It was their mothers ambition that
they should distinguish themselves by acquiring
high titles, but ere many years had passed,
Nicholas Ivanovitch discovered that the family
name could not be thus honoured without the
expenditure of large sums of money. Both the
lads proved to be spendthrifts. In Petrograd
they gambled so heavily that their father found
himself running into debt. It was then he re-
solved to cut down his expenditure, and on the
The Old Order and the New 179
advice of his sons, he employed a steward from
Moscow to manage his estate. It was the
steward who proposed to sell a portion of the
estate with those skilled and unskilled serfs at-
tached to it
As it chanced, this decision was come to at a
time when great reforms were about to be intro-
duced. The chief of these was the liberation of
the serfs. Hints of the coming change appeared
in the newspapers, but Nicholas Ivanovitch never
read them. Such gossip as reached his ears he
ignored or dismissed with scorn as false and
foolish. One day his son wrote him saying that
there could be no doubt of the Tsar's intention,
and that soon all the serfs would be set free.
Nicholas knitted his brows, and, tossing aside
the letter, remarked to his wife : " Dimitri will
never learn sense. All the money I have spent
upon him has been wasted."
But reports of like character reached him day
after day from other sources. Once his steward
began to speak regarding them with a very grave
face, but Nicholas scolded him, saying: **So you
too have been listening to idle gossip. Get on
with your work and see that the peasants do
theirs. Have you sent the advertisement to the
Moscow newspaper, setting forth that I have land
with serfs and cattle for sale?"
"Yes, master," answered the steward. "As
you ordered me, so have I done. J a^m her? tp
obey your commands,"
i8o Russian Folk-Life
Still Nicholas was troubled in mind, and one
forenoon he mounted his horse and rode over to
the house of a neighbouring proprietor to talk
about these strange rumours which were flying
about as thick as autumn leaves.
This man, Andrei Petrovitch, was a district
judge, and told Nicholas that the Tsar was about
to grant a Constitution.
** And what then?" asked Nicholas.
**Who can foretell?" the judge exclaimed.
"The Imperial edict has not yet been issued.
But it seems that the serfs will have to be paid
wages for their labour and be given the right of
living where they choose. I expect that most
of them will at once hasten to the towns. Then
we shall not be able to get our land worked."
Nicholas frowned, was silent for a moment, and
then laughed aloud. " Has all the world gone
mad?" he exclaimed. " I always thought you were
a sensible man, Andrei Petrovitch. Now I see you
are given over to foolishness like so many others."
His friend shook his head gravely. ** Very
well," said he, "just wait until you are a little
older and you shall see."
Nicholas struck his boots once or twice with his
riding- whip and moved about uneasily. " Won't
you speak seriously, then," he asked, "and tell me
the truth about this matter? I want to sell some
land with serfs, being in need of money. Shall
I be prevented from doing so?"
"YQy can't sell the serfs with your land, a^
The Old Order and the New i8i
has hitherto been the custom, once the Tsar's
edict is issued. If you did so now you would
only rouse up all your people against you. Then
they would certainly desert you, and you would
not have a workman left on your estate. Be care-
ful, Nicholas Ivanovitch, what you do. I warn
you as a friend."
** Then I shall sell my whole estate before it is
too late," fumed Nicholas. The judge shrugged
his shoulders. ** Who would buy it just at present
when everything is so uncertain, and there is no
guarantee that labourers can be obtained?" he
Nicholas Ivanovitch rode away in ill temper.
It seemed to him that the whole world was being
tumbled upside down, and he could not under-
stand why. His mind was in confusion, and as
he returned to his house he said, ** There is only
one thing of which I am certain, and that is that
I am hungry." He sat down gloomily to dinner,
and ate a great quantity of fat pork with mush-
rooms and onions. Then feeling drowsy he went
to his bedroom, and fell asleep as soon as his head
touched the pillow. His wife sought a couch,
and covering Jier face with a handkerchief to
protect it from the flies, was soon asleep also. All
the servants slumbered like the master and mis-
tress, as was their wont after the midday meal,
except little Sasha and her brother Peter, who had
stolen homeward to sorrow with their parents over
th^ proposal to sell them to strangers.
i82 Russian Folk-Life
While Nicholas Ivanovitch slept, he dreamed
a dream. He saw all his serfs, armed with
weapons, surrounding his house with purpose to
slay him, and he called to the house servants
to close the doors, but they only jeered at him,
saying: "We will no longer serve you. You
have ceased to love us, and you have tried to sell
us to enrich yourself. What care we although
these men put you to death?"
