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and, after that, two hundred versts across the
country, without stopping for rest; the children
might probably fall sick, the women be knocked
up, and we might be left in some outlandish
desert to recover health or strength. I was
against that method of travel.

"Bargain, then, with a yeamshick to take you
right through, all the way, with one set of
horses. You can stop when you like."

"Ay," said another, "and you'll have to stop
when you don't like, and as long as he may choose,
to rest the horses. You'll be twenty days on
the road."

"That," I said, "is not a promising method
of travel."

"Then get a padaroshni, and take the free
post. So, you can go forward or stop to recruit
as you are inclined."

"Never do that," said another; "you will be
detained at the stations hours and hours, waiting
for horses, in spite of your padaroshni. It will
take you as long to get to your journey's end as
if you travelled with one set, and it will cost three
times the money. I stick by the government

"Come," I said, to my helping hand, "let us
go and see what bargain we can make with the
yeamshicks. I would rather make the journey
leisurely; twenty days is certainly too much,
but let us hear what they say."

Off we went to the quarter where the posting
establishments of these people are situated.
There was no difficulty in finding it, but as I
crossed the bridge and went down into the low
quarter sacred to yeamshicks and their teams,
I felt inclined to cross myself, like a good
Russian. It was getting dark; the streets,
houses, and people had a villanous, black, hang-
dog look. I could almost have turned back,
but it was too late. We looked like customers,
and, before we could turn round, were
surrounded by some twenty or thirty rival
yeamshicks, who rushed out upon us from yawning
twisted wooden gateways and small tumble-
down houses.

"I want two troikas to go as far as Karkoff.
Where are your horses and conveyances?"

"Herethis way, baron."

And I was good-naturedly, but with firm
decision, dragged through a dismal archway into
a dirty court-yard, surrounded by sheds propped
at all sorts of angles upon wooden posts. In
these sheds were horses by the score, cattle
that currycomb had never scratched, nor wisp of
straw defiled. By this time, fifty drivers had
assembled, and as nothing pleases a Russian so
well as a good stiff bargain, I began my offers at
the lowest figure.

"For two tarantasses, six horses, and straw
for each to Karkoff, in ten days; if more time
is taken a reduction of ten roubles per day
forty roubles."

"Baron! my lord! your excellency! Say one
hundred roubles and fifteen days."

"No; forty."

"Go, then."

"No; forty-five."

"Eighty. Horses like deers and excellent
carriages for eighty!"

This went on until I got to sixty roubles,
then to seventy.

"Now, hear my last word. I'll give seventy
if——" Here the contending parties having, as
they imagined, brought me to the point, began to
pull me hither and thither, each that he might
secure me to himself. I was first pulled to this side,
then lifted to the other, and my hat fell off in
the confusion. My handy man with the strong
arms had been jostled to the outside of the
circle, not understanding a word of our
discourse; but when he saw, as he thought, violent
hands laid on me, he sprang among the fifty
drivers, and a right and left hand blow from his
sledge hammers sent down two who had hold of
me, to bite the dust. Before I could stop him,
down went another two: "There, you muck
varmint, I'll handle you! I'll larn you to lay hands
on a freeborn Englishman!" His eye lighting
on the spoke of an old broken cart-wheel, in
another moment he was flourishing it high in the
air and chasing the poor astonished fellows round
the yard. " Now," he said, panting as he came
up to me, "let's bolt, gov'nur; t'road's clear."

I thought it high time to escape, and we both
made a rush to the street, but just in time to fall
into the hands of four police. My handy man
dropped his cudgel in presence of the cutlasses,
and amid the yells and shouts of a great crowd,
which, however, did not follow us, we were
marched through the streets to the police-office.


One of our captors questioned me on the way;
but I prudently replied in their official language,
by simply putting a rouble into the hands of each
soldier. That explained everything. When we
got into the presence of the district magistrate,
an officer in blue clothes and brass buttons (a
chinovnick), I made no reply to any of his
questions, but only shook my head, while several of
the yeamshicks making their appearance with
bruised heads and faces, told their tale: how
that they were quietly bargaining with me, and
had nearly concluded, when that mad Englishman
rushed amongst them with a great iron bar
and inflicted all the wounds his excellency saw.

"Where is the iron bar? Soldiers, why did
you not bring the iron bar with you?"

"There was no iron bar, your honour, and
we saw no fighting. These two Englishmen
who can speak no Russian (that is value for
one rouble) were quietly leaving the yard (good
for another). We would not have brought
them here, but these pigs of yeamshicks were
like to devour them (well worth a third), so we
took charge of them for safety." (Value
received: four roubles.)

"Here, Vasilia, tell the interpreter to come
from the Stone Cabinet;" and to my astonishment
there entered one of the guests I had left
at the dinner-table.

He looked at us a moment, as a perfect
stranger would, and turning to the magistrate,
said, "What is your pleasure?"

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