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Full text of "The white slave; or, The Russian peasant girl"

L I B RARY 

OF THE 

UN IVERSITY 

or ILLI NOIS 

82 3 

H394v^^ 
V.3 



THE 

WHITE SLAVE; 

OK, 

THE RUSSIAN PEASANT GIRL. 
VOL. III. 



THE 



WHITE SLAVE; 



OR, 



THE RUSSIAN PEASANT GIRL. 



BY THE AUTHOR OF 



REVELATIONS IN RUSSIA." 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 

VOL. in. 



LONDON: 

HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER; 

GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET. 

1845. 



LONDON: 

Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street. 



V.3 



THE WHITE SLAVE, 



CHAPTER I. 



The manor house of the Bialoe Darevnia had 
been hastily prepared to receive its owner. 

It stood at the extremity of the village ; but 
although the chief place of residence on an estate 
as large and populous as a German principality, 
it bore no resemblance, except in magnitude, 
either to the castles of Germany, or the chateaux 
of France, or the Italian villas, or the old mansion 
houses and modern country seats of Britain. 

It was built up of logs and pine, whose 
interstices were caulked with moss ; and though 
it might have been rendered picturesque in the 
Swiss cottage style, the taste of the architect had 
preferred building after a classic model, with 
a peristyle and columns, all of planed deal wood, 
painted, and to match which, the rough walls 
had been covered with planks — intended to simu- 
late the smoothness and colour of a surface of 
stone — but which warping here and there, and 
stained by the rusty nails which fastened them, 
were guiltless of deceiving. 

There was the desolate bleakness of a French 

VOL. III. B 



2 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

chateau without its feudal grandeur, the homely 
meanness of Holland without its comfort and 
neatness. 

No grounds or park siurounded the building, 
it stood aloof, in the centre of the widest part of 
the clearing in which the village was situated, and 
this in the estimation of whoever built it, had 
decided the eligil^ility of site. 

The forest which had receded before the 
axe and plough, but which was still on every 
side in sight, formed a beautiful and natural 
park, a green lawn — here and there indeed a 
little marshy — being scattered over with clumps 
of oak, and birch, and pine. Yet as far as 
possible removed from this, the Lord's mansion 
had been raised by Russian taste in the midst 
of negligently cultivated fields, divided by rugged 
fences of rudely spUntered fir. 

The prevalence of the wild forest all over the 
northern and middle governments of Russia, 
may, however, account for this distaste of its 
inhabitants for trees, which leads them to prefer 
the open space, the most desolate, to the spot 
the most luxuriously timbered, since from 
similar causes it is said to be in some measure 
entertained throughout North America. 

Several hundred of the villagers selected by 
the steward were and had been for the last two 
days lounging in the yard. 

The women in their gayest attire carried 
aprons full of flowers, which were abundant if 
not very choice, because only such as the woods 



WHITE SLAVE. 3 

furnished, Johann having abandoned the care of 
the only ornamental garden to his son Hans, who 
had rooted up the rose trees to plant raspberry 
bushes, and dug up the flowers to sow cabbages. 
The steward himself was in holiday array, as 
well as his wife and family. 

Trautchen, his daughter, incessantly occupied 
at the glass, was sporting all her finery, as if 
with some latent hope of captivating either the 
Lord or some of his noble guests — an imagination 
so preposterous with a glass before her as only 
to be accounted for by the supposition of some 
extraordinary^ treachery in her visual organs and 
which indeed w^ould have been quite in 
accordance with their habitually deceitful charac- 
ter, since their glances always seemed directed 
on you when in reality peering into the face of 
your neighbour. 

Her brother Hans was dressed in a very short 
tailed coat of silver grey, his broad face ex- 
panded grinningly into a wider breadth beneath 
his long dense crop of flaxen hair, as he 
surveyed the collation prepared for the expected 
guests ; and the flaxen hair pyramidally sur- 
mounted by a little green cloth cap of truly 
teutonic fashion and exiguity, with which his 
silvery-mounted Sunday meerschaum correctly 
harmonised. 

Indeed, perhaps Trautchen and Hans were of 
all the festive party the most joyous at heart, 
Trautchen in her very fallacious illusions, and 
Hans in the anticipation, which he had already 

B 2 



4- THE WHITE SLAVE. 

partially realised of profiting by the expected 
confusion to increase his private store of dainties, 
for he had already succeeded in canying off, 
under the lynx eyes of the Frau Sauer, a smoked 
goose, a handful of almonds, and a pot of 
custard. 

Johann had prepared an exhibition of fire- 
works, manufactured under his own directions, 
and an illumination of glasses coloured ^vith 
tinted paper, and which was to be of peculiar 
brilliancy on account of a method of preparing 
the wicks of his own invention. 

Though Johann was chiefly influenced by 
the wish of receiving his master (at his master's 
own expense) with a warmth which might capti- 
vate his good-will, still in the midst of all his 
anxiety respecting the result of the Prince's 
visit on his fortunes, he was gratified at this 
opportunity of giA^ng his blue-lights, rockets 
and ingenious lamps a fair trial, as he called it, 
for his wife's parsimony had never but once before 
allowed him to essay them during the last visit 
of the late Lord, and on this occasion the result 
had been marked but not satisfactory ; for the 
wicks had spluttered and exploded, and the fire- 
works had gone off" in an instantaneous flash, 
burning the fingers of the peasantry, an accident 
for which the benevolent Prince begged Johann 
to remember them, a recommendation which 
he obeyed to the letter, though not in the 
spirit in which it was given. 

Johann had received some hint from the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 5 

steward, Dietrich, as to the differences between the 
character of the present and the late Prince : bat 
still he thought it prudent, in the event of his 
being misinformed, to collect the most prosper- 
ous looking of his slaves to receive him. 

Most of the moujiks in theii' best summer 
grey caftans, \\\th new red woollen sashes, in 
which were stuck their axes, looked sullen and 
suspicious, particularly the older men. 

The Starost, the elder of the village, a grey 
bearded man of patriarchial aspect was leaning 
against the rail, surrounded by a group who 
were taking a sort of camp dinner, consisting of 
a prodigious hunk of the truffle-coloured alumny 
flavoured rje-bread, on which was scattered a 
thick layer of salt. 

" Never," said the elder shaking his head, 
" does any good come of change : we do live 
now at least, and there is corn stacked up 
so that we can never want grain at seed time. 
We should always remember, if a hungry Lord 
comes as well as a hungry steward that we 
live where com will fetch some price in the 
market, so that we may be rationed down to; 
the last crust ; and then if a crop fails, I know 
the misery, for I have seen it." 

" Not here !" said several voices. 

" No, not here ; I was born in another 
village, in a rich corn country ; but the Baron 
shaved every thing from the soil. A year of 
famine came — we fed on the bark of trees till 
starvation scattered us abroad over the face 



b THE WHITE SLAVE. 

of the country. Some of us were brought back, 
some made soldiers and crown serfs, and others 
enticed by the Barons of prosperous estates, as 
I was here. The grandfather of Vasili there had 
just died ; I was put on to his passport, and so, 
though he is older than I, he is my grandson, 
and as the old man died at seventy, and I 
am sixty now, and that it happened forty years 
ago, I am reckoned to be a hundred and ten 
years old." 

At this moment a scout informed the steward 
that a carriage w^as discernible. The peasantiy 
were hastily marshalled in order. Johann, who 
was determined that they should look contented 
and happy, had recourse to the infallible means 
on which he had all along counted, of distri- 
buting a dram ; and where the dram failed in 
its effect, he used his cane lustily to awaken 
to alacrity and cheerfulness some stubbornly 
sullen moujik. 

" Philosophy and religion should teach you 
alike, my dear children, to show yourselves 
grateful to your Lord, the son of your late 
benevolent master, whose heart yearned tow^ards 
you, like my own." 

The carriage drew up ; but instead of being 
the Lord, it was the Lord's cook and his 
assistant, w^ho very ruthlessly and contemp- 
tuously put the Frau Sauer's collation to the 
rout, Hans hovering round the retreating 
dishes like the Cossacks on the rear of the 
Grande Armee, after the burning of Moscow\ 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 7 

But as at least the hour of arrival was known 
with some precision, the joyous villagers were 
marshalled in the most appropriate order. 

To the infinite delight of the exulting 
Trautchen, Nadeshta was placed amongst the 
comely peasant girls who were to scatter flowers 
before their expected master, for Johann had 
learned by Dietrich's last communication the pro- 
found disgrace into which Mattheus had fallen. 

Nadeshta's spirit rebelled for a moment; and 
then, absorbed in the thought of at length 
seeing her brother, she yielded with a sigh. 
Alas ! the group of village maidens amongst 
whom she took her place, on whom she had 
heaped so many kindnesses when comparatively 
high and happy, all regarded her degradation 
with undisguised and insolent satisfaction. 

At length another cloud of dust came rolling 
on; and then there emerged dimly from it a 
team of post-horses, who seemed to knead it 
with their feet, adding this pleasant labour 
to that of dragging the Prince's carriage after 
them. 

Johann remarked with some surprize that 
Isaakoff's valet was seated in the carriage 
beside him, whilst his friend occupied the 
rumble. 

It was true that both he and his servant 
seemed a little elevated with wine, for when 
they alighted, and the steward, with a bow 
which brought him into an attitude tho- 
roughly toad-like, offered at once his homage 



8 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

and duty, and presented his wife and daughter, 
they both — master and man — turned aside to 
ogle the four-and- twenty village maidens, heed- 
less alike of the sweetly acid smile into which 
Frau Sauer had relaxed, and of the graces of 
her daughter. Their eyes were at once arrested 
by the sight of Nadeshta, who shone amidst 
the group hke a bright gem in a heap of 
pebbles, or a rich pearl amongst incrusted shells, 
and w^hose tall and graceful figure rose, con- 
trasting with the ignoble crowd, like a stately 
swan surrounded by a flock of wild fowl. 

The lacquey, or at least he who wore the 
caped and laced livery cloak, started back in 
some astonishment ; while the Prince, without 
deigning any answer to the address of his 
steward, asked him whether that w\as not the 
sister of Mattheus ? 

"Exactly, my most excellent and high-born 
master !" 

" There then is your sister !" said the Prince. 

The servitor staggered for an instant, and 
then Nadeshta — who at this joyful announce- 
ment had recognized her brother — opening her 
arms with a wild exclamation of delight, he 
threw aside his cloak and mshed into them. 

But as he threw his cloak aside, Johann had 
noticed that he was dressed as fashionably 
as his master, and arguing from all he saw, 
that he had been induced into some fatal error 
respecting the disgrace into which Mattheus 
was said to have fallen, he was officious in 



THE WHITE SLA\^. 9 

leading the brother and sister into the mansion 
out of the gaze of the crowd. 

" And here," said the Prince, " is my friend, 
the Count. No one assists him to ahght ! My 
dear Count, you look pale and faint, and if 
you grind your teeth together thus, you will 
spoil the enamel, or bring on a lock jaw 
perhaps," and so saying, he seized him vi- 
gorously by the arm, as if to support him. 

" Look, my dear friend !" he continued, 
grinning in his face with infernal malice. " Look, 
and refresh yourself with the touching spectacle 
of the meeting of a long parted sister and 
brother !" 

But as the Prince spoke, the individual 
whom he addressed had fixed his eyes intently 
on the delighted couple; the blood had fled 
from his white and compressed lips, and the 
nails seemed entering into the palms of his 
nervously contracting hands. 

But when he saw Nadeshta just mounting 
the steps, pause, and, again twine her fair arms 
round her brother's neck, he made a sudden 
bound as if to dash forward ; but the Prince 
holding up his finger, just said " Beware !" and 
then when he seemed magically to have con- 
trolled his victim's terrible emotion, he looked into 
his face and laughed a long, shrill, fiend-like laugh, 
which grated even on the ears of Johann. 
Need the reader be told that Count Horace, 
as he proposed, had changed places with Mat- 
theus ■? 

B 3 



jO the white slave. 

" Dearest Mattvei ! my own, own brother !" 
said Nadeshta. 

" 1 have forgotten my Russ !" stammered 
out Horace; for although flushed \\ith wine 
and prepared for the adventure, his confidence 
was gone. He felt bewildered and doubtful of 
his senses ; for in the slave girl he was struck 
to find the form, the features, and expression of 
that portrait in Anna's boudoir, which had so 
strangely impressed itself upon his recollection. 

" Do I dream," thought he, " or am I intoxi- 
cated ^vith the wine and heat?" But as he 
looked again, the more attentively and coolly he 
examined the peasant girl, the more remarkable 
appeared her likeness — in all but costume — to 
the lady in that singular painting. 

" Dearest Mattvei," said Nadeshta, " do we 
then once more meet again ? Oh ! for years 
since I have dreamed of you ! My only conso- 
lation has been the perusal of your letters, and 
the consciousness of your afi'ection ; and now do 
I at length behold you? Let me kiss those 
eyes, so like my mother's, and that brow which 
was so much fairer when we parted, and those 
lips which were then as smooth as mine are now ! 
You are darker — very, very much darker al- 
together, my own brother — but let me look at 
you and admire you, and note how handsome 
you have grown ; and oh ! how one can see 
that your time has not been spent in a land of 
slaves. What a noble figure ! what an air of 
haughty independence ! How like those gallant 



THE WH^TE SLAVE. 1 1 

men of the west you have become — the chival- 
rous, the brave, the wise, the good, the truthful ! 
But, dear Mattvei, why do you repulse my kisses ? 
Why, do you blush at a fond sister's praises? 
It is surely not your poor Nadeshta's slave dress 
shames you ; for since you came on such terms 
with the Lord, you have, I trust, obtained your 
freedom f 

Never had Horace felt so utterly ashamed of 
himself as in the perfidious deceit which he was 
so wantonly practising ; but his resolution 
was rapidly taken. He nodded assent, and 
pressing her hand, seemed speechless with 
emotion. 

" Oh !" said Nadeshta clasping her hands and 
looking up her gratitude. " Heaven be praised! 
then he is free at last." 

" Oh ! my brother, " she continued surveying 
him with an intense affection and pride, " so 
kind, and so brave, and so beautiful — and free ! — 
And now you will obtain the freedom of your 
poor Nadeshta, and bear her with you away to 
foreign lands, far from the scenes of our igno- 
miny, where you go to carve your fortune — far 
from this land of petty tyrants, and of cringing 
slaves, and of men false, hollow, and servile — 
away to the historic climes of song and chivalry, 
and 'liberty, and inspiration. Is it not so, my 
Mattvei ?" 

Again Horace nodded an assent — and again 
she clasped him in her arms ; and never did the 
brow of a young girl burn with fevered blushes, 
like that of the gay and somewhat licentious 



12 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

Count, when thus placed in the very situation he 
had sought so eagerly. 

" But come, " said Nadeshta, leading him by 
the hand, " we shall be interrupted here — let us 
go. Is not your heart too full to speak, Mattvei, 
as mine has been so often with grief? — But it is 
not so now, for it is overflowing with its joy. " 

Yet nevertheless as she conducted him by the 
hand, some two hundred paces, a sad reflection 
stole across her countenance like a cloud over 
the mid-day sunlight. 

They were approaching the place of many 
groves, and whilst Horace was gathering heart 
to speak out and explain the deception he had 
practised, she led him to a shady corner of the 
churchyard, where an old wooden cross rose up 
from the rank grass. There were withering on 
it some of the pale wood violets of autumn, 
emblematic of hope, and a chain of the stalks of 
the dandelion, such as children are fond of 
weaving, and which the slave girl had musingly 
put together, both sadly significative of her 
condition and her prospects. 

On this spot, saying "It is here, Mattvei," she 
kneeled, her eyes filling with tears ; and Horace 
felt intuitively that he was treading on the grave 
of a mother ! 

He too had a mother once — fondly loved and 
mouldering in the cold earth now ; and for him 
there was no human association so sacred. 

It acted on him with the suddenness of an 
exorcism ; — he felt that it was sacrilege to stand 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 13 

upon that holy soil in his deceit : so falling on 
his knees he said, 

" Nadeshta, forgive me ! I have hasely deceived 
you ! I am a foreigner — a stranger — not your 
brother : but by the clay which is mouldering 
beneath our feet, and by the spirit which looks 
down upon us from above, I w^ill be to you a 
brother." 

" What, not my brother ! not Mattvei !" 
exclaimed Nadeshta starting wildly up, and 
pushing back the hair from his forehead to look 
for the scar which should have marked his skull 
with its deep indentation; and then withdrawing 
her hand with a shriek of loathing and of horror. 

" Hear me," said Horace. 

" Oh how base ! how infamous !" said 
Nadeshta — her eye flashing wdth indignation and 
her cheek burning with shame — " May plague 
spots grow from the contact of my lips ! — 
May heaven and earth avenge this foul, unholy 
outrage ! Oh ! shame and infamy to insult the 
weak, the lonely, and the oi-phan 1" and as she 
spoke, upraising her tall figure, and stretching 
out her hand in denunciation, she looked a 
magnificent image of the angry Pythoness : but 
this excitement only lasted for an instant, and 
was followed by quick re-action — the colour fled 
from her cheek, the power from her limbs — she 
clasped the cross upon her mother's grave, for 
her support, and feU in that attitude senseless, 
saying in a voice of poignant misery : 

" But who — but who may not insult the 
Slave-Girl ?" 



14 THE WHITE SLAVE. 



CHAPTER II. 

When a faint glimmering of reason dawned 
upon the mind of Blanche, in the midst of her 
fever and delirium, though she had no distinct re- 
collection of anything, she felt a vague and oppres- 
sive sense of some undefined calamity. Where 
was Mattheus ? She stretched out her hand and 
grasped the arm of an old, withered, toothless 
crone, who, muttering in a strange language, was 
lifting up a coarse stone pipkin, making sign for 
her to drink. The apartment — in which the patient 
was stretched on a mattrass stuffed ^rith the lime- 
bark matting — was only a few feet square. A small 
open window let in a current of air ; and in the 
corner were piles of rusty old iron, old clothes, and 
other frippery. 

Nothing could be more sordid than the aspect 
of the place. A door, which just then happened 
to be open, gave, through a long, dark, narrow 
passage, a distant vista of a small shop, piled up 
with chains and heaps of rusty nails, and bars, and 
rods of iron in sheaves and bundles. 

She turned on her mattrass ; and lo ! on the 
other side of her bed, there sat a stem-featured 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 1 5 * 

man, with long and grizzly beard, who looked into 
her face, and read aloud in a monotonous tone from 
a heavy old tome, printed in bold strange cha- 
racters. 

There was no sympathy either in his cold, hard 
eye, or in his voice ; and if she could have under- 
stood the passages he was reading from the Scrip- 
tures, in the obsolete Sclavonic, she would have 
found little that was consolatory in his lugubrious 
selections. 

The heart of the stern, old sectarian v/as long 
since dead and withered to aU human feelings ; and 
if his language had been intelligible to her, she 
would have been rather startled than soothed on 
her sick-bed by his quotation of those parts of 
Holy Writ, which referred only to approaching 
death, and which he used not so as to smooth the 
passage of the departing soul by famiharizing it 
with its aspect, but to add to its terrors by ming- 
ling with it aU that seemed to imply a doubt of 
the salvation of those not pre-elected. Herein 
seeking his words in the eternal book, Ivan 
Petrovitch was giving utterance to his own gloomy 
thoughts and stern misgivings. But on the other 
hand, because he deemed it his duty — a duty of 
which he was even doubtful — he had taken to his 
miserable home, in the full delirium of a malignant 
fever, a Midianite woman, as he called her. 

Ivan Petrovitch was miserably poor, because he 
despised all worldly wealth ; and as one of the 
Stare Vertsl, was peculiarly subject to a persecu- 
tion from which his poverty had chiefly shielded 
him ; and yet, besides bringing the pestilence under 



16 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

his roof, he exposed himself voluntarily to the 
wrath of the police by infringing two distinct laws 
which it endeavours to enforce with the utmost 
vigour. 

In the first place, as sane policy demands in all 
countries, he had no right to receive into his house, 
without giving notice to the due authorities, a sick 
person in a contagious fever in a populous quarter. 
And in the next, by a general police law of Russian 
stringency and severity, no individual has a right 
to harbour another, even for one single night, 
without presenting the passport of his inmate to 
the police-office to be inscribed ; and the penalty 
is enforced upon the housekeeper. For every 
night that he neglects to lay this information, there 
is a distinct fine : the pohce generally allow these 
to accumulate before they pounce upon the delin- 
quent; and, as a man so poor as the old fanatic, 
would have been unable to pay it, he would have 
been punished by corporal chastisement, and incar- 
ceration doubly prolonged, on account of his being 
noted as a dissenter in the black-book of the 
police-office of his quarter. 

But Ivan Petrovitch braved this danger as he 
braved the contagion. He tended the patient with 
unremitting attention, if with a stony, solemn 
indifference; and as his religious duties added to 
the scanty business of his store, and the hours of 
indispensable sleep occupied some portion of his 
time, he had engaged the old hag, a feUow- 
sectarian, to relieve him, and to pay her the 
miserable pittance for this duty, three days in 
every week did the penury of Ivan Petrovitch oblige 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 17 

him to abstain even from his coarse, habitual 
food. 

Now this was one of those days of abstinence 
on which, as he said, " he drank the waters of the 
brook to satisfy the cravings of his body, and ate 
of the bread of eternal life to satisfy his soul." 

" She is delirious again," muttered the crone. 
" It \Aill be over soon. They will lay her in the earth 
before next Sunday, young and dainty as she is !" 

"Thinkest thou so?" said the old man, shutting 
up his book, and casting up his eyes in pious 
ecstasy. " And thou shouldst know who watchest so 
many departing ! — who better? Oh, Lord! when 
will it please thee to call thy weary servitor ? Here 
goeth a sinful daughter of the sons of men, thy 
mercy only knoweth whither ! x\nd I, who am of 
thy elect, still tarry; whilst Abraham's bosom is 
ready to receive one of thy chosen people !" 

Though Blanche was in so dangerous a condition, 
yet her host was too determined a predestinarian 
to resort to medicine, so that her malady was left 
entirely to nature. But this first lucid interval 
was of very short duration ; for, bewildered by the 
scene around her, and by the stern aspect of her 
strange nurses, her brain speedily began again to 
wander. 

At length the ra^dngs of the sick woman 
having awakened the attention, and aroused 
the suspicion of his neighbours, Ivan Petrovitch, 
who was scrupulously true to the trust he had 
undertaken, resolved to remove her to a place of 
greater security. Now, none but a very few of 
the old man's persuasion could have been induced 
to undertake such a charge ; and if they had been 



18 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

willing to do so, those in the city could have found 
no means of concealment better than his own. 
— Beyond the walls of his dwelling, Ivan Petro- 
vitch could only bethink him of one of his brethren, 
a brickmaker, quite as austere and fanatical as 
himself; but then the brickmaker had long since 
fallen away from the orthodox principles of the 
old faith, or at least was reputed to have done so, 
though, as it was to depart quite as widely from 
the hateful tenets of the dominant church, he was 
regarded rather as a schismatic than a heretic — 
rather as one of the elect who had strayed from 
the fold, than as one predestined to perdition. For 
his own part, the brickmaker still anxiously held 
out a hand to the uncompromising votaries of the 
faith from which he contended that he had not 
swerved, whilst they would neither listen to, nor 
discuss the obscure metaphysical abstractions in 
which his uncultivated mind had become entangled. 
But he was still anxious to conciliate them — 
persuaded that whenever he could prevail upon 
them to listen to him, he should convince — and he 
was just an enthusiast of their own stamp, who 
would set at defiance all inconvenience and danger 
in anything he undertook. 

Anxious to oblige Ivan Petro\dtch, he did agree 
to undertake the charge ; and then, drawing forth 
a well-thumbed volume, he tried whether gratitude 
would not induce Ivan to listen. 

" Brother Ivan Petrovitch, just listen to this 
one comment." 

The stern, impracticable, old sectarian rose up 
abruptly : 

'* That book wants no comment." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. ly 

"But hear me just explain according to the 
belief of our fathers." 

" Fare thee well !" said the dealer in old iron ; 
"I have no ears to lend thee: if it be old and 
true, then 1 know it ; and if it be new, then be 
the curse of folly and of perdition on thy 
words !" 

" They have eyes and see not, they have ears and 
hear not !" said the brickmaker, as his \dsitor retired. 
But thus far these men knew each other, that, their 
word once passed, Ivan Petrovitch caused the wife 
of Mattheus to be committed to his charge, in the 
full confidence that she would nevertheless be re- 
ceived ; and the other received her almost plague- 
stricken, as she might be said to be. 

"The Lord has sent me the pestilence!" ex- 
claimed the brickmaker ; " and sent by him, I give 
it welcome." 

When Blanche again awoke to consciousness, it 
was after a long period of utter insensibility from 
weakness ; and even then, though restored to the 
possession of her intellectual faculties, such was 
her debility, that she had not strength even to 
uplift her arm, or to raise her voice so as to utter 
any articulate sound. She was stretched upon a 
couch: around her, on three sides, was perfect 
darkness; but the fourth showed her, through a 
door-like aperture, a dim, red, sullen glare, in the 
midst of which strange figures flitted to and fro. 
There broke upon her ear a low, monotonous 
chaunt, and at intervals the sounds of the scourge, 
accompanied by groans and stifled cries. 

Some of the figures that hovered al)out in the 



20 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

red light, were those of gaunt, emaciated men, 
stripped to the middle ; others seemed those of 
women, also naked to the waist — some having 
arms and busts in all the proportions of beauty, 
others in hideously distorted parody of the form of 
women, the pendent breasts being thrown back 
over the shoulders, but all alike supporting on the 
latter, heads black, shapeless, and demon-like in 
their aspect. 

The terrific idea seized the imagination of 
Blanche that she was dead, and that these were 
the shades of the departed around her ; and then, the 
light becoming gradually extinct, and all these voices 
— after joining in a low and mournful chorus — 
subsiding into unbroken silence, the thought flashed 
across her brain that she was perhaps doomed to 
eternal darkness and immobility ; and under the 
influence of this awful imagination, it began to 
wander again. In vain she attempted to utter a 
prayer ; in vain to call upon the name of Mattheus; 
and thus she relapsed into unconsciousness. But 
for this, she might have seen, a few minutes after- 
wards, the red flame blaze up again more brightly, 
and shew by its increased light that these were all 
human beings assembled in a mde log cabin. 

The men seemed, mostly by their long beards 
and the cut of their hair, to be peasants or traders, 
though one or two, by their shaven chins and such 
portions of their usual attire as they still wore, 
appeared to be of superior rank. 

The women, who were barefooted, trod, like the 
men, over the sharp flints of the floor ; and their 
faces were masked with hoods of black cloth, like 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 21 

those of some of the religious orders of the 
Romish church. 

Nevertheless, it was easy to distinguish amongst 
them a similar difference of caste. The peasant 
women were mostly betrayed, either by the disgust- 
ing malformation so common among the Russian 
females of their class, or by the unconcern with 
which they trod over the shards and pebbles to w^hich 
their horny feet were insensible ; w^hilst the peni- 
tents of superior rank could only move in agony. 

There was one in particular whose tender feet 
were cut and bleeding ; she too, drew, like the 
others, at a given signal, a garment w^oven of 
coarse, prickly horse-hair, over her back and shoul- 
ders, torn and scarred by the scourge, but w^hich 
had been left carefully intact wherever they w^ere 
exposed, when she w^ore a low-bodied dress ; for 
this fair ascetic frequented the court assemblies, and 
routs, and balls, it being one of the rules of this 
strange society, that its members should continue 
to follow all the usual habits of their walk of 
life. 

Among this assemblage, the brickmaker was 
e^^dently regarded as the spiritual chief, the minister 
or prophet : and it is time to inform the reader 
that Blanche had been carried for security into the 
midst of the conventicle of one of those secret 
sects which of late years have been springing up 
like mushrooms in the Russian empire, and are 
daily discovered and silently suppressed by the 
Imperial government. Although a very small 
portion of those in existence are supposed to be 
found out — for naturally all the arts of the police 



22 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

in gathering information must fail with men who 
compare with every tlii'eat the eternal terrors with 
which indiscretion threatens them, and weigh con- 
temptuously every bribe ^^^th the immortal reward 
which they anticipate — still, even those discovered 
have of late years augmented to an extent which 
would immediately alarm the government if they 
had any coiTCspondence or connexion mth each 
other. 

They appear, on the contrary, to be totally dis- 
tinct, and to embrace not only in a few instances 
tenets of austere and gloomy piety, but in the 
majority of cases the most opposite and unheard-of 
extravagances of doctrine and of practice. All 
that the human mind can conceive of most outra- 
geous and revoltingly horrible in the wildest aberra- 
tions of insanity, has been brought to Hght in some 
of these recently discovered sects in the Russian 
empire ; and in fact, in any attempt to describe the 
most remarkable of these associations of fanatics, 
the pen of fiction would find itself stopped short on 
the blushing page at the very commencement of a 
nan^ative which should attempt to pourtray the whole 
truth, as well as to keep within its limits. 

There are even well-informed Russians who look 
upon this recent f^id increasing tendency as threat- 
ening more proximate and great changes than any 
other existing influence, and who argue a more im- 
minent, instead of a diminished danger from the 
disconnexion of these sects, alleging reasons epitom- 
ized in the metaphor, which compares them to 
the fungi, poisonous, and rank, and slimy, though 
of different aspects, properties, and tribes, which, 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 23 

without identity of root or parent seed, all spring 
alike from the rottenness of the prostrate tree, from 
whose bark they take their parasitic growth. 
The profound demoralization of society, and the 
subservience of the national church, are supposed 
by some to give involuntary birth to these dicidences 
frequently so monstrous. 

It may be said indeed, that of late years there 
has been no great, or at least no proportionate in- 
crease, in the universal corruption and venality ; 
but then to this a lamentable truth is objected, that 
the improved organization and centralization of the 
present reign have enabled oppression to pervade 
the whole fabric of society, restricting even that 
faint liberty which the most ruthless tyranny, unless 
it possesses this knowledge, can never prevent be- 
twixt the very intervals of upraising its remorseless 
hand to deal the blow. 

In this respect Russia, not many years ago, 
more resembled Turkey, where the rapacity, the 
violence, and ferocity of rulers being untutored, 
did not allow them to do more than strike and 
desolate ; and all over its provinces, rights, pri\i- 
leges, and liberties, only occasionally violated, have 
survived amidst its heterogeneous population. But 
of later years, extortion and oppression, without 
being greatly increased, have learned so much more 
minutely and intimately to penetrate into every 
social recess, that the yoke has become more be- 
numbing and intolerable ; and as men are wont, 
when their condition becomes hopelessly degraded, 
to seek their consolations at the foot of the altar, 
so has the Russian : but then, if he is at all of 



24 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

inquiring mind, and rise above the gross supersti- 
tions — which the tenets of the Greek church cannot 
be said to authorize, but into which its practice in 
Russia has degenerated — he sees the religion pre- 
siding at that altar, at whose foot he has taken 
refuge — so far from being able to aiford him hope 
or protection — hand-bound, and suffering itself, 
whilst a booted soldier bestrides its neck, and 
guides with iron grasp the hand professing to hold 
the keys of Heaven. 

The sectarians over whom the brickmaker was 
presiding in the lonely and abandoned hut — isolated 
in the midst of wood and morass — w^here they were 
holding their weekly meeting, would, if discovered, 
have been classed between the Bespopoftchina, on 
account of their neglect of all the ceremonial of 
religion, and the Doukobortsi, on account of their 
strange practices ; the mysterious tenets of the 
latter causing the vulgar to attribute to them forms 
and doctrines the most contradictory, so that they 
be only wild and extravagant. 

And thus it happens that, with some of these 
know^n — though vaguely know^n, persuasions — are 
incessantly confounded all those original and inde- 
pendent sects which fill up innumerable shades of 
difference betwixt a faith dictated by austere and 
gloomy self-denial, and others which — degenerating 
into a horrible consecration of infamy — appear to 
have been conceived by some morbid inversion of 
the human brain during the ravings of insanity. 

The assemblage to which the reader has been 
introduced consisted of the votaries of a belief into 
whose dreamy tenets we will not enter, but which 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 25 

induced a form of worship and rites which were 
characterized by an almost Trappist severity. 

After alternate intervals of silence and of prayer, 
a board was taken up in the centre of the apart- 
ment, and exhibited an oblong hole. The females 
of the congregation now came forward, two at a 
time, armed with spades, and dug away at it amidst 
the chanted prayers of the rest for several minutes, 
being then relieved by two more in succession till 
it was judged to be sufficiently deep. 

Then the elder or prophet, or whatever they styled 
the old brickmaker, seated himself on the mound 
of earth thrown up, letting his feet fall into the 
grave — for it was a grave — and, thus seated, he 
gave way to the enthusiasm which his hearers 
accounted inspiration, and to the flow of which 
they hstened with devout attention. 

Here and there, from the wildest metaphysical 
conceits mixed up with quotations from Scripture 
and the early fathers — and all incoherently strung 
together, with a grotesque and yet startling elo- 
quence — it might have been gathered that he 
regarded matter and spiiit as in an incessant state 
of antagonism, and that it was only when the spirit 
should be entirely freed from the trammels of mat- 
ter with its consequent individuality — that it should, 
at last, and perhaps after being linked to the flesh 
through many successive lives, succeed in disen- 
gaging itself for ever from material corruption, and 
soar upwards, like the air-bubbles disengaged from 
a fetid pool, to be absorbed into the one pure and 
finally indivisible element from which it had been 
violently separated. He looked on individuality as 

VOL. III. c 



26 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

the root of sin, and as distinctive of matter — the 
great arch-fiend with which he called on them 
incessantly to battle. 

Some terrible mortification or penance his flock 
were called on daily to undergo, in order to regain, 
by this retaliation on the body and the feelings, 
the victory from matter triumphing through sin. 

One by one, the penitents came up, and kneeling, 
wdth their hands between his knees, confessed aloud 
their faults, and glor}ing in their self-inflicted mor- 
tifications. 

It was strange to hear a slave's wife ransack her 
past life, to bring to light its coarsest features, and 
then to hear the court lady detailing to the rude 
brickmaker her catalogue of dazzling, hideous sins. 

" Here, " said the enthusiast, pointing to the 
gi'ave, " here, to-morrow at midnight, w^e will meet 
over the body of our departed sister — this night our 
brethren are snatching it from the cemetery of the 
children of the benighted ! — Her's was a happy 
fate — but as she died from the fever, thev have 
buried her remains in lime — this must not be — 
too long, too long she suffered from the clay that 
clogged her spirit — the worm and slow corruption 
must avenge upon that body her so long imprisoned 
spirit — and we, my fellow-sufferers, must enjoy the 
spectacle of this our victor}^ over the flesh." 

" Lives yet the woman from w^hom she caught 
the malady?" 

" She lives," said one of the sisters, approaching 
Blanche and putting her hand upon her heart. 

" Whose turn is it now to nurse her ?" said the 
Prophet. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 27 

" Mine," answered one of the hooded females. 

" Fearest thou still the pestilence ?" said the 
Prophet. 

" No longer," replied the sister. " If the fever 
comes, I will open - my arms to receive it as doth 
the bridegroom to the bride." 

" Thou shalt not watch her. Fearest thou ?" said 
he, turning to another. 

And this — the fair and high-born lady, with the 
small bleeding feet, replied, " Not for myself, if I 
may remain and watch her 'till she dies. But oh ! 
I tremble at the idea of going back, and carrying the 
disease with me to those I love." 

" Then thou shalt nurse her, and go back unto 
those thou lovest." 

" Oh ! that is beyond my strength !" exclaimed 
the fair penitent in an agony. 

"What!" repHed the Prophet, "the greater 
and more intimate the terrors and mortifi- 
cation, the greater the victory ! The imprisoned 
spirit becomes hke the external body, callous and 
numb, tiU there is no point on which you can 
inflict pain ; and then, as it were, a nerve is sud- 
denly laid bare all sensitive and full of feeling, and 
you neglect this opportunity of trampling on the 
flesh ! Kneel down and recite again aloud the sin 
for which thou hast fought so valiantly to be ab- 
solved, and think on that ethereal particle whose 
redemption thou wishest so to achieve." 

The sister knelt at her confession, and then, an 
hour afterwards, when all the congregation had 
departed, she was sitting by the side of Blanche, 
with her wan hand in her's and tending her, not 

c 2 



28 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

only to brave a danger in compensation of an equal 
amount of guilt in the stern spirit of her sect, but 
with all the pity and affection of a sister. 

When Blanche again recovered her senses, no- 
thing tended more to soothe and prevent them from 
wandering again than the soft face bending over 
her, and the gentle voice addressing her in a lan- 
guage she could understand. By degrees the whole 
of the scene, which had shaken her so terribly, 
recurred to her recollection, and she came again 
to understand how cruelly all her hopes had been 
wrecked in her husband, — the craven, and the slave, 
whom her own imagination had travestied into the 
hero, — and who, working upon her inexperience and 
devotion, had selfislily dragged her, Blanche Mortis 
mer, the last noble scion of a house of ancestral 
glories — innocent and unsuspecting, and spotless in 
her purity, down into the most ignominious depths 
of degradation ; and then, even her indignation 
gave way to involuntary anxiety, and her contempt 
was softening into pity, when on the bench beside 
her she recognized the handwriting of a note pinned 
to an old shabby cloak; for in the course of her remo- 
val from one place to another, her soft and costly 
shawls of Cashmere had been stolen, but the spoiler 
who was no other than Vasili, — with the super- 
stitious respect of the lower order of Russians for all 
letters — had attached it to the garments he had 
substituted for her own. 

Blanche asked, wdth all the energy which her 
feeble voice allowed, for the letter, which she could 
not reach, and which, when handed to her, she 
perused with eager excitement. It was as foUows : 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 29 

THE LETTER OF MATTHEUS. 

*' If any conceivable degree of temptation could 
prove a palliation — if any conceivable magnitude of 
suffering could offer an atonement for a crime like 
mine towards you, then I might plead such a 
temptation, such a punishment ; and I appeal to 
both in the solemn voice of one who will never see 
you. more on this side of the grave. I invoke the 
distracting love which tempted me, and the mad- 
dening doom which parts me from you in extenuation 
of my guilt. 

" The sons of light, when they took to their 
bosoms the daughters of men, were never tempted 
as I w^as tempted, and Cain, when he wandered 
forth alone with his remorse, had not in his heart 
the desolation gnawing mine ! for Cain had not 
been driven out of such a paradise as I have been. 

" But now that I go, in mercy hear me plead in 
the melancholy hope of pity and forgiveness, a hope 
which now will be my only solace. That I, slave as 
I was, should have loved you, was only what would 
happen again if the past were present. It was no 
more my fault when you were so loveable, than it 
is our's that the sun shines when it dazzles our 
eyes with its light and radiance ; but where I was 
in fault was, in daring to link your fate to mine, in 
daring to deceive you — it is true that with the 
inspiring thought that you would share it — I had 
never doubted of carving out a name that even you 
need not have blushed to own. I should have 
done so first and have wooed you afterwards : but 
alas ! my sanguine hopes too fatally persuaded — 



30 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

you smiled — and I was lost — I committed the 
crime of securing you before my fortunes. 

" But time presses. Let me at least live on in 
the knowledge that you are not ignorant of the 
expiation. 

" Blanche! dear Blanche ! whose name, mixed with 
excruciating memories, my lips willhourly pronounce 
till death, but which from me will never meet your 
eye or ear again. Dear Blanche ! I have found 
strength to live a life more painful than a thousand 
deaths — a life of unimaginable humiliations, to 
free you from the degradation to which / must 
bow. 

" When you recover, as something whispers me 
you will, all is prepared for your escape. 

"Vasili Petrovitch holds in sacred trust the 
whole of your fortune — as for the ignominious ties 
which still attach you to the slave, these Blanche, 
dear Blanche, will be soon dissevered. 

" And then, when that last wrong has ceased 
with my life, when you have heard all that I endured 
whilst endui'ing for your safety — when you have 
heard all that I dared, to avert your contempt — 
then Blanche — for the last time, dear Blanche^ 
perhaps your gentle heart, forgetful of all these 
injuries, may deign one tender recollection to the 
memory of 

" Mattheus." 

When Blanche had read the letter through, the 
fevered brightness of her eyes was dimmed by tears ; 
and just then she experienced, as she moved, an 
indescribable sensation, which caused the blood to 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 31 

throb tumultuously towards her temples from her 
heart, as all the violence of her returning love 
therein expanding, seemed to chase it towards the 
brow — Blanche had just felt that 

She held within 

A second principle of life, 

which, if she should die now 

Would close its little being without light, 
And go down to the grave unborn, wherein 
Blossom and bough lie withered in one blight. 

Death struggled with life for many hours, and 
meanwhile the pale sister watched and prayed. 



32 THE WHITE SLAVE. 



CHAPTER III. 

" If my memory serves me rightly," said the 
Prince, " you are the man who formerly so much 
took my father's fancy with your inventions for 
converting silver roubles into old lumbering iron." 

" They were intended, high-born Sir," replied 
the steward, " to convert old ii'on into silver 
roubles." 

" Intended perhaps," replied the Prince ; " but 
I am afraid that the intent and the effect of 
most of the projects which my father patronised, 
and which you presided over, were often at variance. 
I have vague memories of machines constructed 
to raise water, which only raised the wind, and 
that at the expense of my worthy progenitor, of 
all sorts of wheels and engines intended to draw 
the gold out of those unlucky mines, and which 
only ended in drawing it out of his pocket to sink 
it in them. Yes, I am afraid that what all that 
sort of thing is intended for is often at variance 
with what it accomplishes." 

"You are right, my honoured Lord," said 
Johann ; " philosophy teaches us the uncertainty 
of all things ; and you speak with such critical 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 33 

knowledge of the subject, that I think you must 
have made mechanics your favourite study." 

" You flatter," replied the Prince. 

"Not I," continued the steward; "philosophy 
rejects all recourse to arts so fiitile ; but allow me 
to observe, that if you should judge fit to continue 
the erection of the steam-mills which my late 
lamented lord commenced — " 

" If I do," replied the Prince, " I promise you I 
will remember you." 

" You make me proud and happy." 

" I will remember, considering all your successes, 
most carefully to avoid your assistance." 

Johann smiled faintly. 

"But though I have not made either mechanism 
or philosophy my peculiar study, there is another 
branch of knowledge to which, besides great 
natural aptitude, I have devoted unremitting atten- 
tion, I mean the science of arithmetic, of figures 
and accounts." 

At this, the faint smile changed to a visible 
elongation of countenance. 

" Your deeply lamented father," commenced the 
steward — 

" Deeply lamented, I dare say," continued Ivan ; 
" for I suppose you do deeply lament him." 

Johann nodded assent, and then replied : 

" Philosophy, my honoured Lord, has, however, 
partly consoled me for his loss ; and the happiness 
of seeing such a successor has done the rest. 
Your deeply lamented father— then as I was saying, 
whose soul overflowed with kindness and philan- 
thropy — your deeply lamented father, my high 

c 3 



34 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

well-born Lord, sought only to have his estates 
benevolently administered/' 

'* And so he chose you," said the Prince, " to 
whose natural disposition his own ideas were so 
congenial." 

" I humbly hope so," replied Johann. 

" But now look you," said Isaakoff, " every man 
to his taste ; he was master then, and I am now. 
I am more of a satanic than of an angelic temper. 
I am a sterii misanthropist, who want to have my 
peasants governed harshly, malevolently, diaboli- 
cally. I want a steward who will squeeze them as 
dry as a grape-husk, and that I fear will not suit 

you." 

" My Lord," said Johann, looking very hard in 
the Prince's impenetrable face, " my Lord, if such 
were the orders I received from an honoured 
master, I — I could look very sharp after them 
too." 

Here Horace suddenly walked out into the 
verandah to conceal a burst of laughter. 

" A useful man of all work," observed Isaakoff. 
" I have one word more to say, and then you may 
go for the present." 

" I hsten, my Lord." 

" You will manage, if you please, that Nadeshta 
may hve in the house for the present on the 
same terms as in my father's time. You will send 
to Moscow or take her thither, and see that she is 
supplied, regardless of cost, with all that is required 
for the toilet. I wish her to keep us company, and 
I do not wish her temper to be ruffled ; for, if I 
judge aright, she has a will of her own." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 35 

" Indeed she has, my Lord ; and what woman 
has not ? But I need not tell you, who know as 
well as I do, that, though by dint of starvation, 
and the lash, and labour, we can keep our male 
slaves in tolerable order — the women sometimes 
incorrigibly resist all our efforts, setting punish- 
ment utterly at defiance." 

" I am fully sensible of it ; but you will also 
be pleased to let her understand that her brother's 
treatment will depend upon her own amiability; 
for the present, I have dismissed him from personal 
attendance on myself. When you go to Moscow 
to-morrow, you will repair to Madame A's, the 
milliner, where you are to pay the bills of that 
cursed Italian singer." 

" Nadeshta is certainly very beautiful, if I dared 
observe thus much," said the steward, who thought 
cunningly to sound whether she w^ere likely to rise 
in the Lord's favour ; " and, though she be wilful, 
her accomplishments, her education, and her 
manners, as I have heard say, are quite those of a 
great lady." 

" And now I remember," continued the Prince, 
indirectly answering the remark made by Johann, 
"when you see Madame A — , you will inquire 
whether she still pays as liberally as of old for 
pretty apprentices, either for sale or hire ; and you 
ask what she will give for Nadeshta three months 
hence, with her beauty, manner, and accomplish- 
ments ; and remind the good lady that my former 
dealings with her will enable me to judge pretty 
accurately what advantage she will derive from 
such a purchase," 



36 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" I understand you, my Lord," said Johann, 
with a sort of twinkle of the eye, which almost 
amounted to a wink. 

" Is your right eye convulsively affected ?" in- 
quired the Prince. 

" Oh dear me, no," said the steward, again 
looking gravely respectful. 

" I have another observ^ation to make. Pray 
let the female part of the service of the house be 
done by cleanly and good-looking wenches, if you 
can find any in my villages. I do not like to be 
meeting at evei-y step with all imaginable varieties 
of female ugliness and distortion. You will send 
away from under this roof all that I have yet met 
beneath it. There is, for instance, that little fat 
woman, with a face like the back of a measly pig, 
and a sour expression animating it, like the sauces 
of your German kitchen — all lard and \dnegar. 
Who is she ?" 

" That, my Lord," said Johann, " is my wife." 

Isaakoff knew it. 

" I pity you," said he. 

Johann sighed. 

" And then," continued the Prince, " there is a 
female, dressed in all the colours of the rainbow, 
— exceedingly Hke her — who behaves atrociously 
to me." 

" To you, my Lord ?" 

" She squints at me hideously." 

" Oh ! that is my daughter," said Johann, 
naively. 

" Your daughter, is it ? — then as she is so 
nearly related to a person I esteem so profoundly, 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 37 

she must also remain. Perhaps you will, however, 
contrive that she shall either keep out of my way, 
unless she will wear a black patch over one eye ; 
for it makes me nervous to see her open a cross- 
fire \^^th them.'' 

" If she has the misfortune to displease my 
honoured master — " 

"That will do ; now- go, Johann." 

In dispensing with the services of Mattheus, his 
master, too acute an observer not to see exactly 
where he wounded, had done so, because he felt 
that continuing his slave in the menial service 
to which he had degraded him, would be but a 
slight addition to an infliction to which, amidst 
so many other causes of uneasiness, he must be 
now becoming callous. 

The Prince, who had always been addicted to 
high play, had, by an extraordinary run of ill-luck, 
lost so largely to his present guest, that Horace 
had considered that he could not discontinue play- 
ing as long as he was so considerably the winner. 
Night after night, they had therefore continued, 
Horace's luck only occasionally ebbing to return in 
a stronger and more determined tide. 

At length, the extent of his winnings was so 
enormous, as to cause him uneasiness and restraint, 
which tended to make him feel that it was neither 
agreeable to remain, nor delicate for him to leave, 
though Isaakoff interpreted his embarrassment into a 
wish to that effect. 

Aware both of the impression which Nadeshta 
had produced upon his guest, and of the mutual 
affection of the brother and sister, the slave-master 



38 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

looked upon her as a means of retaining Horace 
till his luck should take a turn ; for his losses, 
seriously affecting his fortune, had added the 
excitement of deep interest in the struggle to 
that which the gratification of his revenge still 
afforded him ; and, besides, he saw in her a pre- 
cious instrument for subsequently torturing his 
victim, • 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 39 



CHAPTER IV. 

The shades of evening are darkening. Nadeshta 
is again beside the grave of her mother, sitting on 
another humble mound. 

Next to her is her brother, this time her real 
brother : with one hand he covers his face, whilst 
the other is pressed betwixt the hands of Nadeshta. 

Opposite to them stands the old Starost, stroking 
down his beard thoughtfully, and watching them 
with a sympathy resembling the instinctive saga- 
city with which a dog regards the affliction of his 
human master. 

" Alas !" said Nadeshta bitterly, " how little 
did I dream, my poor Mattheus, that when I 
looked forward, day after day, and year after year, 
to your arrival, how little did I dream that we 
should meet as we are meeting here without a 
hope !" 

" Without a hope !" exclaimed Mattheus, *' I 
have a misgiving that even she will not be saved." 

" Speak not to me of her," said Nadeshta 
bitterly, " when all the illusions of my youth are 
for ever withered, when my poor brother is restor- 
ed to my arms, his mind, his courage quelled, his 



40 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

spirit broken amidst the despair which, on every 
side surrounds us, when there is no refuge for us 
but beneath the sod on which we are now sitting." 

" And not even there a refuge for me," replied 
Mattheus, " I should not even dare to die in the 
fear of leaving her exposed to the fate — " 

"To the fate of your sister," interrupted 
Nadeshta. 

" Oh !" said Mattheus, with a look of bewil- 
derment, and pressing his palm against his fore- 
head, " that is true ; but then — " 

"But then, you would say, she was not bom 
like your slave sister to suffer. What, my poor 
Mattheus ! influenced at last, even in those thoughts 
of whose freedom you were once so proud of 
boasting ; born forsooth to servitude or liberty ! 
if there were anything in the condition of the parent 
that should affect the destiny of the child, then 
in compensation, the childi'en of the free and wealthy 
ought rather to be impoverished and enslaved, 
the offspring of the bondsman and the pauper, 
rich and independent." 

" Oh, not that, Nadeshta ; but there weighs on 
me the remorse of having dragged her down. Now 
you and I are in the position in which God caused 
us to be born." 

" Accuse not God of the crimes of men ; for 
our position is man's crime, no work of God's." 

" Oh Nadeshta ! that thought was once my own, 
but time and study and the fruit of sorrow's fatal 
tree have made me feel that on our race there rests 
a malediction more ancient and more bitter than the 
curse which stamps the Hebrew ! Whose impious 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 41 

hand shall dare rebuild the fallen temple ? What 
Sclavonian shall venture to rise from the prostra- 
tion, in which the line of Sur, of which he is the 
unhappy scion, has been for tens of centuries 
trampled ? Oh I have striven to banish the desolat- 
ing thought — the terrible comdction — but when I 
contemplate our hopeless woe and their prosperity 
w^ho make us suffer, then its reality returns, and 
then I learn to know that just as man is subject to 
disease and misery for sins committed when the 
world w^as young, so he is doomed to bend beneath 
a master." 

" On earth man has no legitimate master," said 
Nadeshta — " even in those that govern him — for, if 
honest, thfey are his servitors, if unjust, his 
tyrants." 

" Oh, my sister, your spirit is yet unbroken by 
grief. Good God ! to think that they will break 
it—" 

" Never !" said Nadeshta, " my heart, perhaps, 
but not my spirit." 

" Alas ! what know^ we of ourselves ?" 

" Oh that I could only instil my own into your 
bosom, my poor brother !" 

" Nadeshta ! sorrow has taught me to believe 
that, as there is a remedy for every disease, an 
antidote for every poison, so perhaps there is a 
\4rtue characteristic of every station, — placed in 
antagonism to every suffering, — w^hich for the 
bondsman is resignation." 

" Resignation !" said Nadeshta impatiently. 

" Resignation," repeated her brother, " has not 
my own fate taught it me. What is there for 



42 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

me but to turn towards the example of the cross, 
with its nails, and crown of thorns ? What but to 
emulate its gentle patience ? Tell me, Nadeshta, 
when one reflects on my position what other virtue 
fits it ? The eloquent and burning thoughts, the 
iron stoicism, the high resolves, on which I have 
dwelt so often, are all impossible for me; they 
would be guilt not virtue ; they would heap fresh 
wrath upon the head already stricken through my 
fault, and therefore I submit to everytliing, my 
sister, since aught but absolute submissiveness 
would be to abandon her to the misery into w^hich 
her love for me has led her." 

" Love !" replied Nadeshta bitterly, " love, do 
you call it love ? The love of the civilized, of 
the high-born and the gentle : the love w4iich pro- 
mises to endure, through danger, crime, and 
misery, and turns, at the first misfortune, towards 
the object of its fickle passion v ith scorn upon the 
lip ! The love of these western dames is truly 
like the chivalrous gallantry of theu' men. Oh, no ! 
give me rather the affection of our coarse village 
slaves, rude as themselves, but true and unpre- 
tending. No, no, my poor Mattvei, forget that 
heartless wife of thine, there is no one loves thee 
like thy poor Nadeshta." 

" Oh ! consider Nadeshta, how I have left her, 
helpless and degi'aded, and alone and sick." 

" And thou, my brother ?" 

•' Children," said the old Starost, who had been 
long looking wistfully at them, " children, though 
you speak in the language of the blagorodie (nobi- 
lity) — in the tongue of the Niemetz — I can trace 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 43 

as much sorrow in your tone as if you spoke it out 
in good, plain, honest, Christian, Russ : — " 

" Father," said Nadeshta, " though thy head 
is the clearest and boldest in all the villages of 
the estate, and though thou hast done more to 
shield our people than any in them, it is new to 
see thee pity any affliction." 

" Pity," replied the rustic misanthropist, " no, 
why pity such things as men ?" and here his eye 
seemed to wander involuntarily towards Mattheus, 
and he continued, " or women either, excepting 
one who stands before me, — the woman of the bold 
heart and of the iron will, — and with her it is not 
pity for the tears she sheds so rarely, it is hate of 
those who cause them to flow." 

" Well," replied Nadeshta, " I seek no sympathy 
in grief, for that is selfishly to spread one's pain. 
I scorn all pity ; but still, whatever moves thee, 
our fellow slaves trust only thee with all thy 
bitter words and cruel speeches." 

" Daughter, the fools have learned to love my 
rude contempt, because contrasting it with my 
foresight for them and the Niemetz steward's 
honeyed language and his hungry soul." 

" Why dost thou seek us now then, father ?" 

" For them, as I have sought thee out so oft 
before, I need not ask ; I see already that our 
hopes, or their hopes, I would say, are blighted in 
the ear, like the fields of corn before a famine 
harvest. When thou hadst favour, thou wilt recol- 
lect how they remembered it ; and I remembered 
it, and besought thy intercession in so many mat- 
ters." 



44 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

"Yes," said Nadeshta, "they remembered it 
when I had it." 

" Only then, it is true," said the Starost, " I 
always told thee so — what then? They are slaves 
with us ; they are our own people, against our 
baron and the foreigner. Well they have long been 
brooding in discontent and longing for a change, 
they have got it, like an oupravitel (steward), whom 
I once knew, who broke the slave's backs by making 
them carry clay and bricks. They rose and threw 
him into his own kiln : that would not satisfy him, 
and so the flames carried away his soul to the 
devil's furnace, where he is burning to this hour ; 
and wishing for the kiln pejihaps, ha ! ha ! Well, in 
their fresh trouble,' then, daughter, they have 
watched narrowly the Lord's behaviour towards 
thee, they think thou art again rising, they pray thee 
to watch over them. I see the prayer is idle ; thou 
canst do nothing, I rejoice in it. 

" I rejoice in it," continued the Starost, as 
Nadeshta shook her head silently and mournfully, 
" I rejoice in it, because I, who have seen much, — 
who have learned to know that the rain is coming 
when T see the cloud, the frost when the east 
wind howls in autumn — I see the misery that is 
coming on them. The Lord's gold flows away 
night after night like the waters of the rivulet, 
the corn, the hay — the stock is selling. This 
day I have received orders to note down all the 
families exceeding a given number, and to pick 
out two hundred individuals, the weakest, the 
sickliest, the most useless — these the Lord is going 
to let to a Moscow manufacturer." 

" Oh God !" said Nadeshta, " things are getting 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 45 

worse indeed ; all this would have made the old 
Lord's hair stand on end." 

" We class them into sorts/' continued the 
Starost, " like hemp, tallow, and bristles ; I am 
to note the ban-en women, and the youths 
and the girls who are weak-chested. The steward 
delights in this unchristian regularity, all these are 
to go. 

" The Lord, who is long-headed says, * that it is 
more profitable to breed slaves than pigs; 
that his steward cannot cheat him in human souls 
as he can of produce.' In a word, this place is 
becoming worse than Siberia, and yet till hunger 
gripes these sheep by their very throats they will 
do nothing." 

" What would you have them do ?" said Na- 
deshta. 

" What would I have them do ? What sayest 
thou, Mattvei, man of the strong arm, who knowest 
the arts and hast the wisdom and the language of 
the foreigner — what ?" 

" Suffer in patience and embrace their cross." 
" That is not my counsel : if there is no protec- 
tion for the slave, if God be too high, the Emperor 
too far off, if God's servants strip him of his savings, 
and give him hand-bound to his Lord, if the Em- 
peror's servants wring out what his Lord has 
overlooked, still the slave has his advantage — for 
the slave there is no punishment. Hark ye, both, 
all know that I was born in a distant government 
from which the slaves were starved out ; but they 
do not know the vengeance that we took, they do 
not know what I tell you both, that, when we were 



46 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

maddened, \Yhen we tore our oppressors limb from 
limb, what happened ? We got bread, they knouted 
and sent forty of us to Siberia, I was one of them 
— my back is marked with the knout now — I have 
seen Siberia. Neither were punishment to what we 
suffered ; the knout, according as the executioner 
lays it on, may be death or it may be the mere 
cut of a whip — what is that to a slave whose flesh 
has been raw for months ? And then the knout 
has its predilections : it cuts into the vitals of rebel- 
lious Poles, and priests, and nobles ; they die from 
it, not we — for who cares whether a slave should 
be vigorously punished ! When he is placed on 
the sleigh before execution and covered with a mat, 
the crowd throw on it copper pieces in their pity, 
and, if bribed by this, the executioner handles ten- 
derly his terrible instrument, if no one bids him 
stiike. 

" As for Siberia, what' of that ? When convicts 
reach Siberia they inquire not whether a man is an 
assassin, or a fraudulent bankrupt. So he knows a 
trade, and be a hale strong man, he never goes to 
perish in the mines, unless he be a blagarodne 
(nobleman). They know the value of a man too 
well, and look at his craft and muscle, not his 
crime. 