He strove to cry out for help, but was unable
to utter a sound. His tongue seemed to have
frozen in his mouth. Then a dark form came
towards him with a naked sword. He expected
to be slain in another moment But suddenly he
escaped into a cellar, and closing the door, lay
down trembling in every limb.
**Set the house on fire!" cried many voices.
Thereupon he seemed to hear the roaring flames,
and thrusting open the door, ran into the corridor
to effect his escape. But he found himself con-
fronted by a woman. It was Maria, wife of Paul,
the deaf peasant. He quailed before her, and she
spoke and said : ** Do not fear, Nicholas Ivanovitch.
Although you have sold my children I will save
you, for I will drown the flames with my tears."
He awoke with a start and sat up rubbing his
eyes. Cold beads of perspiration had broken out
on his forehead, and a convulsive shudder went
through his body, "Thank God," he muttered,
"it is only a dream! This is the result of all the
foolish talk people are indulging in."
The Old Order and the New 183
He went towards the living room and found
that the tea-urn had just been cafried in. So he
sat down and drank glass after glass of hot tea
until he felt refreshed. Afterwards he left the
house and stood musing a time in the farm-yard.
A workman was sitting on the ground, and
Nicholas flew into a passion. '*What do you
mean, you son of a frog.^" he exclaimed. " 111
have you flogged if you do not go to your work at
He expected to see the serf leaping to his feet
and hurrying away. But the man remained sitting
where he was.
•*Are you deaf? Have your senses left you?"
roared the infuriated proprietor.
** No, master," the man answered. " I am not
deaf, and have heard what you said. Know you
not what has happened? Everything is in con-
fusion. The Tsar has set all the serfs at liberty,
and now we can do as it pleases us. I am content
to sit here and ponder over my good luck."
Nicholas was struck dumb with astonishment.
He turned on his heel to go back to the house,
when he saw the steward hastening towards him.
**Well, what have you to tell me now?" the
"The Tsar's decree has been published,"
answered the steward excitedly. ** All the serfs
are now free,"
**So these reports I scoffed at are true after
all?" Nicholas remarked gloomily.
i84 Russian Folk-Life
** Yes, master, perfectly true. There is trouble
everywhere. Agitators are advising the peasants
not to do any more work."
" Then how are they to live.^" asked Nicholas.
"If they will not work there will be no food for
"That is true, master. Matters must be fully
explained to them. I have here a copy of the
Moscow Gazette^ in which the Tsar's decree has
been published. Shall I read it to you?"
"Yes, do," Nicholas assented. He went to-
wards a chair which had been placed for him in
a shady part of the veranda and sat down. Then
the steward, leaning against the wall, opened the
newspaper and began to read.
Half an hour later Nicholas Ivanovitch saw a
score of his serfs drawing near. Ivan, the agi-
tator, walked in front with deaf Paul and Maria.
Then Nicholas remembered with pain the
arrangement to sell a portion of his land with
serfs, including three children of the old couple.
" What is to be done now regarding Paul's
family and the others?" he asked the steward.
" They cannot be sold," was the answer.
" Well, perhaps it is better so. I am not sorry.
Some change had to come, and now the Tsar has
done more than I ever sought to do. But where
will money be found? Tell me that"
"Rents will have to be paid, master," the
steward answered. "Think of that. You may
have less trouble about money in the future."
The Old Order and the New 185
" So you say. But don't tell me there will be
less trouble. When the well is disturbed mud
rises, and takes a long time to settle down. I do
not like the look of these serfs. See how high
Ivan Ivanovitch holds his head! The insolent
dog! He has not forgotten the last flogging he
received for stealing."
For the first time in his life Nicholas felt
nervous in the sight of his people. Often and
often had he sat there to receive them of an even-
ing, addressing them as *' my children ", and listen-
ing to their complaints and appeals. Now they
were coming with hostile hearts, perhaps to assault
him. He was no coward, and did not fear on his
own account. So long as they did not attack his
wife, or burn his house, he cared little what they
might say, whether in folly or wrath. He eyed
them in silence until they came to a stand about
half a dozen yards in front of him. Then speaking
very calmly he said : ** You have come earlier than
usual, children. Well, what do you want of me?"
