L I B RARY
or ILLI NOIS
THE RUSSIAN PEASANT GIRL.
THE RUSSIAN PEASANT GIRL.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
REVELATIONS IN RUSSIA."
IN THREE VOLUMES.
HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER;
GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET.
Printed by Schulze and Co., 13, Poland Street.
THE WHITE SLAVE,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
" 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
Johann remarked with some surprize that
Isaakoff's valet was seated in the carriage
beside him, whilst his friend occupied the
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
" 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
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-
jO the white slave.
" Dearest Mattvei ! my own, own brother !"
" 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
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
" 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
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
" 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
14 THE WHITE SLAVE.
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
The stern, impracticable, old sectarian rose up
'* 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
" 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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
" 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
THE WHITE SLAVE. 27
" Mine," answered one of the hooded females.
" Fearest thou still the pestilence ?" said the
" 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
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
" 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
" 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
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.
" 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
" 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
At this, the faint smile changed to a visible
elongation of countenance.
" Your deeply lamented father," commenced the
" 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
34 THE WHITE SLAVE.
well-born Lord, sought only to have his estates
'* And so he chose you," said the Prince, " to
whose natural disposition his own ideas were so
" 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
" 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
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
" 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.
" And then," continued the Prince, " there is a
female, dressed in all the colours of the rainbow,
— exceedingly Hke her — who behaves atrociously
" To you, my Lord ?"
" She squints at me hideously."
" Oh ! that is my daughter," said Johann,
" 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
THE WHITE SLAVE. 39
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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" Oh, my sister, your spirit is yet unbroken by
grief. Good God ! to think that they will break
" 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-
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
" 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
" What would you have them do ?" said Na-
" 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
" 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
" 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
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
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
" 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
" 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-
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
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
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-
" 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 !" 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 !"
" 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-
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
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
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-
" 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-
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
" Brother," said Vasili, " the Prince Ivan Ivano-
vitch will be very difficult to deal with. He
nourishes a deadly hate against our brother
" 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 ;
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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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 —
*' 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
" 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
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
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
" 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
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?
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
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-
" 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
" 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
" 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
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
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 —
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" Oh ! oh ! oh !" groaned Vasili.
" Is this the whole of your establishment ?" con-
tinued the official, pointing to the old aunt and a
" 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
" 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-
" 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
" 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
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
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,
" 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
" Oh ! the bet was not clearly made," said Locha-
" 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
" 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
" 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-
" 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
" 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
" 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
" And do you maintain, now, that you ever saw
as much of me in your life before as you have to-
" 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
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
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,
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
" ' 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
" ' 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
" ' 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
" ' I must beg of you to excuse me, for it is half-
past eleven ; your nephew is waiting on the ground
"'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
" 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,
" 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
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.
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
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
" 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
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
" ' 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-
" ' 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
" ' 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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" By no means : but the former would be the
portrait ; the latter only the copy of a portrait," replied
" 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
" Gentlemen," said Durakoff, " a brilliant idea
suggests itself," and, initiating the company into his
plot, he led them into an adjoining room, and then
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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-
" Oh ! Oh ! I am on hot coals again. Oh 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
" 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
" 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
" I don't know. Perhaps in April next."
THE WHITE SLAVE. 113
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
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
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
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
" 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-
" 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
"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
" 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
" 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:
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
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-
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
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
"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
" 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
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
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
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,
" Hush, brother ! " replied Nadeshta ; " thy
thoughts are always of violence: have a care lest
thou perish violently. Now I order thee, drive on,
" 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
" 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 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
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
" 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
" 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-
" 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
" 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
" 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-
" 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-
" 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
" 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-
" 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
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
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 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-
" 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
*' 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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" No," said Horace, after a few moments' considera-
tion, " brave it as you will, you cannot persuade me
154 THE WHITE SLAVE/
that the advantage I hold over you is not worth more
than the even chance of winning or losing every-
The Prince clapped his hands : a domestic obeyed
\" 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-
" 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
" 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
" And, if I lose, be in the same position as be-
" 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
"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-
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
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
" Impossible," said Horace, " the heritage of my
"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
"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
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
" 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
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.
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
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
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
" 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
" This cannot be, Nadeshta ! Take her, my glorious
brother, take her with all the blessings of her only
'* 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
" 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
" Play !" thundered Horace, " and 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.
Horace was again struggling in his toils, after an
interval of exhaustion, when Johann appeared before
"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
"" 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-
" 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
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
172 THE WHITE SLAVE.
most appropriate personage who could have succeeded
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
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-
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
" 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
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
" 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
" 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
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
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
,,.. "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,
" 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
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
"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-
" 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
" 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.
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
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
" 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-
" 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
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 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
" 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-
188 THE WHITE SLAVE.
" 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-
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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-
" 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 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
" 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
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
" 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-
*' 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-
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-
" 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
"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
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
The lady accompanying the Duchess was no other
than Anna Obrasoif — pale, thoughtful, clad in the
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
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
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
" 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-
" 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
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,"
" 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
" 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
" Which will be not at all ! — I know your soft
heart," said the Grand-Duke ; " but they shall not
" 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
" 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
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
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
THE WHITE SLAVE. 215
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
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-
" 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
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
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
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-
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
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
" Past seven ?" said Bob, rubbing his eyes and
fumbling for the key of the stable, " I — I have over-
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
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-
" 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
" 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
" 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 !
244 THE WHITE SLAVE.
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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-
" 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
"What do you call that, my friend?"
" That," said Bob, a little disconcerted, " is a
" And those letters ? — what do those particular
" Those letters mean," replied Bob, " that Semi-
ramis was got by Voltaire out of the Duchess of
" 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."