" Yes, I can foretell the rain when I see the cloud 
coming : this will be worse than Siberia soon ; once 
worse, the worse the better, so that you and I may 
die then, Mattvei." 

" Peace, peace !" said Mattvei, "disturb me not, 
old man, with such w ild words. Here let us pray to 
rest, and to rest soon in the quiet grave, on whose 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 47 

turf we are now sitting. But I must go — where do 
we meet, Nadeshta ?" 

" Where, daughter ?" said the Starost. 

" You know my arbour by the river side, in the 
lone dry wood, amidst the grove of hazels beyond 
the marsh ; do you remember it, brother, it was 
there we built our hut of moss, it was there we 
had our gardens. That recollection has endeared it 
to me ever since. I will go to-morrow and every 
day at noon." 

" Before we part, daughter, let me deliver my 
message. You know the three and twenty chosen 
girls with whom the steward bade thee stand to 
scatter flowers? This morning, by the Prince's 
orders, five have been chosen for the service of the 
house, the rest are to be married next Monday."* 

" Well," said Nadeshta coldly, " several of them 
were betrothed, they waited his permission." 

" They have got his order instead ; but their 
betrothal serves them nothing; the steward has 
suggested, or the Lord imagined, some plan for 
marrying his young men to middle-aged women, 
his girls to grey-headed men to increase the popu- 
lation more rapidly ; for, after all, as he observes, 
if he wants to sell or pawn his estate to the 
government, their value is estimated by the number 
of souls upon it, and a male child three days old 
reckons like a vigorous peasant. 

" They are thus all to wed men between forty- 
eight and fifty-five ; if I cannot find as many single 
in this village I am to go to the next. 

"These women and their families and their 



48 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

betrothed have implored me to see if thou couldst 
do anything ; one and all pray thee to help them ; 
if thou art powerless now, they — these girls, and 
their grey-beard fathers— all suggest that if thou 
wouldst only smile, if thou wguldst only use the 
arts of a woman, thou wouldst not long be powder- 
less ; but, daughter, the words are not mine." 

" No, father !" said Nadeshta indignantly, " better 
thy axe, thy brick-kiln, better Siberia and the 
knout ; and yet," she added turning to her brother, 
as a deep blush came over her countenance, " yet 
for the Lord and his guest, so fallen and so help- 
less are we, I daily deck myself in choice attire, I 
daily sing, I warble with a breaking heart notes 
full of joyful melody, I smile and I despise myself. 
But oh ! there is only one in the world, my lost, 
my spirit-broken brother! for w^hom that smile and 
its deceit are not a crime — only a baseness." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 49 



CHAPTER V. 

It is an autumn day in an almost autumnless 
clime. The nights are already frosty, though the 
sun shines so hot and brightly tiU it sinks to rest, 
and though the leaves of the oak and birch — bitten 
by the night cold through the stem and killed 
— hang yet unwithered on the parent trees. 

Horace, with gun and dogs has gone, he says, 
to shoot the double-snipe, an autumnal bird of 
passage. 

He is met, as he crosses the high road by his 
host, who walks along beside him, not much, it 
would appear, to the satisfaction of the sportsman. 

They pursue their way along the dry path through 
a wood, and reach the river. 

It is evident that aU cordiality has ceased betwixt 
these men, so recently united in the bonds of that 
intimate companionship, so often termed friendship; 
and yet quite as obvious that both have some deep 
interest in concealing the mutual dislike which now 
inspires them. 

" Here, then, I leave you," said the Prince, 
" if you persist in beating over this marsh. I am 
not equipped for bog-trotting ; but though the 

VOL. in. D 



50 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

birds are in plenty here, you can never get at 
them." 

" Half the pleasure of the sportsman's diversion 
is in following the direction his caprice points out," 
replied Horace. " Good bye 1" 

" Till dinner-time, then !" said IsaakofF. " But 
I am not so obtuse as you imagine. Though there 
may be double-snipes along the marsh, I am not 
ignorant that, if you cross it, you will come to 
certain thickets, where, in a solitary bower, a turtle- 
dove is wont to nestle. Never mind, I am not 
like the stingy owners of preserves in England, 
who give you leave to shoot and make a reserva- 
tion of hen-pheasants and of hares. Good sport, 
my boy, till dinner-time !" 

Along the right bank of the river there runs a 
belt of land, high and dry — covered with a short fine 
flowery grass and shrubs — which separates it from 
a wdde grassy wood-girt plain, green and even as 
a savannah. But this is a treacherous moss, in 
the centre of which the crane, the wild swan, and 
the curlew may be often seen alighting, secure in 
its inaccessibility to human footsteps. Its very 
edges quake beneath the tread, and it is e\ddent 
that only a superstratum of the tangled vegetation 
of the surface supports precariously any passing 
weight above the slough it covers. 

From this prairie-looking expanse, the super- 
abundant water — which the saturated moss cannot 
soak up — ^is discharged into the river thi*ough many 
little rivulets, which, at intervals of a few hundred 
paces, traverse the broad natural causeway that 
divides the marsh from the stream. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 51 

The trunk of a fallen tree, or a few pine-logs 
rudely thrown together, afforded passage over these 
interruptions to the path which Horace was pur- 
suing. When, however, he had nearly reached the 
park-hke terra-iirma which stretched for miles 
along the river side, he found a pool before him, 
where the rotten wood of the rude bridge had 
given way. The water, clear — though darkly tinted 
by the mosses — and unfathomable to the eye, perhaps 
from its hue, or perhaps from the overspreading 
leaves of the lotus, had the startling aspect of all 
deep silent waters. 

The rale, as it ran lio-htlv over the broad leaves 
of the innumerable water-lilies, called up asso- 
ciations of solitude and of hidden vegetation, en- 
tangling — like the arms of a malevolent water- 
sprite — the limbs of the strong swimmer who trusted 
to its glassy surface, rendering it more formidable 
to face than the wild current of an angry stream. 

Horace was hence induced to turn aside, and, a 
little higher up, he saw that the cut was so narrow — 
as it spread between banks of firm and solid-looking 
turf — that he was sure that he could leap across it. 

But the green turf itself was treacherous; it 
quaked beneath his footsteps, and he sank through 
the surface. In vain he struggled, until, his knees 
being imbedded in the moss, he felt that every 
motion was plunging him deeper into it. He 
saved himself indeed from being immediately en- 
gulphed by holding his gun across, which for a 
time supported him. He turned his head in the 
hope that Ivan was still within sight, and, to his 
inconceivable delight, perceived him on the path- 

D 2 



52 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

way which skirted the other side of the marsh, 
though on the point of entering the wood. Horace 
hailed him in the stentonan tones of a man whose 
life depends upon his being heard. 

The Prince did hear him, for he could just be 
distinguished pausing as he turned back to listen. 
His ear was quick ; so was his apprehension ; he 
guessed directly what had happened, and the 
thought flashed across his mind that the green 
bog would wipe out all the ruinous score against 
him which had been accumulating on the green 
baize — and then Horace saw him turn into the wood. 

" He saw me !" gasped Horace ; " and he leaves 
me to be smothered — the assassin !" 

The gun laid across had in so far assisted the 
sinking man, that, though he was still settling 
deeper and deeper into the quagmire, it was now 
by degrees imperceptible, excepting when he made 
the sUghtest motion. 

His dogs stood on the edge of the bog and 
howled ; when he called to them they would not 
venture upon it. Terrified and exhausted, he paused 
and endeavoured to think on what was best to be 
done. There was plenty of time for reflection. 
But what did reflection shew him — that he was 
alone in a wild trackless sohtude, where no human 
voice could hear his accents, though ever so loud, 
though ever so piteous ; where even whilst he was 
reflecting, he was half an inch nearer his inevitable 
death ; where life was measured by a few inches, 
like the wick of an almost exhausted taper di- 
minishing to the eye. And then, — -just as he had 
contemplated the utter inutility of so doing — in the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 53 

terror of his fearful situation, he called out again 
with all the strength which despair could give to his 
youthfid lungs. 

Tiiis time he startled the wild-fowl from the 
middle of the marsh ; the stilted crane flapped 
heavily into the air, and the curlew flew piping 
over his head in numerous gyrations before it 
settled. Then the whole scene resumed its silence; 
and he knew that, in a brief space, the green 
treacherous moss would have closed over his head, 
leaving no trace of his death-struggle. 

There is something in the indiff'erence of Nature 
peculiarly full of awe to the mind of a strong and 
healthy man, in the prospect of thus slowly and 
inevitably dying, surrounded by a peaceful solitary 
scene. 

To perish amidst the roar of tempests when the 
wild waves seem to clamour for life ; to fall amid 
the thunder of battle, or to die amidst the admi- 
ration, pity, hate, or even execration of a living crowd 
— all these may be appalling — but what is it to the 
consciousness of expiring in a lonely waste, amidst 
unsympathising objects, animate and inanimate, 
all reckless of the momentous and dreaded passage 
from life to death as of the falling of a dew-drop 
from the bough on which it has been gathering, to 
be absorbed into the earth, or lost amid the waters 
— to know that the cloud which is sweeping past 
wiU sail on across the sky — that the shadows 
of the trees thrown over the green turf will still 
^lowly lengthen — that the sun will shine on be- 
nignantly — all no more heeding these last convulsive 
moments and these agonies, than if there had only 



54 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

sunk upon the marsh the fly horn to live but till 
sunset — whose wings buzz in the ear of the death- 
devoted now as it flits past — and who will stiQ 
hover over the spot with the same vibrating hum 
when the pitiless morass has engulphed the sufferer ! 

At length — -just when all seemed most desperate 
— he heard a hiunan voice behind him ; he turned 
his head, and, to his inexpressible joy, there stood 
upon the bank a bearded moujik. No words can 
paint the delight which this apparition of the 
Starost — for it was he — imparted to the heart of 
Horace ; for, in fact, that homely peasant was the 
harbinger of life in the midst of death — a death of 
which, he had been slowly tasting the fall bitter- 
ness. 

" Ah !" thought he, " friend ! whoever you are, 
you come well for the punishment of your per- 
fidious master and for your own reward. I will 
purchase your freedom and endow you v^ith the 
richest farm on the domain, half the value of which, 
he has forfeited to me." 

But as the peasant seemed hesitating on the 
brink, he mustered what Russ occurred to him, 
and called : " Brother ! brother ! speedily !" 

" I hear and obey !" replied the Starost. 

He took his axe from his girdle, and, detaching 
a pole and one of the beams from the broken bridge, 
he brought it to the edge of the moss. Here 
he fii'st plunged the pole slowly into the bog, and 
seeing that it sunk down to its full length — more 
than a fathom — he looked around him at first, 
as if for help, and then having assured himself 
that there was no one within sight, he paused a 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 55 

moment irresolutely, whilst a singular expression 
stole over his countenance. 

" Quick, brother ! quick !" shouted Horace. 

" Brother ! brother /" ironically repeated the 
moujik, whose eyes were kindling malignantly. 

" Yes, we are brothers, dog of a Niemetz ! 
(foreigner) dog of a noble ! we are brothers now, 
when I can save thee. Verily save thee ! for 
what? That thou art a friend of my Baron's? 
That thou shouldst teach him to wring more wealth 
from the blood, and sweat, and thews, and sinews 
of his peasantry. Call upon thy fellow country- 
man, the Niemetz stew^ard — he is thy brother — not 
I — not I. Thou remindest me of the late Lord's 
spaniel : he snarled and bit our heels, and we 
dared not kick out his entrails ; but when I saw 
him drow^ning in the fish-pond, and there was no 
one there to say I saw him drown, dost think I 
fished him out ? Not I — not I." 

Horace, who could not understand the words of 
the peasant, but who was strangely alarmed at the 
menace of his manner, again appealed imploringly : 
"Brother! brother!" 

" Brother !" replied the peasant contemptuously, 
" you and the like of you are pretty brothers ! My 
mother, when she fell ill was sold to a mill, where 
they bought w^orn-out slaves !" 

" Make haste, brother !" 

" Brother ! My first child died for want of milk 
w^hen we all w^andered abroad from starvation !" 

"Quick! quick!" 

" Ay, quick ! Call not on me — call on your 
God, if indeed you Germans have any God but 



56 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

your bellies," said the peasant, who, nevertheless, 
inspired Horace with some hope ; for he laid down 
the beam across the green surface, and walked 
out upon it. 

The Starost looked around him. He took his 
axe from his girdle. Horace stretched forth his 
hand. He could just have reached it, when he 
saw it upraised to stun him with the blunt end. 

" Thus," said the Starost ferociously : " thus I 
knocked the Lord's puppy on the head when he 
yelped on the water's edge." 

Horace doubled his arm in an instinctive endea- 
vour to protect his head, and the Starost leaned 
forward as far as he could keep his balance on the 
beam ; but he could not reach his victim by a few 
inches. Nevertheless, owing to the involuntary 
movement which the Count had made, he had 
sunk still deeper, and was now up to his arm-pits. 

" My curse light on you — fit slave of an infa- 
mous master !" 

" Speak on in thy foreign tongue, I cannot 
reach thee ; but what matters ? In a few minutes 
more thou perishest. No man ever comes forth 
from the bosom of the moss, ha ! ha ! Yesterday 
thou wert drinking of the Lord's costly wine ! — 
to-day of the cold peat water, and thou wilt have 
thy mi, ha ! ha !" 

The Starost stepped back to the dry land : he 
lifted up and cast down the beam. 

" Brother !" shrieked Horace, despairingly. 

" Brother !" repeated the peasant mockingly. 
"Ay, thou boldest out thy arms to me as thou 
heldest them out to the slave's sister, from whose 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 57 

Kps thy lascivious lips stole the kisses meant for a 
brother ! Fold thy arms on the cold moss ! — press 
thy mouth to it now ; for the cold moss has folded 
thee in its arms ; it is rising fast to press thy hot 
lips; and that embrace will last till the day of 
judgment. Ha ! ha ! ha !" 

The peasant was going. Horace watched his 
departing footsteps — he w^as left alone — alone with 
his despair. Why had he shunned the blow of 
the merciful axe ? For he forgot that the Starost 
could not reach him. 

One minute passed, and then another, and 
another, and another minute. Whether from the 
chill of the water, or from the horror of his situa- 
tion, his teeth chattered, and he began to shiver as 
in a tertian ague ; for, if he had never thought to 
tremble thus when face to face with the grim king 
of terrors, he had never dreamed of meeting him in 
a shape so appalling. 

He closed his eyes — he attempted to pray — he 
could not recall his scattered thoughts. Strange 
sounds were in his ears ; there danced before his 
sight a singular and incongruous mixture of scenes 
and personages from the.Hfe he was departing, all 
indistinct, and dim, and vaguely blending together in 
form and feature, like the figures of a dissolving view. 
Isaakoif, the buffoon, and Madame Obrasoff — the 
Starost and the Duchess — Anna and the Prince — all 
dreamily mingled. He heard the cheer of an English 
mob — the roar of a torrent in the haunts of the cha- 
mois — and lastly he was in the boudoir of Peter- 
hoff, before the portrait of Nadeshta; and then the 
portrait swelled like a reflection of the magic lan- 

D 3 



58 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

tern to the size of life. It detached itself from 
the disc of light ; it started into sudden animation ; 
it breathed, it moved, it spoke, it called out to 
him ! He opened his eyes, and Nadeshta stood 
upon the brink of the moss. 

She was very pale wdth emotion. She had 
been calling out to Horace — -now Horace answered 
her : " Save me ! — save me !" 

" Stretch out your arms to the utmost," said 
the slave girl, throwing out to him with presence 
of mind and dexterity the pole with which the 
Starost had fathomed the bog. " Try and get this 
under them !" 

He succeeded in doing so. 

" Now," said Nadeshta, " what shall I do ? If 
I leave him to call for assistance, he will have sunk 
before any help can come. I have not strength to 
throw this beam so that he can reach it. I cannot 
with my unarmed hands detach more timber from 
the bridge !" 

At length, she pushed the beam over the surface 
of the moss, farther than the peasant had pushed 
it, and stepping upon it, walked intrepidly out to 
the extremity. She there held out her hand to 
Horace, but could not quite reach him ; and as she 
endeavoured to do so, almost lost her balance. 

" Enough !" said Horace, '* enough, noble girl ! 
leave me ; for you would only perish with me." 

" That," said Nadeshta contemptuously, " I 
might do if I were a man, or at least a foreign 
wife — a noble lady — with old blood in my veins — 
love and romance upon my lips." 

" Leave me !" said Horace, " leave me !" and 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 59 

as he spoke, her hand grasped his ; but to reach 
it, she had stretched out so far, that, losing her 
equilibrium, she fell, and cleaving the surface of 
the bog by the force of her fall, sank at once nearly 
up to the middle. 

"Merciful Heaven!" exclaimed Horace, as he made 
a desperate and mighty effort, which only imbedded 
him deeper in the fatal slough, for his acute sense of 
personal danger was now absorbed by his sympathy 
with hers. 

" Rash ! generous, unfortunate ! — I cannot help 
you — cling to the beam — get back !" 

" Get back !" echoed Nadeshta, calmly, though 
breathless with the sudden fall and the chillness of 
the water, " Can you get back ?" 

" Lay hold of the beam, I tell you ! — struggle at 
once, and lustily, or you will sink as I have sunk — 
one energetic effort !" 

" Which would plunge me deeper in." 
" Good God !" exclaimed Horace, shocked at her 
making no attempt to move — " do you know 
what will happen to me where I am ? — Do you 
know what will become of you if you cannot 
extricate yourself?" 

" We shall perish !" answered Nadeshta, with a 
starthng composure, derived from the very excite- 
ment of her nerves — "the moss will smother us." 
" Oh !" said Horace, " this is too, too horrible ! 
but hear me, noble and devoted woman ! it is im- 
possible that you can thus be left to die — I am hoarse 
with awakening this cursed solitude ; but I will find 
a voice for you." 

Horace gave a loud prolonged resounding shout, 



60 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

which rang through the distant forest for many 
seconds afterwards. 

There followed an interval of silence — nothing 
was heard but the bubbling of the water of the bog 
as Nadeshta sank a little deeper. 

Once more Horace called out, but this time his so- 
norous outcry terminated in a wild shrill piercing 
cadence. Again all was silence — then it was 
responded to by the hoarse croak of the raven. 

" Hark 1" said Nadeshta, '' how the very raven 
mocks us : we might cry out here from the grow- 
ing to the waning moon, and no living soul within 
hearing. 

" Oh ; you are mistaken," said Horace eagerly, 
" you are the third within this half hour, that is to 
say inclusive of the Prince, with whom I came — 
eternal maledictions on him ! — he saw me fall in 
here, and turned away, and left me." 

" What I, the third ? Oh ! the second then must 
have been the Starost. Alas ! there is no chance : 
— the Prince came with you, the Starost had just 
quitted me — there may now pass no human creature 
here for days." 

" How horrible," said Horace, " what a hideous 
fate, to think that you too must perish with me." 
" To think," repHed Nadeshta " that the 
Count de Montressan should lie by the side 
of the slave-girl ! to think that his noble clay 
should decompose in a common grave with her's ! 
the man of great name and of heraldic glories, 
side by side — in the undistinguishing moss — with 
the base peasant : a slave, whose pride, whose feel- 
ings, whose existence — whilst both living — co\ild 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 61 

not have weighed with one so gentle, against the 
capiice, the sport, the amusement of an hour. — 
Yes ! the morass is a great leveller ! the church- 
ard rears its marhle vanities to lie in the face of 
its dumb truthful master — death ; but not the 
morass — the honest morass. I may speak out 
now, without fear or hindrance, for we are both 
dying — inevitably dying." 

" Dying," repeated Horace, mechanically, " dying ! 
Oh ! but can we not at least save you .?" 

" I have lived too long a life of illusion to indulge 
it now. It is impossible — you must face the stern 
reality, illustrious Count !" 

" Oh ! if I could but save you ; so young, so 
beautiful, and to die thus !" said Horace. 

" So high ! so proud ! so wealthy ! and to die 
thus !" said Nadeshta. 

" Why did you hazard yourself?" 

" To be unlike the haughty, and the great ; to 
be unlike the free and happy, whose chivalry, whose 
devotion, whose noble sentiments are falsehood 
all, though I believed them once — to profit by the 
privilege of the wretched — to shew the generosity 
which miser}^ teaches, and which, with such as you, 
lives only on the lips. I do not fear to die." 

" Nor I," replied Horace, " if you were only 
safe upon the bank. How could I die more plea- 
santly than gazing on a face so beautiful ! so that 
it looked not into mine so angrily and so disdain- 
fully ! Give me your other hand, and hear me — 
I shall sink first — I will sink first, and then sup- 
port yourself upon my head and shoulders — that 
wiU sustain you longer, and Heaven will send you 
succour." 



62 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 



"Not on earth," said Nadeshta ; "whether or 
not it be to turn the slave's thoughts toward itself, 
I know not, but the enslaved are heaven-abandoned, 
here." And then she asked abruptly, " and you, 
what led you hither ? — You came to seek me out." 
Horace signed affirmatively. 
" It is well. Reflect now, Lord of an illustri- 
ous lineage, of an ancient line ! How came we both 
to be where we are now? You seeking an interview 
to insult the slave — the slave to save her insulting 
enemy — and thus we perish face to face; you igno- 
miniously, and I . . . . though it is a chilling 
thought to smother on the cold waste . . and I," 
continued Nadeshta, with exultation, after an invo- 
luntary shudder, " to triumph as I die." 

" You wrong me, noble girl ! you wrong me, by 
all that is sacred ! If I intended to seek you out 
this day, it was to bring you hope and consola- 
tion." 

" Hark," said Nadeshta, " you shall hear what 
hope and consolation you could have brought me. 
Why should I not after all speak out ? I shall soon 
be silent enough, and long enough silent. — ^Why 
should I not pour out all that has filled my soul so 
long, into the last human ear that can listen — that 
must listen to me ? Why not before I die ? What 
if it be from the slave to the lord, fi'om the insulted 
maid into the ear of the libertine ! Death levels all 
distinctions ; rank and sex, and maidenly modesty, 
and pride are all confounded now — so hear me. 

" One like yourself. Count Horace — a lord of 
the creation— one kneaded as he thought from the 
porcelain clay of earth — one lying now as cold as 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 63 

you will be before evening — one for whom I have 
almost now the weakness to weep, took me — as he 
took my brother —from the penury and ignorance in 
which our fellows vegetate : he made us acquainted 
with the luxuries of wealth, of knowledge, and of 
intellect, and then he died, and left us in our degra- 
dation ! 

" I blush to remember him with affection, for 
he had indeed the affection of a father for me, 
because he could not lavish it upon his infamous 
son — your prince — my lord, from whose bondage I 
am fast escaping — but the greater his affection, the 
more his shame, the more his selfishness — when he 
clung to the unhallowed possession of his human 
property, till death overtook him in his maudlin 
false humanity and kindness. It is ever the 
same . . . ." 

" Hear me," said Horace. 

" Hear me, " replied Nadeshta imperiously. " It 
is ever the same. I was to have been the toy of the 
young man's passion — of yours — ceded by the 
politeness of the host — devoted to a life of shame, 
a death of misery, to divert the ennui of his 
noble guest. The old man had no companion to 
amuse, no dupe to conciliate. In his passionless 
breast there was only the longing to pour out a 
vague affection upon some recipient object : so I 
was chosen as the toy on which his age could 
lavish it, unrepulsed by the chilling contempt, the 
unsympathising nature, of Ivan." 

"Hark!" said Horace, " there is help at hand. 
What sound is that?" 

" Croak ! croak ! croak ! croak ! era, cra-a 1" 



64 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

replied the raven which had before answered 
the cry of Horace, as, drawn by its carnivorous 
instinct, it wheeled slowly round, flapping its dark 
wings as if anxious to alight. 

" Help !" said Nadeshta. " There is no help 
for us but in death ! Hear you not ? It is the 
raven would dispute our bodies with the hungry 
moss. It waves its sable plumes, most noble 
Count, and none besides will nod over so illus- 
trious a funeral ! But why should the black 
raven interrupt me ? Why ? I was telling you how 
one of your cruel feUow lords, retaining me in 
thrall, set free my thoughts by showing me a world 
beyond my bondage — how he developed in the 
light of knowledge the feelings and the instincts 
whose productive germ might have lain dormant 
in mine ignorance, like seeds deep sunken in 
the bog — in which you and I are sinking. And 
then — that very light was the treacherous sunlight, 
which at morn and even deceives, which gilds and 
lends its halo to a barren scene, making its distant 
desolation beautiful. The world, which was before 
my eyes, I saw and I despised. I loathed our 
Russian great. I knew the cankered heart beating 
corrupt and faint beneath the orders and the stars 
which brand its base submissiveness ! I saw inso- 
lence without pride first trample, and then lick the 
foot that trampled it in turn ! I saw the sordid 
meanness of their rank profusion ! But, oh ! that 
world beyond ! I imagined it just as books had 
painted it. I saw it pictured with deceitful words. I 
gazed upon its expanse, lighted up by poetry, and 
eloquence, and art ! — and for that world I panted. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 65 

My dreams were of its gentle women and its 
generous and devoted men — those men whose 
feeling the chaste and classic virtues of repubhcan 
antiquity had inspired, or who had drawn it from 
the glorious spirit of a softly daring chivalry — 
la\ish of sighs for every tender thought, of blood 
and sympathising tears for every infortune ! 

" Such did I deem the inhabitants of those 
happy lands to be, as in the meditations of my 
childhood I have peopled the twinkling stars with 
beings bright and fabulous — and in this dream I 
was living still w-hen first I met one of those chival- 
rous children of that envied West, whose voices 
rail against oppression, whose words are full of 
pity and protection towards the suffering and op- 
pressed. And where and how met we ? Say, 
Count ! He having donned a menial habit, and 
snatching from an orphan sister's lips the kisses 
destined for a brother — defiling w4th impure deceit 
a mother's grave ! — he coming with insult to the 
lowly — where, before my illusion was destroyed, 
before the spell was broken I could have wor- 
shipped, and have fluttered like an eager bird to 
meet the fascination of the snake. Oh, when I 
thought he was a brother, with what pride I looked 
upon his form, his beauty, and his noble mien ! 
Never, no never, had my girlish dreams conjured 
up aught more winning than he seemed ! It is 
you I mean, Count Horace ! a maiden tells you so 
unblushingly, now that death has set his seal upon 
her forehead — that contempt has filled her heart 
with scorn !" 

" Hear me, Nadeshta !" said Horace. 



QQ THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" And then," hastily continued Nadeshta, " your 
western women ! your dames of noble lineage ! 
My poor brother, whose soul and courage have 
been withered in that deceitful West — he married 
a woman — only think, a loving woman — proud of 
her birth and boastful of her passion ! And what 
did she when misfortune lowered around her 
bosom's lord ? She left him in his misery — as we 
are on this dreary waste — abandoned and alone." 

" Hear me !" repeated Horace. " Since we must 
die, be it not, Nadeshta, with scorn in those eyes. 
God knows I am not faultless ; and our meeting was 
a thoughtless cruelty. But I was not, as you deem 
me, quite ungenerous. 1 felt the pain I had given ; 
I have striven to repair the injury I had done." 

" I know what you would say. You found that 
I was not a mere illiterate peasant ; and, when 
your friend — my master — acting on my brother's 
terror for his foreign and false-hearted wife, and on 
mine for him — when he made me earn each dimi- 
nution of that unhappy brother's suffering by a 
smile — then you would say that, as you saw its 
mocker}^, you induced him not to constrain me to 
his odious presence — you were respectful and might 
have been rude. Along the very borders of this 
marsh, Count, I have chased in my girlhood many 
a butterfly ; and oh ! how softly and how gently — 
not to scare its timidity when it settled on a flower, 
— did I approach it with the very hand that swept 
the brightness from its ruined wings the moment 
it was closed upon my prize !" 

" You wrong me, Nadeshta ! you wrong me 
cruelly ! Think you that, plunging thus into 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 67 

eternity, I would speak false ? If I am where I 
am, I die because I was seeking you out. I sought 
you out to bring you hope and consolation. Two 
hours ago, I parted from your brother ; he sent 
me in his place to meet you, because his tyrant 
would not let him come." 

" My brother sent you ?" 

" Oh, Nadeshta ! when you hear all it will be 
more terrible for you to die; although for me it 
will be very sweet to see less angry glances from 
those eyes, which trouble and disturb my soul — 
as, so help me Heaven ! they do, Nadeshta. Already 
I had determined on freeing you and him, when, 
to-day I first heard the details of his story. Only 
conceive, your brother was once an envied rival of 
my own — for I once loved Blanche Mortimer. 
And when I offered him just now my hand in 
token that my interest, my wealth, my life, if 
need were, should be lavished to see him righted, 
I thought myself the most generous of rivals ; but 
now 1 feel that it was because your image had 
superseded hers who once caused that rivalry, and 
because he was your brother." 

" Or, perhaps," said Nadeshta, still with bitter- 
ness, "perhaps rather our misfortune was too ignoble 
in your eyes till hallowed by participation with my 
brother's haughty wife." 

" No," said Horace ; " now that the vanities of 
station and of fortune are nothing in the face of 
death — now that its near approach like fire, has 
purged away the dross of empty conventionalities, 
I will tell you, in the solemn truth of a man's 
dying words, what urged me — for, blinded partially 
before, I see it now — it was my love for you !" 



68 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" For me ?" said Nadeshta. 

" For yoQ ! How mad I must have been to 
weigh my rank or fortune when I thought of you, 
now that I would die a clown and beggar to feast 
my eyes by gazing on you for five minutes more — on 
you whose image Heaven has interwoven so strangely 
with my destiny; for some mysterious chance, 
before we ever met, had impressed my memory 
with the features of a portrait incredibly resembling 
yours. Oh ! it must have been one of those 
incomprehensible presentiments ; for when you 
called me from the bank, I opened my closed eyes, 
to look on the reality of a vision floating then 
before them." 

" If you," said Nadeshta, " only realized in 
every thing the picture of my young imagination's 
love, as in w^hat I see and know of you, oh ! J 
could have loved you /" 

" When you look thus upon me," said Horace, 
" thus, I feel it almost sweet to die. Or are you 
not perhaps — if I were superstitious, I might think 
so — are you — for all this is like a dream so veiy 
strange — are you perhaps a guardian spirit, winning 
me back before my final hour from all life's gaudy 
vanities to love and peace ? If so, I am won and 
fascinated, and my soul will take a flight too happy 
in such company. Or am I really here, imbedded 
in a fatal moss, and are you the Nadeshta of my 
living, waking life ?" 

" I am she," said Nadeshta, " whom at the 
Cross's foot you undeceived." 

" To whom I vowed a brother's love : but whom 
I love as never brother loved !" 

" Then tell me," said Nadeshta, in whose eyes 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 69 

there gleamed a wild and feverish excitement, " if 
we were there, together, upon the bank a few yards 
off and saved, how would Count Horace act ?" 

" I would kneel at your feet," repUed Horace, in 
a tone of similar exaltation. "I would say, Na- 
deshta! dear Nadeshta! your smile is Heaven to me!" 

" Count Horace at the slave-girl's feet ?" 

" Oh Nadeshta ! I would say, Fortune has 
bestowed on me rank and wealth; will you 
give them value in my eyes ? I have an ancestral 
name respected long, and now indifferent to me. 
Love ! will you teach me to regard it with affec- 
tionate pride by sharing in its honours ?" 

" So help you Heaven ?" 

" So help me Heaven !" 

" Oh ! how happily I could thus have lived ! — 
Still I die happier than I had hoped to live." 

" And, Nadeshta, what would you answer ?" 

" Horace ! — dear Horace !" 

" My love !" 

" Oh, Horace ! we are dying ! — If it be sin, 
forgive me. Heaven ! I only think of you." 

" If I could only press you to my bosom — not 
as I once did in that unhallowed hour — but as my 
own, with God to witness my truth ! If it were 
not that the motion might sink us, I would draw 
you towards me." 

" Oh 1" said Nadeshta, " we must die at last, 
and why not so ?" 

" Why not ? — Come hide your blushes on my 
bosom — come, my Nadeshta !" 

" So that I only reach you, love ! — One prayer, 
my Horace, and I come." 



70 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

For some time past, the slave -girl and the 
Count had joined their outstretched hands; and now 
he drew her towards him with all his might. As he 
had dreaded, they sank so rapidly that the wet moss 
rose to Nadeshta's chin. Horace made one despe- 
rate effort to reach her ; and again the hovering 
raven was heard — croak ! croak ! croak ! croak ! and 
then the raven's mate took up the sinister note, her 
black wing almost sweeping the surface of the bog, 
as she answered — croak ! croak ! croak ! 

The raven is a bold bird : when an elk or a head 
of cattle sinks hopelessly in the marsh, it is said 
that, taught by its experience how speedily anything 
is sucked under the surface, as soon as it sees a 
li\ing creature imbedded beyond all power of de- 
fence, it will pluck out the eyes as they roll in their 
last agony. 

Horace and Nadeshta are in each other's arms ; 
the astringent and deep amber-coloured water bub- 
bles up from the moss, as from a w^ell-soaked 
sponge ; and in another moment it will reach their 
lips. 

" Oh, Horace ! — Horace ! — Horace !" shrieked 
Nadeshta, as with the strong instinct of life she 
comiilsively expelled the first bitter mouthful of 
the gurgling liquid ; and then, raising herself a full 
inch, she exclaimed : " Oh, God ! — Horace ! — Ho- 
race ! push forward your foot, I tread on something 
hard, and we may live !" 

" Great God !" said Horace, *' if you were only 
saved !" 

"Whatl— I alone?— Oh, no !— I feel it !— I 
feel it ! — but not the ground : — a tree — a tree, 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 71 

deep buried in the bog ! If it lies towards the 
bank we are saved, Horace !" 

It may be necessary to explain, for the benefit of 
those who have never enjoyed the intense gratifica- 
tion of sinking through the moss of a wet moor, 
and then suddenly ahghting on a hard, gravelly 
bottom, or any other soUd substance imbedded in it, 
that in this case the danger becomes a mere affair 
of labour ; for, the footing once secured, the body 
may gradually be edged forward, by working to and 
fro — -just as a man does when buried to his neck in 
a snow-drift — till the solid bank is reached. 

And, ha^dng pointed out this means of safety, it 
would be of course superfluous to say that Nadesh- 
ta and Horace made their way at last to terra- 
firma; for the reader has doubtless never enter- 
tained any serious fears for theu* safety, persuaded 
that — w^hatever the license assumed by modern au- 
thors — it would have been too ridiculously inadmis- 
sible to have allowed a hero and heroine of the 
tale, at the very commencement of the third volume, 
to perish in a bog, like flies agglutinated in a pot 
of treacle. 

There may be also some, who wiU h}-percriti- 
cally inquire why such a scene, containing the in- 
evitable elements of the ludicrous, should ever 
have been presented by the author ? — But hereunto, 
with aU due deference, he makes reply, that the 
reader is apt to be oblivious how, in common with the 
public — of which he is a component and respected 
atom — he ivill have love-scenes in a novel, whilst 
at the same time the majority of that very public 
is accustomed to watch the behaviour of the heroes 



72 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

and heroines of an author — when it deigns to read 
him — with a sohcitude as lynx-eyed to detect every 
departure from the rules of starched propriety, as 
ever maiden-aunt displays when chaperoning pretty 
nieces. 

Now, if the reader can point out a situation, in 
which it was humanly possible to place a pair of 
lovers, better calculated to divest a t^te-aMte and 
declaration, of danger and of indecorum than a hope- 
less immersion to the neck in a cold moss, the 
author pledges himself to adopt the suggestion, 
should he ever reach a second edition. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 73 



CHAPTER VI. 

Blanche is very pale, and very weak. Of her 
former beauty only those traces now remain which 
none of the ravages of sickness can obliterate, no 
comoilsion of the human frame efface. Her smile 
is still sweetly mournful, and her sunken eye still 
beams softly bright; but, above all, an ardent 
hope, which no despondency can subdue, and a 
restless energy which her weakness cannot quell, 
blend with the profound anxiety which both express. 

Blanche is a mother now. 

And now, like the young tree — ^with leaves of 
everlasting green — upon whose boughs the fruit 
expands for the first time into rich maturity, suc- 
ceeding the beauty and the fragrance of its withered 
blossoms, and yet, whereon these very blossoms bud 
and bloom again, beside these very golden proofs 
of its fecundity — so new feelings, impulses, and 
fears, have been generated in the young mother's 
bosom ; and with their birth have been awakened 
the love and tenderness which filled it up before. 
The pride of station ; the rooted prejudices of her 
childhood, the angry recollection of the injury in- 
flicted on her have vanished : — she has no thought 

VOL. in. E 



74 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

now, but of her child, and of the father of her 
child. 

What a bright thing is love — maternal love ! 
and how, like knowledge, it betrays its immortal 
essence, undiminishing at the fount by its ex- 
pansion, and by that which it imparts — ^both com- 
parable, if one durst compare the nobler with the 
ignobler object, to what the sun appears, when 
ever giving forth its light and warmth without 
sensible diminution of its radiance. Thus is the 
mother*s heart, when filled to overflowing with one 
passionate affection, and which yet finds room for 
another without detriment to the first. 

Blanche leans on the arm of the old sectarian, 
whose grim features relent into an involuntary com- 
placence and pity against which he struggles. 

They stand at the door of the house of his 
brother in the suburb. Vasili Petrovitch is out- 
side, superintending the erection of a wooden 
paling which is intended to shut out all view from 
the windows, at which his wife, Katinka, is too 
fond of looking out on to the lane, which has 
suspiciously become the resort of grey cloaks and 
plumed hats. He receives them with some em- 
barrassment — ushers them in, and begs them to be 
seated. 

Blanche seats herself, and replies to his wel- 
come ; — for she has learned to speak a little Russ, 
and to understand more: her austere companion 
stands in silence, fixing his eyes irreverently and 
gloomily upon the image of St. Sergius, his 
brother's household god. 

" I have come, Vasili," said Ivan, at length, 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 75 

" with this daughter of sorrow, to ask worldly 
counsel of thee, a worldly-minded man. Know 
then that this woman — whom Mattvei, the son of 
the good and just Mattvei Mattveitch, one of the 
Lord's departed saints, hath taken to his bosom — 
this woman who, Niemetz as she is, might, if 
brought up in the knowledge of the light, have 
been worthy to eat of the bread of eternal life, 
which thou hast not been chosen to partake of — 
this woman, I tell thee, Vasili, wishes to devote 
her foreign wealth to purchase the liberation of 
her husband from him who calls himself his Lord, 
to whom I myself have been given in bondage 
since my birth for the expiation of my sins, as 
thou wert until lately." 

" I listen, brother," replied Vasili. 

" As thou, Vasili, hast the art and knowledge 
of these worldly things, seek thou to effect this 
matter?" 

" Brother," said Vasili, " the Prince Ivan Ivano- 
vitch will be very difficult to deal with. He 
nourishes a deadly hate against our brother 
Mattvei." 

" I know he does ; but this much I know too, 
that, in the minds of the weak and wicked, the 
love of gold triumphs over hatred. Thou, at least, 
knowest how to deal with him." 

" But," replied Vasili, " if for thy sake, Ivan, and 
for Mattvei's, I should attempt it, it wiU be no low 
figure that wiU induce your common Lord to yield 
him up his freedom." 

" His wife weighs not his freedom against her 
gold. His freedom first she seeks at any price ; 

E 2 



76 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

nevertheless, be thou wary and sparing in thy 
offers, remembering always that it is the portion 
of the orphan." Here Ivan looked hard at his 
brother, because his knowledge of his character 
led him to suspect that in such a transaction his 
inveterate habits of dishonest thrift might urge him 
to pilfer, though he was utterly astounded when 
Vasili replied : 

" First, I must know what the fortune of this 
dove of our brother Mattvei's amounts to." 

"Know. Who should know better than thou 
who boldest it ?" 

" I ?" said Vasili, innocently. 

" Thou. Did not Mattvei into thy hands con- 
fide her fortune ?" 

" Into my hands her fortune !" said Vasili with 
well feigned sui-prise, and crossing himself: " you 
dream, brother." 

" What, wretch ?" said Ivan, " dost thou deny 
the sacred deposit ?" 

" The only deposit Mattvei left with me," re- 
plied Vasili, with sullen effrontery, " was his Niemetz 
wife, and her I have transferred to thy care, as was 
agreed." 

" Here," said Blanche, producing the letter of 
Mattheus. *' He has written it to me here." 

It may appear strange that Vasili Petrovitch, 
instead of withholding, should have taken so much 
pains to preserve and place under Blanche's eye a 
document which he might almost have been sure 
would contain some mention of the sum entmsted 
to him. It must, therefore, be observed that, 
independently of the superstitious respect of the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 77 

lower orders of Russians for all letters, Vasili's 
dishonesty had not been premeditated. 

Judging him by other individuals of his class, 
whatever their usual dishonesty, there would have 
been no very gross imprudence in the confidence 
reposed in him by Mattheus under such circum- 
stances, even if a choice of acting otherwise had 
been left him. 

He had no intention of breaking through his 
trust at the time that he accepted it. It was only 
by degrees, as the amount of the property and the 
legal impunity with which he might appropriate it 
suggested itself to his mind, in a form irritatingly 
tempting to his cupidity, that he called to his aid 
that Byzantine casuistry, which the Muscovites 
seem to have inherited, with their alphabet and 
their architecture, from the Greeks of the Lower 
Empire. 

" Mattvei has placed this sum in my hands," 
reasoned the covetous trader ; " and, when he asks 
me for it, into his hands I will give it. What more 
am I bound to do ? If he has told me to give it up 
to a strange woman, am I to do the foolish thing 
to my brother's detriment ? If my brother Mattvei 
had said to me ' take thou this knife and stab me,' 
was I to choose rather to slay my brother than to 
disobey him? Is it not written that ' the mouth 
of a strange woman is a deep pit ; he that is ab- 
horred of the Lord shall fall therein ;' and then, 
having satisfied his conscience that he was justi- 
fied in refusing to deliver up Blanche's fortune to 
any one but Mattheus when he should come to 
claim it," he slyly addressed an invocation to his 



78 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

patron, St. Sergius, praying that through his 
blessed intercession he would keep his brother 
Mattvei from ever returning personally to claim it. 

To secure the intercession of the Saint, Vasili 
had first promised to set his image in a sheet of 
solid gold, weighing twelve zlotniks, and then, 
mingling a singular cunning with his superstition, 
he bethought him that, as he was only agreeing to 
reward his celestial protector, as soon as the service 
of warding off a threatened disagreeable should 
have been duly performed ; it was obvious that he 
could never be called upon, at least, not till his own 
death or that of Mattheus, to fulfil his part of the 
bargain ; and therefore, trusting to the remote 
necessity for payment, he liberally increased his 
bribe from twelve zlotniks to fifty. 

Thus, in his self-estimation, Vasili Petrovitch 
had satisfied at once his sense of duty towards his 
neighbour, towards Heaven, and towards himself. 
He knew that the Pope, for a jolly glass and a 
pink note, would bear him out in his views ; and 
he was congratulating himself on having turned to 
a creed so comfortably administered from the 
" stern, uncompromising, unreasonable, austerity of 
the Old Faith," when Ivan thundered in his ear : 

" Brother ! brother ! beware ! Mattvei, wdth 
his own lips, told me that he had confided that 
woman's portion to thee !" 

"If I were to write upon a paper, I have en- 
trusted wealth to Ivan Petrovitch — if I were to 
turn to the Niemetza, and say : ' Sister, I have 
entrusted wealth to Ivan Petrovdtch,' would that 
make it true, and couldst thou, Ivan, help it ?" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 79 

" Oh God !" said Blanche, " does he deny it ?" 

" Dost thou utterly deny the deposit ?" said 
Ivan. 

" I utterly deny all charge of any moneys ; and 
I take to witness " Here Vasili, crossing him- 
self and mentally promising a candle to Saint 
Sergius turned towards his image. 

" Swear not," said the sectarian with stern 
disgust. " Besides, is it not written : ' What 
profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof 
hath graven it ; the molten image, and a teacher 
of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein 
to make dumb idols ?' " 

And then turning to Blanche — who, forgetting 
in her agitation the scanty Russ she had mastered, 
had seized Vasili's arm, and was appealing to him 
by the mute supplication of look and action — 
said : 

*' Come, my daughter, let us go. The treache- 
rous dealer hath dealt treacherously ; yea, the trea- 
cherous dealer hath dealt very treacherously ! 
Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and 
maketh the flesh his arm ! As for thee, Vasili 
Petrovitch — though one womb bare us — although 
we have grown two fruits on the same tree, 
whereof when the harvest came I have foreseen 
the rotten one would be cast aside — yet even here 
below, I now abjure thee. Thou shalt be to me 
henceforth as the gentile and the stranger, for 
thou hast made thy heart as an adamant stone lest 
thou shouldst hear the law. With lies thou hast made 
sad the heart of the righteous. I curse thee, son 
of my mother, son of my father." 



80 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

*' Oh Ivan, curse me not !" said the superstitious 
Vasili, turning very pale, and seizing the hem of 
the ironmonger's caftan to retain him ; " what 
have I done ?" 

" The sin of Judah," replied the sectarian, " is 
written with a pen of iron. Thou hast * oppressed 
the fatherless and the stranger.' Fear and the pit 
and the snare are upon thee, oh inhabitant of the 
earth ! Thou shalt be numbered with those of 
whom the Lord saith, 'When they fast I will 
not hear their cry ; when they offer burnt-oifering 
and an oblation, I will not accept them. Thou 
shalt die a grievous death; thou shalt not be 
lamented, neither shalt thou be buried ; but thou 
shalt be as dung upon the face of the earth !'" 

" Brother," said Vasili, who, having been brought 
up in the same faith was fluent in the Scriptures, 
" is it not written, that ' whoever is angry vdth 
his brother without cause shall be in danger of a 
judgment?'" 

" But it is also written," said Ivan, stretching 
out his hand and hurrying Blanche away, ' it is 
also written if thy right hand offend thee cut it off 
and cast it from thee, if thy right eye offend thee 
pluck it out and cast it from thee,' and thus I cast 
thee from me, — thou art an abomination in the 
sight of the Lord, — and thus I say to thee, Raca !" 

And the old man, fevered with the enthusiasm 
of his denunciation, and the young mother leaning 
on his arm, and stunned by this new misfortune, 
stood once more in the open street. 

Katinka, who was growing very weary of the 
jealous seclusion in which she was kept, was taking 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 81 

her last look from the window, and Vasili Petrovitch, 
though feeling a little uncomfortable at the male- 
diction of his brother, consoled himself at the 
thought that the worst scene was over, and that 
he retained possession of the roubles. 

" For, after all, what sort of a saint would be my 
patron, St. Sergius, if he could not protect me 
against such an unreasonable curse ?" ejaculated the 
trader, with a shrewd notion of interesting the pride 
of that holy personage by the query. 

Ivan, walking with hasty step, led Blanche 
along in silence so rapidly that, almost fainting 
with exhaustion, she implored him to stop. 

They had paused opposite the Church of Kazan. 
A busy crowd was thronging the semi-circular area 
in front of it, and the deep solemn chant of the 
choir celebrating mass within was distinctly audible 
from where they stood. 

The sectarian, as he walked along, after having 
thus renounced his brother, had been brooding 
over the change of faith to which he attributed his 
crying dishonesty — his thoughts had wandered back 
to the days of his early youth, when Vasili as well 
as himself kneeled with his father in the same aus- 
tere worship — a w^orship from which Mammon, and 
the world, and the Hes of the false prophets of the 
dominant church, had seduced him, and at this 
moment the sounds of its pomp burst insultingly 
upon his ear. His eye wandered with irritation 
over the heterodox architecture of the cathedral, 
with its semi-circular colonnade : it had been his 
intention to hurry past it, as past a pest-house, 
when Blanche, overcome with fatigue, suddenly 

E 3 



82 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

stopped upon his arm, and at this moment one 
passer by observed to another, "It is the high mass 
of the Metropolitan." 

Ivan Petrovitch knitted his brows : he beckoned 
to the driver of a vehicle plying for hire, seated 
Blanche in it, and told the Isvostchik whither he 
was to drive. 

" But you will come with me ?" said Blanche, 
" I must — I must consult with you." 

" Go, daughter, go in peace," replied the fanatic, 
" I must do the Lord's bidding and not thine, I 
must testify against the Antichrist." 

" But, good Ivan," exclaimed Blanche, " when 
shall I see you ?" 

" When the last trumpet sounds to rouse the 
quick and the dead," said Ivan, and, signing with 
his hand, the driver urged on his horses. 

" Now, oh Lord !" exclaimed the old man, " I 
hear thy voice and I obey it, saying as of old, ' son 
of man, set thy face against Zidon and prophesy 
against it.' " 

The Metropolitan of Novogorod and St. Peters- 
burg, the most reverend, or (as he subscribes him- 
self) the humble seraphin was celebrating Mass in 
the Chiu-ch of our Lady of Kazan. The Metropoli- 
tan of St. Petersburg, as the primate of the national 
church of Russia, is still looked up to with great 
veneration by some fifty millions of its votaries, 
although the Imperial power has long since juggled 
every semblance not only of authority but of inde- 
pendence out of his hands. 

He has become, in fact, only the first bishop, 
and, like all other bishops in Russia, he is classed 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 83 

according to military rank, and really owes his 
unrestricted nomination to the crown. A Rus- 
sian bishop is not necessarily attached to any dio- 
cese, called eparchy in the Greek Church, but may 
hold the title as a sort of brevet. The whole 
church is governed by a holy synod of which the 
Emperor appoints the members. He is represented 
in it by the ober-procurator, lately an aide-de-camp 
of his own, with whom every proposition must 
originate, and practically, besides appointing the 
synod, the Emperor can at any moment dismiss 
any member belonging to it. Nevertheless, to 
throw dust in the eyes of the vulgar faithful, the 
Metropohtan of St. Petersburg is designated as the 
president of a council, which is entirely at the beck 
of the Emperor's delegate. And then the atten- 
dant wealth and pomp have been made commen- 
surate with the ostensible importance of his station, 
and are displayed in gaudy magnificence, congenial 
to the oriental taste of an Eastern Church. 

The humble Father Seraphin belongs — as all 
bishops must — to the black or monastic clergy, a 
body widely differing in learning and in practice 
fi*om its corrupt, debauched, and ignorant brethren, 
the white or secular priesthood. 

He is a mild and venerable prelate, pious it is 
said and erudite, and bearing in his demeanour the 
conscious impress of the hopeless insignificance of 
his high-sounding title ; for, in truth, he appears 
before his flock like the famished actor of a country 
town, w^ho plays the milhonnaire upon the boards. 
The congregation of the Kazan Church bow never- 
theless as low as if he were the Roman pontiff, 



84 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

and cross themselves with assiduity, and beat their 
breasts with fervour, as they admire the splendour 
of his array and the pomp of his attendance. 

The Greek priests, the finest-looking men in the 
empire, allow their beards to grow unshaven, and 
their hair unshorn from their youth. The mass 
resembles that of the Roman Catholics, excepting 
that instrumental music is not tolerated, but then 
the magnificent bass voices of the choir are allowed 
in their deep imposing harmony to exceed even the 
sacred melody of Rome. 

The church, like all other Russian churches, has 
all the richness and glitter of Flanders and of Italy, 
though unredeemed by a vestige of taste, because 
the fine arts have been judged, in the barbarian 
bigotry of the Muscovite hand-maidens to oprofane 
to be allowed the decoration of a Christian Church. 
And then there is this main distinction, that a vast 
screen, representing the veil of the temple, and 
called the Iconostas^ or place of Images, shuts 
out from the nave of the church, in which the 
congregation kneel, the sanctuary in which mass is 
said ; and the three gates which open fi-om it, con- 
sisting of a groundwork of gilt arabesques, are not 
only kept closed, but a purple curtain is drawn to 
within, during the greater part of the service, to 
conceal what passes from the gaze of the people. 
This screen is covered, like a picture gallery, with 
the figures of saints and holy personages, painted 
in a style of conventional hideousness, and placed 
in frames, which are glaring sheets of gold and 
silver, set with jewels and illumined by rich 
lamps. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 85: 

On the ambon, a sort of raised step, stands the 
deacon, and in a sonorous voice repeats the Ektenii, 
the Russian litanies, which are now half filled with 
the names of the members of the imperial families, 
and of aU the departments of the government — 
whilst, at the termination of every verse, the choir, 
who represent the faithful flock, respond in chorus 
with the " Gospodee pomiloui nas ! — Oh ! Lord 
have mercy upon us." 

The altar within the sanctuary is cubical instead 
of oblong as in the Romish churches, and, in the 
ceremony of the mass, the leavened instead of the 
unleavened bread is used — slight difference appa- 
rently — though the latter led the Byzantine Greeks 
rather to welcome the rule of Islamism than seek 
succour from the Latins. 

The Metropolitan, surrounded by his priests and 
deacons, is dressed in the richly embroidered dal- 
matic of the Greek Emperors transferred to their 
patriarchs, and the gorgeous and pontifical omophora 
or sacred scarf, with its deep fringe, is round his 
neck — he has quitted the sanctuary — he mounts 
upon the elevation, called the ambon, to give his 
benediction to the people. 

At this moment Ivan Petrovitch steps forward. 
His grey hair streams back — his wild eye dilates — 
he shakes his hand almost in the bishop's face, and 
thunders out in a stentorian voice as he points to 
his garments : 

" And the woman was arrayed in purple and 
scarlet colour, and decked with gold, and precious 
stones, and pearls." 

Right and left, hands were laid on the intruder 



86 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

by the bystanders, but, thrusting those who held 
him rudely aside, he mounted the ambon. 

*' There is a conspiracy in the midst thereof — 
like a roaring lion ravening the prey, they have 
devoured souls. Her priests have violated my law, 
and have profaned mine holy things. 

" False prophet ! — false shepherd! whither leadest 
thou astray the sheep of Israel? Verily I will 
testify against thee !" 

Here Ivan was again seized by several of the 
attendants, whom he had for a moment shaken 
off. 

" Yea, verily I will testify against thee — thou 
art an abomination in the sight of the Lord — wolf 
in sheep's clothing. Antichrist ! thus I spit upon thee" 

And, as Ivan spoke — pushing his body forward, 
in advance of his pinioned arms — he spat fuH in 
the face of the Primate of the Russian Church. 

A murmur of indignation arose among the crowd 
at this sacrilegious outrage on the high priest in his 
very temple. 

The most reverend seraphin received the indignity 
with apostolic humility of manner — he forbade 
them to injure him, and wiped the spittle calmly 
from his right eye. He made a sign to remove 
the fanatic, and continued his benediction. 

" Woe to the idle shepherd, that leaveth the 
flock — the sword shall be upon his arm, and in his 
right eye — his arm shall be clean dried up, and his 
right eye darkened ! " said Ivan, exulting 
in the grotesque aptitude of his citation, and strug- 
gling with his captors as they bore him off. " Woe ! 
woe ! woe ! to the Antichrist — Woe ! woe ! to 
you, lost sheep of Israel." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 8? 



CHAPTER VII. 

Vasilt Petrovitch is sitting at his tea. It is handed 
to him by the fail' Katinka, who looks pouting and 
sullen, but her husband, as he complacently surveys 
her, only observes that she is getting fat. As for 
himself, he has all the satisfied air of a man well to do 
in the world. It is true that his brother, the sectarian, 
ha^ rendered himself amenable to a terrible and irre- 
missible punishment, but he has learned philosophically 
to regard this, as if death from illness or insanity 
had overtaken his relative. 

Vasili's affairs are prospering — all that he touches 
seems to turn to gold ; besides which, we have seen 
how apt is the gold which his fingers touch to stick 
to them. On the other hand, Vasili laughs in his 
beard when he thinks how he has baffled all the 
admirers of his gay young wife, and how completely 
he has isolated her from all possibility of temptation ; 
for not only is the wooden paling finished which shuts 
out all external view, but whenever removed from his 
own eye, she is left under the active and incessant sur- 
veillance of a personage who acts as cook and duefia in 
his household, and who is not to be bribed or tampered 
with, either by the besiegers without, or the disaffected 
garrison within, because, in the first place, the beldame is 
Vasili's aunt, and, in the next, she hates his young wife 



88 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

much more than she loves anything that could be 
offered to gain her over. In addition to these causes 
of satisfaction, Vasili stands well with the Police Major 
of his district, and is on excellent terms with his 
patron Saint Sergius. 

The wary trader had attained the summit of his 
ambition, that is to say, if there be any summit to 
ambition, which is more than doubtful, but at least he 
had reached the extreme pomt to which he had ever 
aspired before, though not exactly the degree of wealth 
to which he now looked forw^ard. After all, there is 
not perhaps in St. Petersburg a man easier in his 
mind or conscience, or more self-satisfied ; when lo ! 
some altercation is heard without, and the old aunt 
bursts in, breathless, if not speechless with terror, 
ejaculating "Oh Lord! Oh Lord! O Lord ! the Police." 

The old trader winced a little, because such a visita- 
tion under any circumstances occasions some expense ; 
but he reassured himself by the thought which he at 
once expressed, " that he stood well with the police." 

" Oh worse, worse, worse, than all the civic police 
of the quarter — two of Count Benkendorf 's chancery. 
Oh, woe is me ! woe is me !" 

At this intelligence Vasili looked very blank — he was 
accustomed to the civic police and its frequent extor- 
tions, and he knew how to deal with it — ^but the 
secret and inquisitorial police of the empire, which sel- 
dom interferes with men of his degree, inspired him 
with a mysterious awe. The unlimited power, the 
terrible reputation, of this institution, and his knowledge 
that its familiars, where once they intrude, do not loose 
their hold for any inconsiderable bribe — all tended to 
alarm him. What was to be done ? He could think 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 89 

of nothing but crossing himself, and, whilst he was 
crossing himself, in stalked an officer of gendarmerie 
in his pale blue uniform, with silver lace and his 
cocked hat upon his head, and accompanied by another 
official. 

The gendarmerie is the executive force, at the 
sole disposal of the Grand Master, and therefore the 
w^ll known and widely dreaded garb of this one indi- 
vidual shewed at once the character of his companion, 
although he w^as wrapped in the grey cloak, with the 
imperial buttons, worn in every department of the 
military- and civil service. 

" Which ?" asked the gendarme officer imperiously, 
as he smoothed down his moustachio, " which is 
Vasili Petrovitch, merchant of the first guild, and a 
recently made freeman ?" 

" May it please your nobility," replied Vasili, with 
some trepidation, " I am he." 

" You are Vasili Petrovitch !" said the officer, 
directing towards him a severe and scrutinising look, 
as if there had existed strong temptation for any one 
to personate the merchant under such circumstances. 

" I am your humble slave, Vasili Petrovitch ; though 
I know not — " 

" Silence," said the officer : and then, turning to 
the other, he said with immense deference and some 
emphasis, " this is Vasili Petrovitch." 

" Oh ! this is he. Take thy hat, Vasili Petrovitch, 
and prepare to follow us. It is ordered so." 

" Shall w^e seal up his papers " said the gen- 
darme. 

" Oh Lord ! Lord ! Oh holy Saint Sergius ! ejacu- 
lated Vasili. " Oh your excellencies, I swear to you by 
the Holy Trinity—" 



90 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Hush !" said the cloaked official haughtily to the 
trader ; and then he answered snappishly and abruptly 
to the suggestion of the officer of gendarmerie. " It 
is not ordered. Vasili Petrovitch, thou hast no chil- 
dren," he continued, referring to a note-book. 

" None, none," repeated Vasili. " I am a weak, 
poor, miserable, lone, old man." 

"But thou hast a wife ; go fetch her." 

" I obey, my Lord, my very merciful Lord," said 
Vasili Petrovitch, who hastened into the room where 
his wife, and the aunt, and their only servitor were 
cowering in a corner, like poultry frightened by a 
kite. 

" Hark ye," said Vasili, " truly my heart has been 
in my mouth, and I knew not what I was doing ; 
but things may yet be mended ;" and, with a deep 
sigh, he drew from the profound depths of an inner 
pocket two bank notes. 

" Oh my fanatical brother ! my fanatical brother ! 
this all comes of thee, because thou wilt not give to 
Caesar what is Caesar's. I must give to Caesar what 
is Vasih Petrovitch's ! and yet with Benkendorf s 
people, no trifling — big bits for great fishes," (here 
Vasili sighed again) " where they come it is like the 
spiggot in the barrel — you are lucky if you can plug 
it with a lump of gold." 

" Oh, Vasili Petrovitch !" said the aunt, " welcome 
be the first expense if it be the last." 

" Ob yes," said Vasili, who had recovered his con- 
fidence, and who was drawing the bank note between 
his thumb and finger, as if loth to part with it, 
though aware of the expediency of so doing. " Oh 
yes, with this ; — and then they ask to see my wife — 
they are young men both. What if they take her 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 91 

off?" This idea seemed at once to determine the 
astute old man, so, taking by the hand his beldame 
aunt, he said to her : " Hear me, thou must personate 
my wife." 

" What ?" said Katinka, to whom the idea was not 
so formidable. " What ? trifle with the high police. 
What ? play with Benkendorf 's people ?" 

" It is no play," replied Vasili ; " but very sad and 
serious earnest. You, child, stir not from hence !" 
and, locking the door, he insured obedience, whilst he 
led his old aunt upon his arm. 

" One word aside with you, my very merciful 
Lord," said he to the man in the cloak, " I guess 
wherefore you have been sent to me. I know I have 
a foolish brother ; but it is well known that we had 
nothing in common ; and I have, in fact, the assu- 
rance from one of the civil police-masters that I shall 
not be confounded in this matter concerning it, or 
molested. You will, therefore, readily see that 
there must be some mistake, as you will find, if 
you will look to this memorandum, which I prav you 
keep." 

Then Vasili turned to the gendarme. 

" His Excellency agrees," he whispered, " that it 
must be a misapprehension. Let me pray you be 
seated." Here Vasili took the hand of the gendarme, 
and pressed into it a hundred rouble note — to the 
official in the cloak he had given a thousand. 

" What is this ?" said the gendarme, " money ! 
do you think to bribe me ?" But here the man in 
the cloak, whom he treated with great deference, 
' turned round and gave him a significant look, which 
silenced him. The gendarme pocketed it, as well as 
his superior. 



92 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Vasili Petrovitch, this is a worse business than 
you think for." 

" Through your kindness, however," replied Vasili, 
*' all may go well, I feel ; but what can I oifer to my 
noble guests? What will you take, gentlemen — 
champagne ?" 

" Where is your wife ?" said the man in the cloak 
more sternly than before. 

" My wife, merciful Lord — my wife — this is my 
poor old \\ife," replied Vasili, pointing to the old 
tTone. 

" That ! your wife !" exclaimed the gendarme ; 
but his companion authoritatively interrupted him, 
and said with a malicious smile : 

"Nay, Vasili Petrovitch, thou hast inspired an 
interest in me as far as my orders will allow. Come 
thyself — we want thee ; and as for thy wife, she shall 
remain. We will take the rest of thy household 
instead of her." 

" Oh ! I am imdone ! I am ruined !" said Vasili, 
who, besides finding the affair wear an aspect so 
serious, was caught in his own trap. 

" But you had really, really better leave my house- 
hold, and take my wife whom you here behold !" 

" Oh ! holy Trinity !" said the old woman in a 
paroxysm of terror, "he is deceiving your merciful 
nobility. I am not his wife. Only look at me — 
I knew him before he was born. I have danced him 
on my knee." 

" What ! are you his grandmother then ?" said the 
gendarme laughing; and again the cloaked official 
interrupted his misplaced levity by wrathfuUy ex- 
claiming : " What ! I have defiled his mother ! the 
hound has been playing me false then ?" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 93 

" Viniebat ! Viniebat ! I confess — I confess my 
fault !" said Vasili, falling prostrate. 

" Go bring his wife and all his people before me ;" 
and the officer of gendarmerie walked out, led by the 
old aunt. 

" Rise !" said the other, as soon as he was gone. 
" Rise and barken to me. Though thou hast deceived 
me, I wish thee well. It may be too that thou art 
guiltless." 

" By the Lord, as I am an humble, honest trader, 
I am innocent of aught against the Emperor, or his 
servants, or their laws !" 

"Very hke, very like, that does not mend the 
matter ; for, when the truth is sifted from you, if 
you prove guiltless, why then our office is a sorry 
customer for an humble, honest, trader to deal with ; 
for, even if at length found innocent, it is apt to be 
judged more politic to keep so obscure an individual 
safe, than to turn him loose, where secrecy is for the 
good of the Imperial service." 

" Oh, holy Saint Sergius !" 

" Thou hast, however, strongly interested my 
sympathies by that Httle memorandum — that style of 
setting forth one's innocence is convincing ; if I should 
contrive to bring you safe back from your trial, per- 
haps you will let me see the conclusion of it." 

" I am poor," said Vasili Petrovitch ; " but oh ! I am 
grateful." 

" I will take it out in champagne or milhnery," 
whispered the familiar with a wink ; " but now listen, 
our only chance is in keeping your affair very quiet. 
When you have been duly interrogated and con- 
fronted, I must contrive to keep the business as much 
as possible from the notice of our chiefs, and to let 
you shp away unperceived." 



94 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Oh ! the Lord grant it !" said Vasili. 

** As you value your safety, let no rash application 
be made. You need not even let the police of your 
quarter know of our visit. I can almost take on 
me to leave some of your people, who need only say 
that you are for a few days absent ; but if I do, will 
you forget the champagne ?" 

" May St. Sergius forget me at my last hour if I do !" 
" Two cases remember ; and, honest Vasili Petrovitch, 
it is understood of the right mark." 

" It is understood, my Lord ;" but, even at such a 
moment, Vasili reckoned that the precise mark was 
not stipulated. He could save sixpence a bottle by 
delivering the lower priced. Just as he was endea- 
vouring to change the subject, lest Cliquot should be 
specified, a scuffle was heard in the passage ; and, as 
the door flew open, the officer of gendarmerie was 
seen with his arm around Katinka's waist. 

" Oh !" said Vasili Petrovitch, opening wide his 
mouth like a roaring lion, to emit a terrible exclama- 
tion, which as his fear quelled his jealousy, subsided 
into a slight ejaculation. 

'* What ! how now ? — what are you doing there ?" 
said the familiar sternly. 

" I was only feeling for treasonable papers concealed 
about her person." 

" That is no duty of yours. Sir. Re-assure your- 
self. Madam. When you are searched, it shall be 
in private." 

" Oh ! oh ! oh !" groaned Vasili. 

" Is this the whole of your establishment ?" con- 
tinued the official, pointing to the old aunt and a 
clownish boy. 

" AU that live under my roof." 

" I \\iQ not disturb them. Hark you, my friends, 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 95 

if any one inquires for Vasili Petrovitch, he is absent 
for a few days. Now, Vasili Petrovitch, follow me." 

Vasili enjoined to his wife, his aunt, and the serv- 
ing lad, the most religious silence concerning what 
had happened. 

" To your wife we will recommend silence at the 
office, for she is going with us." 

Vasili groaned, and, turning to his wife, said, " Ka- 
tinka !" 

" Don't talk to me !" sobbed Katinka, " to think 
that I should have married an old wretch who has 
got into trouble with Count Benkendorfs office !" 

" As for you two, you are warned," resumed the 
official, and then, turning to the gendarme, " You, sir, 
take this man in your custody, you know whither. 
You, madame, follow me." 

" Did you say I was to take charge of the lady ?" 

" No, Sir, I said of this man ; though first, before 
we leave her, you might search the person of his 
aunt : don't be alarmed, good woman." 

" I am not, your nobility." 

" Oh, no ; she has been searched ali-eady," said the 
gendarme, who, gi\ing Vasili Petrovitch a spiteful 
squeeze of the arm, hurried him forward. 

" For the present you must be hand-bound and 
blindfolded." 

" Oh, in the name of the holy Saint Sergius, 
where am I going then ?" 

" To the dungeons of the fortress. Speak not a 
w^ord ; but follow me." 

In utter darkness, and in perfect silence, Vasili 
Petrovitch felt himself hurried along ; and, in the same 
unbroken silence and unrelieved darkness, he was led 
down steps, and left alone in a chill subteiTanean 



96 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

abode. Here he spent four weary hours ; and then 
finding the confinement of his bonds intolerable, he 
lay down, having worked himself into a paroxysm of 
fear. 

Let us shift the scene. 

Lochadoff and Durakoff, and two or three more of 
their merry companions are sitting round the table, 
considerably excited by the wine, which goes sparkling 
round. 

Jakof is introduced. 

" A lock of his hair ! — a lock of his hair ! — a lock 
of his hair !" shout all the party in chorus. 

" Well, gentlemen," said Jakof, " merit, like water, 
wiQ always find its level at last. The sentiment was 
feminine, the idea was novel and pretty — to obtain 
surreptitiously a lock of my hair." 

" Don't boast of your conquests," said Lochadoff, 
laughing. 

" Why not, of what is ? You, gentlemen, who 
affect to be severe and witty, are apt to boast of what 
is not. I remember a certain bet with Durakoff last 
Monday, that he was to bring the Katinka to sup 
with us." 

" Oh ! the bet was not clearly made," said Locha- 
doff. 

" Very clearly made. Now I suppose he won't 
pay I Why does that Durakoff bet, when he has not 
a kopek vdth which to bless himself? — But I hold 
you responsible for it, Lochadoff." 

" If you will not let him off." 

" Let him off ! — not L Why does he lay such 
foolish wagers ? I knew the thing was morally im- 
possible : — I tried it myself, and if any body could 
have got her away, it would have been L" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 97 

" You know her then ! — now what do you think of 
her?" 

" A large foot, a nose too Roxalana — too fair — 
too fat — too Russian." 

" He has been ill-treated by the Katinka !" 

" Not I," replied Jakof, " only surfeited. You may 
laugh, gentlemen ; but she persecuted me : — it was a 
sort of Obrasoff aifair." 

Here followed a roar of laughter. 

" I have Katinka painted somewhere by Lesseps : 
and, by the by, do you know what has happened to 
him?" 

"To Lesseps?" 

" He called on me this afternoon, he has fallen 
into profound disgrace. He has affronted the Em- 
peror, and received orders to quit the empire in four- 
and-twenty hours." 

" What, Lesseps !" 

" Poor devil ! he has played with the lion, till the 
lion turned angry," continued Jakof; "he came to 
ask me for what I owed him. Confound it ! thought 
I, I will have a slave sent to Rome, and made a great 
artist of : — it would be cheaper, though, after all ; as 
you may imagine, under such circumstances, I paid 
him generously." 

" You, generously ! — A medal shall record it !" 

" Or it shall be graven on the Alexander column ; 
but sit down," said Lochadoff. 

" So I will ; but what is this bundle of shawls ?" 

" This bundle of shawls is the fat, fair, large-footed 
Russian Katinka !" said Katinka, starting up ; " but 
what did you say about my nose ?" 

" Now, by the body of Bacchus !" said Jakof, look- 
ing very sheepish. 

VOL. III. F 



98 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Do you hear me ?" repeated the lady, " or are 
your ears as stuffed with the cotton I see peeping out 
of them as your mouth wdth lies ?'* 

" My very excitable beauty," replied Jakof, backing 
a pace or two, " I said, touching your nose, that it 
was a Roxalana nose — the most beautiful of all 
noses." 

" What is a Roxalana nose ?" said Katinka, ap- 
pealing to the rest of the party. 

*' A snub nose !" 

" A pug nose !" answered a couple of mischievous 
voices. 

" And do you maintain, now, that you ever saw 
as much of me in your life before as you have to- 
night ?" 

" Never !" said Jakof, in great confusion. 

*' Then how dared you say so ?" 

" I !" said Jakof, not knowing what to say ; " why 
how do you know that I spoke of you ? — There have 
been more than one Katinka upon the boards : the 
name is common enough, I hope." 

" Oh ! you would find fault with the name, now, 
would you?" said the irate beauty, and, making a 
snatch at his wig, in spite of the most scientific of 
fastenings, she whirled it aloft in triumph amidst the 
shouts of the rest of the party, and the cries of* Oh ! 
oh ! oh ! — don't take it all ; leave some for the 
Obrasoffs !" 

At length the lady was pacified, and returned to 
her champagne ; the wig was recovered when tram- 
pled out of curl, and the jest exhausted. 

" Gospodine Lesseps !" said a servant. 

" Oh," said Jakof, " you had better not admit 
him !" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 99 

" It is not very prudent," remarked another of the 
guests ; but whilst they were deliberating, there burst 
upon them a rude voice preceding the fuU view of the 
burly painter's figure. 

" So ho, gentlemen ! — you are carousing here !" 
said Lesseps, who appeared a little excited : " what 1 
do I see my friend, Jakof ?" 

No hilarious demonstrations of delight — such as 
he had been accustomed to hear, and such as it had 
become a sort of fashion to greet him with — hailed 
the entrance of the painter. 

" You are dull over your cups, gentlemen, very dull; 
perhaps you have heard that T am going, and that 
makes you melancholy?" 

The young guardsman, next to him, to whom 
Lesseps seemed famiharly to point his observation, 
decidedly cut him, turning, without deigning an answer, 
towards Jakof, and asking a question about the tails 
of his dogs. 

" I had not the felicity of finding a trace of you 
to-day — not even a lock of your hair, though these 
tokens are more current amongst the fair than bank- 
notes amongst ourselves," said the painter, still 
jocosely, though somewhat disconcerted by his recep- 
tion, and though the blood, rising to his forehead and 
tinging it just above his rugged eyebrows, shewed 
that he was chafing inwardly. 

But no one noticed this jest of the painter's, who 
had almost learned to account himself witty, so long 
had he found it impossible to open his mouth without 
the interruption of a roar of laughter. As for Jakof, 
he answered him inanely. " Ah ! . . ." and then 
turning his head, proceeded to reply with intense 
abstraction and interest to the guardsman's question, 

F 2 



100 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

that he always docked the tails of his puppies himself, 
having taken lessons from the EngUsh rat-catcher, and 
learned to bite them off with his teeth, the only ap- 
proved method of performing the operation. 

Lesseps sat down, and independently filled a 
tumbler to the brim with champagne, and then, with an 
air intended to convey at once aggravation and de- 
fiance, he sung the following snatch : — 

"Quatre Roussel had three hairs white, 
Two on the left temple, one on the right ; 
And when he went his mistress to see. 
The rake, he jauntily plaited all three !" 

" Hear me," said Lochadofi", who, having ventured 
at Durakoff's instigation on the madly dangerous 
frolic of personating the secret police, had felt peculiar 
awkwardness on being visited by a man ordered out 
of the empire, and who, being closely watched, might 
turn on him a scrutiny so perilous : but besides being 
of a naturally reckless temper, he felt an undefined 
sympathy with the banned artist. " Hear me," said 
Lochadoff, shaking him cordially by the hand ; *' you 
know, Lesseps, how we are all kept under the ferule ; 
and so, fi-ankly, I had rather you had not come ; but 
once here — in for a penny, in for a pound — we shall 
be noted whether or not; so by the holy beard of 
the liquor-loving Noah, the first tippler in point of 
antiquity, as you are the first in capacity, we will drain 
a parting cup together." 

" All the attendants but one are removed," chimed 
in Durakoff, " for a reason you will burst your jolly 
sides to hear, so we may talk freely." 

" Well," said Lesseps, raising his voice, and twirl- 
ing his moustachios, as he looked around, "in quitting 
this cursed country, which I profoundly despise, with 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 101 

all belonging to it, there are only you two whom I 
would give a pinch of snuff ever to see again ; you 
are the only two men in the empire, unless when you 
are quite sober, which is very rarely. As for talking, 
I am not afraid of being heard." 

*' Neither is the jester, the fool, nor the dwarf," 
sneered the guardsman, but in a whisper. 

" What did you say. Sir ?" asked Lesseps. 

" I made a private observation to my friend, Sir," 
replied the guardsman, superciliously. 

Lesseps frowned. But as a glass was refilled for 
him, and a seat offered him next to Katinka, he went 
through the ceremonies of introduction with a rude 
and grotesque gallantry; and his good-humour was 
partially restored, when Lochadoff whispered to him 
in a few words the adventure of Vasili Petrovitch. 

" And now, my dear fellow," said Lochadoff, " first 
tell us how have you got into disgrace with the Em- 
peror, you who were such a favourite." 

" In this way. He was not inclined to hear the 
truth ; and I was disposed to speak it, just as I am 
now ; so I shall take leave to preface my narration 
by a little anecdote. You must know, gentlemen 
all, that I had a friend — a friend for whom I enter- 
tained, and still entertain the greatest affection; as 
good-looking, clever, and sensible a fellow as you 
would any of you wish to see. This friend, gentle- 
men, began life like Bacchus, seated on a barrel, which 
was strapped to the shoulders of his mother, the 
canteen-woman. He spent his boyhood, like myself, 
as a drummer, and in time he rose to be sergeant and 
fencing-master, and lastly to the dignity of an epau- 
lette on the left shoulder at the taking of the Trocadero. 
At length he was sent, by some misunderstanding, 



102 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

into a regiment of the royal guard; the officers of 
this regiment were all hopeful scions of that nobility 
which fled before the storms of the revolution and 
the empire, and their wars, to return and gather in 
the hay when the sun shone. Now, my deeply 
venerated friend was not noble enough, rich enough, 
or polished enough, for these fastidious gentlefolks. 
On the second day, they gave him the cut direct. 
Somewhat to their disappointment — because, when they 
agreed to hunt him out like a badger, they were pre- 
pared for his bite — he took no notice of it all the fol- 
lowing day. The regiment was quartered in the 
environs of Paris ; the colonel to whom the affair 
was reported, was going up that night ; he sent to my 
friend to attend at his quarters on the following morning. 

"At eleven my friend repaired thither. The 
colonel was taking his chocolate : he was an old 
emigre, who hated every thing connected with the 
grande armee. 

" ' Sir,' said he, without asking him to be seated, 
* I have been informed of aU that has passed. I was 
always doubtful of your exactly suiting the body of 
officers of my regiment ; and I therefore cannot say 
that I so much regret the necessity which you must 
feel of immediately withdrawing from it.' 

" ' I am not aware of the necessity to which you 
allude, colonel,' replied my friend, coolly. 

" ' Oh ! you are not. Sir,' said the colonel with pro- 
found disgust ; ' must T dot your i's for you ? I was 
anxious that there should be no discussion betwixt 
them and any person who had served the empire ; — but 
after all, the men of the empire have no sympathy 
with cowardice ; — in a word, you have allowed yourself 
to be grossly insulted.' 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 103 

" ' Colonel/ replied my friend, ' I have never in my 
life left any insult impunished yet : perhaps you could 
specify.' 

" ' Sir,' said the colonel, ' I find you are lost to all 
sense of shame. Count A — and the Chevalier 
de B — , and my own nephew, all publicly turned 
their backs upon you yesterday ; in short, if you do 
not quietly leave the regiment and the service, you 
shall be turned out of it, since you force me to speak 
so harshly.' 

" ' All these gentlemen have given me satisfaction,' 

"'What! Count A—?' 

" ' I dangerously wounded him at nine this morn- 
ing. The Chevalier de B — . . .' 

" ' God bless me !' said the colonel : and what of 
the ChevaUer de B — ' 

" ' I have just run him through the body : and 
your nephew — ' 

" ' Good God !' said the colonel, ' what of my 
nephew !' 

" ' I must beg of you to excuse me, for it is half- 
past eleven ; your nephew is waiting on the ground 
for me.' 

"'What! butcher?' said the colonel. ' I forbid 
you : I place you under arrest.' 

" ' Then I will disgrace your nephew ; and further, 
colonel, this letter is to ask my dismissal from the 
sendee. And then, when no longer bound by the 
rules of military subordination, a word from me to 
yourself' 

" They met : the nephew was buried the next day. 
The colonel in his phrenzy struck the sub-lieutenant 
with his horsewhip ; and then, when he had left the 
service, was persuaded by his friends not to meet him 



104 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

on the plea of inequality of rank. Perhaps some of 
you, gentlemen, might have felt disposed to do the 
same. But what does my worthy and esteemed 
friend? He walks into a public place where the 
colonel was, and squeezing his cheeks between his 
fists, he makes him open his mouth like a gaping 
fish, and then spits into it." 

Here Lesseps, who, heightening his recital by the 
pantomime of action, seemed for a moment about to 
illustrate his meaning on the person of Jakof, paused 
for a moment. 

" Well," said Durakoff, " and did the colonel fight, 
then?" 

" He fought," replied Lesseps ; " and as he had 
been one of the first fencers of his day, a terrible 
contest it w^as. They w^ere both run through the 
body, and fell simultaneously. As for my friend, the 
sword had strangely slipped upon his fourth rib before 
it entered, ripping up the flesh like a plough in a 
fallow field, as I will shew you." 

Lesseps, pulling open his shirt, shewed a terrible 
scar; and here the guardsman, having politely 
wished them aU good evening, made his exit quietly. 

" And now^," continued Lesseps, " that our friend 
the dog-fancier is gone, and that Jakof does not 
follow him, he apparently emulating the hound that 
would never go till he was kicked out — " 

" Ha ! ha ! ha !" laughed Jakof. 

" Now let us have a song ! a jolly song ! and then 
I wiU proceed with my story. Give me another glass 
of wine ! Allow me. Madam, to kiss your lily hand 
and to drink to the health of your liege lord. I hope 
he is comfortable in the cellar ; for. Madam, if under 
some circumstances husbands are considered worthy 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 105 

of Heaven, they are worthy of a comfortable berth 
in this nether world, and where can a man be more 
happily located than in a wine-cellar ?" 

" Very true," said Katinka ; " I don't pity him, 
he has kept me close enough." 

" Come ! come !" said Lesseps ; " will no one give 
us a song ? Then fill your glasses and here goes : 

If the gods when disposing 

Of earth and of sea, 
Had been better advised, or 

Sought counsel of me. 
Where the rivers and oceans roll. 

Red wine should be ; 
With the earth for a. vineyard. 

The seas for a bowl. 
And my throat for a funnel 

To bottle the whole ! 

''And now to my story. You want to know then, 
gentlemen, why your Emperor, the Emperor of all 
the Russias has fallen into disgrace with Lesseps, the 
painter. I'll tell you ; because he is an empty-headed 
fool, because his empire is vastly larger than his 
wit." 

Here all looked involuntarily to the doors. 

"You must know that, as long as he was in a 
good humour, he seemed the only man one could 
talk freely to in his own empire, of which I now 
perceive the reason, which is, that he is the only man 
who dare answer you in the same spirit. But then 
he winces under the truth and does not like to hear it, 
and though Lesseps never minds telling a lie to 
pleasure a friend behind his back — though no one but 
himself dares say so — he never says what is untrue to 
a man's face to pleasure him, be he who he may. 

F 3 



106 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

'* Now the Emperor asks me if his Invalides — the 
fellows who mount guard at the palace in bear-skin 
caps — are not fuUy equal to the Emperor's old guard 
— I mean the Emperor's — for you know, gentlemen, 
he was the real Emperor, after whom all other 
monarchs are like the princes of a masquerade." 

" My dear fellow," said Lochadoff, " you forget 
your late Louis XVIII, with all the weight of 
legitimacy and of corpulence." 

" Bah !" said Lesseps, with an expression of con- 
tempt ; " a king of farce or pantomime beside the 
* little corporal,' the ' king of fire,' the man of battles ! 
Louis and his successor are a pair of Roi Dagoberts 
of the hunting song — King Dagobert, who you 
know, 

in days of yore, 
Once donned his shorts wrong side before, 
Which Saint Eloi did no sooner see. 
Than he said, ' Oh, Sire ! it grieveth me 
That your Majesty so ill-breeched should be.' 
* It is true,' quoth the King, ' I thought they felt tight. 
So we'll shift them about, and we'll put them on right." 

" It is very funny," said Jakof ; " but, my dear 
Lesseps, we might be convivial without aU these 
dangerous political allusions." 

"You are right," said Durakoff; "we do not 
know on what terms King Dagobert may be with our 
Court." 

" Exactly," answered Jakof, in sober earnest. 

"Who is afraid?" replied Lesseps. "Talk of 
other Kings, Emperors, or Princes, to me who have 
seen the Emperor ! Why your Nicholas is a miserable 
parody on him ! — a child with a paper cocked hat 
and a penny trumpet !" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. ]07 

" Hush ! hush ! hush ! hush !" said all the auditors 
in a breath. 

" Not I !" said the painter ; " I will say my say. 
Why, your Emperor reminds me of the other verse of 
King Dagobert, 

who always wore 
A big sword of steel — in days of yore. 
So quoth St. Eloi, ' Oh ! my King, 

If your foot should slip. 

And your Majesty trip, 
You will hurt yourself with that ugly thing.' 
' It is true,' said the Monarch so good ; 
' Let us have a blunt broadsword of w^ood.' " 

" Well, but your story ?" said Lochadoff. 

" Well then, for my story," replied the painter. 
" Your King Dagobert was vaunting his Invalides 
against the Emperor's Old Guard. 

" ' Now don't you think them better men ?' said he. 

" I answered nothing. ' Well,' he continued ; ' they 
are as tall, as strong, as well dressed, as well drilled, 
more faithful, and braver — for, after all, ours beat 
them.' 

" ' Beat them !' said I ; ' with the assistance of 
twenty degrees of frost, or three to one; but never 
otherwise. I grant you. Sire, that they are as well 
dressed, drilled, and disciplined — but to be as brave — 
they must not only have worsted lace and silver 
medals on the breasts, but a stout spirit within them ; 
and, to be as strong, your Imperial Majesty must feed 
them on something better than rye bread and cab- 
bage.' 

" ' Oh ! but they have meat !' said the Emperor. 

" ' Oh, yes ! as much in a month as I have seen 
an Englishman take at a mouthful. In short, they 
want hearts in their bodies and beef in their bellies !' 



108 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" The Emperor did not laugh as usual. At length, 
for he had come, I believe, for the purpose of giving 
me a subject from Napoleon's history, he said, ' You 
have thought of nothing.' 

" ' Not yet, Sire.' 

" ' Then let it be his flight from Russia,' said his 
Majesty, maliciously. 

" ' Sire,' answered I, ' I know a better subject.' 

" ' What is it ?' 

" * Napoleon on the raft at Tilsit — the Emperor, 
your brother, on his right hand, the Emperor of 
Austria on his left, for they both yielded him pre- 
cedence, and Napoleon commencing an anecdote, 
*When I w^as lieutenant of artillery at the siege of 
Toulon.' The Emperor turned upon his heel, and so 
it happens, gentlemen, that I have received orders to 
quit the empire in eight-and-forty hours." 

" I wish," said Lochadoff, " he w^ould serve us all 
so." 

" My dear fellow," said Durakoff^, " who would 
then be left to serve him ?" 

" But the best joke is to come," continued Lesseps. 
" I have money owing to me, more than would fill a 
sledge. I have been round to-day, and not a soul 
w^ould pay me, or even see me — all knowing that I 
must be off to-morrow." 

" A good joke you call it !" said Durakoff. 

" Oh ! not their refusal to pay me — though, con- 
found them, I ought to be thankful too for their 
utterly disgusting me with a countiy where the 
ruler is like a mangy dog over a bone, and is yet a 
prince compared to all his subjects. The joke is the 
following. You all know that I have committed two 
great follies in my life; the one was coming to 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 109 

Russia, the other marrying there. Well then, my 
German wife has taken it into her head to come with 
me to Paris, and has got her passport aU ready. 
Now of aU the people to whom I went collecting cash, 
as I have told you, I saw only one, and that person 
gave me a suggestion quite as valuable." 

" As valuable as money ?" said Durakoff. 

" To the full," replied Lesseps. " Imagine that I 
was requested to take with me a very pretty inte- 
resting woman, a foreigner married to a Russian, and 
seeking to escape from the country. She flying from 
a husband rendered it necessary that, as a bond of 
sympathy, I should be running away from a wife; so, 
instead of starting to-morrow at sunset with my 
spouse, I am off, en aimable scelerat at daybreak with 
an interesting substitute." 

" Have you seen her ?" 

" No ; but any change must be a gain." 

" And if your wife follows ?" 

" She can't. I am going to make use of her passport." 

" I thought that Jakof had paid you most liberally." 

" He was out three times to-day, that I called and 
sent. After aU, he is no worse than the rest, and I 
therefore regret that, as I must be off to-morrow, I 
shall have no opportunity of meeting any body else, 
as I have vowed to twist the nose off the first shuffler 
I meet." 

" How very funny," said Jakof, " but you mistake, 
my friend ; I told you that I was about to send to you 
to-night — I can pay you at once, Sir : what have you 
painted for me ?" 

" May the devil bum me if I remember !" replied 
Lesseps." 

" The one is a scene in the Pyrenees — some mule- 



110 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

teers — two mules and a donkey, threading a Salvator- 
Rosa-like path ; the other is a portrait of myself — let 
me see, what did we agree for ?" 

" Money and fair words I suppose," replied the 
painter, " but how much, or how many, I cannot tell." 

" You must say," said Jakof. 

" Well, suppose we take five hundred roubles apiece 
for each of the mules, and the jack-ass ; and for the 
portrait half the sum." 

" Half for his portrait ! — rate him lower than a 
donkey !" 

" By no means : but the former would be the 
portrait ; the latter only the copy of a portrait," replied 
Lesseps. 

" And then," said Katinka maliciously, " there is 
my portrait which he painted for you." 

" I don't remember it," said the painter. 

Oh ! Jakof does," said Durakoff, " for he was boast- 
ing of it." 

" Well ! well ;" said Jakof, taking out his pocket 
book with a sigh. 

" Katinka, do you take punch or champagne ? 
iced ?" said Lochadoff. 

" Madam," interrupted Lesseps, "I drink to your 
spouse in the cellar." 

" Oh ! iced by all means," replied Katinka. 

" Which," said Lochadoff, " the champagne or your 
husband." 

" Gentlemen," said Durakoff, " a brilliant idea 
suggests itself," and, initiating the company into his 
plot, he led them into an adjoining room, and then 
quitted them. 

" Look," said Lochadoff, taking out a hundred 
rouble note, with which Vasili Petrovitch had attempted 
to bribe him in the character of the gendarme, and 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 1 1 1 

rolling it up to light his cigar with, " look ! Vasili 
Petrovitch gave me this for taking care of his lady." 

" What is the husband's is the wife's," said Katinka 
snatching it away. 

" By this time the door of the next room was 
thrown open, and there stood Vasili Petrovitch, hand- 
bound, blindfolded, and barefooted, with Durakoff 
beside him, making pantomimic gestures to enjoin 
silence. 

" VasiH Petrovitch," said Durakoff in a rough 
feigned voice : " is that the trader Vasili Petrovitch ?" 

" It is he, your Excellency," replied Lochadoff, in a 
tone of profound deference. 

" My lord—" said Vasili. 

" Hush ! speak not till thou art spoken to. Vasili 
Petrovitch, tell all thou knowest of this matter, and 
beware how thou dost hold back or falsify one sylla- 
ble. You write down what he says." 

" What matter, your Excellency ?" said Vasili 
Petrovitch. 

" What matter ! well, truly that is modest. Art 
come here to interrogate me, prisoner ?" 

" Oh ! most merciful Lord," replied Vasili; "I am 
only too ready to obey your excellency, but how can I 
unless I am informed in what ?" 

" How 1" said Durakoff, " supposing thou knowest 
notliing treasonable after all, am 1 to be so negligent 
of the Emperor's service as to betray his secrets? 
Thou wilt not speak ? I ask thee for the last time." 

" Oh !" said Vasili in terrible pei'plexity, " if you 
would only tell me what you wish to know [" 

" Then," said Durakoff sternly, " apply the red 
hot irons to his feet, and sear him to the quick." 

" Oh mercy ! mercy 1" roared Vasili in an agony of 
terror, " I will say anything." 



112 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

But he was pitilessly seized, and, from a wine- 
cooler, in which a goodly number of bottles were arrayed, 
to prevent the necessity of any intrusion of domestics, 
two or three lumps of ice were rubbed against the soles of 
Vasili's feet, whose imagination was so impressed with 
the idea of being burned, that his shrieks obliged 
them partially to gag him, whilst Katinka clapped her 
hands with delight and laughed outright. 

" What was that ? — do I hear her voice ?" said 
Vasili Petrovitch. 

" His head wanders," said DurakofF ; "put him into 
an ice-cellar, and let him remain there tiU we next call 
him up for interrogation." 

Vasili was lifted aloft, and carried several times 
round the room, and at length deposited in the wine- 
cooler. 

" Oh ! Oh ! I am on hot coals again. Oh mercy ! 
mercy!" 

" Nonsense, you are ankle deep in the ice-slush," re- 
plied Lochadoff, it is not comfortable to lie down in, 
I grant you, but you can stand up, it will do your burnt 
feet good." 

" Oh, your nobility ! you are the gendarme officer ; 
I know you by your voice. Oh, shall I ever get away 
from here ?" 

" Who knows ? You should have answered his 
Excellency." 

" Oh, 'tis awfully cold," said Vasili, lifting up first 
one leg, and then the other, like a dancing bear." 
" And how long am I to remain here ?" 
" Till you are next called up." 
" And when will that be ?" asked the trader 
piteously. 

" I don't know. Perhaps in April next." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 113 



CHAPTER VIII. 

The pale sister who had watched beside Blanche 
through her contagious malady, in the place of 
meeting of the sect over which the brickmaker 
presided, was a wealthy and noble lady, who, becom- 
ing deeply interested in her strange story, continued 
actively to befriend her, though for many reasons 
shrinking from recognition. 

She had committed Blanche to the care of the 
German widow of an officer, a woman to whom 
personal sorrow had taught kindness and compassion, 
and who was besides discreet, unprying, and trust- 
worthy. Living in a retired situation, she had 
hitherto gained her livelihood by devoting her time 
to an insane lady, with the care of whom the imme- 
diate relations had not only entrusted, but to whom 
they all appeared utterly to have abandoned her — all 
excepting one, and this was the pale sister, who was 
so distantly connected that she could hardly have 
claimed the right to exercise the active vigilance she 
did over her destiny, but for the generosity with which 
she doubled the somewhat parsimonious allowance 
made by the lunatic's guardians, so that the 
widow should have no temptation to resort to any 



114 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

other occupation which might divert her attention 
and solicitude from this one object. 

Here Blanche had spent the period of her conva- 
lescence and of her confinement — here the sister had 
solaced her with sympathy and inspired her with 
hope, and the widow soothed her \vitli attentive 
kindness. The woman whose reason some terrible 
calamity had overthrown, inspired all the interest 
with which youth, and gentleness, and the traces of 
beauty, invest unfortunates in her situation. 

Her insanity had assumed the form of tender, 
di'eamy melancholy. Most frequently lost to all 
surrounding objects, she would muse for hours, and 
then her eyes would fill with tears and distil large 
buraing drops, whilst her countenance was serene 
and almost happy in expression, like a moment's 
hea\'y rain with a sunny sky which is not perceptibly 
clouded — such as the reader may remember to have 
seen once in the course of many summers — an 
anomaly startling not in its own aspect, but on 
account of the rare and unnatural contrast which it 
offers. 

And then, whenever she awoke from the en- 
tangled world of thought, in which a bewildering 
drowsiness seemed to yield repose to her faculties, 
she busied herself with mingled joy and misgiving 
in restless preparation both of her person and of the 
apartments for the reception of some beloved one 
expected, yet, alas ! who never came. 

But, withal, she was not insensible to the kindness 
of those around her; and still more impressed by 
sympathy and sorrow, so that a great part of her 
time she had learned to spend by Blanche's side. 

There was only one day in every month — one 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 115 

unvan'lng day on which, towards evening, she seemed 
to rouse under the influence of a painful excitement, 
and in the morning Blanche never saw her, though 
the shrieks and ravings of the lunatic rang through 
the house in the wild paroxysms of her insanity. 

And on these occasions, as regularly as they 
recurred, the pale sister, with a beautiful devotion to 
her suffering kinsw^oman, was always closeted with 
her through the live-long day and night, till the 
unfortunate maniac at length found refuge in sleep, 
and then she left her, so exhausted that she often 
fainted over the cup of cordial wine which the wddow 
held prepared to refresh her after her long and 
tr}ing vigil. 

After these terrible four-and-twenty hours were 
passed, the violence of the patient always gave way 
to a natural reaction, and she became as gentle as 
before, except that she dreamed much, and shed more 
tears than usual. 

Now the day on which Blanche went with the old 
sectarian to reclaim from his brother the deposit of 
Mattheus, was the day of the mad woman's periodical 
fury. The widow had received a message to repair 
immediately on urgent business to the house of an 
influential personage, whom her protectress had in- 
terested in Blanche's fate. The pale sister had not 
yet come, but she had never failed to do so, and 
it was not tiU towards midday that the patient 
became violent. The widow, therefore, left her 
bolted in an apartment lighted only by a skylight, 
and the walls and flooring of which, being padded, 
left no means of injurious self-violence to her charge. 

The mad woman watched with intense anxiety for 
her accustomed visitant ; and when, at length, hour 



116 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

after hour passed away without her arrival, her 
anxiety gave way to fury. Hitherto, during these fits, 
the pale sister had always been there to struggle 
with and restrain her, so that the fastenings of the 
door, which opened outwards, had never been tried. 
Everyone knows that the excitement of insanity, like 
that of anger, if it does not permanently increase 
the strength of the human body, still often fearfully 
augments it for the moment by concentrating into a 
brief period the power of exertion, leaving after- 
wards the exhausted frame proportionally weakened. 
With this ephemeral force of the maniac, the patient 
burst open the door of her chamber, and when 
Blanche, returning from her fruitless visit to the 
house of the perfidious Vasili, hastened to her child, 
there stood the mad woman in the middle of the 
room. 

Her hair was dishevelled and floating in disorder, 
her garments hung in rags about her body, her eye 
sparkled with the wild and fitful brightness of 
insanity, her brows were contracted into a fearful 
distortion. 

" Hush !" she said, putting her finger to her lip, 
*' he sleeps — " 

" He sleeps ! — my child !" shrieked Blanche, who 
with a terrible foreboding rushed to the bedside of 
her sleeping infant ; but there it lay in its deep, calm, 
dreamless sleep, its cheeks like the budding rose, and 
its little bosom regularly heaving. 

" Oh, thank God !" said the mother with unutter- 
able gratitude. 

" He sleeps ! — hush ! hush !" said the maniac, 
" rude stranger, you will awaken him ! — it is not yet 
the hour — the troops have not yet beat the morning 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 117 

drum — not that he awakens easily — you may pass 
to and fro and stamp upon his grave, and he says not 
even, * don't disturb me !' 

"If he were easily disturbed, you know, those 
hammers would awaken him — knock, knock, knock, 
knock ! — do you hear them ? — did you ever hear 
those sounds before ! Oh yes, it is our wedding day 
to-morrow, they are nailing up the drapery and fes- 
toons, and the platform for the orchestra — poor 
fellows, they were early at their work. 

" The platform — oh ! what bloody band is to play 
on it ? What do I see uprising there — oh God ! oh 
God ! — five gibbets ! One for Pestel ! one for Ka- 
hovski ! one for Bestoujef, and one for Mouravief ! 
One, two, three, four," — and the maniac counted on 
her fingers — " but who is the fifth for ? Merciful 
Heaven ! not for him ! — oh no ! no ! no ! — men, 
living men, with bodies sensible to pain, and with 
immortal souls, are not thus hanged up by the neck 
like dogs !" 

" Poor sufferer !" said Blanche, " oh what a world 
of trouble !" And then, pressing the mad woman's 
hand, she kneeled to induce her to kneel too, and 
pray according to her wont. 

" What !" said the maniac, " pray ! — pray ! when 
even the Saviour has refused to save" — and then, 
quoting the words of the mad wife in Krasinski's 
beautiful drama, " The Infernal Comedy," she raised 
her hands despairingly towards Heaven, " Oh I he has 
seized with both hands his cross, and cast it into the 
abyss ! Hark ! dost not hear that cross, the hope of the 
WTetched, crashing as it falls from star to star ! — it is 
breaking, and it scatters through the universe the 
fragments of its wreck ! — " 



118 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

Here she covered her eyes for a few moments 
with her hand, and the looks of Blanche wandered 
anxiously from this sad spectacle to her sleeping child. 

At length the maniac stared again wildly around 
her, and her thoughts again reverted into their former 
all-absorbing train. 

"And they, what do they here, why do their 
drums beat ? Why do their arms shine so brightly ? 
Why dance the black and white plumes ? And why 
glares the scarlet in the morning air ? Oh God ! all 
those brave men, who bear themselves so gallantly, will 
not stand by with arms in their avenging hands and 
sanction a deliberate assassination ? If you want life, 
— if you are quite remorseless, — then take theirs — 'twas 
they persuaded him, — they all rebelled in deed as well 
as thought, — and if there be devotion in the hearts of 
all of them there was no pity for his danger, and there 
is blood on some of their hands, but not on his. 
Hang them ! but not the husband of my bosom, not 
my soul's love, not him ! you shall not touch one 
hair of his blessed head — for the sacred affection of a 
wife protects him. 

" Reflect, Sire," continued the maniac, throwing 
herself at Blanche's feet, " reflect ! you are yoimg 
yourself, — you have a wife who loves you, — you have 
children whom you love, you are one of the earth's 
demigods, you have power, you are victorious — oh 
then why not look dow^n and pity ? Your rule is 
absolute now over sixty millions, there are sixty mil- 
lion lives, any of which you may extinguish by a dash 
of your imperial pen ! and I implore you. Sire, only for 
one, — there is only one I care for, — that is not my own, 
and that pitiful one you will grant me ? For when 
a beggar, Sire, stands by your ample store and asks 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 119 

one kopek in the name of Christ, who can refuse it 
him ? Oh, Sire ! that life your heart will not deny me, 
consider that I am a fond, weak, loving, woman. 
No — no — oh God ! let me rise up, I have profaned 
those knees which should only bend to thee — this is 
not the Emperor, this is not Nicolai Paulovitch ! 
this is the hangman." 

Blanche made a vain effort to pacify her : she con- 
tinued with wild vehemence, " This is the hangman, 
the vile, loathsome hangman, who is to tie the murder- 
ous rope about that neck which nothing but these 
arms ought ever to encircle. Make way, make way, 
you are the hangman, but where is the Emperor ? Show 
me to the Emperor ! Show me, gentlemen, I implore 
of you to the Emperor. . . . But hark ! — it is too late, 
oh God ! oh God ! he is dangling aloft, he has fallen 
once with the breaking rope ; they have tied him up 
with his broken limb, which hangs suspended loosely 
from his body, just like his tender body as it dangles 
by the fatal cord from that foul tree ! . . . . look, look, 
look !" and the maniac, grasping Blanche by the hand, 
led her to the windows and then, turning round, and 
looking into her face, she said, " Ah, now I know 
you ! so you are come at last, Madame Obrasoff, what 
then — if you will save him from himself, — what then ? 
Though I am the injured wife, and you the adulterous 
mistress. Oh save him ! save him ! save him 1" and 
with a wild shriek she kneeled again and seized Blanche 
by the hem of her garment. Then rising, she continued 
wildly, 

" Hark, hark ! to the hammers, knock, knock — 
knock ! Oh they will waken him, and he sleeps so 
sweetly now, outwearied, on his dungeon straw — look, 



120 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

lo, he dreams ! he murmurs out a name. Oh God ! it 
is not mine — it is not his fond wife's, — it is thine, vile 
woman ! thine murderess ! for oh ! thou hast not saved 
him — oh trust her not, trust her not ! turn not, my 
husband, from my fond embrace, to hide thy head 
on her false bosom, for the night that thou were 
first doomed to he a cold corpse with thy warm 
blood curdled — that night, with her plumes and 
diamonds, the wretched woman smiled in the Em- 
peror's presence 1 She, in his murderous presence 
smiled her murdering smile, — oh I have heard 
it all! 

" For thou didst murder him, woman ! say not nay. 
There was a time when first he wooed me : if I had 
asked him then, as afterwards in vain upon my knees 
I did beseech him to fly these dangerous men and their 
conspiracies — there was a time he would have listened 
to me ; but thou didst wdn his constant heart aw^ay, 
and then that heart — filled with another love — was deaf 
to my entreaties. How didst thou win it from me ? — 
tell me then pale sorceress ? — and yet — oh God ! you 
say the sentence is pronounced — oh then forgive me 
if I have spoken harshly, forgive me gentle lady, so 
you can only, only, only, only save him. . . . 

" Oh thou wouldst fly from me ! — stop, stop 1 

adulterous murderess, stop ! — knowest thou not that 

he is dead, and thou art dead, and I am dead — and 

here below, where we both howl for light, thou 

. art doomed to suff'er for ever thus. " 

And here the maniac flew hke a wild beast at 
Blanche, whose enfeebled frame bent like a reed, as 
she was borne to the ground before she had time to 
call for succour, a call which would, if heard, have 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 121 

been vain in a house where the only servant was 
accustomed to the periodical ra\dngs of the lunatic. 

" Now, look you," continued the mad woman, 
pulling loose her victim's hair, and twisting her 
fingers into it, " in this manner it is doomed that I 
shall drag thee for ever and ever through the long 
night of time. Ha ! ha ! it is pleasant to hear, as I have 
so often heard before, thy head bound over the ground 
as I dash thee upon it — for this, this is the ninth, and 
on the ninth he died 1" 

Here the maniac paused ; and Blanche, stunned, 
breathless, and affrighted, had not even strength to 
call for help. 

" Now, tell me, tell me," continued the wife of the 
conspii'ator, " how didst thou win his true and constant 
heart from me ? Let me look at thee — my form was 
surely taller and more graceful — my hair more long 
and silky — my skin as fair — my eyes more soft and 
bright — and yet — and yet he left me for thee ! What 
is, then, this expression that men rave about ? Where 
are these changing hues of the rainbow which they say 
are in thine eyes ? — I see them not. Why say they 
that thy step is Hke the fluttering of the butterfly — thy 
voice like the iEolian harp ? Why did he call thee 
Euphemia — the fairy-like, ethereal, and impalpable 
Euphemia ! who didst look as if fed in thy grossest 
meal on the egg of the humming-bird, and the bloom 
collected from the fruit, — as if thy thirst was slaked 
with dew stored up in the chalice of a flower ? What 
saw he in thee that was not in me ?" 

At this moment, Blanche's infant, at length awaked 
from its sleep by the mad woman's violence, turned on 
its side, and cried aloud, 

" Oh God ! a child — a child ! the babe's mouth 

VOL. III. G 



122 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

answers me ! Oh, therein lay thy spell, then, sor- 
ceress, in that child ! Oh, merciful father, thou didst 
leave me barren, and didst give a child to this 
adulteress — and thus I lost his love ! Ha, woman ! 
then it was not thou, it was this babe ; if so — if thou 
hast heard of Herod's massacre, where they dashed 
out young children's brains against the pavement — 
look thou here I" 

At these words, Blanche — feeble, and stunned, 
and bleeding — started to her feet with a wild, heart- 
rending shriek ; and no sooner was the infant in the 
maniac's hands, than the terror of the affrighted 
mother braced her unstrung nerves, and, with the 
energy of the lioness, whose whelps a serpent is 
enfolding, the fainting woman bounded forward, and 
also seized her babe. 

The tender infant was thus precariously placed 
betwixt the malignant strength of insanity and the 
tenacious grasp of a mother holding on to her child. 
Another instant might have seen the judgment of 
Solomon realized on its person, only that just as there 
arose, galvanicaUy, as it were, a mightier force to brace 
the mother's nerve, so her instinctive perception was 
more rapid — she loosed the child — she seized the 
maniac's throat — she cast her down with preternat\u-al 
strength— that woman whom two strong men could 
not hold when in her paroxysms ; and then, snatching 
up her babe, she fled like the hunted deer. 

In the next chapter it will be explained why the pale 
sister had, for the first time, staid away. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 123: 



CHAPTER IX. 

The Prince Isaakoff had been ten days at Moscow ; 
in four more he was to return. Horace, who had 
agreed to follow him thither on the third day, still 
lingered behind, although he often wished he had 
accompanied him ; and, although he had only to call 
for horses to fulfil this promise, he lingered — unable 
to escape from the fascination which Nadeshta 
exercised over him through her beauty, her enthu- 
siasm, and her touching confidence. And then he 
longed to break the spell, because his gratitude, his 
admiration, and the absorbing interest with which she 
had inspired him— the vivid consciousness of the im- 
passable gulph which divided the Count de Mon- 
tressan from the slave-girl — led him for the first time 
to dread that he might be tempted to villany which 
would have filled him with remorse, or folly, of which 
he felt the bare idea ridiculous. 

Now the excitement of a strangely unnatural 
position when, in the presence of approaching death, 
he stood face to face with a creature of angelic beauty, 
whose living features seen for the first time were yet 
familiar to him ; for whose misfortune his sympathies 
had just been strongly roused by his interview with 
her brother ; and who was about to die in her attempt 

G 2 



124 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

to save him — had all conjoined to lead him to a solemn 
declaration, which — in the same sincerity — in the en- 
thusiasm of his gratitude for their deliverance, he had 
repeated when they stood on the bank in safety ; a 
declaration to do that w^hich was socially impossible, 
an'd which, notwithstanding its solemnity, in the sober 
moments of his reason, he could only regard as a 
rhapsody of its temporary aberration. And yet he 
felt an undefined dissatisfaction at the very reasons 
which, w^hen reviewed, not only served to palliate his 
course of action, but seemed to leave no other reason- 
ably open to him. 

This noble girl, it was tme, had saved his life, and, 
in a moment of transport, he had promised that which 
was clearly impossible — to make her his wife — a 
promise so frequent in its violation by men of birth 
towards theii' inferiors, as almost to be excusable 
when not made with premeditated guile, only that 
here, the life which she had devoted to save his gave 
it a character of more than usual sanctity. But then, 
on the other hand, the Count was about to rescue her 
and those dearest to her from their miserable situation. 
He had akeady tested the gratitude of the Duchess 
by writing to implore her to w^atch over the destiny of 
the wife of Mattheus ; Mattheus, and Nadeshta 
herself, he was determined to redeem from their 
slavery, not only at the expense of aU that wealth so 
lightly won, but of his own patrimonial fortune if 
requvred, or by his blood, if wealth was insufficient to 
effect his object ; but as for marrying — it was too 
preposterous ! and yet, how strange that, if it had 
been possible to fink that beautiful and ingenuous 
peasant-girl a gem, and not a gem in its unpolished 
roughness, but only one unflawed by contact with the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 125 

world — if it had been possible to link to the genealo- 
gical tree, even of her tyrant, whom he now de- 
spised, that beauteous maiden, Horace felt then, 
for the first time, that he, who had railed so bitterly 
against matrimony, would have hastened to secure 
her as a prize that some one might have ravished 
from him. \ 

Horace, in fact, felt that he had the misfortune to 
love, where alike his honour as a man and his self- 
dignity imperatively forbade the gratification of his 
passion. That, however, which touched him most 
was the confident simplicity with which Nadeshta 
had evidently accepted his wild promise, without ever 
for an instant doubting its validity or his intention 
to fulfil it. 

Always singularly isolated at school by her con- 
sciousness of the contempt with which her com- 
panions would have treated her if cognizant of her 
real station; and since then cut off from all com- 
munion by her utter want of sympathy with all 
surrounding her, she had lived, as we have heard 
from her own avowal, in the past and the future — such 
as she had gathered the one from books, and 
gilded the other in her warm impetuous imagination. 
The momentary disenchantment occasioned by the 
condition of her brother and the conduct of Horace 
had been effaced by his subsequent behaviour ; 
and the indefinite illusions she nursed so long, had 
resumed all their influence, based upon a stronger 
semblance of reality. 

She only saw in Horace — young, generous, 
noble, wealthy, and accomplished — one of that 
class of Western men, not only lords, but master- 
less themselves, whose eloquence and whose blood 



126 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

have been poured forth so freely to advocate the 
equality of all human rights ; for, alas ! Nadeshta's 
enthusiasm turned over unobserved the more nu- 
merous pages which record the bigotry and narrow 
selfishness of caste, struggling to increase all tram- 
mels but its own. 

An(i here he came like the errant knights of old, 
who broke through the tangled meshes of the destiny 
most hopelessly interwoven with misfortune, or 
rather like a guardian angel, to snatch her from the 
darkness of despair. He had enthusiastically pro- 
mised, at any sacrifice, to free, not herself alone, 
but all connected with her, from their ignominious 
bondage. She saw and felt that he loved her ; and 
he had said that he would marry her — his word was 
passed — that bond, among the Western men — that 
treble bond of all the chivalrous class of which he 
was a noble scion. 

What marvel then that Nadeshta, in her simplicity, 
never doubted! And, in truth, this marriage was 
the last object that occupied her thoughts, filled 
so entrancingly with her love, the salvation of her 
brother, and the fulfilment of those dreams of wan- 
dering through the lands and scenes of her unceasing 
aspirations, not only free as a wild bird, but with 
Horace and Mattheus. 

Horace, who loved, be it remembered, felt strangely 
disquieted at the idea of disturbing his own 
image fi'om the pedestal on which this enthusiastic 
girl had raised it in her thoughts ; and so — ever re- 
solved to break the charm — yet when face to face with 
her, he yielded to the influence of the hour ; and 
thus every meeting had only served to strengthen 
an impression which he felt to be so fatal. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 127 

• 

Sometimes, indeed, after these interviews, Horace 
had looked with envy on the moujiks at the cottage 
doors, and wished that fate had placed him in their 
humble station — at least, if they had not been slaves ; 
for then what happiness in a life spent with Nadeshta, 
unembittered by all thought of the world's scorn 
and ridicule, and by all consciousness of deroga- 
tion ! 

But hence arose, however, the reflection that, if 
he could have changed places with a peasant, would 
not Nadeshta in the superiority of her education and 
her knowledge have met his love with scorn ? And 
then, was the most passionate love of women worthy 
of any sacrifices ? — That love, which, even when 
sincere, they call up like the emotions of a mighty 
actress, who, for the moment, identifies her being 
with the feeling which she casts off with her stage 
attire ; and which even in utter coldness of heart they 
can simulate with the most deceptive pathos ; and 
here his thoughts reciured to the sad story of the 
conspirator, and to the Obrasoffs. 

In this frame of mind, Horace sought out Nadeshta 
— still incapable of varying in all the generous reso- 
lutions he had formed ; but steeled at length to speak 
the first words which he had ever uttered to shake 
illusions he was determined to destroy. If then, 
after clearly learning his resolution, the slave-girl, ren- 
dered free, should choose to follow him with her 
unaspiring love, his great name was unsullied, and 
his conscience satisfied. 

But, first snatching his hat, he walked up and down 
before the mansion in an agitation which he himself 
thought ridiculous — profoundly ridiculous ! — when 
he, the Count de Montressan, the experienced man of 



128 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

* 

the world, was going into the presence of a village 
beauty. 

He turned the angle of the building, and there stood 
Nadeshta before him. She was equipped for a 
journey. Two rough-looking horses were harnessed 
to one of the light country carts, used indeed by the 
gentry in the terrific cross-roads ; and a very old pea- 
sant, miserably clad, stood ready to drive them. 

The steward, doubtful how to act with regard to 
Nadeshta, and perfectly sensible that the Prince con- 
sidered her as the attraction which kept his visitor in 
the autumnal desolation of his country-seat, dared not 
refuse her the vehicle and horses which she had 
imperatively demanded, although he did not think 
it necessary to show any good-will in their selection. 

Nadeshta greeted the Count with unusual coldness ; 
but then her thoughts were evidently pre-occupied by 
a letter which she was re-perusing. 

*' Nadeshta !" said Horace, " what is this ? Where 
are you going ?" 

" I am summoned to go immediately," replied 
Nadeshta, " I fear to the bed-side of my earliest 
friend." 

"Is it far?" 

" Forty versts." 

"These horses will never drag you forty versts. 
The roads are dreadful." 

" Then," said Nadeshta, coldly and resolutely, 
" when they break down, I must walk the rest." 

" But," said Horace, " I have the command of my 
host's stable. Will you not let me drive you where 
you msh to go !" 

" Oh yes," replied Nadeshta. 

" Had you forgotten all that I owed to you ? All 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 129 

the deep interest that I feel. Why did you not 
apply to me ?" 

" I could not ask, unless you offered." 

" This is unkind ; have I not proffered my services 
the moment I knew your wishes ?" 

" Have I not accepted the moment you proffered 
them ?" 

" And do you desire to go immediately ?" 

" This instant," replied Nadeshta, with all the 
imperious haughtiness of a Princess or a beauty. 

" Bring out directly," said Horace, " the lightest 
droshky, and the four best horses in the stable — the 
four we have driven English fashion." 

" The droshky wiU be dashed to atoms in our 
roads, my Lord," said Johann obsequiously, " if you 
drive with any speed ; no spring carriage wiU stand it, 
— unless you take the landau suspended above the 
trunks of two pliant birch saplings." 

" You are right — then get it ready ; and let us 
have six horses abreast and a driver with his axe. 
If it breaks down, he will cut a young tree and repair 
it." 

In a few minutes the vehicle was prepared. The 
wind was cold and piercing — the sky, dark and cloudy, 
threatened a premature snow-storm. 

" You will be cold," said Horace ; and he threw 
his cloak, lined with costly sable around Nadeshta's 
shoulders. She mechanically thanked him ; and, 
throwing it down, wrapped it with as much noncha- 
lance about her feet as if she had been an Empress. 

" Now drive — drive fast," said she. 