Ivan Ivanovitch was taken by surprise, and his
jaw dropped. He was expecting a scolding, and
came ready to pour out abuse.
" What is it, Maria, that you wish to say.^" the
proprietor asked softly, observing that die old
woman's face twitched with emotion.
Maria crouched on her knees, stretching out
her hands appealingly: ** Is it true, O master," she
cried, " that you are to sell my children? Do not
answer ' yes ', or my heart will break."
i86 Russian Folk-Life
A flush suffused the proprietor's face. '' I shall
speak regarding this matter to your husband/'
said he; 'Met him wait behind the others/'
Ivan Ivanovitch then found his voice* "Well
you know/' he said passionately, '' that Paul is as
deaf as a door-post and cannot hear half you say.
Why not answer Maria now in presence of her
" Yes, yes; answer here and now/' broke in half
a dozen voices.
Nicholas felt that his power over the peasants
was slipping away. He clutched the arms i)f the
chair and stared coldly until their eyes fell. Then
he added, " Have you all come here to speak on
behalf of Paul and Maria?"
A murmur of general assent reached his ears.
"You blockheads!" he exclaimed angrily.
" What do you mean? It is no affair of yours."
"Besides," interjected the steward, "there is
no need now "
" Silence!" the proprietor commanded, wheeling
about " Your turn to speak has not yet come."
Nicholas fixed his eyes next on Ivan Ivano-
vitch. "It is not because Maria has a sore
heart that you have led a rabble to my house.
Her lamentations are nothing to you. Why have
you come here, you son of insolence, at this time
of day? Are you not afraid?"
"The Tsar has set us free," Ivan answered
boldly, with defiance in his eyes.
"So you have heard that?" Nicholas answered
The Old Order and the New 187
with a sneer. "Well, others have heard it before
you. Young people who are able to read knew
of this many days ago. Being free, they wish to
leave the homes of their fathers and go else-
'' But you cannot sell the children of Maria and
Paul," persisted Ivan.
** I could have sold you all with my land long
since," Nicholas fumed; **but I did not do so
because you were faithful and industrious. Now
you begin to rebel against me. What am I to do
with you? If I cannot sell you, I can send you
all away to find new masters. Is that your wish,
The peasant hung his head. He had not ex-
pected such an answer, and knew not what to say.
Then the steward spoke: "Shall I explain to
them how matters stand now?" he asked the pro-
" As you will," Nicholas answered. " Let them
hear the worst."
" Listen to me, good people," the steward said,
" and I will explain to you what the Tsar's decree
signifies. Do not be deceived by ignorant men,
who seek to stir up dispeace among you. These
* bawlers ' (gorlopany) are self-seekers, who wish
to profit themselves at your expense. There are
changes coming. You will be left more to your
own free will, but you will have greater obligations
laid on your shoulders. If famine comes, you
will have no claim for food on our master. If
i88 Russian Folk-Life
you gather firewood, you must pay for it with
money. If you graze cattle, you must pay rent
for the fields. If your cows die, you must suffer
the loss yourselves and not come to our master to
ask for calves from his own stock. You will be
paid for the work you do, but out of your wages
you must pay for all you eat, and for wool to
make garments, and for timber to repair your
houses. Those who are lazy will receive no work
to do, they will have to wander through the
country as beggars. Withal, you will have to pay
taxes as well as rents. Do not imagine that the
great Tsar, who is above us all, desires that you
should rise up against your master. As Nicholas
Ivanovitch is your master, so is the Tsar the
master of Nicholas Ivanovitch, and will protect
him if needs be."
*' But we are all free," Ivan exclaimed, en-
deavouring to rouse the spirits of the others, for
the steward's speech had struck consternation into
their hearts. ** Long live the Tsar!"
** You are all free, indeed," the steward agreed.
** You are now free to lay down the old burdens,
but you must shoulder the new. Such is the will
of the Tsar. Long live the Tsar!"