250 THE WHITE SLAVE.
" 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
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
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
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
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
" 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
" 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
"You have not yet wiped out the blow I gave
you," said Horace hoarsely.
" You have not paid me yet," replied the Prince,
" 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.
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-
All this had taken place without a word being
" 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
"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,
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
260 THE WHITE SLAVE.
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-
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-
" 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
" 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
" You have not killed him, brother ! " said
" 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
" 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
"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
" This cannot be," said Horace, " you cannot quit
us thus : — we cannot leave you to fall afresh into your
" 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
" 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
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.
THE WHITE SLAVE. 267
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-
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
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
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
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.
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-
" 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
" I would not," replied Hans, " if I had not known
that this was the day on which mother sends off the
THE WHITE SLAVE. 275
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-
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
" 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
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
" 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
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
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-
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
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-
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
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
" 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
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-
" 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-
" 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
" 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
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
"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
" 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
# # :^ # *
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
*' 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
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-
# * # # #
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,
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-
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
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
" 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,
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
" 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-
" 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
" Our great poet was not original in his expe-
dient," observed Durakoff, " I remember it in a
" 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
" But what has the death of P — to do with your
" 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,"
" 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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
The chief of the police shrugged up his shoulders
" 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
" 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
"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
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
" 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
" 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
"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-
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
He was greeted with well simulated cordiality.
"We are all losing our time here," said the
" 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
" 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
" 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
" 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.
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
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-
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
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
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
" 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
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
" 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
"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
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
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
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
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 !"
322 THE WHITE SLAVE,
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
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
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
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-
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
" 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
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
" 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
" 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.
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
" 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
" 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
And again the voices of the singers drowned his
voice, as they thundered out with unconscious but
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,
" 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
" 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
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
" 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
" 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
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
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
" 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
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
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
" 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
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
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
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.
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;
THE ExMPEROR NICHOLAS AND HIS EMPIRE IN 1844.
By the Author of
" THE WHITE SLAVE."
1. THE EMPEROR NICHOLAS
AND HIS SUBJECTS.
2. THE SERF — THE COSSACS.
3. ST. PETERSBURG AND
4. THE SECRET POLICE.
5. CIVIL POLICE, LAWS, AND
6. CONSPIRACY AND REVOLT
7. RELIGIOUS PERSECU-
8. MOSCOVV^, THE STEPPE,
9. MILITARY STRENGTH OF
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.
" 'Sybil' is an improvement upon ' Coningsby.' The character
and condition of the poor is presented in a more artistical manner
than by Jerrold or Dickens." — Spectator.
" In his sketches of the knaves and dupes of party Mr. Disraeli
is without a rival." — Examiner.
" High as is Mr. Disraeli's reputation, ' Sybil* mil add a
brighter laurel to his wreath. Here he comes forward in the
noble character of champion of the poor. He has consecrated
his brilliant talents to the sacred cause of truth ; he has devoted
his energies to the regeneration of the people. In such a cause
genius shines with redoubled lustre. * Coningsby' sought to
expose the state of parties : * Sybil' describes the condition of the
people. ' Coningsby' was the novel of the season— a mirror of
the political characters of the day: * Sybil' is the history of the
age ; a picture of the sufferings of the country. He must be
cold and stem indeed who can peruse this work unmoved. It is
a history of the sorrows of the poor, drawn with all the nervous
eloquence of truth, adorned with all the graces of a poet's fancy."
Henry Colburn, Publisher, 13, Great Marlborough Street.
To be had at all the Libraries.
NEW WORKS OF FICTION.
JUST PUBLISHED BY MR. COLBURN,
TO BE HAD AT ALL THE LIBRARIES.
SELF. By the Author of " CECIL " 3 vols.
** One of the best novels of fashionable life that the last three
or four years have produced." — Court Journal.
" Replete with spirit, and touches of a fine or feeling nature.
There is an intimate acquaintance with the state of high life and
political society, and many individuals are mentioned by name ;
and many more so obviously portraits of living persons that they
cannot be mistaken." — Literary Gazette.
MAIDS OF HONOUR:
A TALE OF THE COURT OF GEORGE I. 3 vols.
" As faithful and graphic a picture of the court, the higher
ranks of society, and the literary and political celebrities of the
period, as the most diligent and penetrating reader of history,
private memoirs, and incidental documents which elucidate the
reign of George I. could now furnish. We recommend ' Maids
of Honour' as the wittiest and most sprightly novel of the season."
— Tait'i Magazine.
DE ROHAN; OR, THE COURT CONSPIRATOR:
AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE.
By BI. EUGENE SUE.
Author of "The Mysteries of Paris," " The Wandering Jew," &c. 3 vols.
'* This work is, perhaps, the best of Eugene Sue's productions.
There is no class of readers, even the highest and most cultivated,
who may not derive both amusement and instruction from it, as
an illustration of historical truth ; while on the other hand its
vivid painting, its wild and exciting incidents, the vigour and
verisimilitude of its dehneations of human character and the rapid
moA^ement and bold simphcity of its style, give it a peculiar charm
for those who seek, in works of this nature, the mere excitement of
the moment." — Court Journal,
OR, THE ADVENTURES OF A KENTUCKIAN.
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF. 3 vols.
" This narrative is worthy of De Foe. It is full of romance
from beginning to end. Whether the author be exploring the
haunts of the buccaneers of the Havannah, wandering among the
trackless prairies of Texas, dwelling with the hospitable planters
in Mexico, or making the acquaintance of Mormans, Indians, or
Yankee bravoes of the true bowie-knife school, he renders his
narrative so singularly interesting, that the reader finds it impos-
sible to lay it down till he has gone through to the last page."—
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