The driver of this new team was the Starost, whose 
cruelty Horace had concealed at Nadeshta's entreaty ; 
and as he turned his face towards them when he got on 

G 3 



130 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

his box, Horace was involuntarily startled at the coun- 
tenance which was terribly impressed on his memory 
from the fact of his having last seen it glaring upon 
him, \\ith diabohcal malignity, when he lay hopelessly 
imbedded in the moss. 

" I hear ! I hear !" repHed the vigorous old man ; 
and he urged his horses at a ruinous pace, impelled 
alike by his wish to obey Nadeshta, to whom he owed 
her companion's late forbearance, and by the satisfac- 
tory idea that he was injuring his Lord's cattle 
without fear of punishment. 

So jolting was the motion of the vehicle as it was 
rapidly dragged along, notwithstanding its rude 
spiings, that all conversation was impossible till the 
driver stopped to breathe his horses ; and then 
Horace found Nadeshta incomprehensibly absorbed in 
her own thoughts, uncommunicative, and silent. 

Again they hurried forward; and, at length, in 
the deep rutty road, in two feet of mud, in the 
midst of a dark pine forest, again the foaming horses 
could only drag the vehicle through at a snail's 
pace. 

Here the Starost turned round on his seat, and 
addressed Nadeshta in Russ. 

" Hear me, daughter : some strange sorrow has 
come over thee. Our people, who have learned to 
watch thy countenance as the sun in harvest time, 
have all seen it — so have I. Thou art not, and 
yet thou art, more than one of us. Thou hast 
the science and the tongue of the foreigner : but 
yet we are not blind. Somehow, it is this man 
hath made thee sad. Say only the word, and I 
throw the Niemetz under the carriage wheels, and 
crush the life from his accursed bodv. I have seen 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 131 

the Lord's look at him : it will not anger him 
much — it will be accident : at worst, Siberia — and 
this will shortly be as bad. Say only the word, 
daughter '/' 

" Hush, brother ! " replied Nadeshta ; " thy 
thoughts are always of violence: have a care lest 
thou perish violently. Now I order thee, drive on, 
drive speedily." 

" Well, well, 'tis aU one, not even thanks ! " 
grumbled the old savage ; and with his hoarse 
voice he encouraged his horses to drag the vehicle 
more speedily through the slough. 

" What does he say ?" asked Horace. 

"Nothing intended for your ear," replied Nadeshta. 
'*The Starost, who has long learned contempt of 
equals, hate and mistrust of superiors, has no more 
confidence in foreigners ; and in his untutored pre- 
judice, the stern old slave is right." 

The horses having got out of the hoUow road, here 
put forth their speed, and interrupted the observation 
of the wondering Horace. At length they paused 
again, and Nadeshta said, 

" You have expressed curiosity to know whither 
and to whom, and wherefore, I am going this hurried 
journey, on w^hich you have, of your own free will, 
accompanied me. Well, listen ; it is not, after all, 
unfitting that you should hear. Count Horace." 

This " Count" struck harshly and gratingly on her 
companion's ear ; but, without allowing him time to 
speak, she continued : 

" Know then that I had, that I have now, a friend — 
a person with w^hom some of my school years were 
spent in intimacy. She is young, attractive in person, 
high-born, and wealthy ; she is generous and sincere. 



132 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

I remember her when her heart, overflowing with its 
kindly merriment, reminded one of the birds that 
flutter on the branches in the bright spring sun, when, 
inspiring all who hear, they pour out in one gush of 
melody their joyous notes. I remember, for alas ! it 
is not long to remember, a month or two ago, when 
she was admired of all, and when, joined to her 
natural graces, her rank, and her large fortune — without 
which those graces are nothing in men's eyes, — would 
have allowed her to command almost any alliance in 
the empire. I remember, when there was not one 
who might have touched her young heart but would 
have been proud of her preference. Alas ! she 
dreamed like me ; and no wonder, for we had indulged 
one dream together, seeing and despising her own 
countrymen, and regardless of the factitious brilliancy 
which gilds their selfish, servile meanness. She 
dreamed that foreigners w^ere all that our Muscovites 
are not ; attributing to slavery — for all but one within 
this empire are slaves, with the exception of such as 
I, who are the slaves of slaves — attributing to slavery 
that which is inherent in man's nature. 

" Ignorant, as I then was, of what we have learned 
so bitterly, that custom and self-love, and pride and 
prejudice, impose an equal servitude, and corrupt as 
certainly as that which weighs upon us all, — driving 
out every noble sentiment from the heart to take 
refuge on the lips, — this poor, misguided girl. Count 
Horace, guileless, without ambition, open as the day 
at noon — she who had scorned to share the fortune 
of the powerful, the opulence of the high among her 
people — she gave confidingly, without reserve, her 
young and pure afl'ections, and her maiden love to a 
stranger — she cast her vast fortune, and her affection 



THE WHITE SL.VVE. 133 

as a daughter and a sister, as dross into the balance, 
offering to sacrifice them all to him, to fly with him 
whithersoever he guided ! 

" Well, what did this man of nice honour and of 
ancient name — this man who had led her on with 
vows of love to pour out all her gentle soul in vows 
of reciprocal love? I will tell you what he did; 
I wiU explain his infamy. By a cruel jest, he made 
that tender and confiding woman a scorn, a by-word, 
a thing to be trampled by the envious ridicule 
of her peers — he cast her wantonly to earth when 
clinging fondly to him, to leave her with a broken 
heart, and bruised and wounded spirit, in her incu- 
rable despair ! But look, if you would know all, read 
this ;'* and Nadeshta, giving him two letters at the 
same time, called sternly to the Starost to slacken the 
pace into which he was again urging the jaded horses ; 
for they had turned from the heavy cross-road on to 
a broad paved way, bordered on each side by rows of 
oak, forming an avenue along which benches of stone 
were scattered, indicating their proximity to some 
habitation. 

" Good God !" said Horace with a start, and over- 
whelmed with confusion, " these are my letters to the 
Obrasoffs ! — these are the two most wily and deceit- 
ful women in Christendom, Nadeshta. They were 
seeking to deceive me !" 

" Then," said Nadeshta, " to that suspicion,- to the 
thought that he might be deceived, the blind, mean 
self-love of this man has sacrificed my gentle Anna !" 

" How," said Horace, " this is very strange. Was 
I mistaking, or are you ? Where are we going ? It 
is impossible that I can go to the Obrasoffs, though, it 
is true, they must be still at Peterhoff." 



134 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" In ten minutes more you will stand in your victim's 
presence," said Nadeshta. 

" It is impossible, Nadeshta. Anna Obrasoif has 
imposed upon your gentle nature." 

" Anna Obrasoff is dying !" 

"Dying!" repeated Horace, his heart filled with 
remorse and doubt. " Dying ! — oh, God ! was I 
deceived ? Stop, stop ! it is impossible that I should 
face the mother or the daughter !" 

" Hark," said Nadeshta, " Count Horace, if there 
be any pity in your soul you shall follow me into that 
house to see the sorrow you have caused. If not, my 
fate is desperate, on every side despair darkens around 
me, shutting all outlets. If there were a rising of the 
slaves to-morrow, I, with this woman's arm, would 
seize the axe or the torch. So, if you are remorseless — 
I call to our driver — this slave, oppressed into ferocity, 
and he will throw your body beneath the carriage 
wheels, and crush the life out of the felon heart j,that 
seeks to fly the ruin it has made. Was not Anna's 
fate bright enough, mine full enough of terror, that 
you should change her happiness to desolation, that 
you should wring the last hope from my misery ?" 

" Hear me, Nadeshta ! " said Horace, " do not talk 
so wildly. Hear me, dear Nadeshta, if what you say be 
true — if you be not imposed upon, — then I have dealt 
very cruelly, so after all I follow you whether the 
deceived or the deceiver." 

" On, on, on, on !" said Nadeshta, and in a few 
minutes more they stand before the country-house of 
the Obrasoffs. 

The glass doors intended for summer are aU shut, 
the bleak wind, which whirls the withered leaves in 
eddies, howls at them for admission; no human 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 135 

being is attracted by the sound of the carriage wheels : 
all is silent ; the house seems tenantless and abandoned. 

The Starost alights and rings — an interval elapses 
without answer; nothing is heard but the hard breath- 
ing of the panting horses, as the steam from their 
foaming sides rises ^^sibly into the frosty air. 

" The house is uninhabited," said Nadeshta. 

" Not so," rephed the driver, " I saw the smoke 
curling from several chimneys. The door you see is 
open though the lock wants oiling." 

" Let us go in," said Nadeshta, ^' something has 
happened here." 

All the doors along the passage are thrown wide 
open excepting one, which moves at the sound of their 
footsteps; a serving maid, in her village costume, 
utters an exclamation of surprise, and, pushing it 
quite open, half invites them to enter. There is a look 
of such profound awe, such unspeakable terror, 
expressed in her countenance, the sight of black 
heaped upon a table, and the glimpse of a figure 
habited in the same sable hue are, under the peculiar 
circumstances of their visit, so appalling, that Nadeshta 
and Horace press past her with one accord, and 
they stand in the presence of the youngest daughter, 
who is trying on a suit of mourning before the glass. 

" Feodora, Feodora !" almost shrieked Nadeshta, 
in a tone at once interrogatory and full of agonising 
anxiety. 

" Ah Nadeshta, at last 1" said Feodora, turning 
and displaying the same calm, dreamy, impassible 
countenance as ever, and in the same cold, quiet, 
manner, " and the Count de Montressan — I did not 
know he was expected." 

" Anna, Anna, Anna, Anna ! where is, where is 
Anna ?" 



136 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Anna lives, she has been these few days delirious — 
she has had the fever, — she is better now." 

" She lives !" said the slave girl. 

*' And Madame Obrasoff ?" said Horace eagerly, 
his eye still wandering over the black. 

" Oh, did she invite you ?" said Feodora quietly — 
" pray be seated — but she cannot see you, Sir — 
mamma is dead." 

" Dead !" said Horace, who felt the blood curdle 
in his veins and his knees stagger under him, whilst 
Nadeshta stood motionless with horror, so astounding 
was the intelligence, so appalling the unfeeling indiffe- 
rence of the daughter, whose unimpressionable idiotcy 
of mind her silent reserve and a glance beaming with 
intellect had hitherto concealed. 

" Dead! dead ! impossible ! when did she die?" 

" Ah, that is it, v/ho can say when ? Perhaps you, 
for Anna says you killed her, I know you drove us 
from Peterhoif just as our court-mourning too was 
made for the Princess of Sommerhausen. Three 
days ago we came ; three days my mother had been 
locked up in her boudoir ; this morning Anna was 
worse ; we knocked and no one answered ; we shouted 
— no reply — at length we burst the door, and there 
was my poor mother dead. Anna started from her 
sick bed, she is with her now, which is folly, for my 
mother died of a fever, and what care the dead for 
watching — and in her wild and inconsiderate way, 
she has sent out all our people — all but Masha, who 
never knows how to dress one — she has hooked these 
hooks in the wrong eyes, I feel she has." 

Leaving her by a simultaneous impulse, Nadeshta 
and Horace intuitively made their way to the boudoir. 
The brick and plaster were scattered about, and the 
iron-plated door, with its distorted bars, lay unhinged 



THE WHITE SLAVE. ' 137 

and battered, just as it had been broken through by 
the axes of the serving men, who, fearful of the sight 
of death, had all eagerly obeyed the mandate of their 
young mistress, and had spread right and left across 
the coimtry for useless succour. 

Let us enter the mysterious boudoir, which is 
an oratory, with cold, bare walls and a brick floor, 
divested of all furniture : a few of the old Sclavonic 
books of prayer are on the ground. 

In the centre of the apartment sits Anna Obrasoff 
in her night dress, her long hair flowing loose about 
her shoulders, along with her dead mother, whose 
head recHnes upon her knees, and whose lips of lurid 
blue, she presses with her lips which burn with 
fever. 

There is still an expression of intense suffering 
about the features of the corpse, not merely of the 
body's pain, which death obhterates when he triumphs 
over pain and life ; but of that mental agony which 
stamps even the cold clay so long and plainly. 
Their ever changing character, wont to vary like the 
chameleon's colours or the rainbow's tints, are fixed for 
ever now in those sad dolorous lines to which they 
were distorted when she died. 

The feet are bare, for thus she prayed and fasted 
in this place of penitence ; the bust uncovered, because 
a cloth of rude and prickly horse-hair, the only cover- 
ing of her body naked to the waist, has fallen from 
her shoulders. 

By the stripes, — some raw, some Vmd — which scar 
their deadly whiteness, by the scarce healed flint marks 
on her tender feet — even without the black hood 
which lay beside her — the reader might have recog- 
nized the pale sister who watched by the bed-side of 
Blanche. 



138 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

The taper fingers of her icy hand were tightly 
closed upon a rope — a rope knotted in the middle — 
the last fearful relic of the primary cause of this 
long penance — the rope that strangled her young 
lover, the fifth of the conspirators executed : a ter- 
rible memento which recdled even the minutest 
horrors of his death scene, because that very knot 
recorded an appalling incident, dissevered by his 
living weight, when he fell from his high gibbet 
through the scaffold, and reunited when they tied him 
up again with crushed and mangled limbs. 

After this calamity, Madame Obrasoff had been 
led to join the congregation at whose meeting the 
reader has assisted, and her remorse, her love, and 
her maternal tenderness, had aU been mingled and 
consulted, as the vague and mystic tenets of the 
nascent sect admitted, when she began her long and 
agonizing work of expiation, a work of expiation 
which its object rendered sublime, since undertaken 
in the hope that it was his soul and not hers which 
woidd benefit by her suffering. 

On the floor of this cold cell, so bare that, as the 
midday light fell upon it, any object was readily dis- 
cernible, a lock of hair was lying, just as the de- 
ceased, remembering that she had worn it next her 
bosom, had thrown it from her with disgust. This lock 
of hair had served to furnish merriment to the whole 
capital, and to Horace no less than to all the rest, 
though not now as it accusingly met his eye, for he 
felt that, like the last drop which makes the cup 
overflow, this lock had been the crowning feather, 
which, piled upon the overloaded heart — so silent now 
— had broken it. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 139 



CHAPTER X. 

Horace, before the Prince's departure for Moscow, 
had seen cause to conceal from him the suspicion, or 
rather the conviction, which he entertained of having 
been deliberately left by him to perish in the marsh. 
Now, on Isaakoff's return, the motives which had urged 
his guest to this dissimulation, operating not less 
powerfully, may account for the assumed composure 
of the Count as his host commented in a strain of 
heartless pleasantry on the death of Madame 
ObrasofF. 

Although it was true that the dull motionless sky, 
before a storm, or the lurid clouds tinged with light 
by the still unobscured sunset, and furiously driven 
by the gust which speeds them on so rapidly, are 
not each in their way less thunder-charged, or less 
indicative of the tempest, than the impassible gravity 
of Horace, or the malignant levity of the Prince, still 
they sat again in hollow companionship, notwithstand- 
ing all the hatred that lurked alike beneath the 
solemn calmness of the Count and the gaiety of 
IsaakofF. 

" How very good," said the Prince, " the idea of 
my having killed her with a jest ! What a compli- 
ment to one's powers of pointing a story ! I only 



140 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

know of one similar triumph, and that I submit does not 
equal it. It does not equal it because consisting only 
in the annihilation of an individual to whom a mis- 
chievous stor}^ was told, not of whom it was related. 
People don't so easily die of anything you can say of 
them — a fact to be philosophically accounted for, by 
reason that people are so little accustomed to hear a 
very good story that every one is unpreparr rl for it ; 
whereas to be slandered is a thing to which habit 
hardens one. And then I had forgotten to say that 
the other victim had his mouth full when the fatal fit 
of laughter overtook him." 

"Let us change the theme, I pray you," said 
Horace. 

" No, by the body of Bacchus, not. Just when in 
these dull days one has found a diverting theme ! — - 
To think how a fool may be witty, and a liar tell the 
truth in spite of his teeth ! Only fancy that the last 
time I saw Jakof, he had borrowed a laudatory epithet 
applied by his English groom ten minutes before in 
my presence to the cherry-coloured ribbon he had 
twisted round the front piece of a chesnut horse's 
bridle, and, as our millionnaire complacently surveyed 
his factitious curls in the glass, he said they were 
killing^ 

" Hark, Isaakoff," said the Count, scarcely able to 
conceal his disgust, " the scene — the unhappy event 
the consequences of which I have witnessed" has 
produced on me a deep and painful impression. To 
speak seriously, I do not relish any allusion to it at 
this moment, particularly from you to me, who are 
neither perhaps entirely guiltless of what has hap- 
pened." 

" Reassure your tender conscience," replied the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 141 

Prince, " you and I are as guiltless as if a mad 
woman had hanged herself with one of our neck- 
cloths. The inimitable Madame Obrasoff's career 
was in the most natural order of progression in the 
world; not the French order of progression, which 
is as you know, the femme galante from her spring 
upwards, the femme savante and the hel esprit on 
the wane of her summer, and lastly the devote to the 
end — but as it is more commonly practised by our 
Russian dames, who omit the intermediate stage, and 
so of course blend their gallantry and devotion at the 
period of transition. 

" But what is most amusing in the matter is, that 
she should have puzzled us all by stepping on one 
side out of the regular march of female mind into 
the labyrinth of insanity, and that we should, like a 
parcel of fools, have endeavoured to unravel the clue 
of her fanciful aberrations by unwinding the thread 
of reason." 

" There is an insanity of the heart more hideous 
than any of the mind," said Horace, and then he 
checked himself in what he was about to say, and 
rather ejaculated to himself than addressed to the 
Prince, the exclamation of " Poor Anna Obrasoff !" 

" Madness, my dear fellow^" replied Isaakoff, " is 
hereditary, nay more, it is in some measure catching. 
You seem disposed to classify ; well, there is insanity 
of the brain, such as the Lady Obrasoif 's ; there is 
insanity of the heart, as you call it, when a young 
girl resolutely falls in love with something coated, as 
in the case of Miss Anna, that is, if there be no other 
of a family nature ; there is insanity of the digestive 
organs, from which, alas, I am suffering now ; and 
then, lastly, there is the impression which mental 



142 THE WHITE SLA\^. 

insanity makes on weak nerves and ardent tempera- 
ments. If I had not an insurmountable dread of 
being personal, I should have ventured to observe 
that your spirits are depressed, your cheek pale, your 
eye wild and bloodshot ; I should have ventured to 
recommend gentle cathartics, bleeding, the head kept 
cool — " 

" Yes ! the head kept cool — it shall be," muttered 
Horace to himself; and he filled his glass to the brim, 
which the reader may perhaps think a strange way of 
keeping down the effervescence of inward passion — 
but then it was with water. The Prince also, who had 
his own point to carry, saw that he had pressed his 
temper to the extreme verge of endurance — so he 
said: 

" After all, my friend, you know me — I believe in 
nothing — nothing excepting in the unfitness of water 
as a beverage." 

" I prefer it." 

" Then, by the majestic Neptune, by the gods of 
the limpid rivers, the nymphs of the clear spring, you 
shall have it bright and cold ! Ho ! there, rascals, 
bring us fresh iced water — this is tepid — and now, 
without any disrespect to the pure element which your 
preference renders estimable, I may be permitted to 
observe, that it is not a liquid stimulating to the 
spirits ; so I will give you the last witticisms of 
Narishkin, and the abortive puns of his hea^7 imita- 
tors, from the Grand Duke Michael dow^nwards." 

" Isaakoff," replied Horace gravely, " I have a serious 
proposition to make to you." 

" What ! directly after dinner — run the risk of 
destroying your friend through indigestion ? — Nay, 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 143 

proceed, for by a merciful dispensation of Providence 
I take nothing seriously." 

" Listen then ! — you are the possessor of innume- 
rable slaves." 

" I wish I had more." 

** Now, I have learned enough of your usages to 
know that you only regard them in the same light as 
in the West our proprietors do their butts of wine, or 
their growing timber, their sheep or oxen." 

" Pardon the interruption," replied the Prince, " but 
there is this notable difference, that our serfs do not 
improve in value by age, like the juice of the grape 
or an increasing oak ; and they are quite useless when 
dead ; they do not leave even fleece, like a sheep, or a 
hide like an ox — but, for all that, as you observe, we 
regard them as a sort of humble property, and there is 
this advantage, that we can pawn them, which you 
cannot do by your beef and mutton. Pray proceed." 

" In a word," said Horace, " will you sell me some 
of yoiu- slaves ?" 

"Sell them? — I will make you a present of a hun- 
dred and fifty, if you will only allow me to select them, 
and will enter in an agreement to take them off my 
hands altogether. I had proposed to hire them to a 
Moscow manufacturer for their keep and the engage- 
ment to bury them ; but I will give you the prefer- 
ence." 

" I am speaking in sober earnest, and, you may 
imagine, far from desirous of becoming a slave pro- 
prietor ; but I am willing to purchase of you, even at a 
price exorbitantly beyond their market value, three of 
your people." 

" My dear fellow," said the Prince, " are you aware 
that no foreigner can purchase slaves, unless he holds 



144 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

at least the rank of an ensign in the imperial service ? 
And then, unless he be naturalised, he can only 
retain possession of them during the period that he 
remains in Russia." 

" I am aware that the law stands thus," replied 
Horace ; " but I am also aware that it is constantly 
evaded by effecting the purchase in the name of some 
quahfied party. And then," he added, " in the present 
case, even that subterfuge need not be resorted to, as 
I wish to purchase, not a right to their ownership, 
only their absolute freedom." 

*' I wish," said the Prince, " whilst you are so gene- 
rously disposed, that you could make me such a pre- 
sent : you are versed in Russian law. Now, if I were 
wiUing to part with one of the coveted trio, would not 
a certain damsel be chosen, whom I once offered to 
exchange for a grey horse ?" 

" I mean Nadeshta," said Horace. 

"What! still harping on my daughter? — A tall swan- 
like figure, a voice that the opera house would pay for — 
a grace which the baUet-master would value — a Spa- 
nish foot — an Andalusian port — a dash of the devil to 
give a raciness and flavour to the whole, like the grate- 
ful aroma of bright old claret. Look you, my friend, if 
ever a slanderous world should say that you lack dis- 
cretion in your demands, turn you round and retort 
upon it, that at least you have excellent taste." 

" I ask no gift — I offer you value for value ; I 
will not bargain in this traffic for an immortal soul." 

" If it is only respecting the soul that you are soli- 
citous, I can assure you, not perhaps that the hundred 
and fifty serfs I offered you have souls — for that I 
would not venture to affirm — but that they have as 
much as Nadeshta has." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 145 

" You do not answer me." 

" 1 can only answer you by a question. If I were to 
come to you, Count de Montressan, and to say, ' Will 
you oblige me by selling two or three of those heredi- 
tary acres which lie under your window ; that portrait 
of your grandfather; that old bed in which your father 
and several generations of your ancestors died ; the 
sword that hangs upon the wall, and two or three other 
little heirlooms — I will give you more than a broker 
would offer for them :' — what would you say to me ?" 

For a moment Horace was posed for an answer ; 
then he replied : 

" What the difference of custom might render 
strange in one country is not so in another. In one 
part of the world I shew disrespect by remaining 
covered : in another by baring my head. Have not I 
seen aU your friends willing to sell and barter every- 
thing from the houses and palaces they inhabit, down 
to their pipes, sabres, pistols, watches, and fur gar- 
ments ?" 

" Well then hear me ; if I were dealing with one of 
my own countrymen, it might be according to their 
pedhng habits ; but I adopt the principle of your own 
Napoleon code, of treating foreigners as their laws treat 
you. If you had received me in your own chateau, 
your good breeding would not have allowed you to 
make a remark if I had ruined the horses you lent me, 
or wounded your favourite dogs, through awkwardness 
or carelessness : but, if I remember rightly, I think I 
have seen you, under similar circumstances, very 
starchly refuse compensation, saying that you did not 
sell : — so it is here — whilst you are my guest, my hos- 
pitality is not niggardly. Amuse yourself as you 
please with my slaves or my horses — but / do not selV 
VOL. III. H 



146 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

Horace was silenced for a moment by this refusal ; 
but then, remembering not only that the vital im- 
portance of the occasion sanctioned any violation of 
the conventionalities of courtesy, but that his host had 
really placed himself beyond its pale, he resolved — 
notwithstanding the dignified decision of the Prince's 
answer — to press the question farther. 

" If I urge the matter," he said, " it is because I 
think that we do not rightly understand each other. 
I can readily comprehend that whether or not it be 
the custom of his country, a man of birth or fortune 
does not risk imbuing himself with the degrading 
spirit of barter, by condescending to the piece-meal 
sale of all he may possess, as some of your country- 
men do ; but after aU it is a matter of taste, not of 
principle, — and a man sells an estate, or a princely 
gem, or a property of magnitude, without exposing 
himself to the humiliation — or without falling within 
the category of gentleman-pedlar. A caprice of the 
moment — a whim — if you like to call it so, has 
inspired me with a deep interest in three of your 
slaves, and has given them a value in my eyes which 
they cannot possess in yours, however high you may 
prize them. I was about to offer you the price of a 
whole hamlet for them !" 

" I am not surprised," sneered the Prince, " you 
can afford it. Money, say the political economists, is 
measured by labour, and labour by money : — one 
cast or two of the dice, and you can pay me out of 
my own heritage." 

'* Listen, Isaakoff," said Horace : " I am a wealthy^ 
man in my own country, a poor one in your's. I have 
never been a thorough gambler — at least I have never 
felt the slightest temptation to risk more than the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 147 

superfluous accumulations of my patrimonial revenue. 
I confess that my first losses beyond that point would 
have driven me from the green baize for ever. I had 
never any wish to win from you more than what I 
should myself have hazarded : you forced my fortune 
on me. In fact, to be frank with you, the enormity 
of its extent has been a painful restraint which has 
kept me near you, in the same hope which I take it 
has animated yourself — that your luck would change 
and equalize oui* fortune." 

" A chivali'ous generosity," said the Prince : " it 
may yet be equalized." 

" Not readily," said Horace, " for I play no more." 

" What ! — refuse to go on !" exclaimed the Prince, 
with visible agitation, " when you hold my acknow- 
ledgments for more than a million of silver roubles !" 

" At least my banker holds them," answered 
Horace. 

" Well," said the Prince, " every eunuch who keeps 
a money-changer's stall ; every lavoshnik (shop- 
keeper) in Moscow, or St. Petersburg, will tell you 
that my property is worth the double. You will find 
me quite solvable. Monsieur le Comte, if you win as 
much more." 

" I neither doubt you, nor intend to try," said 
Horace, coldly and resolutely. " If you will place 
yourself for one moment in my position, you will see 
that no further motive can induce me to play. Al- 
ready my winnings, disproportioned to the risk, have 
accumulated through my anxiety delicately to return 
them. Thank God, I enjoy a sufficient hereditary 
competence to place me beyond the temptation of 
increasing my wealth by the ruin of another : — to say 
nothing of the stigma, which ill-nature would attach 

H 2 



148 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

to such exorbitant good fortune. Under these cir- 
cumstances, Prince Isaakoif, sell me your slave, 
Nadeshta, her brother, and his wife, and I return you 
all your acknowledgments." 

" You are very considerate," said the Prince, after 
a moment's reflection ; " but I decline your offer." 

Horace bit his lip, and turned from red to a deadly 
white ; he had thought his offer too magnanimous to 
be refused. His next thought was to fix on his host 
a mortal quarrel ; but then whether he fell, or the 
Prince was slain, the future of Nadeshta remained full 
of painful incertitude. 

" You may readily conceive, my valued friend," con- 
tinued Prince Ivan, " that there are gratifications which 
a man does not choose to forego for any sum, whilst 
still the possessor of a million silver roubles : — mine 
happens, unluckily, to be connected with the owner- 
ship of those identical three slaves, whose liberty you 
covet. If I were penniless, then I might reflect upon 
your offer. Now I do not see how I could be re- 
duced to that condition, unless I were to play you 
double or quits for the million you have won ; and 
even that, as the English say, ' a sporting thing to 
do,' I offer to oblige you." 

*' After all," said Horace, starting up, with a strange 
inspiration of confidence in his fortune, " why not ?" 

" Why not !" said the Prince, " so that you can 
only master your scruples." 

" What, stake your whole fortune on a single 
cast?" 

" On a single cast." 

" What, now !" 

" This moment." 

" After all, it is horrible," said Horace, " the thought 
of two men — " 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 149 

" Face to face, like starving wolves, you would 
say, and thirsting for each other's warm blood — for 
this gold is the blood that vivifies the veins of the 
social, as the red stream is the blood of the physical 
man." 

The thought flashed across the Count, that, since 
the Prince resolutely refused to sell, he could be in no 
worse position if he lost. He reflected that his end 
must be attained by good fortune, which he intended 
using with moderation ; and of which, by a strange 
infatuation, he never doubted. 

" Do you speak seriously ?" said Horace. 

"As a priest at a burial," replied the Prince. 
" Shall it be cards, or dice ?" 

'' Dice," said Horace. 

" Then there, behind you, you will find those 
that we played with last — " 

Horace drew from the interior of a backgammon- 
board of veneered ebony, with squares of inlaid 
silver, a set of dice. 

" Once, twice, thrice," said the Prince, turning 
them out upon the table. " You see that they are 
true. Now then for the conditions: — double or 
quits upon the highest throw. We throw for prece- 
dence — a size — an ace. It is you to begin. Count 
Horace." 

Horace rattled the dice loudly, though with some 
trepidation : he felt that, perhaps for the first time 
since dice had been invented, on that throw depended 
the rehef of the oppressed — the freedom of the 
fatherless — the happiness or misery of four indivi- 
duals ! 

" Six — six — five !" he exclaimed at length, with a 
shout of exultation. 



150 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

The highest number on any of the faces of the 
cube is a six : three sixes were, therefore, the highest 
he could have thrown, and there remained only one 
possible combination by which Isaakoff could beat 
him. 

*' Hark 1" said the Count, " you have not thrown 
yet. Let us compromise this business. I renew my 
offer. Give me up those three slaves and I draw the 
game and restore my preceding winnings." 

" Not," said the Prince, quietly but determinedly, 
" not if you cast all you possess into the balance. 
Look !" he continued, raising the cry^stal goblet to his 
lips ; " look ! my hand is not as tremulous as yours," 
and then, stretching back wide his arm, in his attempt 
to replace it still half filled with wine upon the table, 
it fell and smashed upon the floor. 

Horace's attention was for an instant diverted, and 
in that instant the Prince changed the dice. 

" Reflect !" said Horace, " there are but tw^o throws 
can prevent your losing. There is but one of the 
two — the three sixes — can possibly give you the 
victory." 

" There are three sixes !" said Isaakoff, with 
confident exultation even before he removed the 
box, when, lo ! three little abortive aces stared him 
in the face ! At this sight, Ivan Ivanovitch sank 
back in his chair, and turned so pale and faint, that 
Horace threw over him a glass of water. The Prince 
Isaakoff was a beggar ! 

By one of those strange mischances which some- 
times mar the most cunningly combined plans, the 
ruined magnate, after perfecting himself by a fortnight's 
instruction and practice, had mistaken one set of 
loaded dice for another ! 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 151 



CHAPTER XL 

" Well !" said Horace ; " by heavens, your nerve 
was wonderful ! I thought it must give way." 

*' My nerve !" replied the Pnnce, who had recovered 
his external composure, though feeling all the uneasi- 
ness natural even to the boldest man whose safety no 
longer depends upon his own skill or courage, but 
upon the problematic faults of an enemy. " My nerve ! 
What is the matter with my nerve ? I have just 
been suffering from a provoking twinge in the ab- 
dominal region, that's all. That infernal cook is 
getting heavy in his dishes. As for our game, you 
have won and I have lost, as must have happened to 
one of us. I can afford to play no farther. Now 
look," continued Isaakoff, tearing off a piece from the 
envelope of a letter. " As to nerve, did you ever see me 
write a clearer hand than I am doing now in making out 
this acknowledgment, of which I cannot specify the 
value, because ignorant of the exact amount of your 
pre\dous winnings, therefore I only subscribe myself 
your debtor for double whatever sum they reach to." 

" All this is unnecessary," said Horace. " I do 
not want your gold —the representative of your human 
property. You let the proper documents be made 
out for the liberation of those three individuals, whom 



152 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

the infamous customs of a barbaric society has placed 
in your power, and I give you back my winnings ; 
so we shall part quits, if not friends. Prince Ivan 
Ivanovitch, perhaps you will give me your answer 
to-morrow? Perhaps you will summon your people 
that 1 may retire ?" 

The object of Horace, in leaving the Prince the 
interval of a night for reflection, was his dread lest 
the excitement of the moment might betray him into 
a refusal, which obstinacy might afterwards lead him 
to maintain. 

" As to your offer," rephed Isaakoff, trying a few 
careless throws with the dice, " I beg leave unequi- 
vocally to refuse it, as I will do again to-morrow if 
the repetition will amuse you. And then, as to 
calling the servants, there is a hand-bell close to you, 
unless you prefer to clap your hands, as you have 
always seen me do myself. Do not think me rude ; 
oh, no ! fortune may vanish with the cast of a die — 
as mine has done — but I have never staked either my 
temper or good-breeding, and so have not lost either. 
This house, the lands and villages surrounding it, 
the slaves who serve us are yours now. Count Horace, 
it is for you to call them." 

" This is childishness !" said Horace ; " this is an 
impossible termination to such a scene !" 

" Unlucky, not impossible ; whatever is, is more 
than possible. I was about to add that, as this whole 
estate is to be sold to liquidate a portion of your claim, 
I consider it from this hour as yours, excepting from 
it only my slaves, Mattheus and Nadeshta." 

" Confound your slaves ! A malediction light on 
all your property ! Tt is Nadeshta, and her 
brother, and her brother's wife that I must have — 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 153 

if not, there is ruin staring you in the face. I will 
use my good fortune — by the God that made us ! 
I will use it to push you to beggary or to degra- 
dation ! It is not avarice which might feel shame 
or pity — but it is pity itself ; and that revenge, which 
all men must applaud, will push me to it." 

" So be it !" said the Prince. " Ruined I am, for 
one so wealthy, not beggared. Some thousands will 
remain from the wreck, and I shall still enjoy as 
great a gratification as fortune could give me — an 
intensity of hate towards those three slaves, whom I 
shall connect with my ruin. Consider for a man — 
w^hose appetite is as uncertain as the sunshine — who 
would have given a limb for one soul-stirring sen- 
sation w^hich might rouse the stagnating blood — 
consider the delight of hating soundly, and of daily 
sating one's revenge by scientifically husbanding its 
dainty pleasures !" 

"Is it possible that there can breathe such a fiend 
in human shape," said Horace, who was losing head 
before the coolness of his adversary ; "are you then 
quite heartless ?" 

" Quite, in a sentimental point of view," replied 
Isaakofi", throwing down the dice-box, " and anatomi- 
cally speaking, they say, almost without a liver. If, 
indeed, you were again disposed to try your fortune — " 

" Truly," said Horace, " to play with a ruined 
man !" 

" To play," answered the Prince, " wdth the master 
of Nadeshta. Though I will not sell, I' might be 
induced to stake the three slaves against the fortune I 
have lost." 

" No," said Horace, after a few moments' considera- 
tion, " brave it as you will, you cannot persuade me 

H 3 



154 THE WHITE SLAVE/ 

that the advantage I hold over you is not worth more 
than the even chance of winning or losing every- 
thing." 

The Prince clapped his hands : a domestic obeyed 
his summons. 
\" Send hither the steward" 

" What are the commands of my high-born master?" 
said Johann, following it by an exclamation of " Herr 
Jesu !" as he trod on the broken glass, and cut through 
the leather of his boot. 

" Johann, you will send a messenger with a vehicle 
to the Capitan Tspravnik : he is to send two men to 
punish a slave upon the spot." 

" My Lord," said Johann, " we can inflict any 
punishment here ; we are beyond the distance which 
reciuires that we should send for the police." 

" Only as a man may die under the lash, which will 
probably happen at last, one is thus free fi'om all res- 
ponsibility." 

" Your reasoning is full of wisdom — you shall be 
obeyed," said Johann, obsequiously. 

" Stop," said the Prince, " to-morrow, at daybreak, 
you will assemble the village, and cause the slave, 
Mattvei, to be punished in the presence of his sister ; 
and then you will take her yourself to Moscow to 
Madame A's, the milliner ; you will tell her that I 
send her an apprentice, to whose ser^dces she is 
welcome for the next three months, and that, as soon 
as he can move, she shall have the brother for a 
porter. Now, begone !" 

" I obey," replied the steward, and he hobbled out 
with numberless bows. 

" What," said Horace, " if I were to fix on you a 
deadly insult ?" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 155 

"If irreparable," replied thePrince, "we should fight." 

" What !" said Horace, " if I were to kill you like 
a dog?" 

" Then," retorted Isaakoif, with an inward chuckle 
" my acknowledgments would be waste paper." 

" Good God !" said Horace, " what is to be done ?" 

IsaakofF pointed to the dice-dox. 

" Risk everything on a cast when one holds such 
cards in hand !" was the thought of Horace, which the 
Prince di\ined, for he said, 

"If my suggestion suits you, we might meet half 
way — you shall stake one million against the three 
slaves." 

" And, if I lose, be in the same position as be- 
fore." 

" No ; if you lose, I will stake Nadeshta alone 
against the other million." 

At this moment the voice of Johann was heard 
calling lustily in the yard, as he proceeded to despatch 
a messenger in obedience to the orders of the Prince. 

" Come," said Horace, seizing the dice-box with 
desperate resolution, and with the mental reservation 
of having the heart's blood of his adversary if he 
lost. 

"Come," said the Prince, with fiend-like satisfac- 
tion, for whilst he had been apparently casting the 
dice upon the table for amusement, he had rectified 
the error which had led to his late disaster, and he 
now played with the certainty of fortune, " let us under- 
stand each other ; the highest throw wins — you stake 
one half your winnings against my three slaves ?" 

" Nadeshta, and Mattvei, and Mattvei's wife," spe- 
cified Horace, with anxious caution. 

" Shall we throw for lead, or will you play first ?" 

" What matters " said Horace. 



156 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Play, then." 

" Here goes," said Horace, and his eyes lit up with 
a gleam of satisfaction, when he saw two sixes and a 
three, and then scarcely doubting of victory, two 
thoughts contradictory in their influence flashed 
almost simultaneously across his mind. In another 
instant he thought to see the Prince, stripped, not 
only of his fortune, but baflled in his cmelty, and he 
now determined to divert the generosity he had 
originally intended from his unworthy adversary, to 
scatter it with princely profusion amongst those over 
whom he recently tyrannised, and then at the same 
moment the idea first struck him — what if Isaakoff 
should deny his debt of honour ? Horace could ruin 
him then — his enemies would make a handle against 
a rich man and a magnate of what is daily passed over 
in others — the Emperor himself would seize the pre- 
text — but then Nadeshta ! 

At this instant Isaakoff" threw — Isaakoff con- 
quered. 

" You have won," said Horace, filling a glass to 
the brim with wine, and tossing it hurriedly off, 
" You have won ; well, now we play the other million 
against Nadeshta !" 

" If you prefer water," said the Prince, " I will call 
for some fresh iced. The turn of one of those little 
cubes of ivory, the fraction of an inch, has made me 
master again of a]l surrounding us, and entails there- 
with the necessity of attending to all the amphytrionic 
courtesies." 

" Throw," said Horace, sternly. 
" Oh," replied ^ Isaakoff, filling himself a glass, 
the contents of which he raised to his- lips and sipped, 
" play on, it is yoifl* right, you are tl^ loser." 



^ 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 15? 

" Here, then !" said Horace, " here !" and with a 
violence intended to conceal his trepidation, he thun- 
dered down the dice upon the board. 

In the result of this action there was nothing to 
relieve his anxiety, for Isaakoif said directly, 

" Three quatres, that is only twelve ; now, Monsieur 
de Montressan, you lose !" and seizing the dice in his 
turn, the Prince looked intently at Horace, and shook 
them long and tantahzingly. 

There was something in his glance so full at once 
of anticipatory triumph, and of cold and passionless 
malice, as, enjoying his adversary's suspense, he 
paused instead of throwing, and then again began to 
shake the bits of ivory, big with fate, that a cold 
perspiration broke out on the brow of Horace. To 
his unstrung nervTS and over-excited mind, the gaze 
of the Prince recalled the eye of the rattlesnake when 
meditating where to inflict its venom ; and the clatter 
of the dice, as he shook them to and fro, of the fatal 
rattle, which warns all living things that the death 
sting is about to make an inlet for its poison — the 
mortal poison, which festers incurably in the victim's 
flesh. 

This presentiment of evil proved prophetic, as how 
could it otherwise, considering the fraud which his 
host was practising ? 

" Lost !" gasped Horace, " oh God ! it is lost !" 

" Lost," replied Isaakofl", " that is to say, that the 
Count de Montressan and his humble servant are 
quits, just as when he did me the honour to take up 
his abode beneath my roof. The case is a hard one." 

At this moment a vehicle rattled out of the yard ; 
Horace knew that it was the messenger despatched to 
the Ispravnik ; he rose without any determined pur- 



158 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

pose, but the blood throbbing to his temples, and 
maddened to an irresistible vindictiveness. 

" You will remember," said the Prince, " that you 
hold my distinct acknowledgments for some two mil- 
lions of silver roubles. Do you forget the quittance ?" 

*' Here," said the Count, tearing the paper he had 
received into pieces, and scattering it on the floor. 

" That is half ; perhaps you will write a receipt in 
full for those you have so cautiously deposited with 
your bankers." 

" Look you," said Horace, '^ when a man, your 
creditor, lies in his death-struggle, smothering in a 
marsh — " 

" If ever," interrupted the Prince, " you can be so 
unfeeling, that must be the time to leave him there. 
Ho, there ! clear away this litter. Your hand trembles, 
Count Horace ; this is a poor specimen of calhgraphy, 
though, after all, it makes us quits. Send us the 
coffee when I clap, and request, in my name, tlie 
company of Nadeshta with her guitar. I feel at 
home again, my valued friend, amongst my household 
gods. She must sing here to-night, if to-morrow at 
Moscow." 

Horace, with his clinched fist, approached Isaakoff. 
" Fiend !" he said, in a hoarse and husky voice. 

" I was an unlucky devil an hour ago, at least," 
said the Prince, and then seeing that there was danger 
in the Count's eye, and that he had driven him to the 
last extremity, he dexterously stopped him short in 
the very act of resorting, perhaps, to some personal 
violence, by saying : " Would you like another 
throw for this Briseis? If so, my intemperate 
Achilles, you will find me magnanimous as the king 
of men !" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 159 

Horace stopped short at this proposition, which 
flashed on him a ray of hope. 

'' And what can I stake ?" 

" You have a patrimonial fortune ; stake that as I 
did mine." 

" Impossible," said Horace, " the heritage of my 
fathers !" 

"It is about a seventh of my own : modesty is my 
prevailing weakness, or I should say that I was 
generous to propose it." 

" Impossible !" 

*' As you will ; I oifered you your revenge, one half 
your fortune against the three slaves, and if you lost, 
the other half against Nadeshta." 

" Well," said Horace, " well, so be it then ! It is a 
strange stake, one half of estates whose value is not 
even definite, against the freedom and the happiness 
of three immortal beings, made after God's own 
image, who will surely guide my fortune." 

" It would be so easy for Pro\ddence, if you could 
only inspire it with a taste for gambling," sneered the 
Prince, " just to incline three bits of dotted bone two 
sixteenths of an inch." 

" Go on," said Horace, " it is your throw." 

" Now," said the Prince, " I defy the Archangel 
Michael himself to beat that, if sent to succour you 
with Miltonic weapons." 

Three dark sixes stared Horace in the face, like 
rows of black grinning teeth. His only chance was 
of throwing the same, which would neutralize 
Isaakoff 's fortune. He failed. 

Horace said nothing ; he tossed off a goblet full of 
wine, but there w^as that in his manner which induced 
the Prince to clap for his attendants. 



160 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" No not coffee !" and then he added in Russ so 
rapidly that Horace could not understand him, " be 
four of you at hand, the Count has drunk." 

" Now," said the Prince, " it is you to throw." 

Horace threw silently, he breathed : this time he 
had too thrown the triple sixes. 

Fortune had done for him with fair dice what 
Isaakoff was sure of by dexterously changing them for 
a biassed or loaded set, whenever he took them up. 

Isaakoff played, he threw three sixes, they were 
even. 

"This is strange," said Horace, '^nothing but 
triplets !" and then with desperate boldness he com- 
menced again. " Four, four, and six !" 

The Prince took up the dice, Horace felt that the 
ruin not only of his fortune, but of all his hopes hung 
so completely by a thread, he knew that it would be so 
utter and so hopeless that he only waited the result 
to fly at Isaakofl^s throat like a dog, determined as he 
was to throw his life after his fortune or to take his 
enemy's. 

At this moment, — whilst the wrongs of Nadeshta, 
of Mattvei and of Blanche, and the image of Madame 
Obrasof were flitting in his mind and pointing his 
gaze with an intensity of hatred on the Prince, — the 
Prince conscience-stricken and coupling his guest's 
fierce look with his last observation, imagined himself 
suspected. He grew confused, he missed the oppor- 
tunity of changing dice. It is true that, in an instant 
regaining his self-possession, he meditated overturn- 
ing the table and in the confusion recovering the chance 
he had lost ; but then — besides the consideration 
that so doing might possibly give rise to the very 
suspicion which, a moment before, he had causelessly 
apprehended,— by one of those strange anomalies 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 161 

which are quite unaccountable, though common to 
human nature, he was influenced by a momentary 
feeling of rude pity — at least in thus far that when he 
reflected that he was now only risking the possession 
of Nadeshta he felt inclined to give her the fair hazard 
of the game. He did so, he played with the same 
dice as Horace : — he lost. 

" Nadeshta is mine ! I have won — I have won !" 
shouted Horace impetuously as he rose from the 
table. 

" She is yours," said the Prince, " from this hour.'* 

" Then this hour," said Horace, " let the necessary 
steps be taken for her manumission !" 

" It shall be so ; but you have an acknowledgment 
to write for half your broad lands — this is a good bold 
hand ; but we have been playing an exciting game, 
perhaps you would like to pit your prize against my 
winnings ?" 

Horace shook his head with lofty disdain. He heard 
the voice of Nadeshta in the anteroom, he rose and 
rushed to meet her. 



162 THE WHITE SLAVE. 



CHAPTER XIL 

This room was on the opposite side to the one 
occupied by the attendants. 

Nadeshta and her brother, aware of the proposition 
Horace was about to make to their Lord, had been 
long awaiting here its issue in breathless anxiety. 
From the rattle of the dice, they had intuitively 
divined that their fate was being thus decided. At 
length the last exulting exclamation of Horace had 
burst upon their ears, as he shouted joyously, " Na- 
deshta is mine ! I have won, I have won !" 

Mattvei had sunk into a chair, and Nadeshta held 
his trembling hand in hers. It was the cry of delight 
responding to his own, which had attracted the atten- 
tion of her lover. 

" Nadeshta," said Horace, " dear Nadeshta, you 
are free !" 

"Free!" repeated Nadeshta, "Oh God, how 
strange it sounds, free, free !" 

" Free as the birds — the winds — the beams of light. 
This night, this very night you shall fly from the 
scene of your serfage, far away and for ever." 

" Oh !" said Nadeshta, pressing his hand to her 
lips and falling on her knees, " Oh, bright and 
glorious being — my guardian angel — light of my soul 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 163 

— my Horace ! yes, let us fly for ever and at once, 
but not together, you are too good, too great, too 
pure, too generous ; no shadow of a stain must rest 
upon you ; your's must be the spotless image which 
a maiden may, in her thoughts enshrine, and treasure 
in her heart, to worship through her life and die in 
blessing. Think not of impossible promises — I see, I 
feel it at this hour, they are impossible." 

" Nadeshta," said Horace, who had raised her up, 
" there is nothing impossible but to leave you. Look, 
Sir, this ring which I put on her finger was my 
mother's wedding ring. You are her brother — join our 
hands, and be the living witness as I call the eternal 
testimony of the departed, that now I claim the faith 
your sister plighted me as I, before God, redeem the 
word I pledged her, swearing to seal that bond by 
indissoluble Hnks the moment we can find a priest. 
My love, my wife, my countess ! oh yes, we will 
fly directly — for ever, and for ever together." 

Mattvei trembled violently. He joined their hands ; 
but he could find no speech : like the traveller in the 
fable where the wind and sun dispute their influence, 
he had wrapped himself in a mantle of impassibility 
against the tempests of fate ; but the unexpected sun- 
shine of good fortune, making him throw aside this 
stoicism, quite unmanned him. 

" Oh, do I dream ?" said Nadeshta, " am I — am I 
truly waking, my Horace ? Shall we all, all fly this 
night ?" 

That fatal word all recalled to the mind of the 
Count what he had forgotten in the rapture of his 
first success, that Blanche and Mattvei were still in 
the Prince's power, and it shewed him at once the 
cruel eri'or into which Nadeshta and her brother had 
fallen. 



164 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" All — oh no ! you do not understand me, I have 
lost all my winnings, I have lost you all, I have for- 
feited half my patrimonial fortune. I have only won, 
with my last stake, Nadeshta's freedom." 

Mattheus seemed stunned for an instant by this 
terrible disappointment ; but then his composure, so 
slow to restore in his good fortune, at once returned 
with his unhappiness. 

" All that it has been in my power to do, my bro- 
ther," said the Count, *' I have done. All that I can 
yet do, I will do — but it will be more in the capital 
than here. You w^ould not have me leave this child ?" 

" No, no, no, no !" said Mattheus, " no, God 
forbid, that will be one weight taken from my heavy 
heart." 

" Oh !" said Nadeshta, " I knew, I knew it was a 
dream, I knew it must be like those bubbles, rainbow- 
tinted, which burst in my infantine hands. Oh my 
poor brother, do not think I shall quit you. Go 
Count Horace, go, go bright meteor of my soul's dark 
night ! go and bear with you the slave girl's heart, for 
she will not even choose to be free whilst Mattvei is a 
captive." 

" This cannot be, Nadeshta ! Take her, my glorious 
brother, take her with all the blessings of her only 
relative." 

'* You are mine !" said Horace, " you may no 
longer choose, you are no more my love alone, you 
are my wife, my countess !" 

" Press me no more," said Nadeshta, " you should 
know me both — my brother, you, and you, my 
Horace. You should know how unalterable is my 
purpose, you should know that mine is not the weak 
will of a faltering woman, and being so — immutable 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 165 

and fixed — it is cruel — it is cruel, Horace, my own 
Horace, thus to urge me." 

" Hear me," said Horace, " you are fatherless ; 
your brother in your father's stead commands; by 
staying you cannot alleviate his misery. I implore, 
entreat, command — in the name of that sacred token 
which has made you mine — " 

" Look !" said Nadeshta, plucking off the ring, and 
casting it from her, " why bruise my heart farther ? 
There is a monitor within it that I obey — why tyran- 
nize over our very affections — what right has father or 
brother to command ? I have no obedience, I have 
only affection : I have only the unchangeable will to 
suffer with him. I shall have only the unalterable 
constancy to love you to the last, my Horace, not the 
baseness to follow you. No ! I must die here like the 
trampled wood flower on the humble ground on which 
it grew, breathing my benedictions on you to the last, 
as the crushed plant exhales its odour. I have my 
destiny, you yours. Go, Horace, and be happy — go ! 
knowing there is one who in her loneliness will wor- 
ship your very memory, and from a distance regard 
you as a dreamy child of earth regards a twinkling 
star, so far — so long outliving its frail frame." 

At this moment a loud, shrill, prolonged laugh 
burst upon them, and the Prince's head was seen 
thrust in betwixt the opened door. 

" Very good ! very good ! you have a pretty turn 
for acting, Nadeshta, genteel comedy, or the melo- 
drame, another accomplishment worth all the other." 

Horace bounded forward like a tiger. He pursued 
the Prince into the next room ; the Prince hastily 
placed a table between them. 

" Stop ! stop ! stop !" said he, " this is becoming 



166 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

tragedy — and the comedy was so excellent — besides it 
is not over. Try your luck again, you shall stake Na- 
deshta against Mattvei and his wife, 

Horace was tempted. Nadeshta's refusal to quit 
her brother — his knowledge of the indomitable firm- 
ness of her character — the reflection that the case 
was desperate — the rapid succession of startling 
changes which these magic bits of ivory produced — 
all led him to renew a trial of his fortime. He 
restrained his anger, and they sat down once more to 
play. 

" Believe me," said the Prince, " it w^as a delightful 
scene, and admirably acted — Count Horace taking 
the trouble to persuade his slave that he would marr)' 
her, and she affecting to believe it." 

" Prince Isaakoff," said Horace, " I was serious 
then, I am serious now." 

" Now, by the body of Bacchus !" said the Prince, 
falling back in his chair, in an inextinguishable fit of 
laughter, " now by the body of Bacchus ! you will 
soon be the only living creature so. The Count 
Horace de Montressan marry — marr\' my slave girl ! 
Why we need never have gambled for her ; I would 
have given her you and welcome, for the sport's 
sake." 

" Play !" thundered Horace, " and then — " 

"What then?" 

" Throw, and I will tell you." 

" I have thrown, I have won. What now ? 

" Now," said Horace, seizing him by the cravat, 
" oppressor I tpant ! scoundrel and assassin ! thus I 
strike you, craven, on the face : thus I would strangle 
the life from your carrion body, if it were not that I 
shall yet let the black blood out of your heart — the 
victims of its corruption will guide my avenging arm !" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 167 

" Help ! help ! help !" screamed the Prince, who 
had grown from livid to black in the face. 

In an instant, Horace was overpowered by the 
attendants who rushed in from the adjoining room. 
By the Prince's order they twisted round him the 
table-cover, pinioning his arms. 

" He is very drunk," said the host, " lay him on 
the sofa. Send Dietrich, and get ready my carriage. 
I start immediately for Moscow." 

" Count Horace, you are mad with vexation and 
passion. No wonder — half your hereditary acres 
have been wasted to gain an object in which you 
have failed. I cannot fight you before you have paid 
me or given me some security on which I can 
recover ; for my hand is lucky with the pistol as with 
the dice-box. By sending to St. Petersburg for the 
attestation of your Consulate, you can procure a valid 
document — then I am your man. Meanwhile, busi- 
ness calls and pleasure beckons ; I entrust to you 
this mansion, my stud, my cellar, my cook, and the 
ladye Countess. When your messenger returns, so 
will I, and then we will square accounts. Only, whilst 
you are dabbling with deeds and parchments-— one 
word of parting advice — do not forget your will." 

Whilst Horace was struggling in the covering 
in which he was encased with all the fury of an angry 
child, the Prince vanished with a graceful salutation 
as he crossed the threshold of the door. 



168 THE WHITE SLAVE. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

Horace was again struggling in his toils, after an 
interval of exhaustion, when Johann appeared before 
him. 

"My Lord, who has just started for the city, has 
sent me to you with his most humble excuses for this 
little violence. Calm yourself, illustrious Sir ! I will 
unbind you. You really, really must pardon us. It 
is provoking. Sir, to lose at play, and then, Sir, the 
wine is heady." 

" Rascal !" said Horace, " rascal ! thou liest like 
thy master. I have drunk nothing but water." 

" Then it is play that has made you outrageous, 
high born Sir. There is only one game which never 
ruffles the temper, a game of my own invention, at 
which both parties win. I shall be happy to teach it 
you, noble Sir." 

" Unbind me," roared the Count, " only unbind me 
and I wiU twist thy infernal neck !" 

" Nay, now truly," said Johann, stopping short 
with a look of alarm at this ungracious promise, in 
the very act of freeing the captive from his bonds, 
" it would be unphilosophical in the extreme to do 
so. Pardon me, my Lord, but, if you were to twist 
your humble servant's neck, you would put it quite out 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 169 

of his power to serve you further. You would put 
it out of his power to obey his honoured master, 
who has strictly commanded him to attend to all 
your wants and wishes till his return. That is to 
say, as soon as the effect of the wine — I mean of the 
water — has passed away." 

" Fool," said Horace, " I am perfectly calm. Un- 
bind me, I will not do thee any mischief." 

" I hope not," said Johann, still parleying, " I 
hope not, my high-born Lord. I have no wish, but 
according to the instructions of my honoured master to 
obey you in every thing. The slaves, the stud, the kitchen, 
the cellar — only," added the steward in prudential 
parenthesis, " only that I have mislaid the key of it 
this evening — are all at your disposal. So is Johann 
Sauer, your humble servant, with whatever philoso- 
phical knowledge and mechanical talent he may happen 
to possess." 

"" Come, unbind me, Master Sauer," said Horace, 
as calmly as he could. 

" I am doing so — I am doing so. And then my 
Lord further said, that his noble guest might wish 
to send some one to St. Petersburg, for whom I am 
to procure an immediate passport — if it be so desired. 
These knots are very tight." 

*' Cut them, worthy Johann," said the Count ; 
and Johann, now quite re-assured as to his prisoner's 
sanity, released him in a moment. 

" Now, rascal !" said Horace, seizing him ; " thy 
master is gone. Where is Nadeshta? where Mat- 
theus?" 

" Oh, mercy !" exclaimed Johann, " they are both in 
the next room." This was true; the Count had 
himself turned the key upon them. 

VOL. in. I 



170 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Oh ! he has not taken them !" said Horace, 
greatly relieved, and releasing the steward. 

" He has not taken them," repeated the steward, 
gaining the door and keeping liis hand cautiously on the 
handle. " My Lord has left them both at your disposal." 

Horace reflected for a few moments, and divined 
that the orders which the Prince had given had been 
dictated by an injurious suspicion, since they evidently 
oriorinated in a wish to retain him beneath his roof 
until he had given some tangible security for the sum 
he had lost to him. Now, although Horace was not 
iware of the good reasons which his host had for this 
conduct, he considered that he could profit, without 
scruple, by this pseudo-hospitality. 

In truth, the Prince had some years ago been 
detected in a very infamous gambling transaction, 
which had been widely bruited, more on account of its 
extent than of its nature. Now this, according to 
the custom of Russian society, instead of excluding 
him from its pale for ever, had only enveloped him 
in a temporary cloud. But although a few years' ab- 
sence had cleared it away, IsaakofF was aware that its 
memory was not quite extinct, and would be so 
thoroughly awakened, if Horace published the amount 
of his losses, as to be sure to reach his ears, arouse 
his suspicions, and cause him perhaps to demur to 
the payment of his debt. 

" My worthy Johann," said Horace, " pardon my 
vivacity. I will give you my instructions in an hour 
or two — meanwhile, perhaps you will send me coffee 
to the library. I shall spend the evening with Mat- 
theus and his sister." 

" Oh, Sir !" said the steward, " they have both 
been educated to serve as company to any gentleman 



THE WHITE SLAVE. I7l 

at a pinch. You would not find better, excepting 
perhaps myself, for forty versts round about." 

Horace opened the door ; there stood the brother 
and the sister in mute, calm, sorrowful resignation — 
but a resignation utterly differing in its expression — 
for the eye of Mattheus, half upturned to Heaven, 
gave his face a mild and martyr-hke character, 
whereas the cold pale lip of Nadeshta seemed fixed as 
marble in fate- defying scorn. 

Nevertheless, in this important crisis, where every 
event had a fearful significance, the entrance of 
Horace was a singular relief to them. They had 
heard the carriage drive away; they thought it was 
Horace departing, and, when he opened the door, they 
were prepared to encounter the Prince. 

" Come !" said Horace, " come both of you. My 
brother ! my Nadeshta !" and, opening the door of 
the room beyond, he led the way into it. 

This was the library. Like many other Russian 
libraries, it w-as furnished with blocks of wood covered 
with leather backs, printed with the titles of various 
books in gold letters, and of course the key of the 
brass net-work doors that kept them in was perpetually 
mislaid. But this was only the case on three sides ; 
the fourth contained real books, magnificently bound, 
though without attention to the completeness of the 
works, the subject, or the language in which they 
were written. 

In the mean while, Johann had no sooner quitted 
the room in which he had been left by the Count, 
than his place was occupied on the scene of the late 
struggle by another individual, who stole in at one 
door as Johann vanished through another — being 
Hans, his son and heir; he was, in one sense, the 

I 2 



172 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

most appropriate personage who could have succeeded 
his father. 

It must be premised that Hans, particularly since 
the rivalship of the Count had left him hopeless, 
Hans had grown contemplative towards the hours of 
sunset — and yet it was not the declining sun that he 
loved to contemplate. 

He had lived to see his ideal materialized — the 
di'eams of his young imagination rendered real — 
though not for him. He loved, in short, to feast his 
eyes, since he could not feast his palate, on the 
glorious fiTiits, the pine- apples, the consen^es and 
the confectionary, which were laid in their ternpting 
array amid flowers and coloured ciystals for the Prince's 
dessert. 

And then it must be remembered that this dessert 
both went in and came out, so that Hans had a double 
opportunity of delighting his eyes and licking his lips, 
to say nothing of the chances it offered of pilfering ; 
and so it happened that Hans was lingering near the 
spot when the sounds of the storm burst upon his de- 
lighted ears. With instinctive sagacity he foresaw that 
it must turn up something, and he was not deceived. 
When the Prince took his abrupt departure ; when 
Horace was unbound, the sersing-men, little anxious 
to remain in his ^icinity, retired, and then Horace 
himself, and, lastly Johann left at once the scene of 
action, and all the treasures which Hans coveted un- 
protected. 

Hans rushed to the table : he filled his pockets 
\N'ith trepidation ; and then, returning once more 
when near the door, he bethought him that his cap 
was empty. He crammed into it a pot of guava 
jeUy topsy-turvT, a pine-apple, some sweetmeats, and 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 173 

he was hurrying from the door when his foot struck 
against something. It was, as he thought, a 
sugar-plum — he had seen many such before ; he 
put it in his mouth, and bit hard at the crisp sugar, 
so hard that he bellowed, and spat out his broken 
tooth and the two fragments of the ivory die — for it 
was one of the dice that had dropped when Horace 
rose in his fit of desperation and overturned the 
table. 

" Follow me !" said Horace, returning to the room ; 
" follow me, both of you. I must not lose sight of you. 
How is it no one answers ? We must beware of 
treachery. Stop !" he exclaimed ; " stop !" as he caught 
the sounds of the retreating footsteps of the marauder, 
who at this summons fairly took to his heels, dropping 
his booty and putting on his cap, guava jelly and all. 

We will pass over the touching scene which ensued 
when Hans appeared before his mother, roaring with 
the pain of his broken tooth, and the jelly mistaken 
for coagulated blood. We will pass over the terror 
and paternal anxiety of Johann, who doubted not 
that his master's furious guest had knocked out the 
brains of his son and heir, spoiling, and effectually 
spoiling in one moment a youth whom it had been 
for years his study not to spoil. We will leave Hans, 
in short, to return to the lost fragment of broken 
tooth, which has caused the quid pro quo. There hes 
beside it the die bitten in two ; and just as Horace 
was saying : " Oh ! if I could only establish the fact !" 
Mattheus stumbled upon it. 

" What is this ? One of the dice ?" 

" Good Heavens !" said Horace. " This is providen- 
tial ! May I never move from this spot if it be not 
loaded !" 



174 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

And, on examination, so it proved — a hole had 
been bored through one of the dots, and a piece of 
lead inserted, one half of which was left exposed by 
the splitting of the ivory. Of course this partial 
counterpoise was calculated always to leave the 
lighter side uppermost — the lighter side was marked 
with the six, the highest number on the cube. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 1 75 



CHAPTER XIV. 

" After all, this disco veiy can only avail me in the 
matter of least importance at this hour," said Horace. 
" I can puhlish his infamy — I can refuse to pay ; but 
what is all that to the terrible position in which we 
stand ? I cannot dream of leaving you ; and if I were 
to take you with me — " 

" That is impossible," replied Mattheus. " He 
holds your passport, and even you cannot proceed 
without' his knowledge. Not only would you be 
stopped for the w^ant of it, but you could not find 
horses one post along the road. No post-master 
durst furnish them without a ]po dorogn^ or permit, 
only to be obtained passport in hand." 

" And yet," said Horace, " we must profit by this 
providential breathing time, — something we must 
devise — time flies — we owe his forbearance only to 
his avarice ; and yet gold will not tempt his avarice 
to humanity." 

" No," said Nadeshta, " there is no hope : we are 
the doomed children of misery. But as for you. 
Count de Montressan — as for you, my Horace — there 
is but one course by which you will not add to it. 
You must leave us ; you must go. Must he not 
Mattvei?" 



176 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Oh yes, you must go," said Mattheus, grasping 
the Count's hand with a tenacity which behed his 
words, and then he added, pressing it with affection, 
as if a sudden thought had reconciled him to his 
departure : " Oh yes, you must go, because I know — 
I know, my noble brother, that you will see to her 
safety." 

Horace w^as thoughtfully silent. 

" Yes, you must leave us, dear Horace," said 
Nadeshta, "you must go, consoled by the thought 
that your love has gleamed like a ray of light into 
the night of my soul, remembering that death might 
have di\dded us, as it must at last ; for death is a 
common occurrence — death is quite as inexorable as 
our fate — quite as implacable as our Lord — " 

" What do you say ?" exclaimed the Count, as if 
abruptly awaking from a reverie to the compre- 
hension of her words. *' What can you believe, 
either of you — do you believe, Nadeshta, that the 
thought of leaving you has crossed my brain for an 
instant ?" 

,,.. "No," said Nadeshta, "no. I knew you never 
entertained it ; but oh ! w^hat it is to be a w^oman ! 
If you had been disposed to leave us then, you might 
have gone or staid ; and now because I know you 
would remain, your tarrying would break my very 
heart. You wiU not stay when you know this, 
Horace." 

" No," said Horace, " I will not stay : we will not 
any of us stay. No human power w^ould induce me, 
Nadeshta, to leave you at his mercy. If I were to 
remain, nothing could ensue but ruin and bloodshed ; 
we must therefore take a desperate resolution and fly 
together." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 177 

" Oh it is impossible to fly." 

" Impossible perhaps to fly by a post-road ; but 
what if I were to make an appeal to the Emperor, 
what if we were meanwhile to seek concealment in 
the forests !" 

" That would be worse than useless," said Mattheus, 
" the Emperor's heart is cold and unyielding. What 
are you to expect from the man who hardly ever 
alters the terrible sentences of his courts, martial or 
civil, but to add to their punishments ! — the man 
deaf to the entreaties of wife, mother, and sister ! 
He might, it is true, in his hatred to his great 
nobility, be glad of a pretext to strike the Prince ; 
but do you think the slave would fare any the better ? 
Is he not himself the greatest slave master in the 
empire? Is he not perpetually augmenting their 
number — already twenty millions — by the forfeit 
of mortgaged lands and confiscations? Is not the 
pretence of enfranchising his slaves a mere blind for 
credulous Europe, when he, by one dash of his pen, — 
without ofi'ending any interest — might restore one 
half the serfs in his Empire, those of his own private 
domains, to freedom? What sympathies can this 
man have with our condition if his ear were reached ?" 

" Well then," said Horace, " you and I are men ; 
and as for this noble gii'l, her resolution is more 
manlike than either yours or mine. We cannot wait 
here like victims caught by the tide till it rises 
above our heads. We cannot perish without an 
efibrt : let us strike into the forests, shunning the 
haunts of men and shaping our course westwards, 
towards the setting sun. In time, from wood to 
wood, we may reach the Russian frontier." 

f' This cannot be," said Mattheus, mournfully. 



178 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

"Not only the spirit of his race, but the very ele- 
ments, the very surface of his mother earth con- 
spire against the Russian slave, to give him hand- 
bound, foot-bound, to oppression. Nature and the 
climate are alike the accomplices of his tyrants, in 
every part of this vast prison-house." 

" These boundless forests must yield a shelter, 
however comfortless," said Horace. 

" These forests," continued Mattheus, " in the 
summer season, are a woody marsh. There is 
scarcely here and there a dry patch on which man 
can take repose ; and then for miles and miles he 
must toil through a sort of morass, where at every 
step he sinks betwixt tree and tree up to his 
middle in the slough, and moss, and stagnant water, 
advancing a mile or two by toiling on the live- 
long day. With night comes either a chill, damp, 
penetrating cold, or else clouds of mosquitoes ; in 
the day time, as he labours through the forest, the 
sun scorches his skin to blisters, and the flies and 
blue bottles buzz around him in mpiads, settling 
upon him, till he regrets that, like the bear and the 
elk, he cannot hide all but his nose and mouth in 
the water ; and then, after such a day, at night 
comes the reflection that two or three versts are got 
over of the thousands that lie before him ; and then 
the winter — many winters — must overtake the fugitive. 
He must spend five long months like a bear in his 
den, because the snow betrays his footsteps ; he must 
live on the frozen portions of the carcases of animals, 
which he has stolen like a beast of prey, before the 
first snow falls. There are few spirits and still fewer 
human frames can outlive such terrible privations. 
This is not to be thought of !" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 179 

" What a fearful situation !" said Horace. " There 
is then no hope." 

" I have but one," said Mattheus, " that my pro- 
found submission may avert his wrath till she is 
saved." 

"And then — " said Horace. 

" Then come what may," replied Mattheus. " Once 
I should have longed to follow the example of Pugat- 
chef, the Russian Spartacus, who not much more 
than fifty years since made the lustful Catherine 
tremble on her throne — Pugatchef, who, with his 
twenty thousand insurgent slaves, roused all the 
country as he came along to vengeance and revolt — 
Pugatchef the destroyer, who, as if in bitter irony, 
personated Catherine's murdered husband Pugat- 
chef, of w^hom, to hide her fears from Europe, she 
affected to jest, calling him ' her Marquis though she 
sent against him the Generals Tcherbatof, GaUitzin, 
Tchernichef, Carr, Tolstoy, Freymann, Michelson, 
and Colon ; though she could only vanquish him by 
treachery ; and though oui' sovereigns to this day 
cause his memory to be still annually cursed in our 
churches with Mazeppa's. 

" The old otarost, as a boy, followed in the human 
torrent ; and like a hound once blooded, he took 
part in a subsequent revolt ; — his experience looks 
forward to another here. The estate on which we 
live is surrounded by disaffected peasants, and our 
own will rise at the next failing harvest. Oh ! all 
these are chances which I should have once looked 
forward to, though now the resignation .to which I 
have bowed has softened my heart — like the iron 
whose hardness is lost in the fire through w^hich it has 
passed — forcing it to recognise that truth to which so 
long I had obdurately closed it. Now, I shall but 



180 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

look on. I feel the curse upon my race, like that upon 
the seed of Ham. I feel that to raise one's hand 
against oppression is to struggle with the Almighty. 
I feel it almost sin to hope for any of our people — " 

" Mattveus, my poor Mattveus," said the Count, 
we must always hope." 

" You and I have nothing ia common," replied 
Mattheus : " hsten, and I will tell you the awful secret 
of the predestined stock I come of. I have gathered 
it through Ions; nio-hts of studv. I have confirmed it 
by wandering over the world of the ancients, and by 
decyphering the old inscriptions carved on the ruins 
of those mighty temples and cities, which arose when 
the young world was in its spring. When this truth first 
burst upon me, it was so terrible that I shut out the 
conviction. I sought to disbelieve the curse which works 
around me now." 

" Dear Mattvei," said Nadeshta, " thy head wan- 
ders." 

" Oh ! no — Alas ! its thoughts are strong and clear, 
and definite as you shall hear : do not interrupt me. 
You are a scholar. Count Horace, and can follow me — 
listen then : 

" Sur and Assur, or the Assyrians and their 
Syrian brethren, — with Babylon and Nineveh for capi- 
tals — spread their colossal empire, as you know, ages 
ago, over Mesopotamia, Persia, Arabia, Canaan, and the 
w^hole of Asia Minor. But this race — the people of 
Nimrod, Bel, Semiramis, and Ninus, — first committed 
against God and man the crime of deifying man, and 
of subjecting the multitude to the passions of an indi- 
vidual ; thus introducing into the world priestcraft, 
idolatry, and despotism, which have never since been 
rooted out. 

" For this crime the Assur were swept from the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 181 

earth's surface. The Sur less guilty — driven far from 
the heritage of their fathers — have since multiplied and 
passed through three thousand years of protracted 
suffering: —the elders of the Hebrews in the sad com- 
panionship of expiation. 

" We, the Sclavonians— the Slavi, Servi, or Surbs, 
are the descendants of the Sur. 

" All the old Syrian and Assyrian names are derived 
from words of our living languages, the Russ, or 
Polish, or Serbian, or Bohemian. We can read the 
inscriptions on the ruins of their Asiatic cities, by our 
modern Sclavonic dialects. 

" The very name of Nebukadnezar, if written in 
Sclavonic, Nebuh-odno-tzar, records at once our 
ancestry and the crime for which we suffer. It means 
" There is no God but the King." 

" The four Jewish captives, Daniel, Hananiah, 
Michel, and Azariah, brought up for his service, re- 
ceived from the chief eunuch the Assyrian names of Bel- 
teshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.* These 
names may aU be put together from Sclavonic words, 
which would indicate that they were bred to fill the 
offices — still customary in the East — of bearers of the 
royal arms, and purse, curator of the tents, and pur- 
veyor of the table. 

" This race, a conquering race, when it offended, has 
gone through so long a servitude, that its very name 
has become, in every language, an opprobrium and a 
term for slavery. 

" In the Latin, Arabic, Persian, German, English, 
French, &c. the word serf, servitor, and slave, is deriv- 

* Belteshazzar from Balta and tzar — weapon and king; Meshah 
from Meshok — purse ; Sadrach from Shatior, tent ; and 
Abednego from Obedniak — repast. 



]82 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 



ed from the different names of the unhappy stock 
from which we are descended, from Assyrian, Syrian, 
Serb, or Servian, and from Slavi, Sclavonian, which is 
notoriously to this day the same people, or from that 
of the Venedae, a Sclavonic offshoot. 

" The Roman called his slave, servus, from serb : 
the slave too in the Latin comedies is named nearly 
always Syrus. The Persian calls him Venede from 
Venedae; the Arab El- Assy r from Assyria. The 
English slave; the French esclave ; the German 
sclave, are all derived from the word Sclavonian. 

" Our race it was that fed so long the slave-markets 
of Rome, that perished in her arenas. The statue 
which images the dying gladiator, when 

his eyes 
Were with his heart ; and that was far away : 
He reck'd not of the hfe he lost, nor prize ; 
But where his rude hut by the Danube lay. 
There were his young barbarians all at play ; 
There was their Dacian Mother, he their sire 
Butchered to make a Roman holiday. 

— the famous knife-grinder, whetting his knife to 
undergo the last humiliation of servitude, that of tor- 
turing a fellow slave at a master's bidding — are both 
without doubt Sclavonic in physiognomy. 

" When the heel of the Roman ceased to trample 
us — when the grasp of fierce enemies was at his throat 
in his old age — the nations that flowed westward to 
assail him, to conquer and become your western 
ancestry, passed over our prostrate bodies. 

" Every other people has its glories, we have none 
since the days of Nineveh and of Babylon. The Scyth, 
the Goth, the Teuton, the Hun, the Scandina^dan, the 
Mogul, the Tartar — in short, all the countless tribes 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 183 

that sprang hideous from the Ourals — blood-thirsty 
from the Tartar higlilands — or fierce and beautiful and 
ruthless from the Caucasus, all had for their mis- 
sion to tyrannise and inflict as the human stream swept 
by ; it was our's to be resigned and suffer. Not to 
suffer and perish, but to endure and live ; for, from the 
Black Sea to the Baltic — from the Bohemian hills to 
the Ouralian mountains — through centuries and centu- 
ries has our doomed people multiplied ; and conquer- 
ing hordes have iiiled to uphold the curse, 'till time 
had softened by blending them with us, and then a 
fresh and fiercer migration has invaded us, like the 
fresh lash which the executioner attaches, when, 
after a few strokes, he feels the blood-soaked knout- 
tongue growing soft. 

" When the great storm had ceased that rocked 
the world whilst the Roman empire was crum- 
bling — when all the human avalanches that were scat- 
tered by the tempest had fallen — other nations found 
repose, not ours. Poland was overrun by a Sarmatian 
warrior tribe : the children of these Sarmatians — the 
Polish nobles — were free ; but what were the people ? 
Now that time has fused them into one, the spell 
works on again. Our ruler makes us Muscovites 
play in Warsaw the part of the knife-grinder when 
he whets his knife ; just as ages back the children of 
the Sarmatian led the Sclavonians of Poland to deso- 
late Sclavonian Muscovy. 

"Where are our Servian, Bulgarian, and Bohe- 
mian brethren ? As for ourselves in Muscovy, first 
the Norman sea-kings subdued us, then the Mogul 
and Tartar, then the spirit of the German. You see 
how it now bends the science and civilization of the 
world ! — gathering its sacred fire to weld our fetters, 



184 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

and to reproduce again a mighty and benumbing 
despotism : — the image of that old Assyrian empire 
which was our fathers' crime — for which we suffer. 

" Who are those who govern us ? — Who are our 
Lords ? — There is ever some tinge of foreign blood 
about them: — but as for our pure race, the Al- 
mighty's curse still rests upon it ! All this the 
slave knows not, and yet he is resigned. Travel and 
deep research through ancient lore have taught it 
me ... . And I rebelled against the unwelcome light ! 
I would not bear my burthen 1 — I would not take up 
my cross. I would be as other men, not born with 
the ban of the Eternal on them, and so his pimish- 
ment has fallen upon me. I would not bend, and I 
am crushed !" 

*' Come, come !" said Nadeshta ; " calm yourself, 
my brother : this is madness. Do not believe that 
God can punish the innocent for the guilty." 

" Alas !" said Mattheus, " I feel around me now 
His malediction on my people !" 

" Do not give way to this dark fatalism," said the 
Count, " or you will do nothing." 

" What can we do, but pray that it be removed ?" 
replied Mattheus ; " and yet what is the prayer of one 
amongst so many millions ? Still it has weighed 
upon them long enough — three thousand years !" 

" In one thing I understand you now, my brother," 
said Nadeshta, " 1 too have but a single hope : — a hope, 
my Horace, which it depends on you to realize — the 
hope that, yielding to an inevitable fate, he who has 
infused so much that was sweet into the bitterness of 
servitude will mourn me, as I wish that he should 
mourn — avenge me, as I wnsh he would avenge me — 
devoting to my memory, his life — I mean preserving it 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 185 

to devote it, together with his rank, his fortune, and his 
courage, in every clime, on every stage, incessantly 
to battle w^th that oppression of which Nadeshta was 
the victim." 

" Impossible !" replied Horace ; " I have not that 
enduring heroism of soul ; and, if I had — I love : 
and all is said. If, when Isaakoff returns, he wiU not 
fight me, then, calling the benediction of Heaven 
upon my arm, I stretch him dead at my feet ; and if 
I perish too, at least wdth him dies his personal ani- 
mosity to you both !" 

" Oh ! never — never !" said Nadeshta. " I would 
sooner warn him. His hueless cheek reflects his 
craven heart ; and he wiU so escape the doom, and 
you the penalty." 

" Hark !" said Horace, " a thought strikes me : 
what if I were to use my prayers — my entreaties — 
my influence, with the Grand Duke's wife, to appeal 
to the gratitude she has expressed : — what if she 
could interest the Grand Duke Constantine ?" 
" The gratitude of a Princess !" said Mattheus. 
'' Oh ! say not so of this one !" exclaimed Nadesh- 
ta ; " Anna Obrasofl" knows her : she is gentle, gene- 
rous, — and all-powerful with her brutal Lord." 
" There is a hope, perhaps !" said Mattheus. 
" Oh, go — go — go ! — fly to the Duchess, my 
Horace, and Heaven speed you !" 

" No," replied Horace ; " that would ruin all. I 
would not risk lea\dng you if it were needful, and it 
is needless. The Prince awaits the return of my 
messenger, my English groom. You know him, Mat- 
theus, he is perfectly trustworthy. I will dispatch him 
instantly. Johann shall accompany him to the city 
to procure his pass : let us caU him." 



186 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Bob Bridle ! — my friend !" said the Count, press- 
ing his hand with warmth, " our common safety 
depends upon you." 

" Sir," said Bob, *' you cannot expect anything 
uncommon from a poor groom," and Bob, looking at 
his hands, thought internally, " I w^asn't hired to 
w^ait at table, nor to shake hands with. If I had 
been, I'd have put on Berlin gloves." 

" Our safety depends upon your mission : — I want 
you to start for St. Petersburg this night." 

" This night !" said Bob, " and Lucifer just off a 
six hundi'ed mile journey, and taken a bran mash !" 

" I do not mean you to ride. You must drive as 
fast as six post-horses wiU carry you." 

" Well, Sir, and Lucifer ? — We might in England 
have shut him in a van ; but you would not, surely, 
think of putting him into a sledge. As well think. 
Sir, of packing up a tiger in a clothes-basket." 

" You must leave Lucifer till your return." 

" Leave Lucifer !" repeated Bob, whose countenance 
fell, " leave Lucifer among all these Rooshian sa- 
vidges ?" 

" I wiU attend to him myself." 

" That won't be better," said Bob. 

" Look you. Bob," and here the Count detailed the 
particulars which it was necessary that he should 
know ; terminating his instructions by an appeal to 
his feelings in behalf of the daughter of his old 
master. 

Bob's countenance remained unmoved ; but not his 
determination, for he said : 

" When shall I start ?" 
• " At once." 

An hour sufficed to get Johann ready to accom- 



THE WHITE SLAVE. . 187 

pany him to the city, and for Horace to prepare his 
letters and his instructions. 

The kibitka was at the door. 

" Above all, you will personally see the Duchess, 
if by any effort you can do so." 

" She is the wife of that spicy Grand-Duke, is 
she, Sir?" 

" She is, Bob." 

" I hope she ain't as wiolent," said Bob ; " it's 
awkward with a woman." 

" Oh ! no, she is an angel of gentleness." 

" They all call theirselves so," remarked Bob. 

" You will see her yourself. Bob." 

" You will see the chill taken off that horse's 
water. Sir ?" 

" / w^ill watch over your beautiful horse," said 
Nadeshta. 

" Thank you. Miss," replied Bob. 

" An9 now, God bless and prosper you !" said the 
Count. " If you succeed, my boy, I need not say — 
don't tarry on yoiu* homeward road : for remember 
you will bear with you the fate of four indi\dduals." 

" Besides that, no one can rub down Lucifer till I 
get back again," said Bob ; and with a shout of 
'' padi ! padi /" the coachman started his horses, 
and Bob Bridle started on his career as a diploma- 
tist. 



188 THE WHITE SLAVE. 



CHAPTER XV. 

" That is right," said the Lieutenant Alexius, sur- 
veying Bob Bridle from top to toe. 

Bob Bridle was habited in a neat suit of black ; 
but he looked ill at ease and disconcerted, because 
for the first time in his life he had donned a pair of 
trousers ; it was a sacrifice he had made to the great- 
ness of the occasion, when he was informed that 
there would be no possibility of introducing him into 
the presence of the Duchess whilst retaining any por- 
tion of his menial attire. 

" Now step into the carriage, and seat yourself 
beside me ; drive on, coachman. It is your master's 
request so urgently expressed," continued Alexius, 
"that you should personally see the Grand Duke's 
wife, that I have endeavoured to accede to his mshes, 
although just now it is a matter both difficult and 
dangerous. The Grand Duke's people watch narrowly 
all who come to ask favours of his Duchess ; the 
moment is unfortunately chosen both to obtain speech 
of her, and I fear unpropitiously as regards her power 
to serve the Count. 

" I must however warn you, that if you should be 
stopped and brought before Constantine Pablo vitch, 
your only chance will be to assume in your character 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 189 

of Englishman boldness and frankness in your speech. 
He is a rude giant, with shaggy brows, and tempes- 
tuous speech : his anger will make a bold man quail, 
and yet your safety will lie in concealing your agi- 
tation." 

" I know the Grand Duke," replied Bob, " and 
though he is ginger-like, and as broad in the chest 
as a drayman, and as tall on his pins as a French 
pig, I don't much mind him. In partikilar as the 
odds is five to three I don't see him at all ; but his 
lady, Sir, is she like him ?" 

" Oh the very reverse and antipodes." 

" The reverse and contrairy is she. Sir ; well that is 
all right and tight. I do prefer a little woman with 
a mild temper to have dealings with." 

" Do you ?" laughed Alexius, " well that is against 
the rule, little men are said generally to admire tall 
women, just as little women secure the preference of 
tall men." 

" I don't know nothing of the preference of life- 
guardsmen," observed Bob dwelling rather scornfully 
on the last words so as to convert the noun into an 
epithet, " but I ask you. Sir, if that had been the 
taste of my father and grandfather whether I mightn't 
have been at this time being, as heavy as the Grand 
Duke hisself ? It icas not the taste of any of the 
Biidles or the Horseflys either that I knows on, 
though the former was given to books and the latter 
to dog's nose." 

" Oh a family prediliction for exiguity of stature ?" 

" I call it. Sir, a family maxum, — little and good, 
short and sweet, — was the maxum as directed the 
choice of the women, whilst that of the men when 
they looked about for a wife was among many evils 



]90 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

to choose the littlest, which they did, Sir, by always 
w-niting theirselves to the smallest females as suited 
em. 

" When I said that the Duchess was exactly the 
reverse of her husband, I only meant in temper : she 
is mildness, and kindness, and gentleness personified." 

"That is satisfactory," replied Bob ; "a woman — to 
say nothing of a lady — is awkward if she be the con- 
trairy, and have turned her temper out to grass. As to 
the Grand Duke, though I've known him try on two 
of the wickedest tricks as a vicious individual could 
be guilty on in one morning, still I will manage to 
play my cards with him." 

" Why, what have you ever seen the Grand Duke 
do?" 

" Behave his self like a savidge, though in a way 
perhaps he was not so much to blame for, because it is 
the custom of the country. One thing he did though 
which oughtn't to be the custom in no country, and 
which would make my hair stand on end when I 
think of it if I hadn't had it cut so short this very 
morning. His imperious Eyeness Sir, turned restive 
and called on me to stop, which — as he was neither 
master, nor trainer, nor even head groom — I declines 
following his advice, in particklar as I was mounted 
on the best horse in our stables — a slapping thorough 
bred grey, by Swap out of a Whalebone dam, as 
sound as a bell, and as beautiful as paint — a beast as 
could run neck and neck with a gale of wind, with 
bottom enough to tire it out if it worn't the equinox, 
and speed enough to beat it by a distance — a beast 
Sir, as knows me, better than I knows my bible ; 
more credit to the horse for it and the less to me — a 
beast as understands what I say to him better than 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 191 

half the Rooshians — a beast as will whinny an answer 
when I speak to him, fish a lump of sugar out 
of my boozim, and let me put his hind legs into my 
greatcoat pockets as long as I like to keep 'em there- — 
a horse as wiU go over a wall like an Irish hunter, or 
take a double rail and ditch, at a long leap, Hke a 
Leicestershire clipper, and withal as mild as a lamb, 
excepting that he can't abide trumpets and drums, and 
soldiers and foreigners, and all awkward people as 
wants to meddle with him, and small blame to him 
for that, if any. This horse. Sir, which the Grand 
Duke never saw his like before — when the poor 
animal gets into the mud instead of helping him out 
which he would have done by such a pretty bit of 
horseflesh, if he had the feelings of a man or even of 
a Frenchman, or a life-guardsman — instead of jumping 
off to lend a hand — he begins slashing away at his 
haunches with a great carving knife of a sabre, just as 
I've seen the keeper of an ordinary, or the master of a 
cook-shop slice at a round of beef ! There is the mark 
on Lucifer's quarters tiU this very hour, the length of 
your hand." 

" Well and then ?" said Alexius, who had heard 
the story though he had not recognized Bob as the 
hero of it, " then — he suddenly relented ?" 

" I don't know," replied Bob, " I saved him the 
trouble at any rate, and I should have crushed the 
soul out of his big body for the walley of a shoe nail, 
though I'm glad I didn't, for as he is the Emperor's 
brother, it would been disrespectful to do so." 

" And then when you had un-horsed him in one 
of his gapricious fits of generosity, his anger changed 
into admiration ?" 

'' He did grow pleasant like. It's my opinion that 



192 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

his Eyeness is like the missus of the ' Plough and 
Horses;' the lightenin' was deliberate and the thunder 
mild and quiet to that widow, 'till she got a husband 
as beat her, and then she turned as civil spoken and 
agreeable as a man-milliner." 

" Well, but did he not insist on conferring some 
favour on you ?" 

" That," said Bob, " was the slyest and most 
underhanded part of the business, he wanted to make 
a soldier of me." 

" He wanted you to enter the service under his 
especial protection. His aide-de-camps are soldiers. I 
am a soldier myself!" 

" There are things," replied Bob wdth sententious 
gravity, " we can't help, or I should ride a stone or 
two lighter, but that don't make'm desirable. ' Thank 
you all the same', says I to the Duke, but says I to 
myself, I wonder where you've seen the green in my 
eye ? I have travelled, Sir, and seen a good deal of 
foreign parts and have heard more. In England we 
send people to Botany Bay or hang 'em in a respect- 
able manner, in a suit of black, — like this one which 
I've got on, — with a night cap pulled comfortably over 
the eyes ; but foreigners acts different. In Turkey I've 
heard say they spit them, and in Spain they roasts 'em, 
that is to say, when they catch 'em reading their bibles, 
which is wicked, cruel, and stupid, because if they 
think that what people does a pui'pose to perwent it 
is safe to send 'em to hell flames, what is the use of 
wasting their faggots ? In France they cut off heads, 
on a great thing Hke an overgrown rat trap. All of 
which is bad enough, though it is all one when a 
man has overed the post ; but in Rooshia — which is 
w^orst of all — to punish a man they makes a soldier 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 193 

of him. And that was how the Grand Duke wanted 
to gammon me. A many an old woman I've seen 
do the same with a knife in her hand, when she 'ticed 
a chicken to cut its throat." 

At length, the gardens of the palace of Strelna 
appeared in view; and they drew up opposite to a petty 
traktirs — a kind of low tavern, where, under pretext 
of baiting the horses, they waited till the Lieutenant 
was joined by a confederate, with whom he entered 
into lengthened converse. 

" We are baffled again," said Alexius at length 
with visible disappointment ; " the Grand Duke does 
not go out this morning excepting to the riding 
school. The Duchess had sent word that at twelve 
she will walk in the grounds as the day is so dry and 
fine, and there will see you ; but unluckily, there is 
no means of getting you in unnoticed ; all the Grand 
Duke's people are about, and he himself at home and 
stirring — it is impossible. I really dare not venture 
to present you." 

" Are those the palace grounds skirting the road 
before us ?" said Bob. 

" Those are the grounds where she must be walk- 
ing now." 

" Look you. Sir," said Bob, " if the lady expects 
me, she would not be much startled if I were to walk 
up to her. If I do look like a highwayman on a 
trip to Tyburn in this here suit of black, I may be 
also mistook for a parson. If you could only point 
out near abouts where I should fall in with her, I 
could be over that paling in the twinkling of a bed- 
post, you know." 

" If you wiU only risk it," replied Alexius. " The 
case is desperate : — if we miss this opportunity, another 

VOL. in. K 



194 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

may not for days present itself; and your master writer 
me that time presses. This person will perhaps succeed 
in announcing you to the Princess ; and at aU events 
will make a signal to inform us whether she be actu- 
ally in the grounds. If under these circumstances 
you will venture, say so." 

" There is no question of risking, when one ought. 
I must obey the master whose bread I eat," said Bob ; 
but uppermost in his mind was the thought of 
her who had been liis young mistress. 

The Lieutenant's confederate departed ; and they 
remained beside the park pahng waiting for the signal 
for Bob to climb over it, and repair to the spot which 
had been pointed out. Both were silent. 

" I hope you will succeed," said Alexius at length. 
" Notwithstanding the sunshine, there is a something 
lugubrious in the scene before us — in the dry frosty 
air, the snowless ground, the wind raising up those 
withered leaves in eddies, which is not inspiriting — 
those old oaks, bare and stripped of their summer 
foliage, look hke — " 

" They look queer sticks, no doubt," interrupted 
Bob ; "but was not that the signal ?" 

" Oh ves, if that be our friend upon the road. 
Does he lift off his cap ?" 

" Then thank you kindly, Sk," said Bob. " You've 
done a good act this day. Though the start is a 
rum one as leads me to trespass on these premises 
for the sake of circumwenting a lady ; so here 
goes for the Princess ;" and Bob, touching his hat 
respectfully, vaulted nimbly over the pahng. 

" To the right," soliloquised Bob ; " and then the 
alley to the left. Here it is ; and then along the clump 
of firs and evergreens till you meet a bench and a 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 195 

path to the left. Here it is too, all right and tight 
as a trivet." Here he heard voices ; and he felt 
for the first time a little trepidation at the idea of 
addressing the great lady. " I had quite as lief 
meet her husband," said Bob, as he turned the 
comer, and his wish was gratified ; for he stood 
face to face with the terrible Grand Duke. 

" If this isn't a regular man-trap !" ejaculated 
the groom. 

The Grand Duke, whose temper appeared as 
irritable as a volcano in a state of irruption, was 
accompanied by Generals Rhoda and Le Gendre, on 
whom he was venting his ill-humour, when his eye 
rested on Bob Bridle. 

" Who is that fellow ?" he roared out, and his 
two satellites instantly seized on the intruder. 

" Gentlemen," said Bob, " I did not mean to 
run away with either yourselves or this here park 
and grounds. Don't stifle me !" 

" Who are you ? What are you ? Who let 
you in here?" reiterated the Duke. 

" The park paling," said Bob, *' which by your 
Eyenesse's leave, wasn't high enough to keep me 
out." 

" Perhaps a conspirator, your Highness !" said 
General Le Gendre. 

" Well," said the Grand Duke, " he is a bold rogue ; 
and God bless me, unhand him ; unhand him ! — I 
have defiled your mothers ! — I know him well. This 
is a better man than any of you — what there is of 
him. Which of you will try me with the lance or 
sabre? And this abortion has baffled your master; 
but what is he doing here ? How didst thou get 
in here?" 

K 2 



196 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Over the fence !" replied Bob, who had doffed 
his hat and was pulling his fore lock with respect. 

"Well!" said the Grand Duke benignantly, "I 
took you at first sight for one of the missionanes — 
one of the rascals who want to introduce Bible and 
Temperance societies amongst the Emperor's soldiers, 
to divert their attention from their duties ; but your 
coming here, though I ow^e you a favour or so, is 
irregular. It is not po forme — I don't hke it." 

" More is the pity," replied Bob, " that it isn't 
pleasant to your Eyeness." 

" Well," said the Duke, " by the Lord ! I never saw 
a man sit more firmly in his saddle ; but you want 
something of me, I suppose ? You have come in a 
bold way to ask it — a w^ay I wouldn't ad\^se you to 
try again ; but what is it ? — let us hear." 

Bob fumbled with his hat, kneading the rim with 
his fingers, but said nothing. 

" Speak out," said General Le Gendre ; "his Impe- 
rial Highness wishes to hear." 

" Your Eyeness is ver}^ good," said Bob. 

"Well," exclaimed the Grand Duke, who was losing 
patience, " speak out — I have defiled thy mother ! — 
what is it ? — my promise is given — don't be 
bashful." 

" Don't be timid," said General Le Gendre, " but 
speak out. His Imperial Highness wills you should." 

"Well then," said Bob, "since his Imperious 
Eyeness is so good, if I was sure of not offending — " 

" Gad's blood !" thundered the Duke, " speak out, 
man ; don't stay mincing your w^ords." 

" I should like—" 

" Go on," said General Le Gendre with a nudge. 

" Ask what vou like," said the Duke. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 197 

" Speak up," interrupted Le Gendre. " He is 
alarmed, your Imperial Highness — timid — bashful l" 

" Come, speak up, what do you want ?" said Con- 
stantine. 

*' Some private conversation with your lady," re- 
plied Bob, at length, with resolute modesty. 

The two Generals looked anxiously at the Grand 
Duke, and the Grand Duke raised his shaggy eye- 
brows in unspeakable astonishment. 

" What does the fellow want ? A private conversa- 
tion with my wife — " 

" If you would be so good," replied Bob with com- 
posure. 

The Grand Duke looked in amazement at his fol- 
lowers, who returned a look of unspeakable horror at 
the intruder's incredible audacity. 

" Well," said Constantine at length, with more sur- 
prise than anger, "of all the bold rascals that ever I 
met, you beat them. What in the name of impudence, 
can you want with my wife ?" 

" I want to speak with her," replied Bob with sim- 
plicity. 

" But what do you want to say ? People only go 
to the Duchess to get at me. Here, fool ! you 
are at the fountain head. I can give you what you 
want at once." 

" I don't wish to take" replied Bob, and very 
quickly unfolding the emerald bracelet which the 
Duchess of Lowicz had sent to Horace, " your 
Duchess has lost this, I wish to hring it back to her." 

" Where did you pick that bracelet up ?" said the 
Duke, " I remember weU having seen it upon her arm. 
If that is aU you want with the Duchess give it to me." 

" By your leave," said Bob, " I'd rather give it to 
the right owner." 



198 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" He is a determined rascal," said the Grand Duke, 
" I think you were disinclined to serve." 

" If you have no objection." 

" I wear the Emperor's uniform myself," observ^ed 
Constantine. 

"And 1 have livery already," answered Bob. 

" By the way," said the Duke, " you are in the 
service of that French Count ; like master hke man. 
There is many a foreign diplomatist be-starred and 
be-titled, who is presented to the Duchess, who has 
not half this fellow's value, and who comes the proxy 
of a royal master not worth half his master. I wish 
I had a hundred thousand, or say two hundred thou- 
sand like him, with the power of making two into 
one. Come, come, you shall go straight to the 
Duchess." 

They turned rapidly — for Constantine was im- 
petuous in everything — into several alleys tiU they 
perceived two female figures in the distance. 

" Look, there she is," said the Grand Duke ; " now 
go and say what you have to say ; but remember 
after this favour I grant no others, so it is no use to 
ask any of her. Come, gentlemen, to the riding- 
school," and so Bob felt himself rudely thmst for- 
ward by the shoulders, and then left alone. 

Wlien he saw the Princess advancing, he felt 
unusally nervous and embarrassed. 

" It's all these cursed trousers as makes me feel so 
awkward," said Bob to himself, " though I dare say if 
I w^as to complain, people would tell me that I should 
feel more so without 'em." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 199 



CHAPTER XVI. 

The lady accompanying the Duchess was no other 
than Anna Obrasoif — pale, thoughtful, clad in the 
deepest moui'ning. 

The sorrowful, yet determined gravity of her 
countenance, showed that at a single step she had 
crossed the chequered interval which leads insensibly 
from youth's sanguine visions to the dis-illusions of 
maturer years. 

Great disappointment and cruel usage, though 
commonly souring the temper and hardening the 
heart to cynicism, still refine, and purify, and soften 
where its inherent nobility enables it to resist their 
action. For the many whom misfortune has misan- 
thropically inclined, we all remember a few whose 
sorrow-chastened spirit breathes in their words, beams 
in their eyes, and so pervades their actions as to draw 
insensibly the sympathies of old and young, inspiring 
an indefinite and instinctive confidence. So it is with 
Anna Obrasoff ; she has passed simultaneously 
through two of the three greatest trials which can 
ever mark a woman's existence — the loss of a mother, 
and the sudden undeception which had dispelled the 
dream of her first love. And yet, there she stands 
with heroic self-control and a sublimity of devotion, 



200 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

pleading eloquently with the Duchess for her early 
friend and recent rival. She joins her supplications 
to the homely and earnest persuasions of Bob Bridle, 
whose hard features seem for the first time marked 
by the lines of anxious thought. 

" For only look you, kind and noble lady," said 
Bob, " our fellow creatures, mortal man or female 
w^oman, was not made for slavery ; but then, though 
it may not strike a body when they sees a great 
coarse cart-horse, with ragged fetlocks and a sleepy 
eye, and action like a snail's, a-toiling, overloaded in 
a heavy waggon ; although I say, it may not strike 
one, shameful as it is to overw^ork a living beast, 
which our bibles says it is, still what is that to when 
we see a young blood-horse — a high-bred, noble filly 
— with its legs like a light deer's, its sleek coat like the 
satin of your cloak, and its quick eyes bright as 
your'n, with straining sinews, and with bursting veins, 
and with wrung withers, a-breaking its poor heart in 
a \ale cart ? Lord love you. Ma'am, I see that you 
shed tears ; what wonder "? I could cry m-vself, and 
I would cry, till half my eyes w-as cried aw^ay, if that 
w^ould mend the matter, even though I had to ride 
all my remaining days in spectacles ; but then it 
wouldn't. I have known that young Miss Blanche, 
God bless her ! from her childhood up'ards. I have 
seen her tended with all the care her uncle's orders, 
and the love of servants could bestow ; she might 
have eaten gold if she had relished it, and have walked 
abroad upon a carpet of fine kerse\mere, I have 
seen her good, and kind, and gentle, grow up like a 
playful colt, with the wide world before her, like a 
meadow in the sunshine, when the May is a-flowering 
in the hedges, and the cowslips in the grass. And 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 201 

now, where is she, and what is she ? Her hushand, 
too, I have seen him month after month as a guest at 
my master's table ; and then I have seen him treated, 
as we do not even treat dogs in England, barring that 
scientific gentlemen gets hold on 'em. Think on 
this, noble lady, since you are a princess." 

" As for your former mistress," said the Duchess, 
" I have already interested myself in her fate ; but 
what can I do in this case? It is horrible, very 
horrible ; but I fear the utmost I can do will scarce 
enable me to save even her." 

"And yet," replied Bob, "that would be only 
half to do a job as won't admit of splitting. He is 
her husband now — they are man and wife — one 
flesh. You will say, perhaps, how came Miss Blanche 
to marry ? But it's a folly which all respectable people 
has committed since the world begun, excepting 
Adam and Eve, which they could not have found a 
clergyman. Beheve me, she will not leave him ; she 
has too much game and blood about her, that young 
lady. She will run too honest, I will pound it, to let 
herself be saved alone. You cannot therefore pur\dde 
for the wife's safety without the husband's. And he, do 
you think that he can be so cur-like, so rotten- hearted, 
as to leave his sister behind him ? Such a sister !" 

" The argument of the faithful servitor is full of 
truth, Janna," said Anna Obrasoff. 

" Alas ! alas ! dear Anna," replied the Duchess, in 
Russ ; " woe is me that it should be so — to say nothing 
of my debt of gratitude to the Count — you know 
how deep is my sympathy with these miseries, you 
know how irresistible would be your prayer. But then, 
my Constantine has no feehng for such misfortune. 
Class and rank are things inviolable for him; the 

K 3 



202 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

slave must remain in his servitude as the soldier in 
the ranks. You know that he pretends no sympathies 
to which he is a stranger. Rude as he seems — and as 
perhaps he is — he has always scorned the affectation 
of his brothers, Alexander and Nicolai, to be the 
protectors of the slave against his Lord. ' Whilst we 
have twenty millions of slaves in the domain of our 
own family, and mean to keep them thus,' he says, 
' it is contemptible in an Emperor to interfere with 
petty serf-holders. If these Lords are not submissive, 
let us crush them without such a pitiful subterfuge.' 
How then can I ever hope to interest him in the fate 
of these poor victims ?" 

" You will befriend us ?" said Bob. 

" Oh ! if I only could," replied the Duchess. " But 
I know that as long as the master keeps within the 
limits of the law, his Highness will not meddle 
between the Baron and his serf." 

" Oh ! he cannot surely say you nay to any thing?" 

The Duchess shook her head mom'nfully. 

" What a brute !" thought Bob ; and then, after 
a moment's pause, he said aloud, with more emotion 
than he had yet betrayed, " But my good, my blessed 
Lady ! you will not let 'em all go to the wall without 
a trial ? You are soft-hearted, but do not let us all 
be soft-headed. Where there is a will there is a way. 
If they could only be brought to St. Petersburg, if 
they could be only got out of the clutches of that 
white-livered .... Rooshian Prince." 

" He is right," said Anna ; " if we could at least 
gain time." 

" There are those gentlemen with cocked hats and 
cocktail feathers," suggested Bob, " who sit so stiff 
on their kibitka's without springs, and who whisk off 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 203 

the first Lords in the land they say, which no one 
knows where they comes from or where they goes to 
— as no wonder they shouldn't, since they never asks 
— there are plenty of those gentlemen about St. Pe- 
tersburg:." 

" He means the feldjagers of the Emperor," said 
Anna ; '* and in truth if, under any pretext, the Grand 
Duke could be induced to have them all conveyed to 
St. Petersburg, no one — not of the highest rank 
of the empire — dares resist or question such an order, 
or comment on it. He is quite right ; who, high or" 
low, dares ask who is the prisoner seated next to the 
feldjager, what is his transgression, and whence he 
comes, or whither he is going ?" 

" That is true," replied the Duchess ; " but in St. 
Petersburg it would be but the reprieve of a few 
weeks. Alas !" she continued in Russ to Anna, " I 
have no power, since my Constantine has formally 
abandoned all his claims to the throne at my per- 
suasion, no prayer of mine is listened to now that I 
am no longer needed." 

The Princess spoke truly ; but she did not, till the 
death of Constantine, learn that the Emperor's seeming 
indifference was in reality an implacable aversion. 
He, the autocrat, the omnipotent, could not forgive 
that he owed his throne to the intercession of a Pole 
and of a woman ; he could not forgive that the 
Russo- Greek church, with all its pretensions to immu- 
tability — not only in the dogmas and doctrines 
of early Cliristianity, but in its very forms — 
should on account of this woman for the first time 
have sanctioned a divorce, which till then it had ever 
condemned. 

Yet so it had been : the first wife of Constantine, a 



204 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

Princess of Saxe-Coburg, was living when Constan- 
tine married Jane Grudzinska; but their common 
husband was resolved that his second marriage should 
be quite legitimate, so he referred the question to the 
synod of the Russian Church. 

The synod — made acquainted with the Emperor 
Alexander's wish that his brother's marriage should 
be somehow legitimatised— was sorely puzzled. It 
had hitherto rigorously prohibited and severely branded 
all divorces, under any pretext whatever ; but what is 
ever an article of faith or practice with the synod 
of the Russian Church when weighed against the 
wishes of a Tsar? It complaisantly declared the 
second marriage to be valid and Hcit, routing out 
some old text from the writings of Saint Basil, Arch- 
bishop of Cappadocia and Pontus, and straining it 
into authority as vague as the Sybilline predictions. 

But then, Constantine was not entirely to be 
trusted ; he might in some fit of insanity, at some 
inopportune moment, have changed his mind, and 
the Duchess was still useful to soothe him into reason; 
besides, she was the only thing on earth he loved, in 
his savage way; and to offer her insult or injury, 
would have been hke meddling with the cubs of a 
tigress, the most certain way of rousing him to mad- 
ness. But when the husband was no more, then — 
if the reader be unacquainted with that passage of 
history, he may glean how she was treated, either 
from the trial now pending before the Courts of Berlin, 
between the creditors of the Grudzinski family and the 
Emperor Nicholas, or from some notions from the 
brief mention at the conclusion of these volumes. We 
must now return to Bob Bridle, who replied, to the 
Duchess, after some cogitation : 



THE WHITE SLA.VE. 205 

" If they was once in Petersburg, couldn't one have 
passports for 'em to start with ; and if they was once 
out of the country could they be brought back again?" 

" What would be easier ?" said Anna, eagerly. " It 
must be possible to get them foreign passports ; and 
once beyond the frontier, they would be saved." 

" It could be done, but only by deceiving him ; 
and he would never forgive me," replied the Duchess. 

" Heaven wiU," said Bob. 

" Your conscience will absolve you of the deceit," 
obsen^ed Anna. 

" I must try what can be done," continued the 
Duchess. " My word is pledged to the Count, and he 
calls on me to redeem it in the name of humanity. 
And yet if I succeed in this, it may deprive me of the 
means of serving hundreds and hundreds. I am, 
you know, but like an icicle, which without inherent 
warmth, refracts the sun's ray." 

" Or which reflects the glare of a destroying comet, 
rendering that heat beneficent," said Anna to herself. 

" Or cooling down hell-fire," thought Bob, " and 
making it feel comfortable." 

" If that light," proceeded the Duchess, " be with- 
drawn, all power ceases for me; though, after all, perhaps 
it may be wisdom to prefer the certain and immediate 
good it lies within our power to do the few, to that 
which is uncertain and remote towards the many ; for 
after aU, we are but creatui^es of the present. In sa- 
crificing the present to the future. I might die within 
a week, a day, an hour !" 

" Be on the safe side, lady," said Bob, " and then 
how shouldn't you live with so many to heap blessin's 
on you ?" 

Bob Bridle was arranging in his mind certain 



206 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

biblical quotations, which he thought would tell with 
great effect in persuading — the fraud of Jacob, which 
without approving, he thought might be cited as a 
precedent, when, as he was about to argue " there was 
a question not of chousing one of one's brethren out 
of his birthright, but of restoring three of thent to it," 
he was, however, prevented by the Duchess, who 
said resolutely : — 

"Well then, be it. When to sen^e these poor 
victims I risk that influence which would have 
shielded so many ; — I must not think on his wrath ; 
— I must not even think on this deceit : — I will only 
remember thy sacrifice, my gentle Anna." 

Anna heaved a deep sigh, and Bob's eyes lit up 
with a gleam of satisfaction. Poor Bob ! whilst 
pleading so earnestly was, perhaps, not proving the 
least abnegation of the three ; and he would have 
sighed too — if he had ever done such a thing in his 
life — at the prospect of losing his grey, and of being 
left in the heart of Russia, which he knew would be 
the result of the success of his mission. 

" As for the foreign wife of the slave, your late 
mistress, w^e must cause instant search to be made, 
for she has been some days missing. I will consult 
on the proper steps to be taken, with those w^ho can 
advise. I w^ill watch my opportunity with the Grand- . 
Duke ; and I will give you some one to conduct you 
where you must wait, and be prepared to start at a 
moment's notice for Kalouga. Is there anything I 
can do for such a trust-worthy, and courageous 
servitor ?" 

" Nothing," replied Bob, " my sw^eet and noble 
lady ; but to succeed, and make aU straight." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 20? 

" What !" said the Grand- Duke, whose brow was 
lowering, " again ?" 

" Oh ! this time, Constantine, I am not interfering 
with your justice," replied the Princess ; " this time 
I myself demand it." 

Constantine raised his grizzled eyebrows in as- 
tonishment, and then rubbing his hands together with 
a savage grin, he said : — 

" You ? — Well — well ! — who has wronged ? — who 
has offended ? — who has vexed it ?— They shall smart 
for it : I have defiled their mothers !" 

" Constantine, as I have been not offended, but 
angered, I wish to punish — when I please, and as I 
please." 

" Which will be not at all ! — I know your soft 
heart," said the Grand-Duke ; " but they shall not 
escape me." 

" Then I will tell you no more, Constantine. — So, 
you refuse my request ? — you will not give me power 
to do as I think fit ?" 

"Well — well; it would be a pity they should 
escape, who have done anything to rouse the indigna- 
tion of my soul — my gentle dove. So that you do 
not ask me for reprieves and pardons, do what you will : 
— at least whatever I can do for you ; and if it be not 
more you know, that is your own fault, Janna. — You 
would not let me be an emperor — you would not be 
an empress !" 

Here a cloud crossed the Grand Duke's brow again, 
and his eyes shewing the red veins with which the 
whites were netted, as he rolled them, seemed to 
become instantaneously bloodshot with the rising gust 
of passion. 

" Oh ! it is so little that I ask," said the Duchess, 



208 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

caiTying his rough hand to her hps : " I only wish to 
frighten some one. I wish a wild young nobleman to 
be placed for a week under the strict surveillance of 
the governor of the pro^dnce — kept incommunicate — " 

" Is that all ! — Let it be a twelvemonth !" 

" And then — and then I wish a request — an order 
— to be forwarded to that young French Count to re- 
turn to St. Petersburg, and for three of the other slaves 
to be sent me here, that I may question them." 

" And what is all this for ?" 

" That is my secret," said the Duchess, who felt 
her heart dying within her, as she made an effort to 
smile archly, " you shall know^ all by and by when 
my plot is matured." 

" Some folly!" said Constantine. " Well, I will send 
Le Gendre to Benkendorf in my name : — you tell 
him what you want." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 209 



CHAPTER XVII. 

In an apartment of the police office sits an offi- 
cial, in whom the reader might have recognized the 
Chinovnik, who at the post-house so cruelly maltreated 
his slave the ostler. He has left the department of the 
minister of justice, to enter the secret police, into 
which the judicious use of his savings has obtained 
him admission, and his quickness procured rapid 
promotion. 

In an adjoining room some dozen clerks,, over whom 
he presides, are looking through the police biography of 
different individuals, for in the secret office are kept the 
copies of annual passports which every one not enslaved 
or in the service is under the heaviest penalties obliged 
to take out — or the copies of the imperial commissions, 
and to each of these are attached such extracts from 
aU the reports of the innumerable spies as may con- 
tain any mention of that individual's name, besides a 
fuU account of all his transactions, however triffing, 
with any of the departments of the government. 

Thus, many an unlucky wight, who fancies that 
his insignificance has shielded him from all notice, has 
volumes and volumes of manuscript attached to his 
name ; and whenever he falls under the displeasure of 
the secret office, he is startled and confounded by the 
minuteness with which the most trifling circumstan- 



210 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

ces are recalled to his memory, and if there be nothing 
wherewith he may have to reproach himself — he dares 
not hope that those whose knowledge of so much of 
his past life is more accurate than that which his own 
memorv^ furnishes — if really disinterested in their 
judgment — will doubt the truth of the innumerable 
calumnies which are sure to have crept into these 
voluminous reports. 

The secret remarks on every man, therefore, always 
afford the means of ruining him, by judiciously 
extracting the damning passages ; and under this hair- 
suspended sword lives (with half a score exceptions) 
every one in the empire. 

In the complex administration of this Chinese 
government, those who spy are themselves spied upon ; 
and those who make the dangerous records, at which 
thousands of pens are day and night employed, live in 
the consciousness that their own deeds are being 
equally recorded. 

If indeed malignity, untruth, or misrepresentation 
were not inevitably the basis of this espionage, its 
effects might be in some measure salutar>^; but used as 
it is, not as a check on the aU-pervading vice and cor- 
ruption, but to place eveiy man hopelessly in the 
power of every superior, its only result is to make 
each individual bend to those above him with blind 
submissiveness, and accept with passive resignation 
the most unmerited persecution when he incurs 
theii' displeasure, aware that it is always in their power, 
if irritated by resistance to give a colour to still greater 
severity than that from which he suffers. 

Our friend Vasili Petrovitch was ushered into this 
apartment, which he entered with many bows. 

" What dost thou want now, Batushka ?" said the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 211 

Chinovnik; *' why dost thou still insist on seeing me ? 
Thou hast demanded justice and obtained it. Our Lord 
the Emperor is prompt in his decision : the agressors 
have been degraded to the ranks, declared incapable of 
ever rising ; and this day at noon, they are despatched 
to the army of the Caucausus, as food for the yatagans 
of the Tcherkesses." 

"It is ti-ue, your excellency," replied Vasili humbly, 
" but I should wish to take home my Katinka." 

" Don't excellency me, I am only colonel." 

" But you soon will be general." 

" Hark ye, Vasili Petrovitch ! dost thou remember 
what happened when thou didst last demand thy 
little wife ?" 

"Yes," replied Vasili, changing from red to deadly 
white, as fear and jealousy alternated in his recollection. 
" Yes, his excellency the general was very hard upon 
me ; I led the life of the damned for the ensuing 
w^eek," and in fact his w^an and carew^orn aspect attested 
the truth of his assertion. "But then I understood his 
excellency to have said yesterday that her examination 
was over, that I might take her back w^hen I pleased, 
so I kept her from plaguing him." 

" Vasili Petrovitch, I think thou presumest ; I think 
that, because two young men of the first families in the 
empire have been ruined and degraded through thy 
instrumentality, thou fanciest in thy folly that thou art 
more than the dust w^hich those who wear the impe- 
rial button shake from their feet. Know then, that 
they were punished for outrageously daring to 
personate the serv^ants of the secret office ; but thou art 
already noted as overweening and troublesome. His 
excellency's good humour saved thee once, and, though 
he has done with thy Katinka now, that is only as far 
as he is concerned. I wish now to examine her ; the 



212 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

examination may last weeks, or months, or years; 
perhaps, when I am satisfied, they may insist on 
examining her in some inferior department ; I can- 
not say, thou must settle it with them. At pre- 
sent ruin hangs over thee ; so be discreet, humble, 
and submissive, and begone without a reply." 

At this moment Katinka with her French bonnet 
and cloak on, entered from an inner room. She started 
on seeing Vasili, but instantly recovering her compo- 
sure, vouchsafed him an indifferent nod. 

" Come," said she to the Chinovnik, " I thought 
you w^ere ready ; and I want the lace of this boot 
tucked in." 

" Tuck in that lace," said the official to Vasili 
Petrovitch so imperatively that the old man knelt 
down trembling between terror and jealousy. 

Katinka unblushingly held out her little foot, shod 
in a grey satin boot ; and then giving her Lord an 
impudent nod, she put her arm in the Colonel 
Samoilov's, and walked out, scarcely suppressing her 
laughter, as she left her grey bearded husband still 
upon his knees unable to rise from the emotion 
which overpowered him. 

n^ ^^ '^ ^^ *tfr 

•Tr 'rf •TV* -TT "Tl* 

In another chamber of this same building, a per- 
sonage of very much higher rank than the Colonel 
Samoilov, was seated at a table, consulting a sort of 
diary. About the fourteenth on his list, he called for 
Dimitri Gregorief. Dimitri, the valet of Isaakoff, 
who had been waiting for seven w^eary hours, was 
ushered in by an officer of gendarmerie. 