Silence fell upon them all. Then deaf Paul
stood forward and spoke. ** Nicholas Ivanovitch
Gogol," he began, ** I have heard nothing of what
has been said. But seeing that all lips are now
motionless, it would seem my turn has come. I
have been your faithful servant I served your
The Old Order and the New 189
father before you, and pray that my children may
grow up to serve your children. Servants must
be faithful to their masters. Such is the will of
God and the Tsar's decree." He paused for a
moment and wiped his brow. ** What things are
now being told to me?" he went on. ** My wife
says you desire to sell my children. I answer her
saying, * What foolishness is this? None of my
kin was ever sold. We have all grown up here
on our master's estate like the trees of the forest ;
we are part of it. Nicholas Ivanovitch Gogol will
do as his ancestors did. I shall go to him and
say, Tell us there is no truth in these rumours,
O master, that the hearts of your servants may
Nicholas smiled and nodded, and Maria began
to weep copiously, kneeling on the ground beside
Paul mopped his brow again. " Others have
spoken in different manner," he resumed. " They
have told me it is the Tsar's will that we should
no longer work for our master. 'This is mere
foolishness,' I have answered. * If we do not
work, how can we obtain food and clothing and
houses to shelter us from the cold? God sent us
naked into the world, and left our parents to
cherish us and give to us according to our needs.
We grow up to fight against cold and hunger and
wickedness.' I have thought it all over in my
own mind, talking to myself constantly, for I hear
by^ little of the words of others, To those whg
igo Russian Folk-Life
perform their work faithfully comes sure reward
They overcome all that is evil. How, then, could
the Tsar say, * My children, you need not work
any more? The Tsar is wise and just. God
has placed him over the people and their masters.
We are all members of his family. He would not
say, 'Work not,* knowing that if we became
idlers, we should die of hunger and cold."
Nicholas rose and went towards old Paul.
"Your words are true wisdom," he called in his
ear. "So long as you live, you shall neither
hunger nor thirst, nor have need of clothing."
" Master, master!" exclaimed Maria, "what of
my children? Must they be sold? Oh! rather
would I suffer any hardship than lose my dear
Nicholas raised her up. " Do not weep, Maria,"
he said sofdy. " The Tsar has spoken, and we
must all obey. If it is your children's desire that
they should remain with you, well, let them re-
main. Such is my will."
The woman flung her arms round her husband's
neck and cried, " May God prosper Nicholas
Ivanovitch! He will not sell our children."
" Said I not so?" Paul exclaimed. " Long live
" Long live the Tsar!" called Ivan in a hoarse
"Long live the Tsar!" Nicholas repeated.
"We shall all obey the will of the Tsar."
Then the peasants ?rowd?d roynd the proprietor,
The Old Order and the New 191
saying : " Do not send us away, O master. Let
us live as we have lived before. It pleases us to
work for you. No matter what others may do,
we shall serve you faithfully and well."
The heart of Nicholas was deeply moved.
"You are all my children," he said. "So let us
continue to live together as our fathers have done
before us, doing God's will and honouring the
Tsar. But let that be as you wish. I cannot
compel you to remain. Those who hate me in
secret should now leave me. All are free. Let
those who desire to go, speed their departure, so
that there may be no dispeace amongst us."
He glanced round, and his eyes fell upon Ivan
Ivanovitch and three others, who stood apart
whispering one to another.
"As for you, Ivan," he exclaimed, " I bear you
no ill-will. But I bid you begone. Take with
you also all those who follow you. Be their
master, and use them well."
Ivan shrank away. His influence as an agitator
had come to an end, and he knew it None
followed him. All the peasants remained with
Nicholas Ivanovitch Gogol, whom they loved and
It was well that Nicholas had won the confi-
dence of the people, for several months went past
before the new arrangements were carried out,
and the Peace Arbiters began their work of set-
tling the differences that had arisen between the
proprietors and the peasants, Nichplas IvanQ-
192 Russian Folk-Life
vitch experienced no trouble. The rural serfs
who remained with him became his tenants, and
among these none prospered more than the sons
of deaf Paul and Maria, who received their shares
of land, for which they paid annual rents. New
Courts were set up, and the authority exercised
by the proprietor as governor of the people passed
to the village Assembly, which was elected every
three years. The first chairman, or "village
elder", who was chosen by the tenants of Nicholas
was deaf Paul, who ever dealt justly with all men,
and won the respect of proprietor and peasant
alike. He never ceased to counsel the people to
be industrious and upright, so that **they might
be pleasing in the sight of God and man".
When die first three years went past, the
Assembly wished to re-elect him, but he an-
swered: ** I have begun the good work, and
served my term. Now let a younger man take
So they elected Peter, who did his utmost to
walk in the footsteps of his father.
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