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reconciliation with her angel smile. As yet I
had not dared to speak of love; as yet I gazed
on her as the captive gazes on the flowers
and the stars through the gratings of his cell,
murmuring to himself, " When shall the doors


I HAVE spent no small part of a long life
among the Russians in active business of divers
kinds, by which I have been brought into close
contact with men of all grades throughout the
whole empire.

In Russia there are seasons when, and regions
where, the mere act of travelling is an adventure
of some peril. For example, last winter was
in Russia as in England memorable for frost;
but the winter before that, was memorable for
snow. In several parts of Russia, the beginning
of March, eighteen 'sixty, brought a succession of
snow-storms, the most violent that had been
experienced for more than fifty years. It was my
unlucky fate to be compelled to travel at that
time, three hundred versts, or not quite two
hundred miles (a verst being about three-fifths
of a mile), over a portion of the country which
had been most heavily visited. And I began my
journey only one day after the first great violence
of the storms had subsided.


I had been living for some months in a town
on the Volga, in the centre of European Russia,
forty versts from Jaroslav, the government
county town. To reach that town I must
traverse a wild and uninhabited track, where
there were only two small hamlets, at one of
which the twenty-verst post-station was to be
found, if not buried in snow. My team of
three horses, commonly called in Russia " a
troika," had been carefully selected from the
various stabling establishments in the place:
the cost for driver and horses to be three
and a half roubles (or about half a guinea, the
rouble of a hundred copecks being worth a
halfpenny or two more than three shillings),
which was no great price for such a journey in
such weather. Two wolves had been killed in
our principal street within a week. One, I had
shot in my own court-yard the day before we
started, and many reports were current of their
hunger and unusual boldness. It was even
said that a small village, about thirty versts
distant, had been attacked by them in force. These
facts and stories made me careful about
requisite defences. My six-barrel travelling
companion was carefully loaded, and placed in
my belt ready for use; a magnificent nine-inch
bear-knife in a sheath, and a formidable
blackthorn cudgel heavily weighted at the handle,
belonged also to my armament. The brandy-
flask, bag of provisions, bottle of water, matches,
cigars, and portmanteau, having been stowed
away, I was about to step into the open sledge,
when a Russian neighbour came up and asked
leave to join in the journey to Jaroslav. My neighbour,
though a gentleman for whom I had much
respect, was the last man I should have chosen
as a travelling companion in a narrow sledge, for
he weighed over twenty stone, had great
difficulty in breathing, and, when once he was
seated, almost required horse-power to get
him up again. He was a phlegmatic, lazy,
good-natured, monosyllabic, cigaret-smoking
monster who was not to be refused; so, his
request granted, he rolled in on the right side and
filled three parts of the sledge. My Russian
house servants crossed themselves, whereby
they meant " God give you a safe journey."
The members of my own family cried, " Good-
by, God bless you!" and the driver having
gathered up the rope reins, I jumped in, and
with a noo-noo to the cattle, off we went dead
against a blinding drift.

Fat-sides having observed my weapons,
grunted in his own Russian, of which he made
the least possible use, "Pistolet. Wolves.
Shoot. Good."

"Have you any weapons?" I asked.


"Well; take this bear-knife."

"Good," he said again, and relapsed into his

Daylight came struggling through the heavy
morning clouds, and disclosed a cheerless waste
of ridges and valleys of snow. The trees which
at wide intervals indicated the route, did not
save us from often plunging into great pits
of soft snow, the moment our driver turned but
a few feet from the track. This took place so
frequently, and gave us so much trouble in
digging ourselves out, that it was noon before we
had made sixteen verstshardly ten miles
having been six hours on the way.

At this point in our journey the driver sent
the blood dancing through my veins, by the
alarming cry of " Volka! Volka!"—" Wolves!
Wolves!" I sprang from my seat, and, looking
ahead, saw six great, gaunt, and no doubt
hungry wolves, sitting exactly in our way, at the
distance of about a hundred yards, or less.
Our horses had huddled themselves together,
trembling in every limb, and refused to stir.
We shouted and bawled, but the wolves also
refused to stir. My fat friend, gathering a large
handful of hay from the sledge bottom, rolled it
into the form of a ball, and handed it to me,
saying, " Match." I understood him at once.
The driver managed, by awful lashing and noo-
nooing, to get the horses on, until we came within
a short distance of our enemies. By this time
I had succeeded in setting fire to the ball of hay,
and just as it began to blaze out well, I threw it
in among them. It worked like a charm.
Instantly the wretches parted, three on each side,
and skulked off slowly at right angles, their tails
dragging as if they were beaten curs. On
dashed our brave teamlash, lashnoo, noo.

"Hurrah!" I shouted, with a lightened heart;
"we are safe this time, thank God!"

"Wait. Look back," said Fat-sides.

I did so, and I saw the wolves, who had joined
each other again in the centre track, pausing, as