But the humility of the great man in admitting so 
humble an individual to his presence was not without 
sufficient motive. 

" You have a letter for me ?" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 213 

" Here, your Excellency." 

His Excellency having opened the letter upon his 
knee, so that the interv^ening table prevented any one 
but himself from seeing its contents; and being 
satisfied that it contained fifteen bank notes and the 
halves of another fifteen of a thousand roubles each, 
said to Dimitri at length : 

" This business shall be managed for thy master ; 
but to-day it is impossible." 

" If I dared make so bold, as to explain to your 
Excellency the humble prayer of my master, it 
urgently craves that you would take immediate steps 
for the protection of his interests." 

" Look ye," replied his Excellency, " I can serve 
him, and will serve him. The Grand Duke will 
rescind his order the moment one can reach his ear ; 
but that is impossible either to-day or to-night, or 
indeed until this time to-morrow, then it shall be 
done. You have my promise to your master, now 

Dimitri, who dared not remonstrate with one so 
high in the secret office, and so powerful, felt for 
a moment convinced of the inutility of their tardy 
interference ; but then he bethought him that, if 
slow, it would be both sure and effective ; and that, 
with boldness, intelligence, and money, he might 
yet succeed in impeding the design of the adverse 
party till he had the opportunity — which the delay of 
a single day would offer him — of checkmating it 
altogether, so he bowed himself out. 

" Thirty thousand roubles — hum !" said the pohce 
mandarin to himself. " Now I remember too, this 
Isaakoff offered me a hundred thousand to ruin 
Bamberg. But then Isaakoff is rich, of ancient 



214 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

family ; he has not sensed ; he has lived abroad ; 
he stinks in the Imperial nostrils. Fifty thousand 
would have decided me from any other man; for 
though Bamberg is useful, I do not like him. Yes, 
I must get rid of Bamberg; and it is true that I 
can do it safely enough, if I strike Bamberg first, 
and then come down mercilessly upon Isaakoff. 
Yes, it is a combination I must bear in mind, and 
see to." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 215 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

Bob Bridle was conducted back by the person 
who had made the signal from the park gate, and 
who, as the Lieutenant Alexius explained to him, 
was to lead him to a place in St. Petersburg, 
where he must wait prepared to start at any hour 
of the day or night ; and then, pressing his hand 
and congratulating him on the success of his mission, 
which he considered as assured, Alexius took his 
leave. 

Bob Bridle's guide was taciturn and uncommuni- 
cative. Russians are proverbially reserved ; but 
what loquacity would not have been tamed in the 
Grand Duke's household ? As the sledge traversed 
the city, its progress was arrested by a motley 
crowd hurrying towards one of the many market- 
places. 

" It is an execution," said his companion. " Our 
sledge can neither proceed nor turn back, till it is 
over ; let us push through the crowd on foot." 

" Come," rephed Bob ; and, as they walked 
along, a kind of sleigh passed them in the midst 
of a procession of the civil and military police. 

On this sleigh were seated the culprit and the 
executioner. The culprit was a grave old man; 



216 THE WHITE SLATE. 

his cheeks were wan, his hairs were few and grey, and 
his ragged beard was frosted as much by age as by 
the damp that condensed upon it in the wintry air. 
Bob Bridle thought that he had seen his face before ; 
and so he had; for it was Ivan Petrovitch, th& 
roskolnik or sectarian. 

The executioner was a man of middle age and 
robust build, whose features and aspect were the very 
type of coarseness and brutality, heightened by habi- 
tual intemperance and the present excitement of 
liquor. The consciousness of filling an office which 
men regard with dread and horror, had added to 
the natural ferocity of the assassin; for it is from 
such a class of criminals that he is commonly 
selected. 

The handling of the knout demands a long appren- 
ticeship, besides a natural aptitude of nerve and 
muscle. The chief executioner, always himself a 
criminal condemned to the punishment which he 
inflicts — the only capital punishment in the Russian 
empire — receives a free pardon, and is sent home at 
the expiration of twelve years, during which he is 
kept in durance excepting when led out to operate. 
In his cell he gives instmction to his pupils, whom it 
is his duty to instruct in the horrible art of torturing, 
which he has derived from his predecessor. They 
practise daily upon a soit- of lay figui'e ; and he shows 
them exactly where and how to deal their blows, so as 
only to cut into the muscle of the loins when it is 
merely a civil criminal, a miu-derer, or a felon ; how 
to inflict immediate death, by making the ^^ctim 
dislocate his own neck ; or how to render death in- 
evitable in a day or two, by curling the lash scientifi- 
cally round the body to make it cut into the peritoneum, 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 217 

or tear the intestines, according to the instructions he 
receives. The accompUshed knout-master can hit 
every time within a space the size of a crown-piece, 
and he can smash a brick-bat into dust at a single 
blow of the formidable instmment which he wields. 

When he has served his time, and is succeeded 
by a pupil — a vacancy occurring in the little college 
by this promotion, — a recruit is sought for among the 
prisoners capitally condemned ; and it is not a little 
to the credit of the lower order of Russians that, 
even among those knout-threatened and Siberia- 
doomed, he is not easy to be found. 

This sledge pauses before every hahah or spirit 
shop ; for, according to an old custom, the executioner 
has a right to demand a dram of vodka at every one 
by which the procession passes. This day, the only 
day that he gets abroad from his prison, and that, he 
enjoys the privilege of calling everywhere for liquor, 
is therefore for him a day of merriment and rejoic- 
ing. He leers horribly, and utters some obscene jest 
as he tosses off his dram. The spirit-seller crosses 
himself, and breaks the glass to pieces when he has 
emptied it, and the sleigh drives on again. 

The old man, sitting erect in pious abstraction, is 
alike prepared for martyrdom, and even now doubtful of 
its crow^n, when he thinks on Shadrach, Meshech, and 
Abednego, delivered from the furnace, and on Daniel 
from the lion's den. His voice, enfeebled by suffer- 
ing, is heard exclaiming as they move along : 

" ' They cried unto thee, and were delivered ; they 
trusted in thee, and were not confounded. 

" ' I win declare thy name unto my brethren ; in 
the midst of the congregation I will praise thee. 

" ' He removeth kings, and setteth up kings : he 

VOL. in. L 



218 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

giveth wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to them 
that know understanding. 

" * Woe ! woe ! woe ! to the Niconite. Woe to 
his cursed children. Woe to you, deluded brethren. 
Why eat ye of the poison into which the false priest 
Nicon has changed the bread of life ?' " 

The crowd presses closely together ; but it is quite 
silent, except where here and there a new comer asks 
what is the matter, and is answered, " that it is the 
roskolnik going to execution, for having spit in the 
face of the Metropolitan of Novogorod and St. 
Petersbiu-g." But the multitude, though, with a few 
exceptions, of the established religion of the empire, 
lets not one sign of satisfaction escape, nor one 
comment pass its many lips ; and as the old iron- 
monger continues to heap his curses upon Nicon (the 
patriarch who changed the old version of the Scrip- 
tures and opened the way to innovation), as he grows 
more violent in his denunciations and reproaches, a 
feeling of uneasiness and shame seems to pervade 
them. For the people of the modern Russo-Greek 
church do not reciprocate the contempt entertained 
for them by the Stare-vertsi or men of the old faith, 
who, since the great roskol or split, have been grow- 
ing more austere in their practices, whilst the imperial 
church has increased its forms and superstitions. 
There seems to be a misgiving about them that the 
Stare-vertsi may after all be right. 

At length the place of execution appears in view. 
It is lined by the military, who keep back the crowd. 
The military governor of St. Petersburg is there, 
surrounded by his staff. Stars, orders, tags, tassels, 
feathers glitter and wave upon their uniforms. 

"'They gather themselves together against the 



THE WHITE SLAVE, 219 

soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent 
blood,' " said the old fanatic ; and at this moment, 
just as Bob Bridle's eyes are attracted by a wooden 
bar stuck at right angles on a short perpendicular 
post, like a T, with two iron rings affixed to each of 
its extremities, the crowd closes before him. 

It is only after many minutes, and a great deal of 
labour, that the groom again succeeds in obtaining a 
view of what is passing. 

Ivan Petrovitch is now stripped and bound down 
by a rope passing through the iron rings of the 
kobilitza. The first blows of the knout are descend- 
ing, its mighty thong wielded by the two arms of the 
executioner, who steps back and makes a bound for- 
ward as he strikes, adding the weight of his body to 
his muscular strength. 

Three or four blows, given with hideous precision 
on the same spot, bruise and macerate the flesh to the 
depth of a couple of inches, and then thus loosened, at 
the next the tongue of the knout is made to take it as 
it were by suction, and to tear it out in a long 
coUop. 

The executioner pauses, with a savage grin at his 
dexterity, and his victim shrieks out : 

" I saw her — oh ! oh ! I saw her — drunk with the 
blood of saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus ! 
Oh ! oh ! — woe ! woe ! her plagues shall come in one 
day." 

Here the blows of the knout deprived him of 
breath and utterance. 

'* Oh ! oh ! death, and mourning, and famine ; and 
she shall be utterly burned with fire ! Woe ! woe ! 
O people ! Woe to the Niconite ! — woe to the Anti- 
christ !" 

L 2 



220 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

The crowd shudder, the knout descends again, and 
when the executioner next pauses between his blows 
as he often does to change the tongue of the knout, 
or dip it in powdered brimstone, to prevent the blood 
from softening it, when he wishes it to be hard — 
nothing is heard but the low moaning of the victim. 
At length he is detached, insensible, from the Kobi- 
litza — his forehead marked with the hot iron, 
and being thrown upon the sleigh — some mats are 
heaped upon him, the sleigh drives away, and as usual 
the bystanders shower upon the rude covering the 
copper pieces which are to purchase the culprit some 
indulgence from his jailors, or on his di'eary pilgrimage 
towards Siberia, if he recovers to undertake it. 

These are usually disposed of by anticipation to the 
knout-master, to bribe him to be merciful — but this 
time neither has the old ironmonger made the 
customary compromise with him, nor would his 
orders have allowed the executioner to engage in 
it. 

When the vehicle draws toward the gate of the 
prison, he puts his hand under the mat ; he knows 
that his mangled victim will not recover — but he 
may linger — no ! — the kopek pieces are all his own 
— the old sectarian has been dead many minutes. 
The frost has seized his extremities already, and they 
are cold and hard as stone. 

Ivan Petrovitch when brought before his judges, 
had persisted in his denunciations. In his wild enthu- 
siasm he had declared that all his sect were ready to 
repeat the outrage of which he had been guilty, on the 
person of the Metropolitan. He was capitally con- 
demned. The Metropolitan interceded for his pardon 
with the Emperor — the Emperor was inexorable — the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 221 

prelate suggested his confinement as a lunatic, but he 
was sternly told to mind his own concerns. He desisted. 
Perhaps he remembered that the humble and learned 
Philaretes, the Metropolitan of Moscow, had been 
snubbed in his o\vn Cathedral, even by Alexander, for 
the freedom of a sermon — perhaps the manner of the 
refusal recalled a truth he was forgetting, that 
he was only in reality a subordinate in that hierarchy, 
of which the Emperor was the hereditary chief maste^^ ; 
and hence, as the most deeply interested party, the 
most fitting judge of what should be done to uphold 
its dignity. 

Bob Bridle, full of horror and disgust, now followed 
his companion, who installed him in a room in a Track- 
tirtchiks, close to the market-place. 

He was still musing over the scene he had witness- 
ed, when he was suddenly accosted by a familiar 
voice. He started — it was Dimitri's ! 

The sudden appearance of Dimitri, whom Bob had 
left at Moscow with the Prince Isaakoff, in whose con- 
fidence he was daily gaining ground, struck him as 
boding no good ; for his natural shrewdness told him 
the improbability of his having casually found him 
within so short of space of time in a vast and crowded 
city. 

" How very odd ! — Bob Bobovitch — I beg your 
pardon, you do not like the name — how very odd that 
we should meet," said Dimitri, advancing to embrace 
him, an attempt which Bob repulsed, by holding out 
his hand with dignity, and offering him three fingers 
as he remembered to have seen Mr. Mortimer do. 

" Not so very odd that people should meet when 
they both walks into the same room." 

" You do not mean to say that you are here ?" 



222 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" No," replied Bob, " you see Fm over the way." 

Dimitri, who knew of old the impracticahility of 
Bob, soon ceased to question him when he found him 
incommunicative : but he proposed that they should 
discuss a bottle of wine to their happy meeting and 
old friendship." 

" The meeting is so happy," muttered Bob, " that 
I'd as soon have put a limb out of joint ; and the 
friendship so old that I don't remember it " — but as 
his present duty was to wait where he was, it struck 
him that by drinking with Dimitri, he would at least 
so long keep him under his own eye, and away from 
perpetrating mischief. 

He therefore not only accepted his offer, but aw^are 
from his experience that he could very easily " sew up" 
his companion, without being himself in the slightest 
degree affected — he encouraged him to drink. But 
notwithstanding all his efforts to appear convivial, 
Dimitri at length rose, and quitted him abruptly. 

As Bob attempted to detain him, he felt his head 
reel and his legs so unsteady, that he was obliged to 
resume his seat. A strange heaviness weighed on his 
eyelids, an iiTesistable somnolence stole over him. 

" What! what!" said Bob to himself, "is my wits 
wool-gathering with that thimble full ? Have I come 
to be dru . . dru . . drunk, which a Bridle never was 
before; nor a Horseflys either, 'cepting with do — 
do — dog's nose. " Damn that Dimitri — which I 
wouldn't a swore if he hadn't a made me drunk — may 
the devil founder him if he has'nt hocused my drink." 

The groom was right : Dimitri had given him an 
opiate, the strength of which would utterly have disa- 
bled any ordinary indi\ddual and which had overpowered 
even his iron constitution. Nevertheless, its effect 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 223 

was rather on his body than on his brain ; to which 
his wiry nen'es did not give easy access. His reason 
was not distorted, although he felt that it was about 
to sink into a state of torpidity, and he had presence 
of mind enough to open the little moveable pane in 
the hermetically closed windows of the apartment, and 
to wet a napkin, and wrap it about his head before he 

sank to sleep. 

# # # # ^ 

" How unfortunate that these English can never be 
trusted where liquor is in the way !" said the Lieute- 
nant Alexius. " But he wakes at last. Come, come." 

" Wo, wo, there Lucy ; what would you ?" said 
Bob, still dreaming, " what, Lucifer, would you hurt 
them as rubs you down, would you be turned out 
like an uncombed dirty devil of a Rooshian ?" 

" Come, come, rouse yourself, if you can ; it is past 
seven o'clock." 

" Past seven ?" said Bob, rubbing his eyes and 
fumbling for the key of the stable, " I — I have over- 
slept myself" 

When Bob was thoroughly awakened, and restored 
to consciousness the Lieutenant Alexius — having 
assured himself of the fact, and having been made 
acquainted with the manner of his inebriation — in- 
formed him that he must start directly. 

He gave into his hands a parcel addressed to Count 
Horace, containing an order for the government of 
Kalouga to afford the Count every facility in proceed- 
ing to St. Petersburg in such manner as he should 
think fit, taking with him two of the Prince Isaakoif 's 
slaves, without allowing them, under any pretext 
whatever, to be impeded or delayed. 

The dreaded signature of the Grand Master was 



224 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

appended to this order, and Bob Bridle was further 
directed to convey to Count Horace by word of mouth, 
the plan which the Princess of Lowicz had combined 
for their evasion and her instructions how to act. 

Without confiding in any one agent, she had cau- 
tiously taken the advice, and profited by the experi- 
ence of several competent persons, who were all 
separately anxious to secure her good graces, by the 
zeal ^^ith which they served her in a matter which 
appeared without difficulty or danger. 

Thus to General Le Gendre who was, in point of 
fact a spy of Count Benkendorf 's on the Grand Duke 
whose confidence he betrayed, she had stated her 
wish to interrogate two of the Prince Isaakoff's slaves 
as weU as Count Horace ; but so that they should 
not be in any way influenced by the menaces of their 
master, whilst at the same time so privately that it 
would be at her option to frighten instead of pun- 
ishing. 

The General who had received the Grand Duke's 
order to attend to her instructions, declared that 
nothing could be easier. The benevolence of the 
Duchess satisfied him that she would be guilty of no 
severity which would ever lead to discussion in higher 
quarters ; and if there were anything in this mystery, 
— for in all the terrible panoply of its power the secret 
office of which he was the real senator, starts even at 
shadows, and grows pale at the thought of any secret 
undivined, — what could be a more ready means of 
ascertaining it than acceding to her wish ? 

When the Duchess found how easily her demand 
would be comphed mth, she further observed that being 
neither sure that her suspicions were justly founded, 
nor that the Prince IsaakofF would attempt to prevent 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 225 

the departure of his slaves, nor that the Count would 
judge fit to bring them to St. Petersburg, it was 
her wish that the whole matter should be kept as 
private as possible. With the tact of a woman anxi- 
ous to carry her point, she so introduced the name of 
Anna Obrasoif as to lead Le Gendre to believe, that 
it was perhaps after all a mediation in some lover's 
quarrel, and he therefore suggested placing the 
document above named, at the disposal of her protege, 
and merely despatching a courier to acquaint the 
governor, that an order had been issued from the 
secret office which he was to attend to if called upon 
by the Count de Montressan, so to do, and further 
instructing his Excellency in that event to detain the 
Prince Isaakoif and keep him incommunicate till he 
should hear further. 

The Prince Isaakoff belonged to that class marked 
out by the personal antipathy of the Emperor, the 
old and wealthy nobility of the empire who keep 
away from court and office as far as circumstances 
will allow. The desire of the Grand Duke for his 
temporary detention, conveyed as it was by Le Gendre 
— a secret agent of the secret office, who would have 
detected in it anything dangerous or important, — was 
therefore a request too trifling to demand even the 
consideration of the Grand Master, who at once acced- 
ed to it. 

After thus far making use of Le Gendre, through 
another channel, — one which she had opened to effect 
the escape of Blanche in whose fate Madame Obrasoff 
had deeply interested her, — the Duchess had provided 
for their further safety, by obtaining passports from 
Berlin for three of her foreign servants. 

For Blanche this was no longer needed. Many 

L 3 



226 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

days since Blanche had disappeared from the place of 
refuge provided for her, and the fruitless inquiries set 
on foot left the conviction of the terrible alternative 
either of her having escaped already or perished with 
her child. 

All that remained therefore for Horace to do was 
to proceed with Mattheus and Nadeshta to Kalouga, to 
shew the document enclosed to the Governor, and to 
come with all speed to St. Petersburg. The Prince 
on taking the first step to impede or pursue them, 
the moment he showed himself, would be detained. 

Before entering the capital at the last post station, 
the party would be met by a trusty messenger who 
would deliver to them the foreign passports, and then 
changing their route, and assuming the characters 
of the individuals therein mentioned, they had only 
to pursue their journey without losing a minute to the 
frontier. 

When Bob Bridle had convinced Alexius how well 
he understood him by the shrewd questions he put, 
as to the minutest steps to be followed by his master 
in all sorts of hypothetical cases, the Lieutenant led 
him into his sledge, and \^ith a hearty shake of the 
hand saw him start upon his journey. 

The po-darogne, or permission to obtain post 
horses was an extraordinary one, and this together 
with the distinct promise of a ver}' high na chat, or 
tea-money, induced the driver so to put forth the 
speed of his six horses that Bob was whisked along 
at a rate at which he had never yet travelled off an 
English turnpike-road. 

Notwithstanding some occasional misgivings, he 
hardly doubted that Blanche had succeeded in effect- 
ing her escape, and the exhilaration of rapid motion, 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 227 

the lightness of the air and the success of his mission 
had put him in high spirits, when as he stopped at a 
relay to change horses a kibitka drove up, and his 
quick eye recognized Dimitri, muffled up as he 
was. 

Even the indignation which his recent treachery 
excited in Bob's breast, was mingled with a vague feel- 
ing of apprehension. * What can he do after all ?' 
said the groom to himself, and yet he proceeded 
thoughtfully and anxious to the next station. 



228 THE WHITE SLATE. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

The cold Siberian wind which has traversed thousands 
of miles of frozen deserts, howls savagely — the snow 
covers the monotonous level of the landscape, only 
relieved by the dark pine forests, looking black by the 
contrast with its whiteness. It creaks under foot 
with the intensity of the frost, where the passing 
sledges have flattened it upon the high-road; and 
when it has not been pressed down, it lies deep and 
friable, as drifted by the rude blast which raises it 
incessantly in eddies. 

In this inclement weather, amid this cheerless scene 
of desolation, a solitary female figure toils along. Cold, 
weary, footsore and hungry — the mother with her 
child is struggling to make way before the night should 
overtake them. 

Clad in an old sheepskin, her head enveloped with 
cloths, and her feet in those ungainly boots of felt, 
which alone keep out the snow — who would recognise 
the high-bred Blanche ? Yet it is she who presses her 
infant closer to her bosom, as the unpitying wind 
blows into her face the sharp crystals of the snow, 
which glitter in the dying light of the red declining 
sun. It is Blanche who welcomes the slight flush of 
fever which over-exertion has produced, because it 
enables her to impart warmth to her babe. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 229 

Ever since the mysterious friends of Blanche had 
proposed that she should profit by the departure of a 
traveller, who was willing to take charge of her, (and 
who was no other than Lesseps) on condition of leaving 
her child behind her, an indefinable dread had haunted 
her of being separated from it. 

When she found that her fortune was lost through 
the dishonesty of Vasili Petrovitch, and when she had 
been alarmed by her contest with the mad wife of the 
conspirator, her intellect, weakened by her recent 
illness, rendered her distrustful of all who sought to 
serve her ; and then, yielding to all the feminine im- 
pulses of her gentle heart which suffering had not 
impaired, she snatched up her first-born, and — regard- 
less of her weakness, of the cold, and of the distance ; 
— unheeding the dangers and difficulties of her enter- 
prise ; alone, poor, and on foot, she set forth upon a 
journey of six hundred miles, to seek out and com- 
fort the father of her child. 

She had been robbed on the very outset — and per- 
haps, but for this incident, would hardly have been' 
allowed to proceed so far ; for thus deprived of the 
clothing, which marked her superiority of station, she 
both attracted less notice, and more readily excited the 
sympathy of the peasantry, whose charity supplied her 
with the rude garments in which she appears upon 
this scene. 

The Russian Moujik, notwithstanding all the oppres- 
sion which brutalises him, is profoundly charitable, at 
least to his own brethren. He never turns the cold 
and weary from his hearth, nor the hungry from his 
door whilst he has a crust to share with them. The 
very robbers who had plundered her would have let 
her pass, and perhaps have helped her on her way, 
had her dress not shewn her to be of a class above 



230 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

their own. And then, in the spectacle of the mother, 
worn and weary, wandering onwards with her infant 
there was that which moved the homely bosoms of the 
peasantry, and which would in every land have touched 
all but those pampered in luxury, who have nothing 
but the cold vaults of a Union, rendered purposely more 
comfortless — an unwilling charity which necessity 
extorts — to offer to the wretched. 

Perhaps in all countries the prosperous might gather 
in this respect a lesson from the indigent, a truth set 
forth by de Berenger, the French Anacreon of the lower 
orders, who, as it were to the clink of pothouse glasses, 
has scattered through his coarse and simple songs so 
much of wit, philosophy and foresight. De Berenger 
who says : 

Les gueux, les gueux, 

Sont les gens heureux ; 

lis s'aiment entre eux. 

Vivent les gueux ! 

Not only had Blanche found a refuge in every Mou- 
jik's cottage, but more than once her host had by his 
counsels protected her from worse robbers than those 
who stole her more valuable garments — from those who 
wearing the imperial livery ruthlesly despoil in the 
imperial name. 

She was taught, that if caught without proper 
papers, to prove her freedom, she would be detained 
and considered as a slave by the police. 

According to the established regulation, every one 
thus detained is advertised in the public papers; a minute 
description of the person is ordered to be given, with 
the intimation that the owner may regain possession of 
his slave, on proving his title, and paying the expenses 
of advertisement and keep, just as we see done by 
stray dogs in England — only that it is a frightful fea- 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 231 

ture of the administration of the Russian empire, that 
on minute examination we discover wheel within 
wheel, fraud operating upon iniquity, and villany again 
within fi'aud. 

Thus, if unclaimed within a given period, all indi- 
viduals, who cannot prove their freedom, are adjudged 
to be sold to cover the expenses of their detention ; 
even if they be runaway slaves, it is almost impossible 
for the owner to indemnify them, because the descrip- 
tion of their person is purposely incorrect. When 
once detained, they are therefore nearly always sold — 
the Emperor is the only purchaser, and thus they are 
added to the twenty millions already in his domain : 
but then again, here and there, just as they have be- 
come the Emperor's property, the police myrmidons 
wiio happen to be slave proprietors, whenever one of 
their own people has died, substitute a runaway for 
the defunct, and report the death to His Majesty's 
charge. 

The imperial ukase thus first outrages the rights of 
humanity, apparently in favour of the slave proprie- 
tors ; then the Emperor's servants cheat his fellow 
slave-holders to his advantage ; and lastly often termi- 
nate by robbing him. 

Blanche has therefore been taught by her kindly 
hosts, where and how to avoid those who would have 
discovered that she was without a passport. 

She has now, as she goes toiling on, left many 
many versts behind her the old city of Novogorod, the 
repubhc founded by a handful of her mighty Norman 
ancestors ; but Blanche, the high-born and tenderly 
nurtured, has forgotten alike her ancestry, her pride, 
the station she has forfeited, the fortune she has lost 
— her thoughts are of the present ; she longs to reach, 



232 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

before darkness overtakes her, the roadside village, 
the wooden roofs of which appear in the distance. 

Her solicitude is to arrive in a place where she can 
find for her child that warmth which she fears will for- 
sake her — to secure the shelter of a roof — and then 
the village reached, do her thoughts recur to the 
past ? Oh no ! — where, if she did, w^ould she gain 
that courage which supports her feeble frame ? no ! — 
then she thinks of Mattheus, and counts the versts 
she has to traverse. 

The place of refuge she has reached is a cottage, 
resembling all the others in the village. It is built of 
logs dove-tailed together and the interstices filled with 
moss. The projecting eaves of the wooden roof, and 
a slight gallery before the second row of windows, 
remind you of the Swiss chalets. This dw^elling is 
situated in a happy village : its inmates are well to 
do amongst their fellows. 

The sitting-room into w^hich Blanche is received is 
rendered oppressively hot by the warmth which the 
huge stack of bricks containing the pech or oven give 
out. Its walls, originally whitewashed, are very 
filthy : thick, w^ooden planks inserted in them, form 
benches along them, and above are shelves, on which 
are ranged wooden bowels, and earthen jugs, and 
vessels bound with birch-bark. Bunches of hackled 
hemp, and bags of flour, ropes of onions, old clothes, 
spinning-wheels, axes, and sheepskin couches, are 
scattered about the apartment. 

The family to whom it belongs, own also a new 
house opposite ; but this they do not yet inhabit in 
the winter, because the smoke of the fires, they say, 
would blacken it. 

Just now there are only the two daughters at 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 233 

home : they invite her to rest, and warm herself, and 
then continue, amidst much noisy merriment, a past- 
time in which they were engaged with other village 
maidens. — One of them holds a cock, and the others 
throw down before it grains of corn, and according to 
the manner in which they are picked up by the bird, 
do these girls — renewing unconsciously a superstition 
of the heathen — augur the realization, or non-fulfil- 
ment of their amorous, or matrimonial dreams. 

At length, however, the swetlana is interrupted by 
the appearance of the elders. Blanche is welcomed 
again. The father shakes his head when he learns 
how far she has come — how far she has to go : the 
wife and daughters pity the mother and her babe ; 
and all wonder awhile at the Niemetz woman. At 
length they light some fir splinters, incessantly re- 
plenished, and sit down to their evening meal, which 
Blanche is called to share, with the addition of a bowl 
of milk. After the repast the hearty Moujik hands 
her a httle glass of brandy, flavoured with an infusion 
of the berries of the mountain-ash ; and then, taking 
off her head-gear, her pelisse, and her felt-boots, she 
is glad, at their invitation, to lie down upon a sheep- 
skin, spread on the broad plank which serves for a 
bench; and there, betwixt sleeping and waking, as 
she suckles her child, and then nurses it to sleep, she 
listens, without attending, to the merriment and con- 
versation of her hosts. 

The next day is the prasnik, or holiday. They 
are all in high good-humour : and at length, at the 
general request, the patriarchal host, who is a professed 
story-teller, and more than professionally conscious of 
his value, after much pressing, agrees to favour them 
with a tale. He has long proceeded with it when, at 



234 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

last, the attention of Blanche is attracted to his 
recital, of which the comprehension is assisted by his 
active and ingenious pantomime. 

" Grigory," said the old Moujik, continuing his 
tale, " thought, therefore, that he could safely cut 
across the lake : he had half traversed it, when the 
moon became clouded," here the narrator, according 
to the custom of the Russian tale-teller, extinguished 
the fir splinter, and continued in the dark : " The 
wind rose; the waters became angry under their 
sheet of ice, and it began to crack — crack — crack ! 
with a sound like God's thunder, or our lord, the 
Emperor's cannon. No wonder, for though it split 
as you crack a pane of glass, every rent w^ent two 
score versts from one side of the lake to the other. 

"Then it broke across in another direction, and 
Grigory felt that he was tossing about on a large 
raft of ice, a verst or two in length ; but through all 
the night, and the next day, it kept dashing crash — 
crash ! against other floating fields : each breaking, 
and crumbling, and leaping on the other, as the 
waves pushed them, till piled several deep, or till 
diminishing to nothing. 

" But, with the daylight Grigor}^ saw on the same 
sheet some twenty w^olves — he could not say exactly, 
for, as often as he tried to reckon them, so often did 
he count differently. The wolves did not alarm him 
as much as the wild waters, for they kept afar off on 
the edge of the field of ice ; but, at last, towards 
nightfall, it had crumbled away, bit by bit, to the 
size of a desiatine. Grigory now began to think 
that if the waves did not swallow him up, or the 
wolves fall on him, hunger would force him to attack 
them ; — that he must eat or be eaten ; — that he 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 235 

must be torn limb from limb, or feed on the rank, 
raw, tainted flesh of a loathsome wolf, — which no- 
thing but a w^olf will touch. 

" He did not stir, neither did the wolves move : — 
they only sat howling on the brink ; and in this un- 
certainty he let hour after hour pass, till cold, and 
fear, and hunger, so overpowered him, that he entirely 
lost the faculty of motion. The wolves now gathered 
round him ; — they snapped their long, white teeth ; — 
they howled ; — their eyeballs glared !" 

Here the peasant, taking hold of an ember blew it, 
so that the glowing spark should be reflected in his 
ow^n eyes, and imitated the howl of the animal he was 
describing. 

" Grigory saw them put their heads together, as if 
w^hispering ; and then, whether they thought he could 
tell no tales, I cannot say ; but they spoke boldly out 
with human voices : — 

" ' Let us begin !' said one and all. ' Give me the 
hot liver !' said one. * Give me the heart : — I will 
tear it out P said another. * Give me the crisp bones 
to cmnch ;' cried a third ' or the skull to gnaw, if the 
hair did not get entangled in one's fangs.' ' Hoo — 
hoo — hoo !' said an old, grizzled brute, with white 
bristly hairs about the jaw, and teeth worn down and 
blunted, ' let me have a draught of the warm blood 
from his throat, for a full-grown man is tough after 
the young babe I have eaten. There is nothing — 
nothing — nothing like a young, human babe from 
the mother's breast, for the liquorish tooth of a true 
old wolf.' 

" At these words, and by the voice in which he 
uttered them, Grigory knew him at once to be his 
neighbour, the old Stephan, whose own grandchild. 



236 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

had been devoured, and thus he discovered that he 
was one of those accursed men who take the form of 
savage beasts to prey on the unwary. 

" And how did Grigory escape ? 

" Grigory, who had called on all the saints of 
paradise, bethought him of Saint Nicholas. He 
called on his name thrice; — he called on it thrice 
three times, and he repeated it fervently in nine times 
nine invocations. At this moment the ice split in 
two, and he was cast on the shore insensible, where a 
fisherman picked him up." 

*' He is a mighty Saint, father : — is St. Nicholas." 

" Mighty ! I dare say you do not forget the old 
saying — ' If God could die, and were to die, the 
Emperor would promote St. Nicholas, and make him 
God Almighty.' " 

" But I like better a tale of young princes and of 
fairy lands," said one of the daughters. 

"Well then, listen," replied the father.--" The 
young Prince Rouslan was crossing a meadow; he 
was looking up to the sky, and wondering why the 
modest moon should be so afraid of the sun, and hide 
itself in the daylight, when a large bird flew rapidly 
across. Its colours were as beautiful and bright as if 
you could mix up those of a rainbow with the light of 
a shooting star ; and, as it flew away, it dropped a 
single feather from its glittering wing, which came 
slowly, very slowly, down, and fell at the Prince's feet, 
upon the green grass. He picked it up, and hied him 
home. The moon that he had wondered about was 
not out that night : his cottage was quite dark ; but 
what was his surprise, when he brought in the 
feather, to see it flash a bright blaze of light : — look 
at it." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 237 

Here, to render his story dramatic the old Moujik 
suddenly blew into a flame some pine chips, which he 
had been meanwhile preparing to ignite. 

" The Prince did not sleep ; it was like day in his 
room, and then he resolved to seek out all over the 
world the w^ondrous bird which had dropped the strange 
feather. He wandered on, on, on, all day, and many 
following days. He inquired of the fleet winged 
swallow and of the nimble squirrel and of the 
humble-bee, if they could tell him where to find the 
bird ; — all they could say w^as, that it hved far away, 
where it was diflicult and dangerous to seek it. The 
Prince fell asleep at the foot of a tree, wishing that 
he only knew where; and in his sleep a fairy ap- 
peared to him. 

" * Hark !' said the fairy, * since you are so bold, I 
will show you the crystal palace in which the 
enchanted bird reposes ; but beware if you do not 
discover it amongst thousands and thousands of 
others exactly similar ;' and drawing aside the veil, 
she exhibited to his view myriads of bright gUtter- 
ing halls of light and crystal, more numerous than 
the stars that sparkle in the Heavens. Look 
at them !" and throwing open the door, the story- 
teller, in fresh illustration of his tale, which he 
thus contrived to tell with great eff'ect upon his 
auditors, exposed to their view the stars shining 
out on the dark frosty sky. Here Blanche, over- 
powered v^ith the fatigues of the day, sank at last 
to sleep, and thus lost the remainder of his nar- 
rative. 

" Once in the night she awoke ; all the numerous 
family w^ere lying on their greasy sheepskins, as 
many of these primitive couches as it would hold 
being placed upon the top of the very oven. The 



238 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

heat, the sense of oppression in the heavy and tainted 
atmosphere, were so unendurable, that she opened 
the door ; but the bleak bitter wind soon reconciled 
her even to the stifling sensation of the interior of 
the dwelling. 

" When morning came, as she took up her felt 
boots from the shelf beside her, a dark black patch, 
marked like a stain, the place where they had lain. 
It moved ; it dispersed ; it consisted of an assem- 
blage of hundreds of tarracanes — a sort of nimble 
brown beetle, which swarm in all Russian houses 
and cottages, and love to gather in the inclement 
season under any light object casually laid down, 
which they literally seem to lift up by the compact 
mass into which they huddle together." 

'Tr tP '7? 'Tr ^ 

The day continues boisterous and stormy ; it is only 
by increased rapidity of pace that Blanche can keep 
up the circulation of the blood ; but her strength 
gives way before this additional exertion ; and at this 
moment she descries another female on the road. 
She too is a mother. She too carries a child. 
This is already a bond of sympathy. 

" It is very cold, mother," said the stranger ; " the 
wind cuts keenly ; we must seek shelter, for we shall 
not long be able to keep our infants warm. Mine is 
not many hours old." 

" Not many hours ?" asked Blanche. 

"No," replied the woman. " It first saw the 
light yesterday." 

" Is it yours ?" 

" Oh yes," said the mother with pride. 

"And where are you going? and how can you 
be thus upon the road ?" 

"I am going to the village ; it was born in the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 239 

house of my baron, who has sent- me home for the 
purification, and to nurse it ; and I thank God I am 
hale and hearty; we are not Uke your blagarodie 
(nobihty) he fits the back to the burthen. Where 
are you going ?" 

" Far — very far," said Blanche. 

*' You look weary," said the woman ; " and sound 
or footsore, this searching wind wiU oblige us to seek 
some shelter. The next village along the high road 
is three hours' tramp ; but there is one if we strike 
off, somewhere through this wood to the left. The 
wind never lasts with this intense cold. It is well it 
don't ; the very hght would freeze. It may go 
down by sunset ; and then the cold without the 
wind is nothing." 

Blanche followed her guide. The village was not 
distant. It was the prasnik, and the woman led the 
way into the kabak or pothouse of the place. One 
of the bath-houses, not licenced establishments like 
those in the cities, but the joint property of several 
neighbours, is situated opposite to the kabak, and 
male and female figures, in a disgusting state of 
nudity, come out parboiled by the steam into the 
doorway to cool themselves or roll in the snow — a 
spectacle now banished from St. Petersburg and 
Moscow. 

The kabak, in a little while, began to fill with cus- 
tomers ; but they who lingered longest smoking their 
pipes were not the most profitable customers. It was 
strange to see those who had the means of keeping 
hoHday, come in and have as large a measure as 
they could afford of polougar, the coarse corn brandy 
poured out ; this the Moujik drains off like a dram, 
only panting for breath as he gulps down the potent 
draught. 



240 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

Its effect is almost instantaneous : in a few minutes 
he reels and falls upon the ground, and is carried out 
a dead weight by the arms and legs, and laid in an 
outhouse or a stable, where in three or four hours he 
sleeps off the effect of the poison. 

It is true that the Russian Moujik does not always 
become dead drunk ; but that depends on the quantity 
of the potation which he can afford — much or httle, 
his mode of swallowing it is the same. When it does 
not suffice to realize his ideas of a jollification, by 
reducing him to the level of the brute, its effect is 
to render him singularly loving in his cups : he 
embraces every one near him ; he protests his devo- 
tion, and he begs your pardon, or he prostrates 
himself to kiss your feet, entreating forgiveness of all 
sorts of imaginary offences. 

Perhaps in all countries, a study made of the 
physiology of di'unkenness would lead us to discover a 
strange difference in causes which operate to make the 
dram-drinker and the toper. Dram-drinking is the 
propensity of the wretched ; it is a draught of the 
Lethean waters, an effort to drown care and shim 
reflection. Those who throng our crowded lanes 
and alleys, who people our workhouses, are dram- 
drinkers ; but the jovial sot who sips and sips is 
generally an indi^ddual yielding not to misfortune and 
despair, but seeking and sacrificing to an animal 
enjoyment. 

Is it not \^^th nations as \Adth individuals ? Is it 
not the long oppression under which the Moujik has 
groaned, which makes him place his enjoyment not 
in viewing the present through the inspiriting medium 
of the fumes of hquor, like every other people, but in 
utter obli\don. 

According to its acknowledged operation, intoxica- 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 241 

tion bringing out the latent tendencies of disposition 
and the predominant thoughts which occupy the 
mind, thus renders the Russian kindly and submissive 
in all the stages of inebriation preceding insensibihty ; 
because his natural disposition is gentle, and because 
an unconscious dread weighs perpetually upon and 
harasses him. 

In the midst of the unceasing din and the coarse 
rude kindness of these half-besotted boors, Blanche 
found some refreshment in sleep. 

The woman w^ith the new-born child having 
struck up an acquaintance with one of the carriers, 
seemed disinclined to proceed. The wind had lulled. 
Blanche felt her strength somewhat recruited by rest, 
and she went forth again alone. 

The village in which she had sought shelter was 
not situated directly on the high road ; and whilst 
attempting to regain it she lost her way. On 
endeavouring to retrace her steps, she became at 
length quite bewildered ; and, after wandering for 
many hours, the sudden night of winter overtook 
her still upon the road. 

The faint light of a few stars and the refrac- 
tion of the snow's whiteness, alone rendered dis- 
cernible the unfrequented track she was pursuing. 
Although the wind had subsided, the frost was — as 
it had been for several days — exceedingly bitter. 
Blanche, in the frozen solitude she was traversing, 
knew not when or where she should find a place 
of refuge, or even w^hether she was not going 
from it. 

But her maternal fears gave strength to her 
weary limbs, and she redoubled her pace as she 
pressed her infant more closely to her bosom. At 

VOL. in. M 



242 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

length, she thought she could discern some dusky 
object moving behind and then before her, and then 
several similar to it : — they v^ere wolves — the faint 
starlight in certain positions lit up their glaring 
eyeballs ; and at length, as they drew nearer, turning 
round and round her, she could hear their deep 
growl; for though the wolves make the Russian 
forests resound with their howling, it is only in the 
autumn : in the winter season, when hunger pinches, 
they are never heard to howl. 

First thi'ee or four, and then eight, ten, and twelve, 
were distinctly visible ; they followed ; they preceded ; 
they moved noiselessly along upon the snow on each 
side of her. She was, vdth her tender infant, in the 
middle of a pack of wolves ! With her blood curdling 
— with an agony of teiTor at her heart — she fled along ; 
but her very flight emboldened the cowardly and 
ferocious animals, who, only when pressed by hunger 
and in numbers, ever venture to attack a human 
being ; and then nearly always a woman or a child, 
or one who flies before them. 

At this moment, Blanche descried an abandoned 
hut — ^roofless, windowless, and doorless — and in 
this inhospitable tenement, her terror prompted her 
to seek shelter. 

For a time her purpose was answered; for the 
wolves were shy of approaching anything resembhng 
a human habitation; but, by degrees, as hunger 
griped them, they gained confidence, and every now 
and then a fierce head intruded through the doorway, 
with glaring eyes, and long sharp fangs, and blood-red 
jaws, distilling the white saliva, as the tongue was 
expectantly passed over them. 

There was an old grizzled wolf — just such a one as 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 243 

the peasant had described in his improvisation — bolder, 
or more ferocious, or more hungry than the rest ; and, 
as Blanche, bewildered by her awful situation, re- 
called to memory the narration of the preceding 
night, it acted so powerfully on her imagination, 
that she fancied she could hear it speak in human 
accents and call out for her infant. 

The old wolf had crossed the threshold ; perhaps 
in another instant he would have been at her throat ; 
but the mother was beforehand with him ; for with a 
wild outcry she sprang forward, shrieking frantically : 

*' Away ! away ! I have struggled with the mad 
woman, and I have baffled her ! I will save my 
babe !" 

Her assailant made a bound backwards; and, stretch- 
ing her arms across the doorway, she seemed to defy the 
pack which had slunk back, and glared with hungry 
eyes upon her from a distance as the cries of her 
child tempted them from within the ruined hut ; for 
even famine-stricken wolves are overawed by a fearless 
human form, which they must attack in front. 

Nevertheless, the frost would soon have done the 
work of these ravenous besiegers, when the tinkling 
of bells was heard : — it was a sledge approaching — she 
w^as saved ! 



M 2 



244 THE WHITE SLAVE. 



CHAPTER XX 

Notwithstanding all the efforts made by Bob Bridle 
to urge on his driver, as they approached the town of 

the kibitka in which Dimitri was seated shot 

ahead, and at last vanished from sight on the straight 
and level road before him. 

When Bob stopped at the post-house, the post- 
master and six or eight other persons were standing 
at the door, and appeared to be awaiting his arrival 
with intense curiosity, for they had not yet unharnessed 
the horses, which stood smoking in the other 
kibitka. 

As Bob alighted they stepped on one side with an 
alacrity which he mistook for deference. When 
he peremptorily demanded horses the post-master 
only stared at him. 

" Wait 'till I shew you the ticket, my boys !" says 
Bob producing his pa-dorogne, which — being a special 
one — had all along the road procured immediate atten- 
tion and respect. 

The post-master took it with some trepidation, and 
perused it with curiosity. 

" It contains no description of the person !" he 
observed to his neighbour, without answering the tra- 



THE WHITE SLAVE, 245 

veller, and then the bystanders began to talk among 
themsehTS. 

Bob Bridle, although in a general way he plumed 
himself on neither drinking nor swearing, rapped out 
a terrible Russian oath, whereat those at whom he 
swore backed a pace or two ; but before it had time 
to produce the salutary effect which he expected from 
it, a police officer entered, accompanied by several stout 
assistants and tapped him on the shoulder. 

" What !" said Bob, " you dare not detain me, bear- 
ing as I do a special pa-dorogne." 

" You must follow me to the governor's," replied 
the official ; and Bob, being placed in a sledge, between 
two sturdy police-soldiers, was whisked off to the resi- 
dence of that functionary. 

After not more than an hour's delay, he was led 
into the presence of the potentate. 

The governor, an elderly man, sickly and hypochon- 
driac, was reclining on the sofa on which he had spent 
the night. The chief of the police of his government, 
his aide-de-camp, his physician, and his secretary, toge- 
ther with several attendants, were present. 

His bare feet were inserted into Turkish slippers, 
and his robe de chambre, lined with costly sable, dis- 
played a very dirty coloured shirt, for weeks 
unchanged beneath it — they were the only two gar- 
ments he wore ; but his full uniform was displayed on 
a chair beside him — and every one else, even at this 
early hour was stiffly buckled up, in all the full rigi- 
dity of regulation. 

None but the highest authority in a place dares dis- 
pense with the exact costume of office, and negligence 
in this particular is therefore a sign of superiority ; — a 
rule, however, to which the Emperors have long offered 



246 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

a remarkable exception, for a Russian Emperor 
never quits his uniform. 

The words of Scripture, " Naked I came from my 
mother earth, and naked shall I return to it," do not 
apply to him ; for, though he may come into the world 
naked, he is consigned to the dust in his martial 
attire. 

" The uniform," says a Sclavonic writer bitterly, " is 
the skin of the Knoutopotent Tsar ! he is reared, lives, 
dies, and rots in it." 

His physician was a Greek — one of those corrupt 
and intriguing Greeks of the Fanar, whom their free 
Moreote brethren have been obliged to exclude from 
the fraternity of citizenship, which they had at first 
extended to them. The powerful intellect of his peo- 
ple — undirected in this individual by self-respect, or the 
elevation of a single feeling — would have enabled him 
easily to attain a skill in his profession, but which he 
found easier to counterfeit ; — and it still shone forth in 
the ascendency which the empiric had obtained over 
those to whom he appeared to cringe. 

Bob's eye did not catch the figure of Dimitri 
till he heard him answer, " That is he, your Excel- 
lency," and Dimitri coming up to Bob threw his arms 
round his neck and embraced him tenderly. 

The feelings of the groom were so grievously out- 
raged by this salutation, that his temper for an instant 
forsook him, and he dealt Dimitri a blow which made 
him stagger. 

" God bless us," said the governor starting, " he 
will do us a mischief!" 

But the police soldiers instantly and dexterously 
pinioned the poor groom, who, deeply regretting that he 
had been aggravated into this unpropitious violence, 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 24? 

determined to repair it as far as possible by the calm- 
ness of his demeanour. 

*' To think/' said Dimitri, in whose eyes notwith- 
standing his hypocrisy there stood real tears, " to 
think that he should have struck me, who love him as 
a brother !" 

" Hush," said the governor, " I will interrogate him 
myself. Who are you, fellow ?" 

" My name is Bob Bridle : — I am servant to the 
Count de Montressan." 

" What countryman ?" 

" An Enghshman." 

" Where do you come from ?" 

" St. Petersburg." 

*' Where are you going to ?'* 

'' To my master at Kalouga." 

"What to do ?" 

" To carry him some important documents." 

" Why did you strike that man ?" 

" He is a rogue : he provoked me to it. I forgot my- 
self. I beg your Excellency's pardon. 

The governor looked at the physician — the physi- 
cian shook his head, and said in an under-tone, " the 
eye is wild — mad — mad as a March hare." 

" I don't see that," said the governor, " his replies 
are very sensible" — and then, turning to Dimitri, he 
said sternly, " beware, fellow ; if thou art deceiving 
us." 

" My Lord !" said Dimitri, *' I must be as mad as 
this unfortunate creature to dare attempt it : but his 
madness is only occasional and full of method. His 
master, as I have the honour of telling your Excel- 
lency, is the intimate friend of my own, and at this 
moment visiting him. This poor fellow — for whom the 



248 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

Count has a true regard — was taken with one of his 
occasional fits and he has knocked down his cousin and 
fellow-servant, and escaped, making use of his pa- 
dorogne and carrying off some important documents, 
which it is to be feared he may destroy." 

" This is a singular case," said the governor to his 
secretary, " I know the Prince Isaakoff well; do all 
the documents bear out his statement ?" 

" Here they are, your Excellency," replied the secre- 
tary : " the Englishman is bearer of his own passport, 
and of a special pa-dorogne — the surname is the 
same, but the christian names do not agree : one is 
Bob, and the other Robert." 

" Just so ;" observed Dimitri, glibly, " his name is 
Bob, and his cousin's Robert." 

" The Englishman is the bearer of a sealed packet, 
addressed to Count Horace de Montressan, at the vil- 
age of Bialoe Darevnia, in the government of Kalouga, 
at the house of the Prince Ivan Isaakoff. The other 
bears a pass in his own name, declaring him to be in 
the service of the Prince Isaakoff, and a special pa-do- 
rogne also : but both containing a description of his 
person, which strictly tallies." 

" Why did not the cousin start in pursuit of 
him ?" 

" He is too severely injured, your Excellency," 
replied Dimitri, with effrontery. 

" Hold him very tight !" said the governor aloud ; 
and then, seeing the impassibility of Bob's counte- 
nance, he added, partly perhaps to contradict his 
doctor ; " and yet I do not see a sign of madness." 

" If your Excellency's unprofessional eyes could 
detect every bodily and mental ailment, where would 
be the use of a physician ?" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 249 

" I can assure your Excellency," said Dimitri, " that, 
with all his quiet manner, his outbreaks are both 
very strange and very terrible. I do not know 
whether the marks remain ; but I remember that he 
once had his body tattooed." 

" Tattooed !" exclaimed the governor, " that would 
be something like a proof, and one easily pro- 
duced." 

" Only turn up his cuffs," suggested Dimitri. 
It was done, and a number of arabesques, pricked in 
with gunpowder, and recording various names, ap- 
peared in view. 

" Let us see further," exclaimed the governor, cu- 
riously taking up his eye-glass ; as Bob's arm was 
laid bare. 

"What do you call that, my friend?" 

" That," said Bob, a little disconcerted, " is a 
foolish pedigree." 

" And those letters ? — what do those particular 
letters mean?" 

" Those letters mean," replied Bob, " that Semi- 
ramis was got by Voltaire out of the Duchess of 
Marlborough." 

" That will do," said the governor, quietly putting 
down his glass. " I have done with him. You may 
remove him, doctor. You had better try upon this 
patient your cure by friction." 

" I will," said the triumphant physician, " when he 
has been duly bled, blistered, and dieted." 



M 3 



250 THE WHITE SLAVE. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

" It is very strange," said Horace, breathless 
with mingled joy and apprehension as he perused a 
letter which he held in his hand. " I learn by this 
that Bridle left St. Petersburg the night preceding 
the day on which this was written. He did not 
take the steps I had pointed out, in the event of 
failing in his mission ; therefore he must have suc- 
ceeded ; but then, having left twelve hours at least 
before this letter, what has detained him ?" 

As the Count spoke, the beUs of a team of horses 
and the last shouts of the driver as he turned his 
sledge into the yard were audible. 

" There he is !" said Horace, Nadeshta, and Mat- 
theus with one accord. 

But, instead of Bob Bridle, they were met in the 
corridor by the Prince Isaakoff. " How goes it, my 
friend — my worthy friend?" said the Prince with 
exquisite urbanity, throwing off his bear-skin shube, 
and without taking notice of the others, extending to 
the Count his hand, which was coldly refused. 

" What," continued Isaakoff, allowing some irony 
of manner now to pervade his words, — " what ? so 
much ceremony amongst friends ? This is a cool 
reception when one has travelled fast and far to bear 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 251 

you pleasing intelligence. I knew that you, Count 
Horace, had a powerful friend ; but I was not aware 
that my own people were honoured by such protec- 
tion. In twenty minutes, my worthy guest — or I sup- 
pose I must say my guests now — I will join you in 
the library." 

There was a bitterness about the Prince's manner, 
as, pronouncing the last words, he turned with mock 
deference towards Mattheus and Nadeshta, which led 
Horace to infer that the steps he had taken had not 
proved fruitless, particularly when coupled with the 
negative evidence afforded by the letter which he had 
just received. 

The Prince, as he had promised, was not more 
than twenty minutes before he joined them ; and, 
during this time, they waited fuU of uncertainty, 
which, with Horace and Nadeshta lightened into 
sanguine hope, and with Mattheus, darkened into 
anxious disbelief. 

When Isaakoff joined them, he closed the doors of 
all the apartments ; for the library was situated at 
the extremity of a long suite of rooms. He smiled 
benignantly as he threw himself into an arm-chair, 
and begged the Count and the two slaves to be 
seated. 

Horace felt himself in a position so strange, so 
widely different from anything he had ever heard of or 
imagined, that he was utterly at a loss what line of 
conduct to pursue, and in this perplexity seated him- 
self in silence. 

So deeply interested was he in the fate of Nadeshta 
and her brother, so curious to hear the explanation of 
the words which the Prince had let drop, that in this 
feeling merged aU thought of resenting the insult 
which the overstrained politeness of his host's manner 



252 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

in reality conveyed, after what had passed between 
them. 

" In the first place," said the Prince, taking out 
the parcel, which had been confided to Bob Bridle, 
" though I think you have not used me well in 
withholding from me your confidence in this little 
matter, here. Count Horace, allow me to give into 
your hands these documents. Although intended as 
a surprise to me, they cannot fail to give you plea- 
sure : — read." 

The Count tore open the envelope, and discovered 
several letters and papers. 

" Mattheus," said he, " your wife has escaped with 
her chHd." 

" Thank God," exclaimed Mattheus, clasping his 
hands together in a transport of delight, and lifting up 
his eyes in fervent thanksgiving ; but, an instant after, 
there shot athwart, his features a momentary ex- 
pression like that to which a sudden t\Adnge of pain 
gives rise. His expiation had availed; his sacrifice 
had been accepted ; but she had left him alone — for 
ever — without a word of kindness or forgiveness. 

The Coimt continued to read on with an astonish- 
ment which he could not conceal, — an astonishment 
occasioned less by the contents of the documents he 
was perusing, than by the unaccountable fact of their 
having come into the possession of the Prince, and then 
been delivered, as we have just seen, into his own hancjs 
by him. For an instant the thought flashed across 
him that they might be counterfeited ; but the hand- 
writing of a letter which he recognised, and the 
signature of the Grand Master, forbade him to 
entertain this idea. 

" Prince IsaakofF," he said at length, " I imagine, 
by the assurance of your manner, that you are ignorant 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 253 

of the contents of the parcel you have so kindly 
remitted to me ;" and then he checked himself, 
reflecting that perhaps his wisest course would be to 
proceed instantly to Kalouga, to obtain assistance 
from the governor. 

" Pardon me," replied the Prince blandly. " I am 
acquainted with it, word for word. Do not harbour 
the injurious idea that your seal has been tampered 
with. I have had exact copies transmitted to me 
through the kindness of a friend. 

" The one is an order to the governor of Kalouga, 
signed by Benkendorf, commanding him to afford 
you every assistance in proceeding to St. Peters- 
burg, with tw^o of my slaves, whose names are left 
blank, empowering you to remove them forcibly, if 
requisite, which I do not think it will be," — here the 
Prince smiled at Nadeshta and Mattvei — " and 
declaring that on no account and under no pretence 
whatever are you to be impeded or delayed. The 
other instructs the same personage to arrest, confine, 
and keep incommunicate your humble servant, the 
Prince Ivan Isaakoff, until further notice, which, I 
think, will not reach him till such time as Count 
Horace has repaid his hospitality by carrying two 
of his slaves beyond the frontier. 

" This personal detention is really the unkindest 
cut of all — unkind, unmerited, unfeeling, inconside- 
rate !" said the Prince, affecting to whimper : " though 
it is bad enough to rob me of Nadeshta and her bro- 
ther — when I consider that the Moscow milliner 
would have wiped out the score the Italian singer ran me 
up, to be allowed the privilege of introducing Na- 
deshta into life — when I look at her Greek profile, 
and consider what a classically voluptuous Lais the 
future Countess of Montressan would have made ; — 



254 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

when my eyes dwell on the Herculean proportions of 
her brother, and I reflect what a magnificent caryatide 
he would make, with that gigantic torso bowed, the 
muscles of those powerful arms brought into play, 
beneath a basket of ore in a Siberian mine." 

" Hark !" said Horace, " you may proceed, if you 
will, with this ill-timed pleasantry ; but do you know 
that I am fully aware of the power of the Grand 
Master's signature ? Do you know that, at the same 
time these papers were dispatched, a private order was 
transmitted to the governor of Kalouga ? Do you 
know that I am armed — that with a pistol in one 
hand and this signature in the other, I am going now 
to order out a sledge to proceed with Nadeshta and 
her brother straight to the city ? and woe to those 
who attempt to impede me !" 

" If that signature be Count Benkendorf s," said 
Mattheus, " the Prince will command in vain. 
The Lord's wiU is powerful, but only till any one 
speaks in the Emperor's name. Johann himself 
dares not detain you." 

" Well," replied the Prince calmly, " though now 
his eye lit up with that infernal expression that some- 
times came to waken its cold death-like impassibility, 
" well, this is a pleasingly devised surprise to repay 
my hospitahty, and I admit to you that nothing can 
resist the Grand Master's positive order ; nothing can 
be more potent than his signature ; there is nothing 
can destroy or weaken its efficacity, excepting his own 
signature, and here I hold it (the Prince drew a 
paper from his pocket) it is dated, as you see, 
the 1 1 th, a day after yours. It provides, in the first 
place, that the two slaves in question shall only be 
sent on to St. Petersburg in the event of their Baron, 
— the Prince Ivanlsaakoff — thereunto consenting ; and 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 255 

in the next, that if he decline so doing, the governor 
shall take down the accusation of Count Horace 
against the Prince ; and, with regard to the slaves, if 
its nature do not affect the Imperial interests, con- 
form to the established law — which law I need not 
tell you is, that no slave can give evidence against 
his master. The governor is further directed only to 
detain the Prince in custody in the event of the 
Count de Montressan's charge being of sufficient 
gravity to demand this step ; and, in that case, he is 
instructed not to allow the accuser to proceed, till 
the affair is thoroughly sifted. This little slip of paper 
has cost me fifty thousand roubles ; but it is fair and per- 
fectly satisfactory — if not satisfactory to all parties," 
said the Prince. " Surprise for surprise." 

A dead silence followed this overwhelming blow. 
The papers fell from the powerless hand of Horace. 
He felt faint, and gasped for breath. 

" It is tantalizing," continued the Prince, with a dia- 
bolical smile, " to think that, but for this little piece 
of paper, nothing could have prevented you all 
escaping — Horace with his Nadeshta, Nadeshta with 
her Horace, and Mattvei to join his foreign wife — to 
think that, beyond all doubt, some confederate i^ 
waiting upon the road to favour your flight — to think 
that your messenger started four-and-twenty hours 
before it was possible to gain the ear of the Grand 
Duke or to obtain fi-om the Grand Master this pleas- 
ing modification — to think that my Dimitri got your 
English groom detained by the most laughable 
stratagem, and to enjoy the reflection that, even at 
this moment if you only stood with those papers 
which you treat so negligently in the governor's 
house at Kalouga, if it were not for these few lines 



256 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

— which would be there as soon as you could — there 
would be nothing to impede you." 

"Look!" said Horace, drawing forth his pistols, 
" I told you I was armed. Take one. Get up, stand 
at ten paces, or I will shoot you like a dog !" 

" Oh no !" said the Prince, reaching the bell, " I 
will not meddle with your pistol. You dare not 
murder me." 

"You have not yet wiped out the blow I gave 
you," said Horace hoarsely. 

" You have not paid me yet," replied the Prince, 
sarcastically. 

" Horace," said Nadeshta, seizing the arm of the 
Count, whose eyes flashed fire, " Horace ! dear Horace, 
do no murder ;" and then she added with a sudden 
inspiration, " Horace ! Mattheus ! he is alone, why not 
seize him, bind him, destroy that document, and fly?" 

With the speed of thought, Horace and Mattheus 
flew at the Prince and overpowered him, but not before 
he had time to utter one faint cry and ring the bell. 

At this sound Dimitri, who, without their know- 
ledge, was in the adjoining room, entered the apart- 
ment. When he saw the Prince grasped in the 
powerful arms of Mattheus, who placed one hand on 
his mouth as Horace quitted hold of his throat, he 
advanced a few paces to his rescue, and then turned 
about to fly for succour ; but Nadeshta had locked the 
door behind him, and with flashing eye and dilating 
nostril, and hps that without utterance spoke her deter- 
mination, presented at his head one of the Count's 
pistols. She looked the image of the Judith in the 
beautiful French engraving, where Judith, rather 
Arabian than Hebrew in character and outhne, draws 
the sword of the sleeping Assyrian. 



I 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 257 

Count Horace, having torn a curtain to shreds, pro- 
ceeded to bind and gag the Prince securely, and then 
performed the same operation by Dimitri, who, dis- 
inclined to fire-arms, and fascinated by the pistol on 
which his eyes were riveted, offered no resist- 
ance. 

All this had taken place without a word being 
spoken. 

" Now," said Count Horace, " let us take counsel 
how to act ; with a little good fortune we may yet 
be saved ; for he himself has pointed out the way." 

The result of this deliberation was the conviction, 
that, if they could so contrive that the Prince should 
not for some hours be discovered by his domestics, 
there were only two circumstances which could prevent 
their escaping from the • empire ; the first, if the 
Prince had not spoken truly in saying, that no counter 
order had yet reached the governor of Kalouga ; the 
second, in case the Duchess of Lowicz — alarmed by the 
Grand Duke's angrily rescinding the order which had 
been extorted from him — should have neglected to 
prepare, or have failed to provide for their flight from 
St Petersburg ; — and yet, once in the capital, even 
there all was not hopeless. 

" See !" said Mattheus, addressing the Prince, who 
could hear though he could not speak, *' see ! how, 
by a singular retribution, the very cruelty which thou 
didst practise, Ivan Ivanovitch, furnishes, from its 
minutest details, weapons wherewith to baffle thee. 
Cruel son of a generous father ! thou didst think 
to break my heart by imposing on me menial offices : 
and so it happens now, that when I give orders to 
thy people not to disturb thee till morning, it will ex- 
cite no suspicion or surprise." 



258 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

It was then agreed that, having given these in- 
structions, and brought in tea, Mattheus should 
order, in his master's name, a sledge to be harnessed 
with the fleetest horses, to convey the Count imme- 
diately to the city. This sledge Mattheus was to 
drive himself. Nadeshta, stealing out, was to meet 
them where the cross-road joins the highway. 

The two captives being then secured afresh, so as 
to render the loosening their bonds impossible without 
assistance, and all necessary precautions being taken, 
they prepared to leave him. 

*' Prince IsaakofF !" said Nadeshta, " she, whom un- 
offending thou wouldst have given over to shame and 
ruin, bids thee farewell ; she does not curse thee for 
what thou didst intend to her ; but she tells thee in 
parting, that the prayers of* thy forty thousand slaves, 
when they rise up like the dew of earth to Heaven, 
accumulate there into one stupendous curse, which, 
like the thunder-cloud, will burst upon thy head !" 

" Ivan Ivanovitch !" said Mattheus, " he whom 
thou hast so provoked, aggrieved, and persecuted, 
wishes thee farewell for ever ; he whom thou didst 
doom to play the Caryatide, wishes, for thy departed 
father's sake, that thou mayest fare better than thou 
deservest !" 

"Ivan Ivanovitch, Prince Isaakoff!" said Count 
Horace, " foul blot on the face of humanity ! — vile 
stain to the order which your name disgraces^ I bid 
you farewell ! But I leave you three mementoes of 
the past: one is, the recollection of the blow un- 
avenged wherewith I smote your cheek ; the other is 
this document, which I place upon your very bosom, 
although you cannot use it till too late ; the third, is 
this little half of an ivory loaded die, wherewith I redeem 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 259 

the gaming score you hold against me ; the other half 
I keep as my quittance and the proof of your infamy 
to the world at large. Farewell !" 

The Prince made a violent effort in his bonds ; and 
then, convinced of its futility, he was motionless, 
closing the thin, blue tinted lids over his eyes, whose 
lead-like orbs seemed kindling with a spark of baffled, 
self-consuming hatred. 

They locked all the massive double doors of the 
whole suite of rooms, taking with them the keys ; 
and then, about half an hour afterwards, Mattheus 
drove out the Count, and took up Nadeshta at the 
cross-road. 



260 THE WHITE SLAVE. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

But, just as Nadeshta was seated in the sledge, 
just as her brother was about to give the rein to the 
snorting horses, a man stepped forward from the 
road-side, and seized them by the head with a vehe- 
ment oath. 

It was the old Starost. 

" Back ! — back !" he said ; and drawing his axe 
from his girdle, prepared to cut the traces. 

" What art thou doing ?" said Nadeshta. " Desist ! 
It is I." 

" I know thee well," replied the old man, doggedly. 
" Woman of the beauteous brow, of the bold heart, 
of the strong arm and head ! Slave, who wouldst 
leave behind thy fellow- slaves, I have thwarted thee 
once. / gave information to the Prince of the 
Count's design when he sent his servant to St. Peters- 
burg !" 

" What ! — thou didst betray us ! Thou art mad !" 
said Mattheus, jumping out. 

" Father!" said Nadeshta, " thou wouldst not surely 
injure us ? Loose thy hold." 

" No, no !" replied the Starost, " thou passest not 
onward. I have a kind of love for thee whilst here ; 
but, like the damned, I will not suffer alone !" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 261 

" Stand back, old man !" said Horace, " or I will 
send a ball through your mad brain !" 

*' Do ! — it will rouse all the domestics 1" replied 
the Starost, still endeavouring to cut the traces, which 
now hanging loose, could not easily be severed by a 
blow. 

" Father, let go !" said Mattheus, " or be your 
blood on your own head !" 

" I can defend it," replied the old man, brandish- 
ing his axe fiercely ; but Mattheus closed with him. 
The struggle was violent, but brief: the murderous 
weapon was wrenched from the Starost's hand ; and 
his young and powerful assailant struck him with the 
blunt side a blow upon the skull, which felled him hke 
an ox. 

" You have not killed him, brother ! " said 
Nadeshta. 

" I do not know," replied Mattheus ; " let us drive 
on — not over him !" 

Horace, who had gathered up the reins when 
Mattheus alighted, now drove on at a pace so terrific, 
that no farther allusion could be made to this acci- 
dent. Before reaching Kalouga, one horse dropped 
dead ; it was detached ; and still the sledge flew on 
with the same wild speed. 

Their reception by the governor of Kalouga was of 
such vital importance, they were drawing so near to 
the crisis of their fate, that not a syllable passed their 
lips. The city was reached, and Mattheus, who had 
re-assumed the reins, drove to the governor's residence, 
where the Count alighted — Blanche and her brother 
awaiting in an agony of suspense without. 

After nearly half an hour's delay, Horace rejoined 
them. " It is all right, let us proceed" — but the 



262 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

jaded horses after this half hour's inaction had grown 
so stiff that they could no longer move. A messen- 
ger had however been dispatched to the post-house 
for a fresh team, which soon arrived, and they resumed 
their journey fuU of hope. 

Post after post, houi' after hour, they flew along ; 
threats and gold gave them speed, and the thought 
that perhaps their safety depended upon the start of a 
few hours which they had gained ; and that happiness, 
and love, and freedom were to crowTi their exertions, 
inspired them not only with strength to sustain the 
fatigues of their rapid flight, but made them feel im- 
patient even at all unavoidable delay. 

Two days and two nights they had been incessantly 
upon the road, when towards sunset they were driving 
through a forest. The frost had caused them to muffle 
themselves so closely in their furs as to leave only the 
eyes, nose, and mouth exposed ; the very breath froze 
in icicles upon the soft sable hair of their cloaks and 
upon the long beard of the post driver. 

The driver, kept in awe by the special pa-dorogne 
which Horace had obtained from the governor, and 
stimulated alike by the high recompence offered and 
by his wish to get out of the piercing cold, was urging 
on his horses with utter disregard to the interests of 
his master, when they dashed rapidly past some hu- 
man being seated by the road side. 

" Stop ! stop ! stop 1" said Nadeshta, " that poor 
wayfarer will peiish." 

" Dear Nadeshta ! we may all perish if we lose a 
single hour," said Horace. 

" Alas !" said Mattheus '' the world is full of mise- 
ries, but we have no time now to look to this unfortii- 
nate. Drive on." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 263 

" No, stop," said Nadeshta, " I will not go on : it is 
a woman — the poor creature will perish in this bitter 
frost, if she sits there only for a few minutes longer — 
perhaps she is already frozen." 

Mattheus stepped out and approached the figure, 
w^hose sex, thus huddled together and muffled in its 
sheepskin was not at first discernible, although on 
closer examination he discovered that it was a woman 
already half stupified by the cold. 

"Come! come! matushka,^^ (mother) said he in Russ. 

She did not answer, though she moved. 

" Come," continued Mattheus, endeavouring to 
raise her, when to his utter amazement, she exclaimed 
in English : 

" No, not my child — you shall not take my child ; 
the mad woman has relinquished her hold, and the wolf 
shrunk back." 

" Good God !" said Mattheus, drawing aside the 
garment which covered her head, and embracing his 
wife as he recognised her. *' Good God ! my Blanche, 
is it you?" 

" Mattheus ! Mattheus ! my own Mattheus !" said 
Blanche, " Oh ! warm our babe, it is so cold" — and 
then, overpowered by hunger, weakness and emo- 
tion, she sank insensible. By this time Horace and 
Nadeshta were by her side. 

" My child — my child 1 on whom its father's eyes 
have never yet lighted," said Mattheus, and from the 
mother's bosom he drew forth his first-born, to gaze 
upon it with a father's pride : but alas, life had been 
long — perhaps many days — extinct ; the little thing 
was stiff, and stark, and cold; its once tender limbs felt 
stony as the ice into which its young blood was cur- 



264 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

died ; and its blue and tiny lips seemed frozen into 

a livid smile. The last, the very last offshoot of 

the once illustrious house of Mortimer had perished of 

cold and misery, by the road side, for want of a shelter 

in which to lay its houseless head. 

# # # * # 

" I always told you so," said Mattheus, whose wife 
had been lifted into the sledge; "thus the curse 
works on our predestined race ! How dared I ever 
hope the contrary — worm as I was — to think that the 
immutable decrees of fate should bend to my mean 
personality! Oh no, we cannot shun the destiny pre- 
ordained tens of centuries back. Nadeshta, may'st 
thou escape the doom which I perpetuate ; and as for 
her she is not of oiu* blood. I have just seen thee 
kissing her cold cheek with the affection of a sister ; 
and so, Nadeshta, remembering how in thy 
thoughts thou hast wronged this noble woman — 
thou wilt be kind to her and foster her : let me hear 
thee say thou wilt before w^e part." 

" Before we part l" replied Nadeshta — " you are 
dreaming, brother." 

"A dream that knows no waking then: our fates like 
two diverging lines now clearly separate, never to meet 
again except in Heaven. Our passport is but for three : 
now that Blanche is with us, I should make a fourth. I 
know the jealous vigilance of the authorities. I know 
too well that to accompany you would bring detection 
and heap ruin on you all. God bless you, my fond 
sister — God bless you, noble brother. God bless you, 
my poor Blanche. Dead as my last words fall on your 
unconscious ear ; insensible as are your cold lips 
to my kisses — God give you consolation and 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 265 

forgetfulness ! Blanche, Nadeshta, Horace ! fare you 
weU !" 

" This cannot be," said Horace, " you cannot quit 
us thus : — we cannot leave you to fall afresh into your 
tyrant's hands." 

" No," said Mattheus, " that trial will be spared 
me now. I shall take to the wild woods. I shall 
mate with the fox, the wolf, and the bear. I 
shall trust to the mercies of the elements : I shall 
bear with me my child till the spring comes, and I 
will bury it then far in the wilderness, for now the 
wolves would dig it up. The cruel frost which has 
nipped it in the bud will keep it from decay for me 
to gaze upon, and I will bury it when flowers are 
springing. So once more, fare you well 1" 

And so saying, Mattheus waved his hand, 
and, plunging into the thicket with his first-born, 
vanished amid the low serried branches of the white 
fir. 

" Oh my brother ! my brother, he shall not go 
alone !" said Nadeshta, with an effort to follow him ; 
but Horace held her firmly, imploring, intreat- 
ing, and endeavouring to bring her back to reason ; 
till in fact it became so obvious that any attempt to 
follow him in the boundless forest could only lead to 
their own destruction without availing him, that the 
Count was at last enabled to proceed with the two 
women : — the one in a state of distraction, the other 
of insensibility. 



Two months, to the very day, after this harrowing 
scene, Nadeshta, who had been already married in 
VOL. in. N 



266 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

England, to avoid the interminable formalities of the 
Napoleon code — which renders marriage more difficult 
than divorce — was again united at his own desire to 
the Count de Montressan in the old chapel of his 
ancestral manor-house in Britanny ; and, the ceremony 
over, husband and wife went to watch by the bed- 
side of the convalescent Blanche. 



4 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 267 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

Nearly two years have elapsed since the escape of 
Blanche and Nadeshta from the power of the Prince. 

Already all his estates have been sold excepting 
those in the government of Kalouga, for he has pre- 
ferred selling his slaves and property outright to 
pledging them to the crown, fully aware that in that 
case they are equally lost, being, from one cause or 
other, scarcely ever redeemed. 

By a trait which would appear strange and anoma- 
lous in other nations, but which is characteristic ■ 
enough of the higher order of Russians, the Prince 
Isaakoff urged by an irresistible impulse — with a cool 
head and with his eyes open — has plunged into a coui'se 
of boundless and ruinous extravagance. Profuse with- 
out generosity, and magnificent without dignity, 
lavishing millions whilst still mean in trifles; he 
clearly foresaw and yet by a strange fascination could 
not shun this reckless dissipation of his once colossal 
fortune. Like those gamesters, who, aware of all the 
chances in favour of the tables, of the advantages of 
its superior capital, and without any illusive confidence 
in their own luck, are still fascinated to play without a 
hope of eventual success. 

Now, although the estate of the Bialoe-Darevnia 

■ N 2 



268 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

which he still possessed was unmortgaged, his necessities 
had caused him long since to neglect all prudence in 
extracting from it all that could momentarily be 
squeezed out of his peasantry to supply the exigencies 
of the moment ; and as a most fitting instrument for 
this pui'pose he still retained Johann Sauer in his 
employment. As the misanthropic old Starost had 
prophesied from his keen obser^^ation alike of men and 
of the rotation of the seasons, the harvest failed, just 
when everything was shaven closely from the surface 
of the land, reducing the estate to the condition of 
one or two which happened to adjoin it. 

Some hundred thousand slaves, amongst them 
the ten thousand of the Bialoe Darevnia, were famine- 
stricken : the other owners had already mortgaged 
them, and like Isaakoff (who still resolutely refused to 
do so,) were unwilling or unable to raise any 
immediate fund for their relief. The winter passed, 
but with the spring disease and hunger began to 
decimate and render desperate this unhappy popu- 
lation. 

A wretched crowd battled eagerly for the garbage 
thrown out fi^om the dwelling of the sleek Johann 
Sauer, notwithstanding all the dread which his now 
unbridled rapacity and severity inspired. His com- 
fortable stacks of corn rose round the farm-yard, his 
cattle lowed, his poultry cackled within it ; he was rich 
and well to do in the world, and he had established 
on the estate itself, a manufactory for the fabrication 
of beet-root sugar. 

Bob Bridle, left behind by Count Horace, had 
sought out the Prince, a step which will be at once 
accounted for by the fact that the grey horse Lucifer 
had been tacitly confiscated by the latter, and, as he was 



i 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 269 

found utterly unmanageable, the services of Bob had 
been eagerly secured : he had trained him, and ridden 
him, and won with him at Moscow, and he was 
now settled with him for the winter in the village of 
Bialoe-Darevnia. 

Nothing could exceed the affection which had 
growTi up betwixt the fiery stallion and his groom. 
The loose box which Lucifer inhabited formed an 
anteroom to Bob's own apartment. The walls 
were whitewashed, and it was neatly paved, cleanly 
swept, and kept warm by the same stove as Bob's 
own chamber, indeed, it only differed from it in being 
boarded, furnished with a bed and chest of drawers, 
and ornamented with a print of the last winner of the 
Derby before Bob had quitted the turf, mounted by 
the jockey who had ridden him — a work of art which, 
from the care he took of it, the Russians mistook for 
the image of his patron saint. 

When a distinction is made between the apart- 
ments of Bob and his horse, it must be explained that 
it existed more in form than in reality ; for, long before 
daylight in the winter, Lucifer used to make his way 
into the groom's bed-chamber, sometimes playfully 
lifting the bed-clothes with his teeth, and sometimes 
touching his cheek with his black muzzle till he had 
awakened him ; and then on the other hand Bob 
spent a large portion of his leisure in the horse's stall, 
seated on a barrel placed next the stove to keep the 
water thawed, and which he had painted pea-green, 
tastily picking out the hoops with white. Here he 
either polished the bits, or stirrup irons, or perused 
his bible, or peered with avidity into the racing calen- 
dar, of which he had added a few volumes to his 
library. 



270 THE WHTTE SLAVE. 

The upper half of the stable door, on which Lucifer's 
racing plates had been nailed, was open ; he had been 
properly attended to, and, this operation performed, 
Bob had prepared his own breakfast consisting of tea 
and toast. Using the green cask as a table, he had 
spread on it a snow-white napkin and drawn a chair 
beside it. The grey horse's head intruded inquiringly 
over his shoulder as the groom raised to his mouth 
the tea, which he had poured out into a saucer. 

" Now then !" said Bob, "now then, Lucy ! do let 
other folks have their breakfast, you've had yourn. 
I'll put that ere head into a bag if you don't take it 
away ; don't you see that the sugar basin is covered, 
and you can't get it into the milkpot, though I'm 
agreeable to admit that it is a small head, and as well 
set on as a horse's need be." 

Lucifer, thus spoken to, whinnied an answer, rub- 
bing his muzzle gently against Bob's cheek, and then 
smelling the plate of toast. 

" Now then ! do you want to put your nose too 
near the Sammy what's-o-name," continued Bob, 
alluding to the Samovar, or tea-urn, " and spill the 
tea over my leathers as you did yesterday ? No, don't 
meddle with that plate, I never beared of a horse 
being cocked up with such dainties as buttered toast 
^specially when he gets the best of oats, beans, and, 
carrots, and so many poor creatures of Christians, 
which they calls theirselves, is glad to pick the 
leavins off the dunghill. Come, let me have my 
breakfast, you always gets your feed, full measured 
and carefully sifted, and I havn't had a mornin's 
belly-full these three weeks." 

And it was true that, every morning, the 
hungry children who looked in wistfully had excited 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 271 

such pity in Bob's breast that he divided the best 
part of his breakfast between them, always protesting 
that " he wished the young shavers would go and 
stare Johann out of his appetite instead of him," 
and inquiring whether they thought he was to feed 
the whole village and have his own breakfast out of 
that ere plate of toast ? 

" It's a blessin," continued Bob, looking at Lucifer 
to whom the best part of his conversation w^as 
generally addressed, *' it's a blessin' that they havn't 
thought of me this morning, though," he added after 
a moment's reflection, "poor things, perhaps some on 
'em is laid by the heels with hunger," and so saying 
he compassionately laid aside on a shelf all the 
remainder of his loaf. 

Now the reason why no one had come that morn- 
ing to Bob Bridle's door was, that it wasi a day of 
terror in the village. During the night a daring band 
of desperadoes, ravenous with hunger, not contented, 
as Johann said, with the refiise of the beet-root (after 
the sugar had been extracted from it) which he regu- 
larly distributed amongst them, had actually dug into 
the deep pit in which the roots were stored to keep 
them from the frost. When the tardy daylight dawned, 
Johann discovered the ground not only strewed with 
the remains of roots on which the famished wretches 
had assuaged their appetite, but many tons deposited 
in the same place frost-bitten and destroyed. 

His rage knew no bounds. As for his wife, she 
even allowed this event to derange the immutable 
course of her household economy. The making up 
the ley for the great wash was postponed, and the 
bleeding of the pigs w^as deferred, for this thrifty 
manager, of whom Bob observed, " that she would 



272 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

squeeze milk out of a flint, and pick the kernel out of 
a paving-stone" — had accustomed these hapless 
animals to the operation every ten days for a month 
or two preceding their being converted into pork ; 
thus drawing the blood regularly as a cow is milked 
to make black puddings, a proceeding which had the 
further advantage of rendering the swine dropsical, in 
which condition they were slaughtered, frozen, and 
sent to market, where they sold by weight. 

All the eff'orts of Johann to discover the guilty 
parties failed. There was no indication by w^hich to 
trace them, excepting a single distinct footprint on 
the snow, but this footprint was of very ordinary 
dimensions, so that more than eighty adult males 
were discovered in the manor village of whose tread 
it might alike have been the impress. 

" You will keep them apart," said Johann to the 
Starost, " for to-morrow T expect both my brother 
Dietrich and the Captain Ispravnick. You are right, 
you are always right, Batushka (father), I am too 
lenient with them. An example must be made, or 
we shall have them in open rebellion." 

The old Starost grinned savagely, as he always did 
at the prospect of any additional severity. 

" Oh, your blagarodie's brother comes to-mori'ow ?" 

" Yes," replied Johann, " we have nothing to feed 
these rogues with yet, and when we have — if we 
procure anything — they shall have nothing in this 
village till the refuse of the beetroot is eaten. Now 
Dietrich will take off our hands by contract a hun- 
dred and eighty, and I am sure all the sick and 
decrepid wiU never recover in such an unfavourable 
season. So better let him take them at thirty 
roubles a-piece, or even at half for his manufactory, 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 273 

than let them die upon our hands like sheep of the 
rot. Only you must bear in mind two things — 
firstly that you must bring out all the sickliest 
portion for him to select from, for we shall find 
him dainty, seeing that he can choose in the villages 
round ; and secondly, that we let them here believe 
that it is done to punish that barefaced robbery. 
They don't like going to the manufactory, do they 
even now, the fools ? 

" They don't Hke going to the manufactory," 
replied the Starost. 

" I should like to go anywhere if I was fed when 
starving," said Johann. 

" Your blagarodie is wise," answered the Starost ; 
" those foohsh creatures say, those who sell us for 
twenty-five roubles know that there is not much 
more than tw^enty-five roubles' worth of work in us ; 
and those who buy us, when once they have filled 
our bellies with food, will not wait to get their money 
slowly out of us : it will pay them best to work us to 
death, and buy another set. But then what is that 
to the Oupravitel ? He has only to consider whether 
it is advantageous for the estate." 

Such is unhappily the system on which many of 
the manufactoiies in the empire are supplied with 
labour. Where the average price of the sound slave 
is £1 2 or £15 or £20, sets of labourers — the sick, the 
consumptive, the decrepid — are leased out for an in- 
definite period, or actually sold as artisans, for 
premiums varying from twenty to fifty shillings. 
The condition of these human hells furnishes a ter- 
rible answer to those, who cite the horrors of our own 
workhouses and factories to palliate the condition of 
the Russian serf. 

N 3 



274 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

A few hours after these cruel orders had been 
given to the old Starost, Hans, Dietrich's son, arrived 
alone. Hans had been established in Moscow as a 
dealer in comestibles, an occupation more congenial to 
his taste than any other upon earth, had it not been, 
as he said, for the sad drawback of daily parting with 
so many dainties to his customers. He was little 
changed, excepting that his cheeks were more rubi- 
cund and plump, and that a premature abdominal 
rotundity showed that he was still as much as ever 
given to gastronomic indulgence. 

" How is this, Hans ?" said the father. " Where 
is thy uncle Dietrich ?" 

" He would remain upon the road," replied Hans. 
*' He is on the next estate with the Captain Is- 
pravnik : — they will both be here to breakfast to- 
morrow." 

" Dolt, lout, and idiot," said Johann, " I wrote for 
thee to come with him purposely, that he should 
not tarry and find out that there are other estates 
exactly in the condition of our own. I have no 
partnership with thy uncle Dietrich now ; and he 
would have driven a bargain hard enough, without 
knowing that he had all the country round about to 
pick from. At least, thou shouldst not have left 
him." 

" I would not," replied Hans, " if I had not known 
that this was the day on which mother sends off the 
black puddings.'* 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 275 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

It was eleven o'clock in the morning. Neither 
Dietrich nor the Ispravnik had yet arrived ; but 
breakfast was prepared, and two distinct bodies of 
slaves were ranged before the manor-house — the 
one consisting of two or three hundred of the most 
emaciated, ailing, and decrepid villagers, the other a 
promiscuous crowd of adult men, whose soles had 
matched the guilty footprint. 

The wretches had been waiting outside for a 
couple of hours, till Johann, having taken his coifee 
and drawn on his worsted stockings, carefully warmed 
by the fire, and then his list shoes over them, and 
donned his shube, so that it snugly concealed all but 
the tip of his nose, walked out of his dwelling. The 
old Starost, cap in hand, preceded him. 

" Now," said Johann, turning to the group, which 
he was satisfied contained one at least of the culprits, 
** you had better explain to them, Batushka, that the 
Ispravnik, with some of his people is expected every 
minute, and that, unless they dutifully point out to 
me those who broke into the store, and the ring- 
leaders, they will every one be unmercifully punished, 
painful as such a proceeding is to me." 

" Master !" said the Starost, " here is a man con- 



276 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

fesses to have headed the plunderers. Stand for- 
ward !" 

A tall, gaunt, and yet powerful figure, clad in a 
long-haired horse-skin, stepped forth. His hair was 
rugged and uncombed, and his beard and whiskers 
not only of unusual length and thickness, but en- 
tangled and matted together, and hanging in ragged 
lengths, as we see the fleece of mountain sheep. 

"Who is he? He is not of this village?" said 
Johann. 

" He is not of this village," repeated the Starost ; 
" but there is another who also confesses to have led 
the thieves. Stand forward." 

A red-haired man, with a malignant blood-shot 
eye, adv^anced a step. 

" Well," said Johann, with a smile, " I dare say 
that they are both right. We will make an example 
of them both." 

" Yes," repeated the Starost ; *' but each contends 
that the other was not there ; and each points out a 
different set of accomplices. Now, if you should 
punish those who were not present, the example will 
be lost ; for when the real criminals find that others 
have suffered for their transgression, they may become 
further emboldened to break into another of your 
nobility's stores — perhaps even plunder a granary." 

" That is true," said Johann, changing colour at 
the bare suggestion. "I see clearly that we must 
punish both the sets denounced." 

" One moment," interrupted the Starost, whose 
eyes glistened with a fierce brightness, " I will never 
interfere on the side of mercy ; but since one of these 
accusations is evidently false, why may not both be 
so ? and thus the guilty will still escape." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 277 

" It is puzzling," said Johann ; " the matter is 
becoming serious. I have many thousand roubles 
worth of corn and roots, my private property. Truly, 
1 wish Dietrich were arrived." 

*' You are so wise and learned," said the Starost. 

" Philosophy and mechanical genius," replied the 
steward, gratified at this unusual compliment from the 
old man's sullen lips, — " philosophy and mechanical 
genius do not always assist us in the ordinary walk 
of life. With all 1 know — to unravel this matter, I 
wish I had my brother's head." 

" Dost thou ?" said the Starost, with a loud, shrill, 
laugh of infernal exultation, repeating aloud : " He 
wishes for his brother s head /" and giving at the same 
time a signal, which he was induced for its frightful 
point and aptitude to make prematurely, the red- 
haired man advanced ; and, drawing from beneath 
his sheepskin a heavy ball, rolled it up to the feet of 
the steward. 

It was a human head, defaced and livid, with the 
gore coagulated and frozen into the same fixity as 
the hideous expression of its features — the well known 
features of Dietrich ! 

" Harkye, brethren all," said the Starost, " here 
you are brought up like oxen to the slaughter-house, 
like sheep to the shambles ; but lo ! the axes and 
the knives are wrested from the butcher's hand and 
placed in your own. Nine villages have risen 
before day-break : they are roaring in the flames." 

" And the flames are being quenched in blood," 
replied the red-haired man with a hiccup, " though the 
brandy feeds them. I have driven fourteen versts — 
look at that head ; I cut it ofl" !" 

" Ofl" the body of the Niemitz, who came to buy 



278 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

you, like overworked horses in Moscow for the 
knacker," said the Starost ; " and this is the brother 
who wished to sell you." 

" Rise ! — rise !" continued the old man to the slaves, 
pushing down and placing his broad foot on the chest 
of the affrighted Johann, who, speechless in his terror, 
feU to the ground without a struggle. " Rise ye ! whose 
backs smart — whose bellies are griped by hunger — 
w^ho are doomed to the manufactory, the churchyard, 
and the lash ! Your holiday is come ! Death to the 
stranger ! — death to the Niemitz, and the Oupravitel, 
and the Baron ! Kill ! — burn ! — destroy and eat !" 

" Hurrah ! hurrah ! — Death to the Niemitz and 
the Baron ! Blood and food 1" shouted the slaves. 

" But the Captain Ispravnik ....!" suggested a 
timid voice from the crowd, distinctly audible, as its 
simultaneous cheer was hushed. 

" The Captain Ispravnik's head is gone through 
the other villages !" replied the Starost. And then 
addressing the man in the horse-skin : " Stand for- 
ward, Mattvei Mattveitch ! Do you not know him, 
brethren ?" he knocked him down with a blow of his 
axe just as he spoke and hed in the Emperor's name. 
" Long live the Emperor ! — for that blow I forgive 
him the one that laid me low." 

" Yes," said the red-haired man with some jea- 
lousy, " he fought, but he has more of the soldier 
than the Moujik. He has no heart but when his 
blood is up. / cut the Ispravnik's throat when his 
people were down. Come, follow me /" 

" Come, follow us !" said the Starost, still mindful 
of the times of Pugatcheff, and judging of the con- 
dition of the whole country by his own immediate dis- 
trict. " Each one to his taste ; the axe, the plough 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 279 

and the fire, are all good in turns. Blood, food, and 
brandy first, my children ! — and then the fight ; for 
those who only love the strife !" 

" Death, death, death, to the Oupravitel !" roared 
the crowd. 

" Death to the Niemetz and his seed !" replied the 
Starost ; and the red-haired Moujik, leading the way, 
and the crowd having bound the steward, rushed 
into the house to wreak their vengeance on its other 
inmates. 

Mattheus leaned upon his axe and smiled gloomily 
as they passed him. He looked on as he would on 
the waters of a torrent, taking no more part to aid 
or check its fiiry. 

" Riot and bloodshed !" he said ; " one hour of 
vengeance to interrupt the long monotony of this 
fate : then death, Siberia, and the knout, for the few 
— happy alternatives I The famine-stricken will eat 
their fill : the long-oppressed will glut their hatred : 
and then for the many, the common curse will work 
on again — the long curse of three thousand years !" 

TT TT Tr T? ^ 

We will draw a veil over the bloody saturnalia of 
the revolted slaves. It was the common history of 
the partial rebellions constantly occurring in some 
part or other of the Russian empire — probably some- 
where whilst you, reader, are perusing these pages — 
where the peasantry, only rising when goaded Hke the 
overloaded camel to a state of rabid desperation, are 
animated by a ferocity usually as foreign to their 
nature as to the camel's, but which nevertheless dis- 
plays itself in acts of cruelty that would startle the 
red Indian. 

It is worthy of remark, that this same Russian 



280 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

peasantry, in its ordinary, or what may be termed its 
normal frame of mind and temper, should be, with 
many striking faults, gentle, humane, submissive, and 
difficult to rouse from its enduring and submissive 
apathy ; whilst the peasantry of Poland, compara- 
tively turbulent, excitable, and prone to violence, are 
humane and forgiving when the struggle is over ; and, 
easily urged to plot, and threaten, and rebel, have 
seldom heart to strike the blow, except in the hot 
blood of actual strife. Nothing but the most ter- 
rible oppression can drive the Muscovite to incur the 
dangers of resistance ; but when once he is urged 
thus far, there is no imaginable barbarity which he 
dreads committing. The Pole, ever ready to draw on 
his head the penalties of rebelhon, shows only a noble 
cowardice in striking his victim. This pleasing 
trait is characterized in a well-known Polish anec- 
dote. 

The four serfs of two Polish noblemen, in their 
cups, canvassing the hardships they endure, conspire 
against their lords, and resolve to murder them that 
night ; they fix the very hour. As it approaches, one 
of them observes : 

" After all, it is difficult to cut the throat of a 
man, be he what he may, whom one has known from 
one's childhood ; still he must die, so suppose that 
we two go and kill your lord, and you ours ?" 

" We were just thinking the same thing," reply 
the other two ; " let us go." And, stimulating their 
resolution with a few more drams, they each depart 
upon their errand. 

But the first speakers, as they approach the dwel- 
ling of their comrade's lord, consult together, and 
say : 



THE WHITE SLAVE, 281 

" Who is it we are going to slay ? — a man we do 
not know — a man who has never done us any harm ! 
It is impossible to kill him in cold blood ;" and they 
turn back, and abandon their design. 

Meanwhile, the same scruple has suggested itself 
to the other couple, on the very threshold of the 
doomed man's door ; but, to put an end to their irre- 
solution, the bolder of the two knocks at once. 

" Come in, my children !" said the lord, " it is a 
cold night ; I suppose you have lost your way. Warm 
yourselves by the fire, and take a drop of some- 
thing." 

One of the serfs nudges the other, and whispers : 

" You must do it, I can't." 

" Nor I," says the other. " One can't hurt such 
a man ;" and, with a profusion of bows, the two 
would-be assassins, disarmed by a kind word, take 
their leave. 

Such is the Polish peasant, but not the Muscovite. 
Only an hour has passed ; one half the village is in 
flames. Gorged with food, and stupified with brandy, 
many of the rioters lie insensible amidst the slaugh- 
tered cattle, and the dissevered and still palpitating 
limbs and mangled bodies of the steward, his wife 
and daughter, and his immediate servants. The 
famished wTetches, in the madness of their fury and 
intoxication, fire the long-coveted stacks and granaries, 
which in burning will consume or crush them. But, 
in the midst of their terrible revelry, in which the 
Starost takes no present part, but which he encou- 
rages, seated on a cask, with a reeking knife in his 
red hand, a shout is heard ; some distant shots follow, 
and an alarm is given : 

" The Cossacks ! — the Cossacks !" 



282 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

A sudden panic seizes the crowd. The old Starost, 
who has been in fact resorting to a stratagem, now 
resumes his authority. 

" Come, my children ! let us seek the protection 
of the woods and of the deep snow ; let us make 
our way to the seven villages, and join our brethren ! 
they have musketry." 

The old man, bent on effecting some organization, 
and full of hopes which Mattheus never shared, thus 
drew after him the whole population of the village 
from the scene of riot and murder, lea^^ng only the 
dead and their drunken companions, and the scattered 
plunder of the mansion-house upon the field. 

^ TV T^ t'P "TT 

All w-as now silent except the crackling of the 
flames ; and Bob Bridle, hitherto shut up with 
Lucifer in the stable — against the door of w^hich wag- 
gons and logs of wood, and the wreck of furniture 
had been piled — now finding the coast clear, made his 
way out of the window. 

The W'hole building, excepting the extremity of this 
wing, w^as already either consumed or one roaring 
furnace. His first step was on to the body of the 
red-haii'ed Moujik, who w^as lying quite besotted, wdth 
a knife in one hand, a bottle in the other, and the 
head of Dietrich still beneath his arm. 

A strange outcry met his ear : the door of the 
store-house or larder, one of the apartments still un- 
consumed, w^as open ; and here, as he cast his eyes 
about him for an axe, he discerned Hans suspended 
by the heels, although his arms reached the ground. 

Bob Bridle hastened to relieve him. He had 
turned from red to a deep purple in the face, but w^as 
otherwise uninjured. Whether the rioters had for- 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 283 

gotten to wreak further vengeance, or that the marked 
sympathy which he had evinced for their condition 
had hitherto saved him ; for the notion of their being 
hungry had touched the most sensitive chord in his 
bosom. 

" Either I have stretched, or the rope has," said 
Hans, regaining his legs, " for my head was three 
feet from the ground at first ; a pretty way to settle 
one's breakfast !" 

" Come 1" replied the groom, not displeased to see 
the steward's son so little agitated ; for no impression, 
even of fear, could be immediately produced on the 
unconquerable dulness of Hans, whose understanding 
was, besides, still in the position from which his body 
had just been relieved. 

" Come, be alive." 

" A pretty way to treat one," continued he, " when 
I came to stay for a week's holiday." 

" Ay, they will treat you worse if you don't look 
sharp. Come, help me to get out the horse, and I 
will take you up behind me." 

But all Bob's eloquence could not persuade the 
youth to aid him ; — the larder had only been half 
plundered ; and no sooner had his bewildered eyes 
rested on the scene of blood and ruin before him, than 
they reverted to the strings of smoked geese, the 
hams, and ropes of onions. Of these objects alone, 
and of the danger that menaced them, did his dis- 
turbed brain seem to conceive any distinct idea. 

The smoke was already beginning to fill the stable, 
the grey horse neighed loudly from within, and the 
groom, therefore, fell to work alone. Nothing could 
exceed the energy with which he exerted himself. He 
cleared the door — the door itself was giving way 



284 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

before the redoubled blows of liis axe — when the roar 
of the rioters was again heard. Instead of the Cos- 
sacks, a furious body of revolters from the seven 
villages had just joined them, and they returned to the 
scene of devastation rendered fiercer by their recent 
panic. 

Hans was seized, just as, after placing in safety a 
large portion of the provisions, he was in the act of 
rolling out a huge cask of sauer-kraut. His hands 
were still upon the edge of the tub, and his lips were 
sententiously and mechanically repeating " Waste not, 
want not !" when his heels were tripped up, and he 
was plunged head foremost into the mess of fermented 
cabbage, amidst the savage laughter of the pea- 
sants. 

" Now for the groom ! now for the grey horse ! 
now for the Niemetz who gave the horse fair oats 
whilst our children hungered !" 

Bob had just broken through the door — he had 
saddled and bridled Lucifer, and donned his great- 
coat ; he had Secured his pipe, his Bible, and a horse- 
cloth — his foot was almost in the stirrup, when he 
was seized, knocked down, and bound. 

Hark !" said Mattheus, who now joined them, 
" touch him not, bretliren ! be just, if not merciful. 
Which of you has he ever harmed ?" 

" Down, down, down with him !" replied the infu- 
riated mob. 

" Mattvei Mattveitch," said the old Starost, 
shrugging his shoulders, " what is he to thee or me ? 
do not exasperate them." 

" Stand back," said Mattheus, advancing to release 
the groom ; but Mattheus had made no imposing 
display of his courage to acquire influence with the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 285 

rioters of his own village ; — he had not even taken 
part in their violence or cruelty to place his zeal 
beyond suspicion, and so a dozen arms were raised to 
resent his interference, and he was struck senseless to 
the ground. 

" Hark ye !" said a voice, " it is stale to hang, or 
burn, or disembow^el, let us lash him to the heels of his 
own grey demon-horse, and start the horse with a 
wisp of lighted straw beneath his tail." 

" Hurrah !" replied the mob, delighted at the gro- 
tesquely barbarous malice of the proposition, so tho- 
roughly in the spirit which animates these jacqueries 
of the Russian boors. 

" Hun-ah !" no sooner said than done. Embol- 
dened by Uquor, or ignorant of the stallion's fierceness 
— with axes, poles, and ropes, they rush into his box 
— but a loud, terrific scream of fury from the angry 
animal vibrates above the din of this strange scene. 
Tearing the intruders with his teeth, and batthng 
with his forelegs as he tramples them right and left, 
the mighty steed bounds out of his box over their 
prostrate bodies. 

With a half affrighted, half triumphant neigh, he 
gallops round amidst the flying crowd, his black 
nostrils dilating into red transparency, his wild eye 
flashing, and his mane and tail streaming in the 
breeze, like the flames wiiich now blaze lambently in it 
from every part of the building. 

WTiilst this is passing, a half-drunken woman, who 
has been gorging her two infants with the food now 
wasting and trodden under foot, approaches Bob 
Bridle. 

"Niemetz, or no Niemetz," says she, "no one 
shall harm the Httle man who fed my babes ;" and 



286 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

cutting the only cord that bound him, she bids him 
stand upon his feet. 

At the same moment Lucifer, who, scouring wildly 
round, had been "scattering his enemies," as the 
author of God save the Queen expresses it, bounds 
playfully up to his master. Bob seizes the rein — his 
foot is in the stirrup — he leaps into the saddle in an 
instant. 

" Now through 'em, Lucy, never say die !" and, 
pressing his heels to the horse's flank, Bob gallops 
resolutely through the densest part of the mob which 
is just gathered before him, upon the only outlet to 
the high road. 

Some shots are fired, the blows of axes, knives, 
and clubs rain down to arrest his progress ; — but the 
rider and the horse emerge from the human cloud — 
and then, still at a furious gallop, the fugitive responds 
to the savage yell of disappointment which pursues 
him ; but, as Bob turns to utter it, he sees that the 
blood of the gallant grey is flowing fast, as well as his 
own. 

# # :^ # * 

When the Uradnik of the Cossacks with his de- 
tachment had arrived within a few versts of the first 
revolted village, they discovered Bob Bridle, regard- 
less of his own wound, seated by the road side with 
the head of the dead Lucifer upraised upon his 
knees. 

*' Poor Lucy 1" was the only observation which 
escaped his hps, and then he wiped mechanically, not 
the two small tears — the first and last he ever shed — 
but the bloody froth which oozed from the stiffened 
tongue of the lifeless steed. The gallant stallion, 
without slackening in his speed, had borne him to a 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 287 

place of safety, and then, choked by the inward 
haemorrhage, he suddenly fell down upon the road as 
if shot through the heart, and expired in full 
career. 

The Cossacks who, from their long habit of playing 
the sheep-dog and the himting-hound, have no feeling 
for the miseries of the human victims on whose trace 
they are loosened, all shewed their rude sympathy 
with the mute but significant grief of the fond rider 
over his dead horse. 

They rode on without troubling him with unneces- 
sary questions, and many a rough bony hand was 
stretched out to pat affectionately the lean ewe-neck 
of the ' steed which the passing horseman was be- 
striding. 

# * # # # 

Beside the smoking ruins of the manor-house, the 
Uradnik's attention was attracted, as he dismounted 
to warm himself by the embers, and looked coldly 
and indifferently on the mangled limbs and corpses 
scattered around, by the cask of sauer-kraut with the 
feet and legs of Hans still sticking out of it. 

" Here," said he, pushing Mattheus with his foot, 
" this fellow, too, is strong-built ; set him apart from 
the rest with the other three drunken prisoners ; — he 
will make a guardsman." 



288 THE WHITE SLAVE, 



CHAPTER XXV. 

A STRONG corps of the Russian army of the Cau- 
casus is encamped on a height a few miles south of 
Anapa, on the Notwash coast. This half of the Cir- 
cassian isthmus adjoining the Black Sea, contains the 
higher range of the Caucasus inhabited by the Tcher- 
kesses and the Abazeks. 

A range of forts has been built and garrisoned 
on the very shore, protected and supplied by the 
Russian ships of war ; but they have never even suc- 
ceeded in establishing any land communication 
between one and the other, and indeed the sole object 
of this occupation has been to prevent the moun- 
taineers from receiving foreign succour. 

The most sanguine of the Russian governors and 
commanders have long abandoned all notion of pene- 
trating into these mountains by force, and in reality 
despaired of effecting by policy or corruption what 
they cannot by the sword, at least tiE the western 
portion of the Isthmus is subdued. 

There are several reasons for this : the Tcherkesses, 
or pure Circassians, and the Abazeks, are as numerous 
as all the other mongrel people inhabiting the middle 
and west, and they are as superior to them in courage 
and intellect as in personal appearance. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 289 

Terrible defeats have always followed any attempt 
to penetrate into their mountains ; and such are their 
shrewdness and patriotism that they are no more to 
be bribed, cajoled, or intimidated, than conquered. At 
least the unremitting efforts of the Russians during 
three parts of a century have failed in making the 
slightest progress by any of these means. 

The successes of the Russian arms or policy, in 
Circassia, which we often read of, refer, therefore, 
only to the eastern half; and even here, when with 
incredible pains-taking, Russia has made some ad- 
vance, the events of a single summer have always 
thrown her back to the point at which she began it 
some five or six years preceding. 

The General commanding in this instance is only de- 
sirous of reaching the next fort along the shore with as 
little loss as possible ; not that this attempt to open a 
communication which will be closed the moment his 
army has passed, can produce the slightest result ; but 
then it will tell well in a despatch to the Emperor, 
and if the Emperor is not entirely deceived as to its 
insignificance, it will figure in the Prussian State 
Gazette and the Allgemeine Zeitung, and thence go 
the round of the European press. 

The warlike inhabitants of the coast who pasture 
their flocks almost within reach of the Russian 
cannon, have no particular interest in preventing the 
column from effecting this military promenade, though 
they lose no opportunity of harassing these enemies 
who usually keep so securely within their walls, pro- 
tected by their redoubted artillery and abundant am- 
munition. 

The people of this coast are the most daring in the 
whole world — the most skilful in the use of arms— 

VOL. III. O 



290 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

the Russians possessing, perhaps, as little individual 
courage — as awkward in use of weapons — as any race 
existing ; it is, therefore, not to be wondered at that^ 
an utter discouragement pervades the army, and that 
the contempt of these fearless mountaineers for their 
Invaders incredibly increases their hardihood. 

They dread the Russian grape and volleys ; but the 
Russian once isolated, or brought to close quarters 
with the Tcherkess, dreams no more of resistance 
than if naked in the clutches of the tiger. 

The Russian column has halted on a hill, but it 
has sent out a close line of skirmishers — so numerous 
that they can almost join hands — and yet it is only 
here and there that, behind a rock or knoll, a few 
straggling natives take an occasional aim, always with 
deadly effect, in answer to the incessant fire of the 
Russian line. 

One of these skirmishers has unbuttoned his 
coarse ^eat coat, for in the Caucasian campaign 
carte blanche is now allowed for any infringement of 
the regulation, though General YermoloiF was dis- 
graced for having ventured upon it. 

" So," quoth the soldier, pausing to breathe, " these 
are the mountains of the Caucasus, the cradle of 
the human race ! famous in hoary antiquity ! and yet 
— I never thought to see them thus. I have often 
sympathised with the gallant barbarians who laugh to 
scorn even his power, and yet here I am pitted against 
them. I must endeavour to slay — or be slain. This 
is the most galling vengeance of a tyrant." 

At this moment, three Tcherkessian horsemen, 
watching behind a point of rock, were daring each 
other on. The young Ouzden Abdallah wanted a slave, 
and the other two joined him in his martial frolic. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 291 

Swooping down, like the eagle from a cloud, they 
descend the hill side at a gallop, and dash right at 
the line of skirmishers. The shot rattle around them ; 
but such is the trepidation of the soldiers that their 
aim becomes more uncertain. The horsemen are 
amongst them — they scatter them — a lasso tightens 
around the neck of the contemplative soldier — he is 
dragged along the ground at the full speed of a horse 
— then thrown across it insensible, and when he 
awakes to consciousness a vassal of the Ouzden is 
pouring water over him, and he sees the Russian 
column on the hill, and the line of skirmishers stiE 
popping away, many hundred feet below him. 

tP tP ^ tP 'ff 

The captive is given over to two of his host's 
slaves ; these slaves are fellow countrymen, who were 
made prisoners together many months ago. 

After all the terrible accounts of the cruelty of the 
Circassians, purposely propagated in the Russian 
armies to prevent desertion, he is a little reassured at 
their healthy and almost contented appearance. 

" Now," said one of the slaves to the other, " by 
the beard of the old Mollah, for whom we smuggle 
the wine, this fellow reminds me of some one we 
both knew — " 

" Of Alexi Alexeivitch, to be sure," replied his 
companion. 

" Good God !" said the Lieutenant Alexius, starting 
back — for it was he : " how do you know me ?" 

" It is ! it is !" shouted Lochadoff and Durakoff in 
one breath, and folding the ex-Lieutenant in their 
arms, " welcome ! welcome, old fellow !" 

"Welcome?" repeated the Lieutenant at length 
with a faint smile, 

o 2 



292 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Ay, welcome — do we not see you in the dress of 
a private?" replied Durakoif. "I can tell you that 
you will find this a place of enjoyment compared to 
the confinement in a soldier's great-coat, pent up within 
the walls of Anapa, together with other great-coats with 
human beings in them, and fed on sour mouldy 
biscuit." 

" Is there no chance of recovering one's freedom ?" 

" Not much ; but then on the whole one lives freer 
here than one did before." 

"We are under less restraint," said LochadofF, 
"than when we held commissions in the guards. 
Our Tcherkess master, like all the rest of them, is 
reckless of life, free with his yataghan, but not cruel. 
Slavery with these people partakes of the patriarchal 
character of the East and of Biblical times. We are 
regarded now as humble members of the family. You 
will be tolerably comfortable as soon as they have 
performed the operation." 

" The operation !" said Alexius with a shudder, " is 
it true then ?" 

" Yes, your master will sht the skin of your heel 
with his sharp yataghan, and introduce a Httle 
chopped horse-hair. The scar heals, and you will feel 
nothing more ; you are then left at large — he knows 
that on a long march you would fall lame again." 

" It is better than chains or prisons," added Dura- 
koff. " Should you be sold to another master who 
wants you to use your legs, the skin is sht afresh, the 
horse-hair poulticed out, your wound healed, and you 
are as well as ever. I wish we could have the luck 
to be all three bought by the old Mollah with the 
red nose who is always quoting the Koran." 

" And now teE us," said LochadofF, " how you 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 293 

came to be degraded to the ranks. Our own story, 
and the foolish frolic for which we paid the penalty, 
is well known to you." 

" Well," said the Lieutenant, with a sigh, " it was a 
sad and sudden business. No sooner was my friend the 
poet — the great bard of his country — laid in hisgrave — " 

" What P— ?— is he dead then ?" 

" God bless me, I forgot that you had been buried 
alive here. The whole empire has been ringing with 
it. But let me hurry over as briefly as I may my 
sorrowful narration. You know then, gentlemen, 
that the great deceased always laboured under a pain- 
ful jealousy of the two beings he loved best in the 
world — his wife and her sister's husband, D — . This 
jealousy became at length a madness. About a 
month ago, he fell upon one of those strange expe- 
dients which the eccentricity of his genius so fre- 
quently suggested. 

" His wife, his brother-in-law, and himself were 
dining together, and as they rose from the table 
he first put out one candle, and then — pretending to 
snuff the other — extinguished that also. Drawing a 
burnt cork from his pocket, he hastily blackened his 
lips, and kissing his wife in the darkness, hurried out 
to seek a light, thus leaving her and the presumed 
paramour together." 

" Our great poet was not original in his expe- 
dient," observed Durakoff, " I remember it in a 
French vaudeville." 

" Whether original or not," continued Alexius, with 
some irritation, " this incident has occasioned the 
saddest tragedy recorded in our annals, for it 
has quenched the brightest genius that ever shed 
lustre on his people. 



294 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" When he returned into the dining-room with a 
light, his brother-in-law's lips were blackened, having 
taken from the wife's the damning impress which 
stamped her infidelity ! 

"To you who both knew him, I need scarcely 
explain that nothing but blood could wash out such 
an injury — an injury the suspicion or the presenti- 
ment of which had for years embittered his existence. 
Notwithstanding all the protestations of his brother- 
in-law, he resorted to those means which left him no 
alternative but to meet him. Our gifted friend was 
struck to the earth by a fatal shot ; but he rose again 
to his feet, and taking a full aim at his adversary, 
fell dead as he pulled the trigger. 

" Strange in his life, his death was stranger still — 
in this respect, that he left irrecusable evidence to 
the whole world of the spirit of prophecy which 
enabled him to forsee it in its minutest details ; for 
he died so exactly like the hero of his last poem even 
in his very words, that I who saw him die could not 
more graphically paint that harrowing scene than by 
quoting his own works." 

" This is strange indeed !" said Lochadoff. 

" Poor P — !" obsen^ed his companion, " though, 
as for the prophecy, it was about as wonderful as if I 
w^ere to prognosticate that we should get drunk to- 
night upon the Mollah's wine." 

" And what became of D — ?" said Lochadoff. 

" D — ," replied Alexius, '' has left the empire, but 
strangely enough protesting still his innocence. He 
says — as he did before the duel — that when the poet 
put out the lights, in his agitation, he kissed him, the 
brother-in-law, instead of his wife, and thus his lips 
were blackened ; that if his fury had not blinded him 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 295 

he might have seen that hers were unstained as her 
purity." 

" But what has the death of P — to do with your 
disgrace ?" 

" You shall hear. No sooner were the last pulsa- 
tions of that mighty heart silenced, than the Emperor, 
who you know had all his life persecuted P — until 
within the last few years, and even then treated him 
with disfavour and held him in aversion, the Emperor 
was the first to raise the note of woe, to which a 
whole nation v\ith one voice responded. 

" All the honours that could be lavished on the dead 
gathered in mockery around the grave of him whose 
life the Imperial contempt had branded." 

" He thought, no doubt," observed Durakoff, "that 
a dead poet, hke a bottled scorpion in the collection 
of an entomologist, was no longer noxious, and that 
it would redound to the glory of his reign to have 
paid these exaggerated honours to a great man. 
Don't look so frightened, Alexius, it is difficult to 
beheve at first, I know, but you might laugh at the 
very beard of Nicolai — if he would only wear one — 
and nothing but the echo of the free rocks would 
answer you here." 

" I for one, was however deceived by this Imperial 
pantomime of sorrow. It seemed that the petty ani- 
mosities which once pursued him with their persecu- 
tion had been buried with him, and succeeded by 
regret and appreciation. You know both of you the 
sincerity of my own fond admiration of his genius — 
how I have followed him to catch and treasure every 
flash radiating from it — to note down with religious 
care each plaintive sound of harmony that broke from 
that bruised spirit — that incarnation of a nation's 



296 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

suffering — and so, gentlemen, was it not pardonable 
in me to dream — not that his mantle had descended 
to his sorrowing follower, but that I had inherited, 
perhaps, some humble shadow of his inspiration ? 

" I am not a bold man, I care not to avow it. I 
was not made to struggle with danger or adversity, and 
I should never have dared the remotest risk of the 
Tsar's displeasure. But when I saw him scattering 
laurels on the bier of the great deceased, and when 
that magic voice was hushed for ever, I said, ' this is a 
propitious moment for a child of song,' and I pub- 
lished an ode to my departed idol. 

" I did not receive laurels, or praise, or an Imperial 
message, or a diamond ring, as perhaps I had antici- 
pated ; but an order — " 

" That is of no use to you here, my good fellow," 
interrupted Durakoff. 

" An order," continued Alexius, " was issued for 
my degradation to the ranks, and transfer to the 
Caucasus. I cannot to this hour discover what 
there was offensive in my stanzas, as you shall judge, 
for I will read them to you." 

And out of an inner pocket of his coarse, greasy 
great-coat he took a piece of tattered oilskin in which 
he had wrapped with all the care of a fond author a 
well thumbed copy of his verses. 

" Stop," said Durakoff, " I dare say they are 
innocent enough ; but I can guess the cause of your 
disgrace — perhaps you offered to read them to him." 

*' You shall judge," said the ex-Lieutenant. 

" Not I, replied Durakoff, " read them to Locha- 
doff ; the sun is going down, I must go to see after 
the old Mollah's wine." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 297 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

More than three years have elapsed since we last 
introduced the Grand Duke Constantine to the reader. 
He is now with his Duchess in Warsaw, the capital 
of his brother's Polish kingdom, which he governs 
with a rod of iron. Time has neither diminished 
his affection for her, nor curbed the cruel violence of 
his temper. The austere republican, Joachim Lelewel, 
writing the Polish history for his nephews, says, 
" He began to lead a more regular life. He was said 
to have corrected his faults, and to have become more 
gentle ; which means that he no longer fired at 
human beings ; that he no longer killed them at a 
blow, as he was wont before to do ; but that he now 
caused them to die a lingering death by his severity." 

When the jealous vigilance of autocratic power in 
Russia proper is considered, where it watches the 
lifeless corpse of the only party which it had to 
dread, as a wild beast watches the carcass of its prey, 
mangling it whenever a falling shadow seems to its 
suspicious hatred a faint movement of vitality — it 
may be readily imagined with what acuteness and 
severity it was exercised in the kingdom of Poland, 
where the rooted hatred of all ranks of the people 
really menaced its existence. 

Legions of spies were dispersed among all classes 
of society. There were the spies of the Russian 

o 3 



298 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

secret police watching both the Poles and the conduct 
of Constantine, and there were the Grand Duke 
Constantine's own immediate spies. 

The country was at once abandoned to aU the 
frivolous violence of the Grand Duke, which was 
supposed to strike terror, and oppressed by the sus- 
picious and Machiavelian policy of the cabinet of St. 
Petersburg. 

In a truly infernal spirit, it forced the youth of 
Poland into the public schools, where, fearful that 
such portion of its time as was not absorbed by 
military exercises, if devoted to instruction would 
give rise to a spirit of investigation and resistance, it 
systematically introduced and encoiu-aged all those 
vices which lead to physical and mental deterioration 
and demoralization. 

Those who resisted the pernicious influence exer- 
cised, and turned with horror from the examples set 
before them, were sent to Siberia, or transported into 
Russia as common soldiers, or shut up in fortresses 
and dungeons. The infamous Novosiltsoff, in the 
city of Vilna alone, (containing the celebrated univer- 
sity), converted ten convents and monasteries into 
prisons, which he filled with the Polish students. 

All the chief Russian agents of authority were men 
anxious to propagate their vices, boastful of their 
debauchery. Novosiltsoff, to whose care the super- 
intendence of youth was entrusted, and a companion 
in infamy within whose especial province it fell to in- 
terfere in spiritual matters, both died the death of 
Herod, the loathsome consequence of the crapulous 
orgies with which it was their custom to relieve the 
monotony of their cruelty. 

Even Warsaw, the gay and beautiful Varsava, so 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 299 

long accustomed to smile sweetly through her tears, 
appears in mourning now. 

Varsava ! which with her misfortunes and her 
levity, just as Venice, amongst cities, with her crimes 
and guile, recalls Laicretia Borgia, just as St. Peters- 
burg images Semiramis or that second Catherine 
whose lusts and triumphs shamed its walls — by a 
similar analogy brings to mind the captive Queen of 
Scots — Mary ! most loveable yet frail of queens, 
whose hair, when the headsman's axe came down on 
her fair neck, was turned already grey before time had 
yet destroyed one line of her beauteous features — 
Mary ! for w^hose fate with all her faults and foibles, 
the pity of ages has been upon men's tongues and in 
their hearts, and yet in whose behalf, whilst living 
and defenceless so few of the most restless swords 
leaped forth ! 

And then — if every capital typify a nation, and 
the history of every nation have its moral ; if Rome 
and Athens rise like parasitic plants from the trunk 
of the old fallen tree, to prove the mutabiUty of 
human things, the possible abasement of the mighty ; 
if Holland's cities, pile-supported in the marsh, point 
out the power of industry — if Madrid, the diseased 
heart of a nation, in its atrophy — on whose possessions 
once the sun could never set — show in its humiliation, 
the effects of bigotry and absolutism — then Warsaw 
stands the living witness of the cruel rapacity and 
bad faith of princes, the ingratitude and apathy of 
nations. 

Warsaw, so difficult to depress to dulness, is ren- 
dered sad at last. Mothers are mourning for their 
sons, and citizens hve in hourly dread of falling 



300 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

victims to the malice of the all-pervading spies — 
veterans and their young hot-hlooded sons, forced to 
serve beneath the Grand Duke's tyranny, commit 
suicide to escape it. 

Two post-carriages traverse the Saxon Square. If 
they had arrived a little earlier, their inmates might 
have seen a Polish nobleman and his lady forced to 
sweep one of the avenues leading to it, because their 
country coachman had not recognised and saluted 
the Grand Duke Constantine when he passed by, 
the coachman being condemned to a thousand lashes. 

There is a secretary in that second carriage, with 
long flowing locks a la Raphael, and a broad-brimmed 
hat ; if he were caught by the tetchy tyrant in a garb 
that savours so much of innovation, he would be 
served in the same manner as several foreigners yes- 
terday, who were marched by beat of drum to this 
very spot, where the redundant locks of their hair, 
and the borders of their beaver were clipped together 
by a pair of shears. 

The report soon spreads amongst the bystanders, 
that these are the carriages of the Marquis de St. 
Ai'mand — the young and promising French diplo- 
matist, whose departure from Vienna has been 
announced, and who is proceeding to St. Petersburg. 

The spectators feel an interest they dare not evince ; 
for, since the revolution, which has drawn the elder 
branch of the Bourbons into their second exile, the 
police spies and agents are more active, vigilant, and 
malevolent than ever. 

The Emperor Nicholas has frowned sternly on 
tricoloured France, and everything indicates that he 
is watching his opportunity to pour his legions across 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 301 

the frontier — a report already spreading among the 
Polish army that it is to be forced to draw the sword 
against a people with whom it has so many intimate 
and mutual sympathies, though by its various govern- 
ments it has been perpetually betrayed — by its abso- 
lutism under Louis XV — by its Republic, and by its 
Empire ; for it was then still reserved for Poland to ex- 
perience similar abandonment from the constitutional 
monarchy of the country for which it cherished so hap- 
less an affection. The spectators, therefore, wonder 
among themselves whether the Marquis, though pur- 
posely chosen from an old legitimatist family, will be 
allowed to proceed to the Russian capital ; whether 
even the Grand Duke will receive him with civility ; 
whether he will be admitted at the Belvedere ? 



302 THE WHITE SLAVE. 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

General le Gendre is seated in an apartment 
of the palace of the Belvedere, accompanied by 
General Sass, another of the Grand Duke's satellites, 
when the chief of the police of Warsaw, Matthew 
Lubovidski, enters, and is informed that he cannot 
yet have access to the Grand Duke. 

" We are all waiting to see him ; but she is 
with him." 

The chief of the police shrugged up his shoulders 
imperceptibly. 

" Well, well, we must have patience ; but these 
are stirring times. It is a trial, gentlemen, to 
* furnish' an antechamber when there is work to be 
done." 

" Or pleasure to be harvested," said Le Gendre. 
" When gold flows in faster than one has time to 
gamble it away ; when the glass sparkles to tempt us, 
and smiles woo us. Work or play for me, but not 
inaction." 

"My good Le Gendre," said the police chief, 
" plunge into orgies to your ears. We are no saints 
any of us, and will join you in proper season ; but 
there is a time for all things. This is a moment for 
vigilance." 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 303 

" I can blend business and pleasure wonderfully," 
said Le Gendre. " When my mouth is parched, my 
head oppressed, my appetite gone, and my pocket- 
book empty, my vigilance is sharpened, and I can 
scent you out a traitor or a brooding malignant by 
very instinct." 

" Well, gentlemen, how do you like your new 
colleague ?" said the police master. 

'* Krilov ?" asked Sass. 

" I mean Krilov. You know, of course, that such 
is not his name. You know, probably, who he really 
was. That name might sound i gratingly to ears 
supreme. His vast fortune was forfeited in the 
mother country ; but his services have well redeemed 
his errors. It is gratifying to see Poland made a 
place of probation, where those who have offended 
can wipe out this disfavour by their zeal. I commend 
him to you as a master spiiit, though driven from the 
seventh heaven." 

" He is none the worse for that," said Le Gendre, 
who, as before mentioned, had been dismissed with 
disgrace from the Russian service. 

As the words of the police-master implied, Poland 
had been made a sink, into which all that was most fla- 
grantly corrupt and infamous in the rotten adminis- 
tration of the Russian empire was poured, so that it 
promised to be useful 

" There is one thing I do not like about him," said 
Sass ; "he is not a jovial companion ; he never quite 
unlaces ; he shies the bottle and the orgie." 

" Not so," said Le Gendre, " but he will not drink 
wine which is not perfect in vintage, keeping, and 
aroma ; he scorns a figurante or a chorus singer." 

" At least," said the Grand Master, " I trust, gen- 
tlemen, we shall all pull well together. Our separate 



304 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

paths, though they may meet at the cross-road of 
head-quarters, are chalked out without interfering with 
each other. We have the Polish nation at large to 
work upon, a wide field, with room for every one. 
Krilov is — at least professionally — a good companion, 
an active, zealous, indefatigable servant, invaluable since 
poor Novosiltsof's death." 

" Ay, talk to me of jolly Novosiltsof ! " said 
Le Gendre. 

"Well," continued the Grand Master, "though 
Krilov is not such a roaring, ranting debauchee, his 
talents and his zeal are not far inferior to Novo- 
siltsof's. Bamberg is good, but Krilov beats him ; 
and I swear to you, that at least the two together are 
more dreaded than Novosiltsof was alone." 

" Ay," said Le Gendre to himself, " they hunt in 
couples; they ruined each other reciprocally in the 
mother country ; and so, with mortal hate betwixt 
them, are Hnked together, to work in emulation of 
each other's conduct, and to be spies upon it here. 
It is a weary trade, but it pays." And here Le Gendre 
cast an involuntary glance at Sass, to whom he had 
long devined that he was bound in similar companion- 
ship. 

At this moment Krilov joined them. He was a 
man prematurely stricken in years. The sarcastic 
expression of his features, and their very bilious, 
— almost jaundiced — hue, rendered them still more 
cynical. 

He was greeted with well simulated cordiality. 

"We are all losing our time here," said the 
Police Master. 

" Are no despatches come yet from St. Petersburg re- 
specting the Marquis de St. Armand?" inquired Krilov. 

" None," rephed Sass. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 305 

" What a strange business ! " said the Police 
Master; " fi'om what his Imperial Highness said, I 
was apprehensive of seeing him turned back without 
being permitted to alight, a mode of proceeding the 
Imperial cabinet would have censured ; and now, he 
is not only received with a courtesy which will excite 
disapprobation, but his women are greeted with 
tokens of favour and distinction, which give rise to 
all sorts of remarks and rumours in the city." 

" Ay," said Le Gendre, " the wind blows that way ; 
they have been taken into the sudden favour of the 
Princess." 

" They are with her now," said Sass. 

" This I \n\l say," said Le Gendre, " that I have 
never beheld at once two women so beautiful in one 
family as the Marchioness de St. Armand and the 
sister of the Marquis." 

"You are not singular in your obsen^ation," ob- 
served the Police Master, " their beauty is the common 
theme." 

" But then the one — the sister," said Sass, " as 
mournful as a Magdalen — would impart a chill to an 
icicle ; and the wife as haughty as Lucifer in petti- 
coats would put even Le Gendre, with his brazen 
look, out of countenance." 

" They are two magnificent creatures in their way," 
replied the Police Master ; " there is no denying it ; 
so much so, that I should have wondered less had the 
predilection been on the part of his Highness than 
of the Princess ; but they are cold, proud, and distant 
as the d— 1 !" 

" The magic of the Princess dreads no rivalship," 
said Le Gendre. " I am sure this compliance with 
her whim is the greatest proof, of it ; but, as I was 



306 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

saying, I never but once before saw two such hand- 
some women in one family, and that was at Vienna 
with jolly Novosiltsof They were Poles : and there 
is no gainsaying that your lashkas (Polish women) 
are sometimes very fair. Novosiltsof had no eye for 
beauty, or I no powers of description. I could not 
make him recognise these beauties by the account I 
gave him of them. 

" * It is either this family or that family,' said he, 
* or the other ; but, to make sure, you shall have them 
all kneehng at your feet before supper-time to-morrow. 
They have all sons, or brothers, or lovers at the uni- 
versity, or they would not be here.' 

" That night he picked out from the schools, and ar- 
rested all the students connected with all the fair dames 
he had named. It was reported that they were to be con- 
veyed away. And, by the Lord ! old jolly Novo- 
siltsof kept his promise. Sisters, and mothers, and 
distant relatives, who took a touching interest — the 
most charming groups you ever saw — were besieging 
the old sinner's door. 

*" Le Gendre is the man you must apply to,' said 
he, * two at a time.' 

" And there, in couples, I had them weeping, in- 
terceding, coaxing, kneehng to me !" 

'' Well, and did you let the youths go ?" 

" Not all," replied Le Gendre ; " I wished to have 
dismissed them all ; but Novosiltsof was a tough old 
Turk. ' We must not make this quite a jest,' he 
said ; ' these Poles, I have defiled their mothers ! are 
all seditious in their hearts ;' so three or four students 
were sent off to hard labour." 

" Well," obser\^ed the Police Master, " I wish this 
disdainful Marchioness and her seductive sister had 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 307 

relations in the schools of Wilna. I should vastly like 
to see them kneehng to one of the Emperor's servants 
I could name." 

" Gentlemen," said Krilov, " there is nothing im- 
possible to genius ; it is a word Napoleon struck out 
of the dictionary. ' There should be nothing impos- 
sible to one of our body wishing to gratify the wishes 
of a superior," — Here he bowed to the Police Master 
of Warsaw. — " If your Excellencies " — turning to 
Legendre and Sass — "will bet me a thousand silver 
roubles, I will wager that you shall see the Mar- 
chioness and her sister-in-law kneeling to the proxy of 
my respected patron, in the person of your humble 
sen^ant." 

" Oh, oh, oh !" replied Legendre, " how very pro- 
bable ! Why, for fascination, I would back my grog- 
blossoms and Sass's gouty legs against your dead 
eye and your livid skin." 



308 THE WHITE SLAVE. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

The Marchioness of St. Armand and her sister 
had just left the Duchess of Lowicz ; a chamberlain 
was conducting them to their carriage. 

The Marchioness stepped with the port of a prin- 
cess over the gorgeous arabesques figured on the 
deep, downy carpet ; and her sister, pale and thought- 
ful, moved on with a vacant eye, accustomed or indif- 
ferent to the surrounding splendour. 

Krilov advanced from the recess of a window. He 
whispered to the bewildered chamberlain, who retired 
to the other end of the apartment. 

" Ladies," said Krilov, " pardon the assurance of 
one who is fascinated. O let me conduct you 
whither I can say, between four walls, all that my 
heart dictates !" 

The surprise of the two ladies may be imagined. 
The disdainful and imperious expression which had 
risen to the face of the Marchioness at the offensive 
impertinence of the speaker's manner, gave way to 
wonder at this singular and unaccountable address. 
— Was he a madman ? 

But before an answer coiild suggest itself, he whis- 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 309 

pered one sentence, and its eifect was electrical. A 
deadly pallor overspread the brow of the proud 
Marchioness ; and a hectic flush rose to the pale face 
of her sister, who leaned for a moment against the 
doorway to support herself; and then Madame de 
St. Armand, waving back the Chamberlain with 
her hand, followed the police-agent into the room to 
which he led the way. 

# # # # :J^ 

Having closed the door, Isaakoff — for Krilov, the 
police-agent' was no other than the ruined Prince 
Isaakoff — turned to his victims, and said : 

" Welcome, my runaways ! welcome, Blanche ! 
welcome, Nadeshta ! first a Countess, now a Mar- 
chioness ; but your change of name and coronet left 
me really ignorant of the honour you intended us." 

" Oh God !" said Blanche, " do the dead rise up ?" 
and then, after a moment, she added, " but you pro- 
nounced a name — his name — in mercy where is he ?" 

" Ladies," replied the Prince, endeavouring to sub- 
due his previous irony of manner, "great changes 
have taken place since we parted : I, the wealthy Prince 
Isaakoff, if not dead as reported, have been beggared 
and disgraced — you have both risen in the world, to 
rank and wealth. I will not say that misfortune has 
not changed my disposition, and taught me a fitful 
benevolence ; but then the bitter recollection of the 
past sometimes stirs up my soul to its old vindictive- 
ness ; I have become by turns an angel and a fiend 
— your Mattheus is at this moment in my power." 

" He lives ! — oh God ! he lives !" said Blanche. 

" Your Mattheus is in my power, and so are you, 
you are still both my slaves. I will grant you that 



310 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

your husband's diplomatic character might, under 
other circumstances, have shielded you ; but the Em- 
peror is now incensed — perhaps about to draw the 
sword against your revolutionary France; he would 
dehght in this indignity to its agent, he would for 
once protect a Russian Baron's rights. As for the 
Grand Duke, when he learns, which he has never 
learned yet, how he was deceived in your escape, he 
will prove inexorable. Now I am strangely moved 
by turns both to avenge upon Mattheus and on 
you my fallen fortunes, and then at times, what 
you will call, perhaps, a more Christian inspiration, 
urges me to forgive, and to see you all made happy, 
though, on the whole, you used me very ill." 

" Oh !" said Blanche, kneeling, " listen to the 
voice of this good inspiration : you have suffered, let 
your suffering teach you mercy ! Oh, save him ! — 
save us ! noble, generous Prince !" 

" You would tempt a devil to mercy," said 
Isaakoff ; " but Nadeshta — she whom I can make my 
slave again, or leave a Marchioness — stands haughtily 
and coldly there, suspicion in her eye, and hatred and 
defiance on her lip." 

" Oh, sister, sister, sister !" said Blanche, in accents 
of heart-rending supplication. 

" I pardon ; but if I pardon," continued the Prince, 
" I must see that proud spirit curbed for once. She, 
too, must bend the knee, unless she be unmindful of 
her brother, whom I can show you one minute hence 
alive and well." 

Nadeshta sunk upon her knees. Her fears and 
her affection had triumphed over her aversion and 
her pride. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 311 

At this moment Isaakoff clapping his hands, the 
door opened, and the Police Master, and the Generals 
Legendre and Sass appeared in the doorway inde- 
scribable astonishment depicted on their counte- 
nances. 

" Gentlemen," said the Prince, " I hope my wager 
is won," and then turning to Matthew Lubovidski, 
" Here, your Excellency, is my report upon these 
strangers ; as I think you went me halves on the bet, 
I trust you will excuse this little mystification by 
which I have ventured to withhold it from you half 
an hour ; you will find that I thereby claim the Mar- 
chioness de St. Arm and as my slave, born on my 
domains, and married without my permission, and 
her sister-in-law as equally my property, because law- 
fully married to another slave. As my estates are 
under sequestration, in the tutelage of the Crown, you 
will observe that it is on the Emperor's behalf I 
advance this claim." 

" This is wondrous strange !" said the Police 
Master. 

" Oh Mattheus ! where is Mattheus, then ?" said 
Blanche, still kneeling. 

" Oh, I had forgotten, that is more strange still. 
Come hither, I will show him to you ; by a singular 
fatality he is now in sight, I saw him as I passed the 
gate : — come hither." 

Blanche followed him eagerly to the window, and 
there Isaakoff, pointing down, showed her a Russian 
sentinel. Was it a cruel jest ? Oh no ! the quick 
eye of the wife's love recognized at once the husband 
of her bosom, notwithstanding the disguise of this 
strange garb and the changes of time, suffering, and 
misfortune. 



312 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

With a wild shriek she bounded from them. So 
rapid was her step that she reached the terrace un- 
molested ; but there, in conformity with his orders 
the sentry, seeing a woman running thus precipi- 
tately, crossed his bayonet — the musket fell from his 
hands — and Mattheus was in the arms of his 
wife. 

" What is this ?" said the corporal, starting forward. 

" Look !" said the Prince, from the window. " He 
has allowed himself to be disarmed, on guard at the 
palace ! Does the Grand Duke ever forgive that ? 
That will be five hundred lashes," 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 313 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

The increased severity of the suspicion to which 
the revolutionary tendencies of Western Europe have 
given rise have rendered the Russian oppression so 
intolerable, that, tempted by the hopes which they 
excite, the national spirit is in reality fermenting. 
Besides, men ask themselves why they should not 
really conspire, when liable to be arrested and 
punished on the false suspicion of conspiring ? The 
mine now only waits the match. 

At last, in the cadet- school, among that very class 
of youthful scholars so cruelly oppressed, the plotted 
insurrection works its hidden way. A determined band 
of students — conscious that secret associations are 
everywhere in progress and only wait an inspiriting 
example to declare themselves — resolve to surprise the 
Belvedere, the palace of the terrible Grand Duke. 

There is one of these conspirators, a youth of 
ardent temperament and enthusiastic mind, who, 
weakened by the intense studies, which for the Polish 
youth had the attraction of being forbidden, has been 
so excited by the importance of the undertaking, that 
his mind wanders a little. His brethren judge it lit 
to remove him to a distance ; but, before his de- 
parture, he has dropped a word, perhaps a monosyl- 

VOL. III. P 



314 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

lable or two, which have aroused suspicion : he is 
watched. 

After a fatiguing journey, he is detained in the 

town of by his increasing malady. There is a 

private mark upon his passport, which points out to 
the police authorities that they are to keep a vigilant 
eye upon him. As his illness gains ground, he lets 
fall another word or two in the delirium of fever. 

This is reported to the Baron Bamberg, who 
presides over that department, and the Baron Bam- 
berg dispatches one of his cleverest agents — our old 
friend Dimitri — who has profited by his master's ruin, 
and the pickings w^hich his profusion afforded, to 
obtain his hberty and enter the police, in which he 
has risen so rapidly that he has already the mission 
to report upon his patron, Bamberg. 

Dimitri, hearing that the sick youth was becoming 
alarmed, and anxious for a Romish priest, unhesi- 
tatingly personated that character. He led his victim 
artfully to confess, and, by means of confession, 
extorted from him all the details of the conspiracy 
which no tortures would have extracted from his lips. 
It was late on the 27 th of November that he received 
this confession ; the 29 th was the night fixed for the 
attack of the Belvedere. 

Now Dimitri had profited sufpciently by the in- 
structions of his master to know that so important a 
piece of information would suffice to make a man's 
fortune, and that his chief would be sure to for- 
ward it as his own discovery. He therefore resolved 
to dissemble, and, having declared that he could 
extract nothing from the patient, he walked beyond 
the town gate, taking with him the pass of some 
trader which was lying ready signed. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 315 

He made an agreement with a nobleman's servant 
taking his caleche to Warsaw, on condition that he 
would not linger on the road ; and he took his seat 
inside. This servant, who after a few stations on 
the road became deeply inebriated, had a companion. 
The dignity of Dimitri, who was now a Chinovnik, or 
man of rank, was somewhat hurt when the drunken 
servant came into the coach, and was assisted into it 
by a dapper little man, in whom, not much to his 
satisfaction, he recognized our old friend. Bob Bridle. 

Bob had grown older, and looked care-worn. He was 
now poor, and w^as making his way slowly westward. It 
was his intention to seek service at Warsaw, and then go 
further with his earnings, w^hen their amount should 
enable him to do so. His apparel was very seedy; the nap 
was all bmshed off his rusty hat, and his coat was very 
threadbare ; but there was not a button wanting or a 
hole discernible. His neckerchief was still very white, 
his buckskins clean, his tops spotless, and his boots 
bright — though, alas ! now sadly patched. All his 
worldly gear he carried in a handkerchief — a cravat, 
a shirt, a pair of bootlegs with worn-out feet, 
his pipe and bible, his veterinary instruments, and the 
hoof and fetlock of his poor horse, Lucifer. 

It was some time before Bob recognized, or chose 
to recognize, Dimitri, but when he did, he said in his 
determined manner : 

" I've a long account to settle — a bone to pick with 
you." 

" I hope you know," replied Dimitri, who was far 
from feeling comfortable at this announcement, " that 
I am a Chinovnik now ?" 

" I know that you are a d — n rascal, unless you've 
altered very much," said Bob; and then, as if a 

p 2 



316 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

thought suddenly occurred to him, he appeared not 
only to cool down, but there was almost a merry 
twinkle in the corner of his grey eye. After a while, he 
observed : 

" It was a shameful trick of you to hocus my drink 
that ere time in St. Petersburg." 

"That, upon my honour, is a mistake," replied 
Dimitri, reflecting that he wished he could dispose of 
the other expected charges as easily. " There was 
nothing the matter with the drink except that it was 
strong." 

"Then how warn't you drunk? You soaked in 
more than I did." 

" That," replied Dimitri, " arose from my having 
a stronger head." 

" Did it ?" said Bob. " Then look you ; my friend 
there, as is three sheets in the wind, has made me 
free of the brandy- bottle ; now I leave you the option 
of the choice either to have the strength of it tried 
by drinking glass for glass with me like a jovial 
fellow, or by having it punched, as I will otherways 
do for you upon the spot." 

Here Bob first tucked his sleeves up in a work- 
manlike manner, and then drew forth a huge bottle 
from the company of several others under the seat. 

The earth and water of the Scythian ambassadors 
were not more significant. Dimitri knew the dexterity 
and resolution of the groom ; he therefore chose the 

alternative of the brandy, resolved at the town of , 

where he was known, to call for assistance before he 
could be aff'ected by its quantity. So, holding out 
his hand for the cup, he said blandly : 

" Come come, here's to your health !" 

*' Don't forget me," hiccupped the other servant. 

" That is right," said Bob ; " but you must take 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 317 

two thimblefuls to start fair. Here is mine to you, 
Dimitri. Now it's yours to follow suit." 

The third dram, elevating Dimitri's spirits, led him 
to imagine that he should really outdrink the groom, 
who was perhaps already half intoxicated, and there- 
fore, as Bob at certain intervals continued to drink, he 
drank boldly after him ; but he had strangely miscal- 
culated, for in a little while he began to hold out his 
cup, and ask in a maudlin tone for liquor. 

Bob Bridle now gave him the bottle, which he 
lifted occasionally to his lips, until completely intoxi- 
cated, with a sort of jeer of defiance as the groom 
affected to do the same. 

" Now, my friend," said Bob. " If you ain't fuddled 
then no three-year old never started for the Darby." 
But to make security doubly sure, he took him by the 
throat, and putting the bottle to his mouth, by judi- 
ciously relinquishing and then resuming his hold, 
he made him swallow an additional quantity, just as 
he had been in the habit of physicking a horse. 

" That's it, my hearty !" said Bob. " It goes down 
like mother's milk — don't it ?" 

Dimitri was by this time in a state of utter insensi- 
bility, and Bob, quietly drawing from his little stock 
a pair of scissors, took his head between his knees, 
and saying : " This is tit for tat," first clipped off his 
moustachios, then his hair. 

" You may boast," continued the groom, " that 
you have been clipped with the same scissors as 
I used to poor Lucifer — may the turf lie lightly 
on him ! as they say, which he went so lightly over. 
I don't say that your head is very smooth, but 
then you can go to the barber's and get shaved clean 
when you are sober." 



318 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

By this time they had reached the town of , 

where Dimitri, well known to the police authorities, 
had all along proposed to himself to give the groom 
into custody. 

But Bob too was acquainted with the town, and, 
making the post-driver, whom liquor had rendered 
complaisant, wait before he proceeded to the station, 
beside the dead wall of a vast building, he now 
pinned Dimitri up in an old table-cloth, in which some 
eatables had been enveloped, and which he discovered 
under the seat, and then, under pretext of conveying 
him to his friends, upraised him on his shoulders. 

Dimitri was a small man, but still he was double 
the bulk of Bob, and therefore to see him borne away 
on his shoulders reminded one of the big larvae, 
which may be seen carried by the little ants when you 
disturb their hillocks. 

Bob disappeared with his burthen behind the angle 
of the building, which was the foundling hospital. 

There is a sort of cage in a niche of the w^all, into 
which unfortunate infants abandoned by their parents 
are placed ; the bell is then iTing, and the cage revolves, 
so that the child is received without the depositor 
being seen. 

Into this receptacle, which Bob called a dumb- 
waiter, he crammed the inert body of the drunken 
Dimitri, doubling up the legs and bending the neck 
to enable him to get it in ; and then ringing the bell 
when he had succeeded in his task. 

"Now, if you havn't got a pretty boy in that 
ere establishment, then I don't know the use of a 
currj^comb," and, with this reflection. Bob left him to 
his fate, and proceeded forthwith to Warsaw. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 319 



CHAPTER XXX. 

The Princess of Lowicz returned from the church of 
the Holy Cross, has been this hour closeted with the 
Grand Duke : neglecting her usual prudence, she has 
intruded too rashly on his humour. His voice is 
heard from without by his immediate confidants like 
that of a wild beast roaring in its den. While the 
terrible tempest of passion is raging, the crash of 
mirrors, clocks, and costly vases resounds as he dashes 
them in fragments, and the howl of savage and exult- 
ing rage, rising above the din, blanches the very cheeks 
of those whose duty keeps them in such dangerous 
vicinity ; and, frequent as is the recurrence of these 
scenes, makes them tremble for the frail, delicate, and 
suffering wife, exposed to the tempestuous madness of 
her ferocious Lord. 

At length exhaustion, or at least utter silence, fol- 
lows rage, and then her soft clear voice raises its gentle 
accents, like the beautiful notes of a bii'd carolling to 
greet the sunshine, when the roar of the winds is sud- 
denly hushed, and the black thunder-clouds open after 
speeding their tumultuous bolts — that voice, which 
must be like an angel's, if its soothing melody, 
poured forth in hfe-long intercession for mercy, suf- 
fice to such similitude. 



320 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

The exquisite tact derived from long experience has 
taught her where to stay her prayer ; but, at times, as 
now, the urgency of the occasion leads her to pass 
these shadowy bounds. Her intercession now is in 
favour of those victims whom she has unwillingly 
deluded ; for she had written of Isaakoff 's death, and 
assured them that all recollection of their flight was 
buried with him. She clasps her husband's knees. 
Roused into fury by this importunity, he pushes her 
back with brutal \dolence, and his heavy spurred 
boot tramps on the floor, as he hurries to the door 
and throws it open. All is over — her appeal has 
failed ! 

Passion chokes his voice: — he utters an inarticulate 
sound, but those who are waiting v^ithout, in doubt as 
to who is called, start up together. All these terrible 
men, at whose very name the inhabitants of Warsaw 
tremble, stand up in terror in their turn, exactly in 
the position of soldiers under the drill sergeant's eye 
— Legendre and Sass, Rosniecki and Lubo^^dski. He 
beckons to the police-master ; the rest stand back. 

" To-morrow, to-morrow, at break of day," said the 
Grand Duke, still full of the subject which had aroused 
his wrath — " those women shall be forwarded to St. 
Petersburg — ay if they were wife or daughter to the 
citizen king ! The husband — I have defiled his mother ! 
— stii'S not till my imperial brother's will be known. 
How goes it in the city ?" 

" Still quiet, your Highness ; but they continue to 
whisper and discuss these western revolutions." 

" I will muzzle them," said Constantine. Hitherto 
I have ruled them like King Log, they shall now find 
me King Stork. Have you detected many fresh mal- 
contents since morning ?" 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 321 

" Our united lists mark out two hundred and 
seventeen persons, against whom there is more or less 
suspicion of disaffection, and whom it is therefore wise 
to incarcerate ; — there are seven and twenty in the cate- 
gory B. whom it might be well, if your Imperial High- 
ness judges fit, to transfer to Russia for example sake." 
*' If I judge fit ! — I win bridle the tongues of these 
Poles, I will subdue their rebellious thoughts, if I 
transplant them all, old men and sucking babes, to the 
Siberian wastes, and fill their villages with Russians." 

TT * * tP TV 

" These are stirring times," said Sass — ** we sleep 
on a volcano, on a powder-mine." 

" Pooh ! pooh !" said Rosniecki, " there is no danger 
from the powder-mine, so we do not fall asleep and let 
a candle drop into it." 

" Sleep !" said Le Gendre, " I have not eaten, drunk, 
or slept in comfort these two days. I wish his Impe- 
rial Highness would call me — I dare not go ; I have 
hardly breakfasted, and I must hear the reports of 
thirty of our spies before I dine. Woe, woe, woe, to 
these turbulent Poles for it !" 



P 3 



322 THE WHITE SLAVE, 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

Morning dawns on a scene of terror on the last 
day of November. The gallant band of devoted stu- 
dents have surprised the jealously-watched palace of 
the Belvedere. The Grand Duke Constantine has 
barely escaped with life ; but how could Pro\ddence 
have denied that boon to the prayer of his gentle 
Duchess ! 

The populace has risen — whole regiments have 
declared in favour of the nation, others maintain 
neutrality — the people take a terrible revenge. Of 
the agents of oppression who yesterday crowded the 
Grand Duke's antechambers, or stalked along, in- 
spiring dread and horror, one and all have either fled, 
concealed themselves, or perished. Le Gendre and Sass 
lie cold and mangled — Lubovidski pierced with 
thirteen w^ounds. 

The resolution of the Grand Duke Constantine is 
quelled for ever. There is something of the coui*age 
of the pitted wolf, with its strong jaws and pointed 
fangs, about all his family. They are not people to 
be scared away by squibs, or turned aside one hair's- 
breadth from their path by threats or impending 
dangers. Their bite is temble whilst still at large ; 
but, once fairly collared, their game deserts them, and 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 323 

they yield to fate and humiliation with Oriental resig- 
nation. Paul bowed to his assassins, so Alexander to 
Napoleon's conquering arms, and Constantino to the 
revolted Poles. 

If there be no Ferdinand, no Charles X, and no 
Don Miguel in their line, there has been no Sardana- 
palus, no Marc Antony, perishing amid the wreck of 
his fortunes, no Richard II expiring on the bodies of 
the murderers whom he had slain, no Richard III 
dying sword in hand upon the bloody field that saw 
the crown snatched from his brow. 

The prisons are broken into, and thus Mattheus is 
released from the arrest under which he has been 
placed for his neglect of duty. He has joined those 
who have delivered him. Regardless of the cold 
November wind, he throws off his soldier's great 
coat, and, bare-headed, with sleeves upturned, display- 
ing the gigantic proportions of his sinewy arms — he 
snatches up a musket in one hand, and in the 
other the national Muscovite axe. 

These insurgents are led by one of the conspirators, 
a youth of the cadet-school, who owes his authority 
over them to the successful hardihood with which his 
feUow-students have taken the first eventful step by 
surprising the Grand Duke. 

Mattheus is received with eagerness as a liberated 
victim, besides which the perfection of his Polish 
accent does not allow them to suspect that he is 
Russian. Everything that meets his eye and ear on 
this unexpected deliverance tends to impress him with 
a belief — for which recent events in Western Europe 
have prepared him — that this is not revolt, but revo- 
lution ; and so he passes from sullen desperation to a 
state of hope, rapturous, though still alloyed. 



324 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

Amidst this motley crowd he presses ardently 
forward. It is now no longer the courage of despair, 
as in the rising of his native village, which nerves his 
mighty arm, for he is inspired by the hope of his 
companions, as they advance to the cadence of patriotic 
hymns, discordantly mingled with enthusiastic cheers 
and savage cries of vengeance ; and in his turn he 
inspires them to fresh acts of daring by the example 
of his confident and earnest resolution. 

Wherever the leader of this band — the youthful 
student — points wdth his sword, Mattheus moves 
forward, not with the fitful effervescent valour of the 
excited crowd, but at a calm, measured, almost stately, 
pace, which speaks inspiritingly to the beholders his 
own unshakeable confidence of success, and impresses 
them with its fatality. If he be not indeed foremost 
when it makes a rush, wherever resistance stays its 
march, he is seen to advance with the slow, calm 
certainty of the shadow on a dial. There is about 
him — and he infuses into others — a conviction of pre- 
destined triumph. 

And it is true that, exposed to their full brunt, both 
lead and steel leave him unscathed. The insurgents 
have reached a picquet which bars their passage, and, 
heedless of their w^arning to stand back, Mattheus 
advances with unruffled serenity up to the levelled 
muskets of the soldiers, wavering between patriotism 
and fidelity, and thus, at the moment that their 
fingers are upon the trigger, he determines them to 
join the people ! 

The mob, swollen by the fraternising soldiery, and 
gathering numbers as it goes, directs its course to- 
wards another post ; but here, intrenched behind a 
huiTiedly- erected barricade of sledges, benches, and 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 325 

overturned waggons, a strong detachment defends this 
important point. A hasty volley brings the head of 
the advancing column to a full pause, as it debouches 
from the lane. It is but for a moment: for the 
maddened crowd rush only the more fiercely to the 
assault. But the fire is close and hot — the mob turns 
back more rapidly than it pressed forward. The 
smoke clears away, and shows only — amidst the dead 
and dying — two of the assailants who have not fled — 
their leader, the student, and Mattheus. The former 
though wounded, is still erect, and cheering on his 
disheartened followers with cap in hand, and the 
other uninjured and stalking resolutely up to the 
defences, from behind which peep the heads of the 
soldiery and streams their murderous fire ; but no 
bullet strikes this man of destiny, though he has 
reached the barrier, though, within a few feet of the 
blazing muzzles of their guns, he hews away with his 
mighty axe at the barricade, and then, with the 
strength of Sampson, tears it piece-meal ! 

The strange spectacle of this isolated man, dis- 
playing the power of a giant in his anxiety to remove 
the barrier which divides him from a multitude of 
armed and angry foes, inspires his enemies with a 
superstitious dread, his partizans with enthusiastic 
admiration. The student, with his maimed leg, 
advances generously to his support alone. The 
crowd, with a terrific outcry, rush to the barricade. 
It is stormed — it is taken, — its defenders writhe 
and expire beneath the steel of the victorious mob. 

This conquest is scarcely achieved, when a vehicle 
dashes up the street in the distance, already followed 
by the cry of fierce pursuers. The fugitives evidently 



326 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

thought this point still occupied by the government 
troops : they perceive their mistake too late ; they are 
arrested by the victors, and recognized as Russians. 
The savage captors, begrimed with blood and powder, 
gather round them, when one of their fleet-hmbed 
pursuers gasps out breathlessly that there is amongst 
them one of Lubovidski's (the police-master's) people. 
Their fate, dubious before^ now seems inevitably sealed: 
it is only with the utmost effort that the student can 
stay the arms of his followers for a moment — and 
only by echoing death to their vociferous shouts of 
death. 

" Yes, death, my brethren, to Lubovidski's agent ; 
but let us learn w^hich is he." 

The crowd suspends its vengeance for a while. The 
pale and trembling prisoners are three in number. 
One w^ears the caftan of a coachman, the other two 
are wrapped in the shubes of civilians ; but in the 
vehicle are found a pohce uniform W'hich has been 
thrown aside, and a mass of papers, wiiich confirm the 
accusation of their pursuer that one of them has 
been recognised by the mob from which he fled. 

" Put to death, if you will, the agent of the infa- 
mous Lubovidski ; but whoever lifts a hand against 
the other two, 1 fell to the earth," said the student. 

" They are Russians !" shout the bystanders. 

" The good of all countries are brethren !" ex- 
claimed Mattheus. " Lubovidski himself was a Pole 
and a traitor — these may be Russians and victims." 

" It is plain," said one of the insurgents, holding 
up the uniform, " that this does not fit the tall one, so 
it must be the other." 

x\t this observation all eyes were turned on the 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 327 

shorter of the two personages enveloped in their 
shubes, who was evidently the pohce-officer, the third 
being a menial. 

" Wretched man !" said the student, still covering 
him with his sword, " prepare to die ! I cannot save 
thee from the death thy many crimes deserve." 

" Oh, oh, your merciful nobility !" shrieked the 
victim, falling prostrate, "I am nothing but a 
miserable slave ; that is my master, the Colonel of 
PoKce, who has put on my caftan." 

" Oh, your Excellency," artfully replied he in the 
garb of the coachman, addressing the man in the 
shube, " I must speak out," and then turning to the 
mob, " know, worthy gentlemen, that it is true that 
he did change garments with me from top to toe; 
but, thinking the danger past, he was making me 
take back my caftan to go into the presence of the 
Grand Duke in his own hat and shube." 

" Oh, do not believe him ; look ! look !" said the 
disguised varlet, throwing off his shube, and showing 
the coarse clothing of a serf beneath it. "I am his 
slave !" 

But this did not convince the crowd, who were 
prepared for it by the explanation given by the other ; 
and, although both were li\ddly pale, the haggard eye 
and chattering teeth of the last speaker inclined their 
opinion against him. 

" That is my master, the Police Colonel ; I am a 
serf, though he denies it," reiterated the master dis- 
guised in the caftan. 

" I !" said the wretched slave, slipping off his under 
garment, and leaving it in a rude hand which had 
seized him impatiently, " oh, in God's name ! gentle- 
men, do not believe him — look only here — look at 



328 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

the gap left by a tooth which he kicked out — look at 
these hands horny with labour — ^look at these scars 
upon my shoulders — can he show any upon his ?" 

These deeply indented marks of the lash were in- 
deed a terrible refutation. How readily the master 
would then have given all the orders and medals 
which had cost him such a world of troublesome 
infamy to gam, to have had these ignominious stripes 
to show ! He fell in abject teri'or, clasping the student's 
knees. 

" Oh, mercy ! mercy ! grant me only one day's 
life, and I will lead you to capture my chief!" 

During this time, the tallest of the three captives 
remained muffled up in his shube, in the custody of 
several of the crowd. 

"If," said one of his guards, a fierce old rebel, 
pointing with his cocked pistol at the kneeling man, 
" if he only belongs to the Colonel Samoilov's office, 
I must dip my own hand in his heart's blood !" 

" My friend," whispered the tall prisoner, pointing to 
his fellow-captive, as he clasped the student's knees, 
" that is Colonel Samoilov." 

At these words the old man, who had some deadly 
wrong to revenge, clapped his pistol to the Colonel's 
head, and, blowing his skull in pieces, stopped short 
his revelations. 

" Come," said Mattheus, to the disguised slave, 
" this is the hour of freedom, take up some w^eapon, 
and follow us." 

" Come !" shouted some of the mob. 

At this invitation, the slave seemed to recover 
from his terror: — he turned to assure himself that his 
tyrant was dead, and then an intense ferocity gathered 
in his aspect. He placed his foot upon the neck of 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 329 

the corpse, and this action brought instantly to the 
recollection of Mattheus, where he had seen the 
vaguely-remembered features both of the dead master 
and of the savagely exulting slave. It was at the 
post-house of Strelna, where the Chinovnik so cruelly 
maltreated the poor ostler, and it was evidently in 
horrible mimicry of what he had endured that he 
now retaliated on his Lord's remains. 



330 THE WHITE SLAVE. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

Before the mob proceeds, it is necessarj^ to provide 
for the defence of the important post they have con- 
quered, and to occupy it with a strong detachment. 
The student, now borne aloft in the arms of the insur- 
gents, designates Mattheus as a fitting leader of this 
band ; and the bystanders, full of admiration for his 
prodigious strength and dauntless intrepidity, adopt 
this suggestion and clamorously ratify his choice. 
Mattheus, fatigued and exhausted, accepts because 
aware that from this central spot he is most likely 
in the universal confusion which prevails, to hear 
something of the fate of those about whom he is in 
such cruel anxiety. 

Within the house adjoining the barricade, first 
turned into a guard-house by the military, and now 
occupied by the \dctors, is confined the tallest of the 
three Russians. There was nothing against him but 
the fact that he was attempting to escape, and the 
company in which he was found, and he has been 
snatched by the energetic intei-position of the student 
from the horrible fate of his companion. 

From the contradictory accounts of those who had 
pursued the vehicle in which the fugitives were escap- 
ing, Mattheus was led to believe that thev could have 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 331 

afforded him the intelligence he was so intensely 
desirous of obtaining ; but the liberated slave had 
moved on with the bulk of the crowd, and there 
remained, therefore, only the prisoner within to inter- 
rogate. Locking the door after him, to keep out his 
merciless and excited followers, over whom he held 
but slight control, he went in to his captive. 

When the prisoner turned on his entrance, both 
started back, for, thus meeting face to face out of the 
wild turmoil of the surrounding mob, the prisoner 
knew Mattheus, and Mattheus recognised the Prince 
Isaakoff, pale, haggard, bespattered with the brains 
and sprinkled with the blood of his late companion. 
Isaakoff, thus suddenly confronted with his armed 
slave, raised his hands to his eyes with a shudder, 
as he exclaimed : 

" Mattvei !" 

'' My Lord," replied Mattheus with mechanical 
deference, and then he added in a tone of bitter 
derision. " Yes, my Lord, as in punishment for 
thy sins Heaven made thee, Ivan Ivanovitch ! — 
though now, in retribution of thy crimes, thou art 
given over to me." 

" Mattvei !" said the Prince still self-possessed in 
all his terror, and not unmindful of the impression of 
his words, " Mattvei ! what wouldst thou have me 
do?" 

" Prepare to die," replied Mattheus sternly, as he 
cocked his musket. " The time for resignation is 
past, so is the hour for pity. Over the wide world 
the slave is trampling on his fetters, tyranny is 
withering, thrones are crumbling — Mercy has become 
guilt — the exterminating angel is abroad 1" 



332 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

And at this moment several rude husky voices 
were heard without, singing in chorus, in terrible 
corroboration of these words, the first snatches of a 
song improvised by some mob poet, which they were 
learning to repeat. 

Poland, old Poland ! has arisen from her sleep,— 

From her sorrow and pain, — 

From her long degradation, — 

Not to pardon and weep 

But to pay back again. 
The tears of long years, by a like desolation ! 

And then another clearer voice sang in an accent 
less savage but not less enthusiastic, 

Hurrah ! for the cock that heralds the mom, 
Of Liberty's birth and of freedom's dawn ! 

The wide earth is waking. 

And tyrants are quaking, 

Thrones totter and rock, 

At the crow of the cock. 
For its broad day is gloriously breaking ! 

Mattheus saying, " Hearest thou?" listened with 
superstitious earnestness to this augury ; but, though 
his brow was radiant, the severity of his contracted 
lip, which Isaakoif watched with breathless interest, 
was not the less appaUing for this exaltation. 

*' Mattvei !" said the Prince, abjectly clasping the 
knees of his late serf, " see how thou triumphest ! 
Was ever yet abasement such as thou beholdest? 
The Lord imploring of his serf a few brief days of 
life — the Lord of ruined, broken fortunes, begging a 
wretched life of him, whose fathers ate of his fore- 
fathers' bread ! He whose sire fostered thee, implor- 
ing mercy of thee whom that sire fostered, for his 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 333 

unhappy son ! Bethink thee that I am ruined and 
an outcast. Thou wilt not kill me ?" 

" I will not kill thee," rephed Mattheus. " Hark! 
there are thirty pikes without." And again the song 
of the insurgents broke upon their ear. 

Strike in the name, 

Of her wrongs and her shame ! 

Let not one, 

Now the strife is begun. 

Live to see the dechning sun 

Go down to its rest and her justice undone! 

It was interrupted by their knocking loudly at the 
door, and they were heard shouting, " Open Captain ! 
open brother 1 we have discovered a traitor in the 
prisoner." 

" Good God !" said the Prince. " Hear them ! 
not to save me is to kill me — to let murder be done 
upon me is to murder me. In the name of 
him, who was to you a father, in the name of 
that fraternity — for thus far we are brothers — I 
charge you." 

And again the voices of the singers drowned his 
voice, as they thundered out with unconscious but 
startling appositeness, 

If all men be brothers. 
The deeds of the Russ 
Make his murderous brotherhood 
Cain's brotherhood for us ; 
So pour his black blood out. 
And strike — for 'tis plain 
That with every Russian we strike down a Cain. 

" Oh God 1 oh God 1" said the Prince, " so happy 
and so hardened to the voice of misery ! In another 
hour thou wilt be with thy wife and sister. I 



334 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

saw them rescued at the gate. Oh save me, 
Mattvei !" 

" You saw them rescued !" exclaimed Mattheus, 
with exulting joy. 

" Open ! open ! open !" shout the mob without. 

'' Oh ! save me !" 

" Hark !" replied Mattheus, " my wrath is gone. 
I may forgive, but I cannot save thee. The mission 
of the slave in these days of retribution is not 
to hesitate, but to strike. The sword may not dis- 
obey the hand that wields it, unless it would be cast 
aside ; nor we the Lord whose instruments we are." 

" Open ! open !" roar the mob, " man of the red 
axe ! be quick with thy questions as with thy blows ! 
Open ! here is one who can identify the prisoner." 

" I come," replied Mattheus. 

" Mattvei Mattveitch ! in his name, mercy ! Hast 
thou forgotten that grey-headed man, who was to 
thee more than to me a father ?" 

" Call not upon that name !" said Matthew 
sternly. 

" Oh, I will bid him witness with my dying voice ! 
Think only if he stood before us, and saw his only 
son tracked by these heU-hounds, and thee still 
remorseless." 

Mattheus replied not, but he was deeply moved 
by this appeal. 

" If I am known," continued the Prince, " I 
perish ! Hark to that tramp ! It is a neutral regiment 
marching out to join the Grand-Duke. Save me, 
Mattvei, let me descend by that window !" 

It must be explained that the apartment in which 
the prisoner was confined looked out on a lane at 
the back, which was utterly deserted. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 335 

" It is too high, you cannot leap into the paved 
street." 

" Oh Mattvei, my more than brother, I am saved !" 
exclaimed the Prince, attempting to throw his arms 
around his neck. 

" Back !" said Mattheus, with a stern expression 
of disofust. " That embrace would be contamination. 
Hark! they knock without — their impatience grows 
to anger. I am not in my guilty weakness proof 
against the venerable imao;e which thou hast invoked. 
So go — begone in peace, and, remembering thy infamy 
and cruelty, repent." 

At this moment redoubled knocks were heard 
outside. 

" Open ! open ! we know thy prisoner ! We will 
not be delayed !" shout the impatient partisans. 

" Quick ! put thy foot on this ledge, hold on by the 
stock of this musket and let thyself drop gently." 
And Mattheus grasped with conscious strength the 
other extremity of the piece by which the Prince sup- 
ported his whole weight. 

Isaakoff measured with a rapid glance the distance 
which remained to the ground. It was about seven 
feet, he was sure that he could leap it without injury. 
He looked upwards, the broad herculean chest of 
Jvlattheus was protruding from the window, and the 
barrel of the musket was imprudently directed to- 
w^ards him, as he held it to insure the prisoner's safe 
descent. He had forgotten to uncock it. The 
Prince, more observant, with diabolical ingratitude 
pulled the trigger, discharging the contents of the 
musket into his saviour's body, and then dropped 
nimbly into the street, the musket clattering after 
him. 



336 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

Mattheus, shot through the heart, staggered back 
into the apartment. 

A tremendous cheer from the mob announced some 
fresh success, and, as it ceased, these words rang on 
his dying ear : 

All hail to the cock of Gaul ! 

He heralds a Hght 

Which shall never know night. 

Now it streams through the wide world for all. 

As his brain reeled, as the absorbing thoughts of 
life chasing each other incoherently flashed through it 
in his agony — the images of his wife and sister, 
the triumph of freedom, and the fancied curse upon 
his people — it would seem as if he expired with the 
conviction, that he was the victim of its fatality, but 
the last, for there rose a faint smile of exultation to 
his hps, and then, the slave Mattheus, the fated and 
hereditary bondsman, was free ; for, muttering, *' The 

doom the doom upon the race of Sur !" he fell 

upon the floor stark dead. 

Isaakoff judged more prophetically than the song, 
which, bringing a last smile to his victim's lips, was 
only painting there the fallacious hope of a whole 
nation ; for, having at this instant joined the faithful 
regiment marching out by capitulation to follow the 
Grand-Duke, he observed to its commander, " If 
these Poles trust in the Gallic cock, they will find it 
become so domestic a dunghill bird, that it wiU not 
even give our Emperor the pretext of eating it 
trussed and truflled " 

Meanwhile the followers of Mattheus were knocking 
outrageously without and threatening to burst the 
door, when the report of the fatal musket was 
heard. 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 337 

" Hurrah ! he has killed another traitor ! Hurrah 
for Poland I" 

Strike ! strike 
For if every blow 

Were to pay back a thousand tears, 
Their blood must flow. 
And the weary pike 
• Must ply for a thousand years ! 

Then, grounding their weapons in savage cadence, 
there followed an interval of expectation and of 
silence. 

" Open, brother ! — Open ! open Captain ! — You 
are called for. Open^ man of the red axe !" 

Still no answer. At length they burst the door, 
and find him prostrate. He has fallen with his 
Hmbs stiff and rigid, like an uprooted tree. His 
chest is blackened by the powder, his shirt burning 
like tinder, ignited by the charge, and the hot blood 
is bubbling out of a large, hideous wound in the 
region of the heart ! 

Even the crowd is awed by this sad spectacle ; but 
the emotion — like all other emotions with the mul- 
titude — passes rapidly. 

" It is a pity," said one, " that so strong, so 
valiant, he let himself be taken by surprise i" 

" Lay him here," observed another, " and let us 
breathe a prayer over him. He died for Poland !" 

" There are many more will die like him," replied 
a sturdy insurgent. " Every man of us will be thus 
or free." 

Each son of Poland 
Will live for her glorj% 
Or lie on her battle fields. 
Cold, stiff and gory ! 

VOL. III. Q 



338 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

" Hurrah for Poland !" shout the bystanders, and 
then the corpse might have been speedily abandoned 
to its fate, but for the arrival of some new comers. 
They bring with them two women rescued at the city 
gate, as they were being conveyed to the Grand 
Duke's quarters, and they have ali'eady led them into 
the room before they can make their question heard, 
as they ask for their Captain; so vociferous have 
the excited spectators become, as they drown the 
last momentary feeling of regret in the wild and dis- 
cordant merriment of their song. 

Shed not a tear 

On grave or bier. 

For Freedom — the new bom — is nursing here ! 

And what death- cry is unmeet, so that Freedom it greet ? 

Or who would not spread his own ^vinding sheet 

To deck its joyful cradle ? 

" This way, this way, ladies," said one of the rude 
conductors of these two females. " Keep heart; 
though we be disarrayed and stained with blood a 
little, we are rough but honest men. Lord love you, 
we would not hurt you ! Nor these either, they are 
good and true men too, and merry withal as you may 
hear. Where is our captain ?" 

But again the question is only answered by the last 
clamorous shout of the chorus. 

Let no alloy 

Our mirth destroy. 

Or cloud the course of our triumph and joy ! 

Then, these voices hush into comparative silence, and 
he asks again : 

" Where is our Captain ?" 

Some of the crowd step aside, and, pointing to the 
body, expose it to the full view of the two women — 
Blanche and Nadeshta ! 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 339 



CHAPTER XXXTIL 



CONCLUSION. 



Profiting by the successful insurrection, the 
Marquis and Marchioness de St. Armand and Blanche 
returned to France and live in utter retirement — the 
wife and sister of Mattheus still in that mourning 
which probably they will never lay aside. 

Bob Bridle is with them. He still speaks with 
emotion of the revolt of the Bialoe Darevnia as 
having lost therein his favourite Lucifer, whose hoof 
he has had shod with a silver racing plate. Of the 
Polish revolution he has been merely heard to observe, 
with a grave shake of the head, " that it was a sad 
and unprofitable business for every one ;" and when 
asked whether he had lost anything by it, replies, 
" his Bible and his pipe," and drops the subject, 

Anna Obrasoff resides in Italy, and has married 
the Lieutenant Alexius, who, sold by his Tcherkess 
master to a Turkish merchant, was at length con- 
veyed to Constantinople. 

Baron Bamberg has recently, been made a Russian 
councillor of state, and has offered in the German 
papers to give twenty thousand roubles to any one 
who will furnish him with proof that the Emperor 
Paul died of anything but apoplexy. No one has 



340 THE WHITE SLAVE. 

accepted his challenge, which will be worth some- 
thing to him. 

Vasili Petrovitch still prospers in his business, and 
Katinka has returned to him ; but the relations of 
husband and wife are singularly changed ; for Vasili 
instead of being absolute master at home, is now 
her very humble servant ; and the old aunt is 
banished to the kitchen. Katinka has become quite 
independent in her movements, and daily receives 
some of her police acquaintances, whose rank makes 
the old trader play a very insignificant part at his 
own table. Somehow or other, however, their pro- 
tection is incessantly needed, and proves a very serious 
drain upon his profits. He is now offering a large 
sum to escape appointment to some high civic office — 
an infliction with which he is threatened. 

The Grand Duke Constantine took no active part 
in the campaign which followed his expulsion from 
Warsaw. With his usual originality, he rubbed his 
hands with delight at all the eariy reverses of the 
Russian armies. 

" Since you would go to war, spoiling uniforms 
and destroying discipline," said he, " I am very glad 
they have licked you. I knew they would. They 
are my own children. I disciplined, I formed 
them.""^ 

The Princess of Lowicz, to whom this deprivation 
of power was a great relief, now turned all her solici- 
tude towards watching her rude Constantine, painfully 
conscious of the hatred and the jealousies that 
menaced him. 

There is said to have been one person to whom 
she always entertained an instinctive aversion — to 
whom public rumour attributed several important 



THE WHITE SLAVE. 341 

deaths. Perhaps the report had gained ground, 
because the murder of two princes was reckoned 
in the brief annals of his house. 

The Grand-Duke Constantine also died very sud- 
denly. The Duchess, adopting the popular belief that 
her husband had been poisoned, lingered not long 
after him; and, broken-hearted at the contumely 
with which Nicholas treated her, expired with the 
name of Constantine upon her lips — the only lips 
that had ever breathed that name with affection. 

Constantine had left to his beloved wife all his 
possessions. Nicholas would not allow her to inherit 
them; the \\idowed princess was indebted many 
thousand pounds, all spent in her uncalculating 
charities. When she died, the creditors came upon 
her aged father, the old Grudzinski. He went to 
St. Petersburg to claim the heritage of his daughter ; 
he was not even vouchsafed an answer by the Em- 
peror, and returned to his humble home to die in 
misery. 

The creditors of the Grudzinski family in Prussian 
Poland have, however, at length instituted proceed- 
ings against the Emperor Nicholas in the Courts of 
Berlin, and whilst these volumes are going through 
the press, have caused the seals of justice to be set 
upon the palace, his private property in Berlin. 

THE END. 



L ONDON : 

Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street. 



Second Edition, now ready in 2 vols., with Illustrations, 
price 24s. bound. 

REVELATIONS OF RUSSIA; 

OR, 

THE ExMPEROR NICHOLAS AND HIS EMPIRE IN 1844. 
By the Author of 
" THE WHITE SLAVE." 



PRINCIPAL CONTENTS. 

1. THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS 
AND HIS SUBJECTS. 

2. THE SERF — THE COSSACS. 

3. ST. PETERSBURG AND 
ITS INHABITANTS. 

4. THE SECRET POLICE. 

5. CIVIL POLICE, LAWS, AND 
TRIBUNALS. 

6. CONSPIRACY AND REVOLT 
IN 1825. 



7. RELIGIOUS PERSECU- 
TIONS. 

8. MOSCOVV^, THE STEPPE, 
&C. 

9. MILITARY STRENGTH OF 
RUSSIA. 

10. THE RUSSIAN NAVY. 

11. COMMERCE, MANUFAC- 
TURES, AND MINES. 

12. CIRCASSIA, GEORGIA, &C. 



" This is the most complete and perfect work that has ever been 
pubUshed on Russia. Of the authenticity of the details and the 
general truth of the statements in these volumes, we entertain no 
shadow of doubt." — Foreign Quarterly Review. 



Also just published, in 3 vols, post 8vo. 

MR. DISRAELI'S NEW WORK, 
"SYBIL; OR THE TWO NATIONS." 

"Another of Disraeh's brilliant novels." — Times. 

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Henry Colburn, Publisher, 13, Great Marlborough Street. 
To be had at all the Libraries. 



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TO BE HAD AT ALL THE LIBRARIES. 
I. 

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Author of "The Mysteries of Paris," " The Wandering Jew," &c. 3 vols. 

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IV. 

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OR, THE ADVENTURES OF A KENTUCKIAN. 

WRITTEN BY HIMSELF. 3 vols. 

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New Monthly. 




UNIVERSITY OF ILUN0I9-URBANA 